Comprehensive Japan Travel Checklist for First Time Visitors

If you’re traveling to Japan for the first time, you’re probably feeling a mix of excitement and anxiety. Planning a trip to Japan can be overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done much international travel! Luckily, I’m here to share my personal Japan travel checklist to help you prepare for the trip of a lifetime.

Tokyo Asakusa Shrine during cherry blossom season should be on everyone's Japan travel checklist

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Traveling to Japan Alone: What You Need to Know

When it comes to solo travel, I can’t think of a better country than Japan. Efficient public transit, English signage, and a customer service-oriented culture make traveling to Japan alone a breeze.

Woman traveling to Japan alone in Sagano bamboo forest

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25 Famous Things in Japan You Need to Experience

Japan is the kind of place you can visit a hundred times and never get bored. There’s always another beautiful shrine, natural wonder, or delicious restaurant to enjoy. But if you want truly iconic experiences, you should add these famous things in Japan to your bucket list.

Famous Things in Japan include views of Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchiko in autumn.

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Visiting Japan in October: The Best of Autumn in Japan

The best travel experience of my life was visiting Japan in October. As a fall foliage fanatic, I loved seeing the country decorated in vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows. And when you add in pleasant weather, cheaper travel, and traditional festivals, autumn in Japan becomes the ideal time for a trip.

Visiting Japan in October - Matsumoto shrine with red autumn leaves.

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5 Day Japan Itinerary Ideas to Suit Any Travel Style

So, you only have 5 days in Japan and want to make the most of your time. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Japan is my all-time favorite travel destination, and I have several 5 day Japan itinerary options to help you build your ideal trip.

View of red five storey pagoda with foreground of tourists using 5 day Japan itinerary ideas.

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What to Do in Nagano Japan: A 5 Day Nagano Itinerary

Japan’s Nagano prefecture boasts stunning natural landscapes, famous castles, and breathtaking shrines. In fact, my solo trip to the region was the best vacation I’ve ever had! But after returning home, I realized a lot of international travelers don’t know what to do in Nagano.

What to do in Nagano Japan: 5 Day Nagano Itinerary

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How to Visit Shiraito Falls: Karuizawa Day Trip Guide

If you love chasing waterfalls, then a day trip to Karuizawa’s Shiraito Falls is a must. Although Shiraito Waterfall isn’t the tallest in Japan, its impressive 70 meter arc makes it one of the country’s more unique falls. And best of all, this Nagano gem is easy to reach by public transit.

View of Karuizawa Shiraito Falls with horseshoe shape falls and autumn leaves above water pool.

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Day Trip to Kanazawa: Itinerary for Japan’s Samurai Town

From ancient samurai houses to beautifully preserved Edo districts, a day trip to Kanazawa is a must for lovers of Japanese culture, history, or architecture. And with the newly expanded shinkansen line, it’s possible to reach Kanazawa within two or three hours from popular cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. 

Historic Japanese street with wet wooden buildings and travelers following Kanazawa day trip itinerary.

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Essential Kamikochi Hiking Guide for the Japanese Alps

If you’re staying in the Japan Alps region, it would be a mistake to not include a Kamikochi hiking excursion. With stunning mountain views, crystal clear waters, and well-placed food huts, Kamikochi National Park is one of the best Japanese Alps hiking experiences.

Two people hiking in Kamikochi Japan next to river.

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Nara Day Trip Itinerary: The Magical Deer City of Japan

When people ask me about the must see places in Japan, I always recommend a Nara day trip. With eight UNESCO World Heritage sites, roaming deer, and a stunning Japanese garden, you won’t regret spending one day in Nara!

Deer standing in front of Kasuga Taisha shrine gate and steps seen during during Nara day trip itinerary.

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