Saturday, June 1, 2019

My Top Tips for Japan Travel

It is so quiet in Japan! This is the first thing I thought on the plane, at the airport and on the train. That being said, represent your country in a way that is respectful to their culture. I loved the order, respect and thoughtfulness of Japan so much. I hope that I can bring a bit of it back to America. Here are some of the things that surprised me most about Japan and I hope can help in planning your vacation there!

1. The flight isn't as bad as you think. We did Denver to LA (2 1/2 hours). LAX to Tokyo Narita Airport (11 hours). I used Kayak to find the two separate flights for a total of $1177 per person. On the way Sunday, we mostly slept. Arriving at 3:23pm Monday. So we arrived to my parents house, had dinner and were in bed by 7PM. It was nice to go to bed at a "regular" time and be fresh on Tuesday by 6AM ready to rock and roll! Lots to see!
2. There is a train from Narita Airport to Yokohama, with stops in Tokyo. This was close to where we were staying. It was about $32 dollars and took about 1 1/2 hours from Yokohama. The train even has free wifi as does the airport.

3. The Metro in Japan is fabulous. My mom had our Mo Mo Pass ready ($10 to buy, then load up. Return the Mo Mo Pass to get $5 back). Right away we put $50 on it. That lasted us until the end of the day on Thursday. Then I added about $10 for Friday and Saturday. We left on Sunday. We did a lot of trains, so I think this ended up being a good price for our 6 day trip. About $10 per day.
4. I love the Metro trains in Japan. Clean, no eating on the trains, no cell phone sounds and definitely no talking on cell phones. The cars were so quiet and peaceful. We got lucky and never had to be SUPER squished. They got us everywhere we wanted to go. I would study a map before hand as there are a ton of lines and ways to go. And in a crowded station, that can get overwhelming. Make sure to keep your backpack in front of you while riding on busy cars as to keep in your own space. Everyone is very respectful of space in Japan. They even line up for the train cars, so keep a close eye on that as well. Watch out for priority seating and giving up your seat for older people, parents carrying babies and pregnant women.
5. Data plan. I didn't purchase a data plan while we were in Japan because my mom was taking us everywhere, but if I ever went back I would highly suggest one. She used Google Maps a lot to help navigate with the trains and walking. It was fun to use Google Translate as well when there wasn't English around. Most places did have English menus though!

6. Trash cans. Walking about you hardly find any trash cans. Heads up to always keep an eye out. They are usually in train stations and bathrooms, but hardly any out on the streets. And yet it is so clean in Japan! They have a wonderful respect for the environment and a great recycling and trash program.
7. Carry a reusable bag. I found this very handy as we were shopping a lot and it was easy to keep one in my purse to put everything we bought. I bought one the first day at Pie Holic and it was a HUGE help brining back all of my souvenirs!

8. Stay to the left. When going up stairs and escalators and on the street, walk on the opposite side as what we do in America. The same as driving in Japan, Japanese people stay to the left while commuting.

9. Yen. I got out 100 Yen from the ATM and that equaled out to be about $93 American. Things are a bit expensive, but not as bad as I thought, plus with the currency exchange you end out on top! In the end of the trip I spent a little over $700. We were lucky enough to not have to pay for a hotel room, so that would be an added expense.
10. 5 days is enough, if you have a limited amount of time! We did 8 hour days most days, 8 miles of walking each day and each day we got tired earlier and earlier. By our last day Saturday, we were happy with what we had seen and were ready to go home. You can do Japan in a week! We did Yokohama, Tokyo, Tokyo DisneySea and Kamakura. I feel like we saw a little bit of everything and came home with some great memories!

11. Learn some Japanese phrases. The language is extremely difficult. Something that would be fun to learn and I think that the people of Japan really appreciated us trying. My mom knew a few more phrases, but these are the ones we used everyday:

Hello - Kon'nichiwa
Goodbye - Say┼Źnara
Thank you - Arigat┼Źgozaimashita or just Arigato
Excuse me - Sumimasen
12. Paying. At every register instead of handing the money to the cashier, they had a tray. We learned pretty quickly to put the money or credit card on the tray. They will then take it, and put your change on there as well.

13. Bathrooms are everywhere and so clean. But make sure to bring a small washcloth with you as not every bathroom will have paper towels or a dryer. My mom had one ready for both of us, but they had a ton everywhere you went. The 100 Yen Store, Starbucks Reserve, the Redbrick Warehouse! You could even bring one from home!

14. Jet Lag will hit later. We went to Japan, Sunday to Sunday. I planned it so we had Memorial Day to catch up on any sleep we needed. I did and slept 13 hours that day. BUT the following day I could not fall asleep. Be mindful of this as it can take a toll on returning to work. Benadryl helped the following night and all is well!

I cannot say enough good things about Japan. I never thought I would have loved it so much! After this trip, I feel confident that I could go back and navigate myself. A little studying before a trip never hurt anyone and it really helps take the edge off vacation stress! Have you visited Japan? Share your tips in the comments below! Have more questions about Japan? I'd be happy to try and help! I'm so happy to share this amazing country with you! 

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