Updated: Nov 17, 2018
First of all, this is a country you must visit! The people are polite, friendly, the culture is extraordinary and the food is amazing (not to mention, dirt cheap). So, after spending two weeks in Japan we thought we would offer some information for those of you thinking of going in the future.
English is not widely spoken in Japan so we recommend downloading Google Translate to your mobile devices and downloading the translation documents which allows you to use the app without Wi-Fi. This is a free app.
You'll find Wi-Fi pretty much everywhere in the main cities of Japan. There are plenty of 7-11 stores that offer free Wi-Fi. You can also rent portable Wi-Fi from the airport.
You will want to have the name and location of your hotel translated in Japanese when ordering a taxi, this will save a lot of confusion. When travelling around on the metro, the stops are labelled in English but if you're unsure where to go, pull out your Google Translate app, ask a stranger and they will be more than happy to direct you.
JR Pass and the Shinkansen
We travelled from Osaka to Tokyo, Yokohama, Hiroshima and back to Osaka via the bullet train (Shinkansen). This was made possible by purchasing a JR pass from the Internet, which we strongly recommend. It will set you back £196 (for 7 days) but will save you a fortune in the long run. This will also cover your train journey from Hiroshima Station to Miyajimacho station and the ferry over to Itsukushima Island, if you're planning on seeing the shrine.
Once purchased, the tickets will take two to three working days to come by post, so make sure you book these well in advance before your trip. This will need to be activated at a Shinkansen station.
Places to Stay
We weren't particularly bothered about staying in fancy hotels as we were rarely in one place for more than a day or two, as long as it was clean (everywhere in Japan is clean).
As we stayed in Osaka for roughly 10 days we booked the Sakura Sky Hotel for 5 nights. Not the prettiest of hotels but it covered our needs. We had friends staying nearby in hotels that were more expensive and they didn't have the room or facilities we did such as a kitchen, wardrobe or balcony. This hotel was a bargain.
We also stayed in the Rock Star Hotel that was two minutes from the Sakura Sky Hotel. Both of these hotels are close to the high street and metro stations.
Osaka was a good place to stay, as you were able to jump on the metro and visit other cities such as Kyoto (Japan's first city) and Nara. These were about an hour away from Osaka.
When in Japan, you should try staying in a pod for a night, just to say you've done it. These work out to be dirt cheap (no more than £30 for a night). If you're staying around Tokyo, try and stay just outside central Tokyo. Akasaka is pretty decent as you're near some nightlife and only a 15 minute tube journey to Shibuya...great for shopping, food and nightlife. Try the Mario Kart tour in Shibuya.
9 Hours was the perfect place to stay for two nights...cheap, clean and modern.
Hiroshima has plenty of sights to see;
If you're ok staying in a hostel, then Evergreen Hostel is the place to pitch up. You're only 650 yards from Atomic Bomb Dome, which also is close the to Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Hiroshima Castle is about a 15-20 minute walk from the hostel too. One night cost 2000 yen...roughly £14-16.
There are plenty of shops, restaurants and bars located about 5 minutes from the hostel.
Above is some of the advice we can offer for your travels. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.