Introduction

You can go to Japan.  Really, it’s easy.

I’m Blake.  I’ve lived off and on in Japan for the last five years. And I’ve found that it’s easier than most people think to travel to the Land of the Rising Sun.

The torii at Miyajima. Image by Kyoji "Jake" Arita. Here are the three biggest myths about Japan and why they actually don’t get in the way of  your visit:

1. You can’t do anything if you don’t speak Japanese, right?
Actually, it’s pretty easy to get around speaking English.  You just have to use Japan-friendly keywords, based on what the Japanese learn in school.  We’ll work on those keywords later.

2. Isn’t Japan the most expensive place in the world?
It’s not as bad as you’ve been told, I promise.  Now, it’s not a super-cheap place like Thailand or Vietnam, but you can eat a good, filling dinner for under $10 and get a big Japanese beer for $3 if you know where to look.  Expats – the foreigners who live in Japan – know all the tricks to find inexpensive hotels, good meals, and even the occasional all-you-can-drink bar.  I’ve been an expat in Japan on and off for the last five years, so I can help you book a hotel, pick out a delicious dinner, and have the night of your life – all in English.

3. Doesn’t Japan have really weird food?

To answer your question, yes, there are weird foods.  But here are all the ingredients that go into my three favorite Japanese foods (in no particular order): Pork, onions, green onions, cabbage, chow mein noodles, fish, rice, soy sauce, and a couple of sweeter, soy-ish sauces.  (That’s one list for three separate dishes, mind you.)

But none of those ingredients are too scary, right?  Japan has plenty of “weird” things, sure, but a lot of foods are really popular with expats, and we’ll talk about those.

Learn from the expats

In this guide, we’ll discuss every angle of your trip to get you up and running quickly and easily:

Planning: Cheap airfares, cheap hotels, and where to find them.  You save the most money before leaving your door.
Packing: Bring the smallest suitcase you can find.  Leave your laptop at home.  Bring medicine and a miniature notepad.  We’ll talk about why.
Flying: Beating jet lag, reducing the stress from airport security, and relaxing in coach class with Airplane Yoga.
Arriving: How to get cash and a cell phone.
Getting around town: Using the trains, speaking universally understood Keyword English, the best places to find tasty things to eat, and why you should always know where the nearest post office is.
Things to do: Tokyo is quite possibly the most diverse and fun city in the world.  We’ll just scrape the surface.
Worst-case scenarios: These things aren’t likely to happen to you, but it’s good to be ready.
5 ways to save more money: On a college budget?  Japan’s still doable. 
Leaving Tokyo: Riding bullet trains, climbing Mt. Fuji, and visiting places like Kyoto.

So have a look through the guide.  When you’re done, you’ll be a seasoned pro.

How to get started without leaving your chair

You can get started right now. Here’s how to plan a trip.