Remember, you will enjoy your time in Japan and get more out of it if you make a conscious effort to connect with the places you visit and the people you encounter. For a more fulfilling travel experience, carefully consider where to go and what to buy and respect the richness of the nature and culture around you.
Living life in harmony with natural surroundings is one of the pillars of Japanese culture. Follow in the footsteps of locals and take time to respect and preserve nature for a more rewarding travel experience. Protect the habitat of indigenous species and refrain from any unnecessary feeding of wildlife.
Japan, an island nation, enjoys bountiful nature and four distinct seasons as well as being home to many villages and mountains. Seasonal ingredients abound in each of its regions, nurtured by the diverse climate and natural surroundings. Whichever you visit, regale all your senses and enjoy the culinary mastery of skilled chefs preparing the finest local and seasonal dishes. Eating local foods is also a great way to support local producers and reduce the fuel and carbon footprint of food miles.
Preserved thanks to special techniques and meticulous care, Japan boasts some of the world’s oldest timberwork in temples, shrines, castles and private homes that date back centuries or more. Nowadays, as more and more of these historic buildings are being refurbished, travelers have even more opportunities to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience. Staying amid such cultural heritage is like going back in time and experiencing the Japan of the past. And patronizing such historic accommodation venues that utilize cultural assets helps secure their ongoing maintenance and preservation, as well as boosting the local economy.
Participate in traditional Japanese festivals alongside the local community and revel in performing arts that generations pass down. Festivals like Kyoto Gion Matsuri and Aomori Nebuta Matsuri and performing arts like the Takachiho Night Kagura or Kurokawa Noh theater are just some of the many highlights. With all events unique to their regions, they collectively form a vast and venerable cultural treasure trove. Enjoying such events and performances reveals in-depth insights into the cultures and customs long-cherished by locals. Moreover, experiencing festivals and traditional performing arts is one of the best ways to preserve and hand down local culture.
Those who appreciate master craftsmanship are spoilt for choice in Japan, with abundant lacquerware, ceramics, textiles, metalwork and more. The artistry and skills remain deeply rooted in their respective regions, with only a handful of expert artisans passing down the techniques through generations. Watch them make the magic happen in live studio demonstrations. Or purchase some of their expertly handcrafted souvenirs to share the experience and celebrate their creativity. Better still, why not sample the experience of making your own traditional Japanese crafts by hand?
Passengers in search of pastures new should look no further than one of the world’s most developed transportation networks. In fact, Japan’s public transport – its railway network in particular – is the smoothest way to access almost anywhere in the country: swiftly, comfortably and affordably. Indulge in the idyllic natural scenery and historic buildings en route to your final stop. Also fun to ride in Japan are a wide choice of sightseeing trains nationwide. These include trolley trains traversing spectacular scenery and design trains, within which passengers can admire and view modern art.
The wisdom and insights of locals are key to getting that sought-after insider view. So why not link up with them on your travels to really get the lowdown on your destination? Delve more deeply into each region with their guiding hands. Visit local tourist information centers, stroll around the streets and sample the local shopping and dining venues they recommend.
Japan is famous for having four seasons, each with its own look and feel. So why not widen your horizons and consider off-peak travel with flexible timing? Gain a new perspective on the venues you visit, often with fewer crowds, cheaper travel and just as much reward. While resorts like Niseko (Hokkaido prefecture) and Hakuba (Nagano prefecture) are world-famous for snow, they can also be enjoyed outside winter for wide-ranging outdoor activities like hiking and cycling in the magnificent wilderness.
Travel smarter by studying cultural codes of conduct and networking to nurture local relations. Remaining ever-curious and eager is a good way to appreciate Japanese customs and enjoy your stay to the full. This includes taking in unique cultural aspects, like the polite utterances for gratitude before and after meals for example. Before and after eating, "Itadakimasu" and "Gochisosama" literally mean ‘I humbly receive’ and ‘Thank you for the meal. That was a feast’.
If you enjoyed your time, do let your network and peers know and share what you experienced in Japan. This can help inspire those still at the planning stage or those still pondering where to go. Be the link that connects Japan with others.
For customs information regarding meat and plant matter, click here.
Please Choose Your Language
Browse the JNTO site in one of multiple languages