A trip to Japan is always something I had planned to do ever since my friend and her husband moved to the country a few years ago. Since their move, although a few years long, was temporary, it was literally now or possibly never. I had no idea my trip would end up being a solo trip. Read more to find out how I made the most of my solo trip to Japan with recommendations of places to visit.
How to plan for Japan
Before making your trip, make a list of all the places you want to visit and find their locations. Write down any entry costs or donations that you may incur upon visiting. This will give you a rough idea of how much you’ll need to budget throughout your trip.
Planning the trip itself was relatively simple. A few of my colleagues had previously visited Japan so I was given plenty of recommendations from them, along with a tourist guide to Japan. I’ve made one available to view and download here!
I also found it useful to map out the locations of all the places I wanted to go to on a Google map. This made it easier to plan round trips and sightseeing so I could utilise my time more wisely.
Although there are a range of other offline maps available, I found Google to have the largest database and possibly the most up to date locations. Try to map as many locations as you can on your offline maps in order to find them easily and get directions for time where you are unable to connect to a Wi-Fi network.
You can find my map here.
The Journey to Japan
I booked my main flights with British Airways and the return flight was a partnership flight with Japan Airlines. The flights ended up being quite pricey due to the fact it was the Easter holidays and this coincided with the cherry blossom season in Tokyo.
My journey went as follows;
London -> Tokyo -> Osaka/Kyoto -> Okinawa -> Osaka -> Tokyo -> London.
It seems long-winded, but in practice was rather simple.
Getting from city to city was quite simple being that Japan has many domestic airlines. Alternate methods of travel are available but I preferred flying out for convenience. Flying may not be as cost effective as taking a bullet train or driving, so do bare this in mind when planning trips and activities. However, if you do find you have many activities planned and need to get where you’re going quickly, flying tends to be the fastest mode of transport.
When looking around for accommodation, be very thorough with your research. Don’t settle just because the costs are low and always read the reviews. If something seems off about the reviews or the listing has a lack of reviews, there’s a good chance the listing may not be trustworthy.
As this was a solo trip, I tried to cut my costs by booking rooms via Airbnb, which as many people know, can be hit or miss. For the most part, I had great hosts and stayed in lovely homes, bar one but I guess every now and again, you get what you pay for.
Navigating your way through Japan
I found the easiest way to get around in Japan was by using the metro. It was simple to use and very convenient. Other modes of transport include buses and regular trains however I personally found the bus system to be quite confusing and cumbersome. The regular train system is integrated within the metro system but the routes are mainly based on the outskirts of the city; with this is mind (depending on where you plan to go) you may find you don’t end up using them very much.
What I got up to
I got up to a lot in Japan, I have recommended below my top ten/five things to do when in Japan:
Shrines and Temples
- Toji temple
- Fushimi Inari
- Meiji-Jingu (park and shrine)
- Shinjuku District – Tokyo
- Shinjuku Robot Restaurant
- Shinjuku Arcade
- Samurai Musem
- Arashiyama Bamboo forest
- Akihabara shopping district
- Dotonburi and Shibuya – Osaka
- Traditional tea ceremony – Okinawa (May also be available elsewhere)
- Snorkelling (most popular on Okinawa)
- Shibuya Crossing
- Ninja Akatsuka
- Tokyo Tower
- Jigokudani Monkey Park
- Hiroshima atomic bomb museum
- Mt. Fuji
- Tsukiji Fish Market
- Onsen (Hot springs)
Give Japan a go! Solo or with people, it’s worth travelling to!