Japan ranked 21st in the most visited countries in the world. This technological advanced nation is known for its breathtaking scenery, including the famous Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms.
One of the most outstanding developments in this country is their Shinkensen (Bullet train). This fast-moving train lets you travel around the country in a matter of hours. All you need to do is to purchase a Japan Rail Pass. The JR Pass is available is exclusively for tourist.
- You can only purchase them in your country, not in Japan
It is impossible to get a JR Pass within Japan. It is important to have the JR pass before you get in the country. You can only get it validated at the ticket offices when you reach the country. So if you are planning to have a vacation in Japan, you can get your JR Pass from a reputable travel agency in your home country.
- It is available in denominations of 7, 14, and 21 days.
- You can choose between ordinary (standard) and first class (green).
If you are travelling during peak season, it is important to reserve a seat in advance. Tthe rain seats often sell out during the holidays, and it can be stressful to make any last-minute reservations. Also, you have to bring the Japan pass around with you everywhere!
2. Japan railway pass saves us so much money!
I did some research about travelling without the JR pass because duh, it’s so expensive! A JR pass could cost up to $350 (7 day ticket) and I am not even sure if I am able to cover many regions such as Kansai, and Tokyo. But I heard from people that one way ticket from Osaka to Tokyo is is approximately 13,600 yen which converts to around $140 SGD one way. A JR pass allows you to take any railway as long as it is covered by JR that includes express and normal train. For me, express train is awesome because it skipped many stations in-between and that saves me so much time. Also, I have roughly calculated that I have saved around $400 SGD with the use of the JR pass for my 10 days trip.
3. Do you know Bento is served and eaten cold, not hot..?
This is something I am still shocked about. I made a silly mistake to ask the shop assistant to heat up my bento. It was really funny because I always had this misconception that bentos are served hot to be eaten in the bullet train. The fried chicken was a little cold and soggy, but i love the plum rice! I wouldn’t think I will eat again given there are other convenient stores such as Lawson. But still, it was an interesting food experience and look, the food look appetising don’t they?
4. You can find a real geisha at Gion district, Kyoto.
I have always enjoy watching geisha movies and finally, I get to witnessed one at Gion district! Most of the geishas are rushing to work in the evening, so you probably spot them at around 5pm or 6pm. But recently there were too many tourists trying to harass them by blocking their path or rudely requesting for photos, hence thats probably explain why geishas often walk so fast. I managed to see 4-5 geishas so you should try your luck there.
5. Avoid working peak hours, you wouldn’t want to mess with the angry commuters!
I think when travelling in Japan, it is advisable to avoid the golden week (29th april to early may) and during 8am & 6pm daily. This is because the trains are usually packed like sardines and even though Japanese are often polite, they are nasty when they are unable to board the train and can be mean towards foreigners.
6. Japan scenery is so gorgeous with breathtaking sceneries, but it takes really long to get there
For me, I travel far for places with beautiful nature landscape. However in Japan, I was so tired and drained from commuting from trains, bus and by foot. This is because the entire journey would took us 6.5 hours in total and oh boy, Japan is really huge! I would advice you to bring comfortable footwear, plenty of snacks and water for the long distance travel. However, I am always awed at the beauty of nature. Japan is really a beautiful country with thick forest and waterfalls.
7. Japan is the only country with cup noodle musuem in the world
I had the opportunity to visit Osaka cup noodle musuem and made my own cup noodle! I love how we can make use of our creativity to design our cup noodles and then watched the entire process from packaging, customising the noodle with ingredients and then to pack them in inflatable carrier. I felt like I was a kid and I really love the atmosphere there. They also have a cafe specially for waiting area and there’s plenty of cup noodle vending machines for you to choose from. I absolutely love the curry cheese and the creamy seafood flavour yummm
8. The toll fees for car in Japan are really expensive
Some typical driving times on the Expressway are 5 hours from Kyoto to Tokyo with a cost of 9,800 yen in Expressway tolls, Nagasaki-Kumamoto (2,800 yen), Tokyo-Hakone (1 hour, 20 minutes, 1,800 yen), Sendai-Morioka (5,800 yen). We spend over $200SGD a day with the rental of car as well as the expensive toll. It was regretful on our part to not purchase the ETC card that would have save us so much money! Apparently you purchase it at $20SGD and you are entitled to discount for the tolls. Be sure to do that!
9. Mount fuji is a shy lady, you are lucky if you did see her!
The perfectly formed peak of Mount Fuji is notoriously shy, so any sighting has to be counted as a blessing. It shows up only 80 days in a year. According to legend, Fuji used to be the abode of a fire goddess who would be jealous of any other woman in the vicinity.
Your best chance of seeing the notoriously shy mountain is in the late autumn, winter and early spring when the air is fairly clear. Even during these times, the mountain may only be visible in the morning before it retreats behind a curtain of haze or clouds.
10. Most Japanese can speak japanese/chinese… but not english
When we are there, we found the google translator pretty useful in translating english to Japanese. Alternatively you can pick up some basic Chinese as some of the signages and menu are in Chinese. Also, a Japanese with a background in the humanities may have studied 漢文 (kanbun), a technique devised to convert classical Chinese, such as the above, to Japanese syntax.
Hence, knowing some of the tips will definitely help you for your next adventure in Japan! Tag us at #flymethereorg with your japan experience on Instagram to stand a chance to be featured.