Your Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel in Japan

Updated May 25, 2021.

If you’re new around here, thre are two things you ought to know about me: I lived in Japan for three months in college, and it changed the trajectory of my life. Japan was my first solo trip ever, and my first time ever to cross an ocean. It will always hold a special place in my heart, and I can whole-heartedly recommend a trip to Japan for your solo trip, too! Here are all the details.

*Some of the links below are affiliate links with JR Pass in Japan. This means that when you book your JR Pass with my links, you’re getting the best deal available and supporting my small business at no additional cost to you!

Why Japan?

Because it’s beautiful, peaceful, memorable, iconic, distinctive, easy to get around, and perfect for a solo traveler! Check out my 10 Reasons to Visit Japan and start listing your travel preferences. Do you want the countryside? Consider Ise City. Prefer a world-class city experience? Definitely spend some time in Tokyo! Want old world charm? Kyoto is the place for you. Love castles? Check out the gorgeous castles in Nagoya, Osaka, Ueno, and more! Looking for a spiritual experience? Put Shingu Shrine on your list.

Shingu Shrine
Read on: 5 Reasons to Travel Solo

Is it Safe?

Yes! Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Be smart, don’t flash your cash, and know where your stuff is at all times, but also don’t worry! I never once felt threatened or scared for my safety, even that one time I got totally lost on my bike one night! Despite the language barrier, there was always someone around who could help me, no matter where I went.

Ama divers prepare to dive for pearls!
Safety first! How to Travel Safely

How Can I Get There?

Japan has multiple international and domestic airports, including both Narita (NRT) and Haneda (HND) near Tokyo. Once you fly in, you can take their world-class train system absolutely anywhere! Definitely check out the JR Pass, which will give you the deepest discount on train travel imaginable. You can get your JR Pass for one, two, or three weeks, and they’re only available to foreign tourists!

Mount Fuji from the plane!
Need to know: How to Survive Long-haul Flights

Where to Stay?

I recommend staying as close to the city center as possible, whatever city or cities you choose to visit. Public transportation in Japan is truly exceptional, but the cities are also exceptionably walkable. Take advantage of that! Staying in or within walking distance of a city center always makes my travels less stressful and more fun. Staying farther out may save you some money, but remember to consider your time and the expense of traveling in and out of the city each day. Weigh those pros and cons, and let that guide your decision making!

Don’t be afraid to make new friends!
Still not sure? Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to Accommodations

How to Stay Occupied?

There is so much to do anywhere you go in Japan! Visit the shrines and temples, try the authentic Japanese foods, and enjoy the many museums and historic sites, most of which have all written materials in multiple languages, including English! Every city has unique things to do and see, so just ask a local, and they will tell you the most famous things to eat, see, and experience in their city. I never would have known about Nara’s famous Chagayu dish if I hadn’t asked a local what I should eat while exploring Nara!

Chagayu lunch combo in Nara, Japan
Still hungry? What to Eat in Japan

How to Save Money?

I found Japan to be very affordable. Maybe that’s because everyone tried to tell me how expensive it is, so my expectations were inflated! Tokyo was definitely more expensive than the other places I visited, but overall, Japan was not too expensive for a solo traveler. Check out the local grocery store instead of eating out, definitely get a JR Pass if you’re planning to visit multiple cities, and walk within the cities you visit!

The rail pass can take you anywhere you want to go!
Get more: Top 12 Experiences to Have in Japan

Are you ready to make Japan your next (or first!) solo travel destination? You will be so happy with that decision! Make sure to stop by my Solo Travel Page for all my tips, tricks, and ultimate guides!

And check out my Japan Page for all the details to help you plan your trip!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

10 thoughts on “Your Ultimate Guide to Solo Travel in Japan

  1. I’m so glad you wrote about this! I have been thinking about Japan for 4 years. I was unable to get away until just recently. I just planned a trip to Germany in May because my niece lives there and I don’t know if I should do 2 international trips in one year but this is on my list of really, really want to do.
    I have an older (in her 80’s) friend who lives in Kyoto. She told me to go on a guided trip because she is not in good health and could not take me around and I am not depending on her for lodging, but I wanted to go solo.
    I am also a cyclist and thought about going with a biking tour group.
    Was wondering about weather? I don’t mind cold weather (unless I would be biking) but didn’t want to go when the beautiful sights are not so beautiful, if that makes any sense.

    1. That’s awesome! I definitely think you can do it yourself, especially since you have a friend who lives there to answer some questions and give you specifics, even if she can’t necessarily be guiding you. A biking group sounds like tons of fun, even if just for part of your trip, or for a meet up tour or two in a couple of cities to break up the solo feel and give you a little something different. I was there from the beginning of May to the end of July, and the part of Japan where I loved (Ise City in the Mie Prefecture) is on the same latitude as Tennessee, where I’m from originally. That time of year is their rainy season, so it was hot and humid, but I was used to that, and it usually rained some in the mornings, but not the rest of the day, so it didn’t slow me down! I think late summer/early fall would be a nice time to go if you are not heat tolerant, or if you don’t mind the cold, winter might be nice because there will probably be fewer people around. Japan gets all four seasons, so pick a season you like! As far as beauty, spring, summer, and fall will probably be prettiest! Let me know if I can be anymore help, and have tons of fun!

      1. Does it snow there? You stayed a long time, what would you suggest would be enough time to enjoy the trip without feeling too rushed?

      2. I was working 5 days a week almost the whole time I was there, so I wasn’t spending the whole tome traveling. I would say two weeks is a good amount of time to really see a lot of Japan, but if you can spend 3-4 weeks, that’s what I would choose! It does snow in Japan, but not everywhere. The northern tip of the northern-most Japanese island is about the same latitude as Maine, and Okinawa is about the same latitude as Hawaii, so it’s not going to snow there! The main island of Japan is about the length of California, so the north will definitely get snow in winter, and the south won’t. Hope that helps!

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