A visit to Japan is on many an Australian’s bucket list. This fascinating country is rich in both tradition and high-tech goods; Japanese people are famous for their many rituals, not to mention their mind-boggling array of gadgets. For travellers arriving on cheap flights to Japan, at first it can be an overwhelming experience especially if arriving in Tokyo, one of the most populous cities in the world. Book flight tickets well in advance if visiting during one of the peak tourist periods which coincide with Japan’s national holidays: New Year, Golden Week (29 April to 5 May) and the Obon Festival (mid-August). School holidays (mid-July to August) also make cheap flights to Japan and accommodation more difficult to secure.
Southern Japan’s rainy season commences mid-June, and is followed by a very hot and humid summer, this is punctuated by the typhoon season which finishes by mid-September. Most travellers avoid this period as the sightseeing is sticky and uncomfortable. Winter in northern Japan is bitter with heavy snowfall in the mountains. But if you don’t mind the cold, and want to soak in the hot springs, then early December is when the cheapest flights to Japan are available.
Plum and cherry blossom trees in spring are a famous sight and worth booking flights to Japan for. At the other end of the spectrum, autumn visits for the stunning foliage also make cheap flight tickets sought after.
When is the best time to book a flight to Japan?
Japan has an eclectic mix of climates, so it’s a good idea to know what to expect before you choose dates for your flight tickets. Northern Japan experiences four distinct seasons, while southern Japan is subtropical. Choose to travel late March/early April or late October/early November to avoid the worst of the crowds, comfortable weather and for cherry blossoms and autumn colours. If you’re flying into Tokyo, choose a seat on the right hand side of the plane for views of the city and Mount Fuji.
Japan Airlines is the national carrier and offers daily cheap flights to Tokyo and Osaka from Sydney. Other airlines that operate flights to Japan are: China Southern, Air Asia, Qantas, Thai Airways and Jetstar. If you’re flying from Adelaide, Brisbane, the Gold Coast or Cairns then Jetstar offers direct and indirect flights to Japan but you’ll pay more for flight tickets in general.
How to get from the airport to the city centre?
Passengers arriving on cheap flights to Japan will land at either Narita International Airport (NRT) (near Tokyo) or Kansai Airport (KIX) (near Osaka). Both airports are well-equipped with excellent public transport networks. Narita Airport has the JR Narita Express (NEX) which will get you into the city in just under an hour. Buses and taxis are alternative options but will take longer due to traffic. From Kansai Airport you can access Osaka city by train (JR and Nankai lines) or bus (visit the Kansai Airport Limousine Bus information desk inside the arrivals area), taxis are the most expensive option in Japan.
Tokyo at first glance appears brash, noisy and teeming with people, but if you look beyond the facade, you'll discover quiet side streets, serene temples, ancient shrines, beautiful bonsai trees and you may even stumble on an unexpected festival. The arrival point for most flights to Japan, Tokyo offers a plethora of interesting things to do, from world-class museums to amazing culinary experiences, whether you’re dining at the finest restaurants or noodle shacks. A shopper's paradise, the fashion-conscious city had endless designer boutiques, crafts, high-tech goods and antiques stores. Come nightfall, trendy clubs, Kabuki theatre, sumo wrestling and busy performing arts scene mean you can do something different every night.
Hiroshima has emerged from its tragic past and today is a modern city laced with rivers and tree-lined boulevards. The streets are lined with statues, stone lanterns, memorials and sculptures. Most travellers come to visit the Peace Memorial Park and museum, but also worth exploring are the Hiroshima Museum of Art, Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum and the stunning Shukkeien Garden, which is a miniature landscape of valleys, mountains and forests.
Okinawa has a unique history. It is actually a chain of hundreds of islands and wasn’t integrated into Japan until 1879. It was the only ground battle site in Japan during World War II. Okinawa is home to the Ryukyu language (indecipherable to most Japanese), arts and music. The region blooms with tropical plants year-round. Diving is extremely popular and the beaches have colourful marine life and coral reefs.
Nagoya, a contemporary easy-going city, was completely rebuilt after the war. Among its attractions are fine displays at the renowned Noritake chinaware company, the Tokugawa Art Museum’s collection and the Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology, one of the world’s ultimate Science museums, with many interactive displays. The open-air architectural museum, with many preserved historic buildings, includes the reconstructed lobby of Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark Imperial Hotel.
Hip and stylish Osaka is an international, progressive business hub and a geek's shopping paradise, with all the latest devices, gadgets and toys. Osaka also offers a rich program of performing arts, major museums and comedy shows. There's world-class dining, one of the largest aquariums in the world, the landmark Osaka Castle, the Bunraku puppet theatre, the oldest state temple in Japan and you can even visit Universal Studios.
The Japanese are sticklers for cleanliness, as reflected in their rituals. Shoes are usually left at the door of people's homes and restaurants and there are occasionally even slippers to be worn when going to the toilet. Bathers are expected to wash before taking onsen (hot springs) or sento (communal bath houses).