Tips And Tricks To Get The Most Value Out of Japan

My recent trip to Japan was incredible, visiting new and old sites and eating foods that I only now dare to try.

With just an outline of our travel itinerary, a plane into Tokyo, and a plane home from Osaka, our adventure-filled trip was certainly memorable.

However, looking back, we realised there were some mistakes that, if avoided, could have saved us time, and money, or added even more fun to our journey.

Here are some tips and tricks that will make your Japan trip better!

1. Always Check The Shinkansen’s Pricing! 

Photo by henry perks on Unsplash

One mistake made was thinking that riding the Shinkansen was not an option. We had falsely assumed that the Shinkansen would be incredibly expensive compared to taking a local train.

While we were in Osaka, we decided we wanted to visit Kyoto. Instead of shifting hotels, considering that they weren’t too far away, we decided to travel down to Kyoto for 2 days, taking the local-express train that took around an hour one way. This ride costed around 1000 JPY (around 10SGD) each way.

After a quick google, I realised that the Shinkansen takes only 15 minutes one way, and costed 1420JPY! If we were given the chance again, we would have definitely given the extra 400 JPY each way to save almost 2 hours of our day from travel.

The conclusion is to always check the Shinkansen pricing.

Alternatively, you could purchase a JR Pass! A prepaid pass for tourists that lets you book any Shinkansen without extra costs! For more details, find out more here.

2. Tap Into Metro Gantries With Just Your Phone

If you could afford a trip to Japan, you would probably have a smartphone. No longer will you need to buy a Suica, Icoca, or any of the other travel cards because they are all readily available on your phone! Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and Apple Pay all have support for the travel cards!

For example, with an Apple IPhone, your Wallet application has the functionality of adding Suica, Icoca, and PASMO onto your phone. A quick set up and a top up of the card of your choice and you are ready! Just tap your phone on the gantries and you’re taking the metro.


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A post shared by K | Japan Trip (@kki_japantrip)

For me, having an Apple Watch gave me the extra convenience of tapping my watch instead. No need to take out my phone during the cold winter temperatures.

3. USJ Express Tickets Are A Must

Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was one of the best days that I had while I was there. The rides bring you into a whole new world, opening your mind to a new experience that you definitely can’t experience in the real world.

Especially their new Super Nintendo World, walking through the “pipes” transports you into a whole new dimension.


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One thing that would have made the day a lot better was getting an express ticket. Queues were terribly long, often queueing for two hours for the adult rides. We spent over half the day just queueing, so we couldn’t really enjoy the park to the maximum.

4. The Adorable Animal Cafes Needs An Advance Booking

One thing Japan is known for is their adorable animal cafes! Cat cafes, Capybara Cafes, Owl Cafes, and more, it is an adorable experience that you should try at least once.

The one that my family and I had gone to was the Mipig Café, a café filled with free-roaming mini pigs!

The minipigs at the café were absolutely adorable! I never expected myself to adore pigs, but these mini pigs the size of laptops (or at least the one I am typing on right now) stole my heart. They would walk around, play, and even cuddle with you. It was fascinating to learn that pigs love being squished! When you held them firmly against your body and petted them all over, they adored you.

If you would love to go to a café like this, make sure you make your reservation days or weeks in advance. These cafes are very popular so you could rarely get a seat just by walking in.

Choose an animal cafe that you know you will pass by and check out their website for more details!

5. Cremia Ice Cream is an absolute must eat

One thing I recommend all my friends to try is Cremia Ice Cream! A specialized ice cream made with high-quality ingredients sold in a lot of stores, they are just simply delicious.

A silky texture with a strong milky taste mixed with a simply delicious cookie cone makes this ice cream my must eat whenever I pass by a store that sells them!

This is simply an ice cream you must try!

6. Rush Hours Are No Joke

You know those videos on YouTube showing Japan’s rush hour crowd in the metro, those are very real. My family and I had one experience taking the rush hour train and never again will we take it.


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A post shared by Leonard Wee (@jayna.wee)

During rush hour, people will push and shove to get onto the train, but it isn’t rude or selfish but is simply how they do things in Japan. The incredible thing to me is that trains are about 1 to 3 minutes apart, and they are all full! That is how many people they transport daily and it shows the heavy reliance on their metro.

If you aren’t looking to be squashed like tunas in a can, make sure you avoid timings from 7.30am to 9.30am and 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

I would say try it once just for the experience.

7. Get The Best Value In Hakone


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A post shared by Loïc Lagarde (@loic.lagarde)

One mistake we made was when we visited Hakone for a day. We hired a private driver assuming that we could visit more in less time. However, it took a lot longer to reach Hakone, because of the traffic in Tokyo.

From Tokyo to Hakone, it took more than 2 hours by car, whereas taking the Odakyu Romance train only takes 80 mins.


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Taking a car to each spot was a huge benefit as we could conveniently go from point A to point B without any navigation needed.

Taking public transport would have been harder but a lot more value for money, especially if you get the Hakone Freepass! With prepaid transportation, and discounted pricings at over 70 tourist sites, it is the best deal to get while in Hakone.

8. Deliver your luggage to the next hotel instead of carrying it on your travels!

If you’re like me, bringing more than necessary during your travels, you probably have a piece of oversized luggage. It is incredibly tough to get around with them, and you have to pay extra when you bring them up the Shinkansen!

Japan has a unique service where you can deliver your luggage from Hotel A to Hotel B! Yamato Transport will send your luggage to your hotel, wherever in Japan, for you to travel hassle-free!

All you need to do is check out of your hotel, bring your luggage to the service counter that your hotel lobby likely has, give them details, sightsee the rest of your day, and reach your new hotel with your luggage already waiting for you!

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