There is a lot that goes into an international trip, especially for a country like Japan. While there is a lot to do once you have landed, there is also a lot to do before even packing your bags. Here are some quick tips to make preparing to leave a lot easier.
These are based on things I thought of before going to Japan in 2019, these were all before the pandemic hit so things are a lot different. However, these are things to remember moving forward.
- Medications – Japan is pretty strict on what medications it will allow into the country, even if they are prescription. Make sure to check with the Japanese government websites (and your country’s embassy) before you pack your bags because what you think may be allowed (even with the right paperwork), may not be legal in Japan.
- Have your hotels booked – Whether it’s an Air Bnb, hostel, or a large hotel, make you have your hotel booked before even leaving for Japan. While it makes sense to have your hotel prepared before leaving out the door to the airport, some don’t and want to wing it. If you do this, you could face some questioning as immigration will ask you where and how long you are staying in the country. So have this information on hand to avoid delays or any problems while leaving the airport.
- Know your Visa requirements – If you are coming from the USA and are staying for a maximum of 90 days for tourism, you won’t need a Visa to visit Japan (at last check, so don’t quote me on this, always check the government websites). If you are coming from another country, staying longer, etc., you may need a Visa, so make sure to research that before even looking at airfare.
- Research the JR Rail Pass – The JR Rail Pass is a great way to get around Japan if you plan on visiting several cities during your trip. The Pass can only be purchased by foreigners and it is recommended to buy before leaving for Japan. It can be delivered your hotel if you purchase it just a little bit later, so you have options. If you are flying to Tokyo and try to purchase it the day of, you may not get it in time, so make sure you have that figured out before leaving.
- Sumo has seasons – I tried to book a Sumo tour in 2019 in November and was able to through a booking site. However, Sumo was out of season and it took weeks for the booking site to realize this and cancel the tour…one week before I left for Japan (talk about great timing). So if you are wanting to book a Sumo experience, go to a baseball game, or any other seasonal activity to experience, do the research and know when they are in season so you won’t get a rude awakening before your trip. And of course, make sure the sports are even back during this pandemic times.
- Bonus! Have some Yen on hand before you land. You might get a better exchange rate in your home country, so get some Yen before you leave for Japan. And if you are landing late and are looking for a quick meal before jet lag takes you down, the last thing you want to do is look for an ATM. Instead, have cash on hand, get a quick bowl of ramen, and then sleep it off! (Note that exchanging cash hand to hand may be a little different moving forward, so do your research before traveling).