Recommended Japan Travel Resources
Welcome to The Real Japan Travel Resources section, my list of the services and products I use and recommend or suggest you consider when planning and booking your next trip to Japan.
UPDATED: September 2023
Whether you’re thinking about your first trip to Japan, or you're a seasoned multi-tripper looking for some fresh inspiration, the huge number of travel advice and resources out there can be overwhelming.
That’s why I've compiled this list for you.
This list covers all the essentials. It’s filled with carefully selected travel resources. And I only include the best travel resources - those I use myself or recommend to my clients.
Best Flight Booking Services
These are the best flight booking and flight deal services on the market today. I have personally used all of these and am a member of both JAL and ANA's Frequent Flyer clubs. Both are known for outstanding customer service at an affordable price.
Best Accommodation Booking
These are among the best accommodation booking sites you can find. From the big names like Booking.com whose market-leading position is well-deserved, through to more specialised Japanese companies like Japanese Guesthouses and Jalan. Be sure to register where it is offered as you'll likely get access to member-only deals.
Best Official Japan Rail Pass Agents
The Japan Rail Pass is fantastic value for anyone looking to explore Japan by rail. It's best to book Passes in advance and before you enter Japan for the best prices. Passes are only available through authorised Official Agents.
This is my current top recommendation.
Best Japan Tour Booking Services
As a long-standing independent traveller, I used to turn my nose up at guided tours. But having used some down the years, these can be some of the most efficient and easiest ways to explore Japan. From full country tours to short trips, these are my top recommended tour booking sites. Again, register where you can for access to subscriber-only deals.
Best Short Guided Tours & Day Trip Portals
Here's my hand-picked selection of the leading short tour and day trip booking sites. These include everything from food and drink tours lasting just a couple of hours, to island tours lasting a day or more.
Best Japanese Experience Booking Services
Japan has so many unforgettable experiences, the choice can be overwhelming. Here's my selection of the best providers where you can discover and book everything from authentic Japanese cooking classes, cultural activities, sumo tickets, or a two-day express access pass to Japan's famous Universal Studios Japan.
Best Restaurant Reservation Services & Food Tours
Knowing where to eat and then booking restaurants in Japan can sometimes be tricky. From 3 Michelin Star establishments, to vegan cafes, to the world's best sushi and ramen - there's literally something for everyone. Or how about a food tour?
Best Buses, Ferries, Flights & Railways Booking Sites
12Go Asia has an excellent search engine where you find the schedule for buses, ferries and more throughout Japan. Once you've found your ideal route simply reserve your seats directly on their site - really handy! Rome2Rio is a fantastic resource that can be used to simply find the distance between two places by your preferred mode of transport (car, bus, train, etc), or help you plan and book a trip in detail.
Best Portable Wi-Fi Rental
For maximum connectivity and ease of travel in Japan, I strongly recommend renting a portable WiFi. This is my No.1 'Must Have' piece of tech while exploring the country. Thanks to Japan's excellent mobile phone network, you reliably get a strong signal and fast service even in the farthest reaches of Japan's far-flung islands. Here are my top recommendations.
Best SIM Card Providers
Short term Japan SIM cards are great for tourists, business travellers or short trips to Japan. You can choose between Voice+Text+Data SIMs or Data-only SIMs. Get your SIM shipped to you before you travel or pick it up when you arrive in Japan.
Best Japan Travel Guide Books
A good travel guide can be one of your best investments for unearthing places you've never heard of and for practical tips on getting the most out of any visit to Japan. Here's my top 3 recommendations.
Best Japanese Language Study
Being able to speak and read Japanese will give you an advantage over those (like me) who struggle with the language, or cannot speak it at all. Here are some places that are rated highly by users where you can learn Japanese...
Best Airport Meet And Greet Service
For stress-free travel in Japan, enjoy this personal concierge service at major airports and rail stations to assist with your travel documentation, ticket purchases, Japan Rail Pass voucher redemption, currency exchange, or SIM card/WiFi rentals.
I have personally used this service.
Best Japan Car Rental
If you want to rent a car in Japan but don't speak or read Japanese, there's an easy way to get this sorted - by using the Booking.com website. Although best known for their hotel platform, the site also offers simple car rental in Japan.
Best Japanese Kitchen Knives
For centuries, the art of forging Japanese kitchen knives has been passed down from generation to generation. Hiroyuki Tazawa, a passionate artisan, established Yoshimune Kitchen Knives to keep this tradition alive and flourishing.
Best Travel Luggage
If there's something I've learned in decades of travelling its that having the right luggage for the journey can save you a lot of hassle and headaches. From cabin bags, to suitcase sets, backpacks for adventure or business travel, duffle and specialist camera bags, look no further.
Best Accessible Travel Site
Accessible Japan provides disabled readers with information on accessible travel in Japan to help with their trip planning. It has accessability guides, tips on using transportation, lists and reviews of accessible hotels and attractions. It also has a number of topic-based discussion forums.
Best VPN (Virtual Private Network) Services
Aside from securing your online access using encryption, if you want to use Facebook in Japan or access streaming services while away, a VPN can help. It changes your IP address and redirects your connection to the internet through a remote server - unblocking your favourite sites you use at home. Suitable both for business or personal use.
The Real Japan Travel Hubs
Whether you're planning your first trip to Japan or your tenth, our Planning Travel Hub will get you started.
The choice of incredible places to see in Japan can be overwhelming. Our Destinations Travel Hub will guide you.
Japan offers a never-ending supply of unforgettable experiences. Use our Experiences Travel Hub to discover your next memories.