Making a trip to Japan!

I have decided to turn this in to a blog of sorts, detailing the various things we want to do, see and experience.

Coming up in April I have a trip to Japan with my lady. We will be staying in Kyoto, Osaka and then Tokyo, with a day trip planned in for Hiroshima.

Choose a flight!

Step 1, pick a flight. This is pretty serious business. Our options were a direct flight from Heathrow to Narita with BA, taking 12 hours, or, a stop over flight in Dubai for a couple hundred Pounds less each. Needless to say, we chose the direct flight, a saving of roughly 12 hours in time was worth the extra money. Also not getting thrown in prison for forgetting there are no make outs allowed in public in Dubai. A flight leaving around 13:30 UK time will get you in to Narita at approximately 09:30 Japan time, if you get lucky you can sleep away most of the jet lag on the way over!

Pick a place to stay!

After much deliberation and trying to decide whether we wanted to go for more traditional ryokan places to stay, or to go for the more cost effective option of slightly-budget hotels, we decided to go somewhere in the middle.

Place to stay - Number 1! We chose a slightly more traditional hostel, tatami mats, tiny as shit, the usual sort of thing you expect when you go to Japan, and nice and cheap! Kind of.

Kyoto - Hostel Haruya

Place to stay - Number 2! We managed to find a decent-on-the inside, rapey-on-the-outside hotel in what looks to be the poorest part of Osaka. It looks like St Mary's here in Southampton. BUT, it has a saving grace, along the same road as the hotel I count at least 5 shops I am going to be spending a considerable amount of money in. The one with the giant Gundam painted over one wall is especially interesting.

Osaka - Hotel Hillarys

Place to stay - Number 3! The final stop. Nakano Broadway just so happens to be a well known place for Otaku types to gather and spend money. How Convenient. After some hours trawling the internet for decent places to stay in Tokyo that were not going to cost an arm and leg, yet still be decent, I gave up. Then the idea of renting an apartment hit me, right in the face. Check this shit, and a 2 minutes walk from the Broadway, at the most? Winner.

Tokyo - Nakano Broadway

Getting around in Japan!

Getting around in Japan is supposed to be reletively painless, major train stations have signs in English, and the trains run on time as expected, so in theory making a travel plan should be pretty straight forward, as long as we arrive at the station on time!

This is a list of all the trains required for the journey. The idea is to book them all as soon as we arrive in Narita, to ensure we have a reserved space to sit and are not rushing around.

I used Hyperdia for all the planning, resulting in the following PDF.

We will be using a 7 day Japan Rail Pass for the first week where we are travelling, then when we head back to Tokyo, we will be using a SUICA card (think Oyster).

Things to do and see!

I have two main reasons for wanting to go, my love of the culture and history of Japan, and buying robots. I fukken love robots.

Things to be done in Kyoto and Osaka

Kyoto is where we will be doing most of the cultural side, what with it being an ancient capital city of Japan, housing some serious shrines and Gion, the Geisha district. Not to say that it doesnt have its modern parts, it is a pleasnt mix of the old and new world. We have marked off a few areas of interest in each location, hopefully being able to make it to all. check the maps below for more info.

We will be heading for things such as the Golden Pavillion and the Rock Garden, as well as some traditional souvenir hunting. Then on to Osaka, where I mostly want to check out the castle and Namba Parks

View Kyoto in a larger map

Things to be done in Tokyo

The capital of crazy. Not so much of a plan has been formed for Tokyo apart from some choice locations of toy shops to be found, mainly Nakano and Akihabara. Obviously we will go to all the well known spots, and a drink in the Park Hyatt!

View Tokyo in a larger map