iStock International
ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Japan Money-Saving Tips

Carry Cash

For such a technically advanced nation, Japan is surprisingly reluctant to take credit cards. Many small restaurants, bars, and shops will only accept cash so always keep some with you.

Learn a Little Lingo

Surprisingly little English is spoken, even in the cities. Once you are out in the countryside it is even harder to communicate. Learning a few key phrases will endear you to the locals and help you find your way around.

Plastic Fantastic

Most restaurants wont carry English menus, but don’t let that put you off. In the window they’ll have incredibly realistic plastic recreations of dishes. Simply point at what you want and it will arrive.


The best night spots in Japan are hidden in basements or tucked up on the twelfth floor of anonymous buildings. Bespoke Tokyo offers city ‘safaris’ and will show you all the secret spots the city has to offer.

Don't Despair for Lost Items

The Japanese are incredibly honest, and lost items will invariably be handed in to the authorities. So whether it’s a laptop or a handbag, file a report and chances are it will be returned to you swiftly.

Watch your Rubbish

Recycling is a way of life in Japan, and throwing trash away is a complex business. You must separate burnable, non-burnable, and recyclable items. Follow the advice on the trashcans.

Japanese Cuisine

It’s so much more than sushi! From a humble bowl of noodles to a 12-course “kaiseki” feast (tiny, beautifully presented dishes largely consisting of fish, vegetables and tofu) the Japanese elevate eating to an art form. Though every region has its own speciality, you will always find juicy ramen, yakitori (skewers of grilled chicken and vegetables), nabe (stews), and shabu-shabu (wafer thin slices of beef or pork you cook yourself in boiling hot pots of water).

Please be Polite

Manners are essential to Japanese life – thankfully, no one expects western visitors to master the baffling rules of etiquette. But a few tips go a long way: learn a few pleasantries in Japanese, remove your shoes when you enter a Japanese home, and take a small gift when you visit friends.

Rail Pass

Trains may be efficient in Japan but they can be expensive. Save money by buying a rail pass before you arrive. Choose between unlimited travel within certain regions, or upgrade to an all-Japan pass.

Winters Sports

It surprises many visitors to Japan, but skiing and snowboarding here are world class. Kyushu boasts some of the best slopes in the country, especially in Niseko where the powder makes for spectacular runs.


It is fiendishly difficult to find buildings in Japan. Few streets have names, and building numbers are not consecutive. Always carry a good map and, if that fails, ask a policeman. They stand at “kobans (police boxes) on many street corners and are very helpful.

Meals on the Go

For a quick grab ’n’ go meal, department store food floors, and even convenience stores, offer inexpensive and wholesomely prepared and packaged foods.

Get the Tokyo Grutt Pass for Attraction Discounts

Purchase a Grutt pass for free admission and/or discounts at 71 Tokyo attractions, including the Tokyo National Museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum. The pass costs 2,000 yen (about $26) and is valid for two months after initial use.

Go Underground in Tokyo

Tokyo’s rail system is a marvel, with dozens of municipal subway and privately held above-ground rail lines. Some of the routes may look indirect, but the trains are timed to the minute, while traveling by taxi is both more expensive and less reliable. Save your ticket – you’ll need it to exit the train system.

Experience Spirituality

Many of Tokyo's temples and shrines are free to enter. Try to research in advance the proper etiquette for the particular location you are visiting, and note when there are festivals or other ceremonies.

Check out the View in Tokyo

Experience sweeping views of the Tokyo skyline from the 45th-floor observatory of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. Entrance is free.

Avoid Weekends in Kyoto

If possible plan your visit for during the week. Regardless of the season, accommodations are always pricier, and crowds bigger, on the weekends.

Compare Rates to Japan

Sign up for the Top 25 Newsletter
to get exclusive weekly deals

Tell Us Your Preferences

To help us understand your travel preferences, please select from the following categories

Check all that apply
Oops, something went wrong.
No Thanks