Japan is one of the world's most interesting, beautiful, and friendly places. From the busy cities of Tokyo and Kyoto to the quiet islands of Okinawa and the cold winters of Hokkaido, Japan is a high-tech place with the politeness and respect of the past. I love traveling and backpacking in Japan, to be honest.
I'd always wanted to go there, and when I finally did, it was even better than I'd imagined. Japan has delicious food, beautiful temples and shrines, peaceful Zen gardens, lush national parks, and a culture that goes back a long time. It's a great place to go, and even though it may be a pricey country to visit, there are many ways to keep costs down.
Top 5 Tourist Attractions in Japan
Tokyo ranks among the best places in the world. It has shrines, palaces, temples, cherry trees, cool clubs, bars, people, and fashion stores. Don't rush it! It's even better than you thought. While here, you should visit some strange cafes, walk around Harajuku, see the famous Shibuya crossing, and look at the Imperial Palace.
Make a trip to Kyoto.
Kyoto is among the most popular places to visit in Japan because it has so many beautiful temples and gardens. It still has many old ways of life in Japan and is a good contrast to Tokyo's fast-paced and high-tech city. See as many temples as possible, and don't miss the epic bamboo forest.
Visit Hiroshima for a humbling experience.
In 1945, Hiroshima was the first place an atomic bomb was used in battle. About 80,000 people died immediately, and tens of thousands died later because of the radiation. Visit the memorial to the atomic bomb to learn about the most controversial events in history. The museum is sad and enlightening, but you have to go there if you would like to know about modern Japan.
Climb Mount Fuji
This mountain is 3,776 meters (12,389 feet) high and is close to Tokyo. It is a good challenge. Fog and clouds often cover the mountain during the day, so most climbs happen at the crack of dawn or night. But the sunrise is worth not getting enough sleep.
Remember that the climbing season is only from the beginning of July to the middle of September. If you want to see the mountain but don't want to climb it, many tour businesses offer day trips from Tokyo starting at around 12,000 JPY. Plan if you climb because it can be very cold at the top.
This city is known for its surrounding mountains, heat baths, ski resorts, and long beer-making history. It is the gateway to Japan's northern island of Hokkaido. The 1972 Winter Olympics put the city on the map worldwide, and people still come from all over to enjoy winter sports there. It would help if you also visited nearby Otaru for uni, squid, and other delicious seafood.
Where to Live in Japan
There are many hostels all over Japan.
- Jiyujin (Kyoto)
- Len Kyoto
- K's House (Tokyo)
- The Pax Hostel Records (Osaka)
- Hostel Chapter Two Tokyo
- Roku Hostel Hiroshima (Hiroshima)
- WeBase HAKATA Hostel (Fukuoka)
- Backpacker Hostel K's House Kyoto
When to Travel to Japan
Japan has a wide range of temperatures and weather, so it's always a good time to visit different parts of the country. Even though most of Japan has four seasons, including cold, snowy winters in the north, Okinawa and the islands in the south stay warm all year. Tokyo gets cold, but it doesn't snow very often.
Japan also has a lot of rain and humidity, especially from mid-June to mid-July during the summer. It gets a little less rainy in August but starts to rain again in September. From June to August, it will be warm, with temperatures staying around 32°C (89°F). Summer is also the most popular time to go, so you can expect to see many people and pay a little more.
Then there's the threat of typhoons. May to October is typhoon season. Japan is ready for any typhoon, but you should still buy travel insurance before you go. In general, there is no bad time to go. Skiers and snowboarders have a great time in the winter. Spring is known for its cherry blossoms, summer is full of events, and fall has beautiful colors and nice weather.
Costs of Traveling to Japan
You can expect to pay between 2,500 and 4,500 JPY per night for a dorm room. A tiny pod, mostly just a bed, costs between 3,000 and 5,500 JPY at a capsule hotel. Even though it's not fancy, it's a very Japanese and unique experience. If you want space, a double room at a cheap hotel will cost you between 6,000 and 8,000 JPY.
Airbnb is highly regulated in Japan, so there aren't many options, and the ones there are more expensive than other places to stay. Private apartments and homes usually cost between 10,000 and 15,000 JPY per night, while private rooms start at 5,000 to 8,000 JPY per night.
If you want to do something different, you could stay at a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast. Even though they will cost more than a regular hotel, you will have a special experience because you will sleep on tatami mats, eat traditional breakfasts, and more! No matter what, the price of a place to stay in a big city is much higher than if you go somewhere off the beaten path.
Japanese food is known all over the world and is even on the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. Even though each place offers specialties, rice, noodles, seafood, and seasonal fruits and vegetables are always big parts of the food. Some dishes are known worldwide, like sushi, sashimi, tempura, gyoza, and miso soup.
Some dishes focus on noodles, beef, and seafood. Popular dishes include garage, a traditional soup similar to ramen, and yakiniku, which is like Korean barbecue but made in Japan. For dessert, people often eat daifuku, a sweet made of rice flour filled with red bean paste, or green tea-flavored treats such as ice cream or cookies.
In Japan, there are a lot of cheap places to eat out. It's common for shops to focus on one type of food, like ramen or soba noodle shops or shops that sell donburi, a bowl of meat, and rice. Curry and donburi cost between 500 and 700 JPY, and most bowls of ramen cost less than 1,200 JPY. Fast food, like a McDonald's combo meal, costs about 800 JPY.
You can also find cheap meals and pre-packaged items at 7-Eleven, which the locals eat! For only 250 to 500 JPY, you can get noodles, rice balls, tofu, and sushi that have already been packed. If you don't have much money, 7-Eleven will be your "restaurant" choice. Sushi trains cost between 125 and 620 JPY per piece, and a normal meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between 3,000 and 4,500 JPY.
Per glass, domestic beer costs between 450 and 550 JPY, and sake costs between 800 and 900 JPY. A cappuccino or latte costs between 500 and 600 JPY, and a bottle of water costs 150 JPY. Japan is a great place to spend a lot of money because it has the second most Michelin-starred restaurants of any country in the world.
Fine dining is a Japanese tradition that has nothing to do with stars. Kaiseki Ryori is an elevated, multi-course Japanese food style that began in Kyoto. A set menu with seven courses, including chicken, wagyu steak, and sushi, costs between 8,000 and 10,000 JPY.
Basic foods like rice, vegetables, and fish cost between 5,000 and 6,000 JPY per week. Just make sure to wash your fruits and vegetables well. Japan utilizes many chemicals in its food because there isn't much farmland in the country, and farming is based on getting the most out of the land (hence pesticides).