So that you’re going to Japan. Cool… take us with you?
At STA Journey, our motto is ‘we all know as a result of we go’. Or in my case, we lived there. I’m Jo, and I lived in Japan for simply over one yr working as an English instructor in a small, mountaintop center faculty in Hyogo prefecture. My college students and fellow lecturers not solely taught me find out how to survive, but in addition the place the most effective little-known journey spots had been hidden. Now it’s my pleasure to cross on the knowledge so that you could be the savviest gaikokujin (foreigner) strolling out of the airport.
In addition to unwaveringly glorious meals, epic historical past, and colourful traditions, the entire nation is virtually one large UNESCO World Heritage Website. As a lot as we’d love to indicate you the ropes ourselves, this final journey information will most likely say it higher than we are able to—it’s onerous to speak whereas shoveling tempura into our faces.
We’d often offer you 5 right here, however we’ve cut up it out into 25. That’s 5 for every of the 5 main vacationer spots you’ll be able to’t miss.
Tokyo high 5
From forest-enclosed shrines to blaring neon streets, Tokyo has every little thing. EVERYTHING. Like…
Akihabara – If you happen to’re a complete otaku (nerd), the Akihabara district is the largest anime hub on this planet and sells every bit of merch you’ll be able to dream of. Put together to be transformed right into a full-on foodie as eating places and cafes are elaborately themed into no matter you’ll be able to, or can’t, think about.
The Mori Artwork Gallery – Nonetheless not funky sufficient? The Mori Artwork Gallery has huge, interactive reveals and, with a ticket, you get to squeak into one of many metropolis’s greatest viewpoints and rating a selfie with the highest of Tokyo tower.
Harajuku – The epicentre of teenybopper tradition, Takeshita road is an explosion of colourful wigs, J-pop merch and syrupy crepes. Stroll 15 minutes into the woods throughout the road and discover the Meiji Jingu Shrine. If the Harajuku Lady look isn’t fairly you, buy groceries on close by Cat Avenue for glossy, luxurious manufacturers and killer classic finds.
Shibuya – After becoming a member of hundreds in crossing the world’s most well-known (and busiest) intersection, watch the chaos from above within the Starbucks above Tsutaya or head to one of many hundreds of close by bars or izakayas (snack bars) for an evening out. If you happen to love canine, don’t overlook cross the Hachiko Memorial Statue and provides that pupper pat.
Ueno Park – As a traveler, the museums in Ueno Park have the best artifacts and artwork works to assist in your understanding of the historical past of Japan. If you happen to’re extra into the popular culture aspect of issues, this landmark is closely featured in books and films as a spot the place love and heartbreak occurs. Come spring, the rows of cherry blossom bushes are good for the ‘gram.
Additionally don’t miss: Senso-ji temple, wandering down the limitless yokochos (slender alleys) across the metropolis and Tsukiji Fish Market, for all of the noms.
Mount Fuji high 5
Don your goggles and facemask, and enterprise up Japan’s iconic summit… or simply chill on the backside of it, gazing in awe.
Climbing up – It’s greatest to kick off your pilgrimage within the early afternoon, bundle up in a hut in a single day, and see why Japan known as The Land of the Rising Solar the subsequent morning. Positive, Fuji sounds daunting, however getting up is the straightforward half—getting down after your journey and an intoxicating dawn is the place the problem lies.
Lake Kawaguchi – If the two-day journey doesn’t fairly peak your curiosity, view it from considered one of 5 lakes surrounding the mountain. Lake Kawaguchi is essentially the most accessible and fashionable, flaunting onsens, lodges, and the temple-framed views of Fuji pictured above.
Lake Motosuko – When you have an urge for food for one thing somewhat extra distant although, Lake Motosuko’s vistas are away from buildings save a few stand-up paddle board rental outlets and campsites. Assuming you’re driving from east to west, the drive previous the 4 different lakes is a further deal with as properly, and a powerful contender for our favorite of the 5 lakes.
Water sports activities and rollercoasters – If you happen to like lining up for ages to see nice heights, hop on to one of many rollercoasters at Fuji-Q. This fashionable theme park is dwelling to the Takabisha, which has the steepest drop on this planet at 121°. It’s similar to climbing Fuji once more, however a lot, a lot sooner on the journey down.
Exploring caves – If rock compositions excite you want this geography nerd, you’re in for an training about volcanic magma, limestone caves, and the way three of the Fuji 5 lakes are literally related by underwater tunnels. Give Bat Cave, Ice Caves and Wind Cave a go.
Kyoto high 5
Practically each Instagram you’ve seen of Japan was most likely taken right here. Does bamboo forests and rows of shiny orange torii gates ring a bell?
Gion – Think about Kyoto the cultural capital, sprawling with kimono-clad guests scuttling previous within the historic alleys of Gion. Your solely indication that you just weren’t transported to the Edo interval would be the dozens of different camera-wielding vacationers, all hoping for a glimpse of a real-life geisha.
Fushimi Inari Shrine – You may pose together with your again to the digital camera as you stroll by the tons of of torii gates close to the underside of the mountain, however an entire pilgrimage means slowly winding all the way in which up the mountain to the ultimate shrine and a large vista over the entire metropolis. You may even see Osaka from up there on a transparent day.
Arashiyama – This nook of Kyoto is dwelling to the well-known bamboo grove, a monkey park, and fairly unbelievable gardens. The most effective teahouses are discovered on the temples right here, although make sure you ask for a chair if sitting in your knees is a problem.
Golden Temple – There are actually tons of upon tons of of temples. If you happen to cease to go to each single one you cross, you severely received’t get very far! Even when it means tying horse blinders to your face, you want to make it to Kinkaku-ji, aka the Golden Temple, on the northern finish of Kyoto. It’s the birthplace of a lot artwork and cultural historical past, and it sparkles brilliantly within the solar.
Ryoan-ji’s rock backyard – The Ryoan-ji temple neighbors the Golden Temple, however is rather more area of interest. The dry panorama backyard right here is believed to been constructed within the late 15th century and nobody is aware of its unique creator. Fifteen rocks sit ready that makes it unattainable to view all of them from any perspective. Ponder the implied existential that means of your existence as you sit quietly on the viewing platform.
Osaka high 5
There’s no higher medication for getting somewhat templed out in Kyoto than diving head-first into the neon sprawl of Osaka.
America Mura – This village is a divine mixture of stylish and weird. A rooftop Statue of Liberty will watch over you as you wander from glossy cocktail bars to funky eating places. Essentially the most healthful delight is listening to individuals sing their hearts out to karaoke at 7am as you stroll again to your lodge after a protracted night time out.
Dotonburi – Talking of an evening out, one is incomplete with out posing with the Glico man in Dōtonburi—simply don’t get too excited and fall into the river. Be happy to pose with the huge dragon, crab, and fish robots that sit above store doorways. To burn off some further vitality, try Round1/Spocha within the Namba space. This 24-hour sports activities centre has tons of of arcade and sports activities video games together with a mechanical bull, a curler rink, and people inflatable bubble issues you’ll be able to play human soccer in.
Spa World – Foreigners who reside Japan share whispers amongst themselves of this fantasy waterpark for adults. It’s a lodge with its most engaging options being a number of onsens, waterslides, stone spa and eating places. You don’t have to remain in a single day to take pleasure in Spa World’s stress-free waters. Did we point out it’s open 24-hours?
Baseball Recreation – Right here, the locals are identified for being a bit extra boisterous than their Tokyo counterparts. One of the simplest ways to witness that is at a Hanshin Tigers baseball recreation. The group is doing higher as of late, however there was as soon as believed to be a curse on the group resulting from a misplaced statue of the KFC mascot, Colonel Sanders, that was throw right into a river. It’s fairly hilarious and also you received’t remorse wanting it up.
Keep in a Love Lodge — Japanese individuals often reside with their household till marriage. So love lodges make massive enterprise on who’re nonetheless within the relationship stage of issues. Despite the fact that they cost by the hour, they’re nonetheless typically cheaper than an abnormal lodge. They’re SUPER clear, offer you free condoms, have karaoke and video video games, and are a basic good spot to catch a day nap when it’s a protracted stroll again to your hostel.
It is a place of peace and mournful tranquility. It’s properly price paying your respects and educating your self about Japan’s devastating battle historical past.
Peace Memorial Park – This curved monument is engraved with all of the names of the identified victims of the 1945 atomic bomb. Burning within the pond is the Flame of Peace, which is able to solely be extinguished as soon as all the nuclear weapons on earth have been destroyed.
Atomic Bomb Dome – This constructing was once the Industrial Promotion Corridor till the bomb exploded straight above it. It was considered one of only a few buildings left standing within the epicentre, and serves as a reminder of the injury that was brought about.
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum – Study Hiroshima’s ongoing legacy for peace on this expansive museum. Inside options objects discovered within the aftermath of the bomb, first-person accounts proven on video and a variety of images. It’s upsetting, however an absolute must-see in Hiroshima. All websites are translated into English and different languages for optimum accessibility.
Shukkei-en – This backyard was created in 1620, and the buildings had been largely destroyed when the bomb fell. Nonetheless, many bushes survived and bloomed the subsequent season. The remainder of the backyard has lengthy since been restored and is calming to walk by.
Orizuru Tower – That is boasted as the most effective viewpoint in Hiroshima. It oversees the Peace Memorial Park, the Atomic Bomb Dome in addition to the remainder of town and the mountains past. It’s a fantastic place to take a break and ponder every little thing you’ve realized about Hiroshima.
Getting round Japan
The JR cross is maybe the second most essential factor you’ll need to convey when going to Japan (your passport clearly being the primary). There are some exceptions with regards to limitless rail journey, however until you’re headed to very area of interest areas of Japan, you need to have the ability to get to each journey in your listing. You may select to reside life on the tracks with one-, two-, or three-week cross choices at costs that may drive locals to jealousy:
7 days — ¥29,110/ $279
14 days — ¥46,390/ $444
21 days — ¥59,350/ $568
You’ll want to purchase your cross on-line BEFORE arriving in Japan. If you buy your cross on-line, you might to rearrange your alternate order to be delivered to both your house or your lodge in Japan. An alternate order isn’t your JR cross although! It’s essential to then go to any JR Alternate Workplace in Japan together with your alternate order to lastly possess your coveted cross.
Guard you JR cross together with your life — it’s irreplaceable, so that you’re out of luck in case you lose it. To rearrange your precise practice journeys, go to the JR places of work at every main station as you go alongside your journey. It’s best to usually be wonderful to easily present as much as the station on the day you need to journey, however you need to most likely e-book not less than just a few days forward in case you’re touring throughout hanami (cherry blossom season) or Golden Week. Significantly, Japanese individuals e-book their journey about six months prematurely for these occasions.
An IC card (also called the Suica card inside Tokyo) goes to be your greatest buddy when gallivanting inside the cities. You merely faucet on and off the metro and busses such as you would an Oyster card in London. Every area has its personal cute IC card title and mascot. Are you able to catch all of them?
Transfer over CityMapper, and hiya HyperDia. This goddess of an app is available in English and has the most recent practice occasions, costs, connections, and platform numbers of every journey. You’ll by no means be late or get misplaced in case you pledge your timeless love for HyperDia. Significantly although, Google Maps is drunk in Japan. Don’t belief it.
Lodging in Japan and find out how to e-book
Lodges and hostels could be perused and booked on-line as you’ll in every other nation – begin looking now. Whether or not you’re up for flopping on a futon or crave the comforts of dwelling with a western-style mattress, you’ll discover an enormous number of rooms that can match your fashion and finances. Similar to…
Capsule lodges – These environment friendly little pods are made so that you can rock up and flop inside, and are a basic ‘Japan’ expertise for lots of vacationers. Typically essentially the most finances pleasant, they provide shared showering amenities and particular person telephone chargers, radios and mini TVs in every capsule. Each place you’ll keep is nearly assured to be extraordinarily clear, even when it’s not rated 10/10.
Ryokan are conventional Japanese inns which are often run by households. Lounge in a yukata gown and, soak every night in a conventional onsen (scorching tub), and make sure you go for a conventional night meal or breakfast cooked by the ryokan’s chef. After your knees are sore from kneeling on the tatami ground, slip below the nice and cozy sheets of a futon. These indie spots was once tough to seek out in case you didn’t converse Japanese, however concern not! We’ve received you lined with our reserving web page proper right here.
Love lodges, mostly discovered within the Roppongi and Shinjuku areas of Tokyo, are… properly, precisely what they are saying on the tin, so that you would possibly need to strategy with care. Japanese pays by the hour to make use of their amenities, making for his or her seedy status. However in case you do your analysis, you’ll find completely clear and amazing-value rooms, stuffed with every little thing from revolving beds, to karaoke machines and futuristic-themed scorching tubs. F-U-N.
We hate to interrupt it to you, however Airbnb is sadly not your buddy in Japan. As a consequence of new laws being enforced in the previous couple of years, the variety of Airbnbs listings have dramatically dropped. Some can nonetheless be booked, however your host will possible offer you directions to not inform their neighbors you might be visitors from the positioning. It’s okay although—our lips are sealed.
How a lot ought to I finances?
Relying on how a lot yen you’ve got in your coin purse, your typical night time in Japan will most likely appear to be considered one of these.
On a budget: Begin the night time by bagging a choice of ready-to-eat yakitori, croquettes, or sushi from a comfort retailer corresponding to Lawson, FamilyMart or 7-Eleven (¥600/$5.50). Whereas at stated retailer, fill up on the miracle elixir referred to as Sturdy Zero (¥160/$1.25!) — cautious although… don’t take that 9% alcohol frivolously. End up the night in a hostel (¥three,000/$26) that appears similar to a European hostel, solely it’s ridiculously tidy.
Like a neighborhood: Pop into the native izakaya (a Japanese pub) and order a pint of Asahi beer (¥300/$2.50) and munch on an insane number of greens and fried meats also called kushi katsu. (¥1,500/ £11). You may go for an abnormal lodge, (¥5,000/$46) or you’ll be able to uncover first-hand that love lodges are surprisingly cheaper and rather more entertaining (¥three,500/$30).
Luxurious: Indulge on the finer issues in life and incite wild envy in your Instagram followers. Take extra time photographing your multi-course artisanal dinner than really consuming it (¥four,000/$37), and ask the server what sake pairs greatest (¥900/$eight). Prance off to your ryokan to retire, and be sure you decide one with an onsen (¥eight,000/$75).
Prime 10 Japanese phrases you want to study
Do you converse English?: Eigo ga wakarimasu ka?
Sorry, I don’t perceive: Gomenasai! Wakarimasen.
Good morning — Good day: Ohayo Gozaimasu — Konnichi wa.
Excuse me/Sorry: Sumimasen.
The place is the washroom?: Toire wa doko desu ka?
I would really like that one please: Kore wa kudasai.
(Remember to level to one thing whenever you say this!)
Is that this/are you okay?: Daijoubu desu ka?
It’s okay (helpful when declining issues/No thanks): Daijoubu desu.
Is there a bin I can use?: Gomi ga arimasu ka?
Thanks!: Arigato gozaimasu.
You’ll by no means have a foul meal in Japan. Individuals right here by no means half-ass something, and it reveals of their painstakingly perfected meals creations.
In massive cities, you’ll have the ability to discover an array of worldwide delicacies that has affectionately been remodeled with a Japanese twist (for instance, pizza with corn as a topping). Western-style vegetarian and vegan eateries will also be discovered if you already know the place to go. Outdoors of huge cities, you’ll discover six Japanese staples reign supreme: Sushi, Japanese Italian, Japanese curry, okonomiyaki, yakitori (grilled hen), and ramen.
Remember to additionally try a comfort retailer and suss out the seasonal flavors of KitKats and different sweets. Whereas your mates and fam are just about anticipating you to convey them again a handful of matcha-flavored Equipment Kats, additionally check out the crème brulee, chocobanana, blueberry cheese cake and… baked potato(??!) flavored ones.
Are you able to style Tokyo in your mouth but?! Try our Japan vacation spot hub, the place you’ll find flights and a great deal of journey excursions.