Traveling on your own is already a big step to take for the first time, let alone to a country that you don’t even know the language of!
Japan is becoming a vastly more popular destination for Working Holidays, but you might have some questions about the life and traveling over there.
I’ve travelled to Japan to get you the hot tips and hints for you, so you know the insider before settling down on your Working Holiday.
I spent a total of 9 and a half days in Japan and for me it was a rush. I ran around Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka while trying all the “must do’s” and all the transport options, so this should give you a good idea for life in Japan!
Japan have a very efficient transport system. If you are traveling before hand and wanting to explore Japan a bit more, would highly recommend getting a Japan Rail Pass! It saves you so much money and its very quick to get to places. I got mine from STA Travel who sell them for a pretty decent price. You must get it issued in Japan, so you just swap your voucher for a pass once you get to a train station and from there you book in your seats.
For safety on the trains, as I was a solo woman traveling, they do have Women Only Carts if you feel more comfortable hopping in those!
For Day to Day travel, you should invest in a PASMO card. Kind of like your AT hop card or Go Card, you top it up as you go and can use it for buses and trains. This is handy for all the buses and trains inner city. You must top it up 1000 yen + at a time, but there is a top up station at every train entry.
PLACES TO LIVE
Depending on where you go in Japan, they all have a different feel.
Tokyo is your typical big city; I like to think of it as Japans version of New York. Big lights, big tourist attractions but all so fascinating to look at. From Mario Kart racing in the streets, to seeing robots at night it really has everything to do!
Kyoto was my favourite place out of the three, there is a lot of history there and it was a bit quieter. A lot of your shrines and temples, along with the Geisha community based there, if you are looking for the history and a low-key place to situate yourself, I would suggest Kyoto! It is still a major city, so you still have a lot of job opportunities there while being able to appreciate the history of Japan.
Osaka is another big city to think about. I mainly went for Universal Studios, but they are based around a port and are known for their modern architecture and hearty street food! Dontonbori is a popular food market which just goes on for rows and rows. You can get some awesome views from the likes of The Art Hotel as well!
ACTIVITIES/THINGS TO DO
For your days off or even when you are traveling, I would highly suggest getting to any activity as early as you can. With the popularity of Japan now, the line waits for places can get up to 2-3 hours, so the earlier you are the less waiting you will be doing.
A fun thing to start off your trip in Tokyo would be the Mario Kart Racing! This is a great time, especially if you grew up playing the games. You basically dress in onesies of characters, get a go kart and go around the streets of Tokyo! I did mine in Akihabara which is a buzzing shopping hub famed for its electronics retailers, ranging from tiny stalls to vast departments stores. The tour is about 2 hours which is more than enough time.
Another place on the must do’s in Tokyo would be the infamous Robot Café. It is equally weird as it is amazing. If you can, book the ticket with the dinner so you’re not spending any more money on food! The robots are incredible and it’s basically an anime show in front of you. If you can’t deal with bright lights, would not suggest going. It’s a lot of theatrical lights and tricks!
Team Lab Borderless museum is also another epic place. Basically, a light museum that was around $45NZD and its just a whole other world in there!
Disney is another obvious one for Tokyo, if you are thinking one or the other, I would suggest doing Disney Sea as it is completely nothing like what you can get at any other Disneyland.
In Kyoto, as said there is a lot of history. A popular thing to go to are the Fushimi Inari Taisha shrines (The red ones you see all over instagram), but please be aware that it’s a lot of steps if you are wanting to do the whole thing or get to some quiet parts to take photos. This particular day I did about 23,000 steps and was not prepared. The shrines themselves are really cool and the history is really interesting!
Another cool thing to go to in Kyoto are the Nishiki markets. There is so much to see and do here, along with the Kyoto Mameshiba Cafe. Think Shiba dogs, owls and cats all available to pat! You don’t eat food there, but you do get a free drink with the dogs. A lot of anime merch shop in the markets as well as great food.
The Bamboo forests were good too photo wise and scenery wise, would suggest this one to go earlier rather than later, but I have also read its great to go just before sunset.
In Osaka, all I personally did was Universal which was awesome. Universal parks are all pretty much standard rate the same, this one had the live walking dinosaurs which was awesome!
Long story short, get your visa sorted with IEP to work in Japan and have an epic experience while there!