If I was A Singaporean Travelling Off the Beaten Tracks

There are plenty of advantages for a Singaporean travelling to popular areas in Japan, especially to big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, or Sapporo. Language difference is not a big issue. Trains come frequently, and there are maps to help you navigate your passageway once you are familiar with the maps. With a little research, you’d be able to know where to eat and what to eat. Ordering food is seldom an issue.

But what if you had to travel out to explore the lesser known areas of Japan?

The trend of discovering the lesser known areas of Japan seems to be picking up in Singapore, as some travellers want to avoid “touristy” areas. Driving holidays in Japan is also picking up attention in Singapore.

These are some pointers that Singaporeans are going to want to pay attention to.

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1) Language

Unlike in the big cities, not knowing the Japanese language might be difficult when communicating with locals about food, seeking directions, or asking for information.

One of the ways to overcome this is to look for the Tourism Information Centre, often available at major train stations. This is almost a must for travellers taking trains. Most are able to help you in English, and will have English pamphlets for your use. You can also do online research, but not all information is online, and most likely not all in one site. These pamphlets are often surprisingly informative!

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2) Taking Public Transport

Different areas may have different rules in public transport. For example, in some areas you will need to board the bus from the back, and for other areas, from the front. Sometimes the ticketing is little different: do you pay when you board? If the bus uses a ticketing system, how do the systems different in different parts of Japan?

Trains can be rather interesting too. Some trains require you to close the door manually (unlike in Tokyo) as you board. For very small train platforms, you might need to board/get off from certain car doors. This might be difficult if the announcement of where to alight/board the train is only made in Japanese.

Also, unlike big cities where trains come every few minutes, trains may come only every 30 minutes, or even every hour in rural areas!

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3) Food and Taxis Are Hard to Find

Speaking of rural areas, note that taxis are very hard to find, often relying on call-on-demand. Another reason why you will need to approach the Tourism Information Centres at major stations before starting on the off-beaten tourist spots.

You will also need to research on what to eat if you plan to settle a meal at the rural areas. The area may not have eateries, nor even be open in certain seasons. This is important if you have special dietary requirements, like vegetarians and halal meals.

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