5 Mistakes We Made During Our First Trip to Japan

Are you planning your first trip to Japan? Here the 5 mistakes we made during our first trip to Japan – hopefully you can avoid these mistakes!

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We recently came back from an 8 1/2 day trip in Japan. We traveled through Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, and ended the trip in Tokyo. While we enjoyed the food, the temples, and the hustle and bustle, we definitely made a few travel mistakes along the way. Even though we researched locations ahead of time, there were a few things we didn’t learn about until we got there.

I hope by sharing our mistakes we made during our first trip to Japan that you’re able to avoid these mistakes!

5 Mistakes We Made During Our First Trip to Japan

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Mistake #1: I didn’t bring a comfortable pair of sandals that I could walk in everyday

I brought flips flops, a pair of slides, a pair of espadrilles, slip on sneakers, a pair of Allbirds and two pairs of flat sandals. I thought my espadrilles and flat sandals were going to be okay to walk in. But in reality, these shoes didn’t end up giving me enough support for an entire day of walking and sightseeing. I ended up wearing my slip on perforated slip on sneakers the most because they had more support and let my feet breathe.

I should have listened to Brandon and just bought a pair of Teva’s before we left for the trip! I highly recommend bringing a good pair of adventure like/supportive sandals with you to your trip. Your feet will thank you later!

Mistake #2: We didn’t order our J-Rail pass ahead of time

I read on travel blogs that you could order the J-Rail pass online BUT I didn’t realize that you had to order it and have it physically shipped to you. THERE IS NO ELECTRONIC J-RAIL PASS.

If you plan on traveling to Japan, you MUST order this pass ahead of time and get it shipped to you!

If you order a 7-day J-Rail pass ahead of time, you can get it for around $270. If you plan on traveling from Tokyo, to Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, or other parts of Japan, you should order the pass. The bullet trains are an amazing way to travel city to city.

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Mistake #3: I didn’t pack lightly

We went to the Philippines for a week before our trip to Japan. So Brandon and I both packed big roller bags that we checked in. I had an additional travel tote bag and backpack. It was totally fine navigating the Philippines with all of this luggage because we really only went from the airport to the house and hotel – and traveled in cars.

Traveling with a ton of luggage through the train stations – especially Tokyo Station was NUTS.

First of all Tokyo Station (and all major train + subway stations) is incredibly busy. Everyone in Japan pretty much takes public transportation. There’s literally thousands of people moving in and out of train/subway stations daily.

Trying to navigate with roller bags, duffle bags, and backpacks, adds a whole other layer of complexity. While different parts of train/subway stations have ramps, many only have stairs. Having to lug and carry our luggage to the correct platforms and navigate the crows was probably one of the more stressful times for me on our trip.

Mistake #4: We didn’t have a coin purse at first

First of all, I didn’t realize that the J-Rail pass only worked for the J-Rail trains. The rest of the subways and local trains don’t work with that pass so you have to purchase subway tickets. We traveled quite a bit within Kyoto and Tokyo so we purchased plenty of subway tickets.

The subway tickets are really affordable but we were first fumbling through our wallets and bags for coins to pay for fare. Around day 3 or 4, we finally grabbed one of the coin purses I picked up from the Philippines and started storing all of our coins in there. It made it way easier to pay for subway tickets when it came time to purchase them.

If you’re traveling to Japan for the first time, I highly recommend bringing a coin purse with you.

While restaurants and shops do take credit cards, it’s definitely easier to navigate and pay in cash. Japan is still a cash based society which means there are still a lot of coins you end up carrying!

Mistake #5: We didn’t pack an umbrella

We knew that we were traveling to the Philippines during Rainy Season but we didn’t realize that it would also be rainy in Japan. Don’t get me wrong, it was hot and humid in Japan during July – but it can also be rainy.

It was pouring on our first day in Kyoto. We ended up running into a convenience store and picking up a $5 clear umbrella. It ended up drying off towards the end of the trip but we definitely needed an umbrella at the beginning.

If you plan on visiting Japan in June or July, I would definitely recommend packing a small umbrella. It’s still pretty warm out while it rains so you probably don’t need a big jacket.

Tokyo Japan

There you have it friends! The 5 mistakes we made traveling through Japan.

Have you made any mistakes while traveling through Japan?

Tokyo Japan

Thank you for reading!




  1. August 7, 2019 / 9:49 am

    Very helpful post! Hope you guys still had a great time!

  2. August 9, 2019 / 3:15 pm

    I love your dress! It’s a shame you made a few mistakes but I bet you still had a great time there! 🙂

    Hope that you have a lovely weekend ahead of you! 🙂


  3. August 9, 2019 / 6:31 pm

    Welcome back Emma! I am so glad to hear you had a wonderful trip to Japan and the Philippines albeit the hiccups you encountered along the way. I have overpacked too and it definitely was not fun. I can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

    Maureen | http://www.littlemisscasual.com

  4. August 15, 2019 / 9:16 am

    Great tips! Our mistake was thinking we could just wander around to find restaurants. We didn’t realize that most of them are not at street level, at least in Tokyo. After a few major restaurants misses, we used our rented portable wifi hotspot to research places to eat on Google before we got too hungry.

    Keep up the awesome posts, Emma!

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