A trip to Japan in May, What should we take?
Finally, traveling to Japan is a dream that is about to come true. The country has been on my bucket list for a while. I have always been amazed by the rich culture, and I wanted my trip to the land of the rising sun to be unique, so I chose to make the trip to Japan on my birthday. I scheduled a tea ceremony experience and a lunch at a Buddhist temple, so I think it will be a pretty exceptional birthday.
Most of all the archipelago country is a world-renowned technology leader and a force on the world stage, but also a beautiful place where cherry blossom’s front goes from the southern islands of Kyushu to the Northern most island.
The opportunity to go to Japan is an indeed a coveted experience. But for those of us who have never been to the country, some questions linger. What should we bring? What are the most necessary travel essentials for a trip to Japan?
Some items are essential for any trip, but there are some specific to Japan items. Of course, you should make sure that you have your ticket, your luggage and somewhere to rest while you are in Japan, but those aren’t the only travel items. Three seemingly small things are must-have essentials for everyone considering a trip to Japan.
Hopefully, you won’t have to encounter the negative effects of Jet lag but If you do, check out our Guide on how to get over it.
I talked to my Japanese friend Etsuko, and she recommended a few things to me that she considers essential when visiting Japan and then, of course, I added a camera to the list (you know I like photography). Here it is:
The first of these is a small but all mighty items- a travel adapter. You may be wondering, what is a travel adapter? It is something that gets you more acclimated to the time change?? HA-HA. Unfortunately, that is not what a travel adapter is for, but its actual function is as valuable. We all can relate to the stressed caused by a phone running low on battery in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language.
Power outlets around the world often vary in size, voltage, and type so you have to ensure that you have a device that can convert the outlet to the kind that you need for your devices, like your cell phone.
A travel adapter is a valuable tool for keeping the machines running in your accommodation, but there’s another tool that you need to keep yourself on the move while you are out and about.
The Japanese Rail System is vast and convenient for citizens and guests alike. Seems like people who have traveled to Japan swear by the Japan Rail Pass as a key to getting around and is the most economical way to do so. The Rail Pass is a must have if you are going to use public transportation, which is the fastest and most convenient mean of transportation in Japan. It covers the high speed and regular trains on the Japanese Rail System.
My friends and I will land in and fly out from Tokyo but will also visit Kyoto. First of all, the train tickets from Narita airport to Tokyo, Tokyo to Kyoto and Kyoto back to Narita airport all together were just a bit higher (about $310) than the Rail Pass (which was $269). Because this is not including any “subway” transportation in the city, the deal is a steal! The Japan Rail Pass works for seven days and guarantees greater mobility throughout Japan as you take in all the nation has to offer.
NOTE: Just a thing to remember- you have to pre-order your JR Pass and get it delivered to your home address before your trip to Japan. The pass is designed for foreigners only; they do not want to allow Japanese citizens to take advantage of it. It arrives pretty fast.
You can order it here: Japan Rail Pass
Camera! Honestly, If you are traveling, you need a camera or at least a decent cell phone NOW.
TIP: If you are going to try and take some photos at night, the phone won’t cut it… The ISO (light sensitivity) capabilities of a phone camera compared to a normal camera are just not there.
Imagine seeing the beauty of the place you are visiting in this moment of time. Probably you can never have this moment back again, but through a photograph, you can have a vivid memory. We live in a very visual and social world where you can inspire a lot of people to travel through your images. I am going to be bringing my Sony a7II with two of my favorite lenses- the 28mm perfect for landscapes and the 50mm is excellent for portraits. Hopefully, will come back with lots of good landscape photos of Shinto Shrines, beautiful Buddhist temples, and Castles.
I mean… Look at this photo. Wouldn’t you want to share how you ate a delicious Namagashi while sipping Matcha tea to make your friends a little jealous?
In my experience, when traveling to Asia, the language barrier can be the hardest thing. I chose to look at it as a culturally enriching experience. While you are enjoying Japan, you can cut down on the language barrier with the next travel essential, a pocket dictionary. Having a small dictionary on hand where you can quickly look up the translations for Japanese words is vital for enjoying your stay and getting closer the locals.
A pocket dictionary helps with everyday purchases, understanding merchants, and locals. It may even assist you in making some Japanese friends. Might seem a little overwhelming to be in a place where you are unsure of how to communicate with the people around you, and a small dictionary is a great way to combat any trepidation you might feel.
But there might be even better and more refreshing solution. I started learning some Japanese phrases, and I was practicing with my other Japanese friend Rumi and then she told me she stumbled upon a video introducing a new product on the market. It’s called the ILI Translator. It is a beautiful little translator device that can help you get through daily life in a new country – the struggles.
Please remember that you are in a foreign country. Furthermore, you don’t need to get frustrated when people don’t speak your language, it is normal! They speak THEIR language.
Japan is a breathtaking country that I just can not wait to visit. With travel essentials listed (and bought) I am confident that it will be so much easier to navigate. Especially having full access to the Japan Railway system. This will allow me to explore Japan to its fullest without worrying too much. Filling your Metro card and spending tons of money on commuting is in the past (be honest, you don’t like that either).
Lastly, What are the top travel essentials that you don’t leave without when you travel?