Japan trip 2015 [sequence: complete]

In November 2015 I embarked on a 15-day, extremely memorable trip to Japan. Here are 11 posts that depict my days there along with some meta-thoughts and the final album of my carefully selected photographs.

Ascension

The posts

  1. Japan day 0: airports and flights
  2. Japan day 1: Tokyo [Asakusa and Odaiba]
  3. Japan day 2: Tokyo [Imperial Palace, Yoyogi park, Shibuya]
  4. Japan day 3: trains, Nikko and Robot Restaurant
  5. Japan days 4, 5: Fuji Q Highland, Fuji Five Lakes
  6. Japan day 6: eastern Kyoto
  7. Japan day 7: Kyoto – Arashiyama on a bicycle with Yas
  8. Japan day 8: daytrip to Nara
  9. Japan day 9: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari and Kinkakuji
  10. Japan day 10: Koyasan, evening
  11. Japan day 11: Koyasan in the morning, Osaka castle, final words

Throughout the posts I’ve sprinkled information and stories about: transportation, accommodation, religion, weddings, smoking, food, street-safety, Japanese service and many other cultural phenomena.

On solo travel

Much has been written about solo travel so I’ll state simply: it allows and encourages you to get completely immersed in a new place, explore at your own pace, focus on your craft (in my case, photography), follow your interests and be social with strangers.

The social aspect is  generally understated; a solid 50% of my time was spent with people I’ve met along the way. As early as the airport I started bumping into wonderful strangers who shared their time and experiences with me – sometimes just moments, sometimes entire days. In many ways, these encounters shaped and defined the trip. Had I left for Japan a week later – things would’ve turned out very differently.

20151026-1042-PA260597-Edit.jpg

Logistics and costs

All together the trip cost me about ~13k NIS, which translates to ~3350$. This includes the flights (Israel–>Japan and back), the Japan Rail Pass, hotels, food, etc. Do note that I saved a lot of money by eating from bento boxes, sleeping in capsule hotels and so on.

When you plan a trip to Japan here’s roughly what you need to do:

  1. Decide what you want to see and the route you’ll take. My general strategy was to cover as much of mainland Japan as I could and get an introductory feeling for the entire country, the idea being that I could always come back and further explore my favorite areas in the future.
  2. Book the flights and hotels as early as possible. This will save you money and improve the quality of services you get. I only had about 3 weeks’ notice which caused me to miss some opportunities.
  3. Handle logistics in advance: get a Japan Rail Pass (expensive but a great return on investment), a local sim card for data connection, etc.
  4. Once you have a general skeleton for the trip, the details (=specific daily activities) can be filled in (literally) on the fly .

Your main source for planning the trip should probably be:
http://www.japan-guide.com/

Another very good one is:
http://www.japanvisitor.com/
(Disclaimer: some of my photos have been featured there)

Odaiba from the train

The reason I wrote this sequence

I set out to write the sequence with specific goals in mind:

  1. Enhance and keep the memories from the trip. Memories are a happiness multiplier (a topic for another time).
  2. Share my stories and pictures. Written stories never fade and you only have to get them right once.
  3. Flex my writing muscles, establish and learn from a constant presence on the web via a long-term project.

It is with great pride and satisfaction that I mark each of these goals as “done”. The time investment and mental efforts were certainly worth it; These posts will last forever, and the feedback I’ve received has been invaluable for my future posts.

Thank you, dear reader, for coming along on this journey with me!

Imperial Palace

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