Desperately Seeking Travel Advice

Hello fellow bloggers - as you probably read a few weeks back, I'm going to Japan this summer! I am super excited, but need to start planning the specifics. My friend and I are flying into Tokyo, and planning on doing Tokyo & Kyoto for sure, and hopefully beyond!

As excited as I am, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed as I crack open these guidebooks. Turns out, Tokyo is enormous! If anyone has been to Japan I would love some advice - what neighborhoods to stay in (or what to avoid), great restaurants, sites to see, really...ANYTHING!

Anyone??

11 comments

owl and peacock : melina said...

Ohhh, I had some advice, but I've never been! I'm so glad you're doing Kyoto, though - I think I'd be more excited about going there than Tokyo. If you want, though, stop by www.yourlittlespoon.blogspot.com; this is Tanya's blog, and she's super wonderful (we have mutual real-life friends) - and she happened to live in Japan for a long while! So just tell her I sent you over, she can probably give you some tips :)

owl and peacock : melina said...

I wish I had*, rather. oops!

Carissa said...

sorry, no advice since I have never been but I am so excited you get to explore Japan and report back to us! I love living vicariously through traveling bloggers :)

Vivian said...

oh, i have so much to say about tokyo and kyoto! i'll be writing you a long email soon! xx

Erikizzle said...

Go to Miyajima in Hiroshima. Or do Nara (it's about an hour away from Kyoto). they both have deer roaming around and are super fun. I'd really suggest Miyajima since your rail pass will take you there for no extra cost.

I have lots of advice to give, but I need to know what you want to do.

girlontheave said...

hi michelle! i love travelling to japan and there are too many fabulous places but i am happy to share some of my favourite places in tokyo with you:) have also a few posts on japan on my blog.

attractions:

tsukiji market - a must see and totally worth waking up at 5am for!
imperial palace
meiji shrine
kaminarimon in asakusa
jiyugaoka sweets forest (a food theme park of sorts, if you like desserts!)
the food halls in any japanese department store e.g. isetan or odakyu
hole-in-the-wall sushi/ramen joints...many of these are family run and the food is simply exquisite:)
hole-in-the-wall sushi/ramen joints...many of these are family run and the food is simply exquisite:)

Neighbourhoods:
Harajuku - for the street culture. don't miss the daiso/100 yen store for kitschy knick knacks!
Shimokitazawa - offbeat and laidback area with plenty of quirky stores and secondhand shops and cafes. quite unlike the bustle of shinjuku/shibuya
Shinjuku/Shibuya - must visits for great shopping/soaking up the japanese culture all at once!
Ginza/Omotesando - more upscale designer labels but worth a stroll
Roppongi Hill - nightlife

shopping:
Matsumoto Kiyoshi - Japan's leading drugstore which is chockfull of Japanese makeup and skincare brands
Muji - a minimalist lifestyle store selling clothes, stationary, office supplies, homeware, snacks.
Tokyu Hands - sort of like an IKEA with anything and everything under the sun
Uniqlo - for basics. they have stores everywhere, a giant one in Ginza and smaller ones in Shinjuku and Shibuya

girlontheave said...

i am totally rambling here but do bear with me! these are some of my recommendations for kyoto:

kiyomizu dera
fushimi inari (your second photo)
ginkakuji (silver pavilion)
kinkakuji(golden pavilion)
the gion district
nijo castle
kyoto imperial palace
shijo kawaramachi for shopping (its a bit more touristy but this is the city's major shopping street)

there are so many temples and shrines in kyoto but it's better to visit just a few rather than trying to cover lots of them. it's a peaceful city with lots of old world charm and there's plenty of little shops and alleyways to lose yourself in:)

Susana said...

Hey!

As I've already told you I have some tips about Japan in my travel blog at www.vuelo-directo.blogspot.com under the lable "Japan". Although the blog is written in spanish you can use google translator and it would be a pleasure for me if you'd be able to pass by.

Greetings from Spain,

Susana.

Regina said...

"yokoso!" welcome!

I've been living in Japan for the past 2 years (and traveled here for fun lots before) and from Seattle. So exciting that you're traveling here!

Here's a quick glimpse of what you can do: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/yourguide/eng.pdf

Usually if you have one-two weeks, this is the plan of attack:
Tokyo (2days), Kyoto (3 full days), Nara (day-trip), Hiroshima (1 day), Miyajima (day-trip), return to Tokyo (2days).

If you want more places, you can add:
Osaka (1day), Kurashiki (1day, stay in Okayama), or Nagasaki (2days).

It's fun to get off the touristy bullet-train path, too. I'd suggest some outdoor sports in Gunma (2days), hiking in Hokkaido (2-3days), or jetting down to Okinawa (domestic flights are 75% if you buy it 21 days before... so it's dirt cheap) for a few days on the beach.

You'll be coming during festival season! Summer's the best because everyone's out and fireworks are everywhere. Pack a few handkerchiefs or buy them for $1 here to wipe off the sweat! It's muggy and hot!

Best of luck, I live in the oldest area of Japan in a cute countryside town, accessible by train. Let me know if you'd like to visit! Lonely planet suggests it if you have a month of Japan travel... but why miss it? It's quintessential small city Japan.

Lisa said...

That's fantastic that you're going to Japan! Kyoto is one of my favourite cities as the food, the traditional culture and the people are all extraordinary. The Gion Festival takes place in July so if you can be in town for the parade, that would be definitely worth catching. If you like Japanese landscapes, the gardens of Kyoto are simply sublime. Ryoan-ji Temple, located in the same area as the Golden Pavilion, is beautiful. Nanzen-ji Zen Temple is lovely as well. I would also recommend, as some of your other readers already have, Nijo-jo Castle, Kiyomizu Temple and the little shop-lined street that leads up to the temple and the Gion District, where you may catch a glimpse of a real Geisha around Hanami-koji Street or by the Shirakawa Canal. Two guidebooks that I really like are, 'Old Kyoto' by Diane Durston and 'A Guide to the Gardens of Kyoto' by Marc Treib and Ron Herman. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

mr. pineapple man said...

I always stayed in Shinjuku when I went to Japan... there are a lot of business hotels and its really close to all the attractions so I loved it!