23 May

Japan Itinerary

map_of_japanJapan is the last place to visit in our current itinerary. I say current itinerary because, although we have a plan as to where we want to go, the itinerary is certainly subject to change. A plan is only necessary to know what we are deviating from should we change our mind. 

Japan is expensive. Certainly far more expensive than any of the other countries that we’ll be visiting so, I imagine, that it will take some serious planning to be able to afford it. So this is just a loose idea of where we would like to go – in the end we’ll see what the budget allows.

Japan is also one of the countries that I am most interested in visiting. It offers such a dichotomy of technological advancement and ancient tradition. I think our route will show us both.

We’ll start with the technologically advanced portion of the tour…in Tokyo. Here, Shinjuku Station is the electronically-jazzed, neon over-loaded, crazy-busy Japanese version of Times Square. Two million people a day pass through this square – and they all seem to know where they are going!

Not that Tokyo doesn’t have its share of tradition too. The Tokyo National Museum is here and offers a budget friendly free guided tour. There is also the Imperial Palace to learn more about the Royal Family and plenty of temples and toriis to visit too.

Two food favourites will be visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market early in the wee hours of the morning and then one of the many yakitori-ya’s late in the evening for a bbq snack and a beer (Anthony Bourdain loves these back alley watering holes!).

And we haven’t even touched on sumo, Harajuku, Kabuki theatre, shopping, and baseball…all that only if we could possibly navigate Tokyo’s extensive subway system…wish us luck!

We’ll leave Tokyo (maybe by bullet train?) and head into the countryside to see the other side of Japan. The goal is Kyoto, but first we’ll head to Fuji-Hakon-Izu National Park where Mt Fuji looms in the horizon. It is possible to climb Mt Fuji!! I’m not sure the weather will be permitting in May but maybe we can get part way up anyway. The park itself is beautiful, complete with hot springs, lakes and plenty of hiking paths.

Kyoto is the old capital of Japan (and was the capital for more than 1000 years). It shows the more traditional side of Japanese life with traditional architecture, temples, shrines and palaces. Here, it is possible to visit the Gion District to see geishas on their way between teahouses and stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan inn with shoji screens and futons.

As I said at the beginning, Japan is expensive. If anyone has any suggestions, recommendations, hints, tips or tricks as to how to visit on a backpackers budget, please let us know.