July 20, 2024
India Vs Japan: Your Guide To Choosing Between Two Epic Travel Destinations In Asia
Taj Mahal, India | Image Credit: Sylwia Bartyzel/Unsplash

Though geographically distant, India and Japan have fostered a growing relationship in recent years. Both countries hold mutual respect for each other’s cultural legacies, traditional arts and cuisine. Japan has played a major role in India’s development, particularly in the automobile industry, infrastructure projects, and technology. India, in turn, offers Japan a valuable pool of skilled professionals and serves as a key market for its exports. This economic partnership highlights a key aspect of India vs Japan – their ability to collaborate and benefit from each other’s strengths.

Not to mention that both India and Japan are top tourist destinations. A trip to either country promises a unique cultural experience that will leave you with memories of a lifetime! India vs Japan presents a fascinating choice for travellers. From the vibrant chaos of India’s bazaars to the serene efficiency of Japan’s bullet trains, both countries offer distinct experiences. Which will you choose?

Explore more unforgettable destinations with our selection of 2024’s top destinations in Asia.

Natural attractions

From sandy beaches to majestic mountains, India and Japan have some of the prettiest natural attractions and serene landscapes. When in India, make a trip to the Himalayas. Tourists flock to this patch of heaven, spread across the country’s far north and northeast regions, to witness its unique wildlife, flora and fauna, and trekking opportunities.

Western Ghats
Western Ghats | Image Credit: Alex Alderic Jero/Shutterstock

Another place to add to your India itinerary is the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat. It is one of the largest white salt deserts in the world, and the sunset here looks surreal. India also boasts UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Western Ghats, Sundarbans, Bimbetka Rock Shelters, Valley of Flowers, and more.

To escape the hustle and bustle of city life, tourists can escape to the backwaters of Kerala. Tour the area by renting a canoe or houseboat to explore the neighbouring lakes, canals and lagoons.

India Vs Japan
Hitachi National Seaside Park | Image Credit: koichi.T/Shutterstock

Japan, known as the land of natural beauty, offers countless attractions to explore. Mount Fuji is one of them. Known for its perfect cone-shaped summit, it is a sacred symbol in Japan. The best time to visit Mount Fuji is during spring and autumn. Hitachi National Seaside Park is another place in Japan that showcases a diverse collection of seasonal flowers. The park is open throughout the year, and with each season, new species of flowers bloom! Nikko National Park looks picturesque during autumn. Surrounded by lush green forests, Nikko is the perfect place to witness waterfalls, rivers and fall foliage.

Yakushima Island should also be on your itinerary. Ghibli films like Ponyu and Spirited Away have taken inspiration from its natural beauty and mossy landscapes. If whirlpools fascinate you, the best place to see them is at Naruto Strait in Tokushima Prefecture. Japan also has spectacular caves like the Valley of Gangala in Okinawa, the Dogashima Blue Cave in Nishiizu, the Ishigaki Island Limestone Cave, and the Nippara Limestone Caves in Okutama.

When to visit India vs Japan

Both India and Japan offer unique experiences depending on the season.

Cherry blossom in Japan
Cherry blossoms near Tokyo Tower | Image Credit: aki_tk/Shutterstock

For Japan, spring (March-April) offers pleasant weather, perfect for witnessing the iconic cherry blossoms. Autumn (September-November) boasts comfortable weather and vibrant fall foliage. During this time, you can experience fall foliage and enjoy dishes made from seasonal ingredients like sweet potato, pumpkin, persimmons, taro root, chestnuts, ginkgo nuts and mushrooms!

Winter in Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir | Image Credit: hemant8kumawat/Shutterstock

India, with its vast expanse, offers diverse climates across its vast expanse, ranging from the snowy Himalayas to the tropical beaches of Goa. Winter offers a wonderland for snow lovers. Popular destinations in the Himalayas like Gulmarg, Manali, Shimla, Dalhousie, and Gangtok transform into snowy paradises. Here, you can experience the thrill of skiing, trekking through snow-covered landscapes, or taking scenic cable car rides.

Summer, despite the heat and humidity, offers its own set of adventures. Parasailing in Goa, a road trip through the breathtaking landscapes of Leh-Ladakh, snorkelling in the crystal-clear waters of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, or exploring the lush tea plantations of Darjeeling are just a few of the exciting activities you can enjoy.

The budget required for India vs Japan

India Vs Japan
Taj Mahal, India | Image Credit: YURY TARANIK/Shutterstock

The weather, location, and your lifestyle preferences will define your travel budgets in India and Japan. Generally, accommodation, dining, and domestic travel are less expensive in India vs Japan. Entrance fees are common for gardens and cultural sites in both India and Japan. However, ticket prices can vary between tourists and locals in India. While Japan charges the same entrance fee for everyone, iconic landmarks in India like the Taj Mahal, Vittala Temple, and Byculla Zoo have higher entry costs for tourists. Keep this in mind while planning your budget.

Shop the best travel experiences here.

Best places to visit in India & Japan

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle | Image Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Which places to visit in India vs Japan? If it is your first time visiting Japan, add Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hakone, Hiroshima, and Kobe to your Japan itinerary. These places are tourist-friendly and easy to navigate. The rural areas in Japan can be a task to navigate if you are unfamiliar with the Japanese language and the map routes.

India Vs Japan
Kerala backwaters | Image Credit: riyas.net/Shutterstock

We also recommend visiting the major cities in India like Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune, Chennai and Bangalore, each boasting plenty of events and activities to keep tourists entertained. Not to mention that transport and overall safety are better here than in the rural parts of India. Other places popular among tourists are Goa, Hampi, Pondicherry, Jaipur, Agra, Dharamshala, Varanasi and Kerela backwaters.

Things to do in India & Japan

Corbett National Park
Corbett National Park | Image Credit: Anuradha Marwah/Shutterstock

India offers a kaleidoscope of experiences for every traveller. Immerse yourself in the country’s rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty. Here are just a few highlights:

  • Visit the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world in India, celebrated as a symbol of love.
  • Witness stunning wildlife through jeep safaris at national parks like Jim Corbett (for tigers and elephants), Ranthambore (for tigers), Kaziranga (for one-horned rhinos), or Periyar (tigers and backwaters).
  • Explore majestic forts and architectural marvels in Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jodhpur, Agra, Daman and Diu.
  • Explore the captivating Ajanta and Ellora Caves, UNESCO World Heritage Sites showcasing ancient Buddhist and Hindu art. Other caverns popular with tourists include Kanheri Caves, Borra Caves, and Udayagiri Caves.
  • Join a wellness and yoga retreat in Rishikesh, Kerala, or Goa to find your zen and cleanse your energy.
  • Embrace India’s vibrant festivals through the dazzling lights of Diwali, the colourful Holi celebrations, or regional celebrations of the harvest season with Makar Sankranti, Baisakhi, Bihu, Pongal, and Onam.
Himeji Castle.
Himeji Castle | Image Credit: TAW4/Shutterstock

Japan is a land of contrasts, where ancient traditions seamlessly blend with modern marvels. Experience its serene beauty, captivating culture, and unique entertainment options:

  • Challenge yourself by hiking the majestic Mount Fuji (seasonal climb) or exploring the scenic trails of Hakone National Park.
  • Soak in the natural thermal baths (onsen) dotting the volcanic landscape in popular locations like Kinugawa, Kawaguchiko, Beppu, Hakone, and Kusatsu.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich history of UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Shirakawa-go (gassho-style farmhouses), Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, and Itsukushima Shrine (floating torii gate).
  • Embrace the pop culture and belt out your favourite tunes in a karaoke booth, hunt for treasures in gachapon machines, challenge yourself at a gaming arcade, or experience the thrill of pachinko parlours.

Shopping guide in Japan and India

India Vs Japan
Local souvenirs from Japan | Image Credit: Cristina Nakamura/Shutterstock

Every city in Japan and India is an opportunity for you to shop for local souvenirs. The best souvenirs to bring home from Japan include chopsticks, matcha powder, loose tea leaves, tea sets, gadgets, seaweed snacks, origami paper, instant noodles, incense sticks, ceramics, kitchen knives, tenugui, sensu fans, yukata and sake.

From India, keep an eye and wallet out for ayurvedic products, Indian spices, teas, pickles, carpets, shawls, incense sticks, embroidered saree, handwoven fabrics, handicraft items, paper products and jewellery.

Best Hotels in Japan & India

India Vs Japan
Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai | Image Credit: Taj Hotels

From boutique hotels to guesthouses and luxury hotels, you will find countless options to choose from in both India and Japan. Some of the best hotels in India are the Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai, The Leela Palace in New Delhi, The Oberoi Hotel in Bangalore, the Kumarakom Lake Resort in Kerala and the ITC Grand Chola in Chennai.

Book your stay at Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai via Agoda.com

Book your stay at Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai via Booking.com

Book your stay at The Leela Palace, New Delhi via Agoda.com

Book your stay at The Leela Palace, New Delhi via Booking.com

India Vs Japan
Halekulani, Okinawa | Image Credit: Okinawa Halekulani

Japan has two types of hotels: regular hotels and traditional Japanese inns. The latter has tatami mat floors, futons, paper lantern lights, Shoji sliding doors and low-seating furniture. Our hotel recommendation is a mix of both styles. Stay at the Aman Hotel in Tokyo, Hoshinoya in Kyoto, the Ritz Carlton in Osaka, Halekulani in Okinawa and Onsen Ryokan Yuen in Sapporo.

Book your stay at The Ritz Carlton, Osaka via Agoda.com

Book your stay at The Ritz Carlton, Osaka via Booking.com

Book your stay at Halekulani, Okinawa via Agoda.com

Book your stay at Halekulani, Okinawa via Booking.com

A culinary exploration: Must-try food in India vs Japan

India Vs Japan
Vada Pav, Indian street food famous in Mumbai and Pune | Image Credit: mjjphotography1/Shutterstock

Embark on a culinary adventure through India, a land where every region boasts unique flavours and dishes. Mumbai and Pune in western India tantalise taste buds with their iconic street food scene. Don’t miss ragda pattice (a rich potato patty), vada pav (a savoury potato dumpling in a bun), or the tangy explosion of bhelpuri (puffed rice salad). Goan cuisine includes spicy and flavorful dishes such as sorpotel (red pork curry), chicken xacuti (spicy coconut curry), prawn curry, chicken cafreal (green curry), and goan fish curry. North Indian dishes include aloo paratha (Indian flatbread), tandoori chicken, biryani, rajma chawal (kidney beans gravy), chole bhature (tangy chickpea curry), butter chicken, dal tadka (spicy lentil soup curry) and more.

Head to South India to enjoy masala dosa (savory crepe), idli vada sambar (steamed rice cakes & legume doughnuts), rasam (soup-like dish), upma (semolina dish), pongal (rice and moong dal dish) and more. Northeast India boasts food like smoked pork curry, steamed pork dumplings, jadoh (pulao) and koat pitha (deep-fried fritters).

Ramen | Image Credit: gkrphoto/Shutterstock

While Japan too has plenty of regional dishes, the most common ones you find everywhere in the country are ramen, sushi (raw fish stacked on vinegared rice), udon noodles, soba noodles, sashimi (fresh raw fish/meat slices), yakitori (skewered chicken), donburi (rice bowl dish), Japanese curry rice and tonkatsu (deep-fried pork cutlet). Japan also has family restaurant chains like Denny’s, Saizeriya, Lotteria, Mos Burger, Mcdonald’s, Freshness Burger, Coco’s restaurant and Papolamama that serve diverse dishes like steak, pasta, pizza, burgers, stews and more. You will be thrilled to learn that Tokyo has the most Michelin-starred restaurants in Japan! Whether it’s Japanese, Italian, Thai, Sri Lankan, French, Dutch or Indian cuisine, you can find it here.

(Feature Image Credit: Sylwia Bartyzel/Unsplash)

Related: Japan vs Indonesia: Picking The Perfect Destination For Your Asian Adventure

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

-What are the main differences between Japan and India as travel destinations?
Language – Japan (Japanese) vs India (diverse, Hindi & English common). Religion – Japan (Buddhism, Shintoism) vs India (diverse). Food – Japan (fresh, natural flavours), India (spices, strong flavours). Punctuality – Japan (important) vs India (more relaxed). Bathing culture – Japan (public baths common, bathing together accepted), India (private bathing).

-Which country has better beaches, Japan or India?
Though Japan has cleaner beaches than India, some may not be suitable for swimming due to rock seafloors, poisonous jellyfish, high tides, choppy water and uncertain weather. Beaches in Okinawa, Amami, Ogasawara Islands, Shirahama, Ishigaki and Chiba near Tokyo usually have clear water and are perfect for water activities. India also boasts stunning beaches like Colva and Palolem Beach in Goa, Gokarna in Karnataka, Radhanagar in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Minicoy in Lakshadweep and Puri in Odisha.

-Which destination offers better opportunities for adventure activities, Japan or India?
Both Japan and India offer a range of adventure activities, including hiking, skiing, paragliding, trekking, and water rafting. We recommend Indian theme parks like Imagicca, Della Adventure Park, EsselWord and Ramoji Film City for an adrenaline rush. In Japan, there’s no place better to have fun than Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Universal Studios, Fuji Q Highland, Legoland and Ninja Kingdom Ise.

-Which destination is better for cultural immersion – Japan or India?
India is a land of people belonging to different cultures, religions and traditions. Depending on the state you visit, your cultural experience will differ. Tourists can learn plenty about Japan’s culture by participating in a traditional tea ceremony, flower arrangement workshop (Ikebana), observing religious customs in shrines and temples and the meaning of traditional Japanese patterns. Gion in Kyoto, Higashichaya District in Ishikawa, Nikko in Tochigi Prefecture, Takayama in Gifu and Himeji Castle in Hyogo offer tourists glimpses of traditional Japan. Visit Edo Wonderland to experience what life was like in Japan during the Edo Period.

Which is more expensive to travel to Japan or India?
Japan is more expensive to travel to than India due to the higher prices of accommodation, transportation, activities, and dining.

Which country has a better and more convenient visa policy- Japan or India?
Japan has a more convenient visa policy vs India. Apart from providing visa exemptions to selected countries, Japan also provides visa-on-arrival facilities. On the other hand, India requires tourists to apply for visas online (e-visa) or through an Indian Embassy. However, obtaining a visa to visit either country depends on a person’s citizenship, stay duration and financial evidence.

Written By

Sharon Alphonso

Sharon Alphonso

Sharon is from Mumbai and currently lives in Tokyo with her Japanese husband. Before moving to Japan, she worked with POPxo, Grazia and MTV India. She now writes for several English magazines in Japan, including Savvy Tokyo, Tokyo Weekender, and GoConnect Japan. Her favourite way to unwind is to listen to lo-fi music while reading a book and sipping on a matcha latte.


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