I believe most of you recognize by now that Japan is one in all my favorite locations on the planet. I’ve executed earlier metropolis guides (my final Tokyo one linked right here, excuse the previous formatting – it was 10 years in the past!) however this can be a new, up to date one with all over the place we went this journey. Kyoto will likely be subsequent!
HOW TO GET THERE
We booked our flights with Finnair, it labored out less expensive than BA and haddirect flights to Tokyo Haneda, we ended up flying with Japan Airways and I can not suggest sufficient. We bought a taxi to our Resort from the airport after an extended flight however I’ve caught the prepare earlier than and it’s fairly simple.
TRAVELLING IN JULY
July is such a good time to journey round Japan! We had many causes for this: firstly, we travelled in July for our honeymoon and beloved it – the Gion competition (Arts competition) was on in Kyoto, it was very HOT which made it arduous in some methods but additionally meant there have been much less vacationers than say September (when plenty of excursions are on) or April (thought-about one of the best time to go to for cherry blossom season). It’s round 30 levels in Tokyo however all over the place had air-con, even the metro stations, so it felt extra nice than travelling round London in related climate. It was humid however fortunately all of the tall buildings meant there was loads of shade, too. We selected college holidays because it meant our youngsters went on their very own vacation with grandparents on the identical time. If we return, it could undoubtedly be with the children (perhaps in 5 years time), as soon as they will actually become involved and address jetlag a bit simpler, we noticed heaps extra households with older youngsters this time round.
HOW TO GET AROUND
We walked or took the metro all over the place, taxis are fairly costly and it’s really easy to navigate town with out. We used a Shinkansen (bullet prepare) cross to get from Tokyo to Kyoto and one thing we didn’t realise final time is that you just additionally get free journey on all of the JR strains in Tokyo and Kyoto together with your bullet prepare cross. Usually, you will get to the place you want on these strains alone (or stroll a bit further to make it work) which saved us fairly a bit of cash. However the bullet prepare won’t be probably the most value efficient choice when you’re not travelling round that a lot. You will get extra native trains or buses between Osaka/Kyoto/Tokyo which could work out higher worth to your journey.
For different metro journeys we simply topped up a card with money and used it like an oyster, it was actually reasonably priced to get round this manner (these playing cards/passes work in Kyoto too). At all times be sure to faucet out at stations – I by chance didn’t faucet out in Tokyo after which my card didn’t work in Kyoto and I needed to wait till I bought again to Tokyo to type it! For Kyoto I simply paid per journey.
In case you are travelling round, there is a wonderful baggage forwarding service (Takkyubin) which your lodge may also help you with. We used it as soon as (though has gone up in value since final time – it’s now roughly £20 a suitcase) this journey, we despatched our suitcase forward to Kyoto and took a holdall into Mount Koya for one evening and our case was ready for us in Kyoto. They provide subsequent day supply often however I in all probability wouldn’t danger it the day yopu fly house! Most stations even have lugage storage if you could depart circumstances for a day.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed on the Muji Resort in Ginza. I’ve solely stayed in Ginza as soon as round 15 years in the past after I was travelling by myself – it’s the purchasing district with tons of luxurious outlets so figured it was a secure place to remain as a younger lady by myself. Funnily sufficient we didn’t even go to Ginza final journey as we thought it was boring – however we LOVED staying there this time! The outlets shut within the night after which it’s so quiet, it feels fairly villagey, native and so secure (particularly because it so effectively lit from all of the indicators). Right here’s why we beloved Ginza:
The Muji lodge – I used to be so excited to remain right here and it didn’t disappoint. Small however completely shaped rooms, it was minimal but purposeful, calm and cozy. It’s above their flagship retailer and as you check-in they current you with a listing of things you may take house with you (together with slippers and stationery!). Breakfast was the right introduction to easy Japanese dwelling: udon noodles, fish and curry but additionally eggs and bacon if you want. Our tip is to not go right down to breakfast on the hour (as that’s what everybody does!) – strive 10 to or 10 previous the hour.
Nightlife – Ginza isn’t buzzing like different Tokyo districts at evening nevertheless it has a stunning ambiance and we found so many wonderful eating places in our neighbourhood. We beloved heading out on the metro within the day after which simply strolling to and from dinner within the night. There have been a great deal of karaoke locations close by too, we spent an exquisite night in Karaoke Kan.
Location – Ginza is absolutely near most locations, you may stroll to Shimbashi, it’s close to Tsukiji Fish Market and our lodge was additionally proper by the Metro (Ginza-Itchome) which is a central cease for getting across the metropolis.
The purchasing – this journey I needed to benefit from the outlets extra and Ginza has all of them – Daiso (the 100 yen retailer, all the pieces underneath £1), Itoya (100 12 months previous stationery retailer), and Loft in addition to the fancier shops like Louis Vuitton and Gucci (which we didn’t frequent!).
WHAT TO DO
This time we needed to spend time in Tokyo like locals, we did all the large sights final time (the Sensō-ji Temple, Yoyogi Park, Harajuku) and this time we needed to simply eat and chill out. However first: Studio Ghibli Museum (which was shut final time we have been right here – it’s closed on Mondays!). It’s actually arduous to resolve whether or not or to not go to this museum, you’re not allowed to take pictures inside so there’s not a lot to analysis on-line and it’s a forty five minute journey outdoors town however we determined to take a punt on it, in any case we have been in Tokyo and Chris is a large fan.
It was beautiful, the world of Mitaka itself was suburban, leafy and a pleasure to stroll round, the queues begin for the gallery as quickly because it opens. There are limitations on guests on a regular basis (Oomi Japan organised our ticket for this, aparently they’re fairly arduous to pay money for prematurely!) which suggests it’s busy however not overly so. There have been plenty of households and children (have been we the one grown-ups? Maybe, however not awkwardly so) and there’s a lot to see: authentic illustrations, stills from movies, plenty of interactive components and also you get to see a singular brief movie solely obtainable to guests (in Japanese, nevertheless it’s fairly a easy plot so we adopted!). It was a stunning morning effectively spent and it nonetheless felt very native and never too touristy, you can also’t spent various hours there which was a pleasant shock and meant we have been again to the centre of Tokyo by lunchtime!
My favorite store in Tokyo is Loft and there’s a 5/6 story one in Ginza which I spent plenty of time in. It’s like strolling across the backside flooring of a division retailer like Selfridges – teas, gifting, stationery – however far more reasonably priced. The trade fee to GBP was actually good, so even within the 100yen retailer Daiso (my different favorite retailer), every merchandise was round 65p every. We primarily purchased items for the children or stationery we will’t get simply within the UK (see my reel on what I purchased right here). Lawson, 7 Eleven (such good snacks – they even have tutorials on their website about how you can purchase sizzling snacks) and any Pharmacies are additionally price visiting, the place you could find quirky items, meals, snacks and Japanese magnificence merchandise cheaply.
Akihabara was one other place on our listing as we solely briefly visited final time, it’s ‘Electrical City’ and a bigger than life a part of town stuffed with anime and manga outlets, gaming shops and 5 story buildings stuffed with ‘Claw Machines’ that didn’t appear to be rigged – we each received on our first go! It’s a tween/teen heaven but additionally enjoyable for adults, we loved spending just a few hours right here and introduced again photobooth stickers of us as anime characters (after utilizing the sweetness stations arrange subsequent to the cubicles, in fact).
A spotlight was karaoke, there are many locations to do it – Massive Echo is a well-liked one, we did Karaoke Kan which was proper by our lodge and had nice views out to Tokyo (it was roughly £25 for an hour which included 2 beers).
After which we spent the remainder of our time consuming!
WHERE TO EAT
We primarily ate noodles in Japan, it’s a lot simpler to return throughout and a less expensive, on a regular basis meal. You’ll be able to’t actually go fallacious with ramen right here and even the most cost effective meals you order from a merchandising machine is scrumptious! Our first evening we arrived late so requested the employees at Muji for his or her suggestions (I’d at all times suggest this) and we ended up in a cute, fashionable ramen place close by known as Menya Yukou – 2 beers, 2 ramen dishes and a facet of gyozas got here to £20. There’s no tipping tradition in Japan so it made a giant distinction to how a lot spent.
We love the simplicity of Coco Ichibanya for katsu curry. Kaitensushi (conveyor belt sushi) is an reasonably priced strategy to eat however they’re not as widespread as you’d suppose, rather a lot are in shops – we did see Sushi-go-round which appeared good. One of the best locations for us are the small, unassuming locations that don’t look fancy, and so they usually have one of the best ambiance, too. I additionally beloved that in Ginza most resaturants have been at floor stage, so many locations in Tokyo you need to get a carry as much as the doorway and it’s very arduous to again out when you’re undecided on the vibe! Right here you may peek in and see if it’s busy or the meals appears good.
We did a ‘Ramen Tour’ while in Tokyo with Frank, a ramen fanatic (his website 5am ramen ought to change into your go-to if visiting) who taught us the several types of ramen, from my favorite: tsukemen (dipping noodles) to all of the completely different forms of broths and toppings. He gave us a low-down on his high 5 ramen eating places in Ginza (they have been all inside 5 minutes stroll!), gave us their historical past and backstory (each had a distinct segment: feminine owned, household run for 50 years, well-known for his or her spicy broth and so on) and we picked our favorite to go to. It was one of the best ramen I’ve ever tasted and it was a small unsuspecting place we’d handed by just a few instances with out noticing (in all probability as a result of there have been no English indicators – however that they had an English menu as soon as seated).
We visited Hashigo – it was a easy bar, no tables and so busy that as quickly as you may have completed, you allow, to let these within the queue behind you begin. It was an actual spotlight of the journey and he left us with just a few suggestions: usually, the dish on the high left of the menu is the advice/what that restaurant is thought for (it doesn’t imply it’s one of the best or that you just’ll prefer it however it’s the most well-liked). For those who’re feeling a bit misplaced (and Tokyo is usually a bit overwhelming with meals decisions!), strive to not go for a restaurant with tons of images outdoors, it means they’re not significantly good at one factor (which is a little bit of badge of honour in Japan). These have been Frank’s different ramen suggestions (in Ginza):
A small phrase of warning: when you purchase snacks or a takeaway iced espresso, there are not any bins. Actually. Not one on the streets. We spent hours strolling round with a plastic container and couldn’t discover any. We realised after some time that nobody was consuming ‘on the go’ and there are even indicators in cafes asking when you take away, you’re taking your garbage house with you. I’m nonetheless incredulous that the streets are so clear with none bins! However that’s one other one of many wonderful issues about Japan.
We took primarily money, which appears loopy in such a contemporary metropolis nevertheless it helped us observe our spending plus we had learn just a few articles saying that British playing cards don’t at all times work and the few instances we tried our card they didn’t work each time! All over the place we went accepted money no drawback, and within the countryside it’s most well-liked (the Temple we stayed in Kyosan insisted on money, and apparently it’s fairly arduous to withdraw as solely sure cashpoints inside 7 Elevens work with abroad playing cards). One thing to remember.
Knowledge roaming was costly for us, so we used wi-fi from the lodge. Most tube stations and purchasing malls (and Starbucks) have wi-fi readly obtainable and in locations like Kyoto that they had their very own ‘metropolis wifi’.
Google translate is useful for menus however we discovered no drawback with language and have been at all times understood indirectly!
We booked our flights then used Oomi Journey for lots of our itinerary (beforehand Distinctive Japan Excursions – whom we booked our honeymoon with!). We paid for our complete journey and knew roughly the place we needed to go however Darina helped e book all the pieces and all of the extras we wouldn’t have imagined – our itinerary was fairly easy this time and was mainly Tokyo – Koyasan – Kyoto – Tokyo – London (our final journey was extra intrictae and you may personalise your iteinerary as a lot as you want). Oomi beneficial the Muji Resort, the journey to Koyasan, booked all our bullet trains and transport and in Koyasan we had a personal tour information and stayed in a single day in a Buddhist Temple run by Monks, in Tokyo we additionally did a sushi making course run by probably the most wonderful Japanese girls. It’s completely attainable to e book Japan by your self however for the additional journeys (particularly Koyasan, or the unimaginable island of Amami the place we visited on our honeymoon, plenty of these accommodations don’t have any English web sites), Oomi helped make it further particular (and saved us time while working full-time with two youngsters!). This isn’t a paid promotion however needed to present a shout out, as I’ve beneficial them to anybody we all know going to Japan!