Sorry for my absence these past few weeks but as you know (or maybe not, if you haven’t followed me on my social channels), I have been traveling to the other side of the world! To celebrate the end of our PhDs and our London adventure, me and my beardy boy organized a 15 days trip in Japan!
I just got back and I have so much to talk about… That’s why I decided to write a series of posts to describe, step by step, all the places we have visited and the experiences we have lived, so that, anyone willing to visit the land of geishas, high-speed trains and sushi can be inspired by our itinerary.
Religious traditions meet technology, neon lights of Tokyo opposed to the magical silence of the temples surrounded by nature: visiting Japan has always been one of my dreams! I was intrigued and fascinated by this world that seemed so far away and so different from the Western world I’m used to. And let me tell you…that’s absolutely true! The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about the journey that has just ended is that Japan is really another world!
But let’s not jump to conclusions … Follow me on the blog and you’ll know more !! In my next post I’ll talk about the best 15 days japan itinerary:
- Tokyo (5-6 days)
- Kyoto (3-4 days)
- Kanazawa (2 days)
- Osaka (1 day)
- Hakone (1 day)
- Hiroshima – Miyajima (1 day)
But first I want to give you some general advices that might be of help if you want to jump into this adventure!
- Climate. First, if you want to enjoy the wonderful landscapes of Japan during the cherry blossom season, in Japanese “sakura”, you’ll have to go in the period between early April and late June. Me and my beardy boy, for major reasons (our PhD exams), had to delay the start in mid-June. While the weather in early summer is a fairly unknown (In fact June is the beginning of the three-month rainy season), there is the advantage of fewer tourists and high temperatures, usually above 25 degrees. You will not need sweaters, jackets or sweatshirts, but bring umbrella and / or a raincoat, and get ready to face a very wet weather!
- Prices. Summer is not considered very high season yet, therefore you can count on lower prices for both the airfare (I usually use Skyscanner to find the best deals: it is ideal especially if you have some flexibility with the dates), hotels / hostels (I will suggest some hotels in the post dedicated to individual cities). We were quite lucky with the weather, apart from a couple of rainy days!
- Japan Rail Pass. Before departure buy a Japan Rail Pass “JRP” that will allow you to use almost all high-speed trains in Japan and move easily between the destinations you have chosen for your visit. The pass can be purchased according to the the area you want to visit or for a certain period length. For our trip we bought a pass for 14 days, at 46.390 JPY (352 £). The one-week pass costs 29.110 JPY (221 £) while the 21-day pass costs 59.350 JPY (450 £). The JRP can be purchased only by tourists and can not be bought in Japan. I highly recommend to buy one before departure! We we bought it online on this website: https://www.japan-rail-pass.com. The JRP, once bought, will be delivered within 2-3 days. The JRP is activated at the airport, and you can decide the date on which activate it according to your travel choices.
- Transportation to and from the airport. If you decide to activate your Japan Rail Pass on the day you arrive in Japan, from Tokyo Narita airport to the city centre, you can use the free NARITA EXPRESS. Otherwise if you decide to activate the JRP only later, you can use the Keisei line trains, the tickets are available at ATMs or at the counters close to the station entrance. If you want to save money be careful to ask for tickets to the “limited express train” (1030 JPY each way, for ~ 80 min UENO) otherwise the staff will try to sell you tickets for the SKYLINER (2400 JPY each way, for ~ 50 min UENO) .
- Internet. Tokyo has many Wifi spots open to the public and hardly you will have trouble finding one around the city. The other Japanese cities instead are more isolated and people don’t talk english very much. My recommendation is to buy a “visitor sim card” just arrived in Japan. They come in different types and you can choose it according to your days of stay! The prices at the airport are slightly higher, if you want to save money you can buy a sim in one of the many “BIC CAMERA” stores around Japan. For our sim card (with unlimited internet for 14 days), we spent 22£.
- Money Exchange. Numerous websites had put me some anxieties about when and how to exchange money in Japan. The reality is that change money before entering in Japan is no sense and the exchange prices are really a theft !! I suggest you bring a certain budget in Euros or Pounds and exchange them directly to at the airport. Money exchange the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi (1 arrivals floor, north wing, Tokyo Narita Airport) is very favorable! However, make sure you always have cash as you will need it very often during your trip (in the stations there is always some ATM machine where you can withdraw some money in case you were short!).
- Pasmo card. To move around the cities you should buy a Pasmo a card, a rechargeable card usable on most means of transport (trains, metro, bus) in Japan and sometimes even for shopping! Me and my boyfriend bought it at the airport!
Follow me on the blog every week and I will tell you all the details of this lovely trip!!
Have a great day!! <3
Loads of love,
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