This is our first time travelling to Japan and you could imagine the excitement looking forward to THE day. Planning the itineraries in Japan was quite challenging because it is a big place and you want to cover as many places as possible. With only 4 days to explore Japan, where shall I start?
After reading and doing some research on Japan, I planned in such a way that we will effectively manage our time and of course, costs. I categorise Japan into 4 segments below after identifying the places that we ‘must visit’.
- Day 1: As we will be using the train to go to Tokyo Station on the day of arrival, we will explore central Tokyo. Among interesting places around Tokyo Station which could be reached within walking distances are Marunouchi which is one of Japan’s most prestigious business districts and Imperial Palace.
- Day 2: Modern Tokyo/West Side (Harajuku, Shibuya & Shinjuku)
- Day 3: Outside Tokyo (Mount Fuji) & Roppongi
- Day 4: Traditional Tokyo/East Side (Ueno & Asakusa)
2. Transportation in Japan
This is one of the tedious part because looking at the train system in Japan from their websites, it looked so complicated. But after reading and understanding it carefully, it was not that difficult. For ease of reference, go to JR East Japan Railway Company which helps a lot in doing our planning. It gives us information on the stations we should stop from one destination to another, you will know how much is the fare and what time the train will depart or arrive. Yes, that helps us a lot!
When I first saw the train route below, it doesn’t make sense at first but after planning our routes and itineraries, it gives a lot of sense:
Below is how we move around in Japan during our trip:
- From Narita Airport, we took the Narita Express Train. It is a non-stop train and reached Tokyo Station in about an hour. I bought a round trip ticket which costs us ¥4000 per person.
- Bought Suica ticket to move around in Japan. It is a touch-and-go card and it is very convenient because you just need to scan the card everytime you enter or exit the train station. For more information about Suica card just click this link Suica. Depending on your itinerary, you can reload according to your needs but ¥500 will be held as deposit and the money will be refunded when you return the card at their counter on your last day in Japan.
- We have included to see Mount Fuji in our itinerary and in order to see Mount Fuji, we have to travel by bus to Lake Kawaguchiko. We purchased the bus ticket at Shinjuku Bas station which is situated just across Sinjuku Train Station if you come out from the South Exit. It is advisable to buy the bus ticket a day before your trip to avoid disappointment because tickets are normally sold out especially during seasons holidays. I paid ¥3500 per person for a round trip ticket.
In Japan, the most important tips when using their trains is to know your LINE destination and when going out of the train, to know the nearest EXIT to wherever you want to go. Otherwise it will be a long walk finding your way out. Not to worry so much, Japanese are very friendly and they are always ready to help you. At every station there is an Information counter and they can speak English and very helpful!
3. Place to stay
We used Airbnb to book for accommodation and compared to hotel rates, it is very much cheaper! It is a homestay where you will be staying in a private room but will share kitchen and toilet with the rest of the guests. It was not a problem to us because all guests staying in that house are tourists as well and during our stay there, we did not have the chance to meet any of them because most of the time, all of us will be out exploring Japan.
Japanese are very particular about cleanliness and hygiene so that is really a WOW factor when you stayed at their house.
We have free wifi in our homestay but we also rented mobile pocket wifi from Sakura mobile and internet connection is a MUST in our list because to be in an unfamiliar places, we need to be connected to Google maps to find our ways around and also to find halal food outlet at each location.