Types of Girl about the Globe – Active, Cultural, Nature, Spiritual & Wellness GatG
Where do I start with Japan? This country is amazing and there is so much to see that you may feel a bit overwhelmed planning a trip here. I spent two weeks in Japan travelling through the country and share my recommendations for places to visit for solo female travellers, where to stay and how to get around. If you’re looking at travelling to Japan alone, this article will help.
Solo Female Travel in Japan
Japan is amazing! That's why I've given it 5 out of 5 stars for being a solo female friendly destination. What I love about Japan is that you can wander around at night and it’s perfectly safe, you can jog in a park and no one looks at you and if you need help on the metro or you get lost, someone is always there to help you. There is so much to do here making it perfect for every kind of solo.
Active Solo: Japan is a fantastic destination for the active solo traveller. You can kike the Nakasendo Trail, conquer Mount Fuji at sunrise, hit the slopes in Hokkaido’s winter wonderland or cycle through the scenic landscapes of Shikoku's Shimanami Kaido.
City & Sightseeing Solo: There are so many cities to choose from here but you can’t miss the bustling streets of Tokyo's Shibuya and Shinjuku districts. Discover the culinary wonders of Osaka, or marvel at the modern architecture in Nagoya whilst embracing the fast-paced urban lifestyle while finding moments of tranquility in Japanese gardens and parks. If you only have time for a few cities, make it Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima.
Cultural Solo: From temples to tea ceremonies and geisha performances, Japan is bursting with culture. Wander through the traditional streets of Gion in Kyoto, attend a traditional kabuki performance in Tokyo, explore the historic Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture or join a pottery class in Mashiko. Make sure to take part in a traditional tea ceremony throughout the country to immerse yourself in the essence of Japanese culture.
Foodie Solo: Foodie solos will love the Japanese culinary landscape. Savour sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market, indulge in street food delights in Osaka's Dotonbori, or embark on a culinary adventure in the ramen capital of Fukuoka. Join a food tour, try a kaiseki dining experience, or master the art of sushi-making in a cooking class (it’s easier than it looks honest).
History Solo: Japan is full off temples and shrines. From Hiroshima's poignant Peace Park to Kanazawa's samurai tales, and the Edo-period charm of Takayama—Japan has so much history especially the ancient wonders of Kyoto, where you’ll find centuries-old temples and shrines.
Island Solo – If you love islands, head to the Seto Island Sea (near Hiroshima) where you’ll find nearly 3000 of them! This is where the island of Itsukushima is with the famous tori gate in the water. Head to Okinawa, known as the ’Hawaii of Japan’ with crystal-clear waters and beach bars, dive into Ishigaki’s coral wonderland or explore the underwater caves on Miyako-jima. There’s plenty of safe nightlife on the islands too.
Nature Solo: Connect with Japan's serene landscapes such as the lush forests of Yakushima, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Stroll through the magical Arashiyama Bamboo Grove in Kyoto, wander the trails of Kamikochi in the Japanese Alps, or experience the enchanting beauty of the Ouchi-juku thatched roof village.
Tech and Anime Solo: For the tech-savvy solo traveler, Japan is a paradise. Dive into the neon-lit streets of Akihabara, Tokyo's tech and anime district. Visit themed cafes, explore virtual reality arcades, and shop for the latest gadgets. Attend anime conventions or unleash your inner gamer at one of Japan's gaming centers
Wellness Solo: Japan is also known for its wellness where you can rejuvenate your mind and body with a stay in a traditional ryokan, unwind in an onsen in Hakone, or practice mindfulness in the tranquil temples of Kyoto. If it’s more of a retreat that you need, join a yoga retreat in the scenic landscapes of Okinawa or learn the art of meditation from Buddhist monks. Do expect that some onsens (another word for spa) are naked so prepared to leave your swimsuit behind.
Solo Travel in Japan
- Experiences – There are so many experiences that you can have in the country such as watching sumo wrestling or a geisha performance, making sushi, a sake tasting workshop, learning how to fight as a samurai warrior and throwing ninja stars.. You don’t have to do them all in Tokyo either as the experiences are spread through the country.
- Taxis – You don’t need to take taxis here (which are expensive). Instead, use the subway system but be prepared that you need a separate ticket for each line so if you need to change, you need to purchase a new ticket at the ticket machine near that particular line.
- Tours – Always leave enough time if you’re meeting tours and get their WhatsApp number before the day. You may get a bit lost navigating the metro.
- Spas – If you have tattoos you’re not allowed to use the spas (called onsens). Some of them are naked too!
City & Sightseeing Girl about the Globe
Starting in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Tokyo is an amazing place for solo female travellers. This city is vibrant and fun but it can be a bit overwhelming. Tokyo has several different neighbourhoods, and the metro is extensive making it easy to get around.
You have to see the Tokyo Skytree, which is a must in the city. Not only will it help you to get your bearings with its amazing 360 degree view but it’s also a lovely way to spend an evening solo. Last entry when I was here was at 8pm and I managed to see a jazz band playing on the observation deck. As you enter the Skytree you pass through lots of shops and restaurants on the way too.
A short walk away is Asakusa, home to the historic Senso-ji Temple, one of Tokyo's most famous and oldest temples. The Senso-ji Temple complex includes the iconic Kaminarimon Gate and Nakamise Shopping Street, making it a great cultural experience near the Tokyo Skytree. (It’s a great place to buy some souvenirs too!)
Another shrine is the peaceful Meiji Shrine in Shibuya, which makes a nice break from the busy Shibuya Crossing. If you're into cool fashion and quirky cafes, head to Harajuku. Ginza is perfect for luxury shopping and modern architecture, while Akihabara is a haven for electronics and anime fans.
Nature solos will enjoy Ueno Park, especially during cherry blossom season, and Hamarikyu Gardens for some tranquility. Experience the future in Odaiba, a waterfront area with entertainment and shopping, and don't forget to try fresh sushi at Tsukiji Outer Market.
In the evenings you can stroll around the city, wandering down the back lanes and finding a gem of a restaurant or another market to explore.
If you’re here at the right month, you may be lucky to watch a sumo wrestling match. Sumo wrestling is a traditional Japanese sport that dates back centuries. Wrestlers, or “rikishi,” clad in elaborate belts, compete in a sacred ring called a “dohyo.” The objective is to force the opponent out of the ring or make any part of their body, except the soles of the feet, touch the ground. There are tours where you can even see the sumos practising too.
If you can’t see the wrestling, you can become a Samurai warrior for a few hours instead, learning about the Samurai history and how to fight like a warrior. (I did this and it was amazing!)
Day Trips From Tokyo
Adventure, Island, Nature GatG
You can base yourself in Tokyo and do day trips from here to Mount Fuji or Hakone. Mount Fuji is an iconic symbol of Japan. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mount Fuji holds cultural and spiritual significance in Japanese art and literature but it is not always guaranteed to see Mount Fuji so be prepared that you may not see Japan’s most famous mountain.
The Fuji Five Lake (Fujigoko) region near Mount Fuji offers close-up views of the mountain. It's a popular spot for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, fishing, and snow sports. Lake Kawaguchiko is the most accessible and tourist-friendly among the five lakes, while the others are less developed and harder to reach by public transportation. The area features hot springs and you can take a boat cruise along the lake to enjoy the peace on the lake.
Make sure to see Hakone, a really unique area with an active volcano and hot springs. It’s also a place where you can try black ice-cream (warning as it makes your teeth go black!) You can take a cablecar along the Hakone Ropeway or learn more about the volcanic activity in the small museum.
There's also an amazing island that you can visit which is attached to the mainland. Enoshima Island is home to the 2nd largest Buddha in Japan. There is a beautiful Hochiman shrine temple on the island as well as the Haisai temple. Make sure to walk to the Iwaya Caves (about a 30 minute walk) to see Japan's mythology by candlelight.
Kyoto is the place to come for culture. This city is smaller than Tokyo and easier to travel around but it does attract the tourists so be prepared for it to be busy.
The biggest attraction here has to be the Fushimi Inari Shrine, known for its beautiful torii gates that you wander through. You can explore the site on your own or join a tour with a guide to explain its history. It’s also a great place to try the Wagu beef as there are many sellers in the entrance of the temple. (I bought mine on a skewer for £5!)
Another cool spot is the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, a peaceful forest with tall bamboo. This area is gorgeous and you could spend hours walking along the forest trails, or taking a rickshaw ride between the bamboo. Make sure to try a matcha ice-cream here too! You can take a train here and just walk 20 minutes to the forest following the crowd if you get lost.
Aside from the sightseeing, there are many cultural experiences to be had here too. You can dress up like a ninja and throw a ninja star, learning more about these farmers by day that turned into spies at night. Learn about the Samauri history at the Samurai Museum.
Or watch a traditional Kabuki show at the Minami-za Theatre. This historic venue is the primary kabuki theater in Kyoto and has a rich history dating back to the 17th century. Kabuki is a traditional Japanese performing art known for its elaborate costumes, colorful makeup, and stylized drama. Minami-za offers visitors the opportunity to experience this classical form of entertainment in a setting that reflects Kyoto's cultural heritage.
Kyoto’s other attraction is the Geisha history. You can take a night tour to explore the historic area of Gion with its traditional houses and teahouses and learn more about the geisha. Keep your eyes open to spot one too! I didn’t see one on my tour but it was a fantastic way to meet others and explore the vibrant backstreets and temples of Kyoto at night.
And then there’s the traditional tea ceremonies or check out Kinkaku-ji, the Golden Pavilion, for a cultural experience.
If you love food, Nishiki Market is a must-visit. Taste delicious treats like matcha-flavored snacks and fresh seafood. Take a stroll along the Philosopher's Path, a pretty canal walk, especially during cherry blossom season or explore the temples and gardens of Kiyomizu-dera and Ryoan-ji, offering a peaceful break from the many tourists that Kyoto attracts.
Osaka – Party & Food & Drink GatG
Osaka is such a lovely city. It’s walkable and there’s a beautiful castle to visit. The city is known for its cuisine and one of the busiest and most vibrant areas in Osaka is Dotonbori. This area is amazing and a complete overload on the senses with its dazzling lights and crowds of people. It’s famous for its iconic Glico Running Man sign, delicious street food and lively nightlife scene. If you don’t want to explore Dotonbori alone, you can join a food tasting and bar hopping tour to dine and drink in the company of others. (I did this tour and loved it!)
Make sure to visit Osaka Castle with its impressive architecture and beautiful gardens. Built in the 16th century, the castle offers a glimpse into Japan's rich history. Next to the castle is a museum with exhibits on Samurai culture and a nice coffee shop too. And if you’re lucky you may catch the locals practising Kendo on the grounds too.
Not far from Osaka is the city of Nara. If you’ve heard of the city with the deer, it’s here. Nara Park is the place where you can interact with the freely-roaming deer who are considered sacred messengers of the gods. The centerpiece is Todai-ji, a colossal wooden temple housing a giant Buddha statue. You can also find the Kasuga-taisha Shrine, a Shinto shrine famous for its bronze lanterns.
In Nara itself, you can wander through the picturesque streets of Naramachi, admiring the traditional machiya houses that preserve Nara’s rich heritage. Nara is a nice place to visit if you want to see Japan's history and how it connects with nature.
Naoshima, a small island in Japan, is a cool place for art and nature lovers. It mixes modern art with nature, making it unique. The Benesse Art Site has a museum and outdoor sculptures that fit well with the island's calm beauty. In Naoshima, traditional houses become art as part of the Art House Project, giving the streets a special feeling. As you wander around, you'll find surprising art everywhere, making a cool connection between modern creativity and the island's peaceful vibes. If you like art and nature, Naoshima is a good destination to add to your Japan itinerary.
Is Hiroshima worth visiting? A definite yes! If there is one place in Japan that will move you to tears it’s Hiroshima. Known for the devastating atomic bomb that hit the city in 1945, this city is an important place in the world’s history.
You can visit the Atomic Bomb Dome (the only structure that survived the bomb blast), Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Peace Memorial, witnessing the powerful reminder of resilience after the atomic bombing. The museum shares stories and items of the victims so take some tissues with you and prepare to be moved by the stories that you read especially the one about Saduo.
Hiroshima is a mountainous city and you can get a great view of the city from Futaba Mountain where you can do a tour and have a tea ceremony. Stroll through Shukkeien Garden, a serene oasis with cherry blossoms in spring and explore Hiroshima Castle, a symbol of the city's reconstruction.
But there is more to Hiroshima than its sombre history. The city is also a gateway to the Seto Inland Sea with more than 700 islands. One of the islands that you simply have to visit is Miyajima Island. It’s one of the most beautiful spots in Japan. This famous island is home to the iconic “floating” Torii Gate and 700 friendly deer that roam around. I visited in September when there was low tide but the Torii gate was still spectacular. The island is less than 30 minutes ferry ride away from Hiroshima.
Ocean & History GatG
Best Places To Stay in Japan For Solos
There any many choices in Japan for places to stay but the accommodation isn’t cheap. Japan is known for its capsule hostels which are small pods in one big room with a shared bathroom and common room. If you’re adventurous enough to try one, they will definitely save you money on accommodation.
There are traditional inns called ryokans, where you can experience Japanese culture. Hotels come in all types, from budget-friendly to fancy ones in big cities. But be prepared that even the hotel rooms here are small.
Minshuku is like a cozy home you can stay in, especially in the countryside. Hostels are for budget solos who don't mind sharing a room. Guesthouses are relaxed places to stay. And if you want luxury, there are high-end resorts and inns with top-notch service in beautiful spots.
I stayed in the following accommodation and recommend them for solo female travellers. For all other Japan accommodation click here.
- Tokyo – L Stay & grow Monami Sunamachi. * Check rates and availability
- Tokyo – Lightning Hotel * Check rates and availability
- Kyoto – Urban Hotel Kyoto-Shijo Premium Fitness & Spa * Check rates and availability
- Osaka – Hotel Cargo Shinsaibashi * Check rates and availability
- Hiroshima – WeBase Hiroshima * Check rates and availability
When To Go To Japan
Spring (March to May) is one of the most popular times to visit Japan. This is the cherry blossoms (sakura) season, when the country is blooming with beautiful pink and white flowers. The weather is generally mild, and the temperatures are pleasant.
Summer in Japan (June to August) can be hot and humid, with temperatures often exceeding 30°C (86°F). This is also the rainy season, known as tsuyu or the plum rain, especially in June and July. However, summer is a good time for beach activities and festivals.
Autumn (September to November) is another popular time to visit. The weather is cooler, and the fall foliage (koyo) is stunning, with vibrant red and orange colors. September is also typhoon season, so be aware of potential weather disruptions. I visited during October and Kyoto was still busy.
Winter in Japan (December to February) can be cold, especially in the northern regions. However, it's an excellent time for winter sports in places like Hokkaido. Tokyo and Kyoto experience milder winters. Winter illuminations, hot springs, and seasonal foods make it a unique time to visit.
Below is a weather chart for the annual temperature in Tokyo to help you plan your trip.
Getting Around Japan
You don’t need to take taxis here (which are expensive). Instead, use the subway system but be prepared that you need a separate ticket for each line so if you need to change, you need to purchase a new ticket at the ticket machine near that particular line.
If you do need to take a taxi, you can use Uber or the Grab app. Taxi apps make it easier as many people in Japan can’t speak English. Plus, the payment comes directly off your card too.
You can’t travel to Japan and not experience a bullet train and the train is the best way to get around the country. It can be a bit confusing with the different train companies so check Rome2Rio for each trip that you want to do. You can buy tickets in the train stations too but I recommend booking online if you’re travelling at a busy time and need a specific day and time.
The train stations have a shop where you can buy food and drink to take onto the train. A buffet cart does come round when you’re on the train so you can buy snacks and drinks on the train.
Do you need a JAL Train Pass? No. Work out which trains you’ll need and then add up the cost. My trains were cheaper than a train pass so I just booked separate routes.
Travel Insurance in Japan
Do I need travel insurance for Japan? Yes! Japan is an amazing country to visit but it is always recommended to take out travel insurance for your trip especially if you are planning to hike or do activities when you’re there. I always make sure that I have medical cover just in case I need medical treatment when I'm away.
True Traveller and World Nomads are two insurance companies which cover travel to Japan. True Traveller is available to UK and European residents, and World Nomads is available to over 100 countries worldwide, including the USA and UK. For digital nomads, Safety Wing is a nomad insurance that covers people from all over the world.
All companies allow you to buy insurance when you are already on the road and offer different plans depending on your needs including additional adventure cover.
N.b. World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, I receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. I do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
- Can I drink the water? Yes, the tap water is safe to drink but you may prefer to take a water filter with you.
- Is tipping expected? No, tipping is not expected in Japan
- Fixed price or barter? It's generally fixed price.
- Any ATMs? Yes, especially in the 7/11's and other supermarkets.
- Which side of the road do they drive? Surprisingly they drive on the left-hand side.
- Good for vegetarians? Yes! There are lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
- Any Seven Wonders of the World? No but they do have their very own seven wonders.
Plan a Trip to Japan
Current time in Tokyo
Capital – Tokyo
Population – 125.7 million
Language spoken – Japanese. Not many people speak English do be prepared to use Google Translate.
Local Currency – Japanese Yen
Do I need a visa? No, for British Citizens you can stay for up to 90 days
The Best Time To Go – Best time to visit Tokyo is in May