Visiting Japan had been my dream for as long as I can remember. Mysterious country on the island so far away was always captivating. A technologically advanced nation that seemed to be decades ahead of the Western world. What is life like there? How do people go along with their daily routine? There are so many questions I had hoping to find an answer for one day. That day had finally come – in May my husband and I went to Japan for a 2 weeks trip. An amazing trip like no other! There are so many pictures I took and so many new emotions experienced that one post would not have been enough. This is why I decided to break the material by days we were there. It is going to take me some time but slowly I’ll get to write them all. Follow along to see Japan through our eyes 🙂
We started to plan the trip well in advance. Japan is extremely popular among both the foreigners and the Japanese which is why I recommend starting booking airplane tickets and hotels 4-5 months ahead of the trip. We found that 3 months before our journey, which is when we decided it was time to plan, there was already a shortage of nice hotels for our dates.
SELECTING A HOTEL
Our first destination was Tokyo so we were looking for something interesting there. The challenge I found was figuring out which area to stay. It is a huge city with so many different neighborhoods – it takes a while to decide. I’ve watched numerous YouTube videos that helped me learn a bit more about the city. We usually like to stay in cute boutique hotels which are reasonably priced but also have a high rating. After considering many options we decided to book our stay at the Wired Hotel in Asakusa area.
“Asakusa is a neighborhood in Tokyo that has resisted change so retains much old world Japanese charm. The variety of temple, shrines, and traditional architecture makes Asakusa one of Tokyo’s top tourist attractions.” – Wired Hotel’s website.
Getting ahead of myself, the hotel was amazing! But there are a few more things I’d like to mention before I share hotel pictures.
JAPAN RAIL PASS
From the YouTube videos I’ve learned that we needed to get a Japan Rail Pass (JRP) to travel around the country and sometimes even within the city. Apparently, it is pricy to take the train from Tokyo to Kyoto for example so we started to look at getting the pass. I’ve read in many places that if you are a foreigner, you need to buy the pass in advance online and that it was not possible to get it in Japan. Being a bit skeptical, we booked 2 passes on the 3rd party website https://www.jrpass.co.uk/en/ that claimed to be an official seller of JRP. They turned out to be legitimate so don’t get too nervous.
There are different types of passes available. We got the 7 days Ordinary pass for £200 / person. To give it a bit more context – one way trip from Tokyo to Kyoto cost 13,000 yen = £96. We had plans to go to Osaka and Nara while in Kyoto and back to Tokyo so the pass was definitely worth the investment for us. We also used it in Kyoto a lot to get to the places we wanted to see there. If you are planning to travel within Japan a lot, I definitely recommend getting a pass.
When we booked the passes online, we didn’t get it right away. Instead, the company sent us 2 vouchers by mail:
We had to exchange these vouchers for the JRPs at the airport in Tokyo upon arrival.
DAY 1 – TOKYO
The day had finally come and we were on our way to Tokyo. Let me tell you, getting there from London is exhausting. We flew through Rome with 4 hours layover there. Our total trip door to door took over 24 hours but nonetheless, the experience was rewarding and totally worth it.
Firth stop at the airport was to pick up our JRPs:
As you wait in line, you can check out some interesting tips on traveling in Japan:
I recommend you read at least some of them – Japanese like order and efficiency in everything. If you’d find yourself on the wrong side on the escalator, not eating sushi correctly or speaking loud in public transportation, you will be standing out not in a good way.
Another thing I suggest is getting cash at the airport. You will need it. We found ourselves paying cash about 50% of the time while in Japan.
As we were finally done at the airport, we headed to our hotel by express train. It took us another hour until we finally made it! We loved our accommodation:
It was midday in Tokyo – around noon but we were so exhausted. Of course, we took a nap but woke up closer to 6pm. It was getting dark:
Rested and happy with our hotel choice we decided to go out and have some food. We ended up just taking a walk around the hotel and getting delicious ramen. What else would you eat on your first day in Tokyo? We also had a drink in one of the bars at a super cool alley we found. Few pics from that night:
Everything around us was fascinating – streets, people, signs – everything was different. The air was different. We felt like we were in another world. This feeling didn’t leave us the entire time we were in Japan. A truly amazing place!
We were getting pretty sleepy again and decided to head back to the hotel:
We had many plans for the following day in Tokyo. More about it in my next post 🙂