Japan has always been in my travel bucket list. I have waited a long time to check it off my list! I was so excited to go on this trip and it was actually much better than I expected. I LOVED JAPAN!
So these are what I prepared before I leave:
- Tourist Visa
- Japan Rail Pass
- Flight tickets and Hotels
- Packing (weather check to decide what to wear!)
- Decide your travel style
- Which places to go (Itinerary)
The Visa is not as difficult to apply as I thought. I went to Hong Kong Consulate which is located very close to the Ferry Terminal (10 mins walk). Procedures was easy and I picked the visa within 3 days. Check requirements for visa by visiting the Hong Kong Japan Consulate here.
Japan Rail Pass (the most economical means of travelling throughout Japan by rail)
I think this was the smartest thing I did before I went to Japan. I went to JTB (The biggest Japanese travel agent in Japan) Macau office to buy this pass. You can check on their website on where you can buy it (You can NOT buy this pass in Japan, please buy in your country’s Japan travel agencies or online).
There are many train routes in Japan and also very complicated, also a few other train company. When you use this pass, please make sure you get onto ONLY JR Lines. It’s basically the biggest train company in Japan and it has lines almost anywhere. The only issue is some lines can’t take you to every destination(s) you would like to go. However, there is always subway lines you can take to get to your destination; or you can walk from the JR stops, which is probably just 1 or 2 subway stops away. You don’t need to buy ANY tickets when you get on the JR Lines (there are some exceptions, please check the info on their website). What you need is to go through the train entrance where you can show the officer your JR Pass EACH time you use it. Unfortunately, English is not common in Japan, so if you need to inquire something, you need to learn how to say the name of the stops, places, landmarks in Japanese.
– Prepare an easy to reach coin bag in your pocket for the subway tickets, you’ll need it.
– Usually, there is only 1 (0ne) lift on every train platform; it is located on the end of the platform. Please be aware of the signage because sometimes it probably would take quite a long walk to find it and it’s not quite a pleasant walk especially for those who are dragging suitcase like me! 🙂
– Avoid rush hour.
Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto & Nara
So I asked my Japanese friend where I should go in Japan for the first time. She is from Tokyo and really recommend me to visit Kyoto and stay one night there. Osaka is the place I always want to go and also because there is a direct flight from Hong Kong. I also decide to stop by at Nara, a small city only 1 hour away from Kyoto by train. So there you go, my itinerary in Japan!
Day 1 : HK – Osaka (KIX), stay in Kyoto
I arrived in Kansai International Airport early morning (just in time to see the sunset!). Then I went on a bus transfer to the JR station and caught the line directly to Kyoto (approx. 1 hour ride).
I checked-in to the Hotel Mystays Kyoto-Shijo and started to do some research about the city and plan what to do for the rest of the day. Since I would only be staying for a night, I decided to do a small walking tour with a small group of people. They covered few places I wanted to visit on my list. It was a very nice walk, totally worth my time to see Kyoto in half day. We visited Tofukuji temple, Fushimi-Inari and Gion. It’s a beautiful city!
Day 2: Kyoto – Osaka (by Nara)
So I actually heard about Nara when I searched about Kyoto and many people mention about this place. I was really interested to go and take a look those Shika (means deer in Japanese)! So I checked out from the hotel early, made my way to the train station after a relaxing breakfast nearby. It took about 1 hour by train to Nara.
Once I arrived at Nara station, I left my heavy luggage at the train station in the Coin Lockers. They only use 100 coins for the lockers so make sure you prepare this. For medium size luggage, you need to pay 600 yen for as long as you want (you can only store once and pick up once). Almost every train station has Coin Lockers so you don’t have to worry about not finding one. I had the best tempura udon at the train station near the coin lockers area before I made my way to the park.
Nara is by far my favorite city out of all the places I went in Japan! It’s so pretty and really nice.
I went to the Todaiji temple where it stands the biggest Buddha in Japan. Outside the temple garden, there are so many deers and you can feed them! (ooh yeah!!). You may find stalls everywhere around the park that sells the deer crackers and it costs 150 Yen each. But be prepared to get chased by the deer because they could be aggressive when they are hungry. My shirt was actually chewed by one of the deer because I was hiding the crackers in my bag and they could smell it. Overall, they are awesome!
You may also find so many souvenirs you can buy with deer theme everywhere around the park, the temple and the souvenir street you walk through on the way back to the train station. There is nice small park, lake and the scenery around there is just amazing. I walked through that street slowly just to enjoy the warm color of lights at dawn – It was one of the best and beautiful moment I have ever had.
After a fun afternoon at Nara with the Deers, I made my way to Osaka and arrived at Namba area. The location of this hotel is very good. It’s about 10 minutes far from Osaka central district. It was such a big change of scene! So crowded and lights everywhere!
Day 3 & 4: Osaka
So in the morning, I began to plan my itinerary again as usual and I found this bike tour available but unfortunately it was too late for me to book it for the day so I booked for the next day in the morning before I head to Tokyo by train (approx. 3 hours journey by bullet train). I went to the Sky Umeda building instead and witness a fabulous view of Osaka, beautiful sunset too! ♥
I managed to join the bike tour the next day. It was such a lovely weather and Osaka is by far the most beautiful city I have been that you should definitely bike around in!! So much fun! It was around 16km bike tour so better be prepared if you are thinking of joining this tour. I recommend CycleOsaka for this tour, you may choose half day, full day or evening course – you won’t be disappointed! ^_^
Right after the bike tour, I went straight to the train station to find a bullet train to Tokyo. I got my reserved seat (as it’s pretty popular route for people from Osaka to go to Tokyo) and it took roughly 3 hours to get there.
Day 4 – 6: Tokyo
I contacted my friend in Tokyo and ask them if they can take me to Japanese hot spring (onsen) so they did! Before then, I mad a stop at Shinjuku and Shibuya to check out what’s all the fuzz about. Well, guess what? PEOPLE! So many people! Crazy! It was a great short few hours at the Onsen and we had a great Oden dinner afterwards, fantastic day!
I wanted to wake up early to see the Tsukiji fish market but I was too tired so I went to Ginza district (recommended by my Japanese friends) and walk around. Everything was so nice and pretty – oh yes, this is Tokyo’s posh area! At night, I went to see my friends again and we went to have Yakitori for dinner at a famous street in Shinjuku called Omoide Yokocho – it’s a traditional small street in Tokyo, where all the shops are sooo tiny! Pretty Classic! I walked around the Kobocho area as well and passed by the Robot restaurant. (from the video advertisement of the restaurant, it looks pretty awesome – next on my list!)
Useful Japanese phrases:
Thank you – arigatou gozaimas
Excuse Me – sumimasen
Welcome – Irasyaimasen
Please – onegaisimas
I’m sorry – gomenasai
Tea – O cha
Don’t worry – daijyobudes