Getting the Most Out of Japan

Rikki, one of our Asia Consultants, recently returned from his trip around Japan. Here are his top tips…

Japan is by far one of the most fascinating and culturally different destinations in the world and everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. The people are extremely helpful and friendly (even if most of them don’t speak English), the service is flawless (so much so I am convinced the service staff are psychic) and the food is out of this world. It really makes for an unforgettable vacation for families, couples and anyone who is looking for something a bit different.

Because it’s so wonderful, it can come at a cost. Unlike a lot of places in Asia it is incredibly developed and the cost of accommodation, transport and services compete, if not exceed, with the likes of New York and London. This combined with a strong Yen and post Brexit weak pound has only exasperated the issue.

However, do not fear, there are ways of making Japan work for you and ensuring you can have an incredible stay without compromising on your accommodation or overall experience. In fact, in most cases I feel it can really add to your experience if planned properly by your expert here at Scott Dunn.

1. Get around by public transport – everybody loves to be chauffeured and in certain areas where transport isn’t as developed, such as Kyoto or Kanazawa, this is a necessity. However in Tokyo in particular, the public transport system is super-efficient and relatively easy to navigate when you know what you are doing. We can include a guide on your first day in the city and have them show you how to use the subway system. Then, when you have days at leisure and you know what you are doing, you don’t have to pay for drivers wherever you go. You will also get a great insight into local life.

2. Utilise Japan’s amazing bullet trains. By far the most efficient way to travel around Japan, the bullet train also offers relative value for money in comparison with driving or flying and is definitely a highlight to any trip. Even if you travel ‘Reserved’ (economy) class, you have loads of leg room and the locals are so quiet you are sure to have a relaxing experience. We will recommend the best train times and routes, and organize your tickets in advance so that when you arrive, you know exactly what you are doing.

3. Japan is certainly a foodie’s paradise with some of the best quality fish, beef and vegetarian cuisine on the planet and if Michelin-starred dining is your cup of tea, you will be well catered for. However, if informal dining is more your affair, do not be afraid to eat with locals. There are some amazing local cafes offering superb food at a fraction of the cost which we can highly recommend.

4. Self-guiding; a bit of a taboo word in the world of tour operators, however, with the right support you can have an incredible time exploring areas on your own. I would always recommend including a guide for your first day in each area as not only can they enhance your experience, they can also show you around and give you the tools you need to get about independently afterwards. Our guides are some of the best as not only do they speak English well (a rarity in itself), they understand how our guests prefer to travel and offer the flexibility not afforded to those traveling in group tours.

5. Make the most of your Consultant, we are here to help guide you in the right direction and make any recommendations to ensure you have a fabulous time. We have traveled to the areas we specialize in, we know them very well and we can take as long as necessary to ensure you are confident and have everything you need before you depart. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you like. Japan can be daunting and it is difficult to know what to expect but with our expertise, you can really get the most of your trip.