I met with Michael and his family to plan their trip to Japan, before they set off in September for two weeks. Below is an account of their trip that they sent in.
I hope you find it insightful and finally make the decision to go visit Japan, if you haven’t done so by now.
The six of us decided to take the plunge and travel to Japan. Not on a guided tour, but “self-planned-and-guided”.
We studied up on different aspects of the country, and realized that learning Japanese was not an option. With a lot of background material from books, maps and the web, we felt pretty sure we had most bases covered, but still felt that we needed to speak to someone with a personal touch. That is where Josh Shulman’s book came in. In retrospect, one of the smarter things we did was to take “All You Can Japan” literally. There are plenty of sources of information, but personal experience makes all the difference.
If you plan to be in Japan for less than 10 days, you must have sub-consciously decided to go back a second (and third?) time to experience the country.
We traveled around almost exclusively by train. Get yourself a JR Pass for the length of time you plan to travel among cities, and you will be able to reserve seats ahead of time for any trip where the Pass will take you. Not only that, but you can (and we did) do it in Narita Airport upon arrival. We checked and and printed out relevant timetables, a thing that made the communication with the JR representative smooth, since it was obvious what we wanted and when.
Things not to miss outlined in Mr. Shulman’s book pointed us in the right direction, and we knew what to look for. Something not mentioned, is that potential travelers should not waste their time and money on the Giyon Corner Geisha Show in Kyoto.
Things you should know about Japan:
Daphna & Michael