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  1. #1
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    heading to Japan for the first time!

    Leaving next week, and I haven't done a test pack yet, which is verrrry unusual for me Wink

    I confess to doing a much more jam-packed itinerary than I normally do, mostly because I want to make the most of every minute of being on the other side of the planet.

    • Tokyo - 3 days (then overnight bus to Hiroshima)
    • Hiroshima - 1.5 days
    • Kyoto - 2 days
    • Osaka - 2 days (then fly to Hokkaido)
    • Hokkaido - 4 days, including 2 nights with a camper van (then fly back to Tokyo)
    • Tokyo - 1.5 days (then fly home)


    I'm still working on the middle part, and may choose to only do Kyoto or Osaka, and not both.

    Any recommendations from those of you who've visited Japan? (Especially for a vegetarian, though one not opposed to necessity meaning I have to eat fish/meat--just strongly prefer not to.)

    Honestly, I'm torn between being super excited and super nervous over this one--sort of like the first time I went to Europe or South America on my own. My subsequent solo trips to those regions were not nerve-wracking at all, but going somewhere for the first time, all alone can be daunting even for people who travel a lot. Also, driving on the "wrong" side of the road LOL Smilie
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  2. #2
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    Japan is AMAZING, definitely one of the best countries to travel in. I've been there twice. People are lovely, everything works, getting around is easy. My recommendation is to eat all the Food! I don't think I've ever had such consistently excellent food in my life as I have had in Japan. Being veggie will certainly limit you somewhat but the food is so varied I think you'll be fine. I hope you're staying in a ryokan for a few nights (traditional B&B). Choose the Japanese breakfast option!!

  3. #3
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    Osaka and Kyoto are close enough that you can stay in one and visit the other. It's about half an hour by train. I wouldn't move accommodation.

    How will you be getting between Hiroshima and Osaka (or Kyoto)? If it's by train, stopping in Himeji for a few hours to see the castle is definitely worthwhile. Okayama is another possibility to see Korakuen, one of the top gardens in Japan.

    What bag are you taking? I've taken my A30 on three trips to Japan.
    https://forums.tombihn.com/photos-vi...tml#post151744
    A30 in original halcyon/wasabi. Side Kick in verde/northwest sky and cloud/viridian, Pop Tote in Mars Red and Nebulous Grey, Travel Cubelet in Mars Red, Viridian and Grass, A30 packing cube backpack in northwest sky, large travel tray in sitka, packing cubes, pouches and cubelets

  4. #4
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denises View Post
    How will you be getting between Hiroshima and Osaka (or Kyoto)? If it's by train, stopping in Himeji for a few hours to see the castle is definitely worthwhile.
    Funnily enough, my planning calendar has this:
    Hiroshima-->Kyoto: Train (Himeji?)

    I think you've sold me on that stop.

    I know Kyoto and Osaka are a bit out of order geographically on my itinerary, but my flight to Hokkaido is from Kobe, so it made sense to go past Osaka then head back south and end up in Kobe for the flight.


    Quote Originally Posted by Denises View Post
    What bag are you taking? I've taken my A30 on three trips to Japan.
    Ahh, you've hit on another dilemma: I am deciding between my A30, which has been my go-to vacation bag since I got it, and my venerable A45 now that I have the new frame sheet and hip belt. With the latter, I'd have a lot more room for souvenirs on the way back. Smilie
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  5. #5
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    If you do stop in Himeji, take a picture and maybe drop a Google maps pin of the train storage locker where you leave your bag. All the locker bays looked really similar and it took a while to find our bags again here! It makes sense to stop to break up the long train ride.

    In Kyoto, we really liked seeing Tofukuji temple... it was really peaceful to walk around the grounds. There were a lot of people at the main area where you can go inside, but hardly anyone was wandering around to see all the other interesting buildings. I'd probably skip Osaka if you're only going to one or the other, but we really enjoyed the Aquarium in Osaka and saw a concert there (planned ahead of time) which was a highlight of our trip.

    Are you going to visit Miyajima island while you're in Hiroshima? The train to get to the ferry there was packed but it was unique. You can get their famous okonomiyaki without any oysters and it's still delicious. We ate at the counter here and it was fun to see the food being made.

    I wish I'd known about the Google translate app, which uses your smartphone camera to translate in real time. That could be useful for reading restaurant menus.

    More room to bring back snacks is good! We both brought A45s and stuffed them with Meiji Almond packages and Cheeza cheddar crackers. I'm sure you've read about how great the convenience stores are, for snacks and a quick lunch or dinner. Most of the souvenirs brought back for others was all food from convenience stores.

    It can take longer than you think it will to find the subway entrance or exit you want. Leaving the correct subway exit in a large city can make a big difference in how long it takes to get where you're heading. Sometimes we had to go back in and try again to get out where we wanted Smilie if you don't travel anywhere, your Pasmo/subway card won't be charged even though you scan it to go in and out of the subway station.

    Be on the lookout for Tanuki! You will see figures of him around stores and small hotels, just kind of fun to notice how many there are around. Have fun!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathryn View Post

    Ahh, you've hit on another dilemma: I am deciding between my A30, which has been my go-to vacation bag since I got it, and my venerable A45 now that I have the new frame sheet and hip belt. With the latter, I'd have a lot more room for souvenirs on the way back. Smilie
    In the photo I linked to, you can just see lurking behind the A30 a foldable tote bag that I used as my overflow bag for things I bought in Japan. I was near the end of my travels at that stage, so it had to be used.
    A30 in original halcyon/wasabi. Side Kick in verde/northwest sky and cloud/viridian, Pop Tote in Mars Red and Nebulous Grey, Travel Cubelet in Mars Red, Viridian and Grass, A30 packing cube backpack in northwest sky, large travel tray in sitka, packing cubes, pouches and cubelets

  7. #7
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sarah_atx View Post
    Are you going to visit Miyajima island while you're in Hiroshima?
    It's on my "possible" list depending on weather and how tired I (already) am. Smilie Thank you for the restaurant recommendation--it looks delicious!
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  8. #8
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    Japan has a lot of vegetarian options, so I wouldn't worry too much about getting that type of food.

    I've only been to Tokyo and wish I went to the other places on your list like Hokkaido. The most interesting thing in Tokyo, IMO, is the Tsukiji fish market, which I believe is still open to visitors in a limited fashion. The second most interesting thing was the Imperial Palace, which you need to book a tour for in advance. People say Shibuya is like NYC's Times Square in terms of lights, but that's really overstating things. NYC Times Square is like a 1000W bulb blasting you in the face, which means there is nothing like it. Shibuya is more like Piccadilly Circus, so I wouldn't spend much time there, but that's just me.

    I'm Asian, and to be honest, the Japanese killed millions of civilians in Asia for no reason during WWII and before, and with their bare hands. So, while I sympathize about the Hiroshima situation, I'm a little torn about going to a place like that. For those without my baggage, maybe Hiroshima would be interesting.

    Next time you should check out Seoul, South Korea. That city is amazing.
    Last edited by NClens; 08-29-2018 at 11:02 AM.

  9. #9
    Forum Member Lani's Avatar
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    If you HAD to choose between Kyoto and Osaka, I'd pick the former.

    I'll e heading there in two weeks to help my mom take care of some business in Tokyo, so not a lot of sightseeing for me.

    You will really like the train system. Very easy to navigate.

    It's very easy to eat vegetarian. And actually, it's very easy to be vegan and eat macrobiotically in Japan -- I wouldn't worry about it.

    Tsukiji is open but if you want to see any action, be prepared to go there at the crack of dawn. If you're vegetarian, though, how are you with seeing lots of dead fish?

    Be careful, too. Some of the vendors sell WHALE MEAT--in case that idea upsets you.

    People do atrocious things in times of war. I'm a naturalized U.S. citizen but I was born a Japanese national, and I'm perfectly open about my first country committing horrendous things, particularly to other Asians (but also to Allied POWs). But I think visiting Hiroshima has its merits. It's the only place in the world where an atomic bomb was used to kill innocent civilians. If nothing else, it is a sombering reminder... but also of historic importance.

    Also, Google Translate is your friend.

  10. #10
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    yeah personally i would spend all the time that i can in kyoto instead of osaka. So honestly i think even just one day in Osaka is enough. Osaka is great but there's more to see in kyoto

  11. #11
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    Have fun in Japan!

    If you're visiting Himeji, drop by the Koko-en gardens after you visit the castle. I think you can buy a ticket that covers both. It's very calming and very pretty. (You'll be expected to take off your shoes when visiting the castle itself, so wear something that's easy to get on and off. You get a plastic bag to carry your shoes in as you walk around the castle.)

    Hiroshima also has a castle; it was reconstructed after WW2. It has some interesting information on the evolution of castles and castle towns in medieval Japan.

    If you're a fan of the Traveler's Notebook, their flagship store is in Nakameguro (a neighbourhood in Tokyo). There are also Traveler's Notebook stores at Tokyo Station and Narita Airport; these stores sell souvenir covers, stickers, bags, etc. in addition to the Traveler's Notebooks and their many, many accessories.

  12. #12
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    on my way! tried the A45, and just couldn't, so it's my trusty A30 on the road again heading to Japan for the first time!

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

  13. #13
    Forum Member kathryn's Avatar
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    wouldn't be a real trip without at least one bag photo... here's my DLBP at the Imperial Palace

    Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk
    "I'm more of a creative problem solver with good taste and a soft spot for logistical nightmares. ― Maria Semple, Where'd You Go, Bernadette

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