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.
- Japan day 0: airports and flights
- Japan day 1: Tokyo [Asakusa and Odaiba]
- Japan day 2: Tokyo [Imperial Palace, Yoyogi park, Shibuya]
- Japan day 3: trains, Nikko and Robot Restaurant
- Japan days 4, 5: Fuji Q Highland, Fuji Five Lakes
- Japan day 6: eastern Kyoto
- Japan day 7: Kyoto – Arashiyama on a bicycle with Yas
- Japan day 8: daytrip to Nara
- Japan day 9: Kyoto – Fushimi Inari and Kinkakuji
- Japan day 10: Koyasan, evening
- 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Handle logistics in advance: get a Japan Rail Pass (expensive but a great return on investment), a local sim card for data connection, etc.
- 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:
Another very good one is:
(Disclaimer: some of my photos have been featured there)
The reason I wrote this sequence
I set out to write the sequence with specific goals in mind:
- Enhance and keep the memories from the trip. Memories are a happiness multiplier (a topic for another time).
- Share my stories and pictures. Written stories never fade and you only have to get them right once.
- 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!