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Fantastic Places for Solo Female Travel Series - Japan

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Japan - A Fantastic Place for Solo Female Travelers

This is the fifth instalment in my "Best Places To Travel If You Are A Solo Female Traveler" series. So far I've done Australia , Canada , Borneo ,  and Costa Rica .  This week I'm moving on to Japan.

Japan is one of the easiest (non English speaking) destination s to travel in and by far one of the safest.  Japan is also very well suited to solo travel with its great hostels and "business man's accommodation" which I explain further down the page.  Read on for all the info on how to travel Japan as a solo woman.

About Japan

Japan lies to the east of North and South Korea and its 4 main islands of Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu hold a vast array of weather, landscape, food and people.

Japan's climate ranges from almost Arctic in the far north over winter to moderate in the southern islands. Winter in Hokkaido can carry temperatures of -6 and have a lot of snow, however their summers, while short can be spectacular. Summer in Tokyo is known to be quite warm with temperatures up to 30 degrees C and a high level of humidity. The opposite end of the spectrum is that Tokyo can also have very cold winters. While its not usual for winter temps in Tokyo to get below their average of 8-9 degrees C, it can so be prepared.

While spring for the Cherry Blossoms and summer for most other activities is the preferred time to visit Japan, don't be scare to embrace the cold and visit during the winter. The trains in Japan allow you to travel good distances fast, so you can find yourself in Hakodate in the snow in the morning and getting off the Train in Kyoto to much milder weather.

The public transport in Japan is incredible and you can set your watch by their train times. You may feel that a connection is just way to close, but if they let you book it, be confident you will make the next train. They literally run to the minute.

How To Get Around Japan

A rail pass is a must for Japan. They save you around 50% of the fares you would pay for train travel and while there are a few exceptions (trains that aren't covered) usually that just means that you might have to do a connection instead of getting on an express train.

It can seem confusing however check out my article all about Japan Rail Passes for more info.

Local buses are also very good and in the main tourist locations, stops tend to be announced in English as well as Japanese.

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Pros for traveling Japan as a single woman:

  • Japan is very traditional, however very open to tourism so English is widely spoken. There is usually someone around who can at least give you directions.
  • While travel does seem expensive in Japan, you tend to discount the distances you are covering, especially on the trains. You might baulk at a $400 fare from Hakodate to Kyoto but its 1100 kilometers and with one change in Tokyo only an 8 hour train ride.
  • There are lots of tours that do Japan so if you do decide you don't want to do it on your own, options are readily available. Japan tours will be expensive though, however again - its worth remembering the distances you will cover.
  • Apart from some great hostels, Japan has these "business hotels" which have single rooms. They are usually very affordable and the trick to finding them is to search using the big booking systems like or Agoda but make sure you put in 1 person and don't let it default to 2 people.
  • You can get Ramen for around $7-8 AUD almost everywhere. Weirdly, sushi for lunch is affordable but dinner usually means more restaurants and no bento boxes so is more expensive. Sashimi isn't cheap anywhere, but you can always get noodles.  There are often little "noodle" streets, just ask someone for Ramen and they will point you in the right direction.
  • Japan is known for being incredibly safe and it is a reputation that is deserved.
  • Apart from cultural attractions and tours, Japan has some great hiking, beaches (in the summer) and also shopping. I needed to replace my everyday bag while I was in Japan and as I'm such a horrible shopper it took me almost all day. I just couldn't decide the choices were so good!

Cons for traveling Japan on your own:

  • If you can't find a good hostel or Business Hotel, accommodation can be expensive on your own. Try going in the offseason if you don't want to use the hostels and the average hotel stay will be about 60% of what you will pay in the peak season
  • A lot of online tour bookings now only allow you to book for a minimum of 2 people (think Viator) because that is the minimum the tour needs to run. To avoid this try and book direct with the company.
  • You do need to be fully capable with your luggage to get on and off the long distance trains quickly . If there is two of you traveling you can help each other to haul up heavy bags etc, but on your own you don't have time for this. Make sure everything you have you can lift and move quickly. Usually the trains have level platforms and no steps but the country platforms aren't necessarily like this AND once you get on you might have to go up or down a few steps immediately to your seat. You can't block the train entrance for others while you are shuffling your stuff up and down. You need to be mobile.
  • Taxi's are often not cheap in Japan. If there are a few of you the cost is averaged and not bad, but its expensive to get a taxi on your own so try to avoid them if you can. Strangely the smaller cities seem to be more reasonably priced. Japan does have Uber but its mostly in the big cities.
  • Some of the Ryoken stays (a must do while in Japan) are set up for couples. You can find single prices, you just have to ask around.
  • If you are thinking of doing the Onsens you have to be completely comfortable being naked in front of other people (the same sex though). I know this doesn't seem like something that would change whether you are on your own or not, however having a friend with you does offer you some level of confidence boost.

My Recommendations For Japan

I meant to stay 3 weeks in Japan and ended up staying 6 weeks. I travelled it entirely on my own and found it easy and reasonably affordable. People always talk about Japan being expensive, however I feel that they usually are comparing it to Thailand or Vietnam which isn't a fair comparison. Japan is very developed and compared to other similar nations like Australia, Canada or the US, I found everything decently priced.

These are my recommendations for visiting Japan, whether you are a solo traveler or a group.

  • Definitely do an Onsen and I would recommend a Ryokan Stay. The Onsens are the hot springs, however a Ryokan stay is typically a stay in a small home stay or hotel that has its own Onsen. If you are planning on seeing the Snow Monkeys in Yamanouchi, you can combine these into a Ryokan stay close to Snow Monkey Park. I stayed at Onyado Hishiya Torazo and it was fantastic.
  • Of course the Snow Monkeys as mentioned above. This really only works in the winter though.
  • If you have some level of fitness and have the time, The Kumano Kodo is a great hike. It is actually 7 different trails that take you to 3 of Japans famous Shinto Shrines. There are many different routes you can take, but the Nakahechi Trail or Imperial Route is the most popular. It is 40 km and usually takes 2-3 days to do.
  • The Drift Ice In Abashiri -  this is only available in winter and looks amazing. I went all the way to Abashiri from Sapporo on the train only for the weather to come up and my drift ice boat got cancelled. I stayed an extra day and still no go so I ended up seeing the prison museum in Abashiri instead.
  • At least 4 days in Kyoto - Kyoto has heaps to see and do and needs at least 3 days but possibly even more. There are the Torii Gates at Fishimi Inari Shrine, Arashiyama and the temples and bamboo groves, Gion the Geisha District, Kinkakuji Temple & the Philosophers Path.
  • See the View In Hakodate - The cable car up to the top of Mount Hakodate is a must do if you are passing through this cool Japanese city. A visit to the early morning seafood markets is also a must, as is Fort Goryokaku. Most people ride the cable car at night for the best view, however in the winter months it can get snowed or rained out.
  • Any visit to Japan is not complete without seeing the Hiroshima Bomb Dome and peace museum. It's tough, but respect must be paid. Hiroshima itself is a great city and you will need to visit Hiroshima if you want to see the floating Torii gate at Miyajima. If you do head over to Miyajima and you like a walk, hike up Mount Misen for great views over the bay (fog not withstanding!) and to see all the temples.
  • The Kumamoto Castle is incredible. The height of the walls alone is inconceivable and it is really well worth going to see the castle.
  • Battleship Island (Gunkanjima - Hashima OR Battleship Island) in Nagasaki is a great few hours out. You catch the boat from the main port and they head out to the island, giving you time to get a photo of the islands profile where it gets it's name "battleship island" from. The profile makes it look like a destroyer. Make sure you get a tour that actually stops on the island because the island's story is really worth learning.
  • Sapporo Snow Festival - If you are in Sapporo over the winter, check out the snow festival. Make sure you are VERY well dressed as the cold just seeps into your bones, but its a good way to spend an afternoon or evening.
  •  Tokyo - You can easily spend a few days in Tokyo. From Mt Fuji to drinking Sake to walking the streets and people watching, Tokyo is simple wonderous!


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This post first appeared on Charge The Globe | Adventure Travel, please read the originial post: here

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Fantastic Places for Solo Female Travel Series - Japan


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