Konichiwaaa Japan!

Want to relax, enjoy nice meals, discover new technologies and be surrounded by neon lights? Japan is the right fit for you!

To plan our trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, we used the Japan Guide website a lot – it covers all details and provides information about all the sights and cities in Japan.

Let’s start of with the capital city, Tokyo. We spent three days there but to be honest, if we had woken up early, we could easily have spent two days there and still have seen the main sights. Tokyo is quite overwhelming because of the constant neon lights so you really get that Lost in Translation feeling!

We arrived on the Saturday evening and decided to sleep at the Royal Park Hotel the Haneda, which is by the departure gates. Not only very practical, it is also very quiet so perfect if you want to sleep before moving on to the city. Once in Tokyo, we stayed at the Hotel Monterey Ginza, which was well located with two subways stations within 10 minutes walking-distance and 15 minutes from Tokyo station. There also were many restaurants, some hidden in the towers. We tried most of the restaurants in Kirarito Mall, our favorite was probably Egg’s n things, a Waikiki eateryperfect for brunch with huuuuge pancakes.

After a well-deserved rest, time to start the visits! Our must-do were the following:

  • Meiji-jingu : this spectacular Shinto shrine is in the heart of the city, in a leafy park, Yoyogi-Koen. You can have lunch in the Yoyogi-park, there is also a cute inner garden, worth the visit for a small entrance fee.
  • Ueno district: the park is probably one of the best spots for the cherry blossoms, the area is also full of museums such as the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum of Western Art and the National Museum of Nature and Science, perfect for a rainy day! At Ueno station, you also have Ame-yokocho, an alley by the train tracks with some small cafés under the tracks, and loads of shops.
  • Shibuya with the famous crossing. There’s a Starbucks on one of the corners with a big books/ discs store, you have a pretty cool view from the first floor windows when people cross the street. It is also surrounded by high-tech shops and the usual big brands such as Uniqlo and H&M.
  • Visit Sensō-ji in the Asakusa district: the most famous –and touristic—Buddhist temple in Tokyo). On the way there, you have a short alley surounded by stalls with souvenirs.
  • The fish market, Tsukiji: get there early as the fish autions start at 6am
  •  Imperial Palace: Since the Imperial family lives there, you obviously can only visit the outer gardens, which are still worth your time; there are also daily guided tours of the palace grounds.

    Practicalities: buy a Sim card at the JAL counter at the airport. We bought a 1GB for the two weeks so could get around very easily and ask the bus drivers if it was the right bus to take by pointing at our final destination on our phones. Most of the buses have screens with the names of the stop, sometimes in both Japanese and English.

We went to Japan for a few weeks right before Sakura (the cherry blossoms) and went to different cities: Tokyo, Nara, Hakone, Kyoto and Naha (Okinawa Island). The highlight of the trip was Nara, an hour away from Tokyo, which will come next!

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