Traveling solo is an incredibly liberating experience that allows you to explore the world at your own pace and in your own unique way. Not only does it alleviate any potential for clashes in travel plans between you and fellow travelers, but it’s an experience that allows you to step outside of your comfort zone as fight or flight kicks in. Whilst most of Southeast Asia is well-trodden by the soles of feet and solo travelers seem to take it in their stride, Japan remains a mystery to many. It’s time to do some mythbusting, because solo in travel in Japan is easier than you think.
Things Are Simple There
From the impeccable timing of the Shinkansen to the option of buying a tie from a vending machine should you leave the house in the morning to realise your neck is bare, everything in Tokyo is well considered and serves a purpose. Thankfully, this thoughtfulness extends to the common tourist too, starting with getting around. Once you’ve arrived at the airport and got to grips with your surroundings, purchase and load up a PASMO card. Designed exclusively for foreign visitors, it will cover Tokyo’s dense rail, bus and train network for the duration of your trip. You’ll also find red ‘you are here’ dots outside every station for your convenience, plus signage will be written in both Japanese and English, massively slashing your odds of getting lost. What could be easier?
Room for One?
If you’re looking to indulge on your journey of discovery, Japan’s capital is the place to do it. Some of the best hotels in Tokyo overlook landmarks like Tokyo Tower and The Imperial Palace Gardens, offering concierge services and packages expertly pieced together by the hotels themselves. More importantly, whether you’re a party of ten or a single nomad, there are generally no restrictions in place to penalize the solo traveler. And for those of you who are looking to keep things low key, the capsule hotels of Tokyo have taken convenience to a whole new level, with carefully located pods that really were designed for the savvy solo guest.
Image source: Palace Hotel Tokyo
You’re in Good Hands
Japan is one of the safest cities on the planet. If you’re a female solo traveler, fear not, as female only hotels and pink buses are on hand to offer an extra bit of reassurance. In a place where jaywalking is considered a crime and shrewdly implemented, it’s somewhat reassuring to know that this is the biggest fish they have to fry!
Table for One?
Tokyo is renowned for being busy. We’ve all seen the images of Shibuya Crossing where you can barely see the road for the sea of people. With the exception of doddering tourists, the people of Tokyo generally have somewhere they need to be. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there are dedicated places where people come to scoff their food before they’ve even sat down.
Eating alone is nothing out of the ordinary in Tokyo, in fact it’s very common. And if you’re really worried about dining alone, download an app like Backpackr, pin your location and watch the offers to meet up with other travelers for a bite to eat fly in thick and fast. Did we mention that the restaurants in Tokyo are beyond awesome? Ramen. Katsu. Teriyaki. Need I go on?
Escape the City Without Ever Leaving
Tokyo boasts the perfect balance between a rural haven and an urban metropolis. Home to handfuls of verdant parks, beautiful gardens and historic temples, you’ll find an abundance of places to escape the rush and take some time to yourself away from it all. Isn’t that why we travel solo in the first place?
There’s something for everyone
Whether you’re a manga enthusiast, a sumo wrestling aficionado or simply love sushi, Tokyo can deliver. As a city with many strings to its bow, you needn’t worry about a lack of things to do amid these bright city lights. In fact, most people who visit Tokyo usually leave with a pocket full of memories coupled with a backpack full of regrets, wishing they’d stayed just that little bit longer. For secret techies and nerds, if there was ever a place to release the geek and be your true self, it’s Tokyo – the home of anime, robots, bubble tea and electronics.
Looking for some day trip ideas outside of Tokyo? Here’s an option at Mt. Fuji and Kawaguchiko!
Ian Garstang is a travel writer and marketing specialist working in the luxury travel market. Ian is the editor at Luxury-Travels.net and has worked with such brands as GHM Hotels, Four Seasons and Aman. Ian was name Hotel Club’s ‘Bali Expert’ and nominated in the top 20 luxury travel bloggers on USA Today. Ian has written for various websites including A Luxury Travel Blog, Luxury Asia News and Travelo Café. Follow his Luxe Asia Travel News on Twitter.