Hi there, my boyfriend and I are planning a trip to Japan. We like the idea of road-tripping, trains, off the beaten path cities and towns.
- If you’re AirBnBing, consider some of Tokyo’s quieter but increasingly hip neighbourhoods like Ikebukuro, Shibuya City, Nakameguro, and Meguro, for little stylish cafes, shops, canals and cherry blossom sites.
- This Book & bed hotel is a sort of bunkhouse, with sleeping nooks built into bookcases. Under forty U.S. dollars a night.
- You’ll find a guide and background on the historical red light district here with a list of bars we recommend.
- Check out the Rockabilly gangs at Yoyogi Park
- This wine bar & record store
- Don’t forget to enter the colorful & trendy neighbourhood, Harajuku district, for fun fashion watching.
- Fun fact: the National Museum of Western Art in Tokyo was designed by Le Corbusier (for architecture hunters).
- Find gems here twice a month (1st and 3rd Sunday) at Tokyo’s Largest Antiques Market in Yurakucho, near Tokyo st. Also called the Oedo Antique Market.
Dining & oddities:
- Make sure to try Japanese omelettes! – okonomiyaki.
- If you are a sushi lover – try dining at Jiro’s sushi. If you haven’t watched it yet, there is a documentary about Jiro – called “Jiro dreams of sushi”.
- Robot Restaurants in Tokyo is something that one must experience! Read more about it here as we guide you through.
- Whether you are going for a ‘Amaou’, ‘Strawberry Daifuku’ or a ‘Tarocco Orange’ sandwich – these fruits sandwiches are one of Japan’s iconic snacks! Find it at Daiwa Nakameguro.
- An oddity that you check out is The Musashino waste plant which has a diner where people can watch trash being processed. Kinda bonkers!
- This authentic local ramen spot.
- Looking for Japanese street food? Find one of Japan’s hidden gems – ‘Memory Lane’ originally called ‘Omoide Yokocho’ or ‘Piss Alley’. How to get there.
- Visit the iconic Tsukiji Outer Fish Market and if you want a local guide to take you around – try this one.
- Find the hidden Izakayas (gastro bubs) of Shibuya, located by the station. Seek out Nonbei Tokocho – it literally means the “Drunkards Alley” where you can feel a retro atmosphere of the Showa era (post-war period). It is Tokyo’s busiest district but a good place to start in need of a beer or two.
For a bucket list detour well worth it, consider Tokyo’s Secret Island Paradise called Aogashima. It is the smallest city in Tokyo and famous for having a volcano inside. You can only get there via Hachijojima and hop on a 3-hour boat trip – do notice that a reservation is required.
- A Pit-Stop in Japan’s Time Capsule Post Towns like Tsmuago, Magome. Try the Nakasendo trail or learn about Japanese history at the local history museum – Nagiso-machi Museum.
- This abandoned school/hostel in a little-known area of Japan
- Get to know the Ama Divers aka the real-life Japanese mermaids and pearl hunters. Where to swim with the last of the Ama divers.
- How to Satisfy your Flower Fetish in Japan and perhaps see the Amabiki Kannon Temple Hydrangea Festival, Sakuragawa. Find your flower fetish at Hitachi Seaside Park and Inokashira park in Tokyo.
- Ever wanted to visit A Fake Fairytale village? Well, now you can! Also known as the ‘Yufuin Floral Village’ – find it in Yufu, Japan.
- Hang out at the KAI Atami resort (the greatest place in the world to have a cup of tea).
- Urban Explorer by train: The most luxurious train in the world. If you want to go round by train on a lesser budget, I would recommend getting a JR pass! It is much cheaper than buying tickets separately. Also, I think you need to order your pass before you leave for Japan because it’s only available to people who live outside of Japan.
Bath Houses worth travelling for:
- Looking for a day at the spa → try one of the Japanese ‘Onsens’ in our beginner’s guide – Bath houses (Naoshima Bath & Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan). Note that you can make a day of it while staying in Okayama and get the train and ferry to go to the island.
- Or try a historical onsen – Shirahone Hot Springs
- Ever seen the James Bond movie Skyfall with the abandoned island? (Hashima Island) Or visited Dreamland?
- Another gem is to explore the abandoned American cowboy theme park.
- Did you know that Jurassic Park was in fact always located in Japan?
This hotel has developed its own ecosystems.
- This museum has the most flexible visiting hours in Japan called The Ukiyoe Small Museum.
- If you want to explore a secret garden in Kyoto – we got you covered here. Psst it is inside the ‘Otago Nenbutsu-ji temple’
- Oh, Deer … Visit the Deer town in Nara – cuteness overload. (It’s possible to visit Nara as a day trip from Kyoto and Osaka)
- Want to enjoy a culinary treasure in one of the world’s oldest restaurants?
Might I also highly recommend watching James May’s: Our Man in Japan on Amazon Prime while getting in the mood for this trip…