Think Japan is just karaoke, manga and Harajuku girls? Think again.

Travel to Japan and you’ll soon see that it’s also home to outlandish game shows, an array of vending machines, old-school sake breweries, and the most faultlessly considerate people.

Oh… and there’s a whole load of ancient temples, castles and shrines, too.

Where else can you visit sumo stables in Tokyo, see Geishas in Kyoto, sip sake in Kanazawa, and experience the legendary Osaka eating scene? From riding the ruthlessly efficient subway system to using musical public toilets, a trip to Japan is worth it for the shock value alone.

And the sushi. All of the sushi.

Japan travel highlights

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Our Japan trips

10 Days From £2,005

Take Tokyo shopping, add Kanazawa samurais, Hiroshima history, Kyoto temples, Osaka...

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Japan tour reviews

Our Japan trips score an average of 4.82 out of 5 based on 61 reviews in the last year.

Discover Japan, September 2018

Sharon Hobbes

Discover Japan, September 2018

Kathryn Dickison

Articles on Japan

Japan holiday information

Japan Facts

Local Culture of Japan

Food and Drink in Japan

Festivals in Japan

Geography and Environment

Shopping guide to Japan

Further Reading

Transport in Japan

Why hail a plain old cab when you could take a bullet train? Half the fun of travel is experiencing a destination just like the locals – including how they get around. Wherever possible, Geckos Adventures uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport. This way we can reduce our environmental impact, support local operators and have a great time.

Japan Bullet train

Bullet Train: Experience the legend that is the Japanese bullet train. Fast (reaching speeds up to 300 km/h), punctual and safe – there’s no mode of transportation like it.

Japan travel FAQs

Australia: No – not required 
Belgium: No – not required 
Canada: No – not required 
Germany: No – not required 
Ireland: No – not required 
Netherlands: No – not required 
New Zealand: No – not required 
South Africa: Yes – residents of South Africa need to apply for a temporary visitors visa in person at a Japanese Embassy in South Africa
Switzerland: No – not required 
United Kingdom: No – not required 
USA: No – not required

Visitors from most nations are automatically issued a temporary-visitor visa upon arrival. Check to see if your home country is one of these nations. There is no need to apply for this before you leave your home country, although you may be asked to show your departure ticket in order to receive it. Visas are good for visits of up to 90 days.

It’s generally a good idea to make sure your passport is valid for a minimum period of 6 months after your arrival date in Japan and should have a few blank pages left for a new stamp.

For the most up to date information regarding visa requirements, please contact your local embassy or consulate.

Tipping in not customary or expected in Japan; however, some high-end restaurants will add a 10% service charge to your bill.

With one of the most developed high-speed internet networks in the world, internet is fast and easy to access in most cities and towns in Japan.

Mobile phone coverage is excellent in Japan, but be aware that talking loudly on your phone in public places is considered bad manners. Ensure global roaming is activated with your service provider before leaving home. 

Toilets run the gamut in Japan – from high-end bidets to western-style flushable toilets to squat toilets. You may need to purchase toilet paper from a vending machine, so make sure to keep small change on you.

Beer from a vending machine = USD 2.25
Bowl of noodles = USD 6.75
Set lunch menu at a restaurant = USD 9 – USD 27
Dinner at a nice sushi restaurant = USD 65

It’s safe to drink the tap water in Japan. Help the environment and consider bringing a reusable water bottle rather than buying bottled water during your visit.

Japan is a cash society, meaning most places only accept payment in cash. Credit cards may be accepted in department stores and large hotels, but it’s recommended to carry enough cash to cover all purchases.

ATMs are common in Japan, however, most of them do not accept foreign-issued cards. To access cash from a non-Japanese bank account, use a postal ATM (an ATM in a post office) or an ATM at a 7-Eleven convenience store – both of these have access to international networks.

Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Geckos are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to Travel Insurance

Jan 1: New Year’s Day
Jan 9: Coming of Age Day
Feb 11: National Foundation Day
March 20: Spring Equinox
April 29: Showa Emperor’s Day
May 3: Constitution Day
May 4: Green Day
May 5: Children’s Day
July 17: Marine Day
Sept 18: Respect for the Aged Day
Sept 23: Autumn Exquinox
Nov 3: Culture Day
Nov 23: Labour Thanksgiving Day
Dec 23: Emperor’s Birthday

For a current list of public holidays in Japan go to:

As a whole, Japan is a hassle-free destination for LGBTQI-travellers. Same-sex relationships and same-sex acts are legal. Tokyo and Osaka have the largest and most welcoming gay scene in the country, though most cities have at least a couple of gay bars. Be aware that Japanese people typically do not engage in public displays of affection, regardless of sexual orientation.

For more detailed and up-to-date advice, we recommend visiting Equaldex or Smartraveller before you travel.