Japan for Backpackers & Solo Japan Travelers

As a backpacker and solo destination:

Japan can be quite a daunting and overwhelming country to arrive into but that's what makes it so exciting! It is important to be open-minded and as outgoing as possible to take on the hustle and bustle, all the new technologies and mod-con's mixed with the traditional old-fashioned Japanese culture, it's hard to get a grasp on the possibility that people can live in the two worlds at the same time.

A great but nerve testing way to meet Japanese people is by going to a karaoke bar and asking to join in, they will applaud you with shot glasses of warm beer and possibly take you out to eat at a great restaurant that serves raw fish to wet your taste buds!

Many of the younger generally are interested in other cultures so are easier to meet. It is vital to learn some basic Japanese before arriving to increase the pleasure of your adventure as English is still not in high use especially among ticketing and waitress staff (the people you need to converse with).

Accommodation for Solo Travellers:

There are a few options for accommodation; it is very expensive in the cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto.

The cheapest option and best way to meet someone to have dinner with when frustrated after a day of trying to commute around the city are the hostels/guesthouses.

The Japanese style accommodation called Ryokan is worth the test as well although a lot more expensive. It is best to stay in accommodation in the middle of the city to cut travel costs of going back and forwards from the suburbs.

If you are staying longer you can also hire rooms by asking at guest houses, they are tiny but much cheaper if you are going to be staying in one place to do a language course or something like that for a month or so.

Budget for Solo Travelers:

Japan is an expensive country to travel to solo.

Hostel/guesthouse accommodation is around 3000 Yen ($30). A Japanese style accommodation experience costs approx. 7,000Yen ($70US) for your own room.

Transport within Japan is very expensive; the best option would be to buy an internal rail card as buying per ticket is very expensive.

Dinner on average will cost around 1500-2000Yen ($15-20US)

You do not need to tip in Japan, sometimes they actually find it offensive. The Japanese feel quite honored if you give them a gift so it is a good idea to take a few presents from your home country, the younger generation love this and will make an effort to teach you a little of their culture if you make an effort with them.

A solo backpacker would be looking at an approx. amount of $70-80US a day which is quite a hefty sum indeed.

Trips and activities for solos:

You could spend days in Tokyo familiarizing yourself with the city, wandering and visiting the many galleries, history and techno museums. In the evenings a trip to the hot springs will help you relax after a hard day of getting around the busy and at times, frustrating city. Another evening activity is visiting the theatre for the traditional 'no' which is masked theatre.

City life is Japan is fantastic, people are out at all times of the night shopping, going to theatre, karaoke bars and eating. It is an amazing experience to wander and absorb all of this.

Shosenkyo Gorge is a day trip from Tokyo and is simply beautiful. You can organize a visit through your accommodation on a group tour or privately (it is more cost effective and a good way to meet people if you go by tour).

The cities of Kyoto and Nara have many temples, shrines and tea ceremonies to visit.

Visiting the history museum in Nagasaki is well worthwhile to see how the city coped with nuclear destruction.

National Parks: Kirishima National Park and Daisetsuzan National Park are both beautiful with volcanoes, lakes and forests. There are plenty of activities for you to do solo, such as hiking and skiing.

Japan is not a country for the faint hearted to travel solo but if staying in a hostel or attending a language course there are ways to meet up with people - there are times when one might very much want to share opinions and thoughts about how bizarre and interesting this culture can be!

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