Japanese landmark: Mt. Fuji and Chureito Pagoda at sunset.

Since the border to Japan opened last fall, Japan has been a hot destination we are making arrangements for. I gathered frequently asked questions during our discovery conversations.

Here are the common questions, but please keep in mind Japan extends greater latitude North to South than many people think. You’ll be able to see floating pieces of icebergs to tropical scuba diving experiences.

Q: When is a good time to go to Japan?

Kinkaku-ji/Golden Pagoda in Kyoto Japan

A: In general, March to May and September to November are popular seasons to visit Japan. Those are the cherry blossoms and fall color seasons in Honshu (main island). If you’d like to avoid crowd, you may consider Kyushu, Shikoku or Hokkaido for earlier or later seasons for Cherry blossoms and fall colors.

Unless your focuses are cherry blossoms or fall colors, any season can be a good season depending on what you are looking for. For example, if you are a festival fan, summer and fall would be good options, but keep in mind summer could be hot and humid. If you are winter sports fan, hit the slopes during January through March.

Q: When is the best time to see Cherry Blossoms?

A: Cherry blossoms season starts from South part of the country and move up to the North. If you are considering staying in the main island, March through April is the peak season.

Q: How many days do I need to see Japan?

A: It depends on the goal of your trip. I recommend at least 9 to 10 days.

Q: What are the entry requirements for US passport holders?

A: As of now (February 10, 2023), no travel visa is required.

If you have received more than 3 COVID vaccinations, no PCR test result is required. Be sure to have the proof of the official vaccination with you.

If you have not received at least 3 COVID vaccinations, a negative PCR result is required within 72 hours of your departure time.

Refer to Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Border Entry Requirements for the up to date information: https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

Q: Are Japanese people welcome foreign travelers now?

A: Most people in Japan are happy to see the tourists are coming back again. Some appreciate smaller group travelers more than large bus tour groups.

Q: Is Japan a good country for multi-generation travel?

A: Absolutely! Great opportunity to share travel experiences with all generations in various interests: traditional culture, history, art, architecture, photography, cuisines, pop culture, anime, outdoor activities…etc.

Q: What is Ryokan? Would I want to stay there?

In-room hot spring looking over the ocean

A: Ryokan is a Japanese style inn. Traditionally you will stay in a room with Tatami (straw mats) in a similar format of Japanese houses and with a communal hot spring mineral bath. However, many ryokans have been remodeled or rebuilt to be a contemporary style with rooms with beds or raised sleeping space with futon. The suite style rooms have both tatami room and western style beds. Most ryokan with 4 to 5 stars accommodation has a private bath and many of them offer open-air style private bath.

Ryokan usually serves breakfast and dinner featuring their local ingredients and showcasing the harvest and catch of the day. Dinners are usually served in your room, but as part of COVID safety, many have changed it and serve the meals in a specious dining room.

They are usually located outside the central cities. If your schedule allows, I suggest ryokan experience for one to two nights.

Q: Can you arrange exclusive private experiences such as tea ceremony, culinary experiences, woodworking apprenticeship, temple stay…etc.?

A: Absolutely, Ippo Travel specializes in unique and exclusive local experiences. I am passionate about true authentic cultural experiences and would love to make arrangements for you.

Q: I have dietary restrictions; can Japanese restaurants accommodate them?

A: Japan is becoming better and more flexible in accommodating them, especially in popular tourists’ destinations. When visiting rural areas, I highly recommend checking it in advance and making sure your hotel/ryokan can accommodate your dietary needs. If your allergy is severe, consult with your doctor and have appropriate medications.

Q: Where is a good place to go for alpine ski, snowboarding or scuba diving?

Powder ski in Niseko Hokkaido Japan

A: There are many alpine ski resorts in Japan, Hokkaido and Japan alps regions offer great snow sports experiences.

As for scuba diving, tropical regions in Japan have several great spots for scuba diving as well as snorkeling.