Ok so since it looks like some others have just booked trips to Japan, and I am heading over in a month for the first time I figured maybe we could start a thread where people who have been could share advice on things to see and do, and whatever other info might come in handy.
My wife won our trip, but we had to take it within a certain time frame so everything has been kinda rushed. All we have done so far is booked return flights to Osaka so only have a month to try and figure out an itinerary, we are there for 3 weeks.
Where should we go? How long? Where to stay? How to get around? All advice appreciated.
100% recommend Naoshima - great mix of traditional housing, amazing architecture/museums and art galleries. Trying to decide whether to go back there again on my trip!
Hirosaki was so ace. Iwaki-san (or Mount Iwaki) was just outside Hirosaki. A bike ride up that climb would be fun. Even in a car it was still lovely. So much apple produce out there too. It’s just a really beautiful, fun place. Also close to Lake Towada (which was fine) but Oirase Gorge which is worth a look. truly the greenest place I’ve ever been to in my life.
In Tokyo we love Shinjuku, Harajuku, Yoyogi and Kichijoji also had a really cool vibe.
In tokyo I liked Akihabara as well as Shinjuku & Harajuku. The love hotels in Shibuya were a bit of trip. Steer clear of Rappongi - it is like the Kings X of Tokyo (or was, it’s been 10 years).
Rappongi (and Rappongi Hills) was the absolute lowlight of one of our Japan trips. Built for Americans and tourists. Was not a nice place. We were there about 2 years ago so apparently not much has changed.
this thread may be of some use, or it could just be a bizarre glimpse into FOA back in 2011…
+1 on Naoshima. Hire a bike, ride around the island. It’s rad.
The Japanese Alpine Route is awesome as well. Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
… and a sexy photo of me getting my Karaoke on.
I was having a similar conversation with a friend so here’s the same message I sent.
Kyoto is pretty small, a short bus trip gets you to all of the main attractions. I’ve only done a few day trips there so I haven’t found cool food areas etc which you’d want to stay at. Do check out Gion in the late afternoon for the chance to see geisha.
Osaka we always stay at Shin-sai-bashi which is also known as amerika-mura. It’s in the middle of a cool area with good shopping, food, bars etc. It’s also very close to the shinsaibash mall which a huge shopping area. Also Dotonburi is the food centre of Osaka. So many great places to eat and see.
dormy inn shinsaibashi was probably the best spot we stayed in Osaka, especially if you can get a cheap deal. They have a nice breakfast and an Onsen which is amazing after a long day. We book most hotels on Agoda but shop around as they are’t always the cheapest.
I recommend going to Fukuoka on the western side of the main island; Nakashima Island is heaps pretty and there’s lots on.
Also, general tips:
- buy your J-Rail pass here to qualify for the insanely cheap tourist price
- Shinkansens are the best
- look up the sumo circuit and go watch a tournament. Best fun ever.
- Japanese Baseball is also cool. Tokyo Dome!
- Do a brewery or distillery tour. The asahi ones are free (the orig. brewery is just outside Osaka) but book in advance for an english guide. You get about 45mins free drinking in the beer hall at the end too. Yamazaki distillery is also outside Osaka but don’t think it’s free…
If you go to Tokyo take a trip to the Hitachino (Kiuchi) Brewery. An hour or so on a Shinkansen to Mito then a local train to get there. It is great day out.
Don’t underestimate Osaka, I enjoyed it way more than Tokyo. Dotonburri and Americain (I think) are great areas. The Kiso valley trail is a good half day walk through mountain villages accessed off the Nagoya - matsumoto train line
Also best to find out when local festivals are on and try to go to one.
Except half of use would have taken a bike back then now we are taking kids
Cheap return flights from $349 at the moment with Jetstar.
Has anyone done the Alpine Route train ride? If so how many days did you allow? Where did you stay?
Just booked all of my flights and accommodation for dec/jan can’t wait, 2 days Tokyo then 7 in hakuba then 2 Tokyo
We did the Alpine Route, but we did it as a day trip out of Tokyo.
Ahh cool, we are thinking of doing one of the suggested routes on the website. We head off on Sunday and have finally figured out a rough itinerary.
Osaka > Kyoto (via Nara and a day trip to Hiroshima) > Kanazawa/Toyama > Alpine route > Nagano > Karuizawa > Tokyo > Osaka
only thing i can add, is when your on the slopes and see a vending machine, get the HOT sweet corn coup in a can.
so so good, best thing to drink when on the snow