Hey Nomades Gourmandes squad,
Today it’s not about food recipe but a travel guide post. As my travel to Japan has been the best adventure for me so far, I decide to write a Japan travel essential guide for folks who plan to visit this summer. I’m not one to stress out about packing, so these are my 4 absolute tips for an enjoyable trip to Japan. Let’s get to them right away!
1. Wifi rental
It is best to rent out a wifi router service in Japan. When I was preparing for my trip to Japan, I knew that there aren’t many places where you can get free wifi. But isn’t this the case everywhere else? I mean here in France it’s the same.
To have a stress-free trip, I recommend you to rent a wifi router for your whole stay in Japan. Wifi router or pocket wifi rental is definitely a must for your trip. If you don’t need to stay connect to social media during your trip, still, think about the Google map that you have to use to navigate the thick web of Japanese trains. The wifi router comes in small size (smaller than your smart phone) and a recharge cable.
You can rent wifi router for short or long periods: you can even rent it for just one day. However the longer you rent the wifi router the more advantageous it becomes as the wifi provider may offer the package price for 7 days or 14 days rent. Some routers allow up to 10 devices to connect to wifi so if you travel in groups, you can definitely economize the internet fee. Just remember to rent a portable battery as well. During my stay we were 4 using the same wifi router, its internal battery lasted for 4 to 5 hours. If you use wifi to download/upload pictures, stay up to date on social media and also Google map, definitely consider to rent portable battery as wifi router providers have this service too.
The procedure is simple: you go on the pocket wifi provider’s website and choose the price range that you want and order the wifi router package. You have the option to retrieve the package at the airport upon your arrival (check the service hours, normally they’re opened from 6am to 11pm) or there is an option to have package delivered to your Airbnb residence with a small fee. With the second option, they may ask you to pass your command 5 days before use so you should look into pocket wifi rental one week before your trip.
Note: When you rent Airbnb appartment, they also provide a pocket wifi that you can use for this purpose. But (of course there’s a but) I found that their pocket wifi may not be as functional as the one you rent separately so take this into account when you plan your trip.
2. Japan Rail Pass
If you plan to visit Japan for more than 7 days, I suppose you also plan on visiting cities other than Tokyo. If so you may want to consider buying the Japan Rail Pass. Japan Rail Pass is provided by the Japan Railways Group who own most of the railway lines in Japan. With this Pass you can experience the shinkansen bullet trains (high-speed trains) to travel from city to city in Japan for an advantageous price. You can also use this Pass for JR lines in Tokyo as well, I’ll get to that later.
To get full benefit of JR Pass, you need to buy this Pass before you come to Japan with a Japanese visa. If you’re already in Japan, you can’t buy JR Pass with this advantageous price so you should it check out before you go.
You have the options to buy a 7 days, 14 days or 21 days Pass depends on your travel plan.
Pass the command at least 7 days before your trip as they will send an exchange order to your residence. Bring this exchange order with you to Japan and exchange the Pass at Japan Railways offices noted in the order. At this moment you’ll be able to choose the date of use for your Pass.
You can read more about Japan Rail Pass here.
3. Pasmo card
As mentioned above, with a Japan Rail Pass you can definitely board shinkansen and JR lines without additional fee. However, if you plan to go sightseeing around Tokyo, chances are you’ll have to take trains and buses that are operated by private groups other than JR group. In this case you might want to consider getting a Pasmo card.
Pasmo is an IC prepaid card that is practical and easy to use. Instead of taking time to find the place, calculate the itinary and buying ticket each time you go, you can just buy this card and swipe it at ticket gates. The ticket fee will be automatically paid out of your card.
You can buy this card at ticket vending machines at stations and airports so that you can have this card as soon as you arrive in Japan.
Not for transport purpose only, Pasmo card can also be used to buy things at convenient stores. Japan has to be the dreamland of convenient stores. They’re everywhere, and by everywhere, I mean in big cities at least. Having said this, your Pasmo card will come in handy when you want to grab some food and drinks on the go.
Not only Pasmo card can be used in Tokyo, it can be used in 10 regions of Japan including Osaka and Kyoto. Just remember to return your Pasmo card before you leave Japan to get back the deposit. You can check this page for more information on Pasmo card and how to buy it.
4. Packing tips
In Japan people still use cash to buy most things from food and drinks to newest electronic devices. That’s why you’ll need to bring a lot of cash with you. Don’t bother with bank card, instead bring a coin purse as you’ll have more than a handful of coins.
You may also want to check the plug adapter for your phone and camera. If you got your gadgets from Europe like me, you’ll need a plug adapter and maybe even a power converter. This is really important to ensure safe use for your devices.
Pack light, there will be many things that you want to buy in Japan from clothes, souvenirs to electronic devices so make sure to leave enough space for them as well. If upon arriving you find yourself short on some necessary items, there are plenty of convenient stores to work out the solution.
All in all, a trip to Japan shouldn’t be too stressful in terms of packing. These tips will definitely make your stay more enjoyable. Oh here’s one more thing: I feel that I should mention the language barrier. If you happen to speak some Japanese then it’s all good. Just don’t get high hope about talking with locals in English, you’ll have to learn some Japanese for that. When you meet people for the first time, say ‘hajimemashite’ and ask them if they speak English. I find that although most Japanese don’t speak foreign language, they’re happy to help out (so work on your hand gestures as well). I’ll come back next time with places to visit and what to buy and eat in Japan. By the way, do you know that it’s Fête de la Musique – Music Day here in France? Sing, dance, move your body, spring energy from each fiber of your being. I hope you enjoy each day as a Music Day!
Cover photo: Thao Uyen
A melting pot experience, in more than one way. Welcome to our Epicurean adventure!