Japan | Ultimate Travel Guide

An ancient land where history and modernity meet – You will be blown away!

Japan is a country that will always remain special and close to my heart because it is here that I discovered that there are some beautiful people who had the greatest impact on my life. Personal experiences aside, Japan is a land of endless discoveries and has something for every traveller. From UNESCO listed architectural marvel, adventuring through the backstreets of Kyoto to majestic temples, and gardens of thousands of years old where you will experience the true meaning of “zen”, through to walking amongst towering bamboo forest to cute little owl cafes, it is a country that will not disappoint.



Templles | Japan
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Temples | Japan | by Pixabay
Hiroshima City: Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace.
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Hiroshima City: Memorial Monument for Hiroshima, City of Peace | Japan | by Georgina Daniel

Let’s not forget as well, that Japan is an ancient land, where history and modernity meet. Breathtaking modern skyscrapers and restaurants with robots stand alongside ancient temples. Grounded in a strong culture of Shintoism and Buddhism, Japan has a history, and a present that stands testament to the strength and resilience of the Japanese people. A visit to this exotic country is highly recommended.

Best time to visit Japan

Japan | when to visit
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The best time to visit Japan will depend on what you want to do – winter is best to see the snow monkeys and spring for the Hanami season. However, generally anytime is a good time to visit Japan. but as a rule of thumb, late Spring, March to May and late Fall, September to November are the best times to visit. Temperatures are mild and you won’t be caught up with the rain ruining your sightseeing plans. For a detailed guide on best time to visit Japan, go to this page.

A visit to this beautiful, fascinating land of contrasts and you will be drawn to the traditions as well as the modern and uniqueness of its society and culture. First, though, it helps to know a little about the country before you go. Here are some basic facts.

Know before you go – some basic facts about Japan

Where is Japan

Japan is a shimaguni, that is, an island. The Japanese archipelago consists of four main islands: Honshû, Shikoku, Kyûshû and Hokkaidô and thousands of smaller ones. A total of  6,852 islands.

It is located in Eastern Asia, between the North Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan, east of the Korean Peninsula. At the closest point, the main Japanese islands are 120 miles/193 kilometres away from mainland Asia.



Language

Japanese writing
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Japanese Writing | Pixabay

The language spoken in Japan is Japanese, 日本語, Nihongo. Japanese is not an easy language to master but is doable. The Japanese language relies on three different alphabets – hiragana, katakana and kanji. These three alphabets are differentiated both by their distinct appearances and by their use.

Here are some common phrases to guide you:

Hello.
Konnichiwa. (kon-nee-chee-WAH)

How are you?
O-genki desu ka? (oh-GEN-kee dess-KAH?)

Fine, thank you.
Genki desu. (GEN-kee dess)

What is your name?
O-namae wa nan desu ka??(oh-NAH-mah-eh wah NAHN dess-KAH?)

My name is ____ .
Watashi no namae wa ____ desu. (wah-TAH-shee no nah-mah-eh wa ____ dess)

Nice to meet you.
Hajimemashite. (hah-jee-meh-MOSH-teh)

Please. (request)
Onegai shimasu. (oh-neh-gigh shee-moss)

Please. (offer)
Dozo. (DOH-zo)

Thank you.
Arigatou. (doh-moh ah-ree-GAH-toh)

You’re welcome.
Dou itashi mashite. (doh EE-tah-shee mosh-teh)

Yes.
Hai. (HIGH)

No.
Iie. (EE-eh)

Thank you very much
Dōmo arigatō[gozaimashita]. (doh-moh ah-ree-GAH-toh [go-zai-mash-tah] )

Good morning
Ohayou gozaimasu (o-HAI-yo go-zai-MASS)

Good afternoon
Konnichiwa (kon-nee-chee-WAH)

Good evening
Konbanwa (Kon-ban-WAH)

Good bye
Sayounara (Sai-YO-nah-rah)

I am from the UK
Watashi wa Igirisu-jin desu. (Watashi WA ee-gi-ree-su-jin dess)

How Much is this?
Kore wa ikura desuka? (Koh-ray WA Ih-koo-rah dess KAH?)

Expensive / Cheap
Takai / Yasui (Tak-AY/ yass-WEE)



Currency

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Japanese Currency, Yen | by Next Stop, Japan

The official currency is the Japanese Yen (JPY) – ¥. It is third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the US dollar and the Euro. At present (Aug 10, 2020), the exchange rate is 1 pound sterling equals to 138¥. 1 US dollar equals to 106¥

Learn more about the Byodoin Temple that is featured in the 5 Yen coin from the article on “How to make the best of one day in Uji”


Geography of Japan

JAPAN’S FLAG

Japan Flag
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Japan’s national flag is a white rectangular with a large red disk (representing the sun) in the center. This flag is officially called Nisshōki (日章旗?, “sun-mark flag”) in Japanese, but is more commonly known as Hinomaru (日の丸?, “circle of the sun”)

LAND SPACE

The total land space of the Japanese islands cover an area of 377,930 sq km. (145,920 sq. miles). 62nd largest country in the world. Comparatively, it is roughly the same size as Germany or Zimbabwe.



Tokyo City

Tokyo City | Japan
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Tokyo City | Japan | by Pixabay

Tokyo is the capital city of Japan and is the most densely populated city in the world. It has three prefectures and is home to 37.4 million people.

Learn more about Tokyo and how to make the best of 3 days in this popular city by navigating to this page


Topography

The Japanese archipelago is covered by mountains, most of them heavily forested. There are short rivers that crisscrossed the land but only a few are navigable. Only 15% of Japan’s land mass is suitable for agriculture that is also suitable for living.

Japan’s islands are very beautiful and varied. Earthquakes are common. Tidal waves occasionally result from undersea earthquakes, and typhoons sometimes hit Japan as they move north from the South Pacific. The mountains of Japan contain 10 per-cent of the world’s most active volcanoes.


Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji, Japan
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Mt Fuji | Japan | Pixabay

Mount Fuji, Japan’s most famous and tallest mountain is an active volcano which last erupted on December 16, 1707. At 3,776 metres/12388.45 feet tall, Mt Fuji poses a challenging climb for those that wish to climb it.

Georgina suggests: Visit Mt Fuji 5th Station which is halfway up the mountain. Closest to the peak if you don’t intend to climb it. Learn more about my visit to Mt Fuji from this page


Climate

The climate in Japan varies from tropical in the south to cool temperate in north. Winters are cold with heavy snowfall in the mountains in the north. Summers are long, hot and sunny.

There is a marked contrast between winters on the coast facing the Sea of Japan, called Japan’s “snow country.” People often have to tunnel under the snow to move from house to house. Then, there is the clear, crisp winters on the eastern shore, with little snow or none at all, leaving dry winters on the more heavily populated side of the main islands.

As regards rainfall, Japan has an abundance of it! In addition to the four seasons, Japan has a rainy season, lasting about a month in June. This is followed by a very hot summer.



People & Culture

Japan’s culture is rich, colourful and varied. It dates back to the country’s prehistoric period known as the  Jōmon period between 14,000 and 300 BC. Over the years, Japan’s culture and traditions have been influenced by its neighbouring Asian countries and the West. Borrowed ideas from these influences are infused with existing customs to become something distinctly Japanese.

Japan’s unique culture

Shintoism, a Japanese religion is very much present along with Buddhism that was imported from China in the 6th century. Basic ideas about self and the nature of human society are drawn from several religious and philosophical traditions, making this a unique culture. Harmony, order, and self-development are three of the most important values that underlie Japanese social interaction. Along with this, the Arts play an important part in Japanese life. Traditional arts and crafts such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging and the Nihon Buyo dance are greatly valued. These are Japan’s cultural heritage and are designated as “Living National Treasures. Japan’s history has been defined by its literature and poetry as well.

women in kimono | Japan
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Women in kimono | Pixabay

The kimono (きもの/着物) and its variations, like yukata are traditional Japanese garments and the national dress of Japan. They were once standard everyday wear for people in Japan but today, it is rarely worn in everyday life. Although the range of clothes worn in Japan has changed, kimono and yukata still play an important part in Japanese culture, particularly for special events such as weddings, festivals and celebrations.

Learn more on Shintoism and peruse books on this fascinating culture of Japan by navigating to here.



Food in Japan

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Sushi – a popular dish of Japan

It has been said that the Japanese people enjoy the highest life longevity in the world. Their healthy diet which contains a lot of fish is often held up as one of the reasons that Japanese people enjoy such long life. Their diet is lean and balanced, with staple foods like omega-rich fish, rice, whole grains, tofu, soy, miso, seaweed and vegetables.

Read about Tofu paradise in Kyoto.


Are you ready…

Now that you have a brief idea of this beautiful country, are you ready to visit Japan?

Everyone who plans a journey to Japan will already have their list of places to visit with their starred favourites! Mine were Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Uji, Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, Tokyo and Mount Fuji. I hope my perspective will help you plan and enjoy your trips just as much as I have, if not more. I welcome you to read my adventures in Japan, a beautiful country that is full of life, a centre for technology buffs and a land that preserves its national and cultural heritage. Enjoy reading my ultimate Japan travel guide to help you plan a perfect trip!

If you choose to #travel, travel safely | #staysafe #stayinspired | Read now to #travel later. For latest on Covid-19 go to: CDC.GOV | WHO International

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto
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Georgina

Hello there! Welcome to mytimelessfootsteps – a travelogue of Georgina’s adventures and a space where she shares her insights into travel. Bringing you only the best, from her very many years of discovering this beautiful world, to support your independent travels and your well-being whilst travelling. Though Georgina’s focus is upper upscale and millennial lifestyle, the detailed travel guides and information herein are valuable for all travellers of any age. To learn more and her motivation for this blog, go to About Georgina.



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Georgina xx

August 2020



Here are all the articles on Japan for you to peruse


Learn more about Japan from City Guides

Additional resources to support your travels to Japan

Travel resources at a glance

Planning your dream vacation? Excellent! Here are all the Resources and Practical information you need for your self-guided or guided vacation.

Flights – I have a few choices. Search Google flights because they offer very competitive prices. You could also try Opodo for cheap airfares or Etihad Airways for long haul flights. For special experiences, go to On the Beach and Jet2Holidays.

Accommodations – My favourite website for booking hotels is booking.com – I love their flexible cancellation policy which means I’m covered till the last minute. I also like that the totals show up for the whole stay so it helps me budget better. Other favourites of mine are Millennium & Copthorne Group of Hotels and Resorts for their consistent high quality accommodations and service. You could also take a look at the Radisson Hotels chain that caters for all budget.

Unique experiences & tours – My all time go to resource for unique experiences and tours is Get your Guide. I am also a fan of Viator for their special deals.

Travel insurance – Never travel without travel insurance and never overpay for travel insurance! I use and recommend World Nomads for your travel insurance needs. They even insure on the go. Before purchasing any any travel policy, read through the terms to ensure that the plan is right for you and your trip.

Travel essentials – Never travel without these! I use and fully endorse all the products on this page but especially: High powered wireless power bank, Universal travel adapter and unlimited portable pocket wifi.



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Japan Ultimate Travel Guide | Only Guide you need on Japan | A perfect destination for Fall Travel | Unique Culture | Shinto | Must visit destination in Asia | Asia Guide | Temples and Shrines | Kyoto via @GGeorgina_mytimelessfootsteps/
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30 Responses

  1. Georgina
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    For a culture vulture such as you – You will absolutely love Japan! Hope you get to visit one day soon.

  2. Yukti
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    I too wanted to visit Japan as I have heard so many things about Japan like their people, natural beauty and amazing culture. I would really love to see those bamboo forests and beautiful temples here. It would be great to see modern skyscrapers with ancient temples and unique culture here.

  3. Georgina
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    Thank you so much Angela. I am so glad that the article has all the information needed. I am sure you will visit Japan one day – absolutely yes to cherry blossoms and tea ceremony in Kyoto.

  4. Georgina
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    Thank you so much. Glad you like the Complete Travel Guide on Japan. I do hope you will visit this amazing country one day and look forward to seeing your adventures.

  5. Georgina
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    Yes, 2 days is not near enough for a beautiful country like Japan that is so rich in traditions and culture. Look forward to seeing your experiences when you visit.

  6. Georgina
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    Haha yes, absolutely a kimono day and the best ones are in Kyoto. You are sure to have a memorable time.

  7. Georgina
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    Japan is an amazing country and you would love it, for sure. When the world returns to some normality as we once knew would be a great moment to visit this remarkable country.

  8. Angela
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    Japan is my dream destination and this post has helped to secure it at that spot. This somprehensive guide really gives you all the information you need in one place. To see the cherry blossom and attend a tea ceremony in Kyoto is definitely a big must for me.

  9. By Land and Sea
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    This is the most helpful post! I appreciate all the effort you put into it! The only Japanese experience we have had was transiting through Narita airport. We hope to actually visit this amazing country one day!

  10. Sue
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    So far I have only spent a couple of days in Japan as a stopover on the way home from Australia. 2 days in Tokyo really does not do the country justice & I’m keen to return. Thank you for highlighting all the reasons I have to return! It is on my list…I just don’t know when yet…

  11. Linda (LD Holland)
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    We loved our taste test we got of Japan. But just enough to know we want to go back again. The great food is just one of the reasons to go back. Your comprehensive guide will be great for everything that we forgot from our first visit. And I will definitely want to rent a kimono for a day when we visit.

  12. Nancy Hann
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    Thanks for this great overview of Japan. I’ve never been there, but it looks like such a gorgeous place! It’s interesting about all the snow on one coast and not the other. The elegant traditional culture, natural sites and delicious cuisine make it sound like a perfect destination. I hope to get there someday.

  13. Georgina
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    So glad you like my guide on Japan. I am happier to know that you have plans to visit Japan. It is an amazing country and I am certain you will have an awesome time.

  14. Kanupriyaa
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    I love Japan! I have made plans to go there next year and I will definitely check back on your amazing guide to make sure I dont miss anything!

  15. Georgina
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    Thank you! I appreciate it 🙂

  16. Florin
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    Great tips and great esthethic! I love Japan and this article made me crave it even more! 🙂

  17. Georgina
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    Thank you so much! I hope that you will travel to Japan one day to experience it. It is beautiful and Mt Fuji is awesome.

  18. Georgina
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    Thank you so much. Glad it is comprehensive and can support your travels to Japan. If you want temples, then Kyoto is the place to be. I am certain that you will have an awesome time in Japan when you visit.

  19. Georgina
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    So glad to know that you are planning a move to Japan. I lived in Japan for almost 6 months and it was not enough! I am definitely going back as soon as I possibly can – there’s so much to see. I will be writing a lot more on the resources for Japan, so hoping that you will return periodically to check what’s new. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

  20. Georgina
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    Thank you so much for your lovely feedback, Kelly. I appreciate it. I sincerely hope that you will visit Japan one day – its a beautiful country

  21. Georgina
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    Lol yes – this downtime has had its toll! Mount Fuji expeditions are well organised. If I know anything about the Japanese culture and their commitment is that in everything they do, they do it well by giving their best. You are sure to have an awesome time when you visit Japan

  22. Georgina
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    For cherry blossoms – Japan is the place to be! In Japan, cherry blossoms are celebrated as part of their culture and it really is an awesome experience. It is crowded but that is okay 🙂 Read on my article – the best time to travel – it has all the info on Japan’s national holidays to guide you when best to travel and when best to avoid. Best wishes to an awesome visit to Japan

  23. Georgina
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    I am absolutely delighted that you find the post to have everything needed to travel to Japan – Thank you so much. Perhaps one day you will travel to Japan. It is beautiful and it is worth getting it on to a bucket list.

  24. Polly
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    Japan is such a beautiful country. I love their culture as well and I would really like to visit to I could experience it first hand and get to learn more about Japan. Mount Fuji is also so beautiful that I would absolutely love to climb it. Great article.

  25. 13weekstravel
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    This was such a comprehensive guide on Japan. I have Japan on my list of places to visit. I am particularly interested in visiting Disneyland Japan and looking around the temples.

  26. Savannah
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    This is such an amazing, detailed guide. Saving it for later!! My husband and I are considering moving to Japan in a couple years, and this will be a great reference if we do!!

  27. Kelly
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    This is such a great comprehensive guide to Japan! So wonderful to have all this info in one spot. When I finally get to visit there one day I know I will be using these posts for reference and lots of ideas 🙂

  28. Kelly Anne Francois
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    Japan would be such a fascinating Country to visit, with so much culture and history! I would also love to attempt to climb Mount Fuji. That is after I get back into shape after my COVID rest lol.

  29. Sarah Camp | In Search of Sarah
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    I love this!! We’ve been watching a lot of stuff about Japan lately and we really want to go – especially during Cherry Blossom season. Tokyo looks like a fascinating place to visit!

  30. Ramya
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    I have never traveled to that side of the world, but would love to explore Japan someday. I loved the way Japan build itself after facing all kind of disasters Your post clearly mentions everything, which one needs around the country. A comprehensive post.

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