In Japan, you’ll feel like you’ve traveled far into the future and deep into the past. Cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto are modern, vibrant, and innovative, and they’re also speckled with ancient temples and old-world influences. All that on top of the food, nightlife, and landscapes make a trip to Japan a must.
Traveler photos from Japan
“Omg, I already miss Japan and I just got home. This tour was incredible, Japan is so enriching. I love how the tour covers these great cities, history, cultural experiences and lots of free time…Incredible tour and I highly recommend it!”
– Andrea, traveled on Japan: Tokyo & Beyond Nov. 2022
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“This was my first trip with EF, and I fell in love. Everyone was accommodating, and planning was hassle-free. We were able to see all of Japan, more than I ever imagined…All of the people in our group were awesome, we all had great experiences in every city.”
– Camryn, traveled on Highlights of Japan Mar. 2023
Take a bow, Japan.
Know before you go
The official language of Japan is Japanese. While it may feel awkward at first, attempting the local language goes a long way when navigating a city and interacting with people. Practice these basic phrases to get started:
- Hello: Kon’nichiwa
- Goodbye: Sayanara
- Please: Onegai shimasu
- Thank you: Arigato
- Pardon me: Sumimasen
- Yes: Hai
- No: Iie
- Cheers: Kampai
As you prepare to spend time in a new culture, here are some expert tips to help you understand the ins and outs of Asia, and feel like a true local:
- #BeHumble: The Japanese are simultaneously the most proud and the most humble people. Humility is a core principle in Japan, and there is a deep respect for elders, superiors, and order. You’ll notice this in locals bowing, customer service, or even lack of confrontation.
- Navigating: There are no street names in Japan, so an address in Japan starts with the city, then the ward, then a specific area of the ward, then finally ends with the block number. Try to orient yourself with landmarks and asking for directions!
- Bargaining: Haggle for everything in the markets! Request a price that is half of what the vendor initially asks. After that, it’s just back and forth until you’re happy with a price!
- Restaurants: Some restaurants in Japan may turn you away because you are foreign. This is usually because they are either worried about making a mistake, or, pure exclusivity and needing an introduction from a trusted patron to get in.
- Bathrooms: The rumors are true. Japan has high-tech bathrooms, specifically toilets that flush backwards and have a lot of buttons. It’s an experience to say the least.
Dining in Japan is very different than in the United States. Prepare to dive into a fusion of ancient tradition and extremely modern practices. This is the gastronomical paradise that is Japan. Read on for tips, tricks, and delicacies you must try.
- Street Food: In Japan you have to try the street food. Try to find stands with long lines - that means it’s delicious, AND safe to eat.
- Noodles: Noodles are a popular base in Japan, similar to rice in China. Soba noodles are buckwheat flour noodles with soy sauce or sugar sauce. Udon noodles are kneaded wheat flour with similar toppings as soba, but a much thicker, firmer density than soba!
- Shabushabu: Sometimes known as “Hot Pot” - this is a dish where you boil your own meat and vegetables in a flavored broth and eat as you cook! Try adding some udon noodles to the dish to kick it up a notch too.
- Onigiri: A boiled rice ball typically dried plum, salmon, or cod roe all wrapped in a sheet of dried seaweed. You can ind these everywhere and take them to go. And you should.
- Sushi: Heard of it? In Japan, try a kaitenzushi (conveyer belt sushi restaurant) for some cheap, yet delicious, sushi options. Just 100 yen per plate!
- Tempura: Tempura is a dish where veggies, seafood, or other ingredients are dipped and fried in a flour & egg batter. Served with dipping sauce, guaranteed deliciousness.
- Ramen: Consider Ramen in Japan a significant upgrade from your 99 cent college ramen noodle days. Try this noodle soup dish with a chicken, beef, or seafood broth, noodles, veggies, spices, and usually an egg!
Note: Chopsticks are a staple of Asian cuisine and culture. Attempting to use chopsticks instead of western cutlery will earn you some respect with the locals, but be wary of using chopsticks to point at someone, poke at food, or play them like musical instruments - these are all signs of disrespect.
We plan it all. And then some.
Our group trips to Japan come with everything included. That’s accommodations, flights (unless you wanna book your own), activities, and an expert Tour Director who knows the hidden spot that serves the best sushi in the world.
Round-trip flights & airport transfers (or book ’em yourself)