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Japan Diaries

Updated: Jul 30, 2019


This blog is about my trip to Japan in 2017 and @schmmuck 's trip in 2018. He also travels frequently while managing his full time job. On his trip he had covered some really awesome food joints across Japan. You're sure to drool over the pics.


Documenting his and mine itineraries, food hauls, trips and tricks so you travelers can get the best out your Japan trip


Before we jump into itinerary I suggest please go through my blog about planning your Japan trip https://www.outofofficedaku.com/post/planningjapan This will give you a lot more insight and help you understand Japan. You will not only enjoy this blog more but also will help you planning your trip.


Let's begin...


Against each attraction I have tried to mention

(Mode of transportation to reach it/Station name) (Entry fee)

The details of the next destination will have info on how to reach from first destination

Confused...Read on you will figure out...


Get to Japan and as you make yourself comfortable in your hostel/hotel check around for supermarkets. You would love to try out all the unique items to eat and carry on the go.


Supermarkets to look for

  • Lawson

  • Family Mart

  • 7-Eleven

Tip: Living in a hostel with residential complex. Just look out for kids going to school or office goers early morning. They tend to pick up snacks on the way to the station. The best places to have a good breakfast and start your day.

 

Tokyo


Day One


Kaminarimon Temple - (Metro/Asakusa Station)

- The Kaminarimon was first built in 941 AD by Taira no Kinmasa, a military commander


Kaminarimon Temple

Sensoji Temple (Walking)

- Tokyo's oldest temple


Nakamise Shopping Street (Walking)

- Nakamise Street which connects the main gate of Sensoji Temple, Kaminarimon Gate, and the main hall


Ueno Street (Metro/Ueno Station)

- Ueno street is also know as Ameyoko is a busy market street along the Yamanote Line tracks between Okachimachi and Ueno Stations


Ameya-Yokocho

- Open air market


Tokyo National Museum (Walking)

- Established in 1872, is the oldest Japanese national museum, the largest art museum in Japan and one of the largest art museums in the world


Akihabara (Metro/Suehirocho or Okachimachi Station)

- Famed for its electronics retailers, ranging from tiny stalls to vast department stores


When at Akihabara check the below things to visit:

  • Maid Cafes - Cosplay themed restaurants

  • Laox - Tax free souvenir items

  • Don Quijote - Discount store

  • Radio Kaikan - Animation goods

  • Super Potato - All types of video games and consoles

  • Gamers - Video games, CDs, software related to games

  • Mandarake - Collectibles

Tip: If you have plans to shop from here suggest keep this visit to the end of your trip

 

Day two


Tamagoyaki - Omelette on stick

Tsukiji Outer Market (Metro/Tsukijishijo Station/Free)


- Also known as Toyosu Market. If you're here at 5 am you can see fish auctions marketplace. You can visit it any time of the day for some delicious food

Food recommendations:

Tamagoyaki - Japanese style omelette on a stick


Tip: Please don't come in way of the workers in the market. Early morning is a peak time. Also stay within the marked safety yellow lines if checking out the area which has trucks unloading






 

This reminds me of how efficiently Japan operates. So I was sitting and watching the sea food trucks come in for loading. The lady supervisor explained me how they do it.

Normal trucks open from the back and need two or more persons to unload and load goods.


This is how their truck opens up. All goods are unloaded and kept behind the yellow line. A single forklift operator unloads the whole truck in <10 mins. And takes another 15 mins to reload it.



During this 30 mins break the driver of the vehicle finishes his morning breakfast and is ready for the trip. Normal trucks which open from back take more then 2+ hours for the same task. Also long boxes are a pain to load in them. Efficient...


Back to the daywise itinerary

 

Hamarikyu Gardens (Walking 500 meters/300¥)

- Public park in middle of the city


Shibuya Crossing (Metro/Shibuya Station)

- World's busiest pedestrian crossing


Tip: Get to the Starbucks outlet and go on the first floor for some epic views of the crossing. Also good location for your time lapses


Food recommendations:

Uobei or Genki Sushi - Delivers your sushi at top speeds directly to your table by miniature bullet train

Shibuya crossing view from Starbucks

Hachiko Memorial Statue (Metro/Shinjuku Station)

- Bronze statue honoring Hachiko, the famously loyal Akita dog.


Tip: Want to know more watch the movie "Hachiko - A dog's tale. Make sure you have a tissue box handy


Harajuku (Metro/Harajuku Station)

- Center of Japanese youth culture and fashion. Should not be missed


View from top of the observatory

Meiji Jingu Gardens

- Public garden adjacent to Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park


Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Metro/Tochomae Station/Free)

- Observatory tower. It's is possible to see Meiji Jingu, Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree and Mount Fuji



Omote-sando (Metro/Omote-sando Station)

- Designer boutiques and shops of international brands


Golden Gai

- Six narrow alleys make up this place which are connected via more narrow passages or as Schmmuck says " This is where people come to get sloshed"


Food recommendations:

Eat at Yakitori Alley or the memory lane. Its walking distance from Shinjuku Station

Harajuku Gyoza - Tasty dumplings


Day trips or one night stay trips from Tokyo


Nikko - It's a Unesco World Heritage Site. Small town tucked away in the mountains. It also has many Shinto shrines and temples. On a clear day you can view Mt. Fuji from here.


Hakone - Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. It's on way to Mt. Fuji. Can be stopped here for a night and then headed over to Mt. Fuji


Matsumoto - Mountain town which has the black and white Crow Castle. Stroll along the Nakamachi-dori street.


Yokohama

Some of the biggest Chinatowns. 30 mins from Tokyo

Food recommendations:

- Motomachi

- Uobei - Conveyor belt sushi


Tip: If visiting Yokohama and love cars don't forget to visit Nissan Headquarters and check out the cars. It even has the Nissan GTR. The staff are super cool and helpful.


 

Spending a week in Tokyo also would be less. Choose your things and make your personalized itinerary. Here's few more in case you would be interested


Yanaka - If your want to experience old Tokyo

Sugamo (Old Ladies' Harajuku) - Series of shops catering to elders. Most shops are wheelchair friendly

Ryogoku - If sumo wrestling interests you this is the place to go

Tokyo water bus - Sightseeing via boats

Ghibli museum - If animation fascinates you


For kids:

Tokyo Disneyland

Tokyo Disney Sea


Tip: Don't forget to take the 8 am metro from Shinjuku. Dress well :)

 

The above itinerary can be done in 2 days or 3/4 days. Depends on your pace and time.


Let's head to Mt. Fuji. This can be a day trip from Tokyo or you can make your hub at Kyoto or even stayover near Mt. Fuji. Or start from Tokyo, do a day trip at Mt. Fuji and headover to Kyoto. Again depends on the time you have.

 

Mt. Fuji


Day three


Mt. Fuji (Train/Otsuki and then transfer to Fujikyu Railway for Kawaguchiko)

- Mount Fuji or Fujisan) is Japan's highest mountain. Don't think I need to give description for this attraction


Tip: Check weather and plan your trip. A clear day would be suggested


When reaching the railway station you can buy a pass which has a cable car + bus trip + a boat trip. It's worth it

View from top of the Panoramic Ropeway

Schmmuck cycling around Lake Kawaguchi

Panoramic ropeway

- Lovely views of Mt. Fuji and the city


Lake Kawaguchi (Cycle/Bus/Walking)

- One of the five lakes of Fuji five lakes. Second largest


Tip: Rent a cycle and go around this place for some lovely views


Oishi Park

- For the best views of Mt. Fuji


Maglev Exhibition Center

- If bullet trains fascinate you this is a must visit. Museum about bullet trains and also a testing facility. You can also ride in trains doing test runs. (Do check booking etc as they need to be done months in advance)


Food recommendations:

Hoto noodles - Famous local dish


Tip: Do try the hot springs when in this area. Some have lovely views of Mt. Fuji

 

Convenience and efficiency in supermarkets


Pic one: The fridge has a refill door from the back. So while its been refilled it does not cause inconvenience to the customer and also superb way to get the cold ones in the front and the new ones behind for it to cool

Pic two: The shelf shifts out for the worker to arrange and stand comfortably while arranging the food items

 

Kyoto


Day four


Fushimi Inari Taisha (Train/JR Inari Station/Free)

- Important Shinto shrine in southern Kyoto


Tip: Carry mosquito repellent when visit this place post 4 pm. Climb up the mountains for some insane views of the sunset and the city. Visiting it in the late hours also makes up for good photos while the sunlight passes through vermilion torii gates.


Kinkaku-ji

Gion

- Traditional entertainment district lying north and south of Shijo Street


Yasaka Shrine

- Shinto shrine in the Gion District


Kinkaku-ji

Zen temple whose top two floors are completely covered in gold leaf





Nishiki Market

- Renowned market place to Kyoto's renowned food joints

 

Day five


Tenryuji temple (Train/Keifuku Arashiyama Station/500¥)

- Built in 1339, it's registered as a world heritage site


Hogonin Temple (600¥)

- Known for its seasonal gardens and statues


Togetsu-kyo Bridge

- Bridge connecting islands. Nice views

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

Arashiyama Bamboo Grove (1000¥)

- Torii tunnels of Fushimi-Inari-Taisha Shrine and Kinkaku-ji Temple. You need to visit it to experience it. Also one of the most photographed site in the city.


Tip: There are hand driven rickshaw drivers that will take you around. They are not cheap. Please don't negotiate with them. It takes a lot of effort to carry passengers and they deserve to be paid good.




Kodaiji Temple (600¥)

- One of Japan's greatest historical figures, by Hideyoshi's wife Nene who is also enshrined at the temple


Tip: When visiting shrines/temples do check the rock/stones patterns on the ground which are done each morning. You will be mesmerized


Yasaka Shrine

- Famous shrine in Kyoto

Gyoza Hohei

Food recommendations:

- Gyoza Hohei

- Opp to Togetsu-kyo Bridge there multiple shops selling rice crackers. Try the different flavours. Good souvenirs to take back home.









 

Day six


Egg and ham combo

Food recommendations:

Yoshinoya Kyoto Rakuhoku - Good breakfast options

Sushi no Musashi - Sushi


Nara Park

- Established in 1880 it is one of the oldest parks in Japan. Also the hub for many other attractions


Tip: Do buy Shika senbe and feed the deers



Todai-ji Temple (300¥)

- Large temple with a big Buddha statue


Yoshikien Garden (Walking)</