Experiencing the wonder and beauty of Japan as a solo female traveler is a captivating and liberating experience, with world-class sights, landscapes, nature, cities, and food. But for women traveling alone, it’s not just about the sights but about feeling safe. Japan is a haven for solo female travelers, renowned for its low crime rates, pristine cleanliness, and cultural respect for others. In this guide to solo female travel in Japan, we’ll dive into the details of solo female travel in Japan, providing essential tips for staying safe and insights into local customs. From the vibrant lights of Tokyo to the serene temples of Kyoto, discover tips, safety insights, and what to expect from one of the world’s best solo female travel destinations.
Solo female travel in Japan: FAQs
Is Japan a good place for solo female travelers?
Absolutely, Japan is considered an excellent destination for solo female travelers. The country has a reputation for being incredibly safe, with low crime rates and a culture that places a strong emphasis on respect and hospitality. Whether you’re navigating bustling cities or serene rural areas, you’ll find the locals to be polite, helpful, and respectful. Japan’s efficient public transportation, clean streets, and well-maintained public spaces also contribute to the overall sense of security. While you should always take general safety precautions, solo female travelers often feel comfortable and welcomed in Japan, making it an ideal destination for those exploring on their own.
When to travel to Japan as a solo female traveler?
I would argue that there isn’t a bad time to visit Japan! Each season has different spectacular sights and experiences to offer. While spring is often cited as the best because of the cherry blossom season, you can’t go wrong with when to visit. Mt. Fuji opens for climbing in the summer, the leaves change colors beautifully in the fall, and ski season is in the winter. I visited in February, and while it was on the chilly side, the weather was sunny and dry. I even caught some early plum blossoms! For more information about weather patterns by month, check out this website.
Where to go in Japan as a solo female traveler?
Some top areas in Japan that will appeal to solo female travelers are:
For a 2-week itinerary including stops at all of these top locations and more, check out my ultimate Japan travel guide & 2-week itinerary.
How to get around Japan as a solo female traveler?
Japan has a fantastic public transportation system. I exclusively used public transportation during my 2 weeks in Japan. The JR Pass is a great option, as you pay a flat fee and then get unlimited rides on the Shinkansen (bullet train) along with some local train routes in the cities. Local trains and buses are also easy to use, with Google Maps providing all the information you need to know.
JR Passes recently experienced a price increase, so it might be cheaper to buy individual Shinkansen tickets. This JR Fare Calculator will show you whether the pass or individual tickets are a better purchase.
To use public transportation, head to a convenience store such as 7/11 to buy a Suica card. Once you have the physical card, you can load it up at English-friendly kiosks in the subway stations. You can also add your Suica card to Apple Pay or Google Pay. I recommend this option as you don’t have to worry about misplacing the physical card, and you can load your card directly on your phone.
If you’re traveling in Tokyo for 1 to 3 days, you can save money on riding the Tokyo subway with this discounted unlimited rides pass.
How to meet people in Japan as a solo female traveler?
Joining organized excursions or a group tour is a great way to make friends while also not having to worry about your transportation and itinerary. Organized excursions are day trips that cover the top sights and attractions in the area, while group tours span many days and areas and also take care of your accommodations. Both are easy ways to meet fellow travelers to enjoy the journey with.
If you’re planning your own accommodation, hostels are the best places to stay to meet new people. By sharing a dorm room with other travelers, you can easily bond and make friends to explore with. Many hostels also organize group activities, such as excursions, dinners, local experiences, and parties. However, not all hostels are created equal when it comes to socializing. Some hostels have a quiet, relaxed vibe, while some have a social, party vibe, and some are in-between. It’s important to read hostel reviews to find a vibe that’s a good fit for you.
My favorite website for booking hostels is Hostelworld. Hostelworld has the best choice of hostels around the world for social travel, with thousands of reviews that will help you find the best fit for you. Book your Japan hostels here.
Solo female travel in Japan: Safety
Japan is widely regarded as one of the safest countries in the world for solo female travelers. The low crime rates, cultural respect, and efficient law enforcement contribute to its reputation as a safe destination. Women traveling alone will feel confident navigating the streets, public transportation, and popular tourist spots. Japanese locals are known for their helpfulness, so asking for help is usually met with kindness and enthusiasm. While it’s always essential to practice general safety precautions, such as anywhere in the world, solo female travelers in Japan often find the country to be safe and comfortable, allowing them to explore with a sense of ease and freedom.
Solo female travel in Japan: Tips
Understand the cultural expectations
It’s always important to educate yourself on the cultural expectations in any country you’re visiting. In Japan, there are a few unique cultural practices that are good to know for keeping a low profile and avoiding insulting locals. These include:
- Speak quietly in public, especially on public transportation
- Remove your shoes when entering certain spaces, such as someone’s home, traditional accommodations (ryokans), and temples
- Bowing is a common form of greeting
- Some places, such as hot springs (onsens), might have policies against tattoos
- Don’t stick chopsticks upright into a bowl of rice or pass food directly from one set of chopsticks to another, as this is associated with funerals
- Dress modestly, especially when visiting religious sites
Learn a few basic Japanese phrases
While many people in urban areas and popular tourist destinations may speak English, it’s estimated that only 20–30% of people in Japan speak some form of English. Learning a few key phrases is not only incredibly helpful but shows respect for the local culture. Here are some useful Japanese phrases for travelers:
- Hello: こんにちは (Konnichiwa)
- Thank you: ありがとうございます (Arigatou gozaimasu)
- Yes: はい (Hai)
- Excuse me/I’m sorry: すみません (Sumimasen)
- Where is …?: … はどこですか? (… wa doko desu ka?)
- To order food: [insert food name] ください” (Kudasai)
- How much is this?: これはいくらですか？ (Kore wa ikura desu ka?)
- Do you speak English?: 英語を話せますか？ (Eigo o hanasemasu ka?)
Take out plenty of cash
While credit cards are widely accepted in urban areas and major establishments, there are still many places, especially in rural or traditional areas, where cash is the preferred and sometimes the only form of payment. Additionally, cash is useful for smaller businesses, street vendors, and public transportation.
Major banks, post offices, and convenience stores usually have ATMs that accept foreign cards. I recommend using 7/11 ATMs as they are known to have low foreign withdrawal fees.
Stay at a social hostel
One of the best ways to stay safe as a solo female traveler is to make friends who you can explore with and look out for each other. Not only is this great for your safety, but it makes the journey more fun to experience it with new friends! However, not all hostels are created equal when it comes to making friends. Some hostels attract travelers who want to keep to themselves, while some attract those who want to socialize. Make sure to thoroughly research hostels and read reviews to find a vibe that’s a good fit for you.
Join organized excursions
Organized day trips and excursions are an easy and safe way to explore Japan’s highlights with the help of a tour guide and the company of other travelers. There are so many tours to choose from all across Japan, so you can easily find tours that will take you to your top choice destinations. You’ll have the guidance of a local, organized transportation, a pre-planned itinerary to the best spots, and the chance to mingle with other travelers.
Find the best organized day trips and excursions for your Japan trip on Klook, where you can conveniently book ahead for a competitive price.
Join a group tour
Like the sound of an organized tour that takes care of your entire itinerary, including top attractions, transportation, and hotels? Joining a multi-day group tour is the easiest way to discover a new country while making friends and having the guidance of a local. It relieves the burden of having to plan every aspect of your own adventure. It’s also the easiest way to make friends while traveling because the same group of travelers stay together for long periods of time. This is a great way to travel solo but have company and the logistics taken care of along the way.
Solo female travel in Japan: What to expect
It’s a great destination for both first-time and experienced solo travelers
Japan is a great place to start or continue your solo travel journey. Whether it’s your first or hundredth country, both new and experienced solo travelers will have an easy and memorable time. Because it’s such a common destination for solo travelers, the travel infrastructure is set up in your favor. If it’s your first time solo traveling, Japan is about as easy as it gets in Asia. If you’re experienced, you’ll find Japan to be one of the easier countries to solo travel in.
It’s easy to dine alone
Luckily for solo travelers, solo dining is widely accepted in Japan. Many restaurants and eateries accommodate solo travelers, making it comfortable and affordable to enjoy meals alone. Some restaurants even have designated one-person tables or booths.
Everything is clean and orderly
Public spaces, streets, and transportation systems in Japan are known to be clean, reflecting how Japan takes public order seriously. Public toilets are not only widespread but are also frequently cleaned and maintained. The orderliness extends to public transport, where passengers line up in organized queues and keep their volume down.
Public transportation is fantastic
Japan’s public transportation system includes a network of trains, subways, buses, and even ferries. Renowned for its punctuality, cleanliness, and safety, the system is a convenient and relatively affordable way to explore the country. Major cities have extensive subway and bus networks, while iconic Shinkansen (bullet trains) connect between cities. With real-time apps and English assistance, navigating Japan’s public transport is an easy and enjoyable experience for solo travelers.
The locals are friendly and hospitable
Tourists in Japan often encounter very friendly locals who are willing to help. While language barriers may exist, the Japanese people go out of their way to assist visitors. Politeness and respect are taken seriously in Japanese culture, and this extends to tourists as well. Locals are patient with foreigners attempting to navigate their customs, and many are willing to offer directions or recommendations.
It’s not as budget-friendly as other destinations in Asia
While traveling to Japan doesn’t have to break the bank, it’s not as budget-friendly as many other destinations in Asia. To give you an idea, hostels typically charge between 2000 and 4500 yen ($14-32 USD) per person per night, a subway ride in Tokyo averages 250 yen ($1.75 USD), and the average cost of meals is 4000 yen ($28 USD) per day. Perhaps one of the largest expenses is a ride on the Shinkansen (bullet train), which will cost you from 800 yen ($6 USD) for short distances to around 11,000 yen ($78 USD) for long distances. With proper planning and budgeting, such as choosing cost-efficient accommodations and attractions, solo travelers can travel economically.
Japan’s appeal to solo female travelers is not limited to just its amazing sights and unique experiences, but also its safety. From the neon-lit streets of the city to the tranquility of ancient shrines, Japan’s allure for solo female travelers is undeniable. We hope our guide to solo female travel in Japan has prepared you with the necessary insights to confidently embark on your journey, ensuring your safety and enriching your adventure.
Visiting Japan for the first time and need help planning your itinerary? Check out my ultimate Japan travel guide & 2-week itinerary for a route I highly suggest for solo female travelers on their first trip to Japan!