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Natalie went to...Japan!

Hello! Tell us a little bit about you and where you traveled to?


I’m Natalie, I travel during my annual leave at my 9-5 job and I’m trying to see the world as much as I can! I went to my dream destination Tokyo, which had been a bucket list item for a long time prior. This was part one of two different trips to Japan as I just loved it so much!

How great was the trip?


We visited for 10 days which is considered to be quite short. I would recommend 2 weeks minimum if you want to see everything.


Whilst in Tokyo, we did a variation of different things. We visited all of the different districts which really made the trip amazing. We went to Akihabara first which is a destination well known for gaming, anime and electronics. It has the big towering buildings you see on films!


We also visited Harajuku which is well known for its colourful street (Takeshita street), the fashion and the food! They have just about every shop here and also lots of food stalls. We opted for the famous crepe stall located there which has a huge variety of toppings.


Not forgetting the famous Shibuya! This is well known for it’s “scramble crossing”, you have to see it to believe it! Whilst in Shibuya, we also went to the Shibuya 109 department store which has over 120 shops inside. Around Shibuya is also lots of great cafes and restaurants from mainstream to small business and authentic Japanese.


Outside of the different districts we also took a trip to Tokyo Disney. There are two options for tickets, one that gets you entry to Tokyo Disney Sea and the classic Tokyo Disney and one that just gets you access to Disney. It was two short trains away to get to Disney from central Tokyo and it was relatively easy to do.


A final absolute must-see in Japan is Senso-Ji. It is the most visited temple in Japan. It’s very busy here but absolutely worth it! The path up to the temple is lined with lots of different stalls selling snacks, trinkets and also kimonos. When you get to the top of the path leading to Senso-Ji you will just be blown away by the sight of it! It’s huge and the smell of insense fills the air, it’s really a full experience.



What did you do while you were there?


We didn’t use any companies to book any trips in Tokyo. We booked tickets direct with companies (such as Disney) or showed up on the day.


We stayed in the Tokyo Grand Hotel which is in Minato, Tokyo. The district is more of a business area but it was close to the centre and very easy to get there by Tokyo’s world class train system!


A lot of people say Tokyo is expensive, and whilst it is to get there, we didn’t find it to be overly pricey once we were there. There are plenty of budget restaurants and lots of Seven 11 stores for snacks or even grabbing lunch.


I’d say all of the experiences we did were family friendly. There’s Cat Cafe’s, Robot Cafe’s etc that we went to that would be great for solo travellers, couples, groups and families. Tokyo Disney is perfect for all of the above too.


How did you learn and prepare for this trip?


I spent a lot of time preparing by googling the top places to visit. I then used trip advisor to plan out the trip. The plan tab on the app is perfect for favouriting places to go and even putting them in day by day.


To get around, everyone tends to be daunted by the train system but I found that using Google maps to say where you’re starting and going to, it tells you exactly what line to get the train from. Once you’ve done this a couple of times it becomes very easy to do!


How did you get there?


We did fly British Airways direct from Heathrow at the time even though = we are based in Manchester, just due to being able to get a direct flight.


If flying from Manchester it will be a two plane trip. We have flown to Japan from Manchester another time with Air France which included stopping in Paris. Even with the layover (short it was around 1 hour) it wasn’t a challenging trip to get there.


Both times we flew into Tokyo Haneda airport and there are trains directly from the airport into central Tokyo. We found the staff their so helpful! We did pre order a portable wifi from the airport which I think is super useful when travelling around. It cost around £60 for the 10 days. It was through Ninja Wifi which you can pick up at the airport and then drop back off there when you leave.


Japan is huge, so would highly recommend planning all of your trips in for when you get there and really familiarise yourself with the transport and facilities at the airport.


Where did you stay?


We stayed in the Tokyo Grand Hotel for the entire trip. It’s a basic hotel but you don’t really need a fancy room when you’re on the go all of the time! We booked this via Netflights as a package trip which brought the costs down.


Another alternative is booking.com to find cheaper properties and then Skyscanner for the cheapest flights! We have used Netflights quite a few times and found this the easiest way for us.

Where and what did you eat?


Kappo Ise Sueyoshi is one of the main notable restaurants of the trip. It’s a small restaurant and reservations can be challenging but it’s worth it if you can!


The food is authentic and it is based on the four seasons of Japan. Absolutely amazing! Other than this we tended to eat quite cheap and easy, we visited the Denny’s across the road from our hotel for breakfast each morning which had a range of “sets” including Japanese breakfast and things such as pancakes.


Even though it’s not traditional, definitely try a McDonald’s in Japan! They have some different items on the menu which are well worth trying such as the teriyaki burger, fillet-o-Ebi (shrimp burger, Shaka Shaka potato (shake bags) and the McPork burger.


I didn’t visit a single terrible restaurant or fast food outlet in Japan. Japanese people pride themselves on good service and please remember that it is considered rude to tip.


How much did it cost?


It cost us around £1200 per person and we spent around £700 each in Tokyo. The amount we spent there included non essential stuff such as visiting the Pokémon centre and buying clothes over there too so we did quite well with our budget.


We saved over a year to go there and really enjoy it. Definitely leave extra space in the suitcase for coming home!


Would you go back and do it again?


If I could afford it, I’d go back to Tokyo every year or at least Japan. It really is an incredible place. The culture, the sights, the people - all amazing and would highly recommend a trip here.


For some it’s once in a lifetime and I would say everyone should go at least once or they can, just to experience the difference in culture and see the sights of Tokyo and/or the rest of Japan.


Advice for people planning to do something similar?


Use google maps for the trains. Look for some package deals on Netflights alongside pricing it up separately.


Plan in all of the things you want to see and even look at routes on Google maps so you can see things that are close together.


Remember that Japan is one of the safest countries in the world so it is a great option for solo travellers. It helps to know basic Japanese but most people we encountered knew English too.


Where can we go to connect with you?

 

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Catch you next time. Happy travels!

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