Where – When – Why ?

Southeast Asian island country, it is an archipelago composed of a multitude of islands.

Country: Japan / Capital: Tokyo

Language: Japanese

Currency: Yen

This country fascinated me for a moment because of its original culture, its traditions, and its culinary delights. Aware of the fact that I would surely have problems communicating, the Japanese do not speak English, I still started the adventure, alone, delivered to myself.

So far, it is the most beautiful trip I have done.

I left during the fall, hoping to see the trees change color and take on yellow, red and orange colors. My wish for a future trip would be to leave at the time of cherry blossom in April.

My plan was to see the biggest cities in the country and Mount Fuji. Fukuoka is a milestone that came at the last minute, having learned that there would be sumo matches; I jumped on the opportunity not wanting to miss this! I had to change my schedule at the last minute because of a typhoon that had hit an island that I was going to go to.

Activities

Cities

One word, three letters: WOW! This city is great. It is a magical city mixing urban excitement, modern and ancient architecture, quiet temples and gardens. My favorite city without a doubt, surely because I like it when it moves, I like the eccentricity, the architecture but also the beauty and the traditional charm. Do not hesitate to walk everywhere, to enter shady and dark places because in the end they are the nicest! Try! Taste everything, because everything is super good! Avoid public transport, on the one hand because the time you will spend to understand how much you have to pay for your ticket you would have walked four times around the city, and secondly because you will see many more things than expected and meet people. I had the chance to have a wonderful meeting one night while entering a restaurant. Stay there for at least 5 days, there is so much to discover. Do not hesitate to get lost.

This step was not planned (due to my meetings once there). I do not regret the detour. It is a very modern city, where the good smells of noodles tickle our nostrils. The sunset is great and can be admired from the top of the buildings (a plus for night photos).

Pretty little town, with magnificent temples and other monuments. It is very green and in autumn I think it has even more charm with the color change of the trees.

Cities with traditional charm, where the temples unveil their oldest secrets. I really liked the atmosphere and walking in the alleys. However, I found the city less crazy than Tokyo. But I think we still have to stay a few days because it is a city where traditional art and culture are very present.

Electric and artistic city. It’s moving in this city. You have to hang out, get lost, and always have the camera at your fingertips. The aquarium is also a stage. I saw basically all the marine animals that divers dream to see in the open sea (I did not dive at the time that’s why I was amazed by the immensity of this aquarium): whale sharks, Manta rays, moon fish … all in the same aquarium. There are smells of food everywhere, people suggest to taste in the markets. There are many people but the city is still nice.

The paradise of dears! and, the best place to enjoy Sake. If you meet young students in tourism offering guided tours of the city, do not hesitate, go for it! This is also what led me to finish a little ”pompelup” drinking sake before taking the train. But at least I can confirm that the sake is very good, there are different kinds, and not only that of Chinese restaurants with the little young man naked in the bottom of the glass;) I was also able put your feet in my first cats bar! Small quiet and relaxing corner with many temples to visit. Unfortunately, all are paying.

City full of history and one of the best places to enjoy new traditional dishes. I went without looking at what to do and what to see. I decided to trust the photographer with whom I had spent the day. A brilliant idea. Once arrived I told him that I had two passions: the food and the photo. He then showed me a lot of typical dishes and places in which I would surely never have gone. I also had access to places normally forbidden to tourists. Super meeting and beautiful city full of history to discover without hesitation.

Honestly, apart from the mall, I did not find much interest in it.

My sumos step. I was able to attend a great match, and discover another facet of this rich country. I did not visit the city, I only went back and forth to see the match.

Volcano

I was lucky to be able to admire Mount Fuji with a “cap”. I had a lot of luck because he does not let himself see so easily (often in the clouds). The city next door is nice but uninteresting. There are monkeys who wander.

Housing

Japan may be an expensive country, we can get to stay for not too expensive. Just do it in advance, or sleep in a “capsule hotel”, good surprises. The accommodations are generally very clean but not necessarily spacious (I say not necessarily because I ended up in hostels with my own bathroom and a large room). I have not been disappointed by any of my accommodations that’s why I put them all below. You will find them easily on booking.com.

Hotel Nihonbashi Villa. Clean, central, and close to the tube station.

I wanted to test several types of accommodation: the normal hotel, the hotel capsule and the traditional accommodation.

First Cabin Kyoto Karasuma. Men and women are separated. It’s ultra clean, modern, and you can almost stand up in the cabin. There is a TV and a box to store his bag or suitcase.

Eco and Tec Kyoto.  I thought I would be in a hostel to share the bathroom but in the end I had a nice room with everything in it. The people are very friendly. The breakfast is very simple, so I did not take it. It is close to the metro which is super convenient.

Yumiya Komachi. A trip to Japan without sleeping in a ryokan does not make sense to me. Certainly, it is expensive but at least it allows to meet locals, to discover the culture more deeply and especially to see the architecture of traditional houses.

Fujikaw Aguchiko Koe House. It’s very simple: no bed but … a little mattress. It is a traditional accommodation. Believe it or not, it’s super comfortable. My room had seen on the volcano. The toilet and the bathroom are shared.

Tennoji Miyako Hotel. A classic hotel room, a little larger than the previous ones. I was able to get a room on the top floors with a great view of the city.

Transport

Transportation in Japan is a circus! We must leave knowing that we will galley a little early (see throughout the stay), but hey, it is also part of things to live 🙂

Prepare a paper with destinations in Japanese on paper because otherwise you will lose a lot of time to make yourself understood.

I advise you to buy what is called the Japan Rail Pass. It is a train ticket that allows you to go to all cities (and even to travel in Tokyo) “free” (it is profitable after one or two round trips).

I bought mine on this site: http://www.vivrelejapon.com/voyage-japon/. You buy it on the site or in Paris, and you exchange your voucher at the airport. You say to the counter when you want to use it for the first time and he notes it on the ticket.

It’s very convenient, it saves a lot of time, and it will save you a lot of money.

The train in Japan is not like here 🙂 You arrive 15min before departure, you go in the wagons for people who have not made a reservation and you are sure to sit! And the must, you have room in front of you to put your suitcase !! The trains are ALWAYS on time in Japan and there are regular ones.

There is a map, the PASMO that you reload and that allows you to take the metro anywhere in Japan.

It’s very convenient, especially in Tokyo and Osaka. And in Japan it is another system, we pay according to where we go and it is not necessarily very clear on the panels. So with this card it calculates for you and it makes you worry less and save a lot of time.

Budget

I did not find that Japan was such a expensive country, that it is expensive because we are tempted to go shopping and buy electronics (I left with a backpack I came back with a backpack and a large suitcase). Otherwise, the food is not expensive at all, for 10 euros you eat very well, and booking hotels well in advance you can get by for good prices (similar to European prices). I had recovered yen at the bank. It is better that you leave with a certain amount on you because it is very difficult to find withdrawal kiosks and the credit card is not accepted everywhere! There are some in the central stations but you have to get there. We can pick up at the airport too.

– Accommodation: count in 40 euros for a classic hotel room, 30 euros for a room in hotel capsule and 100 euros for a ryokan.

– Meals: no need to spend astronomical sums to eat well. Do not hesitate to venture where tourists do not go.

Good Addresses

I tested a lot of unknown things.

But everything is good and we hardly eat twice the same thing!

I had also found super cool theme bars in Tokyo. I could only do the Alice in Wonderland one ( called Alice in a labyrinth, it is located on the 5th floor of the Taiyo Building in the Ginza district of Tokyo). They are very reputable, try to book them in advance.

Do Not Miss

There are a lot of cool things to do in Japan. I was lucky enough to be able to take a helicopter ride over Tokyo during the sunset and I was alone! I also did photo safaris with professional photographers.

I recommend the following site: http://www.excel-air.com/english/ People are super nice!

Go to a karaoke, it’s too funny.

Look on the internet blogs and sites on cafes and restaurants, there are many. Remember to book well in advance.

Do not miss the fish market in Tokyo, it’s extra! go early so you can see them bargain prices, cut tuna … People queuing outside, also queuing 🙂 they are restaurants where they serve fish super cool! I know … it will be 8 o’clock in the morning but hey, at least you will hold all day!

I do not know if you like to shoot, but Japan is a photogenic country, especially in April.

I found people, professional photographers and francophone journalists, who propose to do photo safaris in Tokyo, Osaka and Hiroshima. I did that of Tokyo and Hiroshima, that of Osaka had too many people to take me.

The goal: to visit the city, the beautiful and unknown places of tourists while having advice on cool photos to take and how to use his camera.

I recommend you do these safaris if you want to see things that tourists will not see, if you want to taste local specialties, if you want to make great photos and if you want to discover Japan under a different eye (yes, I advertised them because it was really great: D).

After, you can also ask them to bring you where you want because it is customizable as a course.

I urge you to contact them as soon as possible on their site, even if it is several months in advance because they are enormously successful and it’s really great:

– TOKYO: David:

 

http://www.tokyosafari.

 

com/

 

– HIROSHIMA: Yann:

 

http://www.

 

hiroshimasafari.com/en

 

– OSAKA: Angelo:

 

http://www.

 

osakasafari.com/

Go to a karaoke, it’s too funny.

Look on the internet blogs and sites on cafes and restaurants, there are many. Remember to book well in advance.

Do not miss the fish market in Tokyo, it’s extra! go early so you can see them bargain prices, cut tuna … People queuing outside, also queuing 🙂 they are restaurants where they serve fish super cool! I know … it will be 8 o’clock in the morning but hey, at least you will hold all day!

Advices

This is the least dangerous country on earth I think! I traveled alone, with my camera and all my money, and I was never afraid of anything. People are very respectful. If you drop something they rush to give it to you, they do not even hesitate to get off the subway to give you what you lost!

Have no fear for your electronic equipment. They have the best material so they have no reason to steal it!

Plan cash in advance so you do not feel stupid if you go to places where you cannot find a bank or exchange.

Remember to take an adapter.

Avoid places where you see tourists, go to restaurants a little hidden.

This adventure was extraordinary, full of surprises, discoveries, and encounters. Japan is very big, we must make choices for visits and believe me, it is not that simple! It all depends on what you like to do and what you like to see. But be flexible! Do not hesitate to change your plans at the last minute once there. Me, I did not have the choice, I wanted to go to islands but because of the Typhoon I could not go so I went to Yokohama and Fukuoka.

Leave a Reply