Japan is an incredible country to explore on foot. With fascinating cities, stunning natural landscapes, and endless temples, shrines, gardens, and parks, walking is one of the best ways to experience everything this destination has to offer.
However, many travelers are surprised by just how much their feet hurt after long days spent exploring Japan’s walkable cities and sites.
Travelers Complaining About Too Much Walking
Walking Around Japan As a Bigger Person
This larger traveler found that the amount of walking and stair climbing in Japan was overly difficult and impacted their enjoyment of the trip.
Prior to traveling, they were worried about discrimination due to their size but did not experience any.
While they were able to navigate most spaces, sitting on tatami mats was very uncomfortable. A major disappointment was not being able to buy any clothing due to size limitations.
The trip was hampered by Google Maps constantly underestimating walking times. Public seating was extremely scarce, even in train stations. The mismatch in activity levels with their more fit partner caused issues when traveling together.
They recommend building in rest time for those unable to keep up with such an active itinerary.
Overall, the walking difficulty in Japan ended up outweighing the rewards gained from the sites seen and experiences had. This led them to conclude they likely wouldn’t return to Japan given the challenges faced as an overweight traveler.
Traveling Japan While Pregnant
This pregnant traveler underestimated how much walking there would be in Tokyo. She thought relying more on trains and only doing 2-3 activities per day would be manageable, but found herself walking 6+ hours daily.
The extreme swelling in her feet and legs that manifested during the trip, along with pregnancy-related shortness of breath and fatigue, made all the walking very difficult.
She had wanted compression socks but they were sold out. Her feet swelled painfully in her shoes daily. She had to limit activities and often hold her husband back. Though she tried to get better shoes, her feet were too big.
Taking regular breaks, keeping her feet elevated, and letting her husband go out alone sometimes helped improve the situation slightly as her body adjusted.
Overall, she found Tokyo extremely challenging and unable to be fully enjoyed due to the unexpected amount of walking required and her physical limitations from the pregnancy.
Tips To Prepare Extended Walking in Japan
Break in Your Shoes
Whether you buy new shoes or bring your most comfortable old pairs, make sure to break them in before your trip. Wear them for increasingly longer walks and periods of time so any problem areas can be identified and resolved before you depart. Blisters and shoe-related pain can really dampen your exploring.
Increase Your Daily Movement at Home
If you live a sedentary lifestyle, start taking regular walks now to build up your stamina and get your body used to being on your feet. Even 30-60 minutes a day can make a difference over time. This is especially important if you’ll be visiting during warmer months when physical exertion takes more of a toll.
Practice Walking on Various Surfaces
Concrete, stone paths, and textured safety tiles for the vision impaired are common in Japan. Experience these underfoot now if possible so you know whether you’ll need extra cushioning or support.
Do Some Stair Climbing
Do some stair climbing. Urban centers like Tokyo and Kyoto require going up and down countless subway stairs. Climbing stairs and steep hills will prepare your legs and feet specifically for the unique demands of Japanese cities.
Consider Bringing a Second Pair of Shoes
Having two pairs makes it possible to alternate days, giving each set a chance to fully recover. Switching shoe types and support levels may also help reduce pain and hot spots.
Plan Rest Days
Even the most active bodies need the occasional break. Schedule lighter days between long walking days so you don’t overdo it. Find museums, shows, or malls where you can sit and give your feet a rest.
Take mini breaks
Find a bench, cafe, or patch of grass every few hours to take 5-10 minutes off your feet. Regular short breaks can work wonders.
Try foot care accessories
Items like compression socks, massagers, and foot soaks can aid recovery at the end of the day or between outings.
Adjust your expectations
While you may have a long list of places to visit, don’t feel like you have to do it all. Over-packing your itinerary can lead to exhaustion. Stay flexible and listen to your body.
Keep Your Spirits Up
Foot pain can dampen your experience if you let it. Focus on the joy of exploration and make mental notes of places to revisit next time.
With the right footwear, preparation, and mindset, you can handle all the walking Japan has in store and create wonderful memories along the way. Don’t let worries about sore feet stop you from taking this trip of a lifetime.