It took me so long to make this album. On the last few days of our stay in Tokyo, I found out that I’m pregnant (again).
To cut the story short: I got neusea when I think or see a picture of Japan.
So in the last 2 months I have never ever (dare to) open the picture folder. Even to think about the ramen I ate, I can get really sick. Weird? I know.
Okay, here is the story: this is indeed the surprise trip I made for my husband. The initial plan was to visit Andalusia. However, for one reason and another the trip must be cancelled. So what should I do? I had already opened the piggy bank (seriously!); we need to go somewhere.
Japan was my first choice. A dear friend of mine will go there for hanami and it would be really great to meet her there. So I checked the ticket, accommodation etc. Voilà! The budget to Andalusia fitted to my Japan trip hehehe.
So here are my tips:
- Book ticket at least 3-4 months in advance to get a good price. Go for KLM!! No matter how cheap the other airline is, direct flight will save you some energy.
- Japan is beyond expensive. Hotel is not an option (for us) since we have a toddler with us. The price per night is expensive too, even for a 3* hotel. Unless you are flexible with budget, I won’t suggest you to stay in a hotel. Japan’s hotel room is rather small. So, airbnb was for us the best option.
- I came to Japan for the hanami (the cherry blossom festival). The best time to come there is between the last week of March and the beginning of April. It’s still rather chill but a lot warmer than in Holland though. Autumn would be the best season to visit too. The nature in Japan is stunning.
- Language barrier is an issue. Many Japanese don’t speak fluent English. So make sure make a brief note of simple question. Especially when you are Muslim, it is so helpful. A little practice before depature is good.
- Japan’s public transportation is topnotch! Clean and ontime. People are very discipline and respectful. So make sure you make the best out of your trip with it. Trying Shinkansen Nozomi is a fantastic experience!
- For the first timer, Kyoto and Tokyo are a must. My advice would be to spend at least 5 days in each city.
- Japan is a muslim friendly country. There are many halal restaurants through out big cities and they have a prayer space in big station too. Prior to your departure, please download the halal gourmet japan app.
- Japan is a child friendly country. Meets every need for a baby to an elder. It’s a country for everyone. In Japan, you can find baby changing room almost in every station or disabled toilet that inclusive baby changing room, they have so many parks around the city, excellent pedestrian road, and the Japanese love children, they’re willing to help in every need you have.
- Buy IC card like Suica or Icoca. It’s a one card for everything, from transportation to dining. You can almost pay everything with it. It’s a tap and go system. So convenience.
- Some palaces in Japan requires reservation in advance. E.g Kyoto Imperial Palace.
- Try local food (of course!) and enjoy tons of food stalls around the city.
- Respect the nature, the people and the rest you’ll be fine. Stay dicipline! Japanese people are one of the finest people ever exist. Nature is considered very sacred. Their relationship with nature is unbeatable. Very romantic at glance.
- Rent a portable wifi at the airport before you go everywhere else. Portable wifi helps you to explore the city, to ease the language barrier you might experience along the way and it connects you of course with friends and family. I remember I video chatted with my youngest sister through out the journey to Mino Waterfall. She helped me also a lot with the translation of Japanese characters. Thanks to the portable wifi.
- Shopping in Japan is a fantastic experince. Feels like home, really! They have unique, absurd, beautiful pieces to offer. Mind the price, it’s expensive everywhere besides the 100 yen shop of course.
- Go beyond the tourist map. We saw an ads on the train and decided to go to visit a village named Sakura, simply to see the mini Keukenhof in Japan. It’s far from Tokyo but it’s a lifetime experience.
- Don’t buy Japan rail pass unless you’ll visit more than 3 cities with a long distance. If you only visit Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo, having an IC card is enough. Besides Nozomi, other shinkansens are relatively affordable.
- Do buy kanto pass in Tokyo. It includes a rail connection to outskirts of Tokyo area like Sakura, Narita, and to Fuji Mountain.
- Have enough YEN ¥ prior to your departure. Not every ATM machine accept foreign bank card, not even your mighty credit card. However, 7/11 atm bank accept it, but it’s not available in their every store. So good luck!
- When traveling with a baby or toddler, diaper is a must have. But what if you run out of it?
Make sure you have enough with you. Finding a diaper in Japan is a headache! Been to supermarket, convenience store and drug store in the city center. We finally found it in drug store in Tokyo but it’s like 20 mins from the central station Shinjuku. Too far!
I think that’s all I have in mind right now. Hope it helps you to plan your trip to Japan.