19 Days in Japan
Welcome to 19 Days in Japan! We've created this project to share our journey with family and friends in real time, as an expression of our adventures and struggles in a place so far away from home. Join us on this wonderful journey, feel the thrills and the stir, like you could very well be striding along us across the land of the rising sun.
Our trip has ended but the journey has only just begun, as we keep diving in the wonders of Japan every time we go through the photos, wanting to go back. The record of our trip couldn’t just end as it is now, we felt we owed it to ourselves and to you to step it up to another level and that is why you ended up here. A compilation of our adventures and everything we learned in between, in order to help you get a better overview of our trip. Enjoy!
To be in a place so distant and different from anything you've ever come across with can be overwhelming. Having a conveniently situated place, a comfortable bed to rest your head at night, and a host who can provide some insights is invaluable. We explored two options: airbnb.com and booking.com. With the former, one gets the unique experience of living in a true Japanese house and neighborhood, with the latter one gets extra comfort and convenience. It's a matter of finding a good location/price combo that fits your needs and budget.
Japan Rail Pass allows you to use the JR railway system, buses and ferry boats without any extra charges. We bought 14-day JR Passes from jrpass.com; they don't come cheap, but it was a weight off our shoulders knowing we could go pretty much anywhere in Japan with these. If you're considering using the über-fast Shinkansen, regardless if you have JR Pass or if you're buying a solo ticket, make sure you plan ahead with Hyperdia.
Transportation is priority number one in Japan, and if you're a tourist you will appreciate that even more. Use your JR Pass on all JR lines, for everything else there's Suica. Suica (Super Urban Intelligent Card) is a pay-as-you-go rechargeable card you can use on almost all public transportation, including Tokyo subway, but it's also interchangeable with other regions' transportation systems and you can even use it for shopping!
There weren't many ATMs that supported our cards, but fortunately 7-Eleven stores/Seven Bank do accept most international credit/debit cards, and there are a lot in Japan, so don't fret. The country is considered one of the safest in the world, so don't worry about carrying money around. Nearly all places you can visit are free of charge, except for a handful — the more touristy. Contrary to popular belief, eating in Japan is cheap. A huge bowl of ramen will cost you around 5 Euros, and sushi was our most expensive meal at around 80 Euros.
Being able to access the internet at all times to look things up on you mobile device is essential, whether you're searching for a specific place, translating something, or trying to find your way on the map. We bought two SIM cards for our phone and tablet from eConnect Japan. We went for the Standard Speed plan which is the best bang for buck at only 30 Euros: it's the faster of the two while limited to 1GB/month (more than enough in our experience).
Our website can be a good place to start, but let's face it, you probably have more questions than answers right now. Luckily, there are a couple of websites out there that have far better resources and that do a much better job if you're looking for a real travel guide: the ubiquitous Japan Guide and David's Random Wire.
These nineteen days of pure joy and happiness could not have been possible without a handful of people. Thank you moms, dads and brother for always being there. Thank you Sandra, David, Atsuko, Yumiko, Naoko and Takashi for your priceless tips. Thank you Maique, Fred, Daniel and Ana for helping us through the testing phases and for pushing us further. And thank you for browsing our website and reading this. We hope 19 Days in Japan has inspired you to pursue your wildest dreams!