Solo Travel & Living, Practical Tips From Japanese Local Solos
Japan is one of the safest countries in the world which makes it a great place and experience for a solo traveling getaway. Here are typical questions from international tourists, and we are going to answer them!
Is traveling solo popular in Japan?
Yes, from teenagers to elders, Japanese enjoy traveling, especially in solo settings. Even people who are married or living with a partner also enjoy traveling and dining solo… that is not a rare thing. Here are more articles about the Japanese way of living alone in Japan.
Where can I enjoy traveling or dining solo in Japan?
Many cafes, restaurants, and bars offer a table for one, even though it may initially appear that there are no solo customers in the venue. You never really need to hesitate… just ask! They sincerely welcome the solo customer. You may have a seat at the counter or communal table. Here are more articles about the Japanese way of traveling solo in Japan.
Where and when should I go on my first solo trip to Japan?
We always recommend Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka for first-time visitors to Japan. In general, the best seasons are Spring and Fall. Summer is stiflingly hot and humid, and Winter can be very cold.
Some of the most important seasonal events are the Cherry Blossom season (called Japanese Sakura) in the Spring and Japan’s beautiful autumnal leaves during the Fall. During both the peak Sakura and autumn seasons in Kyoto, major hotels could be fully booked, and thus rates would often likely be higher. So try to do your research ahead of time!
If you like winter sports, such as skiing & snowboarding, Hokkaido during the winter is very popular. Hokkaido is also well known for its sushi & fresh seafood. In the Summer, the Shonan/Kamakura area (more of a day trip from Tokyo) and Okinawa are great for beach lovers.
It is also recommended to avoid to travel to Japan during public national holidays, such as Golden Week (the end of April to the beginning of May) and the Obon Festival (in the middle of August). During these times you may find that many Japanese themselves are traveling, and thus it will be very crowded.
What are some of the best things to do?
One of the most favorite things to do on a trip to Japan is to enjoy street foods such as Takoyaki (octopus balls), Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), Dango (rice flour dumplings), and Harajuku-Crepes the Japanese way (which is eating while walking called in Japanese, Tabe-aruki). Another fun and relaxing thing to do is visit natural hot springs (called in Japanese, Onsen). They are best enjoyed during your “Me Time”. Also camping, meditation retreats, pilgrimage tours, and climbing Mt. Fuji are popular for Japanese Solo travelers as well.
Where to stay in Japan?
The most important research for traveling is likely to be your hotel reservations. Book a place to stay for at least the first night… you will never feel desperate during the middle of your day with your luggage. Based on your budget, browse through Booking.com and Airbnb, then always get some helpful tips on TripAdvisor for your destination. When we travel by ourselves alone, we prefer to stay in guesthouses, homestays, and/or family-run B&Bs. It feels cozier to have a welcome smaller place to come back to.
It’s also a great chance to acquaint yourself with the local Japanese people, as they may tell you special local-only places, eateries, and hangouts. Time is money, and so sometimes paying a few extra for the right accommodation & access to transportation can save your limited and valuable time as well as feeling more comfortable and safe.
Another option is the city or business hotels which cost usually well under ¥10,000/night(USD100). If you like to save more, hostels or capsule hotels are the best options for single travelers who prefer no-elaborate accommodation. These are usually well under ¥5,000/night(USD50). They often offer free WiFi & basic amenities (including a toothbrush!), like all Japanese hotel basic services.
If you like to go to Onsen, Ryokans (traditional inns), with the Onsen, are always the best combination. It’s great time to experience Japan’s traditional culture and hospitality, as well as local seasonal cuisine and Japanese sake. Going to Onsen is one of the most popular activities for Japanese solo travelers! So many Ryokans offer plans/packages just for solo travelers… this has increased significantly over recent years.
What do I Wear?
The people of Tokyo wear more black and dark colors than people in most other major cities in Japan. A typical female outfit is conservative, as shoulders and legs are covered even during the warmer seasons. People like to cover themselves because it protects the skin from getting tanned and avoids sexual attention to the body shapes. When you visit a shrine/temple or someone’s home, taking off your shoes, socks or stockings are commonplace. It’s OK to be bare footed on those occasions. In addition, neat clothing is important in those premises to be presentable rather than looking too sloppy.
Here are more tips for solo travelers… We recommend women avoiding public transportation during peak hours, as it is known that quite a few women often face sexual harassment in crowded trains. Watch out for dark alleys at midnight; be mindful of pickpockets in crowded places and; discreetly avoid drunk people…. These are pretty much standard precautions to visit countries in the world. If some stranger approaches you and you feel uncomfortable and the person persists, say “No thanks (Iranai)”, and just walk away.
Enjoy your Me Time in Japan!