Ah Japan, this is the land where everything works. Japan is an intriguing destination, full of sumptuous foods, mesmerizing landscapes, and incredible sights to behold.
Japanese food can be described as clean and minimalist, but it is never simple, this fact is what probably sums up Japan as a whole. I refer to Japan as a place that both lives up to, and out does, any expectation you have upon arrival, mine wasn’t an exception.
Osaka Japan Skyline.
I had heard about all these amazing before I even dreamt of visiting but nothing in the world prepared me for the incredible experience that I had on my 7-day trip to Japan.
The first step I took in planning my Japan vacation was to decide on when to go. As with most places, there is a “best” time to go to Japan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go whenever the mood strikes you as Japan is a year-round travel destination.
I discovered that late spring (March to May) and late autumn (September to November) are generally the best times to visit Japan because during these months, there is very little rainfall and there are many sunny days, but the temperatures are mild, and you can guess that I went just then.
The first thing that caught my fancy upon my arrival in Japan is that tipping is not customary, Yeah right! For someone like me coming from the states, I had earlier been told but didn’t believe till I tried tipping a waiter at the airport restaurant and him nicely- who refuses a tip in this part of the world if not Japanese.
Enough of the beautiful scene that welcomed me at the airport and the food I first had, let me give you a rundown of how my 7 days looked like, don’t forget that I had carefully mapped out my trip because I didn’t want to leave without seeing the important places and I also did not want to spend too due to my lack of planning. :
My First day in Tokyo was less stressful, and I stayed at the Intercontinental The Strings Tokyo Hotel which I must confess that it was a large hotel with nice rooms. I stayed there because it was very close to shopping centers, and the transportation into the next stop was very easy from here too. I was at the Tsukiji Fish Market and also ate a lot of Sushi, Ramen, and Gyoza. Food has never been so delicious.
I took the bullet train at Shinagawa Station on the second day to Hakone-I had heard a lot about their Onsens, and it was nothing short of my expectations, you need to see the beautiful view of Mount Fuji that took my breath away.
Hakone is the place to go if you want to experience a traditional onsen (hot springs). The onsens are separated by gender and are a “no bathing suit” style traditional bath. You can also take the cable car to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji. You can also stay at the Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa which is within walking distance of the cable car that takes you toward Mt. Fuji. The hotel has very nice, classy rooms, with great views.
If you want to explore a traditional Japanese ryokan experience with nice accommodations and good food, then you should try the Hakone Mount View. They have a rare volcanic hot spring called Nigori-yu – a fun and unique experience, especially for couples.
I transfer to Kyoto on the fourth day. I saw the temples of Kyoto, including the Fushimi Inari Shrine and Golden Temple. I also visited the Nishiki Market and saw the geishas walking around the city center, and I ended the day with a traditional kaiseki dinner.
If you’re happy to keep hanging out in Kyoto, you can spend the full day. Another option is to take a midday JR train to Nara Park to feed the roaming deer, see the world’s largest bronze Buddha statue, and one of the tallest pagodas in Japan.
In the evening, whether you’re in Kyoto still or in Nara, take the JR train onward to Osaka.
In Osaka, I made sure that I visited Dotonbori Street to try all the Japanese specialties, like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. I was also at the Osaka Castle and Park and checked out the Instant Ramen Museum. I ended the day with a visit to the food-focused Kuromon Ichiba Market.
One of my favorite hotels in the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel. It is conveniently located for transportation, so you can easily get around to the top sights in Osaka and beyond. It’s got an insane view and comfortable rooms.
You may have to fly or take the train back to Tokyo on your 7th day in order to fly back home, but if you have one more day to spend, we recommend taking the 30-minute train ride to Kobe to try the famous Kobe beef, then stop off in Kobe’s Nada district for a tasting at a few sake breweries.
My journey to Japan will linger in my memories in years to come because I had fun, that is an understatement- I felt on top of the world, I am sure that I would have to plan another trip very soon.