We started planning our trip way in advance because we wanted to get the most out of it. We decided to go for 3 weeks and cover as many cities as possible. How did we decide on the cities? After loads and loads, and LOADS of research. There are so many beautiful places in Japan and so many things to see and experience. It is impossible to cover it all, unfortunately. So, it all comes down to preference and what you want to see and do.
Tokyo -> Osaka -> Nara -> Kyoto -> Kanazawa -> Matsumoto ->Yamanouchi ->Tokyo
When to go: You can choose to go in any time of year, there are cities for every season: beaches and mountain climbing for summer, ski resorts for winter, and the spring for none other than the beautiful cherry blossoms. That was our choice – the cherry blossoms. So, we chose to go Mid-March to beginning April. But even with meticulous planning, the cherry blossoms bloom according to the weather that year, so it’s risky. We kept our fingers crossed.
What to do before you go:
- If you’re planning on being in Japan for a while and traveling to different cities, the easiest and most economical way to travel is by train. Taking a cab everywhere will get very expensive, very quickly.
- We recommend purchasing the Japan Rail Pass, which gives you unlimited access to the Japan Rail (JR) Lines. We took the train everywhere even within the cities whenever we could. You can purchase one of their packages on their website: jrpass.com Here’s the thing, you can only purchase this pass BEFORE you go to Japan and once you land at the airport you activate it.
Another thing you should look into is getting a MIFI: mobile wireless internet. That way, you can use your phone while you’re there without actually having to get a Japanese line. Cheap and easy. They actually can have it delivered to your hotel and then before you leave Japan, just place it in the cardboard envelope they provide and drop into any mailbox close by and you’re done. We got ours from japan-wireless.com
- ASK– anyone and everyone that you know who has been to Japan. Everyone has a different experience when they go– the more things you know, the more choices you’ll have on what to do when you get there. And even then, you’ll end up doing only a fraction of that stuff and find your own activities that you happened to come across. It’s just that kind of place.
If you’re planning on doing what we did (3 weeks, multiple cities via train), we highly recommend taking MINIMAL luggage. You will need to be mobile. Their trains run like clockwork, by the minute, literally. There will be a train at 5:17 pm and it will leave exactly at 5:17 pm – no joke. And there will be lots of walking (and getting lost) and stairs. So, we only took a total of 4 pieces: two carry-ons (small, compact, 4 wheels for easy maneuvering) and two backpacks. And that’s it.
No, we are not kidding. You have to pack extremely well. Things you can layer, things you can re-wear and match with ease. Do not take anything you don’t really “need.”
OK, Although it’s been a while since we went, we will try to be as thorough as possible. We want to give this beautiful place justice. Stay tuned and read the details of our experience in future posts on hello965.com!!