EngDiary 0008 - Travel Planning

  1. Chats
    1. Detailed Steps
  2. Questions
  3. Novel
  4. Practice


An imaginative watercolor painting depicting a person’s mind filled with various iconic Japanese sights and elements. The scene captures a blend of traditional and modern Japan, including Mount Fuji, cherry blossoms, Tokyo’s skyscrapers, a Shinkansen (bullet train), traditional temples, and vibrant street life. The use of watercolors adds a dreamy, ethereal quality to the painting, reflecting the whimsical nature of travel planning and the anticipation of exploring diverse attractions. The elements should be arranged in a way that they seem to flow seamlessly from one to another, symbolizing the journey through Japan’s rich cultural and natural landscapes.


Webber: Good morning, Alice. I’m reaching out because I’m planning a trip to Japan and I could use some expert advice on my pre-departure preparations.

Alice: Good morning, Webber! I’m delighted to assist you. Let’s start with your itinerary. Do you have any specific cities or attractions in Japan you’re keen on visiting?

Webber: Yes, I’ve been dreaming of exploring Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hokkaido. I’m particularly interested in historical sites and the cherry blossom season.

Alice: Excellent choices! For cherry blossoms, it’s crucial to time your visit perfectly. Late March to early April is ideal for Tokyo and Kyoto, while Hokkaido’s blossoms peak around late April to early May. Have you considered how long you’ll be staying?

Webber: I’m thinking of a two-week trip. Would that be sufficient to cover these areas?

Alice: Two weeks is a manageable timeframe. You’ll want to allocate your time wisely, though, perhaps a week in Tokyo and Kyoto, and then a few days in Hokkaido. It’s also essential to consider your budget and what kind of accommodations you prefer.

Webber: Budget-wise, I’m aiming for a balance between comfort and affordability. I’d appreciate recommendations for mid-range hotels or guesthouses.

Alice: Absolutely, I can suggest several options that provide comfort and local charm without breaking the bank. Additionally, have you looked into the Japan Rail Pass for your intercity travels?

Webber: I’ve heard of it but haven’t looked into the details yet.

Alice: It’s highly recommended for tourists traveling to multiple cities in Japan. It can save you a significant amount on transportation costs. I’ll include some information on it in your travel plan.

Webber: That sounds great, Alice. What about mobile connectivity? I’ve read that staying connected is vital in Japan.

Alice: Indeed, renting a pocket Wi-Fi or purchasing a local SIM card upon arrival is the way to go. It will ensure you have internet access for navigation, translation apps, and staying in touch. I’ll make a note to include the best options in your itinerary.

Webber: Thank you, Alice. I’m also concerned about the language barrier. Should I learn some basic Japanese phrases?

Alice: Learning basic phrases can be very helpful and is highly appreciated by locals. I’ll send you a list of essential phrases and a recommendation for a user-friendly language app.

Webber: That would be fantastic. Lastly, are there any cultural norms or etiquette I should be aware of before my trip?

Alice: Japan has a rich cultural tapestry with specific etiquettes, such as bowing, removing shoes before entering certain spaces, and proper use of chopsticks. I’ll include a detailed guide on these practices in your travel documents. It’s all about showing respect and openness to their culture.

Webber: I really appreciate your comprehensive advice, Alice. It’s making me even more excited about the trip.

Alice: It’s my pleasure, Webber. I’ll compile all this information, along with some personalized tips and recommendations, into your travel plan. I’ll ensure your pre-departure preparations are as smooth as possible.

Webber: Alice, I’ve completed all the pre-departure steps we discussed. What should I be aware of when I arrive at the airport for departure to Japan?

Alice: Great to hear, Webber. At the airport, the first thing you’ll do is check in for your flight. It’s advisable to arrive at least three hours before your international flight. Look for the check-in counters for your airline, which will be displayed on the monitors at the airport entrance.

Webber: Got it. And what about my luggage?

Alice: When you check in, you’ll also drop off your checked luggage. Make sure your luggage does not exceed the airline’s weight limit to avoid extra charges. It’s also wise to have a luggage tag with your contact information.

Webber: I see. After checking in, what’s next?

Alice: Next, you’ll proceed to security screening. Have your boarding pass and passport ready for inspection. Follow the airport’s guidelines for carrying liquids, and ensure your electronics are easily accessible for scanning.

Webber: Sounds straightforward. And after security?

Alice: After security, you’ll go to passport control, where your travel documents will be checked again. Then, you can head to your departure gate. I recommend checking the airport’s information boards regularly for any updates on your flight’s gate or departure time.

Webber: Should I expect anything specific at the gate?

Alice: At the gate, just wait for the boarding announcement. They usually start boarding with passengers who need assistance and premium passengers. Make sure your boarding pass and passport are handy. It’s also a good time to ensure you have everything you need from your carry-on before boarding.

Webber: Perfect. Anything else I should be aware of?

Alice: Just stay aware of the announcements and keep an eye on the time to ensure you don’t miss your boarding call. Airports can be busy places, so staying alert is key. And of course, if you have any questions or need assistance, airport staff and information desks are there to help.

Webber: Thank you, Alice. I feel well-prepared now.

Alice: You’re welcome, Webber. Safe travels, and enjoy your trip to Japan!

Webber: Alice, once I land in Japan, what are the initial steps I should follow?

Alice: Upon landing, Webber, your first step will be to proceed to immigration. Make sure your passport and entry visa (if required) are ready. Japan may also require you to fill out a landing card, so it’s important to have that completed as well.

Webber: I understand. How about after immigration?

Alice: After clearing immigration, you’ll collect your checked luggage from the baggage claim area. The screens above the conveyor belts will indicate which belt your flight’s luggage will arrive on. If your luggage is delayed or missing, report it to the airport staff immediately.

Webber: Got it. And what follows after getting my luggage?

Alice: The next step is customs. If you have anything to declare or if you’re carrying items over the allowance, you’ll need to inform the customs officers. For most travelers, going through the ‘nothing to declare’ lane is sufficient.

Webber: Once I’m through customs, what’s the best way to get to my hotel in Tokyo?

Alice: There are several options for getting to downtown Tokyo. The most convenient are either taking a taxi, which can be quite expensive, or using public transportation. I recommend the Narita Express or the Airport Limousine Bus if you’re landing at Narita Airport. They offer comfortable rides directly to major stations and some hotels.

Webber: That sounds convenient. Should I purchase tickets in advance?

Alice: It’s not necessary to purchase tickets in advance, but doing so can sometimes save you a bit of time. There are ticket counters and vending machines available at the airport, and English assistance is usually available if you need help.

Webber: Great, I’ll keep that in mind. Anything else I should be aware of upon arrival?

Alice: Just remember, Webber, that Japan is a country that values etiquette highly. Be mindful of your manners, especially in public spaces. And don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it; people are generally very helpful to visitors.

Webber: Thank you, Alice. I appreciate all the advice. I’m looking forward to my trip with confidence now.

Alice: You’re welcome, Webber. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time in Japan. If you have any more questions during your trip, feel free to reach out.

Webber: Alice, once I’ve arrived at my hotel in Japan, what’s the standard procedure for checking in?

Alice: Upon arriving at your hotel, head straight to the reception desk. It’s customary to greet the staff with a polite “Good evening” or “Hello,” depending on the time of day. Have your reservation confirmation and passport ready for verification.

Webber: Should I prepare anything else?

Alice: Yes, it’s also common for hotels to request a credit card for any incidental charges during your stay. If you prefer not to use a credit card, some hotels might accept a cash deposit instead.

Webber: I understand. How about language barriers?

Alice: Many hotels in Japan, especially in cities and popular tourist areas, have staff who can communicate in English. It’s still a good idea to have a copy of your hotel reservation in Japanese, if possible, to facilitate smoother communication.

Webber: And if there are any issues with my reservation?

Alice: In the rare case there’s an issue with your reservation, remain calm and polite. The hotel staff are there to help you. Explain the situation clearly, and if there are any misunderstandings, you can also contact the booking service you used for additional support.

Webber: Got it. Anything else I should know about the check-in process?

Alice: After checking in, the staff will inform you about the hotel’s amenities and give you your room key. Remember to ask about the breakfast hours if it’s included in your stay, the Wi-Fi password, and how to use the room’s air conditioning and heating system, as these can sometimes be complicated.

Webber: That’s very helpful, Alice. Thank you for guiding me through this.

Alice: You’re welcome, Webber. If you have any more questions during your stay, feel free to reach out. Enjoy your time in Japan!

Detailed Steps


  • Passport and Visa: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned date of return. Determine if you need a visa to enter Japan based on your nationality and the purpose of your visit. Apply for the visa well in advance if required.
  • Flights Booking: Purchase round-trip tickets. Airlines and travel agents offer various options, and booking in advance often secures better rates.
  • Accommodations: Book your hotel or other accommodations in Japan. Consider location, price, amenities, and access to public transportation.
  • Travel Insurance: Obtain travel insurance that covers medical expenses, trip cancellations, and lost luggage.
  • Health and Safety: Check for any required or recommended vaccinations. Understand COVID-19 regulations or restrictions in place.
  • Packing: Pack according to the weather and cultural norms. Don’t forget adapters for electronic devices and any necessary medication.
  • Currency and Payments: Exchange some money into Japanese yen for initial expenses or ensure your credit/debit cards work internationally.
  • Important Documents: Keep your passport, visa, travel insurance details, flight and hotel bookings, and any medical documentation readily accessible.

At the Airport (Departure)

  • Check-in: Arrive at the airport 2-3 hours before your departure. Use the kiosks or counter to check in and drop off your luggage.
  • Security Screening: Proceed through security screening. Be prepared to remove your shoes, belt, and any metal items. Laptops and liquids have specific requirements.
  • Immigration/Customs: Complete any exit formalities if required by your home country.
  • Boarding: Head to your departure gate, and wait for boarding to begin. Ensure your carry-on items meet the airline’s size and weight restrictions.

Arrival in Japan

  • Immigration: Fill out the disembarkation card for foreigners and present your passport, visa (if applicable), and customs declaration form.
  • Customs: Declare any items as required. Japan has strict regulations on certain medications and other items.
  • Transport to Hotel: Determine the best route to your hotel, whether it’s by train, bus, taxi, or rental car. Japan’s public transportation system is highly efficient but can be complex for newcomers.

Hotel Check-In

  • Registration: Present your passport at the reception for check-in. Japanese law requires hotels to photocopy passports of foreign guests.
  • Payment: Confirm your payment method. Some places may prefer cash (in yen), while others accept credit cards.
  • Understand Amenities: Familiarize yourself with the hotel’s amenities, such as Wi-Fi access, breakfast options, and the use of any on-site facilities like laundry.
  • Local Information: Ask for maps or information about local attractions, dining options, and transportation.


  1. Visa Requirements
  • What are the visa requirements for tourists visiting Japan?
  • “Do I need a visa for a two-week vacation in Japan if I’m from the United States?”
  1. Transportation
  • How does public transportation work in Japan?
  • “What’s the best way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto?”
  1. Accommodation
  • What types of accommodation are available in Japan?
  • “Can you recommend traditional Ryokan experiences in Kyoto?”
  1. Currency and Payments
  • What is the currency in Japan, and are credit cards widely accepted?
  • “Should I exchange currency before I arrive in Japan, and can I rely on using my credit card in most places?”
  1. Language Barrier
  • Will I face language barriers in Japan?
  • “How do English speakers manage communication in Japan, and should I learn some basic Japanese phrases?”
  1. Cultural Etiquette
  • What are some important aspects of Japanese etiquette that I should be aware of?
  • “What do I need to know about Japanese dining etiquette before visiting?”
  1. Packing Essentials
  • What should I pack for a trip to Japan?
  • “Given Japan’s varied climate, what are essential items to pack for a trip in the fall?”
  1. Connectivity
  • How can I stay connected with internet and mobile services in Japan?
  • “Is it better to rent a pocket Wi-Fi or buy a local SIM card for a short-term stay in Japan?”
  1. Food and Dietary Restrictions
  • How can travelers with dietary restrictions manage in Japan?
  • “As a vegetarian, what options will I have in Japan, and how do I communicate my dietary needs?”
  1. Safety and Health
  • What are the health and safety considerations for traveling in Japan?
  • “What vaccinations do I need before going to Japan, and how safe are the cities for tourists?”


In the heart of a bustling city, Alex stood, suitcase in hand, gazing up at the towering skyscrapers that seemed to pierce the sky itself. They had dreamed of visiting Japan for years, and finally, the moment had arrived. But with excitement came a flurry of questions, each one a stepping stone on their adventure.

As Alex navigated the vibrant streets of Tokyo, the first challenge was the intricate dance of public transportation. “What’s the best way to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto?” they wondered, recalling tales of the famed Shinkansen, a bullet train that connected the country’s distant corners with the precision and efficiency of a finely tuned clock.

Finding accommodation was next on Alex’s list. They had heard about the traditional Ryokan in Kyoto, where one could experience the authentic Japanese way of living. “Can you recommend traditional Ryokan experiences in Kyoto?” they mused, eager to immerse themselves in the culture.

With a place to stay secured, attention turned to the practicalities of daily life. “Should I exchange currency before I arrive in Japan, and can I rely on using my credit card in most places?” Alex pondered. They had read about Japan’s cash-centric society but also knew that the times were changing.

As days passed, Alex’s confidence grew, but so did their curiosity about the local customs. “What do I need to know about Japanese dining etiquette before visiting?” they questioned before entering a local sushi restaurant, mindful of the cultural nuances that make each experience unique.

Exploration led to unexpected encounters and the realization that communication wasn’t just about language. “How do English speakers manage communication in Japan, and should I learn some basic Japanese phrases?” Alex considered, finding that smiles and gestures often bridged the gap between words.

Yet, the adventure wasn’t without its practical concerns. “Given Japan’s varied climate, what are essential items to pack for a trip in the fall?” Alex thought back to their packing list, grateful for the layers that shielded them from the crisp autumn air.

Technology played a pivotal role in Alex’s journey. “Is it better to rent a pocket Wi-Fi or buy a local SIM card for a short-term stay in Japan?” they deliberated, relying heavily on online maps and translation apps to guide their path.

As the trip unfolded, Alex discovered the joy of Japanese cuisine, a tapestry of flavors and textures. Yet, they remembered friends back home with dietary restrictions. “As a vegetarian, what options will I have in Japan, and how do I communicate my dietary needs?” Alex reflected, appreciating the inclusivity found in menus across the city.

With each day, Alex’s understanding of Japan deepened, transcending the initial barrage of questions that had once swirled in their mind. The journey was more than a checklist of places to visit; it was a tapestry of experiences, each thread woven from moments of curiosity, learning, and connection.

In the end, Alex realized that the heart of travel wasn’t about finding all the answers before setting out. It was about the questions we ask along the way, the ones that lead us down new paths, open our minds, and connect us with the world in ways we never imagined.


  • Before traveling to Japan, it’s essential to have a valid __________ to enter the country.

  • To experience Japan’s high-speed rail, one might purchase a __________ pass for unlimited travel.

  • Tourists often visit __________ to enjoy Japan’s traditional tea ceremonies and Zen gardens.

  • When in Tokyo, many travelers use the __________ to navigate the city efficiently.

  • Learning basic __________ phrases can greatly enhance your travel experience in Japan.

  • It’s respectful to remove your shoes before entering a __________, as is customary in Japan.

  • During the spring, people flock to Japan to witness the beautiful __________ blossoms.

  • A popular type of traditional Japanese accommodation is called a __________.

  • To get a taste of local Japanese cuisine, one should try __________, which is raw fish served with rice.

  • Before leaving Japan, it’s a good idea to exchange your remaining yen at a __________ to avoid currency loss.

  • passport

  • Japan Rail (JR)

  • Kyoto

  • Subway

  • Japanese

  • home or temple

  • cherry

  • Ryokan

  • Sushi

  • currency exchange