This Samurai Country of Contrasts offers endless sceneries, adventures and stories. We backpacked 13 cities from urban to remote areas – from snowy-frosty places to summer-feel prefectures. Autumn is beautiful and so is the fall of snow. October is definitely the best time to visit.
I’m an introvert but when it comes to travel, you’ll see me pushing for things / experiences bordering to being an extrovert. Yes to exhaustion until you no longer feel your legs. Yes to meeting strangers and chatting with them until dawn. Yes to both quantity and quality of fun travel escapades!
Summer-feel in Ginza, Kyoto
I don’t pay for travel just to sit on a fine restaurant or chill on a park. I pay to learn about myself, people around me and the places I’ve never been to. I can always sit, sleep and chill back home. I want everything when I travel and this is what I got in Japan… Everything.
Autumn in Lake Shikotsu
Here are few tips and tricks for those traveling for the first time.
- Japan is perceived as expensive but actually, costs are manageable.
- Eat in local places (i.e. Dotonbori market in Osaka) and convenience stores (Family mart and 7-11).
- Sleep in hostels or guesthouses (I recommend booking.com). We booked a 3-star hotel in Asahikawa for only $2 per person. Of course, if you know someone, free accommodation will always be the best! Thanks to Don for Kyoto and Eileen for Tokyo.
- Avail of JR pass. It lets you travel on trains and buses for unlimited time. This is very convenient and economical. Use this JR pass website link because it’s cheaper than the others.
- For Kansai areas (Kyoto, Himeji, Nara, Kobe, Osaka) use Kansai-thru pass. It has better coverages than the other passes.
- Stay on the left of the train when your travel route is from south of Japan to north. For example, from Kansai to Tokyo, sit on the left to view Mt. Fuji.
- No overnight sleeper trains from Hakodate to Sapporo! This is disappointing.
- Free wifi places are scarce. No public wifi in most areas. No wifi in bullet Shinkansen trains.
- Costs indicated in google map are precise. Directions are accurate.
- Ask people if you need help. Japanese are generally friendly and you’d be surprised how organized, helpful and prepared they are! When we were in Sapporo, we asked for the directions to Guesthouse Waya in the subway station and surprise!!! They had a ready print-out for it! Same thing happened in Asahikawa.
- Learn / ask about their culture. Be curious. Be observant. You’d be amazed how varied, unconventional and interesting their culture/history/stories are. I’m still amazed (lifetime employment, reserved/polite attitudes, eyebrows culture etc).
I wasn’t a fan of Japan before. I thought it was overrated but after spending more than 2 weeks from north to south, I can say, it’s worth visiting it. Next time, I’d love to go back to Totori and Nagasaki! And maybe, Wakkanai (can you really see Russia from here???) That would be another great travel to add in my list.
This is a long overdue post. We visited Japan last October covering Hiroshima, Miyajima, Kobe, Himeji, Nara, Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone, Tokyo, Hakodate, Chitose, Sapporo, and Asahikawa).