For the vast majority of travellers to Japan, the trip will start in Tokyo. This city is unlike any other in the world, so be prepared for something amazing!
Here’s a short video to give you a bit more insight into this incredible place.
The countries love of anime, quirkiness, technology, color and fashion makes for a pretty interesting concoction of hotel accommodation. From one person pods to robot receptionists, Japanese hotels have an awful lot going for them on the ‘unique’ scale. Here is a rundown of just a few of the most amazingly unique hotels that you will only find in Japan.
Nine Hours, Kyoto: This hotel is minimalist to the max! This is pod sleeping in the most Sci-Fi way possible, it is extremely clean, modern and futuristic. If you are looking for luxury and grandeur, None hours isn’t the place for you, its whole concept is based on only needing to be there for as little time as possible to get a full night’s sleep (although don’t worry they don’t enforce a 9 hour rule and you can stay up to 17 hours if you wanted to!). It does have some extra frills however, in your pod you will find that you are lulled to sleep by an integrated sound system and you can set the pod to awaken you with lights that mimic natural sunlight. Found at 588 Teianmaeno-cho, Shijyo, Teramachi-dori, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, 600-8031 Japan, the rates are Nine hours are around 5000 yen for one night in a sleep pod. Extra facilities such as lockers and showers come at an additional cost.
Keio Plaza, Tokyo: Keio Plaza dedicates itself to Japanese culture hosting many cultural events throughout the year. Its rooms are also saturated in Japanese culture even offering up not one but two Hello Kitty themed rooms, one for Princess Kitty and the other dedicated to Hello Kitty’s day out in Tokyo with her friends. So if you are a lover of Kitsch, then these rooms should certainly be on your accommodation wish list! It seamlessly integrates the functionality you would expect of a Japanese run service with comfort and a touch of luxury. Located at 160-8330Shinjuku2-2-1 Nishi-Shinjuku rates at the Keio Plaza range from 25,000 to 55,000 yen.
Hotel Blan Chapel Christmas, Osaka: An adult’s only Japanese Love hotel that’s themed around Christmas? I don’t know about you but Christmas doesn’t scream sexy to me, more full to the brim and passed out in front of the fire. It’s not on the luxury side but there’s massage chairs, large beds, Jacuzzi baths and sex toy vending machines so it’s not lacking in facilities. Possibly one that you’ll miss off your ‘must stay at’ list and more one for your quirky facts lists for most Westerners. If you do decide to visit you’ll find them at Nishi-ku Hamadera-Ishizucho-Nishi 1-1-3, Sakai (Osaka) 592-8333.
Sukeroku No Yado Sadachiyo, Tokyo: This is one of few ryokans in Tokyo, Ryokans are traditional Japanese Inns and you won’t be disappointed if you want a take of the Japan stereotype with Kimonos and Japanese baths galore. If the hustle and bustle of Tokyo isn’t the image of Japan you were yearning for and you want a touch of the traditional then this is the place for you. You can submerge yourself in the dream image you had of traditional Japan in the comfort of an inn that is highly regarded by its visitors. You’ll find Sukeroku No Yado Sadachiyo at ryokan111-0032Taito2-20-1 Asakusa.
Henn-na Hotel, Nagasaki: Just, wow, this hotel takes tech to the next level and it has even made it into the Guinness book of records! Its name actually translates as ‘strange hotel’ and you will be greeted by robots! In fact you will find 186 robots staffing the hotel’s 144 rooms. The CEO has said that this hotel is going to evolve as the technology behind robots evolve so its most definitely one to keep your eye on. If you love the concept of the TV drama Humans then there’s no way you will want to miss out on this place. You’ll find this artificial intelligence all ready to attend your accommodation needs at Japan, 〒859-3243 Nagasaki Prefecture, Sasebo, Huis Ten Bosch Machi, 6−5.
Japanese culture and history is vast and colorful, it has given rise to some of the most awe inspiring architecture, design, technology and cities in the world. The country also has truly majestic rural areas that are second to none in the world. It’s no surprise then that some really huge blockbuster movies have chosen sites in Japan as their backdrop. Tokyo in particular is well regarding by those in the cinema industry and the quality of the film sets used really speak volumes about what the country has to offer, not just as regards to backdrops and sets but also in how its history and culture play a huge part in some of Hollywood’s biggest hits.
Kill Bill Volume 1: Released in 2003, Kill Bill Vol.1 had an estimated $30,000,000 budget and grossed around $70,098,138 in the US in the first six. Quintin Tarantino gives a nod of the head to the Japanese Samurai Slasher in the Kill Bill trilogy, the first of which sees Uma Thurman ‘The Bride’ do her revenge thing in Japan. The most iconic of the Japan based film sets for me in this film was the Kill Bill Restaurant (Gonpachi) that saw the epic fight scene between the Bride v the Crazy 88s.
The Last Samurai: Also released in 2003, its budget was an estimated budget was $140,000,000, grossing $111,110,575 in its first four months in the US. Although much of the filming is actually done in New Zealand there are a number of truly iconic Japanese sets featured in the movie. You’ll see the Sho-sha-zan Engyo-ji Temple in Himeji City feature as Katsumoto’s temple and Chion-In Temple, Kyoto feature as ‘The Imperial Palace’ among others. Both of these sets are saturated with fascinating and vibrant Japanese history and culture.
The Fast and the Furious Tokyo Drift: Released just over 10 years ago in 2006 had grossed $62,494,975 in the USA in its first quarter on an $85,000,000 budget. The movie makes use of the awe inspiring concrete jungle of Tokyo merging Japan and America as it’s also partially set in Los Angeles. The movie sees Shibuya Crossing, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan feature highly as a backdrop in its high intensity action film.
The Wolverine: 2013 saw the US release of The Wolverine, it had an estimated budget of $120,000,000 and in its first four months of release it grossed $132,550,960. This high budget Marvel movie sees Hugh Jackman (as Wolverine) caught up in a mix of the yakuza and samurai. It shows some of the huge contrast of the country with scenes depicting the hustle and bustle of the big cities to the beautiful and almost serene Omishima Island.
Godzilla: The highly awaited remake, Godzilla was released back in 2014, its first 3 months on release saw it gross $200,661,309 and it’s thought to have had a $160,000,000 budget. Shot across Japan, Hawaii, San Fransisco and Las Vegas, Godzilla makes use of some extremely varied sets. One of the most haunting scenes in the movie is set in ‘the ghost streets’ of Janjira, Japan.
There’s no disguising that Japan travel can be an expensive, but this shouldn’t stop you embarking on a Japan holiday or extended tour. Do your research in advance and you can be well prepared financially for your Japanese journey. One of the major elements when visiting is how you will get around and make sure you can cover as much ground as possible whilst you are out there. As I can guarantee once you get started you won’t want to miss out on a thing that Japan has to offer. In this article we’ll be looking at the basic costs of getting around and looking at some hints and tips as to how you can save a few yen here and there to help you out. Plus, don;t forget if you are struggling to put it all together by yourself you can look at the various Japanese tours available for ideas or embark on one or two to build your confidence.
I’m not going to lie, transport options whilst you are in Japan are on the pricey side. Trains in particular can eat into an awful lot of your budget for example if you’re thinking of traveling from Shinjuku to Mount Fuji it can cost around $60 dollars for the single journey. A week rail pass can cost you around $268 but still, if you’re planning on doing a lot of stops in a short period of time this purchasing a week, 2 week of even 3 week pass can save you a lot in comparison to forking out for single passes.
Dependent on the length of your journey it may be a good idea to check out domestic air fares as this can work out a lot cheaper than using the train. As an example journey, if you were thinking of going from Tokyo to Fukuoka on the bullet train (known in Japan as the Shinkansen) you could be looking at paying up to 270 dollars. Domestic airlines on the other hand could come in at only 50 dollars if you shop around and are willing to travel in the cheapest economy seats. If you do decide to take flights then don’t forget to take into account getting to and from the airport as well. Try to give taxi services a miss if you are on a budget as you could end up spending over $200 on a simple airport transfer in Tokyo, instead, look into getting a limousine bus as this could save you a $150 on that same journey.
Another great option for longer journeys are the highway buses. These services allow you to do a journey like Mount Fuji to Shinjuku for around 25 dollars and on most journeys you probably won’t even need to book in advance. It might take you a little longer to get to your destination but it will be a lot easier on your wallet. In addition most of the longer distance journeys are over nights so it could also save you a nights accommodation costs if you plan it right.
For quick, cheap and easy local travel most cities in Japan have a pretty good subway or tram service and you’ll only pay around $1.80 for these journeys. Don’t forget if you’re going locally there is always the option of walking too. It’s common for the Japanese to walk most places, it’s better for the environment, your health, your budget and not to mention you’ll get to see a whole bunch of local sites that you would likely have missed on other methods of transport.
Our personal wellbeing and mental health is something that it is trending in the West. In the past it was common for people to feel that they had to keep a sense of control at all times. But in the West it’s becoming more and more common for us to try to put a voice to our state of mind and to talk about mental health issues or ways of looking after our own mental wellbeing, even if that includes shouting about it from the roof tops, we are more and more coming to the conclusion that we should do whatever we need to in order to ensure our own health and wellbeing. In Japan, this approach still far from fits in with their culture. Talking about these kinds of issues tends to be highly stigmatized as conformity is a large aspect of the Japanese culture. In addition to mental wellbeing, spirituality and religion in Japan is also something that culture dictates as being something personal, it certainly isn’t something that is shouted about despite the actual religious and spiritual practices being heavily ingrained in the culture. That being said, although Japan may not be the place to open your heart to strangers on the subway, it can be a really good country to look after your own wellbeing. One of the most fantastic aspects of traveling is getting away from it all and removing yourself from the daily stresses and strains of your life at home, just the break in itself can have a fantastic effect on your wellbeing. However, a trip to Japan can take you even further with some of the most fantastic opportunities to tend to your mind and spirit in some truly majestic settings.
Meditation: Visit the Shōganji Zen Retreat to immerse yourself in a meditative journey with monks in this 600 year old Japanese Buddhist temple. This temple kindly opened its doors to tourists in 2004 allowing visitors to become truly immersed in this calming religious and extremely interesting part of Japanese culture. The setting is truly tranquil and they offer individual packages for small numbers of guests that include zen study to cookery lessons.
Japanese Therapies: Choosing accommodation with great spa facilities such as the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Tokyo provides you with a perfect opportunity to take advantage of calming spa treatments after busy days touring Tokyo. Hot spring baths and Japanese Zen gardens are common features of good quality spa’s and you can make the most of a rejuvenating spa evening by selecting treatments that were founded in the country such as a Japanese Shiatsu Massage.
Tranquil Destinations: A trip to Mt.Fuji is not only sure to take your breath away but will also provide you with the open spaces and fresh air that allow you to recharge your spiritual batteries. Mt.Fuki is of great spiritual significance to the people of Japan as it is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama and is named for Fuchi, the Buddhist goddess of fire.
Japanese Tea Ceremonies: Chanoyu, Sado, also known as Ocha is the Japanese name for the well-known ritual of the tea ceremony. There is something about watching this ceremony unfold in front of you that entraps you in the moment and you fixate only on the artistic and beautifully conveyed predefined movements of the ritual itself. The ceremony has roots from over a thousand years ago and stemmed from Japanese priests who only consumed tea in such a way in the setting of the temple.
Kyoto’s Love Stones: If you consider your love life to be an integral part of your personal wellbeing then a trip to Kyoto to see the Love Stones at Kiyomizu-dera Temple is a must. These stones are a shrine to the gods of love and it is said that if you can walk the 18 meters from one to another without looking that you will be forever lucky in love.