I went to Japan for five weeks from January 3rd 2015 to February 9th. The whole trip was absolutely incredible and so I want to help you to do the same, or similar, with everything I learned about the country along the way.
It’s been a crazy five weeks – I mean that. Most nights I’ve come home from sightseeing or skiing absolutely exhausted. I’ve had to have two days off, where I’ve just stayed in bed and watched films or done work. All the weirdness and magnificence of Japan just got too much for me. Plus one of those days I’d been out all night dancing at Richie Hawtin at Womb Club, needed to rest my tired bones.
And it’s also been one of the most expensive five weeks of my life. Again, I blame the skiing and my ‘ah I’m only in Japan once’ attitude – which I definitely won’t be. I still stand by the fact Tokyo is cheaper than London and that you shouldn’t discount visiting Japan because you’re worried about the price. More on that further down.
In case you’ve found it difficult to follow along with my endless social media and blog updates I’ve decided to wrap it all up in this ‘5 Weeks in Japan Trip Round Up‘ post.
Tokyo – seriously, I’ve never been anywhere as unique and cool. Except maybe London. Like London every ‘borough’ in Tokyo has it’s own characteristics and they’re like little villages. You could go from the peaceful greens of the parks, to the business districts to the crazy Shinjuku within minutes.
So. Many. Highlights
- The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival in Photos
- The 52 Coolest Things to Do in Tokyo: No Messing About
- I Dressed Up as a Geisha in Kyoto and Got a Starbucks
- Fun in the Purikura Photo Booths in Harajuku
- Chilling With the Snow Monkeys in Nagano
- Skiing in Japan
- A Bizarre Maid Cafe Experience in Tokyo
Most popular Japan post
- Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival
- Nara Festival
- Tokyo Fireman Festival
- Diojin Fire Festival in Nozawa Onsen
- Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
Most popular Instagram post
I used the Japan Rail Pass for almost all my travel. I also took a few trams in Hokkaido, a taxi when I couldn’t find my hostel in Kyoto and got lost pretty much every time I tried to use the Tokyo Subway.
- The chicken curry at the top of Mount Zao.
- The sushi feast at Humaru in Sapporo.
- The Yonazawa steak in Shimokitazawa.
- The Sneeze Noodles at a cafe in Shinjuku.
- The bento box at the Robot Restaurant. Not entirely sure it was edible.
- The chicken curry at The Hilton in Niseko (also my most expensive at 2300Y, and made me ill the next day)
- The deep fried greasy batter balls at Sapporo Festival (didn’t realise what they were, bleugh.)
Including all accommodation, 5 days skiing with all rental, 3-week rail pass, loads of adventures in Tokyo, presents, a few clothes, all food and drink I spent…
£2367.34 on five weeks in Tokyo = £473.46 per week
If we take the cost of skiing out (about £500 just for the lift passes, ski hire and kit rental, not food or accommodation) it would be £1867.34 = £373.46 per week. You could do it cheaper, and you could definitely do it for more!
Check out the Japanican.com website for discounts on loads of stuff. I only found out about it towards the end but saved 50% on the Robot Restaurant, which I was pretty happy about.
It’s freezing in Japan in winter. Not just outside, that’s expected, but in the hostels and hotels I stayed in. I’d read about it beforehand but I just thought I’d be ok. Not at all. I slept with my hat and gloves on most nights and wrapped myself in the covers. Usually the covers were too short for my 5ft 9 viking frame too, so I’d layer up the socks. It was frrr-reezing.
You can get everything you ever needed at the 7/11 and Lawson stores. This includes gig tickets, directions, food, drink and SD cards too.
Wear shoes you can take off easily – you have to take them off for everything. My hiking boots were a right mission!
What I would do differently
I actually have no regrets!
But if you’re forcing me…
- It was a bit silly to get the train from Niseko to Sapporo as it took 5 hours and I had to pay 2,500Y to get to the station when I could’ve got a direct bus for the same price in 2 hours. Pretty annoyed with the staff at Moiwa Lodge for not telling me as I told them what I was doing.
- Also, would’ve spent an extra day skiing rather than at the Sapporo Ice Festival as you can see it all in a day, and I had three. Although my bank balance wouldn’t have liked this decision.
- I should’ve spent more time in Kyoto rather than Osaka. I definitely need to go back there one day soon.
- The accommodation I booked in Osaka was grim. On my second morning I remember thinking:
‘This is it, this is the worst hostel I’ve ever stayed in’.
And I had 5 nights there. It was only £9 a night – about half the price of the others, so I concentrated on all the money I was saving rather than the fact I was too scared to shower in that bathroom and I had to wear all my clothes at night to stay warm, not just the usual hat, gloves and socks.
- I should’ve checked the ATM situation before I went. I ended up spending over £100 on credit card cash advance fees and foreign transaction fees because my visa debit card didn’t work. Not happy about that.
And that’s it. Not bad for a first time visit to Japan!
If you have any questions, doubts or feelings about visiting Japan tell me. It’s such an amazing country I’d love to help you to visit it too.