Itinerary – Japan, Prelude

 

Just returned from our first trip to Japan, where we had a whirlwind time in Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Enoshima and Kamakura. Here are our tips for those curious about visiting Japan, followed by the itinerary we researched before we left.

First of all the itinerary below was either very scheduled (e.g. Miyajima) or very lax, depending upon what we wanted to achieve in a specific place and how much time we were going to spend there. It’s best to do a bunch of research first marking down things that interest you, then go back over that research in detail while taking more thorough but relevant notes. I then used Google Maps to find out what was close to where and how much we could reasonably fit into one day. This helped us make an itinerary that gave us direction and flexibility to explore.

We found that the people we interacted with actually spoke more English than we expected. We didn’t have any interactions that we felt failed because of the language barrier, even with those that couldn’t speak any English. The Japanese for please, sorry, thank you and excuse me will get you a long way.

We also didn’t find the subway systems that hard to follow using a combination of google maps for suggested routes and then the station signage for navigation to the correct platforms. Suica card and Japan Rail pass will help you glide through station gates.

Even with a family to feed – hail Lawson – we found feeding ourselves and managing our trash a breeze. In some areas it seems every window is serving food, just don’t forget a lot of buildings house shops and restaurants on higher floors or in basements. Take a backpack and use convenience store recycling points which present on most street corners in urban areas.

That’s all for now but check back soon for a mini-series that covers our trip in more in detail. We thoroughly enjoyed our brief time there and cannot recommend it enough. I already miss the convenience, hospitality and beauty I found in the land of the rising sun.

Tokyo 19th May for 3 nights, check out 22nd and travel to Kyoto.

Sunday 20th: Tsukiji, Asakusa, Akihabara
Monday 21st: Kamakura, Enoshima

Stay Kyoto 22nd May for 4 nights, check out 26th and travel to Tokyo.

Tuesday 22nd: Gion
Wednesday 23rd: Sagano
Thursday 24th: Hiroshima, Miyajima
Friday 25th: Fukakusa, Osaka

Stay Tokyo 26th May for 3 nights, check out 29th and travel back early on 30th.

Saturday 26th: Odaiba
Sunday 27th: Hakone, Mt. Fuji
Monday 28th: Shibuya, Harajuku, Mitaka
Tuesday 29th: Minato, Shinjuku, Airport
Wednesday 30th: Haneda Airport

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ARRIVAL
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Saturday 19/05 (evening)
– train to hotel
– 7/11 (cash and food)
– explore local area

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TOKYO
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NORTH-EAST TOKYO
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Tsukiji – fish market

Asakusa – Naka Misei (street food towards temple), Sensoji temple (oldest in Tokyo), Denpoin Dori (authentic street), Sumida Park (Riverside, near golden turd and SkyTree)

Akihabara – Radio Kaikan (action figs trading cards, 10 floors, next to station), gamers (LTD edition items), Mandrake (adult mags) and M’s Pop Life (adult store), ACOS (5th floor Akiba culture zone – cosplay costumes), Ichi Ni San (Beef Katsu), Gatchapon machines, Square-Enix Cafe, Yodabashi Camera (electronics), Chabara (authentic Japanese food goods)

Ueno – park

Harajuku – Deus Ex Machina Cafe (weird, food), Takeshita Street (tourist trap, check out the side-streets), Meiji Shrine (Yoyogi Park)

EAST TOKYO
—————-
Odaiba – Fun land island, onsen, good views from FujiTV and romantic meal at Hibachi (whiskey restaurant), etc.

WEST TOKYO
—————–
Roppongi – pie Holic (popup store); tsurutontan (giant udon bowls); roppongi hills and Tokyo midtown (luxury stores); Don Quixote;

Shibuya – Shibuya scramble, Tsutaya (Starbucks), Center Gai (shops, restaurants), Yoyogi Park, Niku Yokucho (adult), love hotel hill (adult)

Shimokitazawa (3 min train west of Shibuya), Captains Doughnuts (soy doughnuts and ice cream), Lemonade Lemonaca, Sweet Twist (raw milk gelato)

Shinjuku – Takashimaya (outside Shinjuku station) for KitKat store, Takeshita street for Daijo (biggest 100yen shop) or Saibu Pepe 100 yen shop (also biggest); Don Quixote, Uni Qlo, Isetan (discount and clothes shopping); Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (free 52nd floor observatory); Yodabashi Camera or Labi (many stores, electronics); Godzilla; Kabukicho (red light), Omoide Yokocho (tiny bars) and Golden Gai; VR Zone, SEGA (gaming)

Mitaka – Studio Ghibli Museum

CENTRAL TOKYO
———————-
Minato – Tokyo Tower, Atago Shrine
Chiyoda – Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station

KAMAKURA
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6am train to from Tokyo, breakfast and maybe Hongaku-ji Temple or the museum of national treasures, take the electric railway towards Enoshima, stopping off at Yuigahama Station or Hase Station, Rose flowers at Museum of Literature, exit towards Kōtoku-in (giant Buddha), back towards Hase Station stopping at 7/11 or many restaurants for food, Hase-Dera and temples/museums around there, back on towards Enoshima from Hase Station, walk across to Enoshima island for Colors-Fest! (Art, music, dance and gardening) and Rose flowers at Samuel Cocking Garden, food, temple, shrine, caves and Sea Candle, boat back to shore and then enjoy beachfront till 9pm for Shonan monorail back towards Tokyo leaving from Enoshima transferring at Ofuna

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KYOTO
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CENTRAL & NORTH-EAST KYOTO
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bullet train to find apartment, 7/11 (cash and food), Higashi Honganji Temple (street East of apt.), explore Gion (North-East)

WEST KYOTO
—————–
Sushi bar Naritaya (outside Arashiyama station), Monkey Park, Bamboo Groves, Tenryu-Ji Temple, Sagano Romantic Train

SOUTH-EAST KYOTO
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Kiyomizudera (AVOID) and Higashiyama
(Viewing platform in temple and the streets)

OSAKA
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Dotonburi, Denden town, Hozenji Yokocho (restaurants side street off Dotonburi), Shinsekai (old gritty Dotonburi near a tower)

HIROSHIMA & MIYAJIMA
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[Kyoto] > 3h > 4h Miyajima > 30m [Hiroshima] > 4H Hiroshima > Xh > [Kyoto]
Kyoto > Hiroshima Station (SHINKANSEN HIKARI 491 [13 @ 7:20-9:05] – JRPass)
Hiroshima Station > Miyajimaguchi Station (JR Sanyo Line for IWAKUNI [1 @ 9:15-9:43] – ¥410 single)
Miyajimaguchi > Miyajima (JR West Ferry [9:50-10:00] – JRPass)
Hamanocho
– Imaise Shrine
– Zonkoji
Miyajimacho (main street)
– Street food (Momiji Manju, Oysters)
– Stone Torii
– The Great Torii
– Oka of tower
– Umuto Shrine
– Toyokuni Shrine Pagoda
– Araebisu Shrine
Itsukushima Shrine (floating temple complex)
Daisho-in Temple (Shingon, or Esoteric Buddhist, temple)
Tahoto Pagoda
Daisyoin (9th century Buddhist temple)
Takimiya Shrine (waterfall, behind temple on pathway that runs parallel)
Momijidani Park (along Momiji Walking Path, past Shinomiya Shrine)
Miyajima Ropeway (cable car [9-17] – ¥1,800 return)
– Momijidani Station > Kayatani Station (every 2 mins [10 mins])
– Kayatani Station > Shishiiwa Station (every 15 mins [4 mins])
Mount Misen Summit (1h anti-clockwise route)
– Shishiiwa Observatory
– Misen Primeval Forest Monument
– Kiezu-no-Reikado Hall (Eternal Flame, Lover’s Sanctuary)
– Sankido Hall
– Kannondo Hall / Monjudo Hall
– Kuguri-iwa Rock
– Summit
– Kanman-iwa Rock
– Fun-iwa Rock
– Kaisen-iwa Rock
– Dainichido Hall
– Mizukake Jizo
– Shakujo-no-ume (Crosier Plum)
– Misenhondo Hall
– Gunmonjido Hall / Gyojado Hall
Itsukushimajinja Shrine > Iwasou (bus every 20 min [3 mins] – FREE)
Minamimachi > Omachi > Uonotanacho > Yamatomachi > Shinmachi > Minatomachi (backstreets past temples and shrines, leading to steps over a tunnel, back down to the ferry)
Miyajima > Miyajimaguchi Station (JR West Ferry every 15 mins [14-19] – JRPass)
Miyajimaguchi Station > Shin-Hakushima (JR Sanyo Line for HIRO/ITOZAKI/KURE/SHIRAICHI every 10-15 mins [25-30 mins] – ¥320)
7/11 or McDonalds (food)
Hiroshima Castle (Gion Shindo road)
Genbaku Dome-mae (Atomic Bomb Dome, under Aioi Dori bridge)
Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum [8:30-18]
Peace Memorial Park (Cenotaph for A-Bomb Victims, Children’s Peace Memorial)
Shukkei-en Garden [9-5]
Okonomi-mura (food [11-02])
Hiroshima Station

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DEPARTURE
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Chill day, Food, Shopping, Airport

Infect the system...