Japan Travel Tips
Japan is generally a very safe and clean destination, with customer service on par or better than that found in Western countries. Japanese people are renowned for their polite nature, and while some people you encounter may seem reserved, others are friendly and open to conversation. Japan is a very homogenous society with 99 percent of the population ethnically Japanese.
English is not spoken as widely in Japan as it is in some other Asian destinations. It is important to remain calm when attempting to communicate in Japan, as displays of anger are frowned upon - there is a cultural emphasis on 'keeping face'. If you have already booked your trip to Japan click here to download our pre-departure guide.
Health & fitness
Japan is a comfortable country in which to travel. Although it is a developed country with an international standard of medical care, travelers should take the usual precautions.
Vaccinations are not normally recommended for travel in Japan as diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera do not exist there. It is still highly advisable to visit your doctor for current health advice at least one month before your departure.
Citizens of the US, UK, EU Countries, Australia, New Zealand and Canada do not need a visa prior to traveling to Japan for visits of up to 3-6 months. All other nationalities should consult with the Japan embassy or consulate in their home country. Your passport requires at least six months validity beyond your departure date.
For each of the nationalities mentioned, tourist visas for stays of 3-6 months are issued upon arrival in Japan. It is important to be aware you must have proof of your onward travel arrangements should they be requested at immigration. All international arrivals in Japan are photographed and fingerprinted.
Japanese visa requirements are subject to change, and you are responsible for your own visa arrangements. We highly recommend that you check current visa guidelines with the relevant embassies in your home country prior to departure.
Safety & security
Japan is a developed country and considered a very safe, secure place to travel, although the usual health and safety precautions apply. Compared to most other countries, levels of petty street crime are quite low, attributed to Japan's high income levels, low unemployment figures and cultural factors.
Despite the low level of risk, we still recommend you keep photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers and airline tickets in a safe place separate to the originals. Valuables should be secured in your hotel's safety deposit boxes if possible. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
- ‘Culture Shock Japan’, by Sean Bramble - Part of the Culture Shock series, this title is brimming with information on Japanese cultural nuances, and useful tips for the traveler to Japan.
- ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, by Arthur Golden - A detailed, best-selling fictional account of the experiences of a young girl plucked from a small village to work in the Gion geisha district of Kyoto.
- ‘Geisha’, by Liza Dalby - Equally as interesting as Memoirs of a Geisha, but not as well known. This book - based on a thesis - is a recount of the author’s time spent as a Western geisha working in Kyoto.
- ‘Shogun’, by James Clavell - The first of a series of best selling titles set in feudal Japan, this entertaining read details the encounters of a European trader with the Japanese princesses, warlords, and shoguns.
- ‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami - the most famous of Murakami’s many books, and widely read by Japanese people. A lucid insight into Japanese college life and the pressures endured by young, urban Japanese people.
- ‘Lost Japan’ by Alex Kerr - Reflections of a long-term American resident of Japan on the gradual dilution of Japanese traditions in the face of mass import of Western ideas and popular culture.
Useful words & phrases
What to take
- Flat walking shoes & sandals
- Hat & sunglasses
- Swimming attire
- Lightweight travel towel
- Money belt
- Lightweight waterproof coat or umbrella
- Basic first aid kit
- Alarm clock
- Small torch (flashlight)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Women’s sanitary products
- Ear plugs/eye mask
- Day pack and/or small backpack
- Clothes for temples