Japan is an amazing country, blessed with a beautiful natural backdrop steeped in history and culture and full of some of the most welcoming people on earth. But, if you don’t speak Japanese, travelling there can be pretty difficult as the Japanese economy is nowhere near as geared to tourism as some of the more popular Asian destinations. So our aim today is to give you some pointers to best navigate your trip in the land of the rising sun.
Just kidding! But on a serious note if you could learn some basic vocabulary like toilet or train station just to cover your bases you will be surprised how many situations it can help out in. If you are interested though Japanese is a pretty fun language to learn and you will definitely get more out of your trip!
Have No Expectations.
Don’t assume the menu will be in English. Don’t assume the staff at your hotel speaks English. Really, just don’t assume anything, you are in a foreign country, just let go and enjoy.
Travelling by train is generally pretty painless but when punctuality is important for your next adventure just rocking up to the train station won’t do. Jumping on Hyperdia gives you all the train times (and plane times) with all the info you need such as transfers and the fare breakdowns. I personally used this every time I took a train in Japan.
Just one will decent one will do but if you are really stuck and need to translate something having an app on your phone can really help.
Do Your Research
Knowing where you want to go and what you want to see and do will make it a lot easier if you are a less adventurous traveller. Knowledge is power!
Don’t Underestimate Body Language
You would be surprised when all else fails what simple hand gestures with a warm smile can accomplish. Japanese people are generally very helpful and friendly, if you are open and friendly back youwill be surprised how far some of them will go to help you.
Japan has a great drinking culture and in the major cities most bars will be open 7 nights a week. These are great places to meet friends that speak English either other tourists or expats or local Japanese with some English language capability. Some bars are better than others to find likeminded individuals, usually the foreign themed with English menus are a good place to start!
Get Prepaid Wi-Fi.
Seriously for a country so well known for its technological magnificence free Wi-Fi is few and far between. It’s better not to rely on luck and get yourself a local card or a Wi-Fi dongle to get you through those long train journeys or to help find that damn restaurant you have been looking for.
Pick random things off the menu, go walking and get lost (just keep a hotel business card handy). Remember you are on holiday, don’t stress and enjoy it. Who know when you will back in japan?