What to see in Japan

The Land of the Rising Sun

It is a land of captivating contrasts that blends a rich cultural heritage with cutting-edge technology. This mountainous archipelago in East Asia is famous for its ancient traditions such as the tea ceremony, ikebana (floral art), and kabuki theater. Simultaneously, it is a leader in innovation and modernity, being home to iconic technological companies like Sony and Toyota.

Where is Japan?

Map Drawing

Japan is a beautiful island country located in East Asia. It is situated at the eastern end of the Asian continent and is composed of four main islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, and Shikoku.

The capital of Japan is Tokyo, which is one of the largest and most exciting cities in the world. Japan is also surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, giving it a unique geography and a rich maritime tradition.

Japanese landscapes range from bustling ultramodern cities like Tokyo and Osaka to serene temples and zen gardens. Mount Fuji, an iconic volcanic cone, stands majestically as a symbol of the nation.

Japanese cuisine is world-renowned, with sushi, ramen, tempura, and much more to tantalize the taste buds of visitors. Additionally, courtesy and respect are fundamental in Japanese culture, making trips to Japan a unique and enriching experience.

What Language is Spoken in Japan?

Translation Drawing

In Japan, the official and predominant language is Japanese. Japanese is a unique language with a complex writing system that includes Chinese characters called kanji, as well as two Japanese syllabaries called hiragana and katakana.

It is important to note that, despite the prevalence of Japanese, in urban and tourist areas, it is possible to find people who speak English, especially in hotels, restaurants, and popular tourist attractions. However, in rural areas or outside of the main tourist zones, English may not be as common, so learning some basic phrases in Japanese can be very helpful for travelers.

Japanese appreciate visitors’ efforts to communicate in their language and are often willing to help travelers attempting to speak Japanese, even if it’s just a few words.

Kifune Shrine Kyoto-Japan

Religion in Japan

Church drawing

Religion in Japan is an important part of its culture and daily life. Although Japan is known for its religious diversity, two predominant belief systems have significantly influenced Japanese society: Shintoism and Buddhism.

Shintoism: Shintoism is an indigenous religion of Japan that focuses on the worship of kami, which are spirits or deities believed to reside in nature, such as mountains, trees, rivers, and other elements. Shinto shrines are important places in Japanese life and are used for a variety of purposes, from wedding ceremonies to local festivals. Reverence for nature and harmony with the environment are fundamental concepts in Shintoism.

Buddhism: Buddhism came to Japan from China and Korea in the 6th century and became another significant religious influence. In Japan, Buddhism is practiced in various forms, including Zen Buddhism and Pure Land Buddhism, among others. Buddhist temples are common throughout the country and play an essential role in funeral ceremonies and religious festivities.

It is important to note that, despite the prevalence of Shintoism and Buddhism, many Japanese practice a form of religious syncretism, combining elements of both religions in their daily lives without seeing any contradiction. Additionally, the country is known for its religious tolerance, and other religions, such as Christianity and Islam, also have a presence in Japan, albeit to a lesser extent.

Japanese Table

Time Difference with Japan

24-hour Clock Drawing

The time difference between Japan and Spain varies depending on the time of year because both countries may be subject to daylight saving time changes. Here is the typical time difference:

In standard time (without daylight saving time): Japan is ahead of Spain in time.

  • Japan, for example, Tokyo: UTC+9 hours.
  • Spain, for example, Madrid: UTC+1 hour UTC+2 hours during daylight saving time.

During daylight saving time in Spain: When Spain adjusts its clocks for daylight saving time, the time difference with Japan decreases.

  • Japan (e.g., Tokyo): UTC+9 hours.
  • Spain (e.g., Madrid): UTC+2 hours.

Therefore, I recommend checking the current local time in both places before planning a phone call, video call, or any other activity that depends on the time.

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What currency do they have in Japan?

Exchange money drawing

The official currency of Japan is the Japanese Yen, abbreviated as “JPY” or represented by the symbol “¥”. The yen is widely used throughout the country and is the only currency accepted for everyday transactions.

The Japanese yen is subdivided into smaller units called “sen” and “rin,” although these subdivisions are rarely used in practice due to inflation and the discontinuation of smaller denominations. Common coins in Japan include ¥1, ¥5, ¥10, ¥50, ¥100, and ¥500. Yen banknotes are available in denominations of ¥1,000, ¥2,000, ¥5,000, and ¥10,000.

It’s important to note that in Japan, cash is quite commonly used, although credit cards are also widely accepted in many stores and restaurants, especially in urban areas. However, in rural areas or smaller establishments, you may encounter places that prefer cash payments. Therefore, it’s advisable to carry enough cash during your visit to Japan to ensure you are prepared for all situations.

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Cambio de Divisa Dolar

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Pay with fee-free cards in Japan

Credit cards drawing

In Japan, the use of credit and debit cards is quite common in commercial establishments, hotels, and restaurants in urban areas. However, it’s important to note that, in some smaller places or rural areas, they may not accept cards and only accept cash.

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Remember that policies and practices may vary depending on the place and the company in Japan, so it’s important to be prepared with a combination of cash and cards to ensure you can conveniently pay during your trip.

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What is the best time to travel to Japan?

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The best time to travel to Japan depends on your personal preferences and what you want to experience on your trip, as Japan offers a variety of attractions throughout all seasons. Here is an overview of the different seasons and their advantages:

Spring (March to May)

Spring drawing

Spring is one of the most popular seasons to visit Japan. During this period, cherry blossoms (sakura) are in full bloom, creating a beautiful cherry blossom spectacle across the country. It’s an ideal time to enjoy sakura festivals and picnics under the blooming cherry trees. The temperatures are mild, and rainfall is moderate.

Summer (June to August)

Summer drawing

Summer in Japan can be hot and humid, especially in July and August. However, it’s an excellent time for festivals, such as the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and the Tanabata in Sendai. It’s also the peak season for outdoor activities, like mountain hiking and enjoying the beaches of Okinawa.

Autumn (September to November)

Autumn drawing

Autumn is another favorite season to visit Japan. The autumn colors of the leaves (koyo) create stunning landscapes throughout the country. It’s a perfect time to visit places like Nikko National Park and the Bamboo Forest of Arashiyama in Kyoto. The weather is cool and pleasant.

Winter (December to February)

Winter drawing

If you enjoy winter sports, Japan is an excellent destination for skiing and snowboarding, especially in regions like Hokkaido and Nagano. You can also indulge in hot springs (onsen) during winter. Cities like Sapporo host impressive snow festivals. In Tokyo and other cities, winter illuminations are a captivating attraction.

Therefore, the choice of the best time to visit Japan will depend on your personal preferences and the activities you want to engage in. Each season has its charm and unique opportunities, so research and plan accordingly based on what appeals to you the most.

Asian woman wearing traditional Japanese kimono looking at cherry blossoms Himeji Castle Japan

What to Visit in Japan?

Excursion drawing

Japan is a country full of fascinating attractions and incredible places to visit. Here, I provide you with a list of some of the most popular destinations and sites to explore in Japan.

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Tokyo: The capital of Japan is a vibrant metropolis that combines modernity and tradition. You can visit the Imperial Palace, the Akihabara district for electronics, the Shibuya pedestrian crossing, and the Tsukiji fish market.

Kyoto: This historic city is famous for its temples and shrines, such as the Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. You can also enjoy the bamboo gardens in the Arashiyama district.

Nara: Known for its sacred deer and the Great Buddha of Nara at the Todai-ji Temple, which is the world’s largest bronze statue of Buddha.

Hiroshima: A historic and moving place that houses the Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum, in memory of the victims of the atomic bomb.

Osaka: Known as the “kitchen of Japan,” Osaka offers a delicious culinary experience, as well as Osaka Castle and Universal Studios Japan.

Hokkaido: The northernmost island of Japan is famous for its natural beauty, winter skiing, and the Shikotsu-Toya National Park with lakes and hot springs.

Nikko: A UNESCO World Heritage site that houses beautiful temples and shrines, such as the Toshogu Shrine.

Kanazawa: Known for its traditional Japanese gardens, the Higashi Chaya geisha district, and the Omicho fish market.

Kyoto

Takayama: A picturesque city in the mountains known for its traditional festivals and historic architecture.

Miyajima Island: Home to the famous floating Torii gate and Mount Misen, which offers excellent panoramic views.

Koya-san: A spiritual place where you can spend the night in a Buddhist temple and experience monastic life.

Okinawa: Offers tropical beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a unique culture.

Kamakura: It’s a charming coastal city located in Kanagawa Prefecture, not far from Tokyo. Kamakura is known for its rich history and is a major tourist destination. Some of the highlights include the Great Buddha of Kamakura, a massive bronze statue, and the Hase-dera Temple with beautiful gardens and sea views. Additionally, you can explore the numerous ancient temples and shrines in the city, such as Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Temple and Kencho-ji Garden.

Hakone: It’s a mountainous region located in Kanagawa Prefecture, not far from Tokyo. Hakone is famous for its hot springs (onsen) and panoramic views of Mount Fuji.

Matsumoto: It’s a city in Nagano Prefecture, in the heart of Japan. Matsumoto Castle, also known as the “Crow Castle” due to its elegant black architecture, is the city’s most iconic attraction. It’s one of Japan’s best-preserved castles and provides a fascinating insight into Japanese history.

These are just some of the places you can visit in Japan, and the country has much more to offer in terms of culture, nature, cuisine, and unique experiences. Whatever your interest, Japan has something that will surprise and captivate you, as detailed below.

Japanese Gardens

Tokyo

Tokyo is one of the most exciting and vibrant cities in the world, offering a wide range of experiences and attractions for travelers. Tokyo is a diverse and thrilling city that combines modernity with tradition in a unique way. You can spend weeks exploring its neighborhoods, trying its delicious food, and participating in its exciting cultural activities.

Tokyo Urban Landscape Mount Fuji Japan

Iconic Neighborhoods

Shinjuku: This bustling district is home to imposing skyscrapers, the Kabukicho Red Light District, Shinjuku Gyoen Park, and a plethora of restaurants and bars.

Akihabara: The electronics and anime paradise, where you’ll find specialty shops for electronics, manga, and otaku culture.

Asakusa: Home to the famous Senso-ji Temple and Nakamise-dori, a shopping street filled with Japanese souvenirs and delights.

Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a modern and vibrant metropolis that seamlessly blends cutting-edge technology with traditional Japanese culture.

Urban Life: Tokyo is one of the largest cities in the world, with a bustling urban life and an incredible diversity of neighborhoods. From the electronic district of Akihabara to the luxurious Ginza and the colorful Harajuku, each area has its own charm and personality.

Modern Culture: The city is an epicenter of Japanese pop culture. You can explore anime and manga shops in Nakano Broadway, enjoy live concerts in the Shibuya district, and visit the Ghibli Museum to immerse yourself in the world of Studio Ghibli animated films.

Food: Tokyo is a culinary paradise, with an incredible variety of restaurants, from street stalls to high-end dining. Try fresh sushi at the Tsukiji fish market, ramen in Ikebukuro, and tempura in Asakusa.

Tokyo

Temples and Shrines: Despite its modernity, Tokyo also has a spiritual side.

You can visit the Meiji Shrine, an oasis of calm in the middle of the city, and the Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest temples.

Imperial Palace: Although not accessible inside, the gardens of the Imperial Palace in Chiyoda are a beautiful place to stroll.

Tokyo National Museum: It offers an impressive collection of Japanese art and antiques.

Kabukiza Kabuki Theater: Enjoy a traditional kabuki performance, a highly stylized form of Japanese theater.

Urban Parks: Tokyo has beautiful urban parks like Ueno Park and Yoyogi Park, where you can enjoy nature and outdoor activities.

Gardens

Shopping: If you love shopping, you’ll find everything from luxury malls in Omotesando to vintage fashion stores in Shimokitazawa.

Efficient Transportation: Tokyo’s public transportation system is famous for its efficiency. The bullet train (shinkansen) takes you to other cities in Japan in no time, and the Tokyo metro allows you to move easily around the city.

Nightlife: Tokyo comes alive at night with bars, clubs, and restaurants open until the early hours in places like Roppongi and Shinjuku.

Traditional Culture: Despite its modernity, Tokyo still preserves traditional Japanese culture. You can experience the tea ceremony, attend traditional festivals, and admire the beautiful garden of the Imperial Palace.

Tokyo is a city that offers an unparalleled experience, where the exciting urban life, delicious food, pop culture, and opportunities to explore traditional culture make Tokyo a truly unique destination in the world.

Tokyo Park

Kyoto

Kyoto is one of Japan’s most iconic and beautiful cities, renowned for its rich history, traditional architecture, and cultural significance. Kyoto will transport you to another era with its beauty, history, and culture. It’s a wonderful place to explore both its popular tourist attractions and its quieter, more authentic corners.

Kyoto

Temples and Shrines: Kyoto, a cultural gem of Japan, transports you to a bygone era with its ancient temples, elegant geishas, and serene gardens. Kyoto is famous for its countless temples and shrines.

The Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, with its thousands of torii gates, is equally impressive.

Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion): This is one of Kyoto’s most iconic destinations. The temple is mostly covered in gold leaf and reflects in a serene pond.

Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion): Although not covered in silver as its name suggests, this temple is equally impressive. Its sand garden is famous.

Fushimi Inari Taisha: With its thousands of red torii gates forming tunnels along Mount Inari, this shrine is one of Kyoto’s most iconic images.

Kiyomizu-dera: With its wooden platform extending over a cliff and offering stunning views of the city, this is one of the most visited places in Kyoto.

Geishas and Maikos: Kyoto is one of the few places where you can still encounter geishas and maikos (geisha apprentices). The Gion district is known for being home to these traditional Japanese artists. Watching a performance or crossing paths with a geisha is a unique experience.

Japanese Gardens: Kyoto is famous for its beautiful Japanese gardens. The Kenrokuen Garden in nearby Kanazawa is one of the most beautiful in Japan. The Ginkaku-ji Garden, known as the Silver Pavilion, also offers a tranquil experience.

Tea Culture: Kyoto is the birthplace of the Japanese tea ceremony. You can experience this tradition in local tea houses and tea schools.

Arashiyama District: This charming district is famous for its Bamboo Grove, a path surrounded by towering bamboo stalks. You can also visit the Tenryu-ji Temple and take a boat ride on the Hozu River.

Art and Museums: Kyoto boasts several art museums showcasing Japanese masterpieces. The Ryoan-ji Art Museum and the International Manga Museum are standout examples.

Kaiseki Cuisine: Kyoto is known for its kaiseki cuisine, a form of high Japanese cuisine that focuses on seasonality and artistic presentation of dishes. It’s a culinary delight you must experience.

Events and Festivals: The city hosts exciting events such as the Gion Matsuri Festival in July, one of Japan’s oldest festivals.

Sagano Bamboo: The Sagano Bamboo Forest offers a stunning landscape of bamboo shoots rising towards the sky. It’s a magical place for a tranquil stroll.

Kyoto is a window to Japan’s past with a touch of traditional charm at every corner. Its temples, gardens, geishas, and cuisine provide a deep cultural experience that attracts travelers from around the world.

Nara

Nara is a charming city in Japan with a rich history, known for its connection to deer and its ancient temples and shrines. Nara is a special place where nature, culture, and history uniquely intertwine. Friendly deer, ancient temples and shrines, and beautiful parks make Nara a delightful and relaxing destination in Japan, often visited as a getaway from larger cities like Kyoto and Osaka.

Nara’s Deer: Nara is famous for its sika deer, which roam freely in the city and are considered national treasures of Japan. You can buy special cookies called “shika senbei” to feed the deer.

Friends Japan

Considered Natural Heritage of Nara, these deer are protected by law and are carefully cared for by authorities and citizens. They play a special role in Nara’s history and culture, being considered messengers of the gods at the Kasuga Taisha Shrine, one of the city’s most important places.

What makes Nara’s deer even more special is their friendly interaction with visitors. You can feed them with special cookies called “shika senbei,” available in local stores. The deer approach visitors in search of food or caresses and often bow their heads as a way of asking for food.

Nara Deer

During the mating season in autumn, the deer become more active, and males compete for the attention of females, adding an interesting touch to the experience.

The city of Nara demonstrates its commitment to the conservation and well-being of these animals by providing a breeding station in Nara Park, where young and sick deer are cared for.

In summary, Nara’s deer are a distinctive feature of the city and a source of joy for both residents and tourists. Their friendly presence and role in local culture make visiting Nara a unique experience in Japan.

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Osaka

Osaka is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city in Japan known for its unique culture, delicious cuisine, and lively nightlife. Osaka is an exciting city that blends modernity with Japanese tradition. Its friendly atmosphere and tasty food make it an exciting destination to explore. Whether enjoying the lively street food scene or exploring its history and culture, Osaka offers something for every traveler.

Osaka

Osaka, a dynamic city in Japan, offers a range of unique experiences, from its lively nightlife to its rich cuisine and fascinating blend of modernity and tradition.

The city is known for its delicious cuisine and is considered the “kitchen of Japan.” Try street food in Dotonbori, where you can taste specialties like takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes).

The Osaka Castle is one of Japan’s most impressive castles and offers a spectacular view of the city from its main tower.

Universal Studios Japan is a world-renowned theme park with thrilling attractions based on movies and popular characters.

The Dotonbori District is an iconic place with colorful neon signs, restaurants, and nightlife entertainment.

Shinsaibashi-suji is an iconic shopping street with stores, boutiques, and restaurants.

The Umeda Sky Building offers spectacular views of the city from its floating observation platform.

The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the world’s largest aquariums, featuring an impressive variety of marine life.

When it comes to nightlife, Osaka is known for its vibrant nightlife scene. The districts of Namba and Umeda are renowned for their bars, nightclubs, and clubs.

In the cultural realm, the city hosts the Osaka Science Museum, an educational and entertaining venue for families and science enthusiasts.

Osaka also has its own amusement park, Expoland Theme Park, offering a variety of thrilling attractions.

The city has a unique blend of modernity and tradition, making it a fascinating place to explore. In summary, Osaka is a city that combines modern fun with Japanese authenticity and offers a wide range of activities to satisfy all types of travelers.

Osaka Aquarium

The Osaka Aquarium, known as Kaiyukan, is one of Japan’s most famous aquariums and one of the most significant in the world. It features the largest water tank on the planet with 5400 cubic meters of water, and it took almost 350 tons of acrylic glass (the entire world’s production for a year) to maintain the 14 tanks housing over 35,000 aquatic animals, highlighting the whale shark. It is located next to Osaka Bay, near the Osaka-ko metro.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima is an iconic city in Japan known for its history, resilience, and modern beauty. Hiroshima is a place with a deep history and a strong message of peace. In addition to learning about its past, you can also enjoy its natural beauty and explore a city that has been reborn and has become a symbol of hope and reconciliation.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is one of the city’s most important destinations. This memorial park pays tribute to the victims of the atomic bomb dropped during World War II. Among its monuments are the Flame of Peace and the Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Within the Park, the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum offers a moving perspective on the events of August 6, 1945, and their consequences. The museum exhibits artifacts, testimonials, and a powerful narrative that promotes peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima, an iconic city in Japan, hosts a series of significant places that pay homage to its history, promote peace, and offer unique cultural and natural experiences.

Near Hiroshima, Miyajima Island is known for its famous floating Torii gate and Mount Misen, which offers hiking and spectacular panoramic views.

The Hiroshima Castle, though restored, stands as a reminder of the city’s Samurai history and offers panoramic views from its main tower.

The Shukkeien Garden is a beautiful traditional Japanese garden that provides an oasis of tranquility amidst the city.

When it comes to gastronomy, Hiroshima is famous for its unique version of okonomiyaki, a type of Japanese pancake that contains noodles and other ingredients. You can try it at the numerous okonomiyaki restaurants in the city.

If you have the opportunity to visit in August, you can participate in the Hiroshima Floating Lantern Ceremony, an emotional commemoration of the victims of the atomic bomb.

The Hiroshima Science Museum is an educational and fun place for families and science enthusiasts.

Additionally, you can explore the Hiroshima district and discover traditional shopping streets and the local atmosphere. In summary, Hiroshima is a city that balances its history with the promotion of peace and offers visitors the opportunity to learn, reflect, and experience a variety of cultural and natural attractions.

Nikko

Nikko, located in the mountainous region of Tochigi, is a place of stunning natural beauty and deep cultural significance in Japan. Nikko is an enriching destination that combines the majesty of its cultural heritage with the beauty of its natural surroundings. The shrines and temples, the beauty of nature, and cultural traditions make Nikko an unforgettable place to visit in Japan.

Nikko
Dibujo binoculars

Shrines and Temples: Nikko is famous for its shrines and temples, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The Toshogu Shrine is the most prominent and is known for its intricate architecture and the famous three wise monkeys. The Rinno-ji Temple and the Shinkyo Bridge are also impressive places to visit.

Spectacular Nature: Surrounded by mountains and forests, Nikko offers stunning natural beauty. The Chuzenji Lake and the Kegon Waterfall are popular destinations to enjoy nature. In autumn, the foliage colors are spectacular.

Nikko National Park: Nikko is the gateway to the Nikko National Park, which is a paradise for hikers and wildlife enthusiasts. The Yunoko Lake and the Chuzenji Lake are ideal for boating and fishing.

Culture and Tradition: In addition to its natural beauty, Nikko is known for its rich cultural heritage. You can witness traditional festivals, such as the Nikko Autumn Festival, and visit museums that showcase the history and culture of the region.

Onsen (Hot Springs): Nikko is famous for its hot springs. You can relax in the local onsens and enjoy a hot bath with views of the surrounding nature.

Nikko Edomura: This theme park transports you back to Japan’s Edo period, with streets and buildings that recreate the atmosphere of that time.

Local Cuisine: Nikko offers local culinary delights, such as yuba (tofu skin) and yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). Don’t forget to try manjus (filled sweets) as souvenirs.

Easy Access: Nikko is about a two-hour train ride from Tokyo, making it a perfect getaway from the bustling capital.

Kamakura

Hokkaido

Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, offers a unique experience compared to the rest of the country. Here, nature takes the spotlight, with vast mountainous landscapes, beautiful coasts, and national parks that provide opportunities for skiing in winter and outdoor activities in summer.

One of Hokkaido’s main attractions is its natural beauty. National parks like Shikotsu-Toya National Park and Daisetsuzan National Park are ideal for nature lovers. They offer hiking, hot springs, and panoramic views of mountains and lakes. Additionally, the island is famous for its onsen (hot springs), where you can relax and enjoy a hot bath after a day of exploration.

The city of Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido, is known for its lively nightlife, delicious food, and modern architecture. During winter, it’s a popular destination for winter sports, with renowned ski resorts and spectacular snow festivals.

Food in Hokkaido is exceptional. You can taste fresh seafood in the port city of Hakodate, enjoy ramen noodles in Sapporo, and try high-quality dairy products throughout the island, including the famous Hokkaido ice cream.

In addition to nature and food, Hokkaido is also known for its unique culture, influenced by the indigenous Ainu people. You can learn about their history and traditions at the Ainu Museum in Shiraoi.

Hokkaido is a diverse destination that attracts nature lovers, ski enthusiasts, food lovers, and those looking to experience a different part of Japan. Its natural beautydelicious food, and unique culture make it a special place to explore.

Hakone

Kanazawa

Kanazawa, a city on the west coast of Japan, is a destination that combines historical elegance with natural beauty. Kanazawa is a cultural gem in Japan that blends historical elegance with natural beauty. Its traditional neighborhoods, gardens, local cuisine, and festivals make it a charming place to explore and experience rich Japanese culture.

Traditional Neighborhoods: Kanazawa preserves much of its historical architecture and ambiance. The Nagamachi District features well-preserved samurai houses, while the Higashi-Chaya District is famous for its geisha teahouses.

Japanese Gardens: The city is known for its beautiful gardens. The Kenrokuen Garden is one of the three most beautiful gardens in Japan and offers serene landscapes in all seasons. The Gyokusen-en Garden is another lovely spot to contemplate nature.

Omicho Market: This market is an ideal place to sample local cuisine, with stalls selling fresh seafood, sashimi, sushi, and other sea products.

Gold Culture: Kanazawa is famous for its gold craftsmanship, and you can learn about this tradition at the Kanazawa Gold Museum. You can also visit workshops where artisans create golden objects.

Kanazawa Castle: The Kanazawa Castle, though reconstructed, is a historical symbol of the city and offers panoramic views from its main tower.

Kazue-machi District: This picturesque district along the Asano River is known for its tea houses and tranquil atmosphere.

Contemporary Art: Kanazawa doesn’t fall behind in terms of modern art. The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-visit for contemporary art enthusiasts.

Nagamachi District: This area is rich in samurai history and offers a glimpse into the lives of warriors of yesteryear.

Silk Culture: Kanazawa has a long history in silk production. You can explore this tradition in the Samurai District and the Nomura Silk House.

Traditional Festivals: The city hosts several festivals throughout the year, such as the Hyakumangoku Festival, celebrating the region’s wealth.

Matsumoto Castle

Takayama

Takayama, a mountainous city in the Gifu region, is a hidden gem of Japan that offers immersion in traditional Japanese culture and the natural beauty of the area. Takayama is an enriching destination that will transport you back in time to traditional Japan. Its festivals, old town, local crafts, and beautiful landscapes make this city a must-visit for those wanting to experience authentic Japanese culture.

Sanmachi Suji Old Town: This historic district is one of Takayama’s main attractions. Its cobbled streets, traditional wooden houses, and craft shops provide a glimpse into the Edo era Japan.

Traditional Festivals: Takayama is famous for its festivals. The Spring Festival (Sanno Matsuri) and the Autumn Festival (Hachiman Matsuri) are spectacular events featuring ornate floats and traditional dances.

Craftsmanship and Woodworking: The city is known for its wooden craftsmanship and woodworking, and you can visit local workshops to see artisans in action.

Hida no Sato: This open-air museum recreates a traditional Japanese village with gassho-zukuri-style houses, featuring unique sloping roofs. It offers insight into rural Japanese life of the past.

Local Cuisine: Try Takayama’s local food, including the famous hida beef, akin to wagyu, and Hida sake.

Hiking and Nature: The surrounding region is ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking in the Northern Japanese Alps and visiting open-air hot springs.

Shirakawa-go: This historic village, designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, is near Takayama and is famous for its gassho-zukuri-style houses, similar to those in Hida no Sato.

Temples and Shrines: Takayama also has a rich religious heritage, with places like the Hida Kokubun-ji Temple and the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine.

Morning Markets: Takayama’s morning markets are ideal places to sample fresh local products, including vegetables, tofu, and sweets.

Museums: The city is home to several museums that provide information about the history and culture of the region, such as the Takayama Museum of History and Culture.

Bridge in Japan

Miyajima Island

Miyajima Island, locally known as Itsukushima, is an iconic destination in Japan that combines natural beauty with a rich cultural heritage. Miyajima Island is a magical destination in Japan that blends astonishing natural elements, a rich cultural heritage, and a spiritual atmosphere. Whether admiring the floating torii gate, exploring Mount Misen, or savoring local cuisine, this island offers a unique experience that attracts visitors from around the world.

Floating Torii Gate: The Itsukushima Torii Gate is one of Japan’s most recognizable symbols. This giant gate, painted in bright red, appears to float on the water during high tide. It is one of Japan’s most impressive sights.

Itsukushima Shrine: The Itsukushima Shrine, with its traditional Japanese architecture, is a major attraction on the island. The shrine appears to float on the water during high tide, and you can walk to it during low tide.

Mount Misen: This mountain in the center of the island offers spectacular panoramic views. You can hike or take a cable car to reach the summit.

Hiking and Nature: The island offers opportunities for hiking and exploring nature. There are trails that lead to waterfalls and beautiful forests.

Temples and Pagodas: In addition to the shrine, the island is home to other temples and pagodas, such as the Daisho-in Temple, famous for its stone statues and spiritual atmosphere.

Wild Deer: Similar to Nara, on Miyajima Island, you can also encounter wild deer roaming freely and are often considered messengers of the gods.

Local Cuisine: Try the delicious oyster burger, a local specialty, and other fresh seafood dishes at the island’s restaurants.

Special Events: The island hosts various special events throughout the year, such as the New Year’s Fire Ceremony and the High Tide Festival.

Traditional Accommodation: For an authentic experience, consider staying in a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, on the island.

Takayama

Okinawa

Okinawa, a chain of tropical islands in southern Japan, is a paradise that combines spectacular beaches, unique culture, and a fascinating history. Okinawa seamlessly blends natural beauty with a rich culture and intriguing history. Whether lounging on its paradise beaches, exploring its history, or enjoying its delicious cuisine, Okinawa offers a unique experience in Japan.

Dreamy Beaches: Okinawa’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in Japan. White sand, crystal-clear waters, and an abundance of marine life make places like IshigakiMiyako-jima, and Kerama ideal destinations for swimming, diving, and relaxation.

Ryukyu Culture: Okinawa has a distinct Ryukyu culture that sets it apart from mainland Japan. You can learn about Okinawa’s unique music, dance, craftsmanship, and cuisine at places like the Okinawa Culture Center.

Shuri Castle: The Shuri Castle in Naha, the capital of Okinawa, is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a significant symbol of Ryukyu history.

Cuisine: Food in Okinawa is unique and healthy. Try goya champuru (a bitter stir-fry with pork and tofu), Okinawa soba (buckwheat noodles), and awamori (a local liquor).

War History: Okinawa has a painful history related to World War II. You can visit sites such as the Okinawa Peace Museum and the Okinawa Peace Memorial Park to learn about this period.

Nature and Hiking: In addition to its beaches, Okinawa offers beautiful mountainous landscapes and opportunities for hiking and nature observation, such as in the Yanbaru National Park.

Island Hopping: Okinawa’s islands are diverse, each with its own personality. You can take island-hopping tours to explore them all.

Longevity: Okinawa is famous for having one of the world’s longest-living populations. You can learn about their healthy lifestyle and longevity at the Longevity Museum.

La Isla de Miyajima

Kamakura

Kamakura, a coastal city in Kanagawa Prefecture, is a destination full of history, culture, and natural beauty. Kamakura is a charming city that combines history, culture, nature, and coastal beauty. Whether exploring its historical monuments, enjoying its beaches, or trying local cuisine, Kamakura offers a unique experience in Japan.

Great Buddhas: Kamakura is famous for its Great Buddha of Kamakura, a bronze statue of Amida Buddha dating back to the 13th century. You can also visit the Great Buddha of Ushiku, an even larger statue on the outskirts of the city.

Shrines and Temples: The city boasts numerous shrines and temples, such as the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, one of Japan’s most important. Other notable places include the Hasedera Temple, known for its Jizo statues, and the Engakuji Temple, a significant Zen site.

Hiking and Nature: Kamakura is surrounded by wooded hills and trails ideal for hiking and nature observation. Mount Komachi offers panoramic views of the city and the sea.

Beaches: Kamakura boasts several beautiful beaches, such as Yuigahama and Zaimokuza, popular for surfing and swimming during the summer.

Art and Culture: The city hosts art museums, such as the Kamakura Art Museum, displaying an impressive collection of Asian and Japanese art.

Traditional Festivals: Kamakura hosts several traditional festivals, such as the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Festival and the Kamakura Matsuri Festival, providing insight into local culture.

Local Cuisine: Try local delights such as kamakura yuba, fresh and tender tofu, and shirasu-don, a dish of rice with small silver fish.

Access from Tokyo: Kamakura is easily accessible from Tokyo, less than an hour by train. This makes it a popular choice for day trips from the capital.

Historic City: Kamakura was the capital of the Kamakura shogunate in the 13th century, giving it a rich historical heritage. You can explore the historic district of Komachi-dori and the ancient city gates.

Okinawa

Hakone

Hakone is a popular destination in Japan that combines relaxing hot springs, panoramic views of Mount Fuji, and a rich cultural heritage. Hakone is an ideal destination to unwind in hot springs, enjoy views of Mount Fuji, and explore the natural beauty of the region. Whether cruising on Lake Ashi or exploring museums and trails, Hakone offers a unique experience in Japan.

Hot Springs (Onsen): Hakone is known for its hot springs, or onsens. You can enjoy rejuvenating baths at ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and public baths while taking in breathtaking views of the surrounding nature.

Views of Mount Fuji: Hakone offers some of the best views of Mount Fuji in Japan. Lake Ashi, with the majestic volcano as a backdrop, is an iconic spot for photography.

Cruise on Lake Ashi: You can take a scenic cruise on Lake Ashi, which takes you through calm waters and allows you to admire the views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding landscape.

Cable Cars and Mountain Trains: For even more spectacular views, you can take cable cars and mountain trains that take you to heights and places like the Owakudani Viewpoint, known for its hot springs and valley views.

Museums: Hakone is home to several interesting museums, such as the Hakone Open-Air Museum and the Pola Museum of Art, which house a diverse collection of artworks and sculptures.

Local Cuisine: Try the local food of Hakone, including dishes like kuro-tamago (eggs boiled in hot springs believed to prolong life) and hakone soba (local soba noodles).

Hiking: Hakone has beautiful trails for hiking. The Tokaido Trail is a popular choice that follows an ancient historical route.

Hakone Castle: Although a modern reconstruction, Hakone Castle offers a glimpse into the feudal history of the region and panoramic views.

Hakone Shrine: This Shinto shrine, located on the shores of Lake Ashi, is a spiritual place and a beautiful site to visit.

Access from Tokyo: Hakone is about two hours by train from Tokyo, making it an ideal getaway from the bustling capital.

Kanazawa

Matsumoto

Matsumoto, located in Nagano Prefecture, is a charming city in the heart of Japan, known for its majestic castle, the beauty of the Japanese Alps, and its historical atmosphere. Matsumoto is a city that blends the history of a majestic castle, the natural beauty of the Japanese Alps, and a rich cultural scene. Whether exploring the castle, enjoying the beauty of nature, or immersing yourself in local culture, Matsumoto offers a unique experience in Japan.

Matsumoto Castle: The Matsumoto Castle is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan and an important cultural heritage. Its imposing black wooden structure has earned it the nickname “Crow Castle.” You can explore its towers and enjoy stunning views from its main tower.

Japanese Alps: Matsumoto is a gateway to the Japanese Alps, a spectacular mountain range that offers opportunities for hiking and skiing in winter. The Chubu Sangaku National Park is a popular starting point to explore this area.

Art and Culture: The city is known for its artistic and cultural scene. The Matsumoto Art Museum houses a collection of works by Japanese and foreign artists, while the Matsumoto Puppet Theater is famous for its traditional puppet performances.

Matsumoto Market: The Matsumoto Market is an ideal place to experience local cuisine and purchase fresh products such as fruits, vegetables, and handmade crafts.

Nakamachi Street: The Nakamachi Street is a historic area with cobblestone streets, restored samurai houses, and traditional craft shops.

Local Cuisine: Try local dishes like Matsumoto soba, buckwheat noodles served in hot broth, and the region’s sake.

Festivals: Matsumoto hosts several traditional festivals, such as the Plum Blossom Festival in February and the Fireworks Festival in summer.

Access from Tokyo: Matsumoto is accessible from Tokyo by train, making it an ideal getaway from the capital.

Hokkaido

Hire the Best Tours in Japan

It’s an ideal place to engage in a multitude of activities as mentioned, and here you can hire them directly, effortlessly, and at a good price, even Free Tours that are free of charge.

The best Tours in Japan. You can also hire door-to-door transportation, as well as transportation from the airport to the hotel or the final destination you need to reach.

Healthcare in JapanDoctor Dibujo exultación

Healthcare in Japan is of high quality and is considered one of the best in the world. Here is information about the healthcare system and medical care in Japan:

Universal Healthcare System: Japan has a universal healthcare system, which means that all residents and visitors have access to medical care. The healthcare system is funded through health insurance premiums and government subsidies.

Health Insurance: All Japanese citizens and long-term foreign residents are required to have health insurance, either through national health insurance (kokumin kenko hoken) or through employer-sponsored health insurance. Short-term visitors are generally not covered by these insurances and should obtain travel insurance before arriving in Japan.

Hospitals and Clinics: Japan has an extensive network of hospitals and clinics throughout the country. Hospitals usually offer a wide range of medical services and have advanced technology. Most doctors and medical staff in hospitals can communicate in English in major cities and tourist areas, although it may be more limited in rural areas.

Medical Care Costs: Medical care costs in Japan are relatively high compared to some other countries, but the quality of care is excellent. Specific costs will vary depending on the type of medical care and health insurance. It is important to have adequate medical insurance when traveling to Japan to cover any medical emergencies.

Pharmacies: Pharmacies (yakkyoku) are common in Japan and offer a wide range of medications and healthcare products. Pharmacists can provide advice and sell over-the-counter medications.

Medical Emergencies: In case of a medical emergency, you can dial the phone number 119 to request emergency medical assistance in Japan. Emergency personnel are usually highly trained and will respond effectively.

Vaccinations and Health Precautions: Before traveling to Japan, it is advisable to check if you need specific vaccinations and take health precautions according to the season and region you plan to visit.

Mini estatuas Templo en Japón

Do I Need a Visa for Japan?

Pasaporte y visa dibujo

Spanish citizens have the advantage of being able to enter Japan as tourists without the need to obtain a prior visa for short stays of up to 90 days. This applies to tourist trips, family visits, or business trips. However, it is important to consider some considerations:

  1. Valid Passport: You must have a valid Spanish passport for the entire period of your stay in Japan. It is recommended that the passport have at least six months of validity from the date of entry.
  2. Return Ticket: Immigration authorities may request a return ticket or a flight itinerary demonstrating your intention to leave Japan before your stay period expires.
  3. Sufficient Funds: It may be necessary to demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to sustain your stay in Japan without the need to work. This may require the submission of bank statements or other proof of financial solvency.
  4. Compliance with Immigration Regulations: You must comply with all immigration regulations of Japan and adhere to the terms of your stay as a tourist.
Japanese Garden Sonia

How to Get to and Move Around Japan?

Drawing Plane and World

Getting to Japan and moving around the country is relatively easy due to its well-developed transportation infrastructure. Here is information on how to get to Japan and how to travel within the country:

Getting to Japan:

By Air: The most common way to get to Japan from abroad is by air. Narita International Airport in Tokyo and Kansai International Airport in Osaka are two major entry points. There are also international airports in other major cities such as Nagoya and Fukuoka. It’s time to buy flights; for that, you can read the post about Cheap Flights to find affordable flights and all my tricks so that you too save when booking your flights.

Visas and Documentation: Make sure you have the appropriate travel documents, such as a valid passport and, in some cases, a tourist visa if required for your nationality (check visa requirements at the Embassy of Japan).

Transport Japan

Moving Around Japan:

Train Drawing

Trains: The train system in Japan is extensive and efficient. The Shinkansen (bullet train) is a fast and comfortable way to travel between major cities. The Japan Rail Pass is a cost-effective option for tourists as it offers unlimited travel on the JR network for a specific period.

Train Drawing

Metro and Local Trains: In cities, the metro and local trains are the most convenient way to get around. Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other major cities have extensive public transportation systems.

 Buses: Buses are another option for traveling around Japan, especially in rural areas where trains may be less frequent. Bus networks are efficient and cover most regions of the country.

Tranvía dibujo

Trams and Tourist Buses: In some cities, like Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Sapporo, trams are a popular form of local transport. There are also tourist buses that can take you to specific points of interest.

Car drawing

Car Rental: If you wish to explore rural or remote areas, you can rent a car. Keep in mind that Japan has different traffic rules and road signs, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with them before driving.

Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway to a nearby city or an epic road trip across an entire country, the car rental company Rentcars is a market leader.

Mountain bike

Bicycles: In many cities, like Kyoto, renting bicycles is a convenient and environmentally friendly way to get around and explore.

Taxi drawing

Taxi: Taxis are available throughout Japan, but they can be expensive compared to other forms of public transportation.

Transport Pass: If you plan to travel extensively in a specific region, consider purchasing a regional transport pass, such as the Kansai Thru Pass for the Kansai region.

Language: While many train stations and tourist sites have signage in English, it can be helpful to learn some basic phrases in Japanese or use translation apps to communicate with locals.

In summary, Japan has an efficient transportation system that makes exploring the country easy. Whether by train, subway, bus, or taxi, you have various options to move around Japan and enjoy its rich culture and landscapes.

Transport Cards and Currency: To use public transportation in Japan, you can purchase rechargeable transport cards such as Suica (in Tokyo) or ICOCA (in Kansai) to pay for train, subway, and bus rides. Also, note that the official currency in Japan is the yen (¥).

Boy pulling a cart with two people

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Buying the Suica and Pasmo Cards in Japan

You’ve probably heard of the Suica or PASMO cards and their use in public transportation. You might even know that they are contactless cards that can be used to pay for more than just transportation.

What you might not be so sure about is what other cards exist and where they can be used. Or if you can use one or the other interchangeably, for example. That’s why, in this post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about Suica, PASMO, and other contactless cards in Japan.

Sonia in Japan

Although you can buy it in Japan, you can get a Suica before traveling, preloaded with 2000 yen. This way, you can use it as soon as you arrive. Suica Card with Japonísimo will be sent to your home.

The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass)

Regarding the prices of train tickets and the Japan Rail Pass, I recommend checking the current rates on the Japan Rail Pass website or the website of the Japan Railways (JR) company before your trip, as they may change.

Sinkansen Train

The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is a special railway pass for foreign tourists that allows unlimited travel on the extensive Japan Railways (JR) train network throughout Japan.

Coverage: The JR Pass covers most trains operated by Japan Railways, including Shinkansen bullet trains (except for some high-speed trains called Nozomi and Mizuho), local trains, limited express trains, and commuter trains across Japan. It is also valid on some JR bus lines.

The JR Pass is available in different durations, usually 7, 14, and 21 consecutive days. You should select the duration that best fits your travel itinerary.

The JR Pass is very convenient for travelers planning to make multiple train journeys throughout Japan, as it eliminates the need to purchase individual tickets each time you travel. It is also valid on some urban and metropolitan railways in cities like Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

Today, we will take you to the platform of one of Japan’s most iconic stations, where you will witness a display of engineering in motion. This train is like no other; it is a masterpiece of technology and innovation. In this video, you will see the Shinkansen gliding with impressive elegance, like a beam of light, departing from the platform and disappearing into the distance at gravity-defying speeds.

It is a breathtaking reminder of how Japanese engineering has transformed rail travel into a futuristic experience. Shinkansen is known for its punctuality and comfort, designed to take passengers to their destinations in the blink of an eye.

So, get ready to witness the magic of the Shinkansen as it shoots down the tracks at dizzying speeds. This is Japan’s Shinkansen, a marvel you have to see to believe!

It is important to note that the JR Pass does not cover all trains and services in Japan. It is not valid on some Nozomi and Mizuho high-speed trains, nor on services of private lines that are not part of the JR network. Additionally, the JR Pass does not include local bus transport or metro services in certain cities.

The JR Pass has a fixed cost that varies depending on the duration you choose (7, 14, or 21 days). Often, the price of a JR Pass is comparable or even more economical than buying individual tickets for multiple train journeys in Japan.

You must purchase the JR Pass before your trip, as it is not available for purchase within Japan. You can obtain it through authorized travel agencies or online, and you will receive an exchange voucher that you will redeem for your JR Pass at a JR exchange office in Japan.

Purchase the Japan Rail Pass online – Unlimited travel throughout Japan (jrpass.com)

Activation: The JR Pass is activated at the time of first use and is valid for the selected consecutive duration. Ensure to activate it on the appropriate date to match your travel itinerary.

What to see in 15 days in Japan?

Visiting Japan in 15 days will allow you to explore some of the most iconic and beautiful places in the country. Here’s a travel guide that includes the main destinations, mode of transportation, and the monuments to visit with approximate schedules and prices. Keep in mind that prices may vary over time and season, so it’s always advisable to check the details before traveling. This itinerary is based on a round trip to Tokyo:

Days 1-3: Tokyo

  • Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo.
  • Day 2: Explore Tokyo, visiting places like the Imperial Palace, Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, and Harajuku district.
  • Day 3: Day trip to Nikko to visit Toshogu Shrine.

Days 4-5: Kyoto

  • Day 4: Travel to Kyoto by bullet train (Shinkansen). Explore Kyoto, visiting Kinkaku-ji Temple (Golden Pavilion) and Ryoan-ji Temple.
  • Day 5: Full day in Kyoto, visiting Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove.

Days 6-7: Nara

  • Day 6: Travel to Nara by train. Visit Nara Park, where you’ll find sacred deer, and the Great Buddha of Nara at Todai-ji Temple.
  • Day 7: Explore Nara further, visiting Kasuga Taisha Shrine and other temples and shrines.

Days 8-10: Hiroshima and Miyajima

  • Day 8: Travel to Hiroshima by bullet train. Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and the Peace Memorial Museum.
  • Day 9: Day trip to Miyajima Island to see the famous Floating Torii Gate and explore Mount Misen.
  • Day 10: Return to Hiroshima and visit Hiroshima Castle and Shukkeien Garden.

Days 11-12: Osaka

  • Day 11: Travel to Osaka by train. Explore Osaka Castle and the lively Dotonbori district.
  • Day 12: Full day in Osaka, visit Kaiyukan Aquarium, Universal Studios Japan, or Shinsekai district.

Days 13-15: Return to Tokyo

  • Day 13: Return to Tokyo by train. Visit Meiji Shrine, Akihabara district, and Tokyo Tower.
  • Day 14: Excursion to Hakone to enjoy a relaxing bath in hot springs and views of Mount Fuji.
  • Day 15: Last day in Tokyo, visit Tsukiji Market (fish market), Ginza district, and time for additional shopping or exploration.

This itinerary will allow you to experience a blend of Kyoto’s traditional culture, Hiroshima’s history, Osaka’s fun, and Tokyo’s modernity. The 14-day Japan Rail Pass could be useful to cover transportation costs between these major cities. Make sure to book accommodation in advance and check the schedules and prices of attractions before traveling.

Japanese Landscape Moss

Travel Insurance for Japan

Travel Insurance Drawing

Getting travel insurance for your trip to Japan is a smart and advisable measure. In this unpredictable world, don’t let unexpected events ruin your plans; you can get your Travel Insurance with a 5% discount just for being a reader of Viajera por el Mundo. If you experience a flight delay or cancellation, loss of luggage, your insurance will be there to assist you in every situation.

5% discount on your MONDO travel insurance

We hope you don’t have to use it, but having travel insurance will provide you with peace of mind and security during your stay in Japan.

Japanese Monkeys

The Japanese Macaque

The Japanese macaque, known in Japanese as “nihonzaru,” is a species of monkey native to Japan and is famous for living in mountainous and wooded areas of the country. Here is information about the Japanese macaque:

Japanese macaques are of medium size, with a body length of around 50 to 60 centimeters and thick fur that varies in color from brown to gray. They have pink or red faces, and their bare and expressive faces are one of their distinctive features.

Snow Monkey Japan

They are well adapted to the cold climate of the mountains of Japan and have a thick layer of hair to stay warm in winter. Japanese macaques are mainly found in the mountainous regions of the country, including areas like the Japanese Alps and the mountains of the Izu Peninsula.

They are known to live in areas with cold temperatures, even during winter, and are one of the few non-human primates that have adapted to snowy environments. Japanese macaques are social and live in groups known as a “troop” or “pack.” These groups are led by a dominant female.

They are known for bathing in natural hot springs during winter to stay warm, a behavior that has attracted the attention of nature enthusiasts and tourists.

Japanese Monkeys

Japanese macaques hold a special place in Japanese culture and are often depicted in art, literature, and mythology. The movie “Monkeys in Space” (also known as “Gibraltar Monkeys”), featuring Japanese macaques trained for space tasks, is famous in the history of space exploration.

Despite their relative adaptation to human presence in some areas, Japanese macaques are a protected species in Japan, and it is illegal to hunt or keep them as pets. You can find opportunities to observe these fascinating primates in natural environments or in parks and wildlife reserves in Japan.

Sonia and Esther surrounded by Japanese women

SIM Card or E-SIM for Internet in Japan

Holafly Descuento por ser lector de Viajeraporelmundo
wifi dibujo

I recommend that you learn about E-SIM cards they are virtual cards. You download a QR code, install it on your phone, and you can have internet from the moment you get off the plane and throughout your stay, allowing you to make calls without cost and without surprises on your bill upon your return from your vacation.

These cards cover practically the entire world, including Argentina, Australia, Cambodia, Colombia, Egypt, the Philippines, India, Israel, Montenegro, Oman, Peru, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, among many others.

The physical and the virtual, known as ESIM Cards with Holafly, with activation that is faster because you don’t have to wait for it to be sent to you by mail. Sign up in advance and make sure to stay connected on your trip!

Before traveling, research the options for SIM and eSIM cards available in Japan, compare prices and data plans, and choose the one that best suits your needs.

Asakusa

What to Wear in Japan?

Ropa dibujo

The choice of clothing to bring to Japan largely depends on the season you plan to visit the country and the activities you have planned. Japan experiences all four seasons, so the clothing you need will vary depending on the time of year.

Spring (March to May):

  • Spring is one of the best times to visit Japan due to pleasant weather and cherry blossoms (sakura) blooming.
  • W ear light and comfortable clothing, such as T-shirts, blouses, pants, and skirts, along with a jacket or sweater for cooler evenings.
  • Don’t forget a foldable umbrella, as it may rain occasionally.

Summer (June to August):

  • Summer in Japan can be hot and humid, especially in July and August.
  • Wear light and breathable clothing, such as T-shirts, shorts, and dresses.
  • A hat and sunscreen are essential to protect yourself from the intense sun.
  • A swimsuit is useful if you plan to visit beaches or pools.

Fall (September to November):

  • Fall is another popular season to visit Japan due to pleasant temperatures and beautiful autumn colors on the trees.
  • Wear mid-season clothing, such as long-sleeved T-shirts, light sweaters, pants, and a jacket.
  • You may need a scarf and gloves as the fall progresses.

Winter (December to February):

  • Winter in Japan varies by region, but it is generally cold in much of the country.
  • Wear warm clothing, such as coats, thick sweaters, long pants, and boots.
  • A hat, gloves, and scarf are essential to stay warm.
  • If you plan to visit snowy regions, such as Hokkaido, you will need additional winter clothing, such as snow boots and a cold-resistant coat.

General Tips:

  • In Japan, modesty is important. Avoid overly revealing clothing, especially in temples and sacred places.
  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear for walking, as you are likely to explore many areas on foot.
  • Consider packing formal attire or elegant clothing if you plan to dine in luxury restaurants or attend formal events.
  • Luggage space may be limited, so try to bring versatile garments that you can easily mix and match for different occasions.

To facilitate the Organization of your Luggage, you can print or view the list  you will find at this link, where you will find everything you need to take when you travel. So you don’t forget anything!

Japan

Is it safe to travel to Japan?

Police drawing

Japan is generally considered one of the safest travel destinations in the world. The country has a low crime rate, and its streets are usually safe both day and night. However, like anywhere else, it’s important to take precautions and be informed about some safety aspects when traveling to Japan:

Japan is a safe country to walk alone and travel solo in most urban and rural areas. Violent crime rates are low. Still, it’s important to take usual precautions, such as protecting your personal belongings and being aware of your surroundings in crowded places.

The transportation system in Japan is efficient and safe. Trains and buses are reliable options for traveling around the country. Be cautious when crossing streets, as traffic can be intense in urban areas. Food and water in Japan are safe for consumption. You can drink tap water in most urban areas without concerns.

In general, Japan is a very safe travel destination, and most visitors do not experience significant safety issues. However, it is essential to take general precautions and be prepared for unforeseen situations, such as natural emergencies. Stay informed, respect local laws and customs, and enjoy your trip to this beautiful country.

Toris

What are the plugs like in Japan?

Enchufe dibujo

In Japan, the common voltage is 100 V. The frequency is 50/60 Hz. The plugs and outlets are of type A / B. In the following images, you can see the types of plugs (prongs and power outlets).

  • Voltage: 100 V
  • Frequency: 50/60 Hz
  • Plugs: Type A / B

The plugs to use in Japan are of type A / B:

Las clavijas a utilizar En Japón son del tipo A
Las clavijas a utilizar En Japón son del tipo B

If you need to buy a travel adapter, I personally buy power plug adapters on Amazon, where you’ll find a great selection. Click directly on the link to purchase yours.

The need for a power plug adapter also depends on the country you are in. If you need more information about plugs from any part of the world, you can visit the World Plugs website.

2 noria mas grande del Mundo

Typical Meals of Japan

Comida dibujo

Japanese cuisine is known worldwide for its delicacy, artistic presentation, and attention to detail. Here is a list of some typical Japanese foods you must try during your visit:

Sushi: Sushi is one of the most iconic Japanese dishes. It consists of seasoned rice combined with raw fish, seafood, vegetables, or eggs. Sushi comes in various forms, including nigiri (rice balls with fish), maki (rice and filling rolls wrapped in seaweed), and sashimi (thin slices of raw fish).

Sashimi: Similar to sushi, sashimi is a selection of fresh raw fish or seafood cut into thin slices and served with soy sauce and wasabi.

Tempura de verduras

Ramen: Ramen is a popular Japanese noodle dish in broth. There are many varieties of ramen, with different broth flavors, from pork to chicken, and a variety of toppings such as egg, roasted pork, bamboo shoots, and green onion.

Tempura: Tempura is a light frying dish consisting of seafood, vegetables, or other ingredients coated with a special batter and then fried until crispy. It is commonly served with a dipping sauce.

Okonomiyaki: Okonomiyaki is a kind of Japanese pancake. It is made from a mixture of batter, cabbage, and other ingredients such as meat, seafood, or noodles, and cooked on a griddle. It is usually seasoned with okonomiyaki sauce and mayonnaise.

Dulces Japoneses

Udon and Soba: These are two types of Japanese noodles. Udon are thick noodles made of wheat, while soba are thinner noodles made of buckwheat. They are served in hot or cold soups and accompanied by various ingredients.

Yakitori: Yakitori is grilled skewers of chicken. You can find a variety of chicken parts, from thighs to hearts, seasoned with salt or teriyaki sauce.

Tonkatsu: Tonkatsu is a breaded and fried pork cutlet. It is usually served with tonkatsu sauce and accompanied by rice and shredded cabbage.

Sonia's Japanese Dinner

Gyudon: Gyudon is a rice bowl topped with thinly sliced beef and onions, cooked in a sweet and savory sauce.

Nabe: Nabe is a Japanese hot pot that is prepared at the table. Ingredients such as beef, seafood, tofu, and vegetables are cooked in a broth and served with dipping sauces.

Mochi: Mochi is a Japanese dessert made from pounded glutinous rice, kneaded to a sticky texture. It can be filled with anko (sweet red bean paste) or served with soy sauce and nori seaweed.

Taiyaki: Taiyaki is a fish-shaped pastry filled with red bean paste, chocolate, cheese, or cream.

The Rotating Sushi (Kaiten-Sushi)

Kaiten-Sushi is a business model that originated in Japan featuring rotating or conveyor belt sushi. However, this business model didn’t emerge suddenly; it had a specific purpose that continues to be fulfilled in many cases, and you can even see it in some Japanese restaurants in Spain.

Rotating sushi is known by many different names, including sushi train, sushi boat, rotating conveyor belt sushi, and its original name, Kaiten-Sushi.

Rotating Japanese Food

Why was rotating sushi invented?

With the increasing popularity of raw fish consumption in Japan, conveyor belts were introduced in Japanese restaurants to meet the high demand without having to hire more waitstaff.

It originated in Osaka in the 1950s, inspired by a visit to a brewery where there were dozens of conveyor belts.

Yoshiaki Shiraishi, the inventor of Rotating Sushi, spent 5 years conceiving and perfecting his idea before opening his own conveyor belt sushi restaurant. It might seem simple, but the idea had to be perfected to entice groups of people to sit down and reach for the food rotating through the restaurant. Additionally, the belt rotates clockwise because the majority of people use their right hand, and the speed is also set at 8 cm per second.

The model has evolved to this day, with Japanese restaurants allowing reservations and offering special dishes. To calculate the bill for each table, plates with specific colors or marks are placed. Each mark has a legend, and the price is determined accordingly.

Yoshiaki built a franchise with over 250 conveyor belt sushi restaurants, lowered prices, and helped democratize access to raw fish for everyone.

Is it better than traditional sushi?

Rotating sushi or Kaiten-Sushi is neither better nor worse. In fact, the quality should be exactly the same. The only difference is that in one model, we rely on a photo, a recommendation, a name on the menu, or what they have on the table next to us, and in the conveyor belt model, we can see firsthand the portion size, colors, filling, the type of fish in the sushi, the quantity, etc.

Being on the conveyor belt makes it inviting to be chosen because it makes it more appealing and approachable, which is a good marketing strategy, but in terms of taste, quality, price, and more, both options should be equally good. Currently, there are Japanese restaurants that offer both options, either à la carte and menu or conveyor belt.

Japanese Kobe Wagyu Beef

Kobe Wagyu

Kobe Wagyu beef is a variety of beef considered one of the most exquisite and expensive in the world.

Kobe beef is a sub-variety of Wagyu that comes from the Kobe region in Japan and is particularly famous for its quality.

Kobe beef stands out for its intense marbling, giving it a smooth and juicy texture, as well as an exceptionally rich and buttery flavor. The intramuscular fat melts at low temperatures, making it extremely tender.

Kobe beef producers take pride in the special care given to their animals. Wagyu cattle are fed specific diets that may include beer and carbohydrate-rich foods to promote marbling and the characteristic flavor of the meat.

Wagyu cattle, including Kobe, are often raised under special conditions, given massages and constant care to reduce stress and improve the quality of the meat, even playing classical music for them.

Protected Designation of Origin: Kobe beef is highly regulated and protected by the Controlled Designation of Origin (DOC) in Japan, meaning that only beef raised in the Kobe region and meeting specific standards can carry this designation.

Kobe Wagyu beef is known for its high cost. Due to its exceptional quality and the amount of effort and resources invested in its production, it is one of the most expensive meats available in the market.

It is recommended to cook Kobe Wagyu beef simply to appreciate its unique flavor and texture. A hot grill or griddle is often the most popular choice, and it is often served in thick cuts to maintain juiciness.

Treat your palate to the incomparable flavor of the world’s best beef by dining on this Japanese Kobe Wagyu beef. This grade A5 beef is among the rarest and most sought after in the world for its incredible smooth texture and unparalleled flavor.

In summary, Kobe Wagyu beef is a high-quality Japanese beef, famous for its marbling and exceptionally delicious flavor. Its production is carefully regulated and protected, making it an exclusive and expensive culinary delight. If you have the opportunity to try it, it is a unique gastronomic experience.

Food in Japan

Typical Drinks of Japan

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Drinking culture in Japan is diverse and offers a wide range of options, from traditional to modern beverages. Here’s a list of some typical drinks from Japan that you can try:

Sake: Sake is a Japanese alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice. It is known for its smooth and dry taste and is an important part of Japanese culture. It is served hot or cold, depending on the season and type of sake.

Shochu: Shochu is another Japanese alcoholic liquor, similar to sake but with a different fermentation process. It can be distilled from various ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, barley, or rice, and is consumed in various forms, including mixed with water or in cocktails.

Matcha: Matcha is a special type of powdered green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It is also used to make drinks, such as matcha lattes, which have become popular worldwide.

Japanese Food

Sencha: Sencha is a common green tea in Japan. It is made with fresh green tea leaves and is served hot or cold, depending on the season.

Genmaicha: Genmaicha is a blend of sencha green tea and roasted rice. It has a unique flavor and is often served hot.

Hojicha: Hojicha is a roasted green tea that imparts a milder, toasty flavor. It is a comforting and caffeine-free beverage.

Calpis: Calpis is a Japanese milky beverage with a sweet and refreshing taste. It can be enjoyed on its own or mixed with water or soda.

Yuzu Shu: This alcoholic beverage is made from sake flavored with yuzu, a Japanese citrus fruit. It has a citrusy and refreshing taste.

Amazake: Amazake is a sweet, non-alcoholic drink made from fermented rice. It is often served hot and is especially popular in winter.

Geisha

Ramune: Ramune is a Japanese carbonated drink that comes in a bottle with a glass marble inside used to seal the drink. It comes in various flavors such as lemon and strawberry.

Mugi-cha: Mugi-cha is a cold-served roasted barley tea and is a popular drink to beat the heat in summer.

Umeshu: Umeshu is a Japanese plum liqueur made with Japanese plums, sugar, and liquor. It has a sweet and sour taste and is often served as an aperitif or post-dinner drink.

These are some of the most representative drinks in Japan, but there are many more to discover as you explore Japanese cuisine and culture. Whether you prefer alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverages, you’re sure to find something you like in Japan.

Japanese Gardens v

Where to Stay in Japan?

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Japan offers a wide range of accommodation options, from luxurious urban hotels to traditional ryokans and modern hostels. Here, I provide you with three lodging options in some of Japan’s most important tourist areas, along with a notable feature of each hotel and an approximate price per night. Please note that prices may vary depending on the season and availability, so it’s always advisable to make a reservation in advance.

Hotels in Tokyo

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Hotel in Central Tokyo – Medium Price: The “Park Hotel Tokyo” is located in the Shiodome district, offering panoramic city views from its rooms. It features an art gallery in the lobby and rooms designed by Japanese artists.

Approximate price: $150-300 USD per night.

Park Hotel Tokyo

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Luxury Ryokan – High Price: The “Ascott Marunouchi Tokyo” is a luxury ryokan located in the heart of Tokyo. It offers ryokan-style rooms with modern amenities and a serene atmosphere. It also features a rooftop onsen (thermal bath) with city views.

Approximate price: $600-1,000 USD per night.

Ascott Maruno

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Economical Hostel – Low Price:UNPLAN Shinjuku” is a hostel with a convenient location in the Akasaka neighborhood. It offers shared and private rooms, a shared kitchen, and a cozy atmosphere. Approximate price: $30-70 USD per night.

UNPLAN-Shinjuku

Hotels in Kyoto

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Traditional Ryokan Hotel – Medium Price: The “Gion Hatanaka” is a traditional ryokan in the Gion district, known for its geisha atmosphere. It offers ryokan-style rooms, kaiseki (traditional dinner), and access to hot springs. Approximate price: $200-400 USD per night.

Gion Hatanaka

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Boutique Hotel – Medium-High Price: The “The Screen” is a boutique hotel in the center of Kyoto, with a modern and elegant design. It offers well-equipped rooms and a high-end restaurant. Approximate price: $250-500 USD per night.

The Screen

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Traditional Hostel – Low Price: The “Kyoto Ryokan Gion Sano” is an affordable ryokan in the heart of Gion. It offers Japanese-style rooms and an authentic atmosphere.

Approximate price: 70-150 USD per night.

Kyoto Ryokan Gion Sano

Hotels in Osaka

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Luxury Hotel with Views – High Price: The “The St. Regis Osaka” is a luxury hotel in the center of Osaka with panoramic views of the city. It offers stylish rooms and first-class amenities, such as a spa and fine dining restaurants. Approximate price: 300-600 USD per night.

The St. Regis Osaka

Themed Hotel – Medium Price: The “< strong>Hotel Universal Port is located near Universal Studios Japan. It offers themed rooms featuring Universal characters and a convenient location for the theme park. Approximate price: 150-300 USD per night.hotel dibujo

Hotel Universal Port

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Modern Hostel – Low Price: The “Osaka Guest House U-En” is a modern hostel in the Namba district. It offers shared and private rooms, a cozy lounge, and a central location. Approximate price: 30-70 USD per night.

Guesthouse U-En

These are just some accommodation options in the main tourist areas of Japan. Remember that Japan offers a wide variety of accommodations to fit different budgets and preferences, so you can find options that suit your specific needs.

What to Buy in Japan?

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Japan is a shopping paradise, offering a wide range of unique and high-quality products. Here is a list of things you may consider buying in Japan as souvenirs or gifts:

Traditional Crafts

  • Kimono and Yukata: These are traditional Japanese garments that you can buy as clothing or as fabric to take home.
  • Washi Paper Crafts: Washi paper is famous in Japan and is used for origami, paper lamps, and other decorative items.
  • Kokeshi: Hand-carved and hand-painted wooden dolls representing Japanese women and girls.

Ceramics

  • Tea Cups and Sake Sets: Japan is famous for its high-quality ceramics, including tea cups and sake sets.
  • Plates and Bowls: You can find ceramic plates and bowls with traditional and modern designs.

Art and Antiques

  • Ukiyo-e: Traditional woodblock prints depicting scenes of Japanese life.
  • Shrines and Temples: Small religious figurines and amulets.

Food and Sweets

  • Japanese Kit Kats: Various unique flavors, such as matcha tea and sakura.
  • Mochi: Glutinous rice cakes filled with various flavors.
  • Condiments and Sauces: Such as high-quality soy sauce and miso.

Clothing and Fashion

  • Traditional Clothing: In addition to kimonos and yukatas, you can find other traditional clothing items such as haoris (jackets) and geta (wooden sandals).
  • Modern Fashion: Japan is known for its unique and cutting-edge fashion. Look for Japanese clothing boutiques and brands.

Electronics and Technology

  • Cameras and Photographic Equipment: Japan is home to renowned brands like Canon and Nikon.
  • Gadgets and Electronics: From innovative electronic devices to technological toys.

Traditional Toys

  • Kendama: A traditional Japanese game that involves catching a ball in a cup or on a spike.
  • Daruma: Round dolls symbolizing perseverance and good luck.

Beauty and Skincare Products

  • Skincare Products: Japan is known for its high-quality skincare products, such as facial masks.
  • Makeup: Japanese makeup brands offering a wide range of products.

Action Figures and Collectibles

  • Anime and Manga Character Figures: Japan is the homeland of anime and manga, so you’ll find a great selection of collectible figures.
  • Train Models: If you’re a train enthusiast, Japan has high-quality train models and accessories.

Kitchen Utensils and Tableware

  • Japanese Knives: Known for their quality and craftsmanship.
  • Sushi and Sake Sets: Traditional utensils for preparing and serving sushi and sake.

Remember that many stores in Japan offer tax-free shopping for tourists, meaning you can get a refund of the value-added tax (VAT) on certain items if you meet the requirements. Also, check customs restrictions in your home country before purchasing food products or wooden items, as some regulations may apply to the import of these products.

Bamboo Forest

How to Make Phone Calls from Japan?

smartphone drawing

To make phone calls from Japan to Spain, follow these steps:

In Japan, the international exit code is “010.” This will allow you to make international calls. The country code for Spain is “+34.” After the country code, enter the phone number of the person you want to call in Spain.

Make sure to include the area code if necessary.

If you are calling a mobile phone in Spain, you generally don’t need to dial the initial “0” of the area code. However, if you are calling a landline in Spain, you may need to include the corresponding area code.

Remember that international call rates may vary depending on your mobile service provider or the SIM card you are using in Japan.

I recommend checking out the E-SIM cards in the post where I explain how to have internet from the moment you get off the plane and throughout your stay to make calls without cost and without surprises on your bill when you return from your vacation. Visit the post on Internet Availability at the destination.

Sonia in Bamboo Forest

National Holidays in Japan

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Japan celebrates several national holidays throughout the year, some of which are traditional festivals, and others commemorate historical events. Here are some of the main national holidays in Japan:

New Year (Shogatsu): New Year is one of the most important holidays in Japan. The celebration lasts for several days and usually begins on January 1. People visit temples and shrines for New Year’s prayers and enjoy traditional foods such as ozoni (rice cake soup) and toshikoshi soba (New Year’s noodles).

National Foundation Day (Kenkoku Kinen no Hi): Celebrated on February 11 to commemorate the foundation of Japan and the enthronement of the first emperor, Emperor Jimmu.

Spring Day (Shunbun no Hi): This day, which usually falls on March 20 or 21, marks the spring equinox and is celebrated in honor of nature. People visit family graves and enjoy cherry blossoms in bloom.

Greenery Day (Midori no Hi): Celebrated on April 29, this day focuses on environmental conservation and nature. It is a day to reflect on the importance of protecting the Earth.

Golden Week: Golden Week is a period of consecutive holidays that usually begins on April 29 with Greenery Day and extends until May 5. During this week, people enjoy considerable time off, and many businesses close.

Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi): Celebrated on May 5, it is dedicated to children in Japan. Families display koinobori (carp flags) and celebrate their children with special meals.

Mountain Day (Yama no Hi): Celebrated on August 11, this day focuses on gratitude for mountains and nature. People hike in the mountains and enjoy outdoor activities.

Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro no Hi): Celebrated on the third Monday of September, this day honors the elderly and shows respect for their contribution to society.

Autumn Day (Shubun no Hi): Similar to Spring Day, this day marks the autumn equinox and usually falls on September 23. People visit graves and enjoy seasonal foods.

Culture Day (Bunka no Hi): Celebrated on November 3rd, this day highlights Japanese culture and arts. Cultural awards are given, and special events take place.

Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kenkoku Kinenbi): Celebrated on November 23rd, it pays homage to labor and productivity. Many businesses close to give employees a day off.

Emperor’s New Year (Gantan): On January 1st, the Emperor of Japan delivers a speech to the nation and receives dignitaries at the Imperial Palace.

These are some of the major national holidays in Japan, but there are also regional and local festivals throughout the year that are unique to each area of the country. These festivities are an important part of Japanese culture and provide visitors with the opportunity to experience tradition and Japanese hospitality.

Hope you enjoyed this Travel Guide, and to not miss future posts, don’t forget to subscribe! You can also follow me on my YouTube Viajera por el Mundo 🙂

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