Solo Travel Tips for Japan for Women 50+

by | Jun 5, 2024

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Featured image: Japan has a unique culture for women to discover| Photo by oneinchpunchphotos on Envato

Solo travel tips from women

by JourneyWoman staff

When JourneyWoman Editor Carolyn Ray shared her upcoming plans to travel to Japan our private Solo Travel Wisdom Facebook group, JourneyWoman readers responded with travel tips from their own experiences.

She wrote: ” While I love travel in all its forms, I’m particularly excited about the trip I’m taking next week to Japan, a place I have never been to but became fascinated with after our May 2023 JourneyWoman book club novel “The Kimono Tattoo” by Rebecca Copeland. This trip seems to be coming at just the right time, bringing new opportunities for learning and reflection along with a lot of physical exercise, including hiking, cycling and pilgrimage walks. Over the 12-day trip, I’ll be forest bathing, visiting ancient temples and shrines, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and sanctuaries. My trip starts and ends in Tokyo, with time in Kyoto and other areas. Curated by Wild Women Expeditions, this trip is all about the women of Japan. I’ll meet women entrepreneurs, female tea farmers, and the ‘women of the sea,’ the female free divers known as ‘ama-son’ in Osatsu-cho, who are celebrated for their pearl harvesting skills.  This will be my first time in Japan – do you have any advice on the culture or etiquette so that I can be a respectful traveller? ” 

If you have a solo travel tip to share about Japan please comment below or send it in using our tips form.  (You can do that here!) 

Tip: You can download these tips as a PDF or print them using the icons above!

30 Travel Tips to help you travel safely and well in Japan


1. Be clean, quiet and open to receiving their kindness. They are very polite. You will really enjoy it. — Shawna R.

2/ Always take your shoes off! — Brenda Mc.

3. I lived in Japan for a year, long time ago. Absolutely loved it. Don’t wear shoes inside homes (and many other places too), don’t blow your nose in public, and NEVER stick your chopsticks in your rice — it signifies death. — Mariellen W.

4. Always bow! Learn a few words. Hello & goodbye. Be polite. Bowing is continual. — Arlene P.

5. I’m told that tipping in Japan is not a thing and can even be considered an insult (except for our guide, of course!). Quite different from Egypt, Morocco and Mexico where I’ve recently travelled, and India where I spend a lot of time. I’m really looking forward to experiencing Japan. I’ve never been either and have heard so many good things and that it’s not like anywhere else in the world. — Caroline O.

food in japan

This vegetarian meal is beautifully presented in Japan / Photo credit Carolyn Ray

6. Bring some small gifts from where you live, they will love that, gift giving is a huge thing in Japan. — Christine C.

7. I don’t have any advice about culture but there are some awesome experiences I did in Tokyo you might like. One is a woman who offers a kimono making class. The other was Japanese brush painting. — Fetchin G.

8. My info is about ten years old, but at least at that time, bare shoulders were a bit immodest (short skirts were fine!). Eating in public is considered rude. Drinking (like a non-alcoholic beverage) was suspect. — Barbara M.

9. This is more a practical tip. Make sure you have spare change in the form of 100 yen and 500 yen coins. This is useful for the vending machines in case you need a cold or hot drink. And for the ticket machines at the train stations. — Michelle N.

10. I was just there and none of the private onsens were bothered by our guests who had tattoos. The restriction is to prevent the yakusa from entering the onsens. They were fine with foreign guests. — Jeni M.

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11. Make sure your iPhone is working well. It’s quite easy to get lost… not to mention the language and reading the signs…. — Mathilde M.

12. Pack it out. Don’t expect a garbage can anywhere and don’t leave your garbage from one place in another can in a bathroom or something. Take a bunch of gallon ziplocks to use as garbage bags in your backpack so you can dispose of things at your hotel at the end of the day. Japan is extremely clean for a reason. There is virtually zero crime. It is extremely safe to walk around alone. Just be careful crossing the street. Traffic can be crazy and they drive on the “wrong” side of the road. —  Emilie F.

13. Thanks for the book recommendation…and you will be fascinated by Japan. I certainly was. Would love to return and explore more. — Ursula M.

14. Take your shoes off when you enter someone’s home. If you are American, for the love of God, do not compare your country to Japan or talk about how much better things are in the US. Line up when you are waiting for the train. — Setareh J.

15. When on a public transit (train, bus, etc.) do not talk to others in a loud voice. (Or on the phone.)  And do not eat or drink.  (In long-distant trains, it’s perfectly okay to eat and drink.  It’s encouraged. But talking loud is frowned on.) — Rebecca C.

wtd japan

16. Packing tips:  For my hiking trip in Japan, I had a 25L Gregory Backpack, electrical converter, a light raincoat, comfortable Merrell hiking boots, sports bras and underwear, several pairs of Smartwool merino socks, sunglasses, sunscreen and layers. Bring one nice outfit for Kyoto/Tokyo (I always bring my Sweaty Betty black dress), a light hoodie and sneakers. I brought my own pajamas but left my jeans, robe, slippers and bathing suit at home. Kimonos and slippers will be provided. — Carolyn R.

17. Enjoy your trip to beautiful Japan. May is a good month weather wise before the heat in June. A few phrase words of greeting are always appreciated. — Beverly F.

18. I was there 6 months ago – remember to keep some toilet paper or tissues with you as some public toilets don’t provide it. — Kerrin H.

19. Don’t ask for something if you don’t really need or want it. They will go to great lengths to get you what you need so while in the US a hotel would just say we don’t have that in Japan they may do way more than you expect to get it for you. And no tipping. — Emilie F. 

20. Make sure you have an Apple Air Tag in your bags. — Kitty P.

21. Don’t get the house slippers and the bathroom slippers mixed up! — Christine Cassidy

22. Glad you’re going, love visiting Japan. Enjoy the super high quality service everywhere. The locals will bend over backwards to assist you. — Lois E.

23. I was just there in January and loved my trip! They don’t have very many trash cans, so it’s good to have a a little bag you can use for trash in your day bag. They are very orderly when getting on a train (not subway), there is a spot for each car and you find that car and get in line for it. Japanese people can be fairly reserved, but once you get to know them they’re extremely warm and gracious. — Kelly R.

24. Taxi drivers will open and close the door for you so wait before reaching to open/close the door. — Ida S.

25. I went to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nara, Kyoto & Mount Fuji. There was a temple in Kyoto that I had an incredible spiritual reaction to called Sanjusangendo temple in Eastern Kyoto. There are 1001 statues of Kannon, the goddess of mercy. If you have a chance to go there, I would be interested in your experience. It sounds like a wonderful trip that you are going on. Have fun. — Cheryl T.

26. Addresses are not always in order. Even the taxi drivers may have difficulty finding the exact destination. Have a great trip. I recorded several short podcasts on Japan travel, including Kyoto and Sapporo. You can easily visit Hiroshima solo as I did. — Mary Beth Mc.

monk walking in japan

Silence and solitute on Mount Daisen, Japan in May 2024 / Photo by Carolyn Ray

27. The biggest tip I have is don’t even TRY to tip for service. — Cathie Mc.

28. I’ve been to Japan twice, both times as a performer, not a tourist. Tokyo is so busy, but if you let go & ride with it, it’s fantastic. The Japanese culture is so polite. The fashion is fabulous! I loved the forests. I was there for 2 x 4 weeks. I loved it thoroughly. The Jaanese cooked us a lot of curry! That was a surprise!😁 Enjoy. — Monique G.

29. People are super friendly. You’ll meet at least five older men during your trip who will want your life story and will give your theirs. If you’ve been to Egypt or Jordan you’ll be waiting for them to try to sell you postcards. 🤣 But it’s just a very curious and friendly society. — Emilie F.

30. I used Wise for local purchases, and cash for tipping our guides. Bring a small change purse to hold coins for donations at temples. — Carolyn R. 

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