Japan Travel Guide: What to See and How to Save

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Japan is becoming one of the most prominent travel destinations in the world and the idea that it is a money drain is beginning to hold less and less truth. The country is broadening to accommodate for the influx of tourism in the area, allowing for many more travel opportunities.

With travel comes the daunting decision of what sights to see in such limited time and whether city life or ancient architecture is the right path for you. If planned right, travelling to Japan doesn’t need to cost a lot of money.

Here’s a quick breakdown on how to see what makes Japan unforgettable while on a budget.

SPENDING

1. Accomodation:

The best way to save right off the bat is by planning to say in a Capsule or Business hotel.

Capsule hotels are small one person spaces that allow for a nice comfortable place to sleep overnight and then spend most of the day roaming the city.

They’re a step above hostels and are decently cheap per night (around $30). It’s the best way to cut down your spending by at least a third without having to give much up, but it only works if you are travelling light and preferably not with many people.

2. Transportation:

Although it seems expensive, taking the bullet train around Japan is the best bet. The money put into buying a ticket ends up being worth it because it can reduce the time you spend getting from one place to another by up to 10 hours.

The way to go about buying these tickets is to purchase them online before your trip, usually resulting in a 20% discount and to buy a pass instead of individual tickets. While the pass price is more expensive it cuts down the overall cost and lets you travel without worry.

Other alternatives include taking buses (mainly useful for short distances) and flights (marketed towards foreigners and perfect for cross-country travel).

3.Food

Most food places in Japan aren’t as expensive as they’re made out to be. Although high class restaurants and fresh sushi will cut into your budget, the average lunch won’t cost much.

If it’s still something you’d worry over the best advice is to eat at Japanese fast food stops. Unlike many other countries, the quality Japanese fast food isn’t bad at all. You can get a full bowl of ramen with toppings for 1.75 USD or fresh ready to go meals from convenience stores.

Avoid fresh fruit! Japan is big on the premium fruit market and almost all their products are produced domestically so their prices are always abnormally high.


SIGHTSEEING

Tokyo and Kyoto are must sees when vacationing so here’s a list of things to do while in the area:

Tokyo

  • Shibuya shopping district

One of the most crowded places in Japan, where most tourists begin and buy souvenirs and trinkets

  • Edo tokyo museum

Museum of Tokyo’s extensive history that lets you really grasp the country you’re residing in

  • Yakitori Alley

Coined as ‘Memory Lane’ Yakitori Alley is a small street in Tokyo packed with tiny restaurants or street food vendors. It’s the best place to feel immersed in japanese nightlife and try new things

  • Harijuku District

Everyone knows about harijuku girls, but less people realize they are named from the colorful district in Tokyo filled with street art and wild fashion. It’s definitely worth checking out.

  • Disney

While there are multiple Disney parks across the globe it’s always an exciting experience to go to a theme park in a place you don’t know and Disney is always a good time

*Take the bullet train to Kyoto and make sure to sit on the right to try and catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji out the window*


Kyoto

  • Higashima

Higashima is a dive right into Japanese culture and many historic sights. Filled with ancient temples, shrines, and historic streets you can spend a whole day just taking it all in

  • Kinkaku-Ji

In west Kyoto resides one of the most famous and photographed places in all of Japan: The Golden Temple. It’s a big tourist attraction and luckily can come with a temple pass that allows you to visit multiple temples in the area for a cheaper price

  • Fushimi Inari

Shinto Shrines (also known as Torii) are a big part of buddhist and japanese history and also most iconographically familiar to tourists ⛩. Kyoto has a forest filled with Torii gates and it’s a beautiful place to get in touch with yourself and nature

  • Downtown Kyoto

Like any city there is always a place for shopping and street food and Downtown Kyoto is the place to go when you need to step back into the modern world

  • Sagano Bamboo Forest

The name gives it all away, this is the best place to experience so much of Japanese culture and just get lost in nature. It’s part of the 100 soundscapes of Japan and absolutely a must see

It’s impossible to run out of things to do in Japan but no matter how many things you end up seeing you won’t leave feeling like you missed out at all. Happy travels and bon voyage!