Travel Tips in Japan

Do you want to travel around Japan but have no idea where to get started? Here are some resources to help get an idea of ways to travel as a student! From going town to town to going out of the country, traveling in Japan as a student is easy with some simple preperation.

Night/Highway buses: 

These can be an easy and inexpensive alternative to train travel for medium to long distances. Sites like Willer Express and Japan Bus Online are sites where you can book a reservation in English. More information can be found on the Japan Guide website.

Train passes:

There are a large variety of rail passes for people visiting for a few days as well as cards you buy and charge money on to use around different stations. It is easy to get a card from a major station by buying it through a ticket machine and then to charge it you can use almost any machine there. It is a faster alternative to working out the train schedule and ticket price each time you go to the station. I use the ICOCA card which was 500 yen (about 5 dollars) to buy and usable on tons of JR and non-JR local lines in the Kansai Region. You can also use this card for buses which is very useful when you don’t have exact change! This is the one I had! Credit: Mark and Cha

Get to know the bus and train system (its way cheaper than taxis): 

Japan is known for its extensive and punctual public transportation services. There are tons of trains and buses that crisscross the country and they are much cheaper than taxis. Depending on the distance you are traveling, from your school to the airport or from one part of your city to the other, public transit is there for you.  

Credit: Japan Railpass

Hostels, capsule hotels, and internet cafes:

While traveling around the country, cheap places to stay are easier to find than you may think.  

Hostels are popular for people traveling who only need a place to sleep and shower before they are back to traveling so for a minimal place with a reasonable price, it is good to check out ones in the area you are traveling in.  

Japan is known for its capsule hotels and they are very useful if you want a cheap place to stay and have an interesting experience. I stayed in one after a rough night of traveling into Osaka and it was the only thing open to people without reservations. The one I went to even had a public bath and onsen.  

If you want to pay very little, internet cafes only charge about 1000 yen (10 dollars) to enter, have little beds, and are open 24 hours. One of my friends traveled through the big cities in the Kansai region and paid less than 50 dollars for his entire accommodations because he stayed at internet cafes. They might not be the most useful if you need a shower but if you do not mind sleeping there, they are a great option.  

I slept in a capsule hotel like this! Credit: Pack Me To

If you want to go out of the country and explore other parts of Asia, DO IT!

I went with a group of friends to Korea for a long weekend that was considered fall break (we get that one holiday off at Kansai Gaidai) and it was an amazing experience. It was very inexpensive to go because we were so close, and because it was a big group, we split the cost of the Airbnb between all of us. I know many other people who used that break to go to Thailand, China, and even India.  

Some went in big groups while others went alone, but many people's reasons were the same; when else would we have the opportunity. It is cheaper and easier than traveling from the US because you are already on this side of the Pacific so if you have the time and resources, go for it! 

Online resources: 

Today, smartphones make travel easier than ever. In Japan, there is an app that helps you find public wifi and even has travel guides to help you if you are lost. Google maps is also a go-to but if you don’t have wifi, there are offline maps you can download like Maps.Me

If you prefer to watch videos to get ideas of where to travel, I recommend YouTube channels like Abroad in Japan and Rachel and Jun. They have travel videos from all around Japan and tips and tricks to learn the culture and language! 

Last tips: 

If in doubt, ask a local student because they often know how to get around. Language issue? Learn common phrases and kanji- most stuff is also in English but you never know. Look out for cultural differences and study up a bit on etiquitte before coming.

Have fun traveling around Japan!