Japan Tours & Vacations


Japan Travel GuideSome information and tips about Japan

About Japan

Find inspiration for your Japan vacation, from sightseeing in the city and cultural immersion in the countryside to top picks and suggested itineraries
Arrive in Japan with a game plan. Discover the many events and festivals, temples and castles, theme parks and hot springs, beaches and outdoor activities that Japan has to offer. Whether you’re passionate about sports, an art lover, a nature enthusiast, a history buff, a foodie, or just looking to relax on a beach, the possibilities for your Japan journey are endless.

Weather, Climate and Geography

Japan’s land area stretches from the northernmost island of Hokkaido, close to Russia, to the subtropics of Okinawa. The weather varies greatly from region to region, so check the weather forecast for the areas you’ll be traveling to.

Located in East Asia, Japan is a curved-shaped archipelago with the Sea of Japan along the west coast and the Pacific Ocean along the east coast. Its closest neighbors are South Korea, Russia, and Taiwan near the southernmost Okinawan islands known as Yonaguni. Japan’s size is often compared to that of Germany and it is slightly smaller than the state of California and somewhat larger than the United Kingdom.

Japan’s land is made up of dense forest and mountainous terrain covering 70 percent of the country. It is held in place by the Japan Alps —the series of mountain ranges spanning the central area of the main island of Honshu. In some regions of Japan, Kyushu in particular, highly geologically active volcanoes dominate, and eruptions are common.

Along the coastlines and flat areas, you will find many of the major cities—in some cases, built on reclaimed land. There are many beautiful beaches with some great surfing spots on the country’s peninsula. The Boso Peninsula, Izu Peninsula, and Kii Peninsula, among others, and many places for snorkeling and diving.

Heading further south, you will reach the subtropics of Okinawa and its outlying islands. National parks and protected ecological zones house a range of distinctive wildlife and geographical points of interest. From Akan-Mashu National Park in the wilds of Hokkaido to the UNESCO World Heritage- Ogasawara Islands, located 622 miles south of Tokyo in the Pacific Ocean.

Many islands are uninhabited, and nature is beginning to take some of them back in dramatic fashion—visit Tomogashima Island and its abandoned and now overgrown red-brick military buildings.

Weather through the seasons
Every season in Japan has its charms, brought by the seasonal changes in temperature and weather. Read below to learn what distinguishes each season from the rest in Japan.

A welcome break from the winter cold, spring is celebrated throughout the country with the arrival of the cherry blossoms. Starting in the south and gradually moving north, the blossoms bloom between March and May depending on your location. Cool and breezy with generally sunny skies, spring is a comfortable time to get out and explore the cities and countryside. Leading into summer, the rainy season begins in late May and early June.

Summer throughout Japan is stiflingly hot and intensely humid—make sure to keep hydrated. The beaches are packed, firework displays explode above the nation’s rivers, and street festivals are held around every corner. The mountains offer some respite from the major city cauldrons. Be aware that September brings typhoons that can thwart you travel plans.

As the weather cools, the autumn colors light-up the countryside. Starting in the northern island of Hokkaido and traveling south, the dazzling autumn leaves blanket the country between late September and early December. Similar to spring, the fall season is perfect for outdoor exploration and a great time to taste what’s in Japan’s larder.

The ski season begins and the northern areas are covered with Japan’s peerless powder snow. Crisp and cool, the weather remains clear throughout January on the mainland—becoming a little gray and uninspiring in February. Warm up with some hot sake and a bowl of bubbling hot-pot.

Safety in Japan

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, with low crime rates and a well-developed emergency response system. However, taking precautions and being aware of potential risks, such as natural disasters, traffic accidents, and petty theft, is always essential. Ensure you carry the necessary documents, such as your passport and travel insurance.

Best Time to Visit Japan

The best time to visit Japan is during the spring and autumn seasons, from March to May and September to November. During these months, the weather is mild and comfortable, and the scenery is stunning, with cherry blossoms blooming in spring, and colorful autumn leaves in fall. However, if you want to experience winter sports or the snow festivals in Hokkaido, December to February is the ideal time to go.

Best Places to Visit in Japan

Japan has a plethora of tourist destinations, each with its own unique charm and beauty. Some of the must-visit places in Japan include:

  • Tokyo: Japan’s capital and the most populous city, known for its neon lights, shopping, and entertainment.
  • Kyoto: A historic city with over a thousand temples and shrines, famous for its traditional culture and seasonal events.
  • Osaka: A vibrant and lively city famous for its food, nightlife, and theme parks.
  • Hiroshima: A city with a tragic history, now a symbol of peace and hope, home to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum.
  • Hokkaido: The northernmost island of Japan, known for its natural beauty, hot springs, and winter sports.
  • Okinawa: A tropical paradise with crystal-clear waters, coral reefs, and a unique Ryukyu culture.

Cultural Experiences in Japan

Japan has a rich and fascinating culture that has been shaped by its history, religion, and traditions. You can experience this culture by participating in various activities, such as:

  • Tea ceremony: A ritual of preparing and serving matcha tea, a traditional Japanese green tea, with utmost attention to detail and etiquette.
  • Kimono wearing: Dress up in a beautiful kimono, a traditional Japanese garment, and learn about the different types and styles.
  • Calligraphy: Learn the art of Japanese writing, using a brush and ink to create beautiful characters on washi paper.
  • Sumo wrestling: Watch the traditional Japanese sport of sumo wrestling, where huge wrestlers battle in a ring to push each other out.
  • Kabuki theater: Experience the colorful and dramatic world of kabuki, a traditional Japanese theater performance with intricate costumes, makeup, and music.

Food and Drink in Japan

Japanese cuisine is world-renowned for its freshness, simplicity, and variety. Some of the must-try Japanese dishes include:

  • Sushi: Raw fish and other seafood served on a bed of vinegar rice, usually accompanied by wasabi and soy sauce.
  • Ramen: A hearty noodle soup with various toppings, such as pork, egg, and vegetables, in a flavorful broth.
    Tempura: Deep-fried seafood, vegetables, or meat, coated in a light and crispy batter.
  • Okonomiyaki: A savory pancake made with flour, eggs, cabbage, and other ingredients, topped with sauce and mayo.
  • Matcha: A powdered green tea used in various desserts, such as ice cream, cakes, and mochi.
    Japan also has a rich variety of alcoholic beverages, such as sake, shochu, and Japanese whisky, as well as non-alcoholic drinks, such as green tea and ramune soda.

Shopping in Japan

Japan is a paradise for shoppers, with many unique and trendy products, from traditional crafts and souvenirs to the latest fashion and electronics. Some of the best places to shop in Japan include:

  • Shibuya and Harajuku in Tokyo: The trendsetting districts for fashion, music, and pop culture, with numerous boutiques, department stores, and street vendors.
  • Dotonbori in Osaka: A bustling entertainment and shopping district famous for its neon lights, food stalls, and souvenir shops.
  • Nishiki Market in Kyoto: A lively and colorful covered market offering a wide range of traditional Japanese food and crafts.
  • Hakodate Morning Market in Hokkaido: A seafood lover’s paradise, with fresh and delicious seafood sold directly by the fishermen.

Tipping in Japan

Tipping culture in Japan is a little different
If you are from a country where tipping is routinely practiced, it may come as a surprise that there is no such culture in Japan. This might be especially shocking as the standard of customer service in Japan is often regarded as the best in the world. If you are visiting bars, cafes, or restaurants, taking taxis or staying in hotels, there is simply no need to tip.

There is one case, however, when tipping might be appropriate. If you have a private guide, or interpreter—someone who is used to western practices—then they may accept a tip from you (although it is certainly not expected). If you do decide to tip, make sure to put any bills in an envelope. You can buy these at convenience stores or 100 yen shops.

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