Our trip planning is a work in progress. We’d love your recommendations on towns, excursions, restaurants, lodging, or anything you think would be helpful during our stay in Japan.

Please post any ideas in the “Add New Comment” section below, or email us at [email protected]

  • http://theholidaze.com/ Derek4Real

    First off, IMO Tokyo is the greatest city in the world. I lived there for a few months a cpl yrs back and can tip you off to some great restaurants, sights, and nightlife around Tokyo. The city is made up of 23 wards but each ward has up to ten districts and each district has its own distinct theme and feel — so yeah, there is lots of explore. If you want to see the latest fashions or even get inspirational ideas
    for future fashion, you go to Harajuku. For international business,
    Shinjuku is the place to be. If you are a sumo fan, Ryōgoku is the
    district you should visit. Electronics? Then you may have heard of Akihabara, the electronics, computer, anime,
    and otaku goods hotspot. And if you want to do the tourist
    thing, you can find the stereotypical foreigners in Roppongi. (However, if there
    is one place in Tokyo where your lady’s purse will get robbed, this is
    it.)

    Tokyo is however VERY expensive. $10/meal basic, with fancy stuff increasing rapidly in price. $30-40 cover charge at night venues (and $10/drink). Even cheap hotels run around $100/night. I would recommend a minimum of a one-week stay as there is so much to do, but there is an added benefit to that: flats (i.e. apartments) are available in all areas of Tokyo for traveling businessmen, but the min. stay is one week. Prices there can be as low as $60/night and you do get a much more authentic experience — although no staff to help guide you around the city. Reall, it just depends what you two want.

    Roppongi does have the Mori Tower, where you can hop on the roof of the 54-story building to get an unrestricted and breathtaking 360° view of Tokyo, day or night — fantastic for pictures! And located just a few hundred yards down the block is the upscale Veranda dining lounge. It is owned, or at least at the time, by a famous Japanese actress/musician whose name I can no longer recall. The place is exquisite, the food fantastic, and the service unbeatable, but it will cost you around $100+ for a meal for two.

    On the cheaper side, there are all sorts of noodle and yakisoba shops, sashimi restaurants and lounges, and yes, hordes of fast food. Avoid anything American but try Freshness Burger. 190 locations throughout Japan but they use Kobe beef and make their own buns and the result is a burger that beats any I have tried anywhere in the US (and I’ve covered 40 states here, many a half-dozen times or more).

    There is also Ueno Park, which is home to a cpl interesting museums and is also a popular place for viewing the cherry blossoms when they are in season. It will be crowded during blossoms.

    Honestly, I could go on and on and on about the city, but not just yet… I don’t even know if you two are 100% going there yet, or how much you want to spend there. It is an expensive city and I did spend most of my time there exploring the upper crust of society.

    But of course even if you love Tokyo, you two will also have to get out of the city… However if I keep writing like this I will be here all night. So, let me touch on some key bullet points and we can go into some of them further later on, if you’d like.

    -Not far outside of Tokyo is Japan’s tallest peak, the famous Mount Fuji. Don’t miss this one, seriously. And don’t forget a camera.
    -The northernmost island, Hokkaido, offers excellent experiences with nature and even fantastic skiing. The area has so many national parks its amazing. But I couldn’t find much history to the area, no old temples or anything along those lines.
    -Scattered all over the country are the famous onsen (hot springs). I’ve heard that some can be discriminating to gaijin (foreigners) but never experienced any firsthand — small bars on the other hand will have no qualms with it. I got denied or served “one beer only” several times in different places. Technically, discrimination of foreigners is not 100% illegal in Japan and Japanese officials overlook it a lot. They really don’t like Russians most of all I found…
    -I liked Shikoku island, near the south, because it was the exact opposite of Tokyo — relaxing. Its not really a tourist place, so knowing a cpl words in Japanese can help. Visit its four castles (Uwajima, Matsuyama, Kochi, & Marugame; I didn’t make it to that last one) but be sure to rent a car, so you can also explore the Iya Valley as well as Oboke and Koboke — you’ll have to look those up yourself ;) The area even offers white water rafting (another thing I missed out on) and is not too terribly far from Osaka or Kyoto, two other popular Japanese cities.
    -And of course there are the infamous cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, also on the southern side of the country near Shikoku island. I didn’t make it to either but heard they have become bustling cities with lots of offer, both entertainment-wise and historically.

    Okay, I gotta pause… But I’ll be back with more. Let me know your thoughts tho, so I don’t waste my time with unnecessary info. (Oh wow I just hit Backspace and it took me to the last page.. so glad Disqus remembered my text because I would not have re-typed it all LOL ;)

    • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

      Thanks so much for the comments Derek. We are definitely looking forward to Japan.

  • http://twitter.com/JetSetCitizen John Bardos

    In Tokyo, we recently stayed at the Cube hotel in Ueno in Tokyo for 5800 yen. It is really small, but clean and cheap.

    If you are going to be here for a longer time, you should check out the Tokyo Notice Board and the Kansai Flea Market for apartments. 

    Osaka is a great place to be based out of because of its proximity to Nara, Kobe and Kyoto, as well as the Kansai International airport. 

    For inexpensive meals, eat at places like Matsuya, Sukiya, Yoshinoya. 

    If you are going to be in one city for a while, buy a cheap bike and cycle around everywhere. You will get a much better under standing of the city. 

    It generally only takes about 5 minutes to cycle between train stations or about 10 to 15 minutes to walk, so skip trains when you can. 

    Also, if you are going to travel around the country a lot, get the Japan Rail Pass from abroad. You can’t get it in Japan. You can save hundreds of dollars in travel expenses. 

    • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

      We have heard about the Rail Pass, do you think we can buy it from a country near by, like China or Nepal? with regards to walking and biking everywhere, great tips we are all over that. thanks for all the amazing tips.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513806197 Rashaad Jorden

        I do think you can buy a Japan Rail Pass in China (I’m not sure about Nepal). This website should have some information: 
        http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en005.html.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JC7CK3DYJAX3B26OGJ4S67Z4FU Rashaad

    Where in Japan are you planning to visit? I thouroughly recommend getting off the beaten track and visting the Tohoku region (where I have lived). Also, when are you planning to visit Japan?

    • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

      We love getting off the beaten path, for sure. We have plans to do some WWOOF-ing up in the mountains somewhere for 1-2 weeks. We are totally open to any and all suggestions. What si the Tohoku region like?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513806197 Rashaad Jorden

        I’m sorry it took me quite awhile to respond. ご無沙汰しています (That’s a Japanese expression for apologizing for a late response). Anyway, the Tohoku region is very mountainous and where I lived in the region was very rural.

        But Yamagata Prefecture has many hiking spots. I lived in a small village named Haguro, and I’d recommend climbing Mount Haguro (羽黒山). In some travel guides about Japan, you may find information about it. In Haguro, there’s a really nice onsen named Yupoka (ゆぽか).

        I don’t know if you’d be able to rent a bicycle, but where I lived was a great place to cycle.

        • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

          thanks for taking the time to reply Rashaad, that means a lot! if you think of anymore tips, just leave them here…those a great!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513806197 Rashaad Jorden

            The biggest city in the region is Sendai (It was the big city closest to the epicenter of the earthquake/tsunami). It’s a very nice city, but a lot of travelers use it as a base to visit Matsushima (one of the Japan’s most scenic views). I think Matsushima is definitely worth a visit.

          • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

            awesome. thanks again! keep em coming!

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513806197 Rashaad Jorden

            I’m not sure how much of the country you will be able to see (and when you’ll be able to visit), but I would recommend visiting Kyushu. Fukuoka is the biggest city on the island, but the most interesting place in the area is an island named Nokonoshima (I rented an electric bike there and I had so much fun there). Beppu is a city in Kyushu known for its onsen (I went to several there), and I loved Nagasaki (unfortunately, it rained for part of my time there).

          • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

            we will only be in South Korea for a week or so, do you think we will be able to fit that in?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513806197 Rashaad Jorden

            I think you meant you’ll only be in Japan for a week or so. Actually, you may not be able to fit Kyushu in if you’re only in Japan for a week or so. I’m assuming you’ll want to see Tokyo. I love that city, and it has a lot to offer. But I was just thinking of my favorite places in Japan, and my six days in Kyushu were wonderful.

          • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

            lol, you are right, we are only in Korea for week or 10 days. Japan we are there for 4 weeks…..so we should be able to fit that in right?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=513806197 Rashaad Jorden

            If you’re in Japan for four weeks, you can definitely enjoy the Tokyo area without being rushed. A lot of visitors to Japan also hit up Kyoto, and I’m guessing you’d be interested in visiting that city. I greatly enjoyed visiting Kyoto. I lived in Yamagata Prefecture (up in northern Honshu), and it’s a great place to visit although the winters can be brutally cold. But my favorite trip in Japan was when I visited Kyushu – except for the fact it rained during my second day in Nagasaki. But Nagasaki is a very beautiful city.

          • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

            wow thanks for even more great tips Rashaad! when is the winter in Japan? we also want to do some WOOFING (google it) on a farm in the mountains somewhere. where are the most beautiful mountains that have farming (i.e. not snow)

  • http://acoupletravelers.com/ acoupletravelers

    When are you guys heading over to Japan? We are starting our trip there in September (so we don’t have any tips yet, but if we get there before you do we’ll get back to you). I saw your message on twitter but couldn’t write back because you can’t send messages to users who don’t follow you (did not know this) – but I found your twitter handle while browsing through someone else’s followers 

    • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

      so great to hear guys. sorry i am replying so late, missed this comment. do you get a message that i am replying? testing a new DISQUS on our site. you are going to beat us to Japan, so we are really looking forward to your tips! we are thinking of WOOFing there to keep costs down.

  • http://HoneyTrek.com/ Mike Howard – HoneyTrek.com

    COMMENT FROM LONELY PLANET:

    “Japan had a rough 2011, with the March earthquake and a hard year for tourism, so travelling there is not only a good thing to do, but can actually make financial sense. Compared with destinations like London, Paris or New York, its attractions and accommodation are often much cheaper. In Tokyo, for example, it’s possible to find simple, Japanese-style minshuku guesthouses from ¥3000 (US$37). Also, many attractions are free (eg temples, botanic gardens) or just cheap (the Tokyo National Museum is a fifth the cost of Tower of London), while attractions like the Nagano ski runs or Disney tickets are cheaper than Alps lift tickets or Mickey Mouse’s entry in Anaheim.”