Create your own adventure…
Dying to visit Tokyo and Kyoto in Japan but unsure where to start the planning process? Download the PowerPoint for my nine day trip to see the results of 7 months of planning for my first-time Japan trip, which also happened to be my first ever solo trip.
My PowerPoint has everything but here are some additional tips:
- Already have my next trip back planned so obviously I loved it
- Next trip (Spring 2019) I get to be a groupie to a jazz duo with my best friend (her boyfriend is one of the members) and my boyfriend Joe.
- The JR Pass was so worth it for my trip – largely just to be reassured that I could come in and out of the station as often as I needed to. Came in handy when I accidentally left Tokyo Station in the wrong direction looking for the JR travel service center.
- Lesson learned – stay at an accommodation within walking distance to a JR station
- I hope to visit Japan at least once every season – this trip was during the late Fall season and was so beautiful
- Knowing how to read katakana and hiragana characters was extremely helpful – I was able to locate the taxi queue before I had a meltdown thanks to it as well as other key moments in my trip
- Knowing how to ask if people understand or speak English is a very useful phrase I used constantly: “Sumimasen, eigo ga wakarimasuka?” or “Excuse me, do you understand English?”
- Tokyo and Kyoto are mandatory bucket-list items in life since there are some experiences and aesthetics you truly won’t find anywhere else.
- Get a pocket wifi while you’re there! Many Air BnB accommodations offer it as an amenity but I believe stations offer rental portable wifi devices as well.
I included the majority of the lessons I learned in my PowerPoint but here are some more:
- I’m grateful I was able to experience Japan solo but I will likely not do it again. I would prefer to go back with at least one other person but ideally a group.
- I feel that the idea that a lot of people in Tokyo speak English is only sort of true. I was definitely able to get by whenever I asked because people are still willing to help. So with a little mix of English, Japanese, and miming, I was always successful with finding the place I was looking for.
- I should’ve packed more efficiently so that I had more room to bring back more souvenirs! I regret not buying some items but I also didn’t have the space.
- Always make sure you have enough cash! Many places don’t accept card so try to use it when you can and then only use cash with cash only places
- On the note of money, some conbini/convenience stores in Japan have an international ATM so make sure to spend some time locating the closest one to your accommodations and pull out cash regularly to avoid carrying too much cash at once.
- If you have TMobile, switch to TMobile One before departing so you get free texting and data (although the data connection is poor/non-existent if you’re not on wifi)
- Japan is a safe country and Tokyo and Kyoto are no exception – the only times I felt sort of skeptical was at night:
- Once in Akihabara when I got a little lost looking for the station and wound up on a dark, low populated street. I just simply turned around and stayed on the main street.
- Another in Asakusa for no real reason – I was on my way back to my apartment but then immediately after I had that thought, a 6-7 year old boy walked past me with groceries, clearly running an errand for his family. I felt reassured and sure enough I was fine the whole trip.
- I also blame the fear from crimes rates and U.S. best practices for personal safety for some of my knee-jerk reactions in Japan. On the other hand, these knee-jerk reactions could also be the reason I stayed safe.
Have any tips about traveling in Japan? Share them in the comments!