Japan: Prelude

Japan: Prelude

Japan: Prelude 1500 1432 Leah Digennaro

I hit the 40 year milestone this year, and to celebrate, I took an epic trip to Japan with my partner Mack, and two of our dearest friends.  The two weeks we spent exploring were some of the most incredible of my life.  Instagram posts and small anecdotes won’t ever come close to capturing the whole experience, but I hope this blog entry will at least serve as a guide for anyone who might be interested in taking their own journey to this truly spectacular country.

First things first.   Here are some general helpful tips and advice for traveling in Japan :

Portable WiFi hot spot
  • order it before you leave, and pick it up at the airport as soon as you arrive
  • with the amount of data you will use on maps, having constant wifi is key
  • we had 4 people on one hot spot and it worked great!
JR Pass
  • if you plan on traveling by train, you should get your JR (Japan Rail) pass before you go.  It will be delivered to your home address, so give yourself enough time to receive before your trip.
  • Upgrading to the Green Line or First Class is a pretty nice bonus if your budget can swing it.  It gets you reserved seats in the Green Cars which are more spacious and comfortable.

Train snacks! Yes, they sell single serving sake in a glass.

Trains run ON TIME
  • to the minute, so don’t be late!
  • also don’t be too early, since you could get on the wrong train
Comfy Shoes
  • We walked over 10 miles per day.
  • Sneakers are widely accepted in the Japanese culture, so you won’t feel like you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.
Check the weather!
  • Japan is humid, and can be hot and sticky.
  • Some activities and site seeing requires lots of trekking, so a pair or shorts will be a welcome piece of clothing to add to the suitcase.
Bring bug spray
  • again, that humidity is killer.  Mosquitos love humidity.  And me.  Unfortunately.
Make reservations / use concierges
  • for lunch and for dinner, if you have spots you really want to try, as most restaurants require them, especially if they’re popular.
  • the concierges at your hotel will help you orchestrate all of this, as most restaurants will probably not have an English speaking hostess.
  • Even in 2018, it is still not widely accepted for you to have visible tattoos in public bathing houses, or onsens.  And sometimes even pools.  More about that later.