Traveling in Japan Recommendations

  • So I'll be going to Japan to vacation for about 3 weeks in october, and knowing that some people here have some experience with that already (or live there) I wanted to see what advice I could get in relation to things to do, naturally I already have some ideas of what I want to do, but I'm all ears.

    To start off I'm going for sure to

    Tokyo (likely including Yokohama)
    Nara (Probably for like half a day)

    I'm also considering going to either Sapporo or Fukuoka, the main problems I have with those is their distance from the other main places of interest, so I may not go to either, if anyone advocates any other cities let me know.

    While I'm not necessarily going back packing I'm not making a luxury trip either, probably staying in hostels or Air B&Bs, trying to eat on the cheap from convenience stores and cheap restaurants/stands, and walking and wondering through the cities is perfectly fine on my book, not particularly looking for any comfort resorts.

    I'm pretty sure I'm getting a Rail pass for the three weeks, and I also speak and read enough Japanese to not need english everywhere (at least I hope so with a JLPT LV4).

    So let me know if there's anything in particular that you guys think is perhaps not as well known of the cities I mentioned that would be worth checking out, or other places of particular interest (preferably in Kanto or Kansai), or just general recommendations you may have for traveling there.

  • Aw, bummer, I move out in a month.

    Having the rail pass is hella clutch. They changed their rules, so citizens aren't really allowed to get one anymore... Those bastards. Make sure you use it to get Shinkansen tickets! They count as part of the rail pass tickets and give you the most bang for your buck!

    Do you know how long you'll be spending in each area? I'm a Tokyo boy so I know much more about this area than anywhere else in Japan... Second would be Ibaraki. Don't go to Ibaraki. That place sucks. The entire prefecture. There's a reason it's shit on by the rest of Japan. I've also somehow never been to Osaka or Nara. Never had an interest in Osaka, and never planned ahead enough to make that brief stop in Nara on the way to Kyoto. Oh well, shit happens.

    Check out Enoshima/Kamakura while you're in Tokyo, since they're just a short day trip away. Also, since you'll be there in October, you might be able to catch the beginning of the colors turning. Mt. Takao is a nice short hike out in western Tokyo (near my hood!) that is real pretty during the fall, since there are a ton of Momiji that are starting to turn. If you go early on a clear day, you might be able to see Mt. Fuji! Also, while I haven't been since I was like, 12, Hakone is quite beautiful. It's one of the most popular destinations in Japan, so it could be worth checking out! Also, I think the seasonal soft cream flavor for fall is Kuri (Japanese chestnut), and it's fuckin' delicious. My favorite one.

    For Kyoto, walk everywhere. It's a very walkable city, and if you take advantage of that you'll stumble upon beautiful temples and gardens seemingly every couple of minutes. It is jammed pack with tourists, though, so just keep that in mind. I do think it is one of the most beautiful cities in Japan, if not the world, though, and wish I was able to get back there this year.

    There's obviously a ton more that you can do here, especially if you have 3 weeks. If you take advantage of the rail pass, you MIGHT be able to make it to Sapporo for a couple nights, but your trip is already kind of packed as is, so use your discretion. I'm sure you already know this, but plan ahead! Don't expect to buy your shinkansen tickets the day of. You can never plan too much in this country! Finally, Japan is easily the most expensive country in Asia, which kind of sucks. I don't know if money is something you'll necessarily be worrying about, but it's something to keep in mind.

    In any case, there are some options. Japan's a pretty cool place to visit, ways love helping people when they come for the first time. It helps me see it through the eyes of someone who's never been, and that always gives me a nice refresh. Let me know if you need help with anything or need more suggestions!

  • @naltmank said in Traveling in Japan Recommendations:

    actually just booked hostels and flights today, ended up deciding to go to Hiroshima, and make my way east ward from there, I'll be staying like this

    Hiroshima: day and half
    Osaka: day and half
    Nara: day and half
    Kyoto: four days and half
    Tokyo: seven days

    I planned to stay longer in Osaka, but after looking at recommendations it seemed to make more sense to spend more time in Kyoto instead (great to hear the walkable part) and I figure that if there's something I end up feeling I absolutely have to do in Nara or Osaka that I couldn't fit into my stays there, I could make a day trip from Kyoto for them.

    Kamakura was already amongst my main plans for Tokyo, I'll see if I add Enoshima to that as well, I really wish I could fit Hokkaido into the trip but I think it just too much of pain logistically.

    And I'm actually pretty happy with the prices so far, considering that I already knew Japan is expensive, my tickets all the way from Costa Rica are just above $1000, and between the Rail pass and the hostels that is about another 1k, which is obviously no spare change but I've been saving for this trip for a while, so it seems like I'm actually over-funded having already allocated a generous budget for daily meals and miscellania, so while I'm not going for a luxury trip I don't think I'm gonna have to be stingy with my spending.

    Now I have about three months to really plan my activities, so that should be plenty of time :).

    What I'm trying to figure out at the moment is really the best option for getting internet access those days, while I love wandering around, I know from experience that I need access to Google Maps when traveling, and I've seen different recommendations in relation to that, it seems like the most common option is the wi fi carrier, but the pricing of that seems to vary quite a lot from different sellers.

  • @bard91 I made it through the past year without data (did have a flip phone for calls) and I managed to survive, but I definitely got lost a lot... It took me 3.5 hours to get back from Mt. Tsukuba one day, and it was only supposed to take me 40 min. Damn country roads. Look into getting a SIM card or a pocket wifi if you can. International data plans can be real pricey, but are also a good last-resort option.

    Regarding the Osaka to Kyoto switch, I think you made the right call. Kyoto is so beautiful that America decided it was too culturally valuable to be bombed during WWII. It's absolutely stunning. Also, I'm big into food tourism, and Kyoto tastes real good! On that note, make sure you try some Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki. It's the best.

    Also, if you're willing to get an early start, you can probably combine Enoshima and Kamakura into the same day since they're right next to each other. You might be a bit pooped by the end, but there are worse things in life. Of course, if you have to choose one, the Daibutsu makes Kamakura the better place to visit.

    Finally, regarding pricing, the main money sink will inevitably be food and travel. This will probably be the biggest issue in Tokyo, but as long as you go into it prepared, you should be fine. I know my friends coming from Thailand definitely got a bit of a culture shock when they saw how expensive everything was here, especially compared to the rest of Asia. Of course, I'm also of the belief that vacations deserve a little splurging, so as long as you're mentally prepared to see that dent in your wallet, enjoy yourself!

  • Global Moderator

    That itinerary isn't far off the trip I did. Just for Hiroshima, make sure to get out to Itsukushima island. Head out there early in the morning. It's a really beautiful area, some nice walks, beautiful view of Hiroshima from there and of course the floating Shinto shrine.

    I liked Osaka but I agree that you made the right call. There is so much to see around Kyoto and it is easy to do day trips around that area. Kobe might be another interesting spot if you've time.

  • @naltmank Food is definitevely a big point of interest, from what I've read $30 should be enough to eat well daily, but I could easily go up to 50$ and stay way below what I had budgeted and I definitively agree about splurging in vacations so I have no issue treating myself.

  • @tokeeffe9 I was definitively looking into Itsukushima, from your experience do you think it is doable to go there and visit the memorials in the same day?

  • Global Moderator

    @bard91 It's definitely enough time because that's what myself and a friend did :)

    That said there was a really nice trail that we only did a small bit of on the island. Still, I think a day is perfect.

  • Im in also in japan until 30 juli.
    I planned my trip to Tokyo and leave from Osaka . that forced me to Travel ( last november i stayed for 2 weeks in Tokyo).

    Reading now that Osaka is not realy fun, ill try te extend my stay in Kyoto.

    Im now in Tokyo and travel saterday to Kyoto. Than to Hiroshima, and as last Osaka.

    If you guy's know good places, please comment.

    ( i had order soms shirt with EA on them, so maybe ill came acros EA guy's. but the package came to late :( )

  • Im going in early 2018 mainly staying at tokyo but staying 1-2 days in kyoto
    Some things on my Itinerary are Diver city (life sized gundam and shopping), Ikebukuro, Ropongi Hills, shibuya.

    any must do's in tokyo?

  • @Bigdude1 said in Traveling in Japan Recommendations:

    Ikebukuro, Ropongi Hills, shibuya.

    these are going to be redundant. They're all just big, crowded places filled with gaijin where you can go clubbing. If you have time, venture out of central Tokyo a bit to get som exploring in. Takao is a super easy hike that gives you some great views. Go to Yokohama, see the Ramen museum or the Cup Noodle museum (or both). What are you interested in?

  • @naltmank would you recommend any of those in particular, I don't plan to spend much time on those, but I certainly would like to look into at least one.

  • @bard91 Of the gaijin places? I guess Shibuya, since you have Hachiko. You can also get to the top of the Metropolitan building in Shinjuku for free if you want a nice view. Two viewing decks.
    If you just mean of all the places in that post, Takao is super pretty. The Ramen museum is also fun, but it's kind of a ripoff. Plus you can get great ramen for super cheap just by wandering into a tiny shop in an alleyway, which I'd argue is the better experience.

  • @naltmank ok Shibuya is too iconic for me not to go there so I it was already something I was thinking off, Ikebukuro I've heard good and bad stuff but hardly seems like a must, and Roppongi I remember seeing the name in a game (Devil Survivor I think) but I've no idea about what is in there.

    And going to random places for food is for sure one of the things I'm looking forward too, everyone I know always tell me how you can get amazing food in a ton of small places, so I'll likely try to do that as much as possible.

  • @bard91 said in Traveling in Japan Recommendations:

    but I've no idea about what is in there.

    Nothing. It's a place where culture goes to die (that I also happen to commute to daily, so I'm certainly not biased).

  • Ikebukuro has nice shoppingcenter. (Still hear the tune of BIC camera).

    Also go to VR zone in shinjuku ( its next to the building with Godzilla on top of it). I wanted to go there but was not open yet. I left Tokyo the next day

  • @naltmank well im going to roppongi for the art museums

    might skip ikebukaro tho

  • @Bigdude1 Fair enough. I just really hate that neighborhood, haha. Check out the Edo Museum in Ryogoku if you're interested in that stuff. They also usually have a really cool limited exhibit that's worth checking out. It's in a historic district (right next to the sumo arena/museum, too) that has a bunch of cool stuff and is markedly less touristy IMO.

  • @naltmank I actually hadn't noticed until now but my Tokyo hostel is actually 4 blocks away from the Edo museum, guess I'll check out.

    I just got my ticket for the Ghibli Museum which I was waiting to get to finalize my plans in Tokyo, as I didn't know which day I would get to go there, aside from that I'm currently planning a day trip to Hakone, another one to Nikko, will try to fit Kamakura and Enoshima, and Mt Takao in half a day, which I'm hoping will leave me with three days of exploring other things.

  • @bard91 lol, my buddy stayed in literally that exact same hostel I think. Great area. Ryogoku has awesome food. Trip is coming up soon, yeah? Getting hyped?

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