Japan travel advice

Japan travel advice

Tips from our friends in Japan

Shopping advice

Ruth Hubbard, Product Manager of one
of our suppliers, Inside Japan Tours
gives top Japan travel advice:
We donít recommend the tuna auction at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo anymore as this is a working fish market. Tourists were really getting in the way of people working there, and we felt uncomfortable with it. If you want to go, you can do so at four in the morning and get one of the first come first served 100 tickets to witness the tuna auction. However, if you want to go along at 8-9am you still get the feel of the market, and there are loads of sushi restaurants for a sushi breakfast.
Jeremy Spencer of one of our suppliers, Oku Japan:
The food halls of big department stores are wonderful places to wander around, trying out samples of things they give out. Mitsukoshi is the most upmarket store, such as the one in the Ginza area of Tokyo.

Festival advice

Ruth Hubbard, Product Manager of one of our suppliers, Inside Japan Tours:
One of my favourites is the Sappora Snow Festival in February, with giant ice sculptures and ice bars. I also love the really traditional Gion Festival in Kyoto, in July, when people put on their traditional clothing and parade through the streets. It is fantastic.

Packing advice

Jeremy Spencer of one of our suppliers, Oku Japan has some sound Japan travel advice:
Take cash, as there is a good chance you will find yourself in a position where you canít get your card to work in machines. The Japanese banking system is actually a little behind. The post office ATMís do work with overseas cards, which is great. I got cash out from a remote spot on the Kumano Kodo trail, which is bonkers!....and my other tip is to take ear plugs. Because if you are staying in a traditional Japanese accommodation, it could be that your room is only separated from the neighbouring room by sliding screens.

Culture advice

Andrew Straw, founder of our cycling vacation supplier, Saddle Skedaddle:
You really donít give a Japanese person a hug, it just isnít done. I remember giving my host a big hug, and she just froze.
And walking on tatami mats with shoes on is a massive no no. Taking the last bit of food is also not done, which is always a bit weird. Thereíll be five spring rolls and the last one always gets left, because no one wants to take it. Unless someone gives it to you, you canít have the last one. I was always dying for that last bit of food and hoping someone would give it to me! Also, when you are out for a drink, you get a big bottle and share it out, and donít get another one until everyone has finished. So try to drink at the same pace as everyone else.

Japan tips from our travelers

Recommendations from those who have been there

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Japan travel tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
Fuji. The website says we climb in the day, we climbed at night. Definitely the best way to do it - but you need to tell us beforehand so that we bring proper kit. I didn't take a fleece, as thought that I'd take the chance as to whether it would be cold at the top during the day. If I'd have known that I was going to be at the top at 5am, I'd definitely have taken it - Simon Toller

I recommend having a half-day guide in Tokyo and Kyoto. We learned a lot about castles and temples based on the guides' expertise - Sally Vogl

I felt quite safe walking about on my own in Japan and even though I can't speak the language people were very helpful in the street if I needed to ask directions, so long as I had a map to point to! Always carry the name and address of the accommodation you are staying at with you so that if needed you can get a taxi to take you back if you get lost. Carry the mobile phone number of your guide with you at all times. Even if you don't have a mobile phone that works in Japan, you could ask someone to ring the number for you - Ruth Hamer

Chat to Japanese people as you go - they are so friendly! I had great chats with people on the trains, in the onsen, in the grounds of places we visited, at the sumo! It made it all the more interesting.... plus - check the weather & be prepared... - Julia Young
Photo credits:[Inspecting tuna at Tsukiji Fish Market: Jay Bergesen] [Sappora Snow Festival: SteFou!] [Tatami mats: Edward Dalmulder] [Friendly people: Sean H] [Mount Fuji: Karl Baron]
Written by Catherine Mack
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