I am going to use this and future posts to highlight things Angelina and I would like to do, see and eat while in Japan and any helpful information that I can reference while there.
I am going to use this as an informal travel guide for us, so we do not forget things, and as a reference for you which I will update as the trip goes on in August or September.
Angelina and I have been talking, and we are thinking of cutting Kyoto out of this voyage.
The original plan was around a week in Tokyo and a week in Kyoto.
We may still go to Kyoto, just for a smaller amount of time.
So, the new plan looks like it will be us using Tokyo as our home base and maybe venturing from there depending on what we wish to do.
In a way, this decision may open up even more of the country to us that we might not have visited otherwise because we would not want to miss out on any sights the two primary cities that our trip had to offer.
Thus, my articles may open up to encompass even more of Japan than I had originally planned.
Along with doing my own research, I sent out a request for friends on Facebook who had been to Japan, and they gave me a few ideas which I will also add to these posts.
Angelina tells me that she thinks I only want to go for the food because I am always telling her about all the restaurants and weird foods I want to see and try.
This is not entirely true, I want to see everything, I just want to make sure I know what places there are nearby for us to eat at… 2 to 35 times a day 😀
DON’T JUDGE ME!
They do not have to be full meals, I just want to try everything.
This first venture into things to see and do in Japan will consist of the items my friends who have been to Japan have said to check out.
First, though, I found a list of tips that would be useful for anyone:
There is no tipping when eating out in Japan.
If you enjoyed your dining experience and want to express your gratitude or compliment the chef/service staff, a friendly “Gochiso-sama-deshita” will do.
You can get around almost everywhere in Tokyo with JR trains and Tokyo Metro subway lines. Get a “Suica” or “Pasmo” rechargeable card, which you can also use at some shops.
While the Tokyo trains and subways are convenient, walking is, by far, more fun if you have the time, as you get to see small streets with tons of hidden local gems.
If you need help with directions, you can probably find someone to assist you (in English) at a kōban police box, which you’ll find close to most train stations.
Getting around without speaking Japanese is not as scary as you may think. Most people are helpful, and little phrases like “sumimasen” (excuse me) and “arigato” (thank you) go a long way.
Tokyo is huge, so it’s important to stay somewhere convenient.
The best places to stay are Shinjuku, the Tokyo Station Area, Ginza/Hibiya, Shibuya or Roppongi.
Other decent places to stay include Nihombashi, Shinagawa, Hamamatsucho, and Shiodome.
Try to stay near a Yamanote Line (Tokyo loop line) station. If you can’t do that, be sure you’re near a subway station.
The west side of the city is the sexy modern side.
The Shitamachi area (Asakusa, Ueno, etc.) is the old and less appealing side of the city. But, it’s cheap.
Now I will list the places that my friends have suggested for Angelina and me to check out.
Mount Fuji: Of course this is on the list, Japan’s Mt. Fuji is an active volcano about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. It’s the country’s tallest peak, at 3,776 meters (12388 feet). Fuji last erupted in 1707. Its iconic profile is the subject of numerous works of art and maybe part of my Japan tattoo.
Edo-Tokyo Museum: Eddie said check out the Hiroshima exhibit and fight the urge to apologize to everyone around you, which does not sound fun at all but something I should absolutely do. My buddy John SeaGod also suggested this museum for the swords, I think, he never actually gave me the name of the institution he was suggesting. The Edo-Tokyo Museum is a museum of the history of Tokyo during the Edo period.
Vagabond: I want to go here just to tell the singer that Eddie told me about this place… per Eddie: I made friends with some cool people at this little hole in the wall bar in Shinjuku called Vagabond. It’s hidden in an alleyway, and on the weekends this really sweet girl named Kanako sings while her sister plays piano.
Kiyomizu-Dera: Both Eddie and Laura said that they loved this place. It is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto. The temple is part of the Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto UNESCO World Heritage site.
Himeji Castle: Eddie: If you’re going with who the Big Lebowski refers to as your “special fuckin lady friend!” then I’ll heavily suggest Himeji Castle, only three hours or so from Tokyo… Optimum romance would be during Sakura season, but the lazy waterway and blossom orchards are bound to be beautiful nonetheless… The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture
MOS Burger: MOS Food Services, Inc., doing business as MOS Burger, is a fast-food restaurant chain that originated in Japan. Eddie: I thought Mos Burger was pretty rad. The way they fry things there doesn’t bog you down… which will be good because she plans on keeping me busy apparently.
Lake Kawaguchi: We may just go here instead of both here and Mt. Fuji since it is so close, you get amazing pics in either place.
My buddy Eddie stayed in Machida when he was in Japan and though he said is was pretty low key, it is also pretty far from anything we have on our list to see so far, so I doubt I will be looking to stay there unless some new insights come up.
Eddie also went further about Machida, letting me know that in that area it is old school Japan with loads of Chinese reasonably priced love and bars that still kick you out for being white.
I learned from them that Konbini are convenience stores, but I hear they have fantastic food and various other interesting things in them.
I was warned to never stray past the 3rd floor of the Manga shops in Akihabara because the porn gets weirder the higher you go. What I heard was, start on the fourth floor and work your way up and after warning Angelina, it seems she heard the same thing as me because she demands we go higher than the third floor.
God, I love her.
Everything I hear and see from my friends and online leads me to believe that I have to spend a day or two eating nothing but vending machine food because they are not only diverse, but they are not like stateside vending machine food.
I will be posting the things Angelina would like to see soon, followed by mine which may or may not be mostly food.
Check back in, like, share and comment, especially if you have been to Tokyo and can give us some useful tips or ideas.
This is the map I have built so far for us to know about where in the city we need to stay and to give us an idea of where we are in reference to the other places we want to see.