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Planning a Japan Trip

Freak

Veteran Member
Jan 10, 2013
7,171
11,771
No man's land: SoCal
For years, I have always wanted to go to Japan. I wanted to go to check out the culture and the food there, but I'm mainly interested in the theme parks. I really want to spend at least three days at Disney, One full day at Universal, and a day at Fuji-Q highland. There were a few factors holding me back from going: Fear of language barrier, transportation, and of course money. If you follow Attractions 360 on Insta, they post their trips on their stories and they talk about how much stronger the US dollar is than the yen at the moment. Japan is shockingly cheap compared to the US dollar (At least for now).

As I'm saving up some money for my travel funds and seeing Disney open Fantasy Springs and DK, I'm strongly considering a trip either later this year or next year. Any helpful tips on traveling to and from Japan and getting around? Bear in mind, I've been to France and Italy so I have some experience traveling in foreign language countries, but even with French and Italian, you can kinda see some words that are close to the English ones, so you can kinda guess. Also like I said earlier, biggest priorities for me are Fuji-Q, Disney, and Universal.
 
Ordinary Adventures just went to Japan and some parks and Theme Park Obsession is in Japan now and release videos

Those can be good resources since they are very recent

I hope you get to go, I had a planned trip but the Pandemic happened....and now the trip has been pushed back because of Epic Universe and Universal Texas...so I think I'll finally get to Japan in 2027...hopefully lol
 
The good news is that the language barrier, at least in large cities, theme parks and transportation hubs, is not that big a deal. I did not (do not) speak a lick of Japanese but had no problem finding my way around. Many signs are in English, especially when you're navigating transit, and menus are often picture heavy. That said, download Google Translate — it will be a life saver for translating signs, menus, whatever in the event you find yourself stuck.

Airfare is going to be your biggest hurdle, but I regularly see deals out of LAX on American that are pretty good (that's why we went to Japan for our honeymoon — we got a great flight deal). We splurged on hotels and, because we have a Hilton co-branded credit card, stayed only at Hiltons during our trip. There is an argument to be made about the "authenticity" of staying at a Western hotel, but we find it quite enjoyable — most of the staff also spoke English, which was helpful.

If you will be doing a lot of rail travel on bullet trains, consider getting the JR Rail Pass. If you don't expect to do much more than go from Tokyo to Osaka and back, you're probably fine to pay as you go. The rail pass doesn't work for local transit, but if you have an iPhone you can add one of a couple different transit cards to your Apple Wallet. This is great not just for the convenience, but also because many vending machines accept transit cards as a method of payment.

We didn't go to Fuji-Q in large part because it seemed like a chore if you're not driving. I know others here can speak better to what that entails. The Disney and Universal parks are all easy to get to via public transit. Just keep in mind that, regardless of when you go, it is likely to be crowded. They really pack them in, so if waiting in lines isn't your thing you might want to consider the line-skipping options available.

Feel free to reach out if you've got any specific questions — hope you're able to go and have a great trip!
 
I might be able to help here too. My trip to Japan was last fall spending three weeks in the country dedicated almost entirely to amusement parks. I did 4.5 days at Disney, 4 days at USJ, 2 days at Fuji Q, 2 days at Nagashima Spa Land and a day at a few other parks: Tobu Zoo, Joypolis, Yomiuriland, Hirakata Park, etc.

I don't speak any Japanese but didn't really have any trouble with language at any of the parks I went to. Most (90%+) of the park workers at all of the parks I went to knew enough English to have a basic conversation of "where's the bathroom" or "I want to order that one". The other 10% you'll be more than fine with pantomiming or Google Translate. I almost entirely stuck to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka but the normal comment is that English knowledge gets worse the further you get from the big cities so YMMV.

I found transportation to be so simple in Japan. Google Maps has all of the train and bus routes available on the app and was probably the #1 reason I was able to have a successful trip. Make sure you have a data plan and Google Maps and you'll be shocked by how easy it is like I was! As far as Fuji Q goes in particular, I originally planned on a train up to Fuji. It's supposed to be super beautiful but the night before on a whim I decided to see if I needed to buy tickets. Turns out I needed to buy them months in advance and I didn't realize it. So last minute I went on Klook and booked a bus fare to Fuji. It boarded from Shinjuku Station where I was staying, had plenty of room for my luggage and was overall really simple. I took the early one and was at the park with plenty of time for me to check into the hotel and drop off my luggage before the park opened for the day. If you're able, I wholeheartedly recommend the Highland Resort and Spa. With the weak yen, it wasn't much more money than a standard Hilton or Marriot in the States and was one of the nicest hotels I've stayed at anywhere. I also had a great view of the park from my room and was able to watch the fireworks while laying in bed (I would've had amazing pictures if the whole window didn't fog up!) But if you don't want to stay, I think a bus round trip in a day would be totally possible and common.

As I'm sure you know, Fuji Queue has a reputation. I didn't think it was quite as bad as some people say but I had early entry through my hotel and was pretty liberal with buying skip the line passes. Eejainaika is as crazy as people say or maybe even crazier but if you're a SoCal person, you know what you're getting yourself into. Fujiyama was a big surprise for me, super smooth and fun with some great airtime.

I adore Japan and am planning on going back this year, hopefully to knock out a couple more parks that I wasn't able to do last year like Shima Spain, Greenland, Nasu Highland as well as revisit USJ for HHN. I know you'll have a great time!
 
I might be able to help here too. My trip to Japan was last fall spending three weeks in the country dedicated almost entirely to amusement parks. I did 4.5 days at Disney, 4 days at USJ, 2 days at Fuji Q, 2 days at Nagashima Spa Land and a day at a few other parks: Tobu Zoo, Joypolis, Yomiuriland, Hirakata Park, etc.

I don't speak any Japanese but didn't really have any trouble with language at any of the parks I went to. Most (90%+) of the park workers at all of the parks I went to knew enough English to have a basic conversation of "where's the bathroom" or "I want to order that one". The other 10% you'll be more than fine with pantomiming or Google Translate. I almost entirely stuck to Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka but the normal comment is that English knowledge gets worse the further you get from the big cities so YMMV.

I found transportation to be so simple in Japan. Google Maps has all of the train and bus routes available on the app and was probably the #1 reason I was able to have a successful trip. Make sure you have a data plan and Google Maps and you'll be shocked by how easy it is like I was! As far as Fuji Q goes in particular, I originally planned on a train up to Fuji. It's supposed to be super beautiful but the night before on a whim I decided to see if I needed to buy tickets. Turns out I needed to buy them months in advance and I didn't realize it. So last minute I went on Klook and booked a bus fare to Fuji. It boarded from Shinjuku Station where I was staying, had plenty of room for my luggage and was overall really simple. I took the early one and was at the park with plenty of time for me to check into the hotel and drop off my luggage before the park opened for the day. If you're able, I wholeheartedly recommend the Highland Resort and Spa. With the weak yen, it wasn't much more money than a standard Hilton or Marriot in the States and was one of the nicest hotels I've stayed at anywhere. I also had a great view of the park from my room and was able to watch the fireworks while laying in bed (I would've had amazing pictures if the whole window didn't fog up!) But if you don't want to stay, I think a bus round trip in a day would be totally possible and common.

As I'm sure you know, Fuji Queue has a reputation. I didn't think it was quite as bad as some people say but I had early entry through my hotel and was pretty liberal with buying skip the line passes. Eejainaika is as crazy as people say or maybe even crazier but if you're a SoCal person, you know what you're getting yourself into. Fujiyama was a big surprise for me, super smooth and fun with some great airtime.

I adore Japan and am planning on going back this year, hopefully to knock out a couple more parks that I wasn't able to do last year like Shima Spain, Greenland, Nasu Highland as well as revisit USJ for HHN. I know you'll have a great time!
Thank you for the tips! I will keep this in mind!
 
I would recommend 2025 instead of this year for USJ as it’s in a very sorry state right now with multiple E-tickets closed permanently or for refurb. Jurassic Park will come back from its major refurb in early 2025 and Backdraft’s replacement is rumored by then too. Pokémon will likely not be until 2026. If you go in 2025 you could also combine an Osaka trip with the World Expo happening then.

Fuji-Q is pretty easy to get to from Tokyo, you can either take a bus or connecting train from Shinjuku. Highly recommend checking out the onsen at the hotel at Fuji-Q (forgetting the name), it’s one of my favorite onsen in Japan.

If you’re going in summer you could also consider going to a water park, although in my experience the best water parks in Japan are nowhere close to the best in the U.S. Tokyo Summerland is the only one I’ve been to in Tokyo area, but there’s also Yomiuri Land which has a water park in the summer.
 
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google translate is your friend
take some to carry change in because they deal in cash more than they do check cards
transportation is simple
there is so much to do in Japan i would try to spend a few days in Kyoto/Nara which is pretty close to Osaka (Universal Japan)
 
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