February 8, 2020

Guide to Japan


Ken Ueda


Japan stands out as one of the world's most captivating destinations, boasting a blend of beauty, intrigue, and warmth that enchants visitors. From the vibrant energy of Tokyo to the tranquil serenity of Kyoto, from the idyllic shores of Okinawa to the snow-kissed landscapes of Hokkaido, Japan offers an unparalleled experience. Its allure lies in its delectable cuisine, awe-inspiring temples and shrines, peaceful gardens, verdant national parks, and deep-rooted cultural heritage.

For me, visiting Japan was a dream come true, and it surpassed every expectation. Since that initial journey, I've returned over five times, each visit deepening my admiration for the country. Japan captivates everyone who sets foot on its soil, from its culinary delights to its hospitable people, from its architectural marvels to its myriad cultural treasures.

Many hesitate to visit Japan due to perceived high costs, yet I was pleasantly surprised by how accessible it can be on a budget. With careful planning, it's entirely feasible to explore Japan without breaking the bank.

This guide aims to assist you in crafting an affordable itinerary, enabling you to savor more experiences, indulge in more culinary delights, and spend wisely during your journey through Japan.

  1. Discover TokyoTokyo stands as a pinnacle among global cities, offering a vibrant tapestry of shrines, palaces, temples, chic clubs, upscale cocktail bars, avant-garde fashion, and, above all, its captivating inhabitants. With its pulsating energy and futuristic allure, Tokyo promises a whirlwind experience. Make sure to delve into the eclectic world of themed cafes, explore the whimsical Harajuku district, navigate the iconic Shibuya crossing, and marvel at the Imperial Palace. For further insights, refer to my comprehensive guide.
  2. Roam KyotoRenowned for its exquisite temples and traditional Japanese gardens, Kyoto emerges as a quintessential destination in Japan. This enchanting city effortlessly preserves its rich heritage amidst the modernity, serving as a serene counterpoint to the bustling Tokyo. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of its temples, traverse the enchanting bamboo groves of Arashiyama (arriving early to avoid crowds), and embark on scenic hikes. Kyoto is an indispensable stop on your Japanese itinerary.
  3. Reflect in HiroshimaIn 1945, Hiroshima bore witness to the devastation of the first atomic bomb used in warfare, claiming the lives of around 80,000 individuals instantly and inflicting enduring suffering due to radiation exposure. Pay homage to this tragic history at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (Genbaku Dome), the sole structure left standing after the cataclysmic event of August 6. Delve into the profound exhibits of the museum, offering sobering insights into one of humanity's most controversial chapters. Consider a cycling tour to gain further understanding of the bombing's repercussions and the city's resilient spirit.
  4. Conquer Mount FujiRising majestically to a height of 3,776 meters (12,389 feet) near Tokyo, Mount Fuji reigns as Japan's loftiest peak. Enshrouded in mist and clouds by day, ascents typically commence in the early morning or overnight. During the brief climbing season from early July to mid-September, hordes of adventurers embark on the ascent, totaling approximately 400,000 annually. For those visiting outside the climbing window or preferring not to scale the summit, numerous tour operators offer day trips from Tokyo, starting from around 12,000 JPY.
  5. Explore SapporoGateway to Japan's northern island of Hokkaido, Sapporo boasts a picturesque backdrop of mountains, rejuvenating hot springs, world-class ski resorts, and a storied brewing tradition. The city gained international acclaim as the host of the 1972 Olympic Winter Games and remains a mecca for cold-weather sports enthusiasts. Don't miss the renowned Sapporo Snow Festival each February, attracting millions with its breathtaking ice and snow sculptures. While Sapporo is synonymous with skiing, I was captivated by the city's springtime allure, particularly the resplendent cherry blossoms in Moerenuma Park. Pay a visit to the Beer Museum and embark on a train journey to the coastal town of Otaru for a delectable taste of uni harvested from its shores.

Ken Ueda

Travel and Discover