Konichiwa!

Welcome to Japan, Hello965 Style!

Things you need to apply for a tourist Visa to Japan:

  • Visa Application (from their website, to be filled and printed)
  • A passport sized photo
  • Salary Certificate
  • Flight details
  • Hotel reservations

FLIGHT: Kuwait-Osaka-Tokyo-Seoul-Kuwait

MONTH: End of March/Early April

SEASON: Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)

Going with a group of friends, none of us been to Japan before. Since we all wanted to visit more than one city in Japan, and to precisely go in the cherry blossoms season, we’ve decided to go end of March, and stay for some of April. For myself, my trip was a bit longer than theirs.

Cities we’ve decided to see are:

  • Osaka
  • Kyoto
  • Tokyo

BEFORE I TRAVELED:

 JR Pass

I was planning my city transport to be via Train (Which is part of the experience in Japan!). JR pass allows you to take unlimited trips on JR lines for instance bullet train rides across Japan.

At start, I misunderstood and thought that the JR Pass is for everywhere. would also allow you to use the metro within the cities. (NOT.)

I ordered my JR Pass online one month before my trip and it was delivered to me 3 days after I ordered it to my house in Kuwait. #LOVEIT

Internet Router Rental

I ordered two unlimited routers for our group (4 people), each router carries up to 3 devices. It was dropped to our first hotel in Osaka, and dropped off from our last stop in Tokyo. The website I ordered from (http://globaladvancedcomm.com)

OSAKA (2 nights)

Accommodation in Osaka

Hotel in Osaka: Hotel Monterey Grasmere

Address: 556-0017 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Naniwa-ku Minatomachi 1-2-3, Japan

(Phone: +81666457111)

*** Good location, average service & facilities, fairly priced.

FIRST STOP: OSAKA

after plenty of research focused on the cherry blossom season, I decided to follow the calendar of the Sakura.. Based on that, i’m starting off with Osaka, and ending the trip with Tokyo.

Day 1: Arrival to Osaka 

Arrival to Kansai Interntional Airport Terminal 1

o To Hotel by Taxi is around 45 minutes. (Taxis at airport) ~ 12k Yen: 33KD

o To Hotel by Bus is around 1 hr 4 minutes. (Bus at airport) ~ 1150 Yen: 4 KD

o To Hotel by Train/Metro is around 50 minutes (We took this option, note that JR will not work for this transfer, you’ll need to purchase a metro ticket at the station itself)

  • Arrive, check-in & rest. Explore Dōtonbori or Dōtombori: typical Japanese neon district, loud and bright
  • We went out looking for an UDON restaurant, and found one! Name is: Tsurutontan Soemoncho

Day 2: Explore Osaka 

Day 2 is free & open to explore Osaka till dinner time.

Suggested itinerary:

– Osaka Castle Park

– Dotonbori Area, The Glico Man Sign

– Find Kema Sakuranomiya Park for Cherry Blossoms

– We stopped randomly at a restaurant in the station and had Sukiyaki for lunch!

– Checkout Hozenji Yokocho Alley after lunch (This is a nice small alley with restaurants and bar, suitable for the night)

– On the second day, we had dinner reservations at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho (Steakhouse) -in Dotonbori Area/ Yakiniku m M (Hanare), booking ahead is advised.

Day 3: Leaving Osaka 

Bye bye Osaka! Hello Kyoto..

We left Osaka by the train to Kyoto, super short ride! There are multiple trains with different timings, ours was the 18 minutes time.

KYOTO (2 nights)

Accommodation in Kyoto

Hotel in Kyoto: Matsui Honkan (Japanese typical hotel, floor beds, make sure you’re comfortable with it)

Address: 604-8113 Kyoto, Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku, Izutsuya cho 405. Japan

(Phone: +81 75 221 3535)

*** Good location, clean, friendly staff but not so much on English speaking. (My review on trip advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g298564-d644517-r472536489-Matsui_Honkan_Ryokan-Kyoto_Kyoto_Prefecture_Kinki.html#REVIEWS)

*** I recommend at least 3 nights in Kyoto

SECOND STOP: KYOTO

I absolutely fell in love with Kyoto. So much culture, so much liveliness, so much to see. we spent only 2 nights in Kyoto, and realized how much we loved it. I would advise to stay longer in Kyoto, and even to maybe base in Kyoto, and visit Osaka as a day trip instead. It all depends on your likings, and your trip total time.

Day 1: Arrival to Kyoto

Suggested itinerary for the day:

– Tenryu-ji Temple (attraction in Arashiyama) with one of the finest gardens in Kyoto and

wonderful mountain views.

– Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Monkey Park Iwatayama, Togetsukyo Bridge, Sagano

After doing the above, we didn’t have time to do the following which is still recommended: Romantic Train// Kiyomizu temple. Cherry trees can be found around the Togetsukyo

Bridget Arashiyama mountains, / in the riverside Nakanoshima Park. Another nice Hanami (cherry blossom) spot in the area is Daikakuji Temple whose large pond is surrounded by cherry trees.

– Go to Geisha District and explore (Best time to spot Geisha is from 5 PM to 7 PM).

If you’re looking for my dinners & food experiences in Japan, check my instagram hashtag #hello965kyoto

Day 2: Day trip to Nara 

We did a Private Kyoto and Nara Tour with a Photographer where we first stopped at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto (NOT TO MISS!). This trip was a bit overpriced, but i’m not surprised given its a private vehicle all day, with a personal photographer. In my case, the photographer was just for a change, since I already have my own cameras and style of photography. Such trips you could find on www.viator.com

Next we started driving to Nara, visited Todaiji Temple and also saw the world’s largest (or second largest) Buddha statue! Later, we headed to Nara Park where very friendly deer interact with visitors. Next up was Kasuga Taisha Shinto Shrine and we finally ended the tour at Kofukuji Temple, which features an impressive pagoda, and the National Treasure Museum at Kofukuji.

After our Nara trip, we had DINNER RESERVATION at HAFUU Honten (JAPANESE STEAKHOUSE) (471-1

Sasayacho, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto 604-0983): +81 75-257-1581

Day 3: Leaving Kyoto

We tried to checkout Caf. Bibliotic HELLO! but unfortunately it opens at 11 AM, and we had to leave before that. If you have the time, check this place out!!!! Found the cutest coffee shops in Kyoto!

Bye bye Kyoto! Hello Tokyo.. (2 hours 30 minutes by train)

TOKYO (5 nights)

My stay in Tokyo was in a hotel I did not like, for that, I will not recommend it. 

However and on my last two nights, I decided to find a cheaper option, and closer to the touristy areas on purpose; so I stayed at APA Hotel Shibuya. Great location, close to the station, and bus stops to airport transfers.

This is a 3 star Japanese chain hotel. If you’re not looking for something high-end, this is a great choice!

LAST STOP: TOKYO

Even 5 nights wasn’t enough – I’m blown away with the beauty of Japan, and Tokyo!

Day 1: Hello Tokyo!

No pre-scheduled trips in here!

We arrived late to our rooms. So we decided to checkout Shibuya and see the Shibuya Crossing!

Shibuya (nightlife), Rupangi (nightlife & bars)

Suggested for dinner:

Robot Restaurant (was fully booked!)

Day 2: Bike & Explore Tokyo

Day 2 started off with a Biking tour for the day! Our guide met us and took us all around Tokyo! We passed by Shibuya Crossing, Tsutaya, Shinjuku, Ginza and Roppongi Hills. Pass landmarks like Meiji Jingu Shrine, Yoyogi Park, and the Imperial Palace before ending at the top of the 48-story Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.

Loved this trip so much!!!

For dinner, we had a reservation at Nobu.

Day 3: Day trip to Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi 

We’ve booked for a day trip to Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi. To be honest, the weather wasn’t good at all; we ended up spending ALL our time on the bus. Please make sure of the weather before you book, other people mentioned that this tour is NOT TO MISS (to me, it wasn’t the best day!).

Day 4: Fish Market Tour & Shopping Day

This day was absolutely awesome. Started off with a pre-booked fish market (Tsukiji fish market) tour and cooking class. The cooking class was with ABC Cooking Studio.

Later, we had some free time for shopping in Shibuya, Ginza and Akihabara (electronics and Games). At Akihabara, I tried the yummiest cheese cake tarts at Pablo. Recommended!

At night, I went for dinner at the Innocent Carvery (Meat/steaks).

Day 5: Day Trip to Nikko National Park & Lake Chenzuji 

Although again the weather wasn’t the best, nonetheless I enjoyed it a lot! I recommend this tour for photography and nature lovers in particular. At night, I walked around Shinjuku and ran a few errands.

Day 6: Bye Bye Tokyo … 

Dropped off my router at the post mail (there’s a post box/mailbox at the airpot for the router)

Interesting things to know before you go:

  • In Japan, you can’t find plenty of trash cans/garbage bins. The reason is that you’re expected to either keep the trash with you till you’re back to throw it in your own trash, or you eat at the shop itself, and throw it there. من الصعب ايجاد سله للقمامه في اليابان٫ المتوقع من السائح انه ياخذ القمامه معاه الى المنزل معاه آو يآكل في المحل نفسه ويرمي القمامه هناك
  • Not a lot of people speak English. Expect to struggle a bit with communication and have patience and an open mid (You are going to THEIR country, so try to stay calm as much as possible). It’s handy to have google translate, or an apple with the necessary words to greet or communicate in restaurants, hotels, etc. في اليابان لايوجد الكثير من المتحدثين في اللغه الانجليزيه ف وجود تطبيق ترجمه بالتلفون يساعد
  • There is no TIPPING in Japan. So do not leave any money behind. مافي بقشيش في اليابان
  • Tax is 8%, in department stores, you have to go to another floor to get your tax refund in cash. In regular stores, they discount the tax price from the total price (you need to carry your passport with you when shopping to get the tax refund).
  • You’ll see a lot of Japanese wearing masks. Reason being is 1) they’re either sick, or out of courtesy for others when coughing and sneezing in small places. 2) ladies do not want to show their faces without makeup and 3) the younger people find it better to avoid socializing so they wear masks. (Info received from both online research as well as provided by Japanese tour guides).