#1 Best Guide: Where To Go Backpacking In Japan + Vocabulary

Traditional Japanese building - Backpacking in Japan Ling app

Do you want to take an exciting journey and want to know where to go backpacking in Japan? Then you’ve come to the right post! When you visit Japan, you can hit up all the major Japanese cities and mountain towns and squeeze in the sneaky hidden gems for a trip you can’t wait to brag to everyone about. Hot springs, beautiful gardens, amazing food, and even a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ling’s backpacking Japan travel guide has it all!

Whether you want to disappear for a few weeks or just a day trip (though you’ll soon realize just a day isn’t enough because there’s so much to see!), you should keep reading to find out how this can serve as your ultimate Japan backpacking trip guide if you’re ready to book a one-way ticket to adventure.

Backpacking In Japan: How To Get Around?

Backpacking in Japan can be a little daunting, and you may wonder how you will get from one place to another. A vast majority of Japanese people use Japan’s super public transportation system. You can get a Japan Rail Pass like the locals to soar through entire cities on a train or a zippy bullet train. Try not to take a look out the window because you might want to yell to the driver to stop and let you off and get a load of the beautiful scenery on foot!

JR Pass: An Overview

A Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) will be your best bet! “What is that thing?” you might wonder. As a foreigner, a JR Pass will be your best friend, making traveling from city to city a breeze. The JR Pass is a discounted rail ticket that allows foreign visitors to Japan to ride aboard all major Japan Railways —and the super-fast Shinkansen bullet train at a fixed price. The JR Pass is available for purchase for 7-14 and 21-day trips.


When you think of Japan, what is the first city that comes to mind? It’s probably Tokyo, right? The sprawling city of Japanese fame is famous for being incredibly jam-packed with people, buildings, and things to do! What better way to kick off your backpacking adventure in mainland Japan than having the iconic red Tokyo Tower welcoming you to the country?

Busy street in Tokyo with many people

Eat Your Way Through Tokyo’s Food Culture

Of course, there are many things to do in Tokyo, and trying to whittle down your choices could be overwhelming, especially if time is limited. Personally, I think travel should center around your stomach. In other words, eating yummy food! Tokyo is an awesome melting pot of both Japanese cuisine and dishes from other countries, with its Japanese flair added to it. Street food vendors are an awesome and quick way to grab some tasty grub; typically, you get more bang for your buck!


If you want an amazing trip rife with cultural heritage, visit Okinawa. There’s raw beauty everywhere, with castle ruins, secret coves, and spectacular views of the gorgeous beaches on the area’s tropical islands. Okinawa has around 160 islands, so there will always be something for you to do or see here!

Beach in Okinawa

Okinawa Islands

The Okinawa Islands offer everything from world-class diving experiences to relaxing on white-sand beaches. The best time to visit this area is during the sunny summer months to get the most out of the hot weather and dip in the pristine blue waters that Okinawa is famous for. 

Okinawa’s Mainland

The best part is that you don’t even have to leave the main island nation to see Okinawa’s full splendor. Surrounded by all the smaller islands, the large mainland is full of similar experiences and sights that include checking out the sparkling seaside and learning about Okinawa’s history. Check out this three-day itinerary for mainland things to do in Okinawa. Your best bet whilst backpacking is to spend a few days in Okinawa to see beautiful nature at its peak.


On Japan’s Honshu Island is Hiroshima. Despite a complicated past, Hiroshima has since blossomed into a gorgeous place that promotes peace and understanding with the help of the Hiroshima-friendly locals. 

With its capital city of Hiroshima City most well-known for being tragically devastated by nuclear attacks during World War II, this area holds a memorial service annually on August 6th where people commemorate the lives of victims lost due to the atomic bomb dropped in 1945. In a touching display of mourning and honor, thousands of people write peaceful messages on paper lanterns, which are then released at sunset down a river to float by the remains of the Atomic Bomb Dome.

Pay Respect At World Heritage Sites

Home to two world heritage sites, the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima and the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Hall (Genbaku Dome), this is an important stop to make if you’re backpacking in Japan. The Unesco World Heritage Site is meant to show respect, and that’s always something to be mindful of when visiting a foreign country to honor its history.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame In Hiroshima!

While you’re in Hiroshima, why not catch one of Japan’s favorite pastimes—a baseball game? Hiroshima is home to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp baseball team. Witnessing a home game at their Mazda Stadium will excite you as you watch the passionate fan base cheer and roar with every hit, fly ball, or homer! As a baseball fan, this would definitely be a stop I would prioritize when backpacking Japan.

Rural Areas For Backpacking In Japan

Far away from the glimmering city lights and hoards of people moving like ants through the busy streets decked out in skyscrapers, there is rural Japan. The peace and quiet of the underrated countryside is perfect for wild camping, exploring a bamboo forest, and stunning landscapes you won’t quite get in major cities. 

The natural beauty of the rural areas has a charm that you’ll definitely appreciate once you see it. Don’t forget to check out places that are off the beaten path! Below, we’ll touch on the areas that are a little ways away from the traditional route of backpacking in Japan.

Backpacker in front of a hill in Japan


Close to Tokyo is the hiker’s paradise of Hakone. With forests to get lost in and trail paths to wander on, Hakone offers a little taste of what the countryside can offer you if you just aren’t convinced yet. Chances are you totally will be inspired to explore away from the traditional route of big cities once you see Hakone’s beauty.

You can check out the majestic ancient temples around the Hakone Shrine, soak in hot springs, or soar down the Hakone Tozan Railway train (箱根登山電車), which is best in early April to see the cherry blossom season in full swing or the blooming hydrangeas that line the railway. If you weren’t sold on Hakone just yet, this city also boasts incredible views of the super famous Mount Fuji and you definitely don’t want to miss out on seeing such an iconic landmark! All in all, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Hakone!


The region of Kyushu is at the southwesternmost tip of Japan’s main islands. This place is beautiful in nature galore! Throughout Japan, there are loads of national parks that emphasize the scenic wonder of this entire country, which will always make you want to take the long route. There is just so much to see; who can blame you?

Kyushu has huge mountains, hot springs, serene beaches, and restaurants that serve up their famous tonkotsu ramen that is out of this world! The slow-paced living of Kysushu is a must-see when you visit Japan for a break from all the city madness. Visit the Beppu Onsen, eight areas of steaming hot springs, to melt your worries away. Or get your hike on exploring the jagged peaks of Mt. Karakuni in the Kirishimi mountain range. This place has it all!

How Do You Say Backpacking In Japanese?

Backpacking in Japanese is バックパッキング (bakkupakkingu). If you’re going to be backpacking in Japan, don’t you think you should learn some Japanese to get by? As a foreigner, it’s important to learn some helpful bits that will help you ask locals for directions if you get lost or want to know the best place to grab a drink!

The table below includes a handy chart with words related to backpacking in Japan.

Train stationEki
Hot springs温泉Onsen

Frequently Asked Questions About Backpacking In Japan?

1. Is Japan A Good Place To Backpack?

With a reputation for being incredibly polite, super clean, and friendly to travelers, Japan is a wonderful place to go backpacking! This country is rich in culture and heritage that is truly unique to its environment. You surely won’t regret a single day you spend trekking through Japan.

2. How Long Should I Spend Backpacking In Japan?

As you can see through this blog post and perhaps through your own research, there is so much to do and see in Japan. It might be impossible to do everything you want in a week or two, but with the help of some planning, a two-week stay can bring you some fantastic experiences. There are plenty of awesome itineraries you can find online that can help if you’re overwhelmed with choices!

3. Is Japan Expensive For Backpackers?

Japan is sometimes known as a country that can be heavy on the wallet, but it is possible to enjoy a backpacking trip for cheap! Of course, making a few sacrifices might be necessary, like staying in hostels instead of hotels and finding self-control so as not to splurge on a cute vintage designer bag at a Tokyo thrift store. You can definitely backpack in Japan for an estimated $30 a day or around $3,000 a month if you eat at budget-friendly food stalls and use public transportation.

Closing Words

Before you start packing for your next exciting adventure in Japan, it would be a good idea to start learning some Japanese. Learning the local language will help you to be better prepared for your upcoming trip. It will also open up more opportunities for interactions with locals and help you to get a true appreciation for Japanese culture. In the end, learning some Japanese will help you have an even more meaningful and enjoyable experience in Japan.

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