Believe it or not, I’ve done quite a lot of adventurous things in Japan ALONE. I’m not a fan of doing the extremes (as I suspect, I’m a neutral kind of person) such as bungee jumping, sky diving, etc. but I’ve done solo traveling from Kanto to Kansai and more. First things first, I based it on the season. Since Japan has four seasons, I’m very cautious about traveling during winter. I was born and raised in a tropical country so aside from summer and rainy season, everything else was new (when I’ve move to Japan in 2009) to me. Tip number 1: Check the dates for seishun juhachi kippu (青春１８きっぷ). It’s an unlimited pass for all local JR trains (valid at rapid and special rapid) except for express trains. If you like slow-traveling like me, you have a long, long way to go. Since this pass is only valid 3x a year during school holiday season, please mind the dates:
Spring: March 1- April 10
Summer: July 20- September 10
Winter: December 10- January 10
Trivia: I’ve actually tried using it from Saitama to Hyogo (one way), Hyogo to Kyoto (round trip), Osaka to Wakayama (round trip) and Hyogo to Naoshima (round trip) back in 2015. This year, I’ve used it from Saitama to Gunma. It costs ¥11,850 for 5 passes. It could be used by 5 people (one pass each) or for yourself 5x. Tip number 2: If you need to take the bus, book it in advance. Getting bus tickets in Japan is similar to getting your airline tickets. It must be advance. If you’d like to pay cheaper, make sure to book it at least 2 weeks before your trip. For non-Japanese speakers, I recommend willerexpress.com for their English friendly website. If you want to get a ticket without booking online, check the JR Train Station information booth. I’ve also tried JR buses and they looked more luxurious than the willer buses.
Trivia: Check the Japanese holiday schedule before traveling! It was obon holiday when I traveled from Saitama to Osaka last week and the bus rates are 2x more expensive than usual. *sigh* This applies to taking the bullet train as well. I’ve experienced standing (sitting on the floor) on a shinkansen from Osaka to Yokohama at the end of winter vacation just because I didn’t book my ticket and I badly needed to go back. Imagine paying (¥15,000) so much just to sit on the floor. Tip number 3: For non-Japanese speakers, try google map to check routes and hyperdia for train schedules. Of course, a pocket wi-fi / wi-fi connection is necessary. If I don’t have a wi-fi, I’d rather do solo-traveling in wi-fi friendly cities such as Tokyo and Kyoto. If you’re on the adventurous side and still would want to go solo-traveling somewhere on the outskirts without wi-fi, it’s up to you but I’ve never dared. As much as I love slow-traveling, I also like to save time and money from getting lost. Tip number 4: Learn basic Japanese. For example, if you’re not sure if the train will stop on the station you wanted to go. You can ask:
Kono densha wa ______ (name of the station) e tomarimasu ka? (Will this train stop at (name of the station)?)Tip number 5: When you’ve reached your designation, (sometimes) the best way to get around is by bicycle. In Naoshima, I’ve rented a bike (manual one) for a day instead of waiting for the bus. It could be tedious to just sit and wait. I got tired from biking all day since I didn’t pick the automatic bike (thinking about it, it could have been very helpful since Naoshima has lots of slopes and hills).Solo traveling in Japan is actually easy for me compared to other countries that I’ve been. In Australia, the only solo trip I’ve done is from Brisbane to Gold Coast via train. I’m really thankful for Japan’s efficient railway system. It makes every place accessible. Also, I’ve never had a bad experience while traveling alone. I’m not sure if I’m just a forgetful kind of person or there were really none. Let me know what you think about this post! If you have more questions, let me know.
This blogpost is a response to a reader’s request. All photos were taken by me.