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Jodie April 24, 2024

Japan was by far one of the best trips we have ever taken! I would go back in a heartbeat and cannot wait to take the kids. A few things that stand out to you right away are the safety, cleanliness and just all over kindness of the people and culture there. And when I say safe, I mean safe! WHen I say clean, there was never a speck of trash I saw, no homelessness, no graffiti and even the public restrooms that were everywhere often had heated toilet seats and a myriad of fun buttons. You will want to make sure you have tissues or wipes with you because even though there is soap in the bathrooms sometimes there are no towels. So having those things with you is super helpful. Also there are not often trash cans around, instead the Japanese carry their trash with them until they get home or to a trash can. So bring an extra bag with you everywhere as well.

Here are some common tips about Japan to note:

1. Bring cash. Japan is a big cash based society, so it’s important to always have cash with you. Although convenience stores or big stores mostly take cashless payments, many places are cash only. We did however use our Amex plenty and it was never an issue in even the smallest of shops. And no foreign transaction fee. The YEN has a good conversion rate right now so your money does go far and if I ever need to get cash out I always use an ATM for the best exchange rate.

2. Japan is the safest country in the world, so you don’t need to worry about stuff getting lost (as long as you remember where you lost it). You can even forget your phone in a public toilet, and when you go back 2 hours later, it’s still there. 

3. Japan is super clean, but it’s hard to find trash bins everywhere. So bring plastic bags to carry your trash, and throw them away as soon as you find a trash bin (most convenience stores have trash bins). 

4. Never give tips. Unlike other countries, tips are considered offensive in Japan, because the best service is already included in what you pay. So when you give tips, it’s like telling them that they’re not doing a great job. They will chase you down the street just to give your money back. 

5. Be respectful of their traditions and cultures. Learn some basic words (like “sumimasen” or “arigatou gozaimasu”) will be nice, bow for a thank you, never cut a line, etc

6. Google maps will save you 😄. Japan has a very reliable transport system, it’s the best in the world. So use your google maps, it’s very clear and punctual, down to the minutes. They are very on time with everything, and you won’t get lost. 

7. Many Japanese don’t speak English, but they always try their best to help. But in big cities like Tokyo, a lot of people speak basic English. So don’t worry, we’ll survive. Use a translator app for a more complicated conversation. 

8. To read some stuff (especially menus), Google lens will help. Some restaurants have an English menu, but sometimes we need to ask. There are many restaurants that use ticket machines or tablets for ordering food, and they have English translation. 

9. Don’t worry about finding toilets. They have clean toilets everywhere. Even the public toilets have super advanced Japanese toilets. Have fun with the toilets! 😄

10. Browse through vending machines and convenience stores. They’re out of this world! 

11. Japan has so many stairs. Even Though some stations have elevators, sometimes it’s taking a lot of time just to find them (mostly due to the crowds in some stations during rush hour). So, travel light is better. Reuse the clothes, wash them in the coin laundry (there are many). 

12. If you have an extended stay and need to travel between cities with your luggage and you don’t want the trouble of carrying them, you can deliver your luggage to any hotel or address. Companies like Yamato (ta-q-bin) or Sagawa can help deliver our luggages within the same day. 


13. There are many lockers all over Japan, with different sizes (even the big ones to store your luggages). This will help if you don’t want to carry your stuff around while sightseeing. Most lockers take coins, but some also take IC card or credit card payment. 

14. Make sure to get an IC card for the trains, it makes it much faster and easier

15. The Japanese dress colorfully yet conservatively. Outside of Okinawa (because of the Hawaii like weather) you will not see tank tops or shorts. So if you want to blend in and be respectful of their culture I recommend dresses and skirts or pants. You also won’t regularly see women wearing leggings – I did on a few occasions but also I loved wearing flowy skirts and the japanese fashion really is fun!

Before arriving in Japan, it is recommended to get our immigration clearance and customs declaration through this website. 

We will then receive QR code that we can scan at the immigration and smooth our process without having to fill out the form in paper. (Although some airlines give out the immigration form on board). 

After we get the immigration entry, we can also use this website to get a tax free QR code, so we don’t need to provide our passport for tax free requests. Just show the QR code during the transaction. 

It’s not a must, but quite helpful.

Where we went and where we stayed:

Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea:

You can stay really at any property in the resort, and there are a couple Disney hotels. They can be pricey so depending on budget the Sheraton is a really good deal and super nice. Its located right in front of the monorail stop which makes it super easy to get to both resorts.

Kyoto – we took the train from Tokyo to Kyoto at 200mph! It was amazing and the easiest way to travel, but note if you are traveling with large luggage use the forwarding service to your next hotel. We took only our carry on and our large luggage met us upon arrival in kyoto where we stayed here: 


I cannot recommend this hotel enough! As a Marriott luxury property you can use your points too. It was so quiet and the staff was incredible as well as the Japanese or American breakfast that is included every morning and cocktails/drinks and appetizers every evening.

It was not in central Kyoto but taking the train is super easy to get around and see all of the sights. What I loved about staying a little out of the downtown area was how quiet it felt yet you were still within a short walking distance to amazing food and shops and the river right there! 

From here you can also take an easy train ride to Osaka for the day and explore.

We then headed to Okinawa and stayed in what is called “American Village” at the Hilton. Keep in mind Okinawa has 5 military bases so it is very Americanized in this particular area. You could easily stay on the northern part of the island for more of a quiet Japanese feel. Since we were here with Young Living this is where we stayed and it ended up being awesome for the conveniences.