Hi Niu! I'm going to Japan for the first time ever next month! I'm very excited! I'm planning on doing Tokyo, Nara, and Kyoto over the span of a month! Can you recommend any sights to stop by? And any good stores or malls? Thank you!
OH BOY! Can I recommend you a thing or two :D
For transportation between Tokyo-Nara (aka Tokyo - Osaka) I recommend bus service. Takes 8 hours and they operate around the clock. A LOT cheaper than a train! Willer Express offers tickets also in English. You need to book and buy them beforehand: https://willerexpress.com/en/
If you want to use trains (a lot) buy yourself a Japan Train Pass BEFORE you go to Japan.
In Kansai you can also get yourself Kansai Pass from tourist info (take passport with you). With Kansai Pass you can travel around Kansai freely for 3 days. You don’t have to use all the 3 days at once, but whenever you like; for example one day at the beginning of month, second in the middle and the last one at the end of your trip. The pass is valid for a month and it costs 5 000 yens.
I don’t know about other places, but if you happen to stay in Osaka, you can buy yourself Osaka Subway Day Ticket, which is 800 yen in weekdays and 600 yen on weekends. It’s valid for 24 hours and you can use subways freely with it.
From Osaka to Kyoto, please use Keihan train service line. With Keihan line the trip to Kyoto costs less than 5 00 yens and takes around 45 minutes.
From Osaka to Nara, please use Kintetsu train service.
TOKYO,OSAKA, NARA, KYOTO
- If you are interested in manga/dojin/anime stuff. visit Ikebukuro in Tokyo (as it has stuff for women, Akihabara is more for men), and Den Den Town in Osaka.
To get to Ikebukuro (Tokyo), take Yamanote line train to Ikebukuro and take Exit 25 from Ikebukuro’s station. There’s Toranoana next to Exit 25, which has dojinshi for women.
To get to Den Den Town (Osaka), take subway to Nippombashi station and take Exit 5. Go south towards Ebisucho station, this street is Den Den Town street full of stuff! There’s K-Books you should visit; it has got anime stuff and 2 floors doujinshi!
- In Kyoto there’s lovely little town Arashiyama. Go here if you want to see bamboo forest! You can take a train from Kyoto to Arashiyama easily. It has got lots of temples and wonderful river!
- In Kyoto, there’s Fushimi Inari mountain; the mountain with endless amount of Japanese torii-gates. Definitely worth of visiting (takes hours to wander there without hurry, so it’s good idea to take one day for Fushimi Inari and back some snack with you). You can take a train from Kyoto to Fushimi Inari.
OVERALL PLACES TO VISIT IN JAPAN:
- 100 yen shops. Seriously, don’t buy anything from anywhere else. There’s no need to pay 600 yen for a rice bowl when you can get a one as good as that with 100 yen.
100 yen shops are HUGE and they have EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine; food, stationery, socks, bath, cleaning, home decor, car items, gardening, laundry, kitchen, table ware, tea, bags, DIY, cosmetics, keychains, statues, soaps. Biggest 100 yen shop companies are Daiso and Seria. Daiso has got groceries unlike other 100 yen shops. Besides Daiso and Seria, there are independent 100 yen shops. These 100 yen shops are everywhere; I’m staying in Shigino and in 15 minute walk away to all directions there are four 100 yen shops; two Daisos, one independent shop and one Seria. Closest one is next doors lol.
- Note that prices in Japan are always written without 8% tax, so don’t get surprised when the total sum is a bit bigger than you anticipated.
- LOFT is wonderful department store company you should visit!
- BOOK OFF is number one for comics and books. Prices are between 100-300 yen. These are also available in many places. There’s big one in Akihabara, Tokyo.
- Buy yourself a travel card (Suica or Pasmo in Tokyo, Icoca or PitaPita in Osaka). The travel card is valid everywhere in Japan, so it doesn’t matter do you have Suica or Icoca. The machines at train/subway stations, which sell the cards and where you can load more money to your card always have English option.
- Buy yourself a small hand towel from 100y shop, as Japanese public toilets don’t have hand towels/hand paper.
- Food is expensive, unless you can eat rice and noodles without problems.
- Always carry cash with you. Card payment is still rather rare in Japan.