5 Unnecessary Things Tourists Do When Traveling in Japan

5 Unnecessary Things Tourists Do When Traveling in Japan
Source: Gaijin Pot

Having lived in Japan for a number of years, including a brief stint acting as a volunteer guide (mostly shouting: “This way!”), I’ve witnessed tourists make the same travel mistakes again and again; things that may feel like the most necessary course of action for any well-prepped traveler but, to me, seem kind of avoidable.

To help promote its new Luggage-Free Travel service, JTB, Japan’s largest travel agency, and GaijinPot have teamed up to reveal the most common unnecessary things tourists do when traveling in Japan — and how avoiding these practices will make your trip easier and way more fun.

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1. Booking bullet train tickets too far in advance

Is it a bus? Is it a plane? No, it’s a bullet train! (Sorry…)

To give you some idea of how frequent and efficient Japan’s shinkansen (bullet trains) are, if you wanted to leave from Tokyo station on a random Saturday morning and get into Kyoto by the afternoon, you’d be able to take a 2 hour 18 minute train every 10 minutes. A shinkansen is much more like a bus than a plane in that there is almost no protocol you need to go through to get on one — like, a really fancy, super high-speed bus.

Though you can book shiteiseki, or reserved seats, for a small additional fee beforehand, which means you need to pick a certain train to get on, it’s easiest to opt for the jiyuseki, or non-reserved seats. Non-reserved seats usually make up three or four cars of the bullet train, meaning the chances of getting a seat are typically pretty high. Outside of peak times like public holidays (please do check if its a public holiday as that is an entirely different kettle of fish), you can really just wander up to a bullet train whenever you …continue reading

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