WHAT TO DO?
Important Manners to know in Japan:
- Be sure to finish everything on your plate. It is a sign of respect for the food but also the person preparing your food.
- Please bring your rubbish home with you or throw them into the right trash categories in public areas.
Top Places I would visit in Japan:
- Before you get to Hakone, make sure you stop at Hakone-Yumoto – it’s a lovely place to buy souvenirs and snacks.
- Owakudani is my favorite spot in Hakone – you get a glimpse of Mount Fuji here. Please do try the Black Volcanic Egg as well.
- Visit Odawara Castle – you may put your bag into a locker at the Odawara Station and walk (15mins) to the castle.
- Rise early and get to all the famous attraction (eg. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Bamboo Forest) – be there before 10 am so you can avoid tourists appearing on your photos.
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- Eat/Shop at the Nishiki Market and you must try Yodofu at Rokuon-ji Temple – beautiful and peaceful place.
- Have a drink (Famous Award Winning Cocktail) at Rocking Chair Bar – enjoy an awesome night out at the bar.
- Mount Koya
- Stop at Yamato Saidaji Station and try the Curry Tempura – it’s one of the best I’ve had.
- Cemetry Night Tour is a must do! You may ask the temple to help arrange for transportation.
- Rise early to attend the temple morning praying ceremony.
- Visit Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – spend about 1.5hours here.
- Visit Osaka Castle Museum – beautiful view from the top
- Eat at Doton Bori Market and Kuromon Ichiba Market.
- Take a (15mins) hike to Observatory
- Take a selfie at the Suspension Bridge
- Visit the Heritage Museum and takes lots of pictures of the town.
- Other Unique Places
- Shinyokohama Ramen Museum – a museum in which gathers the national best ramen into one place. Curated top 10 ramen shops around the country are handpicked to be part of this museum.
- Katsukura @ Shibuya – Shinjuku Times Square Building 14th Floor – they have the best Katsu dish!
- If you love Whiskey — please do ensure you book early for Whiskey Tasting Tour @ Suntory Yamazaki Distillery
WHERE TO STAY?
If you are backpacking – try to stay somewhere near the Station so it’s easier and more convenient. Here are all my accommodations – and I would highly recommend it.
- Len Kyoto Kawaramachi (hostel, cafe, bar, dining)
- Mixed Dorm 2600
- Female Dorm 3000
- Twin Room 6800
- Double Room 8800
- CMM Kyoto Ekimae
- Gora Hotel Paipuno Kemuri Plus
- Best Western Hotel Takayama
- Mount Koya
- Soujiin Temple
Decide if you are heading to multiple places in Japan traveling from one city to the other. If you are staying put in Tokyo – there isn’t a need for JR Rail.
There is another card that’s quite useful for traveling within Tokyo – Suica Card. This would be the typical card that the locals would have – where you pre-purchase credit into the card and it will deduct accordingly to the trip.
iPhone Maps have been super helpful in navigating me through the trains and buses giving very accurate instructions on which platform, departure time and exit directions. It can be very stressful without understanding the language. Please always check with the station master/staff to ensure you don’t get onto the wrong train.
Here’s an estimate of travel fees in Yen so you may decide if it’s worth the purchase of a JR Rail Pass:
Kyoto City Bus & Kyoto Bus 1-Day Pass –500
Kyoto Sightseeing 1 Day – 1,200 | 2 Days Pass – 2,000
Kyoto City Subway 1 Day – 600
Kansai Pass 2 Days – 4,000
Kansai Pass 3 Days – 5,200
JLO RANDOM TIPS
INTERNET Invest in it – I bought the DOCOMO 7 days unlimited data – which is amazing! I would strongly suggest you do your calculation accordingly to how much data you use and how many days you are in Japan. For my 16 days, it’s more worth it to do 7 days unlimited data versus the pocket wifi.
BOOKS If you are traveling alone bring books – it may help to tear chapters out and bring them (so much lighter) along the way and throw them away or leave them in the hotel room.
Stay tune for next destination tips – Hawaii!