Essential Guide to Japan

A once-in-a-lifetime trip to Japan takes hundreds of hours of research, but The Essential Guide to Japan helps you plan the trip of your dreams in a fraction of that time.

First trip or fifth trip, we offer you...

A Solid Starting Point.

Suggested itineraries for the most popular areas in Japan, from a few days to a few weeks. Including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Himeji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, and more.

The Best Places in Japan.

Not sure what to do in Japan? We'll help you find the best places while avoiding standing in lines at the tourist traps.

The Road Less Travelled.

Get off the tourist circuit and discover some amazing places that typical tourists ignore. Build your perfect itinerary to experience a more genuine, local side to Japan - whether that be in the big cities, or some quiet spot in the country.

Cultural Tips & Tricks.

Don't know your katsu from your karaage? Your nabe from your oden? Your Ichigo Guide has everything you need to know - from location guides, transport tips, food descriptions, through to cultural notes to make your travel smooth and easy.

Authentic Experiences.

Discover fascinating, genuine experiences that most ordinary travellers don’t know. Feel confident about taking part in day-to-day experiences like bathing at an onsen or public bath.

Advice You Can Trust.

Ichigo Guide isn't a tour operator or a travel agent, and we don't take kickbacks or commissions. We've visited everywhere we recommend so you know you're getting genuine advice without the marketing hype.


What people say about us...

It’s an awesome guide and has been so helpful in that it covers much more than just the destinations itself. Even though I’ve been to Japan already, there was so much in the guide I didn’t know about. Jeff, 2019

Brilliant job. Your insight will let us plan our days so much more effectively. Very much appreciated.  Gordon & Claire, 2019


The Essential Guide to Japan includes...

Whether you want to spend a few weeks backpacking across Japan or spend a few days of luxury indulgence in Kyoto, the Essential Guide to Japan has all the information you need to plan and book your trip.

The Must See Places in Japan

The best things to do in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, and more. Plus introductions to amazing places that are easily accessible and build your perfect itinerary.

Advice for Easy Travel

Have a relaxing trip by knowing how to travel Japan. Learn how to navigate the train system. Learn the best way to access your spending money, and don't be caught short. Consider options for mobile data. Does a JR Pass actually make sense for your trip?

Understand the Culture

Land in Japan knowing the basics of polite Japanese culture. An overview of common foods, and know what to expect at different types of restaurants. How to visit a Public Bath or Onsen.

Safety and Immigration

Stay safe while you travel. Know which areas have a higher risk of crime. Learn the common medications that are illegal to take into Japan.


Frequently Asked Questions

I can’t speak Japanese - will this be a problem?

Not at all! One of the most appealing things about Japan is that it's very approachable for foreigners. In the cities, translations are available almost everywhere, including signs and menus. Most restaurants have English menus (and usually someone who speaks at least some English), and most tourist attractions and museums have English information available. Once you get outside of the main centres, there is less information in English, but people are generally very helpful - even without a shared language, you can sort most day-to-day things out with a bit of patience and politeness.

Isn't Japan expensive?

Not for a tourist! Japan is expensive to live in as living costs are high and wages are low. However, prices are not so bad for tourists. A generous, healthy lunchtime meal might cost Y1000-2000, and you can often eat quite well for Y4000-5000 a day. Admission prices to popular attractions might only be Y500 or so. Of course, there are many expensive, high scale restaurants and attractions too, but we will help you understand what to expect.

Accommodation wise, prices vary like anywhere. Backpacker hotels can start at Y2000-3000 per night, business hotels at a traditional ryokan might cost Y12000 per night for two people.

So no, for a tourist, Japan can be quite affordable.

Where does the guide cover?

The Essential Guide to Japan covers the most common places for a new visitor to Japan, plus some super interesting places a little further away.

This includes the best of Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, and a range of other places easily accessible from these areas. For the more adventurous, we also have information about hiking in the Japanese Alps near Matsumoto, and exploring Shikoku - the most rural of Japan's main islands.

Who are you?

The Essential Guide to Japan is written by Australian husband and wife team, Rachael and Jason Stirk.

We've been lucky to have some amazing trips in Japan over the last 20 years, meeting some amazing people. We have a lot of love for Japan, so we want to give something back to people who are interested in Japan, to help Japan as a whole.

Ichigo Guide is something that we started to help friends and family to explore Japan, and we're proud of our reputation of providing genuine advice without marketing spin.

Discover the very best of Japan.

Ichigo Guide shows you the very best of Japan. Avoid the tourist traps, and explore a more genuine, local side of Japan.