Japan has the reputation of being one of the most expensive countries to travel around. Here is how to travel to and in Japan without spending a fortune. I traveled to Japan in early February 2013. Being winter at this time of year, the cost of flights to Japan, accommodation and transport are a lot lower due to lower demand. If you travel to Japan “out of season” (from the start of November to the end of February) you can cut you travel costs by 40% or more!
- The east coast, where Tokyo and Kyoto are located experiences mild winters. So, if you walk around Tokyo you will experience temperatures of between 8c and 12c during the day and 0c to 3c at night i.e. bearable.
- Less tourists means that tables at restaurants, entry to tourist attractions, seats on trains and buses are easily available at short notice. No need to book everything to the last detail 3 months in advance
- Everything costs less.
There are some drawbacks to traveling in Japan out of season to save money:
- Cherry blossoms are non-existent. Cities such as Kamakura and Kyoto sure would be more beautiful if the cherry blossoms were blooming. I saw some cherry blossoms in Kamakura and Tokyo… but most of the trees had no leaves and looked dead.
- Climbing Mt. Fuji. I went to Mt Fuji and was only able to reach Stage 4 as this area was the snow line. It is possible to climb Mt Fuji in winter, however, less pleasant than ascending Japan’s most iconic mountain in the spring or summer.
- Japanese fashion. Walking around the Shinjuku and Shibuya areas of Tokyo was less enjoyable because the young Japanese ladies were covered up due to the cold weather.
Therefore, depending on what you are looking for, it may be best to travel during the spring or summer. However, the winter temperatures on the east coast of Honshu (the main island of Japan where Tokyo and Kyoto are located) are mild and easily survived.
Skiing and snowboarding in Japan at winter time is also quite popular. So, these activities may make up for the drawbacks listed above.