Want to Visit Japan?

by | May 23, 2023

Here is what you need to know before you go

Japan is a captivating country known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and vibrant cityscapes. Whether you’re planning a short vacation or a long-term stay, these tips and tricks will help you make the most of your visit to Japan. From cultural etiquette to transportation hacks, here’s everything you need to know before embarking on your Japanese adventure.

Learn a bit of the language before you go

As a visitor to Japan, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with some basic Japanese phrases. While many people in Japan speak English to some extent, knowing a few key phrases can enhance your experience and show your respect for the local culture. Here are some essential phrases to know:

Konnichiwa: Hello / Good afternoon
Arigatou gozaimasu: Thank you
Eigo o hanashimasu ka?: Do you speak English?
Menyuu o onegaishimasu: May I have the menu, please?
Eki wa doko desu ka?: Where is the train station?
Hai: Yes
Iie: No

Observe Japanese Etiquette

As a visitor to Japan, it’s important to be aware of and respect Japanese etiquette and customs. Here are some essential etiquettes to keep in mind:

Bowing: Bowing is a common form of greeting and showing respect in Japan. When meeting someone, a slight bow is appropriate. The depth and duration of the bow can vary depending on the situation and the person’s status.

Removing shoes: In many homes, traditional restaurants, and even some temples and shrines, you’re expected to take off your shoes before entering. Look for signs or shoe racks indicating whether you should remove your shoes.

Punctuality: Being punctual is highly valued in Japanese culture. Arrive on time for appointments, meetings, or any scheduled events.

Politeness: Japanese people are known for their politeness. Use polite language (keigo) when addressing people, especially those in a higher position or older than you. Saying “sumimasen” (excuse me) or “arigatou gozaimasu” (thank you) shows respect and is appreciated.

Gift-giving: Giving gifts is a common practice in Japan. If invited to someone’s home or when meeting a business associate, it’s customary to bring a small gift. It’s polite to present the gift with both hands and express your gratitude.

Dining Etiquette

Wait for everyone to be served before starting to eat.

Use chopsticks appropriately and avoid passing food directly from chopstick to chopstick.

Slurping noodles, especially in ramen shops, is considered acceptable and even a sign of enjoying the meal.

Saying “itadakimasu” before starting the meal and “gochisousama deshita” after finishing shows appreciation.

Public behavior: Maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor in public places, such as trains, buses, and temples. Talking loudly on public transportation or using your phone in quiet areas may be considered impolite.

Tipping: Unlike in some other countries, tipping is generally not practiced in Japan. Exceptional service may be considered part of the job, and tipping can even be seen as rude. Instead, express your appreciation with a polite thank you.

Carry Cash

Although Japan is highly advanced in technology, cash is still widely used, especially in smaller establishments and local markets. Ensure you have enough yen on hand to avoid any inconvenience, as not all places accept credit cards.


When using transportation in Japan, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind:

Purchase a Suica or Pasmo card: These rechargeable smart cards can be used for various modes of transportation, including trains, subways, buses, and even vending machines. They save you the hassle of buying individual tickets for each ride and offer convenience.

Familiarize yourself with train systems: Japan has an extensive and efficient train network, but it can be overwhelming for first-time visitors. Study the train maps and schedules, and learn how to navigate different train lines, including local, express, and shinkansen (bullet trains).

Consider regional transportation passes: Depending on your itinerary, regional passes like the Tokyo Metro Pass or the Kyoto City Bus & Subway Pass can provide unlimited travel within a specific area, offering cost savings if you plan to explore extensively.

Be aware of rush hours: In major cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, rush hours can be extremely crowded. If possible, try to avoid travelling during these peak times (usually early mornings and evenings) to have a more comfortable experience.

Take Advantage of Convenience Stores

 Convenience stores, such as 7-Eleven and FamilyMart, are found in abundance throughout Japan. These stores offer a wide range of services, including ATMs that accept foreign cards, delicious and affordable meals, and even ticket reservations for popular attractions.

Keep an Eye on your Tattoos

Tattoos have historically been associated with the yakuza (Japanese organized crime) in Japan, and there is still a lingering stigma surrounding visible tattoos in certain traditional establishments like public baths and hot springs (onsen) due to their association with the criminal underworld. However, attitudes toward tattoos are gradually changing, and many establishments now welcome visitors with tattoos, especially in major cities and tourist areas. Here’s what you should know about tattoos and spas as a visitor in Japan:

Public Baths and Onsen 

While some public baths and traditional onsen may have policies prohibiting entry for individuals with visible tattoos, there are an increasing number of places that have relaxed their rules or offer separate facilities for tattooed visitors. It’s always a good idea to check the rules and policies of specific establishments in advance. Some establishments may require you to cover your tattoos with adhesive bandages or clothing while using the facilities.

Hotels with Spa Facilities

 Many hotels in Japan offer spa facilities, including hot springs or bathing areas. Some hotels have relaxed policies toward tattoos, allowing guests to use the facilities without any restrictions. It’s advisable to inquire about their tattoo policies when making a reservation or upon check-in.

Covering Tattoos

If you have visible tattoos and plan to visit traditional public baths or onsen, you can use waterproof bandages or special tattoo covers designed to hide tattoos. These are available at some drugstores or online. By covering your tattoos, you can ensure a more comfortable and respectful experience.

Japan has so much to offer, from vibrant cities like Tokyo and Kyoto to picturesque landscapes such as Mount Fuji and historic temples and shrines. By being prepared and respectful, you’ll have an unforgettable journey through this captivating country. Enjoy your visit to Japan!


Subscribe Now

Be the first to know about new products, exciting destinations, and game-changing travel trends.