It feels like everyone I know has visited Japan or is planning a trip to Japan in 2018! Not that I can blame them – Dannii and I holidayed in Japan in September last year (his second time, my first time), and I loved it!
I’m kicking off a short series of posts featuring the highlights of our trip, in case you’re in need of a little bit of travel inspiration. Today, I’ll be sharing some of the resources we used to help us plan and prepare for our trip, as well as a couple of resources that were super useful during our stay in Japan!
Figuring out where to go and what to do
There are a lot of places to go and things to see in Japan, so it was a little difficult to narrow down our ‘must-do’ list to fit the 16 days of our trip.
Besides general recommendations from family and friends who had been to Japan recently, we used three main resources to work out where to go and what to do:
- Japan-Guide.com – an excellent guide to the top attractions in each region of Japan
- Trip Advisor – as always, the best place to compare prices for accommodation and read actual people’s reviews of various attractions and places!
- Kyoto Pocket Precincts – described as “a pocket guide to the city’s best cultural hangouts, shops, bars and eateries”, and written by Australian creatives Steve Wild and Michelle Mackintosh, this little guidebook was chock full of great ideas of places to visit and things to do in Kyoto! You can pick up a copy from Book Depository here. They’ve also written a similar guide for Tokyo, also available on Book Depository here!
Preparing for the trip
Neither of us speak any Japanese, and figured that we should learn at least a little bit to help us get around. That’s where Duolingo came to the rescue! Coincidentally, they added Japanese to Duolingo a few months before our trip – it all worked out so well. We both downloaded the app and completed lessons each day for a couple of months before our trip, and while we definitely didn’t come anywhere near to fluent, we learned some basics that definitely helped during our trip!
The other planning tool that came in handy before the trip was Travefy Personal, a free online and mobile tool for travel planning. Travefy makes it super easy to create a detailed travel itinerary, and is useful for planning group/couple trips since you can share your itinerary with others. I printed out a hard copy of our intinerary to keep in my travel wallet, but I could also access it online on my phone (and make edits on the fly, where needed)!
Getting around in Japan
Japan has an incredibly convenient and well-organised public transport system, but it can still be a little tricky to work out where things are and how to get there!
We found that a mix of Google Maps and HyperDia were the best tools for navigating Japan. Google Maps can usually tell you what train/bus to take to get to your destination, but if that doesn’t work, HyperDia will give you all the information you need to know!
Planning for Tokyo Disneysea
I made a separate section for this, because planning the Tokyo Disneysea portion of our trip took extensive special research!
Both websites have detailed reviews of the attractions, restaurants and accommodation for both Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea, and TDR Explorer also has up-to-date information about special events and merchandise.
I hope you found this post informative/useful if you’re planning a trip to Japan! Tune in next time for our highlights from Tokyo!