Japan is a dream destination for many tourists. It’s impossible not to fall in love with its fascinating culture, incredible diversity, and intense contrasts that play out in front of your eyes wherever you go. There aren’t many places in the world that can transport you back in time and allow you to experience the old-world charm, then throw you in the frenzy of ultra-modern cities where you’re surrounded by hi-tech at every step, sometimes in the timespan of a single day or the perimeter of just a few blocks.

Japan does just that. You go from watching geishas stroll gracefully through peaceful alleys or visiting temple grounds that are immersed in a strange stillness to being swept up in the hustle and bustle of city life, with high-rise buildings covered in vibrant neon lights or jumping in a futuristic bullet train to get to your next destination. You never know what you’ll come across at the next corner.

Needless to say, the combination can be quite dizzying for the unsuspecting tourist. While an element of surprise is always welcome, and leaving room for the unknown can make your trip all the more interesting, a bit of preparation wouldn’t hurt either. So, you might want to learn a few basic aspects about Japan before you embark on your first trip through this fascinating world of dichotomies.

You can’t escape the culture shock

Japan is famous worldwide for its unique culture and distinct character that sets it apart from other countries. So, no matter where you come from, you’ll probably have a bit of a culture shock, and even more so if you live in the West.

While you may not spend enough time in Japan to notice all the aspects and facets of the local culture, the differences are visible from the get-go. From the surprising mix of old and new that we’ve already mentioned to the locals’ reserved and polite nature, or the colorful manga and anime culture, Japan often feels like a whole other world.

This doesn’t mean that cultural differences will negatively impact your trip. Quite the contrary, they will only add more thrill and excitement to your travel experience. But you must mentally prepare yourself for these cultural discrepancies if you want your trip to go smoothly (and take advantage of the perks).

A safe haven for tourists

Safety is a major concern when visiting a foreign country for the first time, so you’ll be happy to know that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. This conclusion isn’t based only on cultural stereotypes and people’s general perception of Japan but is backed by official reports and studies. For example, the Global Peace Index has ranked Japan among the top ten safest countries in the world for 14 years in a row.

Obviously, the fact that the safety level in Japan is quite high shouldn’t be seen as a free pass to abandon caution and behave recklessly. As with every other trip, it’s good to purchase travel insurance, be aware of your surroundings, keep a close eye on your belongings, and avoid venturing into unsafe areas.

Also, you should ensure you can keep in touch with your friends and family back home while traveling or contact local authorities in case of need. For seamless connectivity throughout your travels, you should look into eSIM options and try the unlimited eSIM data plans for Japan.

Cash is king

When it comes to managing your budget and payments, you need to make sure you have enough cash with you as this is still the most popular method of payment in Japan. It might seem strange that in a country with such a modern edge and is so technologically developed, card payments aren’t more widespread, but as we’ve already warned you, that’s one of Japan’s many quirks.

While you can pay by card in major cities and at larger venues, don’t expect to have this option in smaller shops or restaurants, especially outside urban areas. So, it’s best to have some yen with you if you want to avoid money problems. As for tips, the Japanese culture regards tipping as a rude practice, so no one will expect you to give them extra money.

A modern and efficient public transportation system

As a first-time visitor, you’ll have to figure out how to move around from one place to another with ease. Fortunately, Japan has an extensive and well-developed transportation infrastructure of roads, highways, railways, subways, airports, and harbors you can rely on to reach your destinations.

With so many options available, planning your itinerary might seem a bit confusing at first, but there’s nothing that a little research can’t solve. Since the public transportation system will cover all your travel needs, it’s highly unlikely you will feel the need to rent a car.

Proper etiquette and manners are highly valued

Japan has many social norms and customs that foreigners might find difficult to grasp. While locals are quite forgiving of visitors unaware of these unwritten rules and make unintentional mistakes, they value being mannered and polite.

Therefore, it’s good to be aware of the basic etiquette rules to show respect and avoid cultural faux pas. Learning a few Japanese phrases could also be of great help as you’ll most likely stumble across the language barrier at some point. In smaller towns or rural areas, you will have a hard time communicating with the locals if you rely on their knowledge of the English language. Japan is undoubtedly a destination that will capitate and amaze you from the moment you set foot in it, so get ready to be dazzled and have an unforgettable trip.

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