Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Travels in Japan

Category: Travel Stories

Author: Catie

January 22, 2019

Soon I will be embarking on a somewhat spontaneous and loosely planned two and a half week trip to Japan, where we’re spending a week skiing in the beautiful Niseko and another 12 days touring the bustling cities of Tokyo, Hakone, Osaka and Kyoto.

Since this the first overseas travel I have done in a few years, I have found myself reflecting on the environmental impact of my own adventure. Asking myself questions like:

  • What impact will flying on a plane to Japan have on the environment?
  • What other impacts will I have to accommodate my travels?
  • And most importantly, how can I reduce or substitute these practices with less impactful ones?

Unfortunately, planes are one of the worst modes of transport as the gases, heat and noise, emitted from planes contribute greatly to pollution in our atmosphere.

We couldn’t easily substitute this part, so I have made a small list of alternate practices we can use whilst in Japan to make our adventure eco-friendlier.

1. Trains!

Whilst we can only take a plane to get to Japan, we can forfeit this mode of transport to travel between cities.

This is because Japan has a fantastic system of bullet trains, or Shinkansen as they are known in Japan, which are not only easy to use and ultra-efficient, but they are environmentally friendlier than planes, buses, cars and other trains!

Japanese bullet train with Mount FujiCruising past Mount Fuji

Thus, instead of flying between Japan's major cities we can simply hop on a train and enjoy the window seat until we reach our next stop. Have a look if you can do this on your next trip too!

2. Base yourself near what you want to see

This really needs no explanation but will require a little bit of preparation.

Before we leave for Japan, we compiled a short list of things we wanted to see and chose an area we could stay in that allowed us to walk between the attractions and avoid unnecessary buses.

In Niseko, we are a five minute walk from the mountains entrance and our ski hire and in Tokyo we are staying only 15 minutes from some really cool museums, galleries and food!

3. Walk everywhere

This will be easy if you have mastered tip no. 2 and is no doubt the cheapest way to explore a city, but there are other benefits as well; exercise! and hopefully convenience if you plan your route beforehand, as well as the freedom to stop and admire shops, food or other attractions along the way.

Walking aimlessly is not ideal for many people but have you considered a walking tour? Often cheaper than other tours they are great for the conscious traveler and someone who wants to see a place up close.

4. Accommodation

They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but hostels and shared accommodation are a great use of space and resources, making them more sustainable than staying in a hotel.

Additionally, you’ll meet some amazing people from all over the world who share a common interest in exploring that country. Why not keep this in mind for your next adventure?

Thanks for reading! And let me know if this is useful in other countries, or maybe this will inspire your own eco-friendly trip to Japan!


Author: Catie


Hello! I’m a self proclaimed hippy and nature lover! Always the one behind the camera documenting unique people and places and if i’m not already in the mountains, I’ll be finding my way there soon.

Next adventure: a road trip around Australia!

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