How to make backpacking in Japan
With its tech-centric entertainment, ancient temples, lightning fast rail system and traditional art forms, Japan offers a fascinating mix of the new and the old. Between rural Hokkaido and the tropical islands of Okinawa, you’re bound to find something to embrace as a curious backpacker. And with the following insider tips, backpacking Japan can be both memorable and affordable.
1. Skip the train
Rail passes can be pricey and often completely unnecessary given the cheap deals offered by airlines, ferries, and buses. Low-cost carriers like or can whisk you to another major city for as little as ¥3000 one way.
Overnight ferries – such as the Sunflower, which runs from Osaka to Beppu – give travellers tatami mat sleeping space and the chance to party with locals on deck (just be sure to bring an eye-mask and earplugs if you actually want to sleep). Similarly, overnight buses crisscross the country at highly discounted rates.
2. Or buy discounted train tickets
If riding the shinkansen is a non-negotiable part of your Japan experience, opt for deals like the . This one-way ticket saves you ¥4000 off the regular bullet train fare between Tokyo and Osaka. Or take advantage of the seasonal ; five days of unlimited local train travel.
3. Come prepared with socks
It’s customary to remove your shoes before entering most indoor spaces in Japan, including shrines, traditional restaurants, and ryokan. If you’re going to wander around in your socks (make sure they’re clean), they might as well be stylish. If you’ve not got anything suitable from home, head to a local Don Quijote store to up your sock game.
4. Shop at Daiso
Forget something? Need a makeshift costume for a random night out? A cheap souvenir? Visit one of the 3000 Daiso stores scattered throughout the country, where most items are ¥100 and you can buy anything from craft supplies to shampoo.