[UPDATE: For more updates, you can check our #AnakJajanJAPAN hashtag on instagram.
As I’ve said before on our Instagram, Traveling alone is REALLY FUN!! Because your schedule will be flexible and you can arrange the itinerary based on your interest or your mood. But on the other side, it also can be really CHALLENGING especially if you are traveling to a non English language country such as Japan.
Besides Oishi, Kawaii, Aishiteru, Sushi, Ichigo, etc, I barely understand their language, I also cannot read Japanese at all, yet I’m super confident going to Japan alone with Mr. Jajan. The only and one secret behind it isPREPARATION, I did my homework by doing TONs of reading and research about everything I need and have to know and to prepare before going there. Even more, I’m super lucky to have a friend Ame that has just got back from her Japan trip with her husband and being super helpful giving me a lot of useful tips.
And now it’s our turn to share with you everything we know, informations that we think Sahabat Jajan might need to know or prepare before going to Japan. Hopefully all of the info can be useful for your trip to Japan, especially if this is the first time for you going to Japan just like us.
This ultimate guide/tips post was written for three months and finally I manage to finish it. We know that it took us a while to write this post, but it was because we really want to present you with the most detailed, complete and informative list of tips or guide in one post for you.
1. FLIGHT – VISA
You can use ANA (All Nippon Airways), JAL, Garuda Indonesia, etc for direct flight from Jakarta to Tokyo with a duration of around 8 hours.
The other flights such as AirAsia, Cathay, etc require you to transit via KL or Denpasar Bali.
If you are on tight budget, you can find airplane ticket with a great promo from airlines, my friend only spent around IDR 3.2mil per person (round trip Jakarta-Haneda-Jakarta). Can you imagine it?? And for us, we spent around IDR 5mil per person (round trip Jakarta-Haneda-Jakarta May 2014, Air Asia transit via KL), IDR 7.5mil per person (Jakarta-Narita, Haneda-Jakarta Dec-Jan 2014-2015, Garuda direct flight) and IDR 4.7mil per person (Jakarta-Narita-Jakarta April 2016, JAL direct flight). Nowadays lots of airlines or travel fairs offer special promos so you just have to have to be observant in order to get the best deal. Some promotions require specific travel dates or specific days of travel, for example some airline promos might require only maximum 7days of travel, etc.
You might have read the news that Japan now exempts visas for Indonesian citizen but only for e-passport holder. If you are already an e-passport holder, you will need to register your passport only once at the embassy so you can travel to Japan without visa for 3 years, and for regular passport holder you still need to apply for Japan visa, if you need any tips about how to apply for Japan visa, you can read our guide about how to apply Japan Visa on our blog.
There are two airports at Tokyo: Haneda and Narita. Fyi, Narita Airport is 60 km outside of Tokyo and the other one Haneda Airport is centrally located less than 30 minutes south of central Tokyo.
I suggest you to fly to Haneda Airport if you are planning to stay at the central of Tokyo.
2.A. AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION HANEDA & NARITA
There are several transportation options at Airport: Monorail, Train, Limousine Bus and Taxi.
Airport Limousin Bus (Haneda ± 930 yen or Narita ± 2,800 yen) and Train are available until midnight.
You can use Airport Limousin Bus back and forth to the airport. Airport Limousin Bus collaborates with major hotels in Tokyo, so it can pick you up from or to hotel. Detailed infomation about Airport Limousin Bus https://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/
For Narita transportation detail please refer to http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/access/
For Haneda transportation detail please refer to http://www.haneda-airport.jp/inter/en/access/
2.B. HANEDA AIRPORT
After you landed at Haneda Airport, don’t forget to visit the Tourism Center and take free map (located on the right side from the exit door).
You can also buy Suica or Pasmo card near Tourism Center (please refer to point no. 3 for details)
2.B.1. ARRIVE AT HANEDA
During our first visit to Japan, AnakJajan stayed at Shinjuku Tokyo area, we used Keikyu Railways to reach our hotel, it took us around 38 minutes and 610 yen per person (Haneda Airport International Terminal Station // Shinagawa Station – Keikyu Airport line // Shinjuku JR – JR Yamanote Line). I personally highly recommend you to take Airport Limousine bus since it’s more convenient.
2.B.2. DEPART TO HANEDA
In the end of our trip, because we shopped a lot and had to carry 4 luggages, so we decided to took Airport Limousin Bus (930 yen for around 50 minutes // 1yen = ± IDR 110), we took the bus from Asakusa View Hotel to Haneda Airport (and it was the best decision!).
But if you want to take train, it will took you around 35 minutes and 560 yen (1yen = ± IDR 110) from Tokyo Station (Tokyo Station – JR Keihin-Tohoku Line // Shinagawa Station – Keikyu Airport Line // Haneda Airport Station).
2.C. HANEDA AIRPORT HOTEL
You can also find hotels inside Haneda Airport: Haneda excel Hotel Tokyu (Domestic Terminal 2, regular hotel) and First Cabin Tokyo Haneda (Domestic Terminal 1, capsule Hotel).
2.D. AIRPORT LOCKER – COIN CHANGER
In case you need it, you can put your bag or luggage inside locker available in airport. Each locker has a different size and price (300 yen small, 500 yen large). Near the locker also available coin changer machine.
2.E. SHOP AT HANEDA
Shops and restaurants are available at Haneda, at International Terminal you can buy some snacks at 24 hours Air Lawson 1st floor or Seven Eleven (you should buy their super delicious Ajitsuke Tamago onigiri with melting egg yolk inside). TOKYO BANANA is also available at 4th floor.
3. PREPAID IC CARD PASMO / SUICA
IC cards are rechargeable cards that can be used conveniently to pay fares on public transportations such as bus, train, subway or even vending machines,convenience store, shops and restaurants by simply touching the card on a reader.
There are 10 vendors of prepared IC card in Japan such as Suica, Pasmo, Toica, Manaca, Kutaca, Sugoca, Nimoca, Icoca, Pitapa and Hayakaken and can be used in Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nagoya and Fukuoka.
3.A. HOW TO BUY
Pasmo and Suica both are commonly used in Japan especially Tokyo. Suica Card is available at JR Station Automatic Ticket Vending Machine with Suica logo while Pasmo Card available at Metro or Toei subway station Automatic Ticket Vending Machine with Pasmo logo. Steps to buy the card:
-Select English Language option on the upper right corner
-Select purchase new
-Screen will display the amount of purchase, insert the cash and take your card
New card of Suica cost 2,000 yen (1,500 yen balance and 500 yen deposit) while Pasmo cost 1,000 yen (500 yen balance and 500 yen deposit), both card provide Personal Pasmo or Personal Suica with you name in it.
3.B. HOT TO ADD VALUE / TOP UP
To add value or top up, just find any Fare Adjustment machine with Pasmo/Suica logo at any station and follow steps below:
-Insert your IC card
-Select English Language option on the upper right corner
-Select the amount that you want
-Insert cash and take your card
AnakJajan spent ± 20,000 yen total in transportation/ 2 person for 2 weeks at Tokyo, Yokohama and Nikko. Well actually we had to spent 25,000 yen because Mr. Jajan recklessly lost his card during our trip (if you have personal card with your name in it, you might have a chance to retrieve it, but we were too lazy to do that).
3.C. HOW TO USE
Just tap your IC card on the IC chip reader panel.
If the card is not used for ten year, it will become invalid so when you no longer use your Pasmo or Suica card, you can receive card balance and deposit refund from the station office. Suica cards issued by JR East Japan can be returned only at JR East stations and then Pasmo card can be returned at Shinagawa Station or Keikyu Line Haneda Airport (usually ± 220 yen handling fee is subtracted from the remaining balance to be refunded).
4. INTERNET & APPS
Having internet connection is super important especially if you cannot speak Japanese and you are traveling alone without tour guide. With internet connection, it can help you to to find location, searching information, translating language, etc.
Free wifi connection is available at public places such as train station, but you will need download a free app to help you connect to free wifi, you can read detailed post about free wifi on the other post anakjajan.com/2014/12/11/japan-connected-free-wi-fi
4.A. SIM CARD
AnakJajan found these two popular visitor simcard providers, eConnect and BMobile. For 4,000-4,100yen per sim card (1yen = ± IDR 110) both provider offer two types of sim card: 1GB data usage card (maximum speed) or Unlimited data usage (speed up to 300kbps only), you can also request on sim card size you prefer Regular / Micro / Nano sim card.
AnakJajan personally chose BMobile because they have more detailed information in their website.
Advantage: Cheaper and you don’t need to return anything
Disadvantage: Phone battery life will run out more quickly and a bit more uncomfortable to share/ tether the connection with many devices.
4.B. PORTABLE WIFI
Portable Wifi rental is not too expensive anymore in Japan especially if you travel in group, instead of buying sim card for each person it’s better to rent portable wifi because this device can be shared up to 10 devices. eConnect also provide portable wifi rental for 252-1,080 yen per DAY. On our second and third trip to Japan, I decided to rent Portable Wifi from Sakura Mobile, the process was pretty easy, you can choose the item to be delivered to your hotel or airport for pick up, the connection was pretty good, it costs JPY 3.500 to JPY 5.500 for SIM Card Rental for 3-7GB of data or JPY 3.500 to JPY 7.000 for Portable Wifi for 3-10GB of data.
Advantage: Wifi connection can be shared up to 10 devices.
Disadvantage: You have to return the portable wifi device. If you lost the device, they will charge you more than 20,000 yen for the loss.
4.D. HOW TO ORDER AND PAY? (SIM CARD / PORTABLE WIFI)
-You have to pay and order your simcard/ portiable wifi via online on their website, so it means they only accept credit card or paypal payment.
-Fill out the purchase form and select delivery date and address (hotels, home adress, airport or post offices). Airport Pickup Service also provided (but some provider may charge you with additional fee). AnakJajan requested our simcard to be delivered to our hotel, by the time we reach our hotel, the simcard is ready to be used.
-Portable wifi device need to be returned, you can drop it at Airport post office, post boxes or convenience stores.
(btw, you can rent portable wifi directly at the airport, some providers open their shop there)
4.C. FREE WIFI
Nowadays the government has prepared many free wifi spots, all you need to do is to download the free wifi app to help you connect to the wifi, the wifi connection usually available at public spaces such as train station, airport or shopping area. AnakJajan tried using this app on our 2nd trip, it was easy to connect especially inside train station. Remember to download the app first before flying to Japan so you can immediately connect to free wifi once you reach Japan. Full details about the free wifi on the other post anakjajan.com/2014/12/11/japan-connected-free-wi-fi
Disadvantage: You cannot have your internet anytime anywhere since it is only available at selected areas.
Here’s list of mobile apps that could be helpful for your trip:
– Hyperdia, the best train/subway route finder for travelers
– Triposo, offline travel guide
– Bravolol, offline translator
– Google Translate, online translator
– Google Map, online map
– Google Chrome, user friendly browser with translation feature
Tips: Sometimes, it can be quite hard to find an address via google map, for example I cannot find Ichiran Ramen address on Google Map, so what I need to do is to find ‘Ichiran Ramen’ name with Japanese writing “一蘭 渋谷スペイン坂店” (use google chrome to browse and find the Japanese writing), copy and paste it on Google Map then voilaaa!! Ichiran Ramen’s address is found!
Licensed taxi driver in Japan are generally highly trustworthy and will not try to take advantage of their clients that’s why fare calculation is always by meter (licensed taxi).
Normally there are three types of taxi size, Large with engine capacities above 2,000cc can carry up to five passengers, then Medium and Small taxi with engine capacities 2,000cc or below that can carry up to four passengers. Please note that taxi’s left rear door is usually opened and closed automatically or remotely by the driver.
About the fare, standard taxi typically start from 600-700 yen for the first two kilometers, by late night the rate wil increase until 20%.
AnakJajan took our taxi from Nikko Edomura – Edo Wonderland to Kinugawa Onsen Station because we need to catch the last train schedule to Tokyo, it took us around 10 minutes and ± 2,000yen for ± 4.6km. On our summer trip, because the weather was too hot, we took taxi for so many times and the fare is actually pretty reasonable, in Kyoto the fare starts from JPY 590 while in Tokyo JPY 730.
TIPS: Prepare the address you are heading and show it to the driver (better if you can show address with Japanese writing to the driver). Don’t hesitate to ask the driver (just like we did) how much it will cost approximately to your destination so you won’t be shock with the fare.
Mostly in big cities such as Tokyo and Osaka, bus is a secondary public transportation to complement train and subway. But in Kyoto, bus is the main public transportation.
How to pay:
-Enter the bus, by default you should enter through back door but if it only opens its front door then enter via front door.
-Pick up ticket from small machine located next to paying machine as a mark of your starting point.
-See the display on top of the bus that shows the next stop and fare, so you can calculate the total of your fare (starting point fare + bus stops fare you’re going through).
-Press stop signal button when you are approaching your destination.
-Put exact fare and your ticket to the paying machine located next to the driver (if you don’t have exact fare, use the changing machine to change your money into small coins).
5.C. TRAIN/ SUBWAY at TOKYO
Japan Railways (JR) or train and subway are the most convenient transportation in Japan especially Tokyo with super on time schedule.
Subway at Tokyo operated by two different companies: Toei Subways with four lines, and Tokyo Metro with nine lines.
All of the subway and train vendors have different lines and stations, some of them are connected though, so it’s mandatory for you to have Hyperdia apps (please refer to point no. 4) so it can tell you which station and which train/subway to take and how to connect from one to another train/subway.
There are three payment options:
–Single ticket, just purchase single ticket at the station machine.
–IC Card such as suica and pasmo, top up some balance in your IC card and just tap it to the train/subway station gate (please refer to point no.3)
–Day pass: if you travel a lot using train/subway whole day, it might be cheaper for you to buy daily or even weekly pass and you can use it for whole day indefinitely, there are several day pass option (*the data below is from 2014):
—Tokyo Subway Ticket (1-day: 800 yen, 2-day: 1,200 yen, 3-day: 1,500 yen), unlimited use of all subway line for one day (Toei and Metro subway), can be purchased at Narita or Haneda airport.
—Toei and Tokyo Metro One-Day Economy Pass (1,000 yen), unlimited use of all subway line for one day (Toey and Metro subway), can be purchased at subway stations in Tokyo.
—Tokyo Metro Open Ticket (1-day: 600 or 710 yen; 2-day: 980 yen), unlimited use of Tokyo Metro subway lines (9 lines), can be purchased at Narita or Haneda airport and Tokyo Metro stations.
—Toei One-Day Economy Pass (700 yen), unlimited use of Toei subway lines (4 lines), can be purchased at Toei stations.
—JR Pass (Regular JR Pass 7 days 29,110 yen, 14 days 46,390 yen, 21 days 59,350 yen), JR Pass can be used in JR trains, Aoimori Railway between Hachinohe and Aomori, Tokyo Monorail to/from Haneda Airport, JR Ferry to Miyajima and Local JR buses, JR Pass have to be purchased before your arrival to Japan, you can buy it online or authorized sales office http://www.japanrailpass.net/05/en05_1.html
Please make sure you stand at the left side of escalator if you are not in hurry (Tokyo & Kyoto).
Bicycle is an easy and inexpensive option to explore Japan, mostly bicycle rental is available in many tourist destination or train station.
Usually bicycle rental costs around 100-300 yen per hour, 400-800 yen half a day, and 1,000-1,200 yen whole day.
Most cities in Japan provide bike rental, AnakJajan didn’t manage to use bike rental but we did some search before our trip, so these are some of bicycle rental vendors in Japan for your reference and also for us in case we need to rent bike on our next trip 🙂
Tokyo: Tokyo Bike!!, Rent a Bike, Bike Rentals and Cycle Shops list in Tokyo
Yokohama: Yokohama Bay-Quarter, Panoren
Osaka: HUBchari, Umegle-Chari
Kyoto: Kyoto Eco Trip
Sapporo: Porocle, Sapporo City Bicycle
Some of the website above only available in Japanese language, make sure you browse it via Google Chrome so it can translate to English automatically.
There are several options for you to choose based on your budget and preference: Hotel, Hostel and Apartment.
Hotels at Tokyo can be quite expensive with super small size of room. But don’t worry hostel at Japan is quite affordable (for example, Khaosan World Asakusa cost around IDR 250k/person bunk bed dormitory style).
You also can rent a room in apartment or even renting the whole apartment from AIRBNB with super affordable price from the apartment owner.
AnakJajan usually book our hotels from Agoda.com because it is super convenient not to mention the room rate they offer usually is lower than market. Maybe next time if we visit Japan again, we would like to try renting apartment from AirBNB instead. You can also try HostelWorld, my friend booked using HostelWorld with booking fee 2dollars only and full payment directly at hotel/hostel.
For our first trip, we stayed in 3 different hotels in Tokyo, Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku 30 April – 3 May IDR 1,766k, Centurion Hotel Ueno 3-5 May IDR 2,069k and Super Hotel Asakusa 5 – 9 May IDR 1,082k (NETT). Will write detailed review about these three hotels in separate post.
When it comes to hotel selection, my first priority would be the LOCATION, I always search the nearest hotel to station so we won’t end up too tired just by walking from hotel to station. These three hotel’s distance to station is only within 1km, the best one would be Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku because it’s located literally next to JR Shinjuku Station south exit.
Remember to take note on your Hotel/Hostel/Apartment’s location, address and map, so you won’t have any problem in finding its location.
6.B. PAJAMAS AND DEPOSIT MONEY
Three of AnakJajan’s hotels selection provide pajamas, we ended up didn’t wear any of our pajamas we packed from Jakarta. Check in and check out process also very quick because they didn’t ask for any deposit money.
6.C. CHECK IN AND CHECK OUT
Pay attention on check in and check out time because each hotel has different policy.
7.EAT & DRINK
We all must have heard that eating in Japan is expensive, but that’s a wrong paradigm. Eating at Japan especially Tokyo is not as expensive as people usually say, in fact I think eating at Singapore nowadays can be more expensive due to the currency exchange rate.
No offense, for some people that only eat at ‘warteg’ or ‘Bakmi GM’, they might think Japan is expensive, but if you often eat at the malls or at any Jakarta’s latest hip restaurants, you will find that eating at Tokyo is actually affordable and mostly cheaper than Jakarta.
At tokyo, only with 300 yen – 400 yen (around IDR 33k-44k) you can have a delicious and complete set of meal including rice, soup, meat, vegetable and egg, you can easily find affordable bento box that will cost you only 250 yen (around IDR 26k) per box complete with rice, meat, egg and vegetables, no joke! Or a portion of two pieces of super fresh salmon sushi with huge cut of salmon that only cost you 190 yen only (around IDR 20k) from Toriton Sushi, crazily affordable rite?
Here’s some tips for you:
– English Menu
Most of restaurants or cafes at Tokyo provide English version menu book for non Japanese like us. So it will be easier for you to order, just ask “ENGLISH MENU???” to the staff.
– How to order?
There are two types of ordering, type one is ordering via staff just like in Indonesia. Second is by using vending machine to buy the meal ticket and then show your meal ticket to the staff so they can prepare your meal.
Ordering via vending machine:
1. Put bills/ coins in to vending machine.
2. Push button for the dish you select
3. Take the meal ticket and change, enter the shop and show your ticket to waiter.
– How to pay?
If you are using vending machine, it means you have already paid.
But if the cafe/restaurant is using cashier instead of vending machine, every time you finish ordering, the staff will immediately put the bill on your table, just bring that bill to the cashier and pay.
– Lunch set
Wanna have more luxurious or fancy meal with a great price?? Most of cafes or restaurants at Tokyo offer a great deal of special Lunch Set menu, a complete set of meal that is cheaper than a la carte menu or dinner menu. For example this special Grade A5 Korugewagyu set from Matsuroku House that usually go for at least 5,000yen for dinner only cost 1,300yen per set for lunch (1yen = ± IDR 110), CRAZY RITE?? You can read the full review about the amazing Matsurokuya Restaurant on the following link https://anakjajan.com/2014/08/30/japan-matsurokuya-matsuroku-house-roppongi-%E3%81%8A%E3%82%93%E3%81%9E%E3%81%86%E3%81%97-%E3%81%BE%E3%81%A4%E3%82%8D%E3%81%8F%E3%82%84/
– You can easily buy mineral water from Combini (mini market such as 7-11, Lawson, etc) or vending machine (± 130 yen) available in every corner of the street. It’s super easy to buy drink from vending machine, just put your bills or coins into the machine, then press the button of the drink you select, collect the drink and change.
Some vending machines provide Hot and Cold option so make sure you press the right button (red button for Hot and blue button for Cold).
– Free water or tea is provided in almost every eatery or restaurant or cafe in Japan.
Basically there are 4 main season in Japan: Spring (March to May), Summer (June to August), Fall (September to November) and Winter (December to February).
Make sure you pack and bring the right outfit and items for the season, such as umbrella for rainy season, heatpack gloves scarf long john and coat for winter, etc.
AnakJajan suggest you to take note on weather forecast, you can check it from AccuWeather http://www.accuweather.com/en/jp/japan-weather , their weather forecast is pretty accurate.
Mostly in Japan they use Smart Toilet that comes with fancy features such as drier, warm water, warm toilet seat and even water splashing sound effect so other people cannot hear the sound of your pee 🙂
You might be able to find this kind of smart toilet at some places in Jakarta already.
10. PACKING TIPS
AnakJajan have list of some items that we thought will be important and helpful to bring for your trip:
– Map/ Guide Book
– Vacuum Plastic Bag
This kind of special vacuum plastic bag is available at Daiso (you can get it from Daiso at Jakarta or Japan), it can really help you to get extra space in your luggage especially when you bring puffy knit sweater. No vacuum machine needed, just put your clothes inside this special bag and press it to release the air and then voilaaa, you get a super tight bag of clothes.
– Folding Backpack
This backpack is really helpful in case you don’t have enough space in your luggage. AnakJajan always bring this backpack whenever we travel, so instead of taking lots of shopping bags, we can just easily unfold the backpack and drop all of our shopping bags in this backpack. You can find it online or at the mall just like us (we bought it from Metro dept. store at Taman Anggrek Mall for around IDR 70k).
– Mini Sewing Kit
– Comfort Shoes
AnakJajan guarantee you will walk a lot in Japan, so bring your most comfortable shoes.
– Extra Memory Card for you Camera
If you love to take picture, make sure you bring memory card with enough space. AnakJajan used up around 49GB total for both cameras 🙂
– Coin Purse
You will use a lot of coins in Japan, so it will be more convenient if you put it in coin purse.
You can bring umbrella if according to the weather forecast it will be raining when you are there. Or you can easily buy this photogenic transparent umbrella at any 100 yen shop.
– Plug Adapter
Japan use Type A 2pins plug just like US, Canada and Mexico, so make sure you bring adapter.
Unlike humid weather in Indonesia, weather at Japan can be a bit dry so make sure bring your moisturizer and lip balm.
Finally the last tips, if you are planning to go to Fujiko F. Fujio / Doraemon Museum, make sure you buy or reserve ticket as soon as you reach Japan, you can read detailed information about it on our Fujiko F. Fujio / Doraemon Museum review post.
We have fallen in love with Japan, everything was miraculously amazing and BEYOND our expectation. I guess we need to work harder so we can travel more because we promised ourselves that we will visit Japan again and again and again and again.
Using tour can be easy, but traveling alone also really fun because you can save your money and time by not doing things you don’t like, don’t you agree??
We hope these tips we shared can help you to plan your trip especially if you cannot speak Japanese and you’ve never been to Japan, if you have any questions or any additional & useful tips we really appreciate if you leave comment below so we can update this post with more tips. Thank you for reading, let’s travel!! 🙂
PS: AnakJajan still have many things that we want to share with you about Japan, I will slowly update in on our blog, meanwhile you can see list of Japan Travel blogposts that have been published on our blog here -> Japan Travel Series.
Check link below for more Japan Travel posts https://anakjajan.com/category/location/japan-location/
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Disclaimer: All of the info in this post are purely based on everything we read, found, know and experienced from our trips, it doesn’t mean that we’re 100% right or know the most 🙂