First-Timer's Travel Guide to Japan

Lauren Martin
Curated By

Lauren Martin

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  • Japan

  • Kyoto

  • Tokyo

  • Arts & Culture

  • Food & Wine

  • International Travel

  • Hidden Gems

  • Cultural Immersion

  • Sightseeing

Tall buildings in Japan lit up by bright lights and signs with a crowded crosswalk
Curator’s statement

This guide encompasses everything you need to know when traveling to Japan for the first time! Get a taste of the overall vibe for the country while exploring some of the most popular and exciting sites. This was the first country I visited in Asia and it opened my eyes to real cultural diversity. I've since visited others countries in Asia and plan to visit all of them!

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Where to stay across Japan

Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo

Situated right in the heart of bustling Shinjuku, Citadines Central Shinjuku Tokyo enjoys a prime location in Kabukicho main entertainment area with its sleek rooms and contemporary amenities.

Hotel Grand Bach Kyoto Select

Central Kyoto hotel with tasteful style and touches of Japanese accessories within.

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Things to do across Japan

Pedestrians crossing busy crosswalk with yellow taxi and lit up buildings at night

What to do in Tokyo

Robot Restaurant. Prepare for the best show of your life.

Shibuya Crossing. Watch the famous intersection where thousands of people cross at one time.

Visit Harajuku district and explore the fashion district of Tokyo.

Walk around Shinjuku and gaze up at all the bright neon lights and billboards.

Get all the food and drinks out of any street vending machine! If it looks weird, it's probably delicious.

Sing karaoke!

Tsukiji Fish Market. If you can wake up before sunrise, check out the famous tuna auctions at the worlds largest wholesale fish market. If you miss it, enjoy walking through the food stalls and sampling all the fresh flavor!

What to do in Kyoto

Visit Arashiyama Bamboo Grove. Walk through bamboo as high as the eye can see. Also, stroll through Arashiyama Monkey Park and hang out with the monkeys!

Fushimi Inari Shrine. Hundreds of bright orange shrines line a walkway as you stroll through to the scared Mount Inari.

What to do in Hiroshima

Visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. See the dome site that is the last standing building from the atomic bomb. Also check out the museum, it's humbling but important.

Take a ferry to Miyajima and see the Great Tori. By far my favorite thing I did this entire trip!

Places to eat & drink across Japan

Man sitting at restaurant bar under bright lights with chef in white hat preparing food

Drink coffee at Blue Bottle Cafe in Tokyo. Yes, there are Blue Bottles in the US, but their specialty drinks were some of the best coffee I've ever had.

Eat and drink at Robot Restaurant for dinner and a show!

Kibunesou Kyoto: Beautiful restaurant outside beside a river!

Umeda Hagakure: Local spot for homemade udon noodles in Osaka.

Okonomi-mura: A favorite spot for tourists in Hiroshima where they make the specialty Okonomiyahi, a traditional Japanese pancake.

Nagi: Ramen in the heart of Tokyo in the Shinjuku district.

Tsukiji Fish Market: Stroll the numerous stalls and vendors for fresh caught fish dishes and tamango (sweet egg omelette).

Lauren Martin

Travel Advisor

Lauren Martin

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