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Now that COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out around the world, you might be brainstorming about your next workation destination while waiting for the world to open up again.
When on workation, you want to explore local cultures and have unique experiences while securing an environment to focus on your work.
Among other countries, Japan is a perfect place for nailing both of these purposes. Here’s our take on why Japan is a perfect workation destination, and what you should know upon your trip.
What on earth is workation anyway? Check out this article to find out.
Why is Japan a good workation destination?
- Fast Wifi
- The average speed of fixed internet connections in Japan is 150.27 mbps which is fast enough to go on video calls and get your work done smoothly.
- However, you won't find wifi at every cafe you walk into, so it would be safe to bring a pocket WiFi with you, or pick co-working spaces accepting drop-ins.
- Japan's rate of violent crimes is the lowest in the world at 0.0003%. Even as a female solo traveler, you can walk around at night alone without much worries.
- Japan also has one of the lowest theft rate in the world. (0.2% as compared to 1.7% of the US and 2.3% of the UK.) You will be surprised by how many people would leave their laptops, phones, and even wallets on a table in a cafe to save their seats. You don't need to worry about your laptops being lost like in many other countries.
- Easy to get around
- Public transportation is extremely convenient, clean and safe. If you're in big cities like Tokyo or Osaka, you can easily get anywhere on a train or bus, and most times it's more efficient to get to places on public transportation than a car.
- If you are a foreigner, you can often find discounted tickets for transportation. For example, Japan Rail Pass is a discounted transportation ticket only available for foreign travelers with Short-Term Stay Visa (90 days or less), and you can save a lot of money and time while traveling.
- Coworking Spaces
- Prior to COVID19, there were not many co-working spaces where you can drop in, especially in small cities. But now, it's starting to change. More and more local municipalities in Japan have been welcoming in workationers by building coworking spaces and remote work friendly accommodations.
- Surprisingly not so expensive
- You might have the impression that Japan, especially Tokyo, is an expensive place to stay in. However this is not necessarily true. Cheaper options would be to stay in a hostel for as low as ¥3,000. A 3 star hotel would cost around ¥10,000+ (USD100), depending on the area and season. You sometimes get great deals for breakfast or lunch for as low as ¥1,000 (USD10). Some things can get pricey though - for instance there is no ride share in Japan, and a 30min taxi ride could cost you more than ¥5,000 (USD50). Also if you try to book an accommodation in the peak season, it could get as 3-4x more expensive.
What can I do in Japan?
There is so much to explore in Japan. If you are looking to enjoy social scenes during your workation, cities like Tokyo and Osaka might be a good fit for you. If you are looking to spend time in nature or have a niche experience, the countryside like Nagano or Hokkaido might be a better option.
Cities are usually busy and overcrowded. You may be overwhelmed with the overpacked morning trains and frustrated when you can’t find a seat in cafes(seats near outlets are rare). That’s partly why we have many recommendations on workation destinations away from the city-center.
A peek into some of our favorites -
HOSHINOYA Fuji | Hoshino resorts
Hoshino Resorts - a company running resort hotels and Onsen (hot springs) ryokan around Japan have started offering attractive packages for workation for a competitive price. For example, their glamping spot Hoshinoya Fuji offers 25% discount for those who work and stay for 2 days and more, and 60% discount for 6 days and more. At their Yatsugatake Resonare location, you can even work from a gondola. Check out this Instagram post.
KAGANHOTEL (Kyoto) - Just a couple minutes away from Kyoto station, Kagan Hotel is a community-based art facility, accommodating hotel and hostel type guest rooms for the public as well as artist-in-residency program. The hotel/hostel is designed to be a hub that brings together local community and artists. If you are a “creative”, this might be an exciting place to go on workation.
Wadano Gateway (Nagano) - Located just 100 meters from the Nagano Olympic sign, Wadano Gateway is a perfect place for you to work, rewind, and be active. You have a freedom to mountain-hop, and connect with other guests while enjoying the best-handcrafted local food at their famous Lantern Asian Grill & Bar.
I'm excited! But what about the downsides?
- Not the most English-friendly
- In big cities like Tokyo, you will find English signs at most train stations etc. But it can get quite challenging traveling in the countryside, as there are many places that don't have any English signs and people’s English language proficiency is limited.
- Hard to find an international community of remote workers and digital nomads
- Culture - Japanese people put a great importance on respecting the rules and traditions. If you don’t know them, you might embarrass yourself.
- For example, if you’re on a public transport, you should not be on a phone call or speak loudly
- When you use escalators, people generally stand on the left side unless you’re walking up (but there are exceptions, in cities such as Osaka).
- You don’t need to use chopsticks for every meal. We use other cutlery depending on the cuisine.
- Many places still only accept cash
- In cities, most places nowadays accept credit cards and/or electronic payments. However, Japan in nature is still a cash-driven nation. In rural Japan, you will encounter many places that only accept cash payments. Especially for those planning for a longer stay, make sure to prepare and have enough cash in hand.
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If you’re looking to visit Japan in the near future, check out our article covering the travel restrictions around COVID-19 (coming soon).