Japan: What you need to know

Japan has become a very popular destination over the last few years, and for good reason too. Considering a trip? We’ve got all the essential details of the when, how, where and why covered.

Q: When is the best time to visit Japan?

A: Japan has something to offer in every season. Winter sports and onsen (hot springs) are popular in winter – December to February. Spring, around April, is known as the season for sakura (cherry blossoms) and the autumn leaves are spectacular in November. Summer – June to August – is packed with festivals if you don’t mind the heat and humidity. Or, you can avoid the rainy season and hotter weather by travelling up north to Hokkaido. If travelling in peak season, make sure you book well in advance.

Q: What are the recommended places to visit in Japan?

A: If you are visiting Japan for the first time you can explore the ‘Golden Route’ that includes Tokyo, Kyoto/Nara, Osaka and Hiroshima. Should you have extra time, or this isn’t your first trip to Japan, you can explore the ‘Second Golden Route’ that includes Kanazawa, Takayama and Shirakawago in the North.

Q: What is a convenient and economical way to travel around Japan independently?

A: Travel around on Japan Railways, purchasing a JR pass. It covers all JR group railways across the country including the shinkansen bullet trains (except for Nozomi and Mizuho shinkansen) as well as some local line JR buses and the JR Miyajima ferry. It also allows you to make seat reservations free of charge. Available in seven, 14 or 21 day options, the JR pass must be purchased prior to departure from Australia through a travel agent or online. For costs and further details refer to Japan Rail Pass. There are also regional passes available, and if you’re concerned about travelling around with a suitcase, you can easily send your luggage by courier from one destination to another.

Q: Where can I get further information on travelling to Japan?

A: The Japan National Tourism Organization website is a great place to start. If you’d prefer hard copy brochures, you can visit its self-service brochure room in Sydney or have them mailed out to you. On Tuesdays and Thursdays between two and five pm, it also accepts phone enquiries, or at all other times you can submit an email enquiry.

Written by SJ



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