My Japan Travel Tips
Bring a small towel or wash cloth and hand sanitizer. The restrooms sometimes lack soap and never offer hand towels.
Bring a mask or buy one when you get there - it is crazy smoggy, especially in Kyoto.
Buy a japan rail pass before you go. It’ll save you time and money, and depending on which one you get, you can upgrade to first class (which is really nice). The pass is good for any JR railway, both Shinkansen and JR subway lines, so we got creative and didn’t pay for subways in Tokyo.
The trains only stop at any given station for 1-2 minutes, so no lollygagging. Very, very efficient.
If you don’t want to unplug, you’d be best served to buy a pocket wifi. We did this so we would have access to google maps and train routes and it saved us from getting on wrong trains or being lost. Lots of places even in the urban areas don’t have wifi. You can order a pocketwifi from here and have them delivered to your hotel or pick them up at the airport. They come with a return envelope to just drop in the mail on your way home.
There aren't many trashcans or recycling bins. If you get a drink in a to-go cup, be ready to carry it around.
Cabs were much more expensive than in South America or Europe so I’d avoid them if you can.
CASH CASH CASH. Few places took credit, and getting cash from an American Bank is tricky. We ordered money before we left.
If you’re going to spend big money…There is a rule in Japan where anything over $60 USD (I could be a tad off on the exact amount) has to be on your person when you leave. Apparently they have a big problem with locals paying tourists to buy things to evade taxes. You’ll know if you’ve hit the threshold - they’ll staple the receipt to your passport and stamp it, and you’ll just need to have that item handy.
Google translate is your friend. Especially if you have a food allergy, medical situation, food preference, etc. Most restaurants are good about English menus but it can be hard with the servers - it was helpful. In Japan, English is used as decoration - they’ll include it because they like the aesthetic, so don’t always take English on the sign as English speaking establishments.