Discover Japan

The end of 2019 is jam-packed with sporting events in Japan as the Rugby World Cup runs through to the start of November and the Japanese Grand Prix takes place in October.

Whether or not you’re lucky enough to be visiting for one of these events, we’ve got some top tips to make sure you make the most of your time in Japan and get the most out of your yen.

Why visit?

First and foremost, food! Japan is often regarded as the number one travel destination for foodies thanks to how they blend traditional and ultra-modern flavours, techniques and dishes. As if Japan’s place at the forefront of the world of food needed more confirmation, Tokyo has more Michelin stars than any other city on Earth!

Although a bit different to a Michelin experience, we equally recommend checking out some local food markets. To get an idea of some of the best markets around Japan, check out this guide.

Japan is also home to some of the world’s most exquisite temples. Kyoto, once the capital of Japan, is famous for its Buddhist temples, impeccable gardens, majestic palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. For the equivalent of around £20 you can even rent a kimono or yukata to make your day and holiday pictures even more memorable.

The nightlife in Japan has something to offer for everyone with nightclubs, game rooms, anime stores and more. One of the most popular late night destinations in Japan is the Robot Restaurant in Tokyo. This crazy show/restaurant/bar is hugely popular so it’s always a good idea (and cheaper!) to pre book your tickets online.

How to get more for your yen

If there are any places in Japan that you really have your heart set on, it’s always good to book in advance to ensure you get the best deal and don’t end up paying tourist rates for tickets. If you’re looking to visit the various temples and shrines in Kyoto for example, look to purchase the Kyoto Sightseeing Pass which gives you unlimited rides on buses and subways in Kyoto and only costs ¥800 (£6.13) for a single day or ¥1,200 (£9.20) for two days.

There are a number of options for getting around Japan but the one that undoubtedly draws the most attention is the bullet train. Unfortunately, bullet trains aren’t cheap – a journey from Tokyo to Osaka will set you back around ¥15,000 which comes to roughly £110. The flip side of that is that it will only take you 2.5 hours. A cheaper alternative is the highway buses which cost about £58 but take around 8 hours for the same journey. The highway buses have services that run day and night for travellers keen not to waste daylight.

Regardless of whether you’re getting local transport or the famous bullet train, be sure to buy a Japan Rail Pass for discount on all travel.

FairFX Tips:

  • An affordable gem in the north of Kyoto is Kinkakuji (Golden Pavilion) – a golden zen temple that overlooks a tranquil, picturesque pond and only costs ¥400 (£3) to get in. Not only that, once you’re done with the historic site you can enjoy sweets and tea in the Sekka-tei Teahouse for less than £4.
  • Tipping in Japan is not customary. The exception is the likes of tour guides who, thanks to the frequent American travellers, have become accustomed to receiving them although they are still not mandatory or necessarily expected.
  • We’ve talked plenty about trains but how does a sushi train sound?! Sure, one of Japan’s Michelin starred restaurants would serve up some killer sushi but you really can’t beat the sushi trains for value at less than ¥200 (around £1.50) per plate.
  • Whilst we have some useful advice for visiting Japan, nobody has better tips than the locals. Don’t be shy in picking up a Japanese phrase book or attempting to use Google translate to ask for some places to visit, you never know what you might find!

  • Cash or Card?

    Japan is largely a cash-driven society. Although some larger companies will accept cards, if you rely solely on this form of payment, you may encounter some issues when dealing with the likes of markets, smaller restaurants and accommodation.

    FairFX’s recommendation is to cover both bases. A prepaid currency card gives you the advantage of paying with card (where accepted) without being subject to the unfair fees and charges that are incurred when using debit or credit cards abroad. At the same time, it’s important to have cash on you at all times. Order some yen in advance of your visit to Japan at a time when you’re happy with the rates.

    Your price guide to Japan:

    PurchaseCost (¥)Equivalent in £*
    Meal for 2 (mid-range, 3 courses)¥4,000.00£30.65
    Water (1.5ltr bottle)¥124.82£0.96
    Bottle of wine (mid-range)¥1,300.00£9.96
    Domestic beer (0.5ltr)¥450.00£3.45
    Imported beer (0.33ltr)¥500.00£3.83
    One-way ticket (local transport)¥215.00£1.65
    Taxi (1km)¥415.00£3.18

    Source: Numbeo – Cost of Living in Japan
    *FairFX rate correct as of 17th September at 10:15am (130.50)

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    Adam Baldwin

    Adam Baldwin

    Adam is part of the Marketing team at FairFX. He's keen on his sports, mainly football and the NFL, and is an avid traveller having recently visited Fiji and Vietnam.

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