Compare holiday options before heading to Japan
Thinking of a holiday to Japan? Great idea! Now let's find the best holidays and resorts... and of course compare prices!
- Holidays and hotels tend to go up in price during Golden Week (late April to early May)
- Some of the best ski resorts in the world are in Japan
- A guided tour can be a stress-free way to see Japan
Japan is a jaw-dropping mix of cutting-edge technology and ancient history. Yet it's not just culturally that Japan is diverse.
Hokkaido in the north offers ski resorts and wilderness and hot-spring-loving monkeys. The Yaeyama Islands in the far south are tropical paradises. Think white beaches and pineapples and sea turtles.
Between these two points you have a land filled with amazing food, culture and traditions. Megacities and peaceful Shinto shrines. Cyber culture and Confucianism. Anime and samurai.
Japan is a country of contrasts, ripe for exploring. Perfect for a holiday, it would seem.
Oh where to start? Well you'll probably be flying into Narita or Haneda, Tokyo's two main airports. And you could spend weeks - if not months - exploring just Tokyo.
Each neighbourhood of Tokyo has a distinct feeling and speciality:
- Luxury shopping - head to Ginza
- Otaku (geek) culture and electronics - Akihabara
- Looking to party? Shinjuku should be your first port of call
- After cutting-edge street fashion? Harajuku is for you
- Modern art and sophistication? Roppongi!
- Blockbuster museums - Ueno's got you covered
But then you'd be missing out on the diverse wonders of Japan:
- Kyoto, home of geisha (or geiko), kabuki theatre, and glorious gardens
- The vital, heart-breaking dignity of the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima
- Nara's huge Great Buddha (Daibutsu) statue
- The ghost island of Gunkanjima, as seen in Skyfall
- The symbol of Japan, Mount Fuji
- Cup Noodles Museums in Yokohama and Osaka
- Naoshima, the island of art museums
Japanese food tips:
- Slurp your noodles! It helps with the flavour and is totally acceptable and encouraged
- Avoid the fugu - a couple of people die each year after eating badly prepared pufferfish
- Never stick your chopsticks upright in rice - it's associated with funerals
- Cheers is pronounced kam-pai!
How to find a cheap holiday to Japan
Shop around and compare prices. Also be flexible with when you want to travel.
Apart from the peak summer months and around Christmas, be aware of Japan's Golden Week. This is usually around late April and early May. Most workers will get the week off and travel, meaning hotels usually go up in price.
Also Japan is hosting some major international sporting events in the next few years. Try and avoid those if you don't want to pay through the nose.
Top picks for Japan in 2018
Studio Ghibli Museum. Wild bears on Hokkaido. Sumo showdowns. Lolling in an onsen (natural hot spring). Sapporo Snow Festival. Sagana Bamboo Forest. The Firefly Squid of Toyama Bay. Cat cafes. Owl cafes. Bars with penguins in the them.
Japan is an all-year-round kind of destination. Pick a month and there's bound to be a festival on...
Booking a hotel at the same time as your flight can sort out a lot of headaches. Package holidays often include airport transfers, this will save you trying to navigate the public transport system while jet-lagged. A package holiday will also give you a good base to explore other parts of the country.
If you want to see all the highlights of Japan with the lowest amount of fuss, then you might want to consider a guided tour. There's no need to sort your own transport. They often have priority access to museums and tours. And they can get you into some of the best restaurants.
If you're after a stress-free holiday to Japan from the UK then go for a guided tour.
Skiing in Japan tips:
- Head to the onsen (hot spring) for the apres-ski - it's a must
- Some resorts don't use the standard coding system for difficulty
- The Japanese for ski is... ski (pronounced sukee)
The Japan Alps and Hokkaido are the main areas for Japan ski holidays. Home to international-standard slopes and beginner runs, Japan caters for all levels of ability. Lift passes and equipment hire is usually a lot less than the big European and American slopes.
Some of the best ski resorts in Japan are Niseko, Shiga Kogen, Hakuba and Naeba. If you're planning on a Japan ski holiday, make sure you have the right travel insurance in place.
Hokusai's The Great Wave Off Kanagawa was a clue. And thanks to pro surfer Hiroto Arai, Japan is now firmly on the map as a top surfing destination.
For warm year-round surf, head to southern tropical islands of Okinawa.
Kamakura, an hour's train ride from Tokyo, is really accessible for tourists.
Tokushima has the best swells and consistent barrels in the country.
Surfing might not be covered by your standard travel insurance for Japan. Always check the policy.
Compare holidays to Japan
Research and compare prices for Japan holidays. If you're flexible with when you travel and where you change planes, there are some real bargains out there.
Good luck and sayonara!