5 Things To Do Before Visiting Japan For The First Time

Planning our trip to Japan can be quite overwhelming. Especially if that is our first time visiting the country! We have to research so many things before boarding our flight. From preparing the itinerary, booking the accommodation, looking for internet package and the list goes on and on. Luckily, our travel buddy Aqalili wants to share us some tips she did on planning her first-time trip to Japan *Yay!*.
Cutie deer in Nara Park
It is very important to get everything ready and planned before we get there. You can save yourself from the tedious research by following her to-do-list kay? 😉
Disclaimer: She travels to Japan with her family of six people (5 adults and 1 children below 4 years old, including herself). She went for 11 days during the Golden Week (30 April - 11 May 2017) with this itinerary; Tokyo - Shibazakura Festival in Mount Fuji (1 day trip) - Osaka - Kyoto (1 day trip) and Nara (1 day trip). 

1. Do Your Homework

Some of you might love a spontaneous trip, but do take note that if you go with your family, it is vital to make necessary arrangements so everyone can fully enjoy the journey (especially if you bring kids or elderly people). If you still don't want to stick to a strict itinerary, you can just make a guideline and you can always make some changes whenever necessary.
Off to Japan! Yay, Finally!
Research is really important for a first timer because it helps us to know where to start from. There are so many things we can explore in Japan so it can get a little bit overwhelming and confusing. The first thing you can do is to join Facebook groups about travelling to Japan like Road To Japan, Backpacker Jepang, GaijinPot and much more. They are a bunch of people who have already travelled or planned a trip to Japan and they share a lot of information about Japan in those groups. It can be a really great start because we can get almost all information we could possibly need from this group. For example; which area should we stay, recommend food to try, and other tips from the expert. They are also ready to help you and answer your questions if you need any information.

2. Looking For A Place To Stay

If you also plan a trip during Golden Week, it is important to book places to stay as soon as possible. All of the accommodation will be fully booked during the peak season, especially if you are planning to stay in Mount Fuji. You can look for accommodations in a website like booking.com, TravelokaAgodaAirbnb, etc. #HalalNavi Tips: We recommend you staying at Muslim friendly accommodations that provide Halal foods and praying amenities to ensure your comfort. You can find one in the city you want to go by tapping Explore button in Halal Navi App. Check our pick for Muslim Friendly hotels in Japan: Tokyo — Tsukiji Business Hotel Ban (Tsukiji), Sakura Hotel Hatagaya (Shibuya), Agora Place (Asakusa) Osaka — Dotonbori Hotel, Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Mossa's Guest House Kyoto — Kyoto Century Hotel, Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Homestay in Osaka
Aqalili booked her accommodation from Airbnb and it was very convenient, especially for a family. The host provides a tonne of amenities (such as washing machine & detergent, iron, hanger, pocket wifi, etc) for an affordable price and it felt like home. However, make sure choose to contact and ask the host all the necessary questions regarding the accommodation before making any reservation. Another thing is, it is important to book as earlier as you can because there is a possibility that the host might cancel your stay.
#Bonus Info: Japanese houses are typically very small. Plus, the toilet and bath are separated which can be quite uncomfortable for the first timers, but you will get used to it after two to three days.

3. Purchase Important Tickets Beforehand

This tip is super duper important because you won't have to rush on anything once you arrived in Japan, especially if your arrival is at night. One of the tickets we need to prepare is train ticket. There are a lot of train tickets type in Japan, among them that are popular are IC Card and JR Pass. IC Card (or also named as SUICA, ICOCA, KITACA, etc) is a prepaid card that you can tap directly at the train gate whenever you want to. It is very helpful to purchase IC Card because it can be used for JR East Trains, Subway, and Buses for the famous area in Japan, such as Tokyo, Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. Besides IC Card, you can also purchase JR Pass to ride a variety of public transportation in Japan from the local train, rapid, special rapid, express, and even Shinkansen. You can use this card on all JR trains from the south end to the north end of Japan.
Purchase Open Dated USJ tickets beforehand
Another ticket that you can buy beforehand is attraction ticket like Universal Studio Japan 1 Day Pass. This is optional only if you want to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The best part about this tickets is it's an open dated ticket that can be used on any day during the validity of the ticket. There might be some other tickets that you need to purchase such as train to Mount Fuji for Shibazakura Festival and Bullet Train to Osaka that you can buy at JR East Travel Service Center in Shinjuku Station. 

Klook.com

4. Internet Access In Japan

Internet access is really important especially if you are depended on your phone during the trip. There are several mobile apps that will be very useful during the trip such as Airbnb, Halal Navi, Google Translate and Google Maps. Especially if you are a Muslim, Halal Navi app can become very handy during our trip because we can find Halal restaurants & stores as well as prayer rooms all around Japan.
 Pocket Wifi in Japan
If you arrive in Japan at night, make sure to have internet access the moment you touch down. You can rent pocket wifi from your home country in any travel agencies that sell this service. You can rent them at KLOOK for as low as USD 3 per day and you can conveniently take it from the airport. The wifi has a 4G network and you can share it with up to 10 devices, so it's awesome!

Klook.com

5. Pre-travel Checklist

It is important for you to have a travel checklist of things you need to bring to Japan. Make sure to double check on everything; travel documents, pocket wifi, passes and tickets before you board and assure you didn't miss out anything important.
Always double check!
So that's the tips from Aqalili to help you prepare your very first trip to Japan. If you are worry about finding Halal foods and places to pray while in Japan, don't forget to download Halal Navi to be your personal Halal guide. You can find the best Halal restaurants in town, Halal stores to buy snacks, prayer rooms nearby and many more!
*This post was originally published at Curitan Aqalili and was given permission to be translated and edited by Halal Navi. *mail us at contact@halal-navi.com if you want your article to be featured here!

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