For the past couple of weeks, I haven’t put much thought on my solo travel plans for Japan this April. Perhaps that is a good thing as I can focus on the present moment and worry less about my upcoming plans.
Where will I go and stay?
I have confirmed my 3-week itinerary which I will show you guys below:
- 2 nights in Nagoya, with a day trip to Ise
- 2 nights in Kanazawa
- 5 nights in Kyoto, with a day trip to Nara and Uji
- 3 nights in Osaka, perhaps with day trips to Mt Koya and Himeji
- 1 night in Miyajima, after spending half a day exploring Hiroshima
- 1 night in Fukuoka, to explore the area on the way to Nagasaki
- 2 nights in Nagasaki, with an opportunity to visit lesser-known areas
- 4 nights in Kyoto, with day trips to Nikko and Kamakura
The price range of my accommodation is between ¥1120 (in Osaka) and ¥4060 (in Miyajima) per night. The average cost of my accommodation is ¥2520. This doesn’t seem too bad and I should be able to budget better with spending just over ¥50,000 in accommodation for 20 nights. Note that I have made reservations through Booking.com with no deposit required and free cancellations; this allows me to be flexible and adjust my plans as I see fit.
What will I do?
I haven’t planned out the key activities that I want to do when I go to these places, but this is because I want to be spontaneous – this is where the adventure happens. I will also like to tailor my itinerary with my interests to so, for example, apart from the sightseeing and temple-hopping I’ll do in Kyoto, I’d also plan to spend a day or two to go hiking as it seems to be a great spot in Japan to do it in. Also when I get to Kyushu, I’ll want to explore the lesser-known places and get a feel for the rural life of Japan before I head out to urban Tokyo.
How will I get to these places?
I will now confirm that I will purchase a 21-day Japan Rail Pass, but the question is – when? I have been procrastinating on this because I have been focusing on the exchange rate from the Great British Pound (GBP) to the Japanese Yen (JPY). On XE Currency, it’s stabilising at around ¥140 to the pound but I am waiting until it gets better. The Japan Rail Pass will also cost around £400 (¥59,350) so I have avoided buying this just yet because of the large amount that it will take off my bank account. I really do need to buy it soon, though.
The JR Pass will cover most of my route using the bullet train, however, I may struggle on using the JR Pass in Kyoto, on the way to Mt Koya, and visiting lesser-known places in Japan. This means that I may need to allocate additional budget for transport but I will need to see if it is worth it before making additional expenses on transport.
What else am I doing now?
Behind the scenes, I am learning more about the language and culture of Japan. I’ve bought the Lonely Planet Japanese phrasebook, but I decided not to but the guidebook as I’ve already done a bit of research into these places and I’d rather plan when I’m there than do everything in advance. I’m reading through my phrasebook for at least 30 minutes a day as I commute to work by train, and I am occasionally watching YouTube videos too so I get to pronounce the words better and form sentences with the phrases I learnt in Japanese. Using Memrise has also been of benefit, but I am trying to find Japanese learners and speakers at work or in the neighbourhood so I get a bit more practice.
I don’t want to think about this too much but I know I am diving into the deep end as soon as I arrive at the airport. This is because I’ve made a list of tasks to do once I land at Haneda Airport:
- Exchange JR Pass voucher and activate it
- Find and buy a data SIM card to last me the duration of the trip. (hopefully which I can do at the airport)
- Find food
- Get on the monorail to Hamamatsucho Station
- From Hamamatsucho Station, board the bullet train to Nagoya
I will land at midday so hopefully, I will get enough time to do the above activities and relax when I get to Nagoya.
I’ve yet to apply for a Travel Credit Card and I will do this soon once I get a pay rise next month. I am also looking at alternative ways of paying and obtaining cash in Japan; a colleague advised me on his Post Office Cash Card that locks into an exchange rate when you buy currency and you get to withdraw it for free. This is a good option as I would not always want to rely on credit for the trip. I’m continuing to keep an eye on the exchange rate and buy my JR Pass and Japanese Yen at the right time – as long as I don’t exchange any money at the airport, I am better off anyway.
That’s pretty much it; I’m quite settled with my plans now as I count down the days until my departure. I’ll continue to keep planning and learning the language and culture – but no planning is ever good enough for I get there. Immersing myself in the culture and communicating with the people is one of my main objectives to grow and develop as a person, and to see things from an entirely different perspective.
I am looking forward to the adventures ahead and it’s only 66 days to do until the magic happens!
Thanks for reading and until next time,