Thinking of heading to Japan for an epic graduation trip? 🤩 Here’s everything you need to know to plan the perfect trip for your Graduation trip in Japan!
This blog post has read your thoughts and will tell you why Japan is the ✨perfect ✨destination for your once-in-a-lifetime celebration.
First and foremost, I am sure you (and your parents) will be happy to learn that Japan is consistently ranked one of the safest countries in the world. Its rich culture, history, centuries-old traditions, stunning shrines, temples, and breathtaking wilderness are just a fraction of what the country offers.
Picture this; you are in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, with your best mates. Walking down the city streets, you witness innovation and modernity at their finest, contrasting retro buildings and Japan’s ancient culture and traditions. You realise you just entered another universe where the options and possibilities are endless, promising you a new adventure every day. Your bucket list may include shopping till you drop and find unique items, spending the night in a retro games arcade, going animal cafe hopping, having the wildest night outs, attending unforgettable events, and fun-filled theme parks, sports games, and seasonal festivals. As the last day approaches, you all have one of those moments you may have thought only happened in movies. You laugh and smile at each other for no reason, maybe shed a few tears because you know you just made lifelong memories and irreplaceable intercultural exchanges.
Have I convinced you yet? 👀
P.S. Did I mention how heavenly Japanese food is??? 🤤
Rest assured that here you will find the best of both worlds; you can take a relaxing trip to the countryside to recharge your batteries, explore one of Japan’s major cities like Tokyo, gain an international experience, or even do a combination of both! There is something for all tastes and preferences. Whether in Japan’s far north city of Hokkaido, heaven for snow sports enthusiasts and ski resorts, or at the island’s southernmost town of Okinawa with soft sand beaches, azure waters and plenty of aquatic adventures, you will definitely find something that appeals to you and your friends.
You can begin organising your holiday 2-3 months in advance to reduce stress if there are any last-minute changes or cancellations. For the best experience, we recommend learning a few keywords in the native language and reading up on social etiquette and culture.
Japan 101 👩🏻🏫 📚
Before diving into today’s topic, there are a few things to know about Japan.
If you’re concerned about the language barrier, know that while Japanese is the most generally spoken language, notable tourist destinations and infrastructures will have English guides and recommendations. Not only that, but you can navigate anywhere via the Google Translate app, which includes instant translation and support. If you don’t understand what is listed on a menu at a typical Japanese restaurant, aim your phone camera at the page, and it will immediately translate it; the same applies to street signs or directions. Besides, even with the language and cultural barriers, many Japanese people will genuinely try to help you and make you feel welcome in their home country.
Helpful information can also be obtained online through well-known websites, including Japan Guide or our agency, Flip Japan Guide. With several years of living and travelling experience under our belt, our team can provide you with the best tailor-made itinerary and recommendations in Japan. Should you have any queries or need help organising a program, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via any of our social media outlets. Besides, our first consultation call is free of charge for you to get to know us and our professional services, creating a trusting bond.
Another important consideration is that Japan is still predominantly a cash-based nation, with few establishments taking credit cards. However, this is gradually changing, particularly in the aftermath of the Tokyo Olympics, which resulted in several modifications. Money exchange services are readily available in central districts such as Shinjuku, and you may withdraw cash from convenience stores, notably 7-Elevens, which have ATMs that accept foreign credit cards. Just make sure you notify your bank and authorise international usage!
📝 Noted everything down? Let’s get to planning!
Step 1: What is your purpose? 🎯
You must first decide on the intention of your celebratory vacation. That encompasses all of your preferences and the things you want to see and experience the most during your trip. You may choose to explore Japan for various reasons, with its diverse food and drinks, entertainment complex, vibrant nightlife, pop culture, stylish and distinctive boutiques, and outlets, discovering more about the country’s cultural heritage, among others.
One of the biggest reasons for coming to Japan is to eat and drink. Did you know that Tokyo, Japan’s capital, has the most Michelin-starred restaurants on the planet? That should give you an inkling of how outstanding the local cuisine and beverages are here. Not only can you find diners serving authentic homemade Japanese food but also international dishes, from French cafes and Middle-Eastern specialties to all-you-can-eat Brazilian BBQ buffets. Better yet, you will find that bars and restaurants are mostly easily accessible in the restless city of Tokyo. There are also many affordable yet delicious options, including all-you-can-eat/drink menus. That is the best combo, am I right, or am I right? Ultimately, there are dining options to suit every taste, wallet, and diet, with more vegan and gluten-free restaurants launching in major cities.
Pro tip: To save money on food and beverages, dine at or order from local restaurants serving Japanese delicacies via applications such as uber eats or wolt. Alternatively, browse your nearest convenience store for low-cost meals and quirky snacks.
Another probable incentive to visit Japan is its thriving nightlife and pop culture. You may already be aware that Japan is renowned for its console games, novels, comics, and anime, but it is also a popular venue for all things related to music, including live concerts, festivals, cinematography, and so on.
Big cities like Tokyo and Osaka have a plethora of cafes and izakayas (pubs) with motifs, atmospheres, and tasty appetisers to enhance your go-to beverage. There are also hidden pubs and restaurants with mysterious doorways. 🤫 Actually, here at Flip, we conduct unique bar-hopping and nightlife excursions, guaranteeing that you have an enjoyable and unforgettable night out in Tokyo!
On the subject of fun, did you know that the country holds a one-of-a-kind Disney Sea park and Universal Studios in Tokyo and Osaka? If you are a thrill seeker or need that adrenaline rush, try out Fuji Q theme park in Tokyo. Offering wild roller coaster rides and games, it’s one of those places where you surely will laugh out loud and make unforgettable memories with your friends.
Aside from being one of the world’s most secure countries, with Tokyo operating as both a gastronomic paradise and a fashion metropolis, Japanese culture and customs span thousands of years and are truly one-of-a-kind. Along with exploring majestic temples, shrines, and futuristic museums, you can also partake in seasonal festivals, attend a tea ceremony while dressed in a kimono, learn to make sushi, witness a sumo battle or baseball game, and more. A bonus is that these activities will share exciting tales and teach you about Japan’s rich history and ancient philosophies!
Determining your purpose will allow you to know your trip’s direction and what you need to focus on without feeling overwhelmed. It will be a good idea to set up a group chat with your friends to discuss your travels, guest list, dates, and people’s attendance.
Step 2: Budget 💰
This is a critical step that will determine the rest of your journey. Your new best pal will be Microsoft Excel, Google Sheets, or a basic notebook with a pen. It is advisable to itemise your expenses, including aeroplane tickets, lodging, food and beverages, excursions, shopping, activities you wish to attend, transportation costs, and other associated fees. If you are vacationing in a group, discuss and clarify all estimated expenditures with your mates to ensure everyone is comfortable and on the same page about everything. Through our travel planning services, Flip can minimise the hassle of preparing for your journey abroad. We also provide a tailored Japan starter kit that includes everything you will need, such as a SIM card, tour guide brochures, and a transit card. In other words, you may calmly study for your final examinations, knowing that all is being arranged for you. 😉
Step 3: How long can you stay in Japan? 🤔
The subsequent step is to figure out the timeframe of your stay in Japan, bearing in mind your budget and objectives. Check your agenda and the flexibility of the people you will travel with, as some may only be available on long weekends or public holidays. The length of your trip in Japan will be influenced by your and your mates’ interests and the number of places you choose to visit, alongside your budget and availability.
Say you can only take a weekend trip. In such a scenario, we propose exploring one of Japan’s main cities, such as Tokyo, with numerous sightseeing options, traditional and cultural activities, superb dining, and dynamic nightlife. However, if you have the chance to visit Japan for a week, then you can check out our itinerary here. Travelling for the first time in Japan can be overwhelming and stressful to organise as everything will be new and unfamiliar. That is why we advise you to explore one city, including all its wonders and hidden gems, and the next time you visit the country, you can expand your horizons and travel to other nearby destinations. For example, you can see Tokyo on your first-time trip, and the next time, or when you have more time, you can go to Osaka and Kyoto, which have famous landmarks, culinary delights, and untapped treasures to discover.
Step 4: Figure out the best city/cities for you 🏙️ 🗼
Another consideration is which area and cities/cities better accommodate your interests and bucket-list activities. If you want a location with great entertainment and exciting nightlife, megacities like Tokyo and Osaka are the best bet. If, on the other hand, you want to have a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas but still have access to a diverse range of sightseeing and cultural activities, you should consider visiting cities in Japan’s countryside or historic towns such as Kyoto.
However, as you might have already guessed, the options don’t stop there. If you travel to the north of Japan in Hokkaido, you will be in a winter wonderland, perfect for winter sports and ski resorts, not to mention a grand snow festival held every year in wintertime with fabulous street food and hot beverages.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you want to get some Vitamin D and catch a tan, head to one of Japan’s southern islands, such as Okinawa. Imagine soaking in warm, clear blue waters on coastal beaches, sipping on a pina colada; what more could you ask for? There are also plenty of marine adventures to experiment with, such as scuba diving or white water rafting.
Likewise, Yokohama is a train ride away from Tokyo if you want to enjoy port cities. It offers scenic views with its lush green park, a giant cup-noodle museum offering you the chance to create your own noodle product, a world-famous Chinatown with mouth-watering street food, and typical restaurants, not to mention cute shopping districts with artsy photo spots for the feed. As the sun goes down, the city is illuminated by fairy lights. Its giant Ferris wheel is surrounded by a lively and colourful theme park, promising you a cheerful moonlit adventure.
If you want a combination of big cities and countryside retreats, getting a J.R. Pass might be worthwhile, allowing you to save on your travels from city to city. If you need further information and are interested in purchasing this pass, Flip can have it all organised for you, ensuring you a stress-free journey.
Step 5: Activities and places to be visited 🗺️
One of the most critical aspects of planning a trip is establishing what you will do and where you will visit. To that, you probably thought, “you don’t say.” But this is just as important as the previous steps.
Remember that your plans may change once you reach Japan, depending on weather conditions and jet lag, among other factors. For example, you might want to postpone your adventures in Universal Studios Osaka if the day you planned to go forecasts heavy rain all day ☔🤧
When most people think of Japan, temples and shrines usually spring to mind, but the country has so much more to offer. Aside from seeing the city’s most “touristy” attractions, you may also choose to engage in entertaining activities that most locals love, including singing your lungs out at karaoke or uncovering hidden gems in your neighbourhood’s back alleyways. Equally worthwhile, Japan’s natural beauty deserves a standing ovation. Several cultural traditions are intertwined with seasonal celebrations, such as “hanami,” in which people gather around cherry blossom trees for a picnic. If you fancy hiking and exploring the great outdoors, Japan will not disappoint you with its vast mountains, stunning landscapes, hiking trails surrounded by nature, and other wilderness adventures.
Residing at traditional Japanese hotels, or “ryokans,” is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. Some hotels feature hot spring baths on-site and commonly provide authentic Japanese set meals with rich and aromatic ingredients. In matters of nightlife, our weekly excursions will show you to local favourite bars and bustling clubs that you might not have discovered on your own. We will handle all the planning and research, including making reservations and ensuring that you and your mates receive a complimentary drink or shot of your choice at the first pit stop of the night!
The fun does not end there. Introducing the world’s first personalised chatbot tour guide, Flip offers an innovative and entertaining way for you to explore Tokyo city in a game-like format. Within 2 minutes, you can get your ticket directly inside Facebook Messenger. After acquiring your ticket, chat with your virtual tour guide; choose your path and let your chatbot know what you want throughout the tour, and enjoy your adventure! You can find all you need to know about the following themes and available tours here.
Step 6: Logistics ⚙️
As the last step, it is time to conclude everything and focus on ✨logistics✨
There are numerous activities you can do in Japan, as previously discussed; it will all depend on the purpose of your trip and your preferences.
When it comes to lodging, Japan provides a wide range of choices. Stay in a “ryokan” for a traditional and authentic experience. Every city will have a one-of-a-kind Japanese hotel waiting for you, and we can assist you in making bookings, as many will only speak the native language. To save on accommodation costs, look into hostels or capsule hotels in your chosen location. Booking an Airbnb is also an excellent alternative for people of different budgets and tastes. There are several unique B&Bs with distinctive atmospheres and architecture. Finally, if you want to pamper yourself, cities like Tokyo have fantastic luxury hotels providing world-class service and superb dining options.
Right, now that accommodation is out of the way, you might wonder, what on earth am I supposed to pack for Japan? The short answer is: that it depends on what season you plan to come to and what region you will visit. Suppose you plan to go during summertime, don’t. Just kidding, despite the scorching heat, monsoon rains, and constant humidity, summer in Japan has its perks and seasonal treasures, including its annual traditional festivals and celebrations with fun games and street food, entertaining events, as well as gorgeous nature and scenic views throughout the country. The key is to dress light and wear flowy, airy, and comfortable clothes.
In autumn, the weather is brilliant; with a cool breeze and sunlight, you will be mesmerised by the changing leaves, cascading in red, orange, and yellow tones to the ground. For this season, pack both short and long sleeve shirts and blouses, sneakers, pants, and light jackets. As winter approaches, you will need much warmer clothes and layers, including heavy coats and scarves, especially if you plan to visit northern Japan or stay at a ski resort. Lastly, springtime in Japan has fantastic weather, which is not too cold or warm. You will get by with long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, or T-shirts with a jacket or cardigan over them. For a more detailed clothes itinerary, feel free to reach out to us at Flip; we consider all of these details in our travel services.
One of the must-have items, when you arrive in Japan, is a transportation card. That will allow you to easily travel from place to place just like a local. Visitors tend to have either a Pasmo card or a Suica card, which you can buy at any big station in Tokyo or upon arrival at the airport. For certain countries, topped-up transportation cards can be delivered to your home before travelling for an extra fee.
Just like transportation cards, you can order your SIM card from companies such as Mobil before arriving in Japan and pick it up at the airport upon arrival. Alternatively, you can have it delivered to your place before your trip. The rates and expenses differ from company to company, so do a little investigation before picking your commuter pass.
Lastly, there is always a lot of confusion about the J.R. Pass. Is it worth it to get one? The answer is that it depends; if you plan to explore different cities in a couple of weeks, the J.R. Pass might be worthwhile. However, if you stay in a town for the entire trip, it would not be a fitting choice.
Having covered all the essentials, if you have any other questions or wish to book one of our services or tours, try out our games, or get a Japan starter pack, feel free to reach out to us on any of our social media platforms, and we will be happy to help!
See you soon in Japan! 🇯🇵