My trip to Japan has been booked for May 2019! We’ll be there for 18 nights, and are visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. We’ve been talking about going to Japan for a long time so it’s very exciting.
Everyone keeps torturing me by telling me how pretty the cherry blossom will be BUT we are going after cherry blossom season. It devastates me as I love cherry blossom more than anything else in the world but it would have been difficult to guarantee a decent cherry blossom sighting anyway. It also would have been busy and, I think, harder to take off work. But May should bring warmer weather and some other pretty flowers.
I did a lot of planning before we even booked the trip. If we were talking a shorter trip to Europe we could just book it and wait until nearer the time to think about what we wanted to do. But with longer trips, that are more ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ I think it’s necessary to plan it before you book. I did the same with the three week trip I took to the US in 2014. Before we booked the flights we needed to know how long we wanted in Japan in total, and before we booked accommodation we needed to know how long we wanted in each city. This required me to come up with an itinerary well in advance. Well I think so anyway…
I started with mad googling ‘what to do in Japan’, ‘what to do in Tokyo’, ‘vegetarian Tokyo’, etc to bring up the top or most popular things to do. I also bought a Japan guide which helped to narrow down where in Japan we wanted to go. Tokyo was a definite but we wanted to get the most of our trip by visiting as many places as we could. So once I’d hit on Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka I also did some research to make sure it was easy enough to get to each city. I also made a list of anything in the guide book that sounded interesting and then did some more research online later on.
I marked them on map of the cities we’re visiting (using Google maps). I also did a lot of searching on Google maps to find things in the vicinity of major attractions. For example, Tokyo Imperial Palace is a major attraction that pops up on lists of top attractions in Tokyo. So using Google Maps I looked in the area to see if there were any restaurants or shops nearby we might want to visit whilst we’re in the area.
Marking things on the Google maps is really helpful as it shows where things are in relation to one another. This helps plan out your days and showed us how many days worth of activities we had and therefore how many days we needed in each place.
The vegetarian searches are also really important, and I do it before I travel anywhere. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka are all known for their food but, unfortunately for me, it’s very fishy. I know I can find things to eat in Japan but I’ll struggle if we just try to wing it and wander into restaurants and eat street food. I need to look online at their restaurant website, blog posts, and happycow.net. From this I can find places to eat and then basically plan my day around the vegetarian restaurant I’ve found. People who think this strategy is nuts are people who haven’t spent many hungry hours wandering around Paris, or Dubrovnik, or Barcelona, or Gdansk looking for food getting increasingly hangry.
Anyway, come back next week and I’ll share more of my Japlanning!