Tourist Survival Tips - Japan
A lot of people dream of traveling and exploring the world to see new places and meet new people. Although seen as a very “yolo” thing to do, a well-seasoned traveler knows that being unprepared for a trip to a foreign country can ruin the entire experience. People travel to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes… EVERYTHING about a foreign land. This guide is specifically targeting people who want to travel to the land of the rising sun, the one and only… Japan.
This guide applies for travelers who can and can’t speak Japanese. Hopefully, this guide will help your trip go smoother to make your experience as a Japanese tourist better.
Rent a pocket wifi (hopefully, unlimited)
Honestly, there's free wifi available EVERYWHERE in Japan. Train stations, convenience stores, cafes, and most hotels all over Japan have wifi or maybe an actual computer connected to the internet sometimes. Trust me when I say that having 24/7 wifi with you is a god send!
You can usually find pocket wifi renting companies online where you can either pick it up from the airport or get it delivered to your hotel. Piece of advice though, picking it up from the airport is the way better option specially for people who don’t know how to go to their hotels and prefer to commute.
- Looking up schedules online - Since Japan is a very strict, time-conscious place, your life will be easier looking up train/bus/show/attraction/restaurant schedules. Looking up the last train/bus to your hotel is fairly important when traveling in Japan. Missing the last train/bus can be the biggest pain in the butt (and your wallet) because cabs in Japan are EXPENSIVE as heck. There’s so many places to go to in Japan so for people who want to fit in a lot of stuff in one day, proper timing and a rain check would refrain you from disappointment and wasting time!
- Getting around – Hyperdia and google maps are great for finding your way around Japan. Both apps will show you different possible routes, prices and travel times when going to a particular area! Google maps is also a good way for you to find restaurants/train/subway stations closest to you. Downloading the UberApp is a possibility as well for people who have the budget to go around in style ;)
- Contacting people – most people in Japan use Line to contact each other so in case that you do meet and hang out with people in Japan, downloading the app will make it easier to contact the locals. Of course, there are other social media sites you can use on it too. What’s the point of traveling when you cant tell people about it? ADVENTUUUUREEEEE
- Communicating with people – I have two words for you. GOOGLE. TRANSLATE. J There’s a low possibility that it will properly translate what you want to say so translating main words instead of sentences/phrases will still help you communicate in the long run!
Always bring a power bank with you
With all these gadgets require great responsibility… and a lot of power! Your trusty phone/ipad/laptop/pocket wifi is the best next thing to a guide and losing that can make you feel lost and very confused. Having back up power for these gadgets will make sure your trusty sidekicks are always there to help you out.
Also, if all else fails, bring your charger with you and go to a café/mcdonalds and look for a konsento (plug) J
Get a train card
You can acquire a train card from machines in train stations. Technically, you can get a ticket for traveling on a train , but, I assure you that acquiring a train card is more convenient than that! Getting a ticket is technically a one use thing. If the place you want to go to costs cheaper than the ticket you bought, well, bad news. You wont see the excess ever again! You pretty much forfeit the change because train tickets are one use only! Train cards, however, will pretty much be cheaper and will also charge you appropriately depending on where you go. You can just keep on topping it up in train stations as well.
In Tokyo, its either a PASMO train card or a SUICA train card. The type of card may vary depending on location and train line but its all the same and can be used almost everywhere. It can be used to pay for riding the bus, purchasing items from convenience stores and even buying something from a vending machine! Be careful about topping it up excessively though. You cant take the money out anymore.
Do not be afraid to ask for help
Asking for help in Japan is not as difficult as you think it is! Tourists usually get intimidated by the language barrier. Although it is true that the difference in language is a hurdle, it doesn’t mean its an actual blockage. To be honest, its quite rare to find Japanese people who can speak good English. Talking to the locals using slow and basic English will definitely help you out. Japanese people are naturally helpful and will gladly show or direct lost and confused foreigners to places they want to go to!
If that doesn’t work, try and ask other foreigners! If English doesn’t work, use body language.