If you haven’t met me yet… you probably don’t know that I’ve been to Japan three times: Summer 2015, Spring 2016, and Spring 2017 and honestly, I think I want to travel there again and visit the north side of Japan. I’ve been to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kobe, and Gunma). My travels ranged from 5 days to 14 days and I’ve been around both the urban and rural areas. I love that country, the people there, the culture, etc. A lot of people message me about tips or recommendations on where to go, eat, etc. so I decided to write about my travel stories and what I did in each city. It’s not going to be an extensive list but some of the places that stood out to me while I was there. Something about me: I don’t like visiting touristy places so I usually spend my travel finding the local things to do, exploring, smaller temples, eating at the mom&pop shops/hole in the walls, etc. I refuse to wait hours in line for the hype of the food in another country.
- Get a JR Pass and utilize the 7-day pass. The way I do it is that I separate my trips into two sections. I stay in one area of Japan that I can just use their regular train systems and then I activate my pass, travel to another area and stay there, and at the end of the 7 days, ride the Shinkansen back to the original are and end my trip there. I plan my travels in the area where the I can utilize their JR lines (like Tokyo) with my pass so I’m not using it only with their Shinkansen. For those who don’t know, the Shinkansen is their bullet train that JR pass holders can ride that travels between different prefectures that cuts the time in half compared to a regular train ride.
- Figure out if you want to rent out an AirBNB or a hotel – there’s a lot of different hotel experiences you can enjoy. From my personal experience, getting a hotel you definitely feel more touristy because of the area they’re located in, the accommodations that you get, etc. but for AirBNBs, you feel like a local and get to see these amazing neighborhoods that you wouldn’t see or experience if you didn’t know about that area.
- Figure out what the weather is like and PACK ACCORDINGLY. I can’t tell you how many times where I had to borrow my friend’s jacket because I was FREEZING. Spring time is definitely still cold&windy and I learned that the hard way.
- MAKE A GENERAL ITINERARY. I usually like to go to places and wing where I go but since there’s so many places to see and things to do, it generally helps to make an itinerary or a list of the general areas you want to visit and just use that list as a reference. The cities are huge and sometimes traveling from place to place, you don’t realize how far certain destinations are from each other. For example, Kyoto. There’s a lot of famous spots in Kyoto but it’s separated in East, West, North, South, and Central and in each parts, there’s various of things to do but getting from East to West takes an hour+ because of the public transportation. So definitely plan ahead and just explore sections of the cities each day.
OK, LET’S DIVE IN. I’m going to separate these into different posts per city because there’s way too much.
I love Tokyo because it’s the really easy to get around. Their train system is literally one big circle on their JR Yamamoto Line. Unless you want to explore the smaller areas of Tokyo and need to use the other lines, getting around via their main JR line should be a breeze.
Tsukiji Market. Usually everyone I know wakes up at 3/4AM in the morning to go wait in line in this famous Sushi restaurant that only seats 15 people at a time. I’m not about that life and I will never be. I value sleep. You can honestly visit this place any time in the morning and I’ve been there at 10/11AM before. I love sushi and sashimi so everything was delicious for me. I honestly walked into a hole in the wall and got these delicious bowls with my friends. I think my point is, unless you want to eat at the most famous place ever in Tsukiji, any food here is going to be delicious and perfect to eat.
After Tsukiji Market, I made my way into Odaiba. “Envision a mini Atlantis rising out of the water, conveniently right next to downtown Tokyo.”
I love Odaiba, it’s really beautiful especially at night. Things you can do/visit at Odaiba: The Gundam Statue, Gundam Cafe, Joypolis, Aqua City Mall, Mini Statue of Liberty, and get an awesome view of their Rainbow Bridge.
Joypolis is an indoor amusement park and I had so much fun there. They had these Initial-D rides which I thought was TOTALLY AWESOME and other fun interactive rides. They even had an indoor rollercoaster! I saw so many cute highschoolers on dates there, it was adorable. Rainbow Bridge was honestly a magical view. I imagined viewing the Bay Area’s Bay Bridge but instead, lit up with hella color.
There’s also a delicious TAKOYAKI MUSEUM where I just went HAM on everything.
Akihabara! Honestly I’m not a super big fan of anime anymore but if you love that and want to get interesting gifts or go to maid cafes, this is your SPOT. But one thing that makes me want to go back there was THIS:
Magikarp Redbean Taiyaki and their Savory Egg&Bacon Taiyaki! DELICIOUS. It’s about two blocks away from the JR Station in this cute stall.
Shibuya. If you like shopping, city life, good food… VISIT HERE. My recommendation is to go to Shibuya 109 and 109 Men’s. I personally found really cute stuff that matched my style in the Men’s shopping mall, haha.
Revolving sushi bar! Past all the main shops and lights, away from the tourists, is a revolving sushi bar that I randomly googled while I was there. DELICIOUS. Everything was in Japanese though so it was interesting ordering food, I felt like I was playing a game I didn’t understand.
FAMOUS HACHI STATUE! This is right outside their JR station and infront of Shibuya Crossing so you’ll have no problem finding this. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll find a cute little cat with a bow just sleeping away under Hachi. Oh and if you do some exploring around the alleyways in Shibuya, you’ll find some legit street graffiti and street art.
TOKYO DISNEYLAND. If you LOVE Disney, you have to go. It’s a bit of a commute and confusion going here because there’s a bunch of trains you need to switch onto… but the final train that you take into Disneyland is SUPER cute. They have Mickey Mouse shaped holders!
The rides in Tokyo Disneyand are somewhat different than the ones at Disneyland in South California. The common ones I’ve noticed was their Indiana Jones ride and Tower of Terror (which was SUPER safe versus the one in socal lol). There’s super cute Tokyo Disneyland food exclusives like these mochi icecream! When I went, it was their Toy Story theme but I’ve seen Lilo & Stitch versions on the internet. SUPER CUTE AND DELICIOUS. I loved going to Disneyland because everyone matched with each other regardless if they were friends or a couple. I think it’s an Asian country thing, everyone just wants to be twins lol.
Harajuku. Alright, I love this place. There’s Harajuku street which is filled with various shops and dessert shops galore, but I also love walking around the area of Harajuku. There’s various animal cafes and I got to go into an Owl Cafe and got this awesome picture:
There’s so many restaurants I was so sad I didn’t get to try a lot of them.. I found this article (link) about fluffy pancakes and I became obsessed with how cute they looked and I wanted to try them. Being the basic Asian that I am, I found out that Harajuku was filled with these cafes and I decided to try one (wish I had stomach room for more but ):
Behind Harajuku is my favorite park: Yoyogi Park. In the Spring time, it’s beautiful. All the cherry trees blossomed and I spent a good 1-2 hours here chilling with my friends and walking around. I got some Sakura themed foods at the stalls there and just enjoyed the wonderful weather.
Shimokitazawa. A small neighborhood off to the side of Shibuya, I took a 15 minute train outside and found this gem. Why am I including it here? Because of two things: Shirohige Totoro Cream Puffs and an interesting neighborhood shrine filled with cats. I’m pretty sure this would look pretty freaky at night.
Yurakucho. I wasn’t even searching for this but I was walking around Yurakucho and found Godzilla. Whatsup.
Other places that I went to that wasn’t pictured (because I’m stupid and forgot to) includes:
- Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden: for the perfect views
- Ginza: another shopping district
- Roppongi: for that night life and Tokyo Tower
- Club Ageha in Koto. Partied until 5AM. That night was interesting…
- Aoyama Flower Market: Super cute flower market with an also super cute cafe.
- Sensoji Temple in Asakusa.
- Tokyo Grand Central Station. Just explore this whole station. There’s so many things to do and they have this really good Okonomiyaki restaurant.
- Ueno. High-end shopping district but in the Spring time, the cherry blossoms make the streets look very beautiful.
- Mario Kart Tour in Akihabara.
That’s it, I hope you like it!
NEXT/IN THE MAKING: KYOTO & OSAKA EDITION