Solo Travel in Japan

Discover one of the most interesting countries in the world - Japan! No matter if you're planning on going on a solo trip or with a group of friends, Japan will amaze you with beautiful scenery, busy cities, amazing cuisine and friendly people.

Top 10 Things to do in Japan

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Soak in an Onsen

Onsen means “hot spring” in Japanese and is a natural heated outdoor bath where you can spend some relaxing time.

Hike Mount Fuji 

Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and climbing it will take you between 6 to 10 hours. Hiking Mount Fuji is also possible for beginners and will create lifelong memories.

Visit busy Tokyo

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, will amaze you for sure! Most likely, you will start your Japan trip there. The city offers an unlimited choice of shopping, entertainment, culture and dining, it is both modern and also full of history.

Visit temples or Shrines

The two major religions in Japan are Buddhism and Shinto. When going to Japan you will most likely visit multiple of the beautiful temples and shrines there. By the way, temples are called “Tera” in Japanese. 

Food tour or cooking class

Do you love Japanese cuisine and want to get to know it even better? Don't miss out on a food tour or even join a fun cooking class and get taught by a local.

Go Izakaya Hopping

Izakaya hopping is very similar to pub crawls as we know them. The word can be translated to “stay-drink-place” - while getting some drinks with your friends, you will also have some small bites to fill up your tummies. It's difficult to explain, but you will understand when you tried it once. 

Go skiing 

Skiing is a very popular activity in Japan, and the best time for a skiing trip will be between December and April. The most popular places for skiing are Niseko, Hakuba, and Nozawa Onsen.

Dive with sharks

Only two hours away from Tokyo, at the Peninsula of Chiba, you can go diving with sharks. This place is one of the best places to encounter sharks worldwide.

Take a bullet train

Bullet trains, also called “Shinkansen” are futuristic-looking, fast trains in Japan. They are the most convenient way to travel around the country, and you should at least experience this once when traveling in Japan.

Watch sumo wrestlers 

One of the probably most crazy things you can do in Japan is going to a sumo wrestling match. It is Japan's national sport and contains a long tradition there.

The best Instagram Spots in Japan

Shibazakura festival

Located at the bottom of Mount Fuji, the festival takes part between April and May. You will find beautiful fields of Shibazakura, pink moss, as well as thousands of people taking their Instagram photos there.

Fushimi Inari Taisha

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This Instagrammable shrine is located in Kyoto. There are also trails up the mountain to other smaller shrines. Most likely, you have already seen a picture of the orange gate.

Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku 

The entrance of this plaza in Tokyo is one of a kind, it will make you want to enter multiple times. The crazy kaleidoscope type of glass and mirrors will make your fashion pictures unique for sure!

The blue pond

This Instagram spot is located on Hokkaido Island and is man-made. As the name already reveals, the pond has a stunning blue color, that comes from minerals. Unfortunately, it is not possible to swim there.

Dotonbori at night

This place in Osaka will remind you of the famous Times Square, with many bright billboards, that will be the perfect background for your Instagram pictures! You can also go on a boat cruise at the canal there.

The Best Travel Itinerary - 7 Days in Japan

If you're planning on traveling to Japan, it's best to have at least one week to visit, but more time is highly recommended as there are plenty of places to see. Luckily, Japan is rather easy to travel around in Japan and you will be able to fit a lot into your  itinerary.  We will give you an overview of what to see in one week in Japan and some extra tips on what to do if you have some more time to spend there. 

Day 1: Arrive in Tokyo

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Most likely, you will first arrive in Tokyo. We recommend spending at least three days there, as the city is huge and there is a lot to see.

After arriving in Tokyo, we recommend exploring modern Tokyo:

  • Roppongi Area
  • Tokyo Tower/ SkyTree

The area of Roppongi has modern shopping complexes and museums. It is also the best district for clubbing. To have an amazing view of the city, you can also visit the Tokyo Tower or  Tokyo SkyTree.

Day 2: Tokyo

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On the second day, we recommend visiting the traditional and historical part of Tokyo:

Day 3: Tokyo

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The last day in Tokyo will be all about trends and shopping:

  • Shibuya
  • Harajuku
  • Shinjuku
  • Go Izakaya Hopping

The areas of Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku are perfect for everyone who is interested in Japanese pop culture, fashion and trends. 

If you have more days in Tokyo, make sure to also explore the following areas:

  • Tsukiji (the biggest market for fish)
  • Ginza (area of luxury shops)
  • Akihabara (Get to know Otaku culture)

Day 4: Hakone

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Hakone is only about 90–120 minutes away from Tokyo and a perfect one-day stopover on the way to Kyoto!

We recommend seeing the following things:

  • Hakone Shrine
  • Lake Ashi
  • Mount Fuji View
  • Experience Onsen

If you have more time, you can also visit the Hakone Open Air Museum and Pola Museum or take the mountain railway line.

 Day 5: Kyoto

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Kyoto is about three hours away from Hakone by train and we recommend spending two days there, on the first one visiting:

Day 6: Kyoto

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On your second day in Kyoto, we recommend 

  • Kinkakuji Temple
  • Arashiyama Area

We recommend you to visit the Kinkakuji Temple early in the morning and in the afternoon heading to Arashiyama Area to experience amazing nature. Visit the Bamboo Groves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites Tenryuji Temple, and monkey park.

After that, head to Osaka at night or the next day early in the morning.

 Day 7: Osaka

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Spend a half-day exploring the city, visiting for example:

If you have a whole day, you could also visit Universal Studios and see Dotonbori at night.

Take your flight home from Osaka, or travel back to Tokyo.

For longer stays

If you’re planning on staying longer in Japan, you can simply spend more days in Tokyo or other cities, so you don’t have to rush too much and can get to know the culture better. There are also many more amazing cities in Japan to visit. Also, check out the hidden gems that we recommend visiting and the best Instagram spots.

Best Time to visit Japan

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If I could travel around Japan for a whole year I wouldn't hesitate to do so, each season has a special theme that doesn't fail to get you amazed and mesmerized, you just can't get bored:

Winter (December-February)

In winter onsen (hot springs) have a different taste and feel to it, and of course the usual snow activities, but the main attraction is for sure the snow festivals especially one of the biggest ones there in Sapporo, Hokkaidou. 

Spring (March-May)

During spring, you can see the magical cherry blossoms (Sakura), and enjoy ''Hanami'', a popular activity in Japan which means “flower viewing”, or have a picnic under the Sakura trees. Sakura blooms at different times depending on the region, so if you miss it in one place you can still catch it in another, as well as some spring festivals, that you can encounter along the way. 

Summer (June-August)

In summer, you can enjoy the beautiful beaches, especially in Kyuushuu Area in the south or the famous Okinawa island with its various sea activities and crystal clear beaches, as well as summer festivals all around the country, which are the most traditional cultural festivals in the whole year. 

Autumn (September-November)

Get ready to see a rainbow of autumn leaves - fall makes every attraction in Japan more enjoyable and memorable, not only because of the colorful leaves, but also its beautiful weather and seasonal foods.

When to visit?

All this aside, there are a few things you should take into consideration before choosing what season you want to experience the most, and climate is definitely one of them. Japan has Tsuyu (rainy season) that lasts from the beginning of June to mid-July, after that the temperature rises quickly to finally feel like summer which is quite hot and humid. On the other hand, it gets a bit chilly during the night. Summer's climate surprises don't end here because it still holds typhoons that occur the most between August and September. 

To limit your options, it's better to decide what you want to experience the most in Japan, how much can you tolerate crowded places, and your favorite weather.

Hidden Gems in Japan

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Theme Restaurant

Especially in Tokyo, you can find plenty of fun-themed restaurants to choose from. You can find a ninja or vampire restaurant or a cute Alice in Wonderland-themed one - something for every taste!

Visit Iya Valley

The Iya Valley is a remote valley in the mountains where you can experience a more laid-back way of life. Here you will find beautiful old bridges made of vines to cross the gorges. 

Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum

The Shin Yokohama Ramen Museum, is a food amusement park where ramen (Japanese noodle soup) shops from all over Japan gather together. The atmosphere is great and it's a good spot for taking pictures as well.

Aokigahara Suicide Forest

Aokigahara, also known as the Sea of Trees, is a forest located northwest of Mt. Fuji. This place is associated with suicide because of mythology, but also gained a reputation later because it is one of the world’s most-used suicide sites. 

 

Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park

If you are an animal lover, this is your place to go! Jigokudani is famous for its huge population of wild macaques living there. They are also called “snow monkeys” and you will see them taking a hot bath in the winter months. 

Getting Around Japan

Train

The most popular form of transportation within the country is the train. Japan has a good railway system that is very easy to use and will get you from one city to another without any stress and quite fast as well. The tickets can be bought at the railway station machines and the prices are similar to train fares in Western Europe. It is also possible to make seat reservations for bullet trains and to buy those tickets in advance.

If you're planning on taking trains multiple times during your visit, you should consider buying a rail pass, as it will be cheaper. There are passes for 7, 14 and 21 days available.

Bus

Buses are very common in Japan, but will take you more time than going by train. If you are on a budget and you have a lot of time, buses will be a good option to save some money, as trains are usually more expensive. Consider traveling at night, so you will not lose too much of your day exploring the city. 

Airplane

As Japan is quite big, you might want to consider flying from one city to another. A flight from Tokyo to Osaka for example takes less than two hours and the prices are very affordable, usually around $50 one way. By bus, it would take more than eight hours, trains are faster but also more expensive. 

What does it cost to travel to Japan

How expensive is it to visit Japan? How much money will I need per day? Your answers to these questions have been categorized according to three different budgets: budget-friendly, mid-range budget, and high budget. We hope this will help you with planning your own amazing Japan trip. Please keep in mind that the costs below are for a single individual.

 

Daily costs, on average, to consider when planning your holiday in Japan:

  • Budget-friendly: $40-70
  • Mid-range budget: $80-160
  • High budget: $160 and above

Your daily costs depend on how fast you are traveling around, visiting a new place every day will cost you more money. Also, take into account any special activities that you want to do there.

Accommodation

Japan offers a diverse list of options when it comes to accommodation, from five-star luxury hotels to a single bed in a hostel. The prices for accommodations vary depending on the city and also the location there. Accommodations closer to the city center will always be a bit more expensive.

 

Budget-friendly:

  • a hostel: around $15 per night for a single bed in a shared room, and about $25-40 per night for a private room
  • a simple hotel starts at around $30 per night, a bit far from the city center.

Mid-Range Budget

  • a 3-star hotel not in a central location: around $35-40 per night
  • a 3-star hotel in a central location: around $60-80 per night
  • a hotel with a better star rating: around $80-120 per night

High Budget

  • a 5-star hotel costs around $120-300 per night and it may go up to $1000 per night depending on your preferences
  • a private villa: depending on the location and amount of rooms around $600-1,000 per night

Food

The cost of food in Japan per day varies depending on what you decide to go for. The daily average cost at the beginning includes a mix of both food expenses.

Budget-friendly

Local or western-style food: $4-8 per meal (street food, convenience stores, fast-food restaurants)

Mid-Range Budget

Local or western-style food at a mid-range restaurant: $12-20 per meal

High Budget

Upper-class restaurants: about $30-40 per meal

Transport

Transportation prices per day differ considerably based on where you stay and how far you have to get to your sightseeing spots and activities.

Budget-friendly

A bus is the cheapest way of transportation

Mid-Range Budget:

Trains are the most convenient way to travel around, but more expensive than busses. A 7-day rail pass costs about $280.

High Budget

  • Hiring a car with a driver: about $230-600 for a whole day (depending on the type of vehicle)
  • Taxi/Uber: the average cost of a 5 km taxi ride in Japan is $18. Uber is considered to be a bit pricier than regular taxis.

The above list of prices for accommodation, transportation, and food expenses in Japan, will give you a better idea of what to expect on your holidays in Japan.

Must-Try Foods in Japan

Sushi

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You probably already know sushi, small bites of rice combined with fish and vegetables, often eaten with wasabi and soy sauce

Sake

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Sake is a very popular alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. It is also often referred to as nihonshu

Tempura

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Tempura is seafood, meat, or vegetables covered in batter and deep-fried in oil

Onigiri

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Japanese rice balls, shaped into a triangle, often wrapped in nori (edible seaweed)

Mochi

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Mochis are Japanese sweet rice cakes, they can have different colors and are usually filled with red bean paste

Some recommendations on where to eat in Japan

Japan has a lot of different foods to offer that you need to try! There could be a whole guide just for food in Japan, as options are endless. And I think most of you will agree, Japanese food is just delicious.

When going to restaurants in Japan, you might feel overwhelmed at first, with so many different words and foods you haven’t heard of before. You might want to try to go to a restaurant first, that offers an English menu or one with pictures inside. 

 If you don’t feel like eating at a restaurant, check out one of the convenience stores - they offer plenty of foods to go, sandwiches, baked goods, and bento boxes. Make sure to try the Onigiri.

 You might also stumble upon a food vending machine outside a restaurant. Choose what you would like to eat, pay already, head inside and simply wait!

Fun fact: Japanese do not eat while walking or standing somewhere on the street. If you bought a meal from somewhere outside a restaurant, you might want to find a park bench first or bring it back to your hotel, otherwise, you will receive strange looks. 

Travel Tips for Japan

Currency

The currency in Japan is the yen. The exchange rate is a bit complicated, but after a while, you get used to it:

100 Yen = 0,87 Dollars

It is quite common to pay with cash, so make sure to carry some around, just in case. Usually, you can also pay by card and you will be able to find ATMs nearly anywhere.

Entry requirements

In this current situation, entry requirements can change within a short amount of time. Make sure to check your entry requirements on your own country's embassy website online and inform yourself about the visa requirements as well.

Depending on your country, your maximum duration of stay will be different and visa costs will vary depending on the type of visa, for example, single or multiple entry visas.

Tipping in Japan

In general, tipping in Japan is not mandatory, especially in restaurants, tipping is even considered rude. Nevertheless, it is okay to tip your guide, if you have one.

Smoking in Japan

You might want to quit smoking before traveling to Japan! Smoking is prohibited indoors since 2020 (except in private homes) and in some cities, it is not even allowed to smoke on the streets. You might see designated areas for smokers outside.

Public toilets

You will find public toilets everywhere in Japan and they are also mostly clean and always free of charge.

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