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Japan is such a beautiful place to visit with many varied and wonderful things to see and do. The history, the culture and the sheer magnificence of the country side will take your breath away however, getting there, organising the right hotel and getting around can be a challenge.

Here at Bushido Travel, we are often asked many questions about traveling to Japan, so to help you, we have answered some of the most asked questions that we get. If you have any specific questions about Japan, please ask us.


How long does it take to get to Japan?

This depends on who you travel with. We elect to fly QANTAS or JAL direct to Japan from Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane (average 9 hours). JetStar fly via Gold Coast or Cairns (average 7-9 Hours). If you travel with other airlines, be aware that you will transit through other countries often spending 20-30 hours (without a decent sleep) to get to your destination. This will impact your first few days in Japan. We normally get the day flight over to Japan, arriving around 7:00pm and go to the hotel for a good nights sleep. Coming home we get the night flight that gets us home by midday.


Do they speak English in Japan?

While Japanese is their first language, many Japanese people have learnt to speak English, and will often go out of their way to help you so they can practice their English language skills. Most restaurants and fast food outlets have an English menu – just ask.

Do I need to take Japanese currency?

Simply, yes. While Japan is at the forefront of technology, there are many restaurants and shops that only take cash. There are ATMs available however, you will need to check with your bank on what the international withdrawal fees and exchange fees are. If you use card when you can and Yen when you have to, you would be OK with around $1000 worth of Yen for a 2-3 week trip (depending on what you buy). If you are looking to buy Japanese Yen, make sure you shop around. You will get a better rate on-line than you would if you buy at the airport.

Is Japan expensive?

This depends on the exchange rate between the Australian dollar and the Japanese Yen. Food and most tourist type places are relatively cheap (as is alcohol) however some shopping, tourist attractions, some rail travel and restaurants can be a bit more expensive. Hotel prices vary depending on the time of booking and the season – on-par with Australia.

What is the best way to get around Japan?

Japan has one of the best and most efficient rail networks in the world.

JR RAIL – Depending on what you are doing and where you intend to go, we recommend a Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) that is only available to non-residents of Japan and must be purchased prior to arrival in Japan. These passes come in 7, 14 and 21 day values and make travelling around Japan easier and a lot cheaper (especially on the bullet train).

SUBWAY – The subway (Metro) system in Japan is excellent for getting around the cities. Metro cards (Suica etc) are similar to the transport cards that we have here in Australia. The cards are available form most stations and are rechargeable. These passes can be used on trains, ferries and buses.

DRIVING – Japan have the same basic road rules that we have in Australia and drive on the same side of the road. Most of the hire cars have GPS that can be used in English so it’s not too hard to get around. Also, there are many toll roads in Japan. If you want to self-drive, you will need to get an International Driving Permit from your road service provider (RAA, NRMA etc). Hire cars are readily available and not expensive to hire.

TAXI – Taxis are very clean (and readily available) but are relatively expensive in Japan. The first kilometre and a half will set you back about 1000 Yen however, the rate rises sharply after that.

AIRPORT TRANSFERS – A taxi from Narita airport into Tokyo will set you back about $250 AUD so we recommend the train or limousine coach. Most of the higher rated hotels have their own coaches that go directly to the hotel for about $40AUD


What are the people like?

Japanese culture is built on respect for everyone and everything. The people are warm and friendly and will often go out of their way to help you. You need to be aware that the Japanese people respect your privacy and surroundings especially on trains. You will not hear them talking loudly, or speaking on their phones, on trains or buses and they do not appreciate loud, boisterous or inappropriate behaviour in public. If you respect the people and the Japanese culture, you will undoubtedly have a great time and meet some new friends.

What is the accommodation like in Japan?

There are several different styles of accommodation in Japan. Ryokan (traditional Japanese style sleeping on a Futon on the floor) Western style hotel, Business capsule (around 1.2m X 1.2m X 2m), Shrine-stay (live as a Buddhist monk does), Air-BnB and Homestay (depending on length of stay). Many of the Western style hotel rooms are small compared to Australian standards (some as small as 10 sqm) however, larger rooms in hotels are available (normally at a higher cost). Hotel beds are very firm as are the pillows (we suggest take an old pillow from home that you can leave in Japan when you are finished with it) bathrooms are relatively small modules but very functional with most having heated toilet seats and bidet function.

Hotels will look after your bags (securely) before your check-in time or after check-out until you leave for your next destination. Most hotels also have a luggage forwarding option (at a cost) which makes it easier for you to look around and do what you want without having to worry about your bags.

When we travel to Japan, we look at several key points. We normally stay close to a JR station (allows us to use the rail system quite easily), we look for rooms above 15sqm, we look for non-smoking rooms (Japanese hotels have smoking and non-smoking rooms) and we look to see if breakfast is included (normally a combination of Japanese and western breakfast smorgasbord).


I don’t eat seafood so what can I eat in Japan?

While Japan is famous for its seafood, there are countless other options available to you. Vegan, vegetarian or meat lover, there will be more than enough choice for you to enjoy the foods that Japan has to offer. Lawson, Seven-11 or any supermarket have fresh lunch items pre-made (everything is fresh daily). The selection of super-fresh sandwiches, Bento boxes, hot food or even fresh baked form any bakery café will not disappoint. Evening meal choices are too many to list but cater for all tastes and are quite affordable and readily available in most districts.

How fit do I need to be to travel Japan?

Depending on what you are doing depends on the level of fitness required. If you are just generally sightseeing, then you don’t have too much to worry about however, you can expect to walk between 3-10KM a day unless you are on organised bus excursions or in a private car. If you want to climb Mount Fuji, then you will need a moderate to high level of fitness to traverse from 5th Station to the summit.

Is Japan disabled friendly?

Most places in Japan are accessible for people with disabilities however, some stations do not have elevators and some tourist sites may have steep steps or paths. We endeavour to minimise any issues that we can by seeking alternative venues or access where we can.