I have travelled to several destinations in Europe and European cities always on my list for top destinations. As i was exploring new travel destinations, i came across some colourful photos of Autumn season in Japan. It was very beautiful and and at the same time a friend of mine was visiting Japan and he gave an excellent feedback. Also with Jet Airways having direct flights between Delhi and Tokyo, i knew exactly where to use my Frequent flyer miles.
With destination finalised, it was time to decide cities to visit, plan itinerary, apply for Visa and this proved to be most difficult part. There are just so many places to visit and on top of that Autumn colours keep moving across Japan starting late October to late December. So if you want to see autumn colours then you need to decide the place based on the time you are visiting. One must monitor this report while planning : https://www.japan-guide.com/blog/koyo18/ . This keep track of how Autumn season is progressing.
In my case, i was planning to go during Mid November which was a little early to see colours in Kyoto and way too early for Tokyo but Lake Kawaguchiko reaches its peak colours during this time. This made things tricky but had to plan accordingly else i would have struggled to see autumn colors at their peak.
Even when you have finalised itinerary, job is still not done. There are just so many things to see and you cannot see them all unless you stay there for long time. So i started doing research and it was just never ending especially for Kyoto, i felt as if i was doing PhD and thats when i decided to go with the flow. I just noted down all places but didn’t choose which ones i wanted to visit. I just told myself that i will decide then and there or maybe take recommendations from people. This is the first time i took this approach in all my travels and it worked out well. As there were so many places, i wanted to club them by location, so that i know what all places are near to me when i am visiting a destination and thats how i found out “Google MyMaps”, basically it allows to you add your choice of location in a single map [I am writing a separate blog on how to use Google My maps].
Visa process is quite smooth and quick, i received my stamped passport via courier within a week.
A key point to note is that there is no night public transport at least in Tokyo and Kyoto. So public transport stops at around midnight and only cabs are available which are quite expensive. This can impact a lot on the place where you stay and hence can impact the cost.
Trains in japan [not talking of bullet trains here]are quite efficient but are expensive too. Also there are different companies which are operating different train lines and they generally don’t accept each others passes or tickets which makes it difficult because you need to plan well your commute. Like i generally make random plans to travel in a city but it can be quite costly if you try in Tokyo. It is very useful to to buy JR pass if you plan to cover multiple cities and travel via bullet train. JR pass works on local trains but only those lines which are not managed by private companies. JR pass can only be purchased outside Japan and it’s not available to japan citizens. When you purchase JR pass, then you will only get a voucher which can be redeemed for a JR pass at the airport. Another point to note is that a soft copy or print out of voucher doesn’t work, a hard copy is needed which if purchased online will be couriered else it can be purchased from authorised travel agencies. So purchase your JR pass well in advance.
If you are vegetarian then you will struggle for sure. I become a semi vegetarian when i travel 🙂 , so i was able to manage. I found vegetarian food more costly but one saviour was Subway, you can get Veg food there. Also i learned to eat with chopsticks before my trip 🙂 and i liked it. I will not say that it was smooth while eating with chopsticks but i loved it. You will get chopsticks everywhere you go, although people told me that i can ask for spoon but i never did.
Generally credit card acceptability is very less in Japan, so you need to deal in cash. There is no tipping culture in Japan 🙂 , and its awesome.
Another point i want to highlight is that i didn’t find any public dustbins in Tokyo and still its super clean 🙂 . As i understand, public dustbins were removed after an incident and people have adapted to it.
Japan has 2 main airports Narita in Tokyo and Osaka airport. So if you are going towards Hiroshima or Kyoto then you can book your flights from Osaka itself. I was not aware so booked all my flights from Narita.
Japan is a very safe country and i travelled even at odd hours without any worry. People are extremely helpful even though English is not widely spoken.
All in all, you need to put in some effort to plan Japan trip but it will be worth it. It’s beautiful, there are hundreds of things to see and people are great. I would highly recommend Japan as travel destination.