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Home: Planning Your First Trip to Japan

Planning Your First Trip to Japan
by Anne Ferris

Japan is a treasure trove of sights, sounds, and delights. A combination of the old and the new, it’s a country that delights its visitors at every turn, from the dizzying lights and heights of Tokyo to spectacular natural scenery such as mountains and volcanoes.

But before you venture east, there’s plenty of planning you’ll need to take care of to ensure your trip goes off without a hitch. Below, we outline some of the key considerations you’ll need to organize.

When To Go

The best time to visit Japan will depend on individual preferences, but generally speaking, Spring is the best time to visit. It may be a little rainy from time to time, but weather is generally pleasant and you also have to see the cherry blossoms for which Japan is famous.

The post-summer months are also a good option as the weather is agreeable, there are fewer crowds, and it’s less expensive. It’s usually a good idea to avoid visiting during the summer as the weather can be very hot and humid.

Before You Go

Japan is a different breed than what you’re used to if you’re coming from the states or Europe. To begin, you need to make sure you pack the appropriate clothing for your trip. If you’re visiting during monsoon season, make sure you bring your waterproof clothing!

In Spring, weather can be different from day to day - you might be wearing a t-shirt and shorts one day, and your winter clothing the next. Also be sure to pack your outdoor gear if you love the outdoors - Japan is full of fascinating recreational opportunities that are a must-do, so make sure you bring your hiking boots with you.

Your outdoor pursuits also means you’ll need travel insurance that will cover any accidents or injuries - like most countries, tourists have to pay for their healthcare and, while it’s not the most expensive in the world, costs will add up very quickly if there’s anything serious.

Appropriate coverage will also insure you against other accidents, such as lost or damaged belongings, too.

Getting There

Japan is well-served by many international flights, so you’ll have no trouble getting there. Most visitors fly into Tokyo, followed by Osaka, but you won’t be limited to these two cities because, as mentioned above, the whole country is well-connected via the air.

Once you’re there, you’ll need to present a valid passport for entry. So long as you are from the European Union, USA, Canada, etc, then there are no complicated visa rules to take care of before you fly - when you fly you will be admitted for 90 days.

What to Do

You’ve landed in Japan, wonderful! But what now? With so many excellent destinations and sights available, where do you even start? Below are three of the must-visit stops during your stay.

See the Cherry Blossoms

Japan’s cherry blossoms capture the imagination because of their majestic beauty. Between March and May, these trees turn whole waves of land into a mesmerizing cherry color. In April, Ueno Park in Tokyo is a good place to see the colors of more than a thousand cherry trees. It gets busy, but it’s oh so worth it.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most famous attractions. Standing 3776 meters high, it’s the highest mountain in the country and is noted for its uncanny symmetry and snow-covered peak.

You can get to the top and back in a day, and most people with a decent level of fitness can do it - though only during the summer. It’ll take at least 6 hours up and 3.5 hours down, so it’s a long day, but you won’t regret it.

Visit the Temples

Japanese buddhist temples are among the most recognizable buildings in the world. These beautiful buildings are typically set among exquisite gardens which create a tranquil environment.

When the city gets too much, it is here that you want to be. Two of the most popular Japanese temples are Enryaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera, which were both built in the 8th century and are located in Kyoto.

Of course, these are just the smallest selection in a country bursting with fascinating sights; the only way to explore your own Japan is to get on a plane and get over there!

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