Japan is the DREAM for many curious travelers. Manga, anime, sushi, cherry blossoms, Nintendo, Toyota, hot spring pools, Buddhist temples; the thought of these lit a fire in me! But with no one willing to tag along for the ride, I had to start planning a Japan solo travel trip.

There’s nothing like relaxing in hot spring pools, listening to Japanese patrons, eating real Japanese sushi under Tokyo Tower. And believe me, visiting Japan is even better solo.

You can take your time. You’ll get to know the locals and test your language skills. Japan is also extremely friendly and safe.

It’s perfect for lone wolf adventures through her many islands. You can experience it all by taking in the beauty of her rural landscapes or venturing into her busy cities at the forefront of high tech.

With all the excitement of traveling to Japan, I’m here to jump-start this new endeavor as you plan this journey to experience the beauty of Nihon and Nippon for yourself. So, let’s start with how to make the most of your solo traveling in Japan, the best places to stay, where to go, and how to survive in this unique country.

Mashou!

Girl posing for photo in front of Japan's tallest waterfall, Kegon Falls.
Welcome to Japan!
Photo: @audyscala

7 Things to Do in Japan When Traveling Solo

Backpacking Japan is EPIC. Can’t find a buddy to go with? Go alone!

I’m here to show you that traveling solo in Japan is a breeze. However, there are seven things that you should consider when traveling around the country. These can be things to do alone, taking full advantage of your solo experience, or activities you could do with your new travel friends. 

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    Hangout in Hostels

    One of the best solo travel tips is to stay in one of the amazing hostels in Japan!

    You can meet fellow travelers while staying in a great place on a reasonable budget. You can save money and rely only on your bedroom to sleep, with the option to socialize with others in shared lunging areas or use those extra funds to see more of Japan.  Hostels also have various accommodation options, so even a solo female traveler is well cared for.  

    A group of friends smiles for a picture while in a hostel in Nagano, Japan.
    Hostel buddies <3
    Photo: @audyscala

    Take a Group Tour

    Even if you ride solo in Japan, taking a group tour is a great way to break up the experience and keep yourself sane with socializing. Sometimes it’s nice to relax and let a tour guide take you to some unique attractions as you lay back and have a yarn with a fellow traveler. 

    I loved the bus tour of Tokyo because I could sit and chat to all my new buddies while escaping the rain.

    Stay as a Home Stay With a Japanese Family

    If you want to test your Japanese and get a taste of traditional life in Japan, the best way to do this is to organize a homestay with a Japanese family.  Despite it being more common for younger adults and teenagers, there is no age limit for homestays. There are many brilliant companies like Go! Go! Nihon that makes it easy. 

    Spend a Relaxing Day at an Onsen Hot Pool

    One of Japan’s most famous past times is relaxing in an Onsen Hot pool, and considering this is often a solo experience, it is one of the best ways to relax on holiday. There are many places in Japan that host hot pools. However, the most famous is Kurokawa Onsen, found in Minamioguni.

    Onsen (Hot Spring) Experience
    Photo: Sergey Vladimirov (Flickr)

    Have a Quiet Trip to a Traditional Japanese Shrine

    Wherever you find yourself in Japan, you are likely to encounter a traditional Japanese shrine, and what better way to learn about the cultural heritage of its people and spend some quiet alone time than a trip to these places! In Tokyo, a popular shrine is Ise Jingu, a beautiful 4th-century BC shrine dedicated to public happiness. 

    Relax With a Traditional Tea Ceremony

    Experience the ancient tradition of ‘way of the tea’ as you taste one of Japan’s most sacred ceremonies. This quiet Japan solo travel experience allows you to witness first-hand the ceremony and the delicious taste of tea. Kyoto and Uji have various places for tourists to experience this tea ceremony. 

    Attend a Japanese Language Class

    If your language skills could do a little more work, attending a Japanese language class is a great solo adventure in Japan. You can meet others trying to learn the craft and practice at your own pace, then test what you’ve learned in your solo ventures around Japan.

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    audy on top of a mountain in japan with the osprey aether

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    5 Best Solo Destinations in Japan

    Japan is like nothing else. But why? It’s a place I found where you’ll find something magical, futuristic, and unexpected around every corner.

    The people and their culture will make you understand why Japan is a special place to so many people (including ourselves). I have hand-picked five of the best solo destinations in Japan to ensure you still have a brilliant time on holiday without feeling like you are missing out on a complete experience—and to make the most of riding alone.  

    Tokyo

    Staying in Tokyo is the best option for solo travelers in Japan because, as you may already know, it is the capital city. Here you will find an ultramodern megacity intermixed with traditional Japanese cultural heritage, world-class hospitality, attractions, and public transport. I also love that it’s super visitor-friendly and safe for solo travel. 

    I can guarantee it’s a breeze to get around, but that is not all! It is the place to be to see the famous Japanese tech industry, be served by a robot waitress in a mall, or gaze at the headquarters of the big tech and gaming giants.

    However, to experience a slice of their older attractions, I recommend the many Buddhist temples, such as Senso-ji. Oh, and you cannot beat the high city views from Tokyo Tower and Mount Fuji. 

    Girl poses for a photo in the busy streets of Tokyo, Japan.
    Tokyoooooo!
    Photo: @audyscala

    When staying in Tokyo, one of the best hostels for Japan solo travel I found was the Tokyo Guesthouse Oji music lounge. Not only was this two-star hostel easy on my budget, but it was also perfect for meeting fellow travelers while playing the lone wolf. 

    Kyoto

    Heading to the former capital of Japan, Kyoto is another brilliant place for solo travelers to experience Japan. I can tell you that its famous Buddhist temples, Shinto shrines, palaces, and gardens help the city live up to its UNESCO World Heritage Site, without a doubt! My must-see attractions for visitors include Kyoto Imperial Palace, Kiyomizu-Dera, and Kyoto Tower (you can compare notes with a visit to its Tokyo sister).  

    Another reason why I adore Kyoto so much is its entirely visitor-friendly, with excellent public transport and friendly locals who are happy and willing to interact with a mixture of miming and simple Japanese. All these things make it an easy solo traveling experience. 

    Girl holds samurai sword during a class in Kyoto, Japan.
    I had some awesome experiences in Kyoto!
    Photo: @audyscala

    So where should you stay in Kyoto? You will be ecstatic to learn they have MANY solo travel-friendly hostels where you can relax.

    The Kyoto Hana Hostel is my top pick; this hotel isn’t just a budget-friendly choice, with a five-minute walk from Kyoto Station Central. I love the opportunities to meet others in their range of shared bunk rooms, with the option for female-only! They even have a Japanese sleeping experience if you pick a private room with a shared bathroom.

    Osaka

    Visiting Japan’s second-largest city Osaka, you will find a wonderful Japan solo travel experience that is hard to beat! All the while being treated to an affordable travel experience with excellent public transport and an endless list of things to do and see! 

    During my visit, I adored learning about Osaka’s origins dating back to the 3rd Century AD and how it quickly established itself as a significant port. Today this old-timer still holds a strong sense of modernity. However, it isn’t all about its industry when you come here.

    Osaka offers SOOO many things for solo travelers, including its mouth-watering food and the iconic Osaka Castle. I particularly recommend a stop by the Osaka Museum of Natural History, its numerous parks, and Buddhist temples. 

    Osaka Castle Japan

    When you stay in Osaka as a solo traveler, I can rest your worries with their range of hostels waiting to welcome you to this iconic city. Notably, The Stay hostel is my favorite, as a great budget-friendly choice, all while being treated to shared bunkrooms, a rooftop terrace, a shared kitchen, and dining and lounging areas. 

    Hakone

    My favorite place to go on a solo mission through the rural parts of Japan is Hakone.

    The best thing about this place is, of course, it’s… HOT SPRINGS! This little 1892 village may have this as its main tourist drive, but it’s certainly not the only thing. You will adore its location in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park just west of Tokyo with gorgeous lakes and mountain forests. 

    It is a perfect solo destination! You can make the most of its tranquility, take a solitary walk, and relax in the hot springs at the end of a sweaty hike. Adding to this, it’s just a short stop outside of Tokyo.

    In my mind, it makes it even better as you could take a day out of city life to taste rural Japan. So if you take the dive to Hakone you need to check out Lake Ashinoko, Hakone Shrine, the Botanical Garden, and of course, Hakone Onsen (the to-die-for hot spring). 

    Fuji Hakone Izu Park Japan
    Fuji-Hakone-Izu is a photographers dream…

    If you decide to stay in Hakone, I recommend the Guest House Azito is in the heart of the town. Here you can choose several sizes of shared dormitories, traditional Japanese beds, and even a little apartment for those wanting that complete Japan solo traveling experience.  

    Hokkaido

    Hokkaido is a real treat for solo travelers in Japan. This isn’t just because it’s the second largest, most northern island of the Japanese archipelago; it’s a poorly kept secret that we tourists are taking advantage of every year come winter!

    Why is it so desirable? All solo travelers can admire this wild haven for nature lovers and ski enthusiasts with over seven national parks and numerous ski fields.

    In my opinion, the best place to see it all is the largest national park Daisetsuzan. Here, you will be gifted with stunning views at their peak season in Autumn. In Daisteuzan, you MUST visit Mount Niseko (the largest mountain), with its brilliant views as you venture out into the untouched wild landscapes.

    Tallest mountain in Hokkaido located in the Daisetsuzan
    Just look at it!

    Although say you want something more ‘chill’? For those wanting a slice of busy city living, I recommend visiting the largest city in Hokkaido, Sapporo. Not only is this a great place to make your base while exploring the island’s wonders, but it also has many fun things to do inside its walls.

    Sapporo is a mountainous city famous for its beer, skiing, and the annual Sapporo Snow Festival, so to say there is a lot to do here would be an UNDERSTATEMENT. Learn about the rich brewing history or dive deeper into the snowy attractions that make the region so famous.

    During a stay in Hokkaido one of the best hostels to stay when traveling solo is Ten to Ten, found Sapporo. They have shared bunk rooms with an option to pick female-only or private rooms, so this is appreciated! They also have a laidback and friendly attitude which is perfect for a solo traveler in Japan which makes it a highlight of a trip to Hokkaido.   

    The Best Travel Apps for Solo Travel in Japan

    Having the right travel apps on hand when traveling solo in Japan will make the whole experience a blast. But what are the best travel apps for going solo?

    • Japan Official Travel App. The perfect tool on hand to give you a must-see travel inspiration. 
    • Jorudan. The official Japan travel app for getting around Japan.
    • Hostelworld. The best place for finding hotels at a moment’s notice. 
    • Japan Wireless. A place to get pocket Wi-Fi or a mobile SIM. 
    • Couchsurfing. Find a couch to sleep on for a cheap way of travel.
    • Dating Apps. Apps like Tinder, Grindr, and Bumble allow you to make friends and date while traveling. 
    • Holafly. An e-SIM application that allows you to download a data-only SIM card without installing a physical card.

    If meeting like-minded travellers is your goal, check out the current popular Facebook groups for travelers in Japan. Or, just do it the old-fashioned way and head to a hostel bar and introduce yourself!

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    Safety Tips for Solo Travelers in Japan

    When traveling anyway, it’s important to know how to travel safely. Being solo in Japan is no exception, although it is known that this country is a very safe place to visit with a low crime rate. Travelers shouldn’t get complacent.

    I want to share several tips to ensure that your dream trip doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Let’s go.

    • When traveling solo in Japan, don’t travel alone at night; if you must, keep to well-lit and populated areas. This is particularly true if you don’t know where you are or are unfamiliar with the area.

    • Japan still has its handful of bag snatchers, so keep your bags tightly closed and buttoned up, and never let it out of your sight! The same goes for cash; make sure you don’t keep it all on your person at any one time and keep it locked up securely at your hostel or hotel.

    • Speaking of cash, it’s also a great idea to have cash on you in case your phone breaks, your card stops working, or you find a shop that only accepts money. 

    • Female solo travelers in Japan can opt to stay in hostels with female-only dorm rooms or pay a little extra for a private room if they feel unsafe being in shared spaces. However, don’t let these worries ruin the experience of staying in a hostel.

    Solo female hitchhiker takes selfie as she waits for a ride in Japan.
    Japan’s so safe I was hitchhiking!
    Photo: @audyscala

    • The public performers of the geisha and maiko don’t like their photos being taken, so don’t even ask for a selfie! Also, as extra respect for their culture, don’t misuse your chopsticks and try to learn the art before you go. Plus, learning Japanese will make the locals love you!

    • When you go out, watch your drinks and don’t accept food or drinks from strangers. 

    The final Japan solo travel tip I can offer is much more general…. Make sure you assign a safety person back home that you tell them where you are going regularly, so if something were to go wrong, they could ring alarm bells.

    Tips for Solo Traveling in Japan

    solo traveler japan
    • Get an IC card ASAP. You will quickly find (as have I) our golden ticket to galavanting around
    • Japan’s public transport with this prepaid card!
    • Buy Yourself a SIM (I particularly love the air sim) or something less finicky like a portable pocket Wi-Fi. I believe that a SIM or portable Wi-Fi is a must when traveling solo in Japan. TRUST ME! You will save a lot on roaming fees and never get lost. 
    • Get a JR rail pass. I found this pass was a lifesaver. It allows you to see ALOT of cities by train, all for one fee, that will take you all over Japan.
    • Polish up your Japanese. Knowing basic phrases in Japanese is a must. I can assure you making the effort to talk with locals in their mother lounge will go a long way!
    • Don’t let someone else plan your trip. I find the most fun you have when traveling is when you forge your own path. It allows you to make the most of your solo trip to Japan and see it all!
    • Become the lion of your own adventure. Don’t be afraid to get a little crazy and throw aside those set plans if something even more enticing rears its head from behind the tall grass!
    • Crime may not prowl in Japan as much as in other places, but… Be aware of what is around you, and don’t do anything too crazy!
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    How to Meet People when Solo Traveling in Japan

    Meeting like-minded people is one of the best things about solo travel. Here are some of my favourite ways to meet others on the road.

    Group trekking mountain in nagano japan
    • Keep your eyes peeled for events. I find events a great way to meet people even if solo traveling Japan. You never know what might be going down when you’re in town!
    • Make social connections through apps. Whether you are looking for a fun hook-up or are a solo female traveler, I find these offer endless ways to satisfy your social juices. So even you internet lurkers have no excuse! 
    • Take advantage of short-term memberships. Sure, even if you are JUST in Japan for a few days, there are countless reasons I say why you’d benefit from these. You can work out at a gym or sports club and meet others while getting toned.
    • Check out the brilliant Facebook groups. You can bet Japan has many Facebook groups to forge tight networks between foreigners. But what ones? These particular ones are nifty: Japan Travel, Friendly Discussion Group, Destination Japan, Japan Travel Community ??, and For Foreigners Living in Japan.
    • Be open to making friends! The number one thing I would say that will keep you from meeting people in Japan is being shut away. The best advice is to be present, friendly and say yes to every opportunity! You will soon find making friends while traveling solo will be a thing of the past!

    Final Words for Solo Travelers in Japan

    Japan is a great solo travel destination with many fun things to do and a rich cultural heritage, making it one of the best places to go on holiday. There are not many terrible things to say about it as a place to go when you are visiting by yourself; however, with these tips we have offered, the small downsides can easily be avoided with a little planning.

    Japan highlights the best things about traveling solo as you forge your path and make your own choices. If you want a lazy hot pool, you can do it! If you want to use this trip to improve your language skills and have meaningful discussions with locals in Japanese, you can also do that. 

    It does live up to its reputation, and if you get the chance, you won’t regret visiting Japan for a solo experience.

    Girl walking through the wandering Torii gate pathways in Kyoto, Japan.
    Hit me up in the comments with any questions, and good luck!
    Photo: @audyscala

    And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!