Voltage: 100V, Frequency: 50Hz / 60 Hz
Yen (JPY) exchange rates
UTC +9 hours
What to expect
Japan is a country of contrasts, from the futuristic cities to the gentle villages found in the countryside. Tokyo is a mindblowing urban metropolis unlike anywhere else, yet amongst the neon and skyscrapers are old-world teahouses and tranquil gardens.
In Kyoto, explore geisha culture, take in a traditional theater performance and lose yourself in the charming backstreets. Enjoy a stay in a traditional inn complete with tea ceremonies, tatami mats and hot springs, and indulge in delicious Japanese cuisine.
From bullet train journeys to Shinto shrines, Japan offers something for everyone, and insights into Japan's complex and intriguing culture are fascinating to uncover along the way.
From Los Angeles
approximately 12 hours
From New York
approximately 14 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the vacations listed here. As major vacations are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our USA-based Asia specialists for details.
1 January is New Year's Day
, marking the beginning of Japan's most significant vacation period. Businesses may be closed for several days in the lead-up to New Year's Day and for several days afterwards.
January (second Monday) is Coming of Age Day
, where ceremonies and celebrations are held for all those who have reached the age of 20 (or maturity) during the year.
11 February is National Foundation Day
, a day of national pride celebrating the founding of the country.
20 March is Vernal Equinox Day
, originally a day of ancestor worship and now a celebration of nature and living things.
29 April is Showa Day
is named in honor of the Emperor Showa, and marks the start of Japan's Golden Week period, or week of public vacations.
End of April/first week of May is Golden Week
, a week of public vacations where Japanese people travel extensively, both domestically and internationally.
3 May is Constitutional Memorial Day
, commemorating the day Japan's post-war constitution took effect.
4 May is Greenery Day
, designed as a day to appreciate and commune with nature.
July (third Monday) is Marine Day
, signifying gratitude for the ocean and its abundance, and hoping for prosperity for Japan as a maritime nation.
September (third Monday) is Respect for the Aged Day
, designed as a day of respect for the elderly.
22 September is Autumnal Equinox Day
, a day of ancestor worship.
October (second Monday) is Sports Day
, a day in which to contemplate keeping a healthy mind and body.
3 November is Culture Day
, commemorating the announcement of the constitution in 1946 and a day to celebrate both peace and culture.
23 November is Labor Thanksgiving Day
, a day for recognizing the country's labor and production efforts.
23 December is The Emperor's Birthday
, celebrating the birthday of the reigning Emperor.
Health & Fitness
Japan is a comfortable country in which to travel. Although it is a developed country with an international standard of medical care, travelers should take the usual precautions.
Vaccinations are not normally recommended for travel in Japan as diseases such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera do not exist there. It is still highly advisable to visit your doctor for current health advice at least one month before your departure.
Citizens of the US, UK, EU Countries, Australia, New Zealand and Canada do not need a visa prior to traveling to Japan for visits of up to 3-6 months. All other nationalities should consult with the Japan embassy or consulate in their home country. Your passport requires at least six months validity beyond your departure date.
For each of the nationalities mentioned, tourist visas for stays of 3-6 months are issued upon arrival in Japan. It is important to be aware you must have proof of your onward travel arrangements should they be requested at immigration. All international arrivals in Japan are photographed and fingerprinted.
Japanese visa requirements are subject to change, and you are responsible for your own visa arrangements. We highly recommend that you check current visa guidelines with the relevant embassies in your home country prior to departure.
Safety and security
Japan is a developed country and considered a very safe, secure place to travel, although the usual health and safety precautions apply. Compared to most other countries, levels of petty street crime are quite low, attributed to Japan's high income levels, low unemployment figures and cultural factors.
Despite the low level of risk, we still recommend you keep photocopies of your passport, credit card numbers and airline tickets in a safe place separate to the originals. Valuables should be secured in your hotel's safety deposit boxes if possible. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
‘Culture Shock Japan’, by Sean Bramble
- Part of the Culture Shock series, this title is brimming with information on Japanese cultural nuances, and useful tips for the traveler to Japan.
‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, by Arthur Golden
- A detailed, best-selling fictional account of the experiences of a young girl plucked from a small village to work in the Gion geisha district of Kyoto.
‘Geisha’, by Liza Dalby
- Equally as interesting as Memoirs of a Geisha, but not as well known. This book - based on a thesis - is a recount of the author’s time spent as a Western geisha working in Kyoto.
‘Shogun’, by James Clavell
- The first of a series of best selling titles set in feudal Japan, this entertaining read details the encounters of a European trader with the Japanese princesses, warlords, and shoguns.
‘Norwegian Wood’ by Haruki Murakami
- the most famous of Murakami’s many books, and widely read by Japanese people. A lucid insight into Japanese college life and the pressures endured by young, urban Japanese people.
‘Lost Japan’ by Alex Kerr
- Reflections of a long-term American resident of Japan on the gradual dilution of Japanese traditions in the face of mass import of Western ideas and popular culture.
Useful words & phrases
Hello (or hi)
How are you/ are you well?
O-genki desu ka
Excuse me/ I'm sony
Thank you very much
Arigato gozaimasu/ Domo arigato gozaimashita
What is your name?
O-name wa, nan desu ka
My name is…
How old are you?
Shitsurei desu ga, nan sai desu ka
I am …years old
Watashi wa,...sai desu
How much is ...?
Ikura desu ka
It's too expensive!
Takai desu yo
Goodbye!/ See you later
Sayonara/ Ja Mata Ne
Arrival and departure transfers
Japan's modern, efficient rail network is one of the most significant ways of getting around the country. The shinkansen, or bullet train, is a highly efficient way to traverse the countryside, and trains in Japan are almost always on time. While rail is commonly used on our journeys, you will travel by air-conditioned minibus or car for shorter distances.
Domestic flights in Japan are mostly on modern Airbus or Boeing aircraft, and schedules are subject to change. When using taxis, is it is recommended you carry a business card featuring your hotel's address. Taxis are metered and considered quite safe.
Internet cafes can be found in Japan, though can sometimes be hard to find, and can cost up to 700 yen per hour. They are not always found in smaller village and towns. International phone calls can be made from hotels, however it is more economical to buy a pre-paid card and use a compatible public telephone.
Only 3G cell phones work in Japan, and these are available for hire at Tokyo's and Osaka's airports upon arrival, for less than 4 USD per day. Phones can be deposited at the airport you depart from. International mail is slightly more expensive to send than from most Western countries, and usually takes less than seven days to reach its destination.
Food & drink
Japanese cuisine is a delight to explore, from sashimi and sushi to ramen, tempura, and many less familiar dishes. The cuisine varies widely between regions, with some intriguing local delicacies including the sautéed grasshoppers found in central Japan. Rice is widely consumed, and the cuisine is very seafood and vegetable oriented. You can safely consume the tap water in Japan, although tap water is widely available.
Tipping is widely accepted in Asia, though is not an obligatory practice. It is a great way to show your appreciation for excellent service. At the start of your trip, your local guide or Western tour leader will request a small amount of money (such as 50 cents per day) to be used to tip service staff encountered along the way.
This prevents excessive tipping and negates the need to always have small change available. It is not compulsory to tip Travel Indochina representatives for their service. Should be you be happy with the service levels received tips are welcome, however the choice is entirely yours.
Opportunities to swim in Japan include hotel swimming pools, which are generally well-maintained, clean and safe, and local onsens, or hot springs. Some of these are attached to ryokens or traditional inns, and are an excellent place to soak, unwind and experience a traditional Japanese activity.
To lower our environmental impact in Japan, we emphasize walking to get around wherever possible, and promote the use of local trains. On the 'Secrets of Japan' Small Group Journey, we offset all carbon emissions produced. Learn more about our focus on responsible travel.