1. How early enough to get your ticket?
I’m pretty sure every one of us wonder when is early enough to buy tickets that are affordable. This is up to you. For us, we bought the ticket 7 months before the trip for a few reasons. First of all, most of the time it is cheaper to buy early; second of all, we get it out of the way so we know that we will go on this trip for sure. We bought one-way tickets since we were visiting other countries as well. It was about $1100 for both of us. I’m sure you find better deals out there, but once you have bought your tickets, don’t search for any other deals since you already bought your ticket and they are pretty unchangeable, so why search other deals and feel sorry that you can’t change tickets.
Other note: we flied Singapore airlines. Highly recommend it. Their service is the best and their food is amazing!
2. How to prepare before the trip?
Look for one that is most suitable to you. Make sure to read the fine print and be safe on your trip! The one we bought is about $80 for 2 people that covers our whole trip including our stay in multiple countries.
How long are you going to stay in Japan? Where in Japan are you planning to visit? All that matters! If you stay in Japan for a week (in my opinion, that is enough) and if you are going to multiple areas like Tokyo, Kyoto, and etc., then buy a JR pass. It is worth it if you are going to different areas in Japan. Japan is huge!! So, a JR pass would help you save some money to travel to those different areas. From Tokyo to Kyoto, it cost around $160/one way/person. The JR pass is about $250/person for a week. It can also work for all the JR local trains. It doesn’t work for other trains or buses that are privately owned and run. Use Google maps to see which trains to take.
JR passes don’t work for some bullet trains, so ask the information desk at the train station which route to take to get to your destination (for us it was to arrive in Tokyo from Kyoto) or how to get around using the JR pass, they will tell you which trains to take. Sometimes, Google map doesn’t tell you all options that are available. Always ask the information desk what train to take to make sure you won’t get lost and so that you can potentially save money.
If you are only staying in Tokyo or just Kyoto, don’t buy a JR pass, because the train costs are pretty cheap usually topping out at around $3.00 one-way. Don’t take a taxi if you want to save some pocket money. Taxis in Japan are expensive!! We only used trains to commute in Tokyo. In Kyoto, we used both trains and buses.
Pocket Wifi is a MUST
We didn’t think about the need for wifi before we headed to Japan. When we were at the airport, we tried to look for what trains to take, but the wifi at the airport is so weak and it took us so long to figure out which train to take to our airbnb place. Wifi at the convince store never work the way you want it to. The first day there we didn’t a way to conveniently connect to wifi so that we could use Google Maps, but then we found out about a device called “pocket wifi” that you can rent and carry around with you. It provides you with good wifi wherever you go. If you buy a JR pass, you will have the option to rent a pocket wifi, sadly we didn’t know how crucial it was, so ignored the offer. We found a pocket wifi renter and did the whole renting procedure online. Since we didn’t rent it ahead of time, we didn’t have the option to pick it up at the airport. We didn’t want to wait for the pocket wifi to be delivered to our AirBnB, so we just picked it up at the rental place. Below is the link to rent it, but there are many websites and places you can rent them from. The pocket wifi is worth the money and it worked perfectly. Rent once and use up to 10 devices on it. Also, when it’s time to go back to your home country, you can just drop off the device at a post box from which it will be returned to the renters. There’s a post box at every terminal at Narita Airport.
-Find a place to stay
We don’t really care for hotels much, we just stayed at an airbnb. Plus we only sleep there anyway. Tokyo is a busy place; tons of people visit Japan, so book ahead of time. We booked 7 months ahead of time. $80 for 3 nights is way better than $300/for 3 nights right?
-What to pack?
Who else is like me? Pack tons and tons of things before the trip and end up only using a few of them. I do that all the time. But knowing what to pack totally depends on when you are visiting Japan. We visited Japan during the summer, so it is HOT; WAY TOO HOT and HUMID. Don’t pack long-sleeved shirts and tight jeans; you will end up not using them at all. You will walk a lot too, so wear something comfortable and breathable.
3. Places to visit
Moving on to “what places to visit.” You are a pro at this. You probably know where you want to visit, right? If not, Google is your best friend! J
But here are places we visited that we want to share with you
There are a lot of places around the temple to take good pictures
-Tukiji Fish Market
This one is my favorite! You can find so many fun things to buy and try there. Be prepared to eat and sample all the good food there
This is really close to the Tsukiji market
-Harajuku Shopping Street
-Shibuya Scramble Crossing
-Fushimi Inari Shrine
-Arashiyama Bamboo Forest
And of course you will run into some random beautiful places along the way
4. What and where to eat?
To be honest, we didn’t look for places to eat. There are so many restaurants there that you’ll see them while you’re visiting the sites. My favorite was the sushi shop. I live in Utah and sushi in Utah is not good at all, but sushi in Japan is HEAVEN. Eat as much as you can while you are there J
Travel is stressful, tiring, and you get lost a lot. It is hard to plan when or what to eat sometimes too. Convenience stores in japan are nothing like the US; they have such good food and drinks there. We usually just grab something there to eat if we are in a rush.
Lastly, I’m really bad with this, I stress out when we get lost. Haha don’t be like me. Just enjoy and think of everything as part of the adventure. We love Japan for a ton of reasons:
-Japan is a safe place; You will never worry about theft or pick pocketing
-Japanese are very polite.
-Japan is very clean; you will never see trash on the street.
-And of course there are many beautiful places to go.
Enjoy your trip to Japan. Comment below if you have any questions J