Traveling To Japan As An American


Traveling to Japan as an American is exciting yet intimidating; a land of ancient tradition and fascinating modern culture. From the bustling streets of Tokyo to the tranquil atmosphere of meditation gardens, Japan is a place that is sure to leave a lasting impression. To properly prepare for a trip to Japan, it is important to understand what to expect, the customs, and the language. With a little preparation, traveling to Japan as an American can be an unforgettable experience.


Visa regulations can be a hindrance when planning an international trip. Currently, American citizens are permitted to stay in Japan for 90 days as a “temporary visitor” for purposes of sightseeing, recreation, visiting family or friends, and other activities not relating to remunerative work. In order to receive a tourist visa, American citizens must show proof of sufficient funds and their return flight itinerary. Individuals will also be required to fill out a short form upon their arrival in Japan.


When traveling to Japan, understanding the culture is key to having an enjoyable experience. Japanese culture is known for its politeness and respect towards elders and tradition, which can be very different from western culture. As such, it is important to educate oneself on the social customs of Japan. This includes understanding different forms of etiquette for greeting, how to act appropriately in public places, as well as basic table manners.


For a traveler to fully experience Japan, it is important to learn some basic phrases in order to communicate with locals. As a third most spoken language in the world, millions of people speak Japanese. Consequently, it is important to learn a few key phrases in order to get around. Basic phrases such as ‘Good Morning’, ‘Thank You’, and ‘I do not understand’ can be very useful. For a more in-depth cultural experience, a traveler may want to consider enrolling in a language school.

Money and Currency

When it comes to money, Japan is a cash-based economy, and credit and debit cards are not widely accepted. As such, it is important for travelers to obtain Japanese Yen and carry it with them during their stay. ATMs are widely available in most cities, with Japanese banks being the most accessible. Additionally, travelers will need to plan ahead and exchange their dollars into Japanese currency prior to their trip. The exchange rate can fluctuate slightly from one city to the next.


Finding the right place to stay is essential for enjoying one’s trip to Japan. From rural inns to luxury hotels, Japan offers a range of diverse accommodations. Those looking to spend more of their time outdoors may want to consider staying at one of the many camping and outdoor hostels sprinkled across the country. Hostels are the most budget-friendly option when traveling to Japan as an American.


Japan offers a seemingly endless list of attractions and activities to experience. From thriving metropolises like Tokyo and Osaka to the serenity of Mt. Fuji and its five lakes, there is something for everyone. For nature-lovers, there are plenty of parks and hiking trails, as well as national parks on both of the inhabited islands of Honshu and Kyushu. For art lovers, Japan offers ancient temples, colorful shrines, and captivating gardens.


Shopping is a popular pastime in Japan, and there are plenty of places where one can find souvenirs and other items. For souvenirs, the best places to visit are Tokyo’s traditional markets, such as Asakusa and Nakamise-dori, or the nearby Ikaho Onsen hot spring district. Here, travelers can find traditional crafts, snacks, and snacks typical to the local culture.

Food & drinks

Japanese cuisine is renowned for its freshness and flavor. With an array of delicious dishes, ranging from tempura and sushi to noodles and tempura, there is something for even the pickiest of eaters. For those looking to try the local fare, Japan is home to an array of traditional restaurants and izakayas, or Japanese-style pubs.

Culture Experiences

Japan has a vibrant culture that extends far beyond its food, shopping, and attractions. From elegant tea ceremonies and kimono-style dressings to flower arrangement displays, there are a variety of activities to experience. A great way to experience the rich culture of Japan is to attend one of the many festivals held throughout the year, such as the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto and the Zozo-ji Temple Festival in Tokyo.


For those looking to get out and explore the country, Japan offers an array of different activities. From snow sports in winter to water sports along the coast in summer, there is no shortage of exciting things to do outside. The country also offers plenty of unique indoor activities, such as playing traditional games and visiting karaoke bars.

Traveling in and Around Japan

For travelers who uses public transportation or who want to explore the country on their own, Japan has an extensive and efficient system of trains and buses. Long-distance trains, such as the Shinkansen or “bullet train” are a great way to get around while also admiring the countryside. Of course, with its vast network of ferry routes, Japan offers the perfect opportunity for island-hopping.


Weather in Japan varies from season to season. While generally humid during the summer, during the winter months, temperatures can dip to below freezing in the northern regions. In general, the weather in the northern half of the country tends to be cooler and less humid than that of the southern half. Travelers should also be aware of typhoons and typhoon season, which usually occurs between July and September.

People & Hospitality

Japan has a diverse population that is filled with people from all walks of life. Some of the kindest, most hospitable people arise from Japan, making a traveler’s visit to this foreign land that much more enjoyable. Although language can be a barrier, most Japanese people are eager to help and will go out of their way to assist a traveler in need.

Staying Connected

Modern technology and mobile phones make it easy for travelers to stay connected while abroad. Japan is home to a great infrastructure that has made it one of the most connected countries in the world. There are multiple services available that provide visitors with access to reliable Wi-Fi or cellular data connections.


In general, Japan is considered a safe country for travelers. However, precautions should be taken in busy and crowded areas, as well as at night. Crime in Japan is relatively low, but it is important to exercise caution when in unfamiliar public places and to stay in well-lit areas. Additionally, the Government of Japan has compiled an information pamphlet for travelers that provides updated travel and safety information.

Margarita Nelson

Margarita M. Nelson is a Japan-based writer and researcher. She has written extensively on the culture, history, and current events of Japan for various publications. She holds an MA in Asian Studies from the University of Tokyo, and is currently writing a book on the history of the Ainu people of northern Japan.

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