Back when I visited Japan last year Summer season, never would I have thought that there could be a worst time to visit this industrious nation. It’s true you learn lessons whenever you try something for the first time. Keep reading to find out how my visit to Japan went so you know the period of the year to avoid.
Just as I envisaged. visiting Japan was an exciting and enriching experience. Japan is a unique blend of oriental Asian tradition and modernity, with a rich cultural heritage, stunning natural landscapes, delicious cuisine, and warm hospitality.
What I learnt about visiting Japan
As you plan your trip to Japan, keep these things top of mind. It’s better to be safe than sorry so learn from my personal experiences and be guided:
1. Visa Requirements: Check whether you need a Visa to enter Japan based on your nationality and make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay.
2. Best Time to Visit: Japan experiences four distinct seasons, each offering different experiences. Spring (March to May) is famous for cherry blossoms, while autumn (September to November) has beautiful foliage. Summer can be hot and humid, and winter (December to February) is cold, especially in northern regions (I learnt this the hard way).
3. Language: I had to learn a few Japanese words from YouTube while planning my trip because even though English is taught in schools and many signs are in labelled in English for the benefit of Tourists, the overall level of English proficiency in Japan is pretty low. Learning some basic Japanese phrases can be helpful for you and also, the locals would be more friendly towards you for the effort.
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5. Transportation: Japan has an efficient and punctual transportation system. Use the Shinkansen (bullet train) to travel between major cities. When within cities, the extensive bus networks and subways will be your plug.
6. Accommodation: Booking my accommodation in advance via Wakanow was a very good idea, I later came to realize. I got to stay in a Ryokan (Japanese traditional Inns) so I could enjoy the raw undiluted Japanese experience, however, Japan offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, hostels and guesthouses.
One of the best things I loved about this peculiar kind of accommodation is the way the chairs virtually sit on the floor and you have to cross your legs under the equally short table. It reminds you of all those Samurai movies.
7. Culture and Etiquette: One of the things that really shocked me about my visit to Japan was the fact that Japan takes its customs and etiquette very seriously. For example, it’s customary to bow as a form of greeting. It’s nothing compared to the culture in the West. You also need to be mindful of noise levels in public places and follow local customs when visiting shrines and temples.
Respect local customs and traditions, such as taking off your shoes when entering someone’s home or certain establishments.
Worst time to visit Japan
If you’re visiting Japan for the first time, I want you to please take note of these worst times to visit so you don’t regret your stay here. Here are some potential times that might be less favorable for certain travelers:
#1. Worst time to visit Japan is during the Typhoon season (Yikes!)
The Typhoon season, which is typically between late summer to early autumn is not just the worst time to visit but frankly also the scariest period of the year to travel to Japan. In East Asia, including countries like Japan, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Korea, typhoons are a common natural phenomenon during the summer and early autumn months and they can disrupt travel plans, cause transportation delays, and potentially lead to hazardous conditions. Trust me, you don’t want to travel during this season.
2. During Summer
Like I mentioned earlier in my story, I came here during the Summer period last year. Japan’s summer can be hot and humid, particularly in July and August. Just like visiting Dubai during the Summer, if you’re sensitive to heat and humidity, this may not be the best time for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
3. During Special Japanese Days:
While in Japan, I took part in celebrating certain special Holidays like the Golden Week and Obon season. The Golden Week is a series of national holidays in Japan and so is one of the busiest times for domestic tourism. Many Japanese people travel during this period, leading to crowded tourist attractions and higher accommodation prices.
Obon on the other hand is a Buddhist custom where people pay respects to their ancestors. While it’s an important cultural event and a time when many Japanese people travel back to their hometowns, leading to crowded transportation and tourist spots.
The worst time to visit Japan depends on certain periods that may not be ideal for some travelers due to weather conditions, crowded tourist spots, or limited availability of certain activities. However, if these things mean much less to you and you really don’t mind as long as you get to travel and see the country, then by all means, as the Japanese say – Irasshaimase (welcome!)..