Japan is another unusual destination for European tourists – but appreciated by many. Here you have the chance to experience everything from go-karting on public roads wearing a suit of your favorite character from Mario Kart to swimming in wonderful tropical water. Or why not take the subway with the world’s most well-educated people?
Price example of travel without JR Pass:
Tokyo – Kyoto round trip: approx. 240 euro
Narita Airport – Tokyo round trip: approx. 60 euro
JR Pass (Japan Rail Pass) is something we highly recommend for you who stay in Japan for more than 7 days or will move you a lot during your stay. Keep in mind that this passport can only be ordered before you go to Japan. Flygi AB, mother company of Nalatrip is the only Swedish official partner and reseller of Japan Rail Pass.
The pass gives you free access to all JR Line’s trains, buses and subway trains including the high-speed trains (apart from the Nozomi train and the Mizuho train on the Takaido, Santo and Kyushu Shinkansen lines.)
The Japan Rail Pass is ordered in your name and taken to the nearest JR Ticket Office, after which the staff will help you exchange your voucher for an active JR pass. The JR offices are located at all major airports and train stations throughout Japan and are easily found using its green logo. Japan Rail Pass can be purchased for 7, 14 and 21 days and can only be acquired & used by persons registered outside Japan.
Japanese citizens can obtain a JR Pass since 2017 if they can show on the spot that they have lived outside Japan for a continuous 10-year period. Valid documents form the embassy is required.
Osaka is a super nice city and is known for its fine shopping and many restaurants. Here you will find lots of yakiniku, ramen and sushi restaurants. Do not miss to visit Universal Studios Osaka and Super Nintendo World. Something neither you nor the little ones in the family want to miss!
Kyoto is the ancient capital and home to temples, nice markets, large parks and everything one expects from the “real” and historic Japan. A super nice city that often ends up on most travelers’ list. Most people who travel to Japan for the first time usually spend a week in Tokyo and then a week in either Kyoto or Osaka. However, these cities are located next to each other and allow you to move quickly and smoothly with a JR Pass.
Take a domestic flight to the Japanese holiday paradise Okinawa and enjoy a Japanese Maldives. Crystal clear water, tropical heat and beautiful coral reefs that welcome everyone who is eager to dive or snorkel. A perfect destination for a small detour from the country’s big cities.
Kobe is a large port city that over the years has become an iconic city and home to a huge number of sights. Head up to the botanical gardens by cable car and then walk down the waterfalls and an incredibly beautiful nature. As a bonus, Kobe is the capital of Japanese meat and has some of the country’s best meat restaurants. Try the famous kobe meat at a restaurant in Kobe. It’s an experience you do not want to miss!
Hiroshima has a terrible and gloomy history but is definitely worth a visit. Today, the city is rebuilt and with lots of monuments and museums dedicated to the bombing of the city. Once in the city, we recommend a visit over to Miyajima Island and visit one of Japan’s most amazing world heritage and shrines.
Sapporo has been on many people’s lips since long before their first visit to Japan. Sapporo is the name of one of Japan’s largest breweries of beer. in addition to their beer, a large winter festival is arranged every year that you do not want to miss!
The city is also a well-known holiday resort during the winter months and offers its visitors pleasant skiing.
Nara is best known for its open park with over 1,200 free-ranging deer. Nara Park annually attracts thousands of visitors who want to come to the city and pet the well-behaved deer. Buy deer cookies and feed the animals, which in turn actually bow as a thank you for the cake. A very photo-friendly activity that is highly recommended.
Just outside Tokyo you will find beautiful Yokohama which offers world-class shipping and incredibly good food. The port city is known for its Chinatown and its street food in colorful alleys. In Yokohama you can visit the world famous noodle museum Cup Noodles Museum. A special but at the same time very fun activity that easily becomes a popular topic of conversation when you get home.
Most tourists who visit Japan with a European passport automatically receive a 90-day Landing Permission when you land. Which means that you do not have to apply for VISA before you visit the country, unlike China, among others. It is not permitted to stay in Japan as a Temporary Visitor for more than 180 days during a 12-month period.
It is necessary to apply for a visa if you intend to participate in any form of income-generating activity during your stay or if your visit exceeds the given 90 days granted in connection with entry into the country.
The Japanese people are by far the most well-behaved and nice people you can meet. They always thank you and under no circumstances assume that you will do it back.
The country is very structured, clean and generally functioning. Everything in everyday life flows on and is easy for us who are used to Swedish chaos. Trains are always punctual, people are queuing for the subway and the escalators no matter how stressed they are. Most people always try to keep the elevator for you – even if they see you from a distance. Small details that make the trip a little extra pleasant!
Something that is good to know before going to Japan is that you do not drink. You pay for your food and get an exact exchange back, which is unusual compared to other cultures and countries. They are very polite and always welcome you into their shop or restaurant, preferably so everyone hears.
You will often hear “irasshaimase” when you enter a restaurant, which means “warm welcome!”. Then answer “arigatou gozaimasu” which means “thank you very much”.
When you pay for something, the staff always places a hand on your hand to avoid you losing any coins or your card – this as a polite gesture towards you as a customer. In some cases, it is not uncommon for them to remain at the door and bow until you are no longer in sight.
It is no secret that the Japanese like their own language. 9 out of 10 Japanese do not speak or write English in any form, this also applies to the staff who drive buses and taxis.
To facilitate your trip in Japan, we recommend that you take a screenshot of maps and areas you should visit in advance as Google Maps does not allow Offline Maps in Japan. Some of the slightly larger metro stations can have as many as 20 exits from the same station, which can lead to you getting out on the completely wrong side of the road with a bit of bad luck. Therefore, it is good to be prepared and check out a little the day before and save the screenshots in the phone.
Almost all taxi drivers have problems with the English language and speak only Japanese. Therefore, have a screenshot or printout in Japanese of the area or hotel name / address when you land at the airport for the first time.
A fantastic hotel chain with almost 200 hotels in Japan. Usually very well located, clean and nice buildings and scattered around the country. The class and style inside are very reminiscent of Scandic Hotell in Sweden.
Hotel rooms are usually smaller in model, keep this in mind. Especially in Tokyo where all hotel rooms and apartments are smaller than in other cities.
All hotel rooms are filled with everything you need. Toothbrushes, brushes, combs, hairpins, laces, toothpaste, slippers, shampoo, soap, bathrobes and anything else you may need. Usually you do not need to bring anything more than any makeup, deodorant and perfume.
It is not as common to buy soft drinks and other drinks at the 7-Eleven and Family Mart in the big cities. Instead, there are machines on display everywhere, filled with everything you can imagine. Here you buy everything from soft drinks and water to tea, coffee and iced coffee. The color on the background of each product symbolizes whether it is a hot or cold drink.
Here you will find very fun drinks such as Fanta Peach, Fanta Mellon, Pokémon juice, Mellonsoda and other nice drinks that we miss at home in cold Northern Europe.
Japan is crowded with Pokémon centers and shops. Heaven for you who love Pokémon and other types of anime. These types of stores are located in all cities and usually in slightly more popular areas. For example, Dōtonbori in Osaka.
Take the opportunity to shop in one of Don Quijote’s 160 stores around the country. The chain of stores usually consists of several floors full of goodies.
In the beginning you will often find food, sweets and other prank items. The higher up in the house you get, the quality of everything you find rises and usually ends with luxury bags and watches in the class of up to one hundred thousand kronor. The appearance of the shop is visually deceptive from the ground floor, but is wonderfully pleasant to visit. There are also video games, headphones, clothes, shoes, ac systems, mobile accessories, jackets, sex toys, fancy dress, anime products and much more.
This is the editorial office’s favorite store to visit. Remember that all tourists shop Taxfree, be sure to bring your passport!
A must try when you are in Japan is Karaoke. Karaoke originates from Japan but is today popular throughout Asia, and most people have heard of it. For those who do not know, Karaoke is the name for singing songs to instrumental music while the lyrics are displayed on a screen.
In Japan this is incredibly popular and in all the big cities you will find buildings on several floors that all offer karaoke. Even in the smaller towns it is no problem to find a Karaoke bar. All the modern karaoke places offer private rooms while in the older ones you stand and sing in front of others.
The biggest chains for Karaoke are Big Echo, Cote D’Azur and Karaokekan. Prices range from 100 yen to 2500 yen depending on packages and demand. Many of the places also offer food and drink for a separate cost. Booking is not mandatory but if you do not book you may be unlucky and with long waiting times.
Sumo is Japan’s national sport and is a Japanese martial art where two wrestlers meet in a ring and the wrestler who manages to push the other out of the ring or makes the opponent touch the ground with any part of his body except the soles of the feet, wins the match.
The Japan Sumo Association is responsible for all tournaments held in Japan and it holds 6 tournaments annually. In Tokyo, three are held (January, May and September), one in Osaka (March), one in Nagoya (July) and one in Fukuoka (November). Each tournament lasts for 15 days.
For tickets and more information on dates, we recommend that you visit the Japan Sumo Association’s official website.
Yakiniku is a unique way to eat your food where you prepare your own food over a hot grill. All tables are equipped with their own grill where your party orders meat, vegetables and other accessories. The food is then cooked over a grill on / in the table and dipped in sauce / oil before eating it. The meat is thinly sliced and does not take more than 30-60 seconds to cook depending on the desire for cooking. The staff is happy to help for the first time to give you the best possible experience.
Prices for Yakiniku vary greatly, but are usually around 7-12 euro / 100g beef. Pork, chicken and sausages are significantly cheaper. Rice, some vegetables and 400g beef are good enough for 2-3 people and usually end up around 50 euro, which is significantly cheaper than going out in Northern Europe. However, this is much tastier than anything you have previously tested!
The Japanese have taken their Yakiniku from Korean barbecue with their own adaptation and with more focus on meat.
Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup and is the most common dish in the country. However, the type of frame may vary depending on the type of noodles and protein used. Each prefecture basically has its own touch on the dish and its own ingredients to make the noodle soup unique to its customers.
Ramen is usually sold in smaller ramen restaurants or at smaller food stalls. The dish is eaten with chopsticks and ladle. Do not worry about slurping when eating the frame in Japan, it is considered polite as people who throw in the food usually appreciate what they eat.
The dish has its origins in China but has over the years gained its own touch as “Japanese Ramen” and is loved all over the world.
The country’s two largest convenience stores are 7-Eleven and Family Mart. They are a little different from what we are used to in Europe. It is very common to eat a lunch and also be satisfied at these stores that offer everything from noodles to meat and other types of protein.
The typical items you expect are also sold here, but also alcohol, sake, freshly baked bread and ready meals. Highly recommended to visit, you will be amazed at how much good these stores have to offer.
A common dish from Japan is sushi. A sweet rice flavored with vinegar and wrapped with seaweed and raw fish. A popular dish also at home in Europe, but extra fun to try the original in Japan.
Futomaki is another type of sushi that is recommended to try. It is a baked sushi that can often be obtained with chicken and vegetables for those of you who do not eat fish.
A popular dish or snack to buy from 7-Eleven and Family Mart is Chicken Karaage. A juicy piece of chicken in crispy breading that is sold directly from the checkout, like sausage with bread.
In addition to chicken karaage, you will find breaded pork, dumplings, softbuns, chicken skewers and different types of curry.
You do not have to worry about holding on to your valuables or walking around with large sums of cash. The Japanese are a very loyal and well-educated people with very few thieves and the like. Seeing younger children ride the subway home from school alone is not an unusual sight to see in Japan. Of course, there are crap boots everywhere, but Japan has very few of them.
Buy a JR pass if you plan to move to other cities. If you are only going to be in Tokyo, you can do well to pay for your transport at a time. But most visitors take a week in Tokyo and then move on to Kyoto, Osaka and other popular cities. These routes are quite expensive without a JR pass.
The Suica card – a fantastic IC card that can be pre-loaded with money to easily flip beverage machines, the subway and other machines for a cash-free and fast payment. Alternatives to the card are Icoca Card & Pasmo Card.
The Japanese names for Japan are Nihon and Nippon .
The country is crowded with airports, but the country’s largest and most popular airports are Narita International Airport (NRT) and Haneda Airport (HND) .
Cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto have their own airport, however, prices can be a bit more expensive for these as demand from Europe is less here. High-speed trains are available between most major cities for those of you who want to save a euros.
Japan uses the Japanese Yen – JPY.
We recommend a small change before the trip at Forex or another currency exchange to be able to pay for any transport from the airport, food and drinks on site.
Secure ATMs for cash withdrawals are available around the city. You do not have to worry about walking around with larger sums of cash as the country is very safe.
7-eleven usually have a very good exchange rate. We therefore recommend that you only bring a small amount and withdraw more cash on the spot.
Do not change at the Airport. Visit a bank or 7-eleven in town.
Tips are not appreciated by the staff and can sometimes be considered offensive.
If you want to tip, in that case ask the staff before if it’s okay. Most likely you will get a no, as tips are not part of their everyday life.
The best time to go to Japan is in the spring and fall. In the spring, the weather is mild and the famous cherry trees are in bloom. If you want to experience a slightly more tropical Japan, you should definitely travel in the summer (June, July, August). However, remember that it is very hot during the summer.
A week’s trip to Japan can vary in price, but usually a regular traveler spends between 640 euro and 1,500 euro for a budget trip in the country. Prices of course vary from person to person.
Hotels usually end up around 50-90 euro per night.
Most European citizens can travel to Japan and stay for a maximum of 90 days without applying for a visa. If you want to stay for a long time, you can extend your stay by another 90 days if you leave the country over a weekend, however, you can stay for a maximum of 180 days during a 12-month period.
A flight to Japan usually takes 11-15 hours in total, depending on your origin in Europe and on how and where you choose to land in the conutry.