We did not post anything in February because, as you may know from social media, our most frequent writers were in Japan! We did not post a travelogue and we are sorry, however, our internet access was spotty and we were quite busy. As a result, we ahve decided to make a quick list of our Japanese top 10. These are either things to know to make your trip easier or things we did that should de
finitely make the agenda of anyone travelling to the Kanto or Kansai areas. It is the obligatory weeb post after our trip, however, we are going to try to avoid some of the obvious hits, like Akihabara and the 1:1 Gundam maybe go a little further afield from those points. (our trip did, so our list is going to as well.)
- Darkpixxi and Graham agree that learning the basics of some etiquette is their number one piece of advice. This includes learning the correct way to say “Thank you” and “I’m sorry” as
See Mount Fuji. With the new train available from Shinjuku tt can be an easy day trip from Tokyo and the buses are also fairly easy to navigate. The sight of Mount Fuji is truly awe-inspiring and is at the forefront of so much of Japanese culture and reverence it is definitely worth making the time to see. You won’t regret it. As an aside Kawaguchi-ko has a nostalgia museum “Happy Days” that is definitely worth an hour or two.
3. Nara is a small city located close to Kyoto (about 40 minutes by train) and was the first permanent capital of Japan. It has many well preserved historical sites, including some newly refurbished temples. It is not far past the Fushimi-Inari shrine outside
of Kyoto. It has a staggering number of Unesco World Heritage sites and small deer that swarm you, but adorably so. You can by rice crackers to feed the deer in the park and tour some a park where the deer live. Over eight world heritage sites are located around the park and this is a great way to spend a day. Plus the sake was wonderful!
4. The further you go from large tourist places, the fewer places take credit card-in more remote areas it is definitely cash only. Before we left we saw and heard a lot of conflicting advice about this topic.
While it is definitely not a country where “no one takes credit cards” a myth that I have definitely seen bandied about it is also true that if you want to go off the beaten path you are going to need to take cash. The good news is that money exchanges are incredibly prevalent. And you will definitely go somewhere that is cash only, whether it is an anime goods store or a hole-in-the-wall restaurant.
5. There is an innumerable amount of temples and shrines in Japan. That being said, definitely make it a point to seek one or two out if this is not already on your itinerary. They are varied, breathtaking, and each one is a different experience, ready to re-form your world view. If you are lucky, you will have the opportunity to tour one with a knowledgeable guide or see a ceremony taking place.
6. This one may sound counterintuitive, but our advice would be to explore a district of Tokyo other than Akihabara when you first arrive. We know that people
are incredibly eager to explore Akihabara and the anime collectables that are there, but if you get too caught up you will miss other amazing things that are in store. In addition, if you are easily overwhelmed, it might be good to acclimate somewhat as Akihabara is incredibly overstimulating and could easily add to that sense. Akihabara is easy to reach from almost any point in Tokyo, so it might be better to explore another area first, just a thought.
7. Plan ahead. If there are things such as a museum or other popular tourist attractions that charge admission you are interested in, make sure you know ahead of time and plan accordingly. There are many popular places that have limited admission (sometimes only 100 people/day) and they sell out quickly. This is particularly true for attractions that are popular within Japan as they tend to plan and buy tickets early. A prime example is the Ghibli museum which typically sells out the day that tickets are released-exactly 30 days before admission. This also happens with the Final Fantasy cafe, so be warned!
8) Railway Museums. Japan has several fantastic railway museums that really underscore the impacts of trains on Japanese culture and the development of Japan. They are great and we really recommend them, especially if you are interested in history, mecha, or trains. 🙂
Because there are several throughout Japan you can go to one regardless of the region that you will be visiting.
9) Don’t try to pack too much into any given day. I often hear people list these extensive itineraries, whether for Japan or elsewhere and are frustrated when they don’t let achieve all of their goals. Leave some buffer room, whether its to enjoy an extra drink, a snack, or transport time. Sometimes we just wandered down a couple of random streets, like cat street or serendipitously enjoyed some cherry blossoms. Don’t miss out because you are too stressed to enjoy the little things.
We did many other things too, but these are some items and ideas that we didn’t necessarily have a good grasp on for our trip and hope that you benefit 🙂 This is on top of Den-den, Akihabara, Ikebukuro, etc. Some of these tips are good for all travel, not just going to Japan of course.
until next time