Travel in Japan 旅行
Travel to and within Japan is reasonably straightforward and generally very safe.
Visitors from many countries can enter Japan without the need for a visa and the country’s efficient and speedy transport system means tourists can quickly reach their desired destinations, especially if they make use of the convenient Japan Rail Pass.
Japan’s main international airports are:
Narita International Airport (NRT, in Chiba Prefecture, about an hour by train from Tokyo),
Haneda Airport (HND, in Tokyo itself) serving Tokyo and the Kanto region,
Kansai International Airport (KIX) serving the Kansai region (Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe) and even Hiroshima.
Other international airports in Japan include Chubu International Airport or “Centrair” (NGO) near Nagoya, Fukuoka Airport (FUK) on the southern island of Kyushu, and Chitose Airport (CTS) near Sapporo on the northern island of Hokkaido.
See a listing of foreign embassies in Tokyo and Japanese embassies overseas. Your country’s embassy or consulate can provide invaluable assistance for both residents and visitors alike.
See also a listing of Japan’s immigration offices nationwide. Renew your visa and other travel and residency documents. Find useful resident and tourist information, accommodation, citizen’s advice and make use of library, media and internet facilities at your local international exchange center.
National Parks & Prefectures 国立公園
Japan has 30 National Parks designated so by the Ministry of the Environment for protection and sustainable use, and over 50 Quasi National Parks. National Parks cover around 6% of Japan’s total land area.
Japan is divided for administrative purposes into 47 prefectures stretching from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south. Japan’s four main islands are Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu.
Japan has one of the world’s best transport systems. An integrated system of shinkansen bullet trains, express trains, highway buses, local buses, subways and taxis will get you where you want to go, quickly, on time and safely. What’s more, Japanese railway stations are models of efficiency and often include shopping centers, hotels and other services such as rental car offices and bus stations.
Visitors to Japan from most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, North America, Singapore and Malaysia (holders of an ePassport in compliance with ICAO standards) are usually issued a 90 day tourist visa for Japan on each entry to the country (see below). Holders of a valid HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) passport also are granted visa-free access to enter Japan for tourism and short-term visits up to 90 days.
Weather in Japan 天気
The best seasons to visit Japan are in spring and autumn. The cherry blossoms flower in a brief period in early April and the weather usually remains fine, with intermitted rain, until mid-June when the rainy season (monsoon) begins. From July through August and September the temperatures and humidity levels rise making traveling a challenge. Come in the fall (late October to early December) for the red leaves of the maple trees along with lower temperatures. Winter is the skiing and hot spring (onsen) season in the Japan Alps and Hokkaido.
Tourist Information Offices 観光案内所
The Tourist Information Office in Japanese towns and cities is often located in or near the main railway station and at major airports. Japan’s tourist information offices are a very useful source of information. They offer details on such things as local festivals and special events. In addition, they usually provide city maps and brochures (in English and other languages such as Chinese, Korean, Thai, Bahasa, French and Spanish). Pick up bus and train timetables here and ask for help finding accommodation in hotels, hostels or ryokan.
Staff members often speak English and other languages. A visit to the Tourist Information Office should be high on your list of priorities when you arrive in Japan.
Wifi & Pocket Wifi Rental インターネット
Japan is increasingly covered with Wifi hotspots, though they are mainly limited to the big cities. Coverage is sparse in the countryside and mountainous regions. If you don’t want to rely on free Wifi but be sure of getting online 24/7 you are best renting a mobile Wifi router from a reputable Japan-based company, which can be delivered to your hotel or picked up at the airport.
Banks & Money in Japan 銀行
Chances are you will need to visit a bank or at least an ATM during your visit to Japan. The Japanese Post Office’s banking arm Yucho has foreigner-friendly ATM’s with instructions for use in English in nearly all post office branches. Central Post Offices located near major train stations are also open 24/7. There are also ATM’s in high street banks and convenience stores.