In the past, solo travelers in Japan were predominantly business professionals on work trips. But times have changed. Nowadays, more and more locals, especially younger generations, are embracing solo travel. This trend has given rise to a unique market catering to singles. If you’re planning your first solo trip to Japan, here are some key points to keep in mind.
Setting Your Base
If you’re new to solo travel or visiting Japan, it might be easier to stay in one place and embark on day trips or overnight excursions. While sticking to the city can be more convenient and cost-effective, venturing into the countryside offers a different set of experiences. Balancing city exploration with rural adventures is a great way to make the most of your time.
Japan has a well-deserved reputation for being a safe country. However, it’s important to remain vigilant. While the crime rate is low, it doesn’t mean you should let your guard down. Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when walking along dimly lit streets. If you wouldn’t feel comfortable doing something alone in your home country, it’s best to avoid it in Japan as well. Remember, the majority of people may be friendly and helpful, but it’s crucial to stay cautious as there are always exceptions.
Police boxes, known as “koban” in Japanese, can be found in all neighborhoods, even remote areas. These are safe places to seek assistance in case of emergencies.
For single travelers seeking affordable and no-frills options, business hotels and hostels are the way to go. These types of lodgings are readily available in most Japanese cities and provide basic sleeping arrangements. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in traditional culture and hospitality, consider staying at a ryokan. Traditionally, ryokan have not catered to solo travelers, but the trend is changing, and many now offer plans specifically designed for singles.
Dining alone in Japan is a breeze, as many establishments are well-equipped to accommodate solo diners. Restaurants have recognized the growing trend and often accept reservations for individuals. Some places, such as certain ramen-ya, even provide individual cubicles. Coffee shops and fast food joints are also popular among solo customers. If you find yourself at a restaurant or izakaya, don’t be surprised if you’re seated at the counter to free up tables for larger groups. Rest assured, both staff and fellow patrons are accustomed to solo travelers, especially in bustling cities, and won’t pay you any undue attention.
Meeting New People
Joining a day tour or staying at a hostel are excellent ways to meet like-minded travelers. Consider signing up for a tour with a local volunteer guide or engaging in a home visit to get a taste of local Japanese culture.
Keeping Your Belongings Safe
In Japan, it’s not uncommon to see people leaving their personal belongings unattended at their tables or seats, even in expensive restaurants or on train platforms. However, as a solo traveler, it’s best not to take this risk. When you need to step away momentarily, take your most important items (like your wallet and passport) with you. You can save your spot by leaving a less valuable item behind.
Exploring the Outdoors
Outdoor activities, such as hiking, are perfect for solo travelers. Whether you’re an experienced mountaineer or a novice, it’s always wise to inform someone of your hiking plans and register your itinerary before hitting the trail. Carrying a working phone is recommended in case of emergencies, and in some regions, it’s advisable to carry a bear bell for added safety. If you’re not an avid hiker or prefer guided experiences, stick to short and easy routes or join a tour.
Water sports can be enjoyed both on your own and as part of a guided tour. If you choose to swim at beaches, pay attention to the tides and water currents to ensure your safety. Guided tours may require a minimum number of participants, so be prepared to pay extra for a private excursion.
Tips for Solo Female Travelers
For first-time female solo travelers, Japan is undeniably one of the safest destinations to explore. The likelihood of experiencing harassment from locals is low. However, in remote areas or places where you stand out, some curious stares may come your way. To ensure a smooth journey, here are some tips specifically tailored for solo female travelers.
Our Solo Female Travel series offers itineraries that have been personally tested to answer common questions such as “Can a girl do this alone?” and “Is it safe to visit alone?” These destinations are slightly off the beaten path but still manageable for the average female traveler.
While Japanese youth often use fashion as a creative outlet, the general fashion in Japan leans toward the conservative side. Modesty is valued, and typical outfits are modestly cut, with covered shoulders and higher necklines even in warmer weather. Wearing longer hemlines is common, and socks or stockings are often part of the attire.
Sleeping on Public Transport
It’s not uncommon to see people sleeping on buses, trains, and even train platforms in Japan. While the risk of theft is relatively low, solo female travelers should be extra cautious. Make sure not to unwittingly draw attention with your choice of clothing and ensure the security of your belongings. Packing conservatively when it comes to your travel wardrobe is always a safe bet.
While incidents of harassment against women are generally low, there are certain areas where the proportions may be skewed. Groping (known as “chikan” in Japanese) and upskirting are unfortunately not uncommon, especially in crowded trains. In response to this issue, train companies in major cities have introduced female-only train carriages during peak hours. To minimize the risk of unwanted advances, it’s advisable to avoid traveling during rush hour as a tourist and utilize these designated carriages.
If you find yourself a victim of sexual assault or upskirting, don’t hesitate to report the crime to the police. It’s also helpful to involve fellow passengers, who can provide evidence such as photographs or videos. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department recommends the following steps:
- Say “Stop!” or “Chikan!” to the perpetrator as silence may encourage them to continue.
- If you can’t identify the culprit, move to a different spot.
- If possible, detain the offender or take note of any distinguishing features for future identification.
- Immediately report the crime to station staff or the police.
Remember, your safety and well-being should always be your top priority. By staying informed and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy a wonderful solo journey through Japan.
To learn more about traveling in Japan and book your next adventure, visit DHPL Travels.