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First time in Japan for one month

Discover the itinerary, budget, and everything you need to know to have a smooth Japan experience.
David The Optimist first time in Japan for a month

This is how it all started

It’s 7 in the morning and tomorrow evening I’m flying to Tokyo for my first trip to Japan. I’m so excited!

I’ll be staying there for 30 days and visit 15 cities. I have already booked all my accommodation through Booking and Airbnb and paid for most of it. In some cases, if you book through Booking, you make a reservation and you pay when you get there. But more on that later.

Before moving on to my daily experiences and itinerary, I’m going to share with you everything I did to prepare and how I decided to travel to Japan.

If you have Japan in your mind and you want to travel there, but you don’t have enough clarity or you believe it’s too expensive, this article is definitely worth reading.

I used to think that visiting Japan costs at least 10.000 euros/month

That was the illusion I used to have until last year, in the summer of 2023, when I did my second Camino de Santiago.

I started last year’s Camino de Santiago on 16th of June and, on the 11th day, I met a guy from Japan (Naoki) on the road. We spoke a bit, as I was just finishing my break, and started walking again. But later the same day we meet again and we chatted more.

No, we didn’t speak too much about Japan, but weirdly enough, later that same day, before going to sleep, I was scrolling through Reddit and the platform suggested a topic about traveling to Japan.

It was from the SoloTravel subreddit and after going through it, I realized that someone traveled to Japan for 20 days and spent only 1700 euros. Flights included (roundtrip from Australia to Japan).

That’s when I realized that what I was thinking was wrong and visiting Japan was not as expensive as whatever I had in mind. With 10.000 euros you could probably see most of Japan in 3 months.

After that evening, I kept thinking about Japan and how cool it would have been to visit the country. So cool that, after finishing Camino de Santiago and getting back home, I decided to apply for a passport and plan the trip.

But I didn’t do anything for the rest of the year.

I only started putting things together at the very end of 2023.

I purchased my flight tickets on 28 December 2023

I remember checking for flights on SkyScanner.com and it wasn’t the first time trying to find some tickets at a decent price.

It was December and I was thinking about traveling to Japan somewhere in March-April but with no specific starting date in mind.

From my previous searches I knew that a ticket from Bucharest to Tokyo was around 700 euros. Sometimes more. But this time, I found it for 450 euros and decided to buy it. The same price was for the other ticket as well. So a total of 900 euros to fly from Bucharest to Tokyo and then from Osaka to Milan.

I visited Italy for one week after Japan, but that’s another story.

I haven’t travelled that much until now but for sure these two plane tickets are the most expensive ones I purchased so far. I was excited about my purchase but, at the same time, it was an odd feeling.

And then… nothing happened.

I started planning everything one month in advance

I wanted to start planning my itinerary and be a bit more organized but I didn’t. At least, not for the next few months.

On 14th of March, I decided to write to Naoki. He’s not living in Japan anymore but I wanted to see if he’s in Japan at the end of spring.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t. But he told me that he knows a Romanian girl (Ellie) who’s been living in Tokyo for 9 years and he put me in touch with her.

I wrote to her on the same day and we scheduled a call for two days later. After having the call, I realized that I needed to start making my itinerary and started working on it on the 17th. Two days later, on the 19th, my itinerary was ready.

After having the call with Ellie, I sent her my Itinerary and she helped with some extra tips. The suggestions Ellie made were really helpful and, from what I know, creating itineraries for people who travel to Japan is one of the things Ellie does.

If you need help with your Japan Itinerary, I encourage you to ask Ellie for help. For a small fee, she’ll create you a Personallized itinerary that matches your needs.

You can find Ellie on Instagram at ellie.mun_

Learning and speaking Japanese

I started learning Japanese with Duolingo at the beginning of 2024 and kept learning for a few months. As I’m writing this, I have 4815 experience with Japanese on Duolingo.

I think I stopped learning with Duolingo at the end of March and then started looking for other resources.

Before visiting Japan, I knew how to introduce myself and how to order food.

Konnichiwa. Omakase kudasai. Watashi no yosan wa nisen yen.

If you go into a restaurant and say this, you basically say hello and ask for the chef’s recommendation, while also saying your budget (2000 yen in the above phrase). After spending one month in Japan, I never got the chance to use this phrase. Haha!

After I stopped using Duolingo to learn Japanese, I found other valuable resources.

For example, I found a big list with survival phrases for Japan. The list is really useful and you can learn many things from it, from the most common phrases to greetings and getting around to shopping and dining.

Also, there are 4 Instagram accounts I recommend for both learning Japanese and discovering new things that you could add to your itinerary:

  • in.tokyo – catchy short videos that will help you learn short Japanese phrases
  • nihongo_sakura – same as above but less entertaining from my point of view
  • puchuko_japan – Ellie’s account where she shares her experiences in Japan
  • japanbyfood – unique Japan experiences – thanks to this page, I purchased a Ramen cooking class in Osaka but I’ll tell you later about it

Other helpful things you should know about before traveling to Japan

  • The Mizu App

This app was useful a few times (in the first days) as it shows you where you can refill your water bottle. I think I used it less than 5 times because, soon enough, I realized that there’s toilets everywhere and almost all of them have drinkable water.

  • Book before you get there

I met many tourists who struggled to find accommodation because they were booking 1-2 days before arriving. You should avoid doing that as much as possible, especially during summer or the golden week. Even more, if you travel to touristic places such as Naoshima Islad.

  • Train cost calculator

During my research, I found Japan Rail Pass. It covers the trains in between cities and the JR Metro Trains in the cities. But the downside is that you can only used it for a maximum of 21 days. If you plan to stay longer than that, I don’t think it’s worth it as you have to properly calculate everything and maybe buy two passes (one for 21 days and another one for 7 or 14 days).

You can find the calculator here: https://www.japan-guide.com/railpass/

Also, here’s a train guide that I liked: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPYLxJnkDvY

  • Internet in Japan

There are many internet providers (eSIM) but after a short research, I decided to choose Ubigi.

I paid 50 euros for 50 GB (available for 30 days and no phone number – but I was able to use my number on WhatsApp). In 30 days in Japan, I used around 30 GB and I abused the internet a bit with my Instagram stories.

I didn’t have any problems with the connection to the Internet whatsoever. Maybe there were moments when it was a bit slow, but only a few times.

If you have no other option or you don’t want to waste time searching for a different provider, Ubigi is a good option. Also, here’s a code to get 20% DISCOUNT on your first purchase: MHDTB6SC.

Follow me on Instagram for insights and inspiration

  • Accommodation and costs
  • Day 1 in Japan - Tokyo
  • Day 2 in Japan - Tokyo
  • Day 3 in Japan - Tokyo
  • Day 4 in Japan - Tokyo
  • Day 5 in Japan - Tokyo
  • Day 6 in Japan - Nagano & Yamanouchi
  • Day 7 in Japan - Matsumoto
  • Day 8 in Japan - Takayama
  • Day 9 in Japan - Takayama
  • Day 10 in Japan - Kanazawa
  • Day 11 in Japan - Kanazawa
  • Day 12 in Japan - Kanazawa (rest day)
  • Day 13 in Japan - Kyoto
  • Day 14 in Japan - Kyoto
  • Day 15 in Japan - Kyoto & Nara
  • Day 16 in Japan - Kyoto
  • Day 17 in Japan - Hiroshima
  • Day 18 in Japan – Hiroshima & Miyajima Island
  • Day 19 in Japan - Kitakyushu
  • Day 20 in Japan - Nagasaki
  • Day 21 in Japan - Nagasaki
  • Day 22 in Japan - Okayama
  • Day 23 in Japan - Okayama
  • Day 24 in Japan - Naoshima Island
  • Day 25 in Japan - Naoshima Island
  • Day 26 in Japan - Osaka
  • Day 27 in Japan - Osaka
  • Day 28 in Japan - Osaka
  • Final thoughts & all the costs

Accommodation and costs

I started booking everything 3 weeks in advance. Here’s where I stayed:

Tokyo:

  • Cost: 139.65 euros for 5 nights
  • Location name: Nomad Hostel Classic
  • Booked through: AirBnb
  • Personal note: 4/5 stars – would stay there again

Shibu Onsen:

  • Cost: 25 euros/4050 yen for 1 night
  • Location name: Shibu Onsen Koishiya Ryokan
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 5/5 stars – book here, you won’t regret!

Matsumoto:

  • Cost: 22 euros/3600 yen for 1 night
  • Location name: Matsumoto BackPackers
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 3/5 stars – looks OK but a bit too noisy; wouldn’t book it during winter

Takayama:

  • Cost: 44 euros/7200 yen for 2 nights
  • Location name: Guest House Ouka
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 4/5 stars – this is not a traditional Japanese guest house but it was a great place to spend two nights

Kanazawa:

  • Cost: 83 euros/13900 yen for 3 nights
  • Location name: Kanazawa Guest House
  • Booked through: AirBnb
  • Personal note: 5/5 stars – the host and entire staff was amazing and I felt like this was really close to a traditional Japanese guest house

Kyoto:

  • Cost: 77 euros/12512 yen for 4 nights
  • Location name: First Cabin Kyoto Nijojo
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 5/5 stars – capsule hotel with big lounge room and great customer service

Hiroshima:

  • Cost: 63 euros/9846 yen for 2 nights
  • Location name: WeBase Hiroshima
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 3/5 stars – nice lounge and quiet hostel but with small beds

Kitakyūshū:

  • Cost: 25 euros/4250 yen for 1 night
  • Location name: Hostel TangaTable
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 2/5 – pretty quiet hostel but the staff was unpleasant to deal with; wouldn’t stay there again

Nagasaki:

  • Cost: 52 euros/8714 yen for 2 nights
  • Location name: First Cabin Nagasaki (same as Kyoto)
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 4/5 stars – the one in Kyoto was better

Okayama:

  • Cost: 52 euros/9200 yen for 2 nights
  • Location name: Hotel Abest Grande Okayama
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 5/5 stars – great capsule hotel; as good as First Cabin

Naoshima Island:

  • Cost: 75 euros/12226 yen for 2 nights
  • Location name: Yado Seven Beach
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 4/5 stars – it was a private room, with no noise whatsoever

Osaka:

  • Cost: 176 euros/28743 yen for 4 nights
  • Location name: FDS AIM
  • Booked through: Booking
  • Personal note: 5/5 stars – it was an entire apartment, nothing to complain about

Follow me on Instagram for insights and inspiration

Day 1

1300 yen spent in total

Day 1 in Japan – Tokyo

It’s a bit over 10 PM in Tokyo when I’m writing this text and I just got out of the shower.

Yesterday, I woke up at 6 AM to go to Bucharest, take care of a few things, and then jump on the plane to Tokyo. And after 15 hours of flying and a few more of waiting in airports, I got to Tokyo.

I flew to Narita Airport and when I got there, I had to fill in two documents with Personall information. I didn’t even know about these documents, but they were simply about my information and consenting that I didn’t bring any drugs into the country. Basic legal stuff.

And then… I tried to find my way to the accommodation.

Went to the ticket vending machine and tried to buy a ticket for the Skyliner train with my digital SUICA IC Card (a card you use for many things in Japan) but I couldn’t because I had it in my iPhone’s wallet and had to insert the physical card in the vending machine.

Instead, it worked with Revolut and it made me happy. But my happiness didn’t last for too long because I didn’t pay attention and I purchased the ticket for the next train, which departed right away.

Luckily, they changed the ticket without any other fees and told me exactly where to go so I wouldn’t miss the next one as well. There are 20 minutes in between the trains so I had more than enough time.

Three more things about the train tickets in Japan:

  • you have to scan your ticket when you cross the gate, to enter the train station
  • you have to scan your SUICA IC Card when you cross the gate (I think this is because I got it from the vending machine)
  • you have to scan your ticket again when you leave the train station

After leaving the airport, I decided to walk to the accommodation (around 40 minutes of walking) and soon enough I realized it was raining. But didn’t care. I wanted to explore Tokyo a bit.

So, at 8:30 PM, it was raining and not that many people on the streets. Just a few, here and there, separated by hundreds of meters.

Also, while walking to the accommodation, I saw a big half-banana glued on the wall of a building (check the photos) and thought it was interesting. Maybe King Kong visited recently and ate the other half. I’ll find out tomorrow what’s the deal with the banana but now it’s time to sleep.

Costs:

  • Skyliner ticket to Ueno Station to Narita: 1300 yen

Day 2

13396 yen spent in total

Day 2 in Japan – Tokyo

I woke up today at 6:15 and the first thing I did was to charge my stuff… obviously! My phone, smartwatch, and external battery.

I didn’t know that you need a different type of charger in Japan and I decided to buy an adapter.

After I left the accommodation at 6:45, I entered the first conbini and got an adapter for 768 yen only to realize that I could only charge my phone with it. Don’t worry, later today I got another one for the same price and I’m using them both.

The first thing I visited today was Senjo-Ji Temple.

Most Japanese people, when coming in front of a shrine next to the temple or the temple itself, bowed 2-3 times and then clapped their hands twice. They also threw coins somewhere in front of them, into a special area designated for coins, probably after or while they were saying their prayer.

Around the Senjo-Ji Temple are many shrines and every shrine has its story.

After leaving the area, I started walking towards other shrines and temples.

At a certain point, I passed an old man on a bike. He gave me the ✌️ peace sign, we both bowed, and moved on. It made me smile.

After that, I visited a Buddhist temple, a shrine, another Buddhist temple, another one, and another one. They’re so many!

Eventually, I decided to go towards my first big landmark in Tokyo: Tokyo Skytree. On my way there, there was some construction on the sidewalk and the guys from the construction site were coordinating the pedestrians, so they had space to walk. It made me think about the way Japanese people live their lives and thought about the idea of giving and receiving respect.

When I arrived at Tokyo Skytree, the queues were pretty long, but everything was moving fast and I didn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes to get to the top. Today, I was 450 meters up above the ground and I loved the view. After I experienced the Eiffel Tower at the beginning of the year, and now the Tokyo Skytree, I feel like I’m starting to enjoy altitudes more and more. But only in a safe space.

After leaving the Tokyo Skytree, I searched for some food and found a ramen place close to where I was – around 10 minutes of walking distance. So I decided to go there.

The place is called Tomoru, where I ate some brothless spicy pork ramen. It’s called tentenmen.

It’s the first ramen I tried and the taste of pork was too intense. Eventually, I felt like puking but also the portion was too big. Also, to my surprise, the raw egg mixed with ramen was not bad. I paid 800 yen for a large portion of ramen.

After my first Japanese food experience, I went back to the hostel to fill in some papers for the accommodation because yesterday I arrived too late and had to do it today. Also worked a bit.

A few hours later, I decided to leave and visit Chiyoda City, to see the Imperial Palace.

To get there, I took the metro train and it felt pretty intuitive. Paid 180 yen for a ride from Asakusa to Nihombasi station (9 stops in total). The digital SUICA IC Card didn’t work as I still don’t know where to scan it on the vending machine. This time, Revolut didn’t work either, so I paid with cash.

After leaving the metro train, I walked for 20 to 25 minutes to reach the Chiyoda City.

This place was packed with tourists and many other things you could visit (like museums) but I just walked around because I was too tired (walked almost 20 KM before getting to Chiyoda City) and also all the landmarks in the area were closing at 5 PM. Later today, someone told me that the Imperial Palace itself is closed and you can’t go inside so I guess I have no reason to go back there for now.

That was it for today. Except I got the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese restaurant (I guess) thanks to a friend. And karaoke. But I didn’t sing. Anyway, these stories are for a different occasion.

Costs:

  • Ramen: 800 yen
  • Night out: 8000 yen (food + drinks + karaoke)
  • Metro train: 2x 180 yen
  • Charger: 2x 768 yen
  • Tokyo Skytree: 2700 yen

Day 3

7039 yen spent in total

Day 3 in Japan – Tokyo

Today I woke up a bit later than the first two days – at 7:05, when my alarm started ringing. And decided to stay a bit more in bed, so I left the accommodation at 8:30, with the plan in mind to get to TeamLab Planets.

I walked for 2 hours and a half (with 3 breaks included) and got there 15 minutes earlier.

I love exploring the cities by walking, even though I get to feel tired sooner, but this way I get to properly discover the city. The big buildings alongside the small ones created a great contrast that made me want to stare at landscapes all day long.

TeamLab Planets was probably the best experience so far in Tokyo and if you ever visit it, you should have it on your itinerary. It’s definitely a must! I walked on pillows, through water, and other various surfaces and, after the experience was over, I felt no more tiredness in my legs. 

After TeamLab Planets, I started walking to the Tokyo Docks to eat some Takoyaki. I searched on Google Maps for some Takoyaki restaurants and found one inside a food court, called Gindako.

I had three different options of Takoyaki and I choose the one with tampura sauce, which cost me 759 yen. At first, I didn’t know how to eat it and was trying to make sense of what I had in front of me. That felt weird 😅 but eventually I figured it out.

After finishing my Takoyaki, I went outside and did nothing for a bit over one hour. I got some well-deserved rest and waited for 3 PM so I can visit the poop 💩 museum.

It was a 10 min dumb-fun experience, where everything was about poop.

And for the last experience of the day, I decided to enjoy the pretty colors of the Rainbow Bridge during the evening.

Had to wait 2-3 hours for the sun to set, but I found a quiet place, sat on a bench, and worked from my phone. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the rainbow colors, but only white (and some yellow). I think I would have had to stay longer to experience the full spectrum of colors.

Shortly after 7 PM, I decided to leave and started walking towards the Rainbow Bridge, with the intention of crossing it by walking.

Until getting to the bridge, I walked on the beach and enjoyed the social atmosphere. Even though it was dark, lots of people were there, but not one tourist. 

When I got to the bridge, I had to choose between the southern and notrhern paths. Eventually, I took the northern one and, while the view was amazing, the experience was a bit odd for a bridge.

I kept walking and walking, only to find out that in order to exit the bridge, as a pedestrian, you have to take the elevator from the 7th floor to the 2nd floor and then walk out of the bridge’s building.

After crossing the bridge, I went home with the metro train and had some challenges when I switched the metro lines. But other than that, everything was easy.

Costs:

  • Takoyaki: 759 yen
  • Metro shibaura futo – shimbashi: 260 yen
  • Metro shimbashi – asakusa: 220 yen
  • TeamLab Planets: 3800 yen
  • Poop Museum: 2000 yen
Tea ceremony experience in Tokyo, Japan

Day 4

11011 yen spent in total

Day 4 in Japan – Tokyo

Today was a good day! I woke up around 8 and worked for almost two hours. Then left the accommodation close to 10 in the morning.

Went to a 7-Eleven to get some cash from the ATM and also bought one muffin with raisins and a bag of Yuraku Black Thunder Human Mouth Vanilla 😅. Yeah, that’s how Google translates it but is basically some small bites of wafers with vanilla taste, covered in chocolate.

Then, I took the metro train from Asakusa to Higashi Ginza and started looking for some place where I could try a different kind of ramen before my tea ceremony experience.

After walking around and also looking on Google Maps, I found a place called 銀座もちふじ (or ginza mochifuji according to their website). Was a small entrance (barely noticed it) and had to go downstairs, to the underground level.

Here, I ate something and didn’t know what it was.  Some kind of soup with one mochi on the side. The waitress didn’t speak English, but she was really nice. After I ordered the food, she came with the bill and a side note, having written on it ‘Sorry, I don’t speak English’. Japanese people are very polite.

She also brought me some tea (I think) which had an odd but interestinng taste. When I left, I did my best to tell her that I liked the food and said ‘oishii desu’ which means ‘it’s delicious’. She replied ‘thank you very much’ with a big smile on her face.

It’s good that I found this restaurant because everywhere on the streets I saw people waiting in line to get food. It’s crazy! From 20 up to 50 people waiting for a place to open so they can sit down and eat (probably their favorite food).

When I got in front of the building of the tea ceremony experience, I was too blind to see the entrance and asked for help from a Japanese guy who wasn’t speaking English. That was a funny interaction. And all I had to do was to take the elevator to the 5th floor. Because of that, I arrived a few minutes left.

As I got there, the experience had already started but I only missed the beginning of an introductory video.

I got to see how the matcha tea is made, eat some sweets made of beans and sugar, make matcha tea, and drink it while attending the ceremony… which felt more like a ritual. The length of the entire experience was 45-50 minutes and, at the end, I purchased one small bag of matcha tea for 1500 yen.

Next, I took the metro train to Ueno station and let me tell you something about that metro station. It’s chaotic and too big. Way too big! It took me at least 5 minutes to find a way out and I was still unsure about what to do next so I could get to the Ueno Park. 😂

As soon as I got close to the park, I saw a big ocean of people. People everywhere! Then I remembered it was Saturday.

Found a place to stay and relax for a few minutes, until Alberto came. I met him last year through an online community and we saw each other today for the first time.

The Ueno Park is big. Sooo big! Me and Alberto visited the Zoo and spent there around two hours. We saw all kinds of animals and birds, including a panda, polar bear, and flamingos. Besides the zoo, Ueno Park has a (pretty huge) museum, lots of walking areas, and maybe many other things that you could visit. For sure, you could spend a whole day there.

After that, we grabbed some beers at a really nice Japanese place called Yanaka Beer Hall. At the same place, we ate some salmon and had kaki seeds and soybeans as snacks.

And finally, Alberto wanted me to have the ultimate cringe experience in Japan and took me to a maid cafe, but the one he suggested was fully booked and we gave up the idea.

I took the metro station back home and washed my clothes. Paid 300 yen to wash them and 100 yen to dry them. So cheap!

Costs:

  • Morning muffin & sweets: 321 yen
  • Soup + mochi: 1150 yen
  • Matcha tea gift: 1500 yen
  • Metro train: 260 + 180 yen
  • Food + drinks: 2500 yen
  • Tea Ceremony Experience: 3500 yen
  • Zoo: 1200 yen (for me and Alberto)
  • Washing 300 yen + drying clothes 100 yen

Day 5

3141 yen spent in total

Day 5 in Japan – Tokyo

After waking up at 6:50 this morning, I took the metro train from Kuramae to Yoyogy. I had to go to the other side of Tokyo and it took me one hour to get there, of which 35 minutes were by the metro train.

Today’s plan felt a bit chaotic because I wanted to start with the Meiji Jingu Shrine early in the morning, before it became too crowded and the shrine was in the middle of everything I wanted to see.

When I got there, it was already full of people but a great walking zone. I paid 500 YEN to see the Meiji Jingu Inner Garden, which was not impressive, but had a few great spots. Really liked the Bonsai Trees.

Next, I explored by foot the Takeshita and Harajuku streets but nothing special was happening there. Maybe because it was 9:45 in the morning. So I took a short break and entered a conbini to buy some snacks: one bag of deep fried round rice crackers and kaki seeds (the same as what I ate yesterday at Yanaka Beer Hall).

I wanted to see the crowdedness from the Shibuya Scramble Crossing so I went there. While it’s not a mess, I don’t understand why is it so popular. Just a big number of people crossing the street at the same time. Maybe the Hachiko memorial statue has something to do with it. Oh, and I remembered that I wanted to see the statue around two hours after I left the area. Sometimes, shit happens. Or I’m just too old and I started to forget things.

I left the area and started walking towards the Yoyogi Park. Right before going into the park, I took a break and ate some of the snacks I bought earlier. The rice crackers were somewhat tasty.

Then I walked around the park and the park was full of people. But it’s understandable, considering it’s the Golden Week time and also Sunday. Right before leaving the park I got some fried noodles for 420 YEN from a street food vendor. It was average. Or, to describe it differently, as good as I make it back home. 😂

Next, I took the metro train for one station and walked a bit to reach another green area: Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden and paid 500 yen for the entry fee. This place felt even bigger than Yoyogi Park because it had lots of green areas where you could just take a blanket, put it on the grass, and have a picnic. That’s what most people were doing, while others were playing volleyball or simply sunbathing.

After that, I decided to finish my day early and go back home. Of course, by the train metro, otherwise I would have had to walk for more than two hours.

Before getting to my accommodation, I went to a 7-Eleven and bought some Inari sushi and sushi rolls and a bag of chips which I plan on trying tomorrow. From what I heard, sushi from the supermarket has good quality. Also, the sushi was good as I was happy with the taste.

Costs:

  • 1st metro train: 280 yen
  • Meiji jingu inner garden: 500 yen
  • Snacks: 226 yen
  • Fried noodles: 420 yen
  • Metro: 150 yen
  • Shinjuku gyoen national garden: 500 yen
  • Metro: 210 + 180
  • Inari shushi & sushi rolls + chips: 675 yen
Japan day 6 - Nagano & Yamanouchi

Day 6

18760 yen spent in total

Day 6 in Japan – Nagano & Yamanouchi

Today I woke up without the alarm, at 6:10, but went to sleep yesterday quite early. At 7:15 I was at Tokyo Station, ready to take the Shinkansen to Nagano. This train is so fast, it takes only 1 hour and a half to travel the distance from Tokyo to Nagano, which is 243 km.

Getting the ticket and finding the train was quite easy. I paid 8740 YEN for the ticket and was able to use Revolut. I was running around chaotically for a bit, trying to find the platform 22. Eventually, I found it by simply following the Shinkansen signs, which were quite big and obvious. The trick is: if you don’t see the Shinkansen signs, you’re either there or you’re going the wrong way. 😅

This train had 12 cars and some of them were available only with a reservation (I’m sitting in one of them because I bought the ticket earlier).

When the Shinkansen arrived at the train station, I had to wait for about 5-10 minutes so the train staff could clean the train.

One hour and a half later, I arrived at the destination.

When I arrived in Nagano, I started walking to the Zenkoji Temple (around 30 minutes of walking) and, on my way, I stopped to get strawberries melon bread. It looked funny and wanted to try it, so I decided 250 yen (basically 1.5 euros) was cheap and should try it. It was good for satisfying my curiosity but wouldn’t buy it again.

On the street to the Zenkoji Temple, right after you enter the gate, there are many shops with overpriced food and souvenirs. I found a cute souvenir at 600 yen and decided to buy it. Until now, this souvenir and the matcha tea from the tea ceremony experience are the only things I bought to get home with me.

Right after arriving at the Zenkoji Temple, someone from Japanese Television wanted to interview me and, from reflex, I said that I wasn’t l interested. A few seconds later, I realized I missed my opportunity to appear on TV in Japan 😂 but next time I’ll do it, for sure.

After exploring the area around the Zenkoji Temple and attending a morning ritual (I think that’s what it was) inside one of the shrines, I took a 15-minute break. I wanted to wait 30 minutes until a restaurant was supposed to open but instead decided to not wait as much and look for a different place to eat. Found it pretty quickly and when I got there and asked if they served ramen, they said they only make it during dinner time. So I went back to the train station and purchased another ticket from Nagano to Yudanaka for 1290 yen.

After I reached the train station, I purchased a ticket for the bus to take me to Snow Monkey Park for 310 yen. It wasn’t too clear to me how much I had to wait for the bus to arrive or where exactly was the bus station, so I crossed the street and entered the tourist info. I was welcomed in English, with some kind of British accent, and felt at home, even though English is not my mother tongue. 😅

They answered all my questions and so I went outside and waited 30 minutes for the bus to arrive at the station. While waiting, I ate the small bag of chips I purchased yesterday. They had a bland taste, even though it should have been some sort of combination between pizza and barbecue.

The bus arrived and I walked right in. After seeing the person in front of me pushing a button to take a seat number, I did the same and I took a random seat on the bus. The leg space wasn’t enough so I had to occupy an extra space. No, I’m not that fat. 😅

The route to the Snow Monkey Park was great and I’m glad I took the bus instead of walking because it was all uphill. But, for sure, I’ll walk when I’ll go back.

When I left the bus, I showed my ticket and bus number to the driver and put them in a box that was also collecting money. In case you didn’t have a ticket, you could have paid directly to the driver.

After arriving at the entrance of Snow Monkey Park, I decided to eat some proper food and walked around 200 meters to get to a local restaurant called Rausuan.

I looked at a menu that was also translated into English and when the waitress came I was ready to talk to her in Japanese but she surprised me with her great English.

I ordered Jyuwari-Soba noodles served with Tempura and a beer for 2000 yen and also got a snack with my beer: some sweet fish. The snack is called himono aji which is dried horse mackerel (thank you ellie for helping me understand what I eat in Japan 😂).

From the restaurant to the Snow Monkey Park it was a 30-minute hike through the woods, on the edge of the mountain. I felt like running through this area because of the beer from Rausuan. Or I was just drunk. 😅

On the hiking route, I walked past a group of Japanese guys. They said ‘Herro’ to me and then I said it back. A few seconds later, I hear one of them screaming ‘Good!!’ in perfect English. 😂

When I got out of the woods, the snow monkeys started to show up. BROTHERS!!! 🐒 They were everywhere and probably more than 50 around the entire environment. And they were getting as close to half a meter to the tourists. It was cool.

After I left the area, I bought a postal card for 100 yen and a winter hat for 2500 yen. At this pace, by the 30th day, I’ll take out all my clothes from the backpack just to have enough space for what I buy from Japan. 😅

The final destination was the Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn). The location is amazing, and so is their hospitality. When I checked in, they asked me if I wanted to wear a Yutaka and I said I did, without knowing what it was. I figured it out pretty soon and started enjoying wearing it. It feels great! I’ll try to buy one in Osaka to get it back home with me.

For the rest of the day, I’ll probably socialize with the people who have also booked this Ryokan.

Costs:

  • Morning metro to tokyo station: 210 yen
  • Tokyo to Nagano shinkansen: 8740 yen
  • Strawberry melon bread: 250 yen
  • Souvenir: 600 yen
  • Metro from nagano to yakanada: 1290 yen
  • Bus to snow monkey park: 310 yen
  • Food snow monkey park (bar name: Rausuan): Jyuwari Soba Meal (soba noodles made from 100% buckwheat flour with tempura) 1400 yen + asahi medium bottled beer 600 yen — the jyuwari soba noodles are thick and chewy
  • Entrance to snow monkey park: 800 yen
  • Postcard: 100 yen
  • Snow monkey hat: 2500 yen
  • Evening beer + japanese dumplings: 1200 yen
  • Evening beer in ryuokan: 750 yen

Day 7

6330 yen spent in total

Day 7 in Japan – Matsumoto

I woke up today at 7:00 and left the bed not trying to wake up anyone else. I went to the bathroom to change and when I got out, in the hallway, I found the other two guys with whom I shared the room last night. I guess they were already awake.

I left the Ryokan at 7:30 and, when I arrived at the train station, I wanted to buy a ticket back to Nagano and I thought I would interact with someone but only the vending machines were selling tickets.

At the vending machines were other tourists and I asked them for some help. They told me to get both a ticket to Nagano and a platform ticket. I asked them why and they said that sometimes you are required to have the platform ticket as well. It was 170 yen extra so I just went with it as these tourists seemed a bit more experienced with traveling in Japan than me.

After arriving in Nagano, I purchased another ticket to Matsumoto so I could reach today’s destination.

I had to wait 40 minutes in the station for the train to arrive. So I took the kaki seeds I purchased two days ago and started having my not-so-healthy breakfast. 😅

One hour and 40 minutes later, I was in Matsumoto’s train station and searched for a place to eat some ramen. I tried ramen only once before, on the second day in Tokyo. Thanks to Google Maps, I found a place close to the train station and went there.

They gave me two menus: one with Japanese food and another one with Chinese food. I ordered one portion of Sanzoku Yaki Miso Ramen (with grilled chicken) and it was really good but the portion was too big. I left some of the broth in the bowl and paid 1200 yen right before leaving the place.

The portion was so big, I felt sleepy for the next 10-15 minutes. I was barely walking and it took me 15 minutes to get to the Matsumoto Castle, even though Google Maps said it was only 8 minutes away. 😂

The area around the Matsumoto Castle is huge and so is the castle. It’s one of the grandest castles in Japan.

I paid 700 yen for the entrance fee and 100 yen to leave my big backpack in a safe space, so I don’t have to carry it with me around the castle.

There was a waiting time of around 20 minutes to visit the castle, so I took the extra time to continue writing this text. ✌️

The castle’s structure is massive but navigating it was a bit tedious because they were letting in a bit too many tourists.

Eventually, I left the castle and went to the Matsumoto Art Museum, for which I had mixed feelings. While the art was great, there were certain areas where no English translation was available (for example, the Comic Books were only in Japanese) or where the time to experience/see something was limited to 20 seconds.

After the Art Museum I looked on Google Maps and saw a small park that was 7 minutes away and decided to go there so I could relax a bit. This is the first small park I saw and I loved it. Lots of places to rest, a lake with big fish, some ducks, and the trees had interesting shapes and shades of green.

My last stop for today was the accommodation. I walked around 30 minutes from the park to the accommodation and paid for it, as it was only booked.

PS: In the first 7 days, in Japan, including accommodation, food, and transportation, I spent a bit under 500 euros.

Costs:

  • Train to nagano (1190 yen) + platform ticket (170 yen): 1360 yen
  • Train to matsumoto: 1170 yen
  • Sanzoku yaki (Grilled Chicken) Miso Ramen: 1200 yen
  • Matsumoto castle entry 700 yen + luggage 100 yen: 800 yen
  • Museum of Art: 1800 yen
Japan day 8 - Takayama

Day 8

15863 yen spent in total

Day 8 in Japan – Takayama

Woke up today at 5:30, not being able to sleep anymore, and left the accommodation at 7:00.

I checked the time for when the bus leaves the station to the next city (Takayama) and I had to wait around 30 minutes for it. I thought that I just had to wait at the station for the bus to come and I could pay the ticket to the driver, but I couldn’t. So when I heard the news, I had around 5 minutes to buy a ticket. Luckily, the building was really close and the driver was kind enough to wait for me a few minutes. We still left on time, but he could have left without me since there were no more people waiting to join the bus.

It took around 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Takayama and I was happy with my ride. We went through the mountains and the views were wonderful. Oh, and Japan has many tunnels through the mountains. Too many! During this ride, I think we went through more than 30 tunnels.

Shortly after starting the bus trip, I felt the tiredness of the journey as I tried to sleep but I couldn’t. That’s how tired I feel these days. Luckily, I booked an extra night by mistake in Takayama (or maybe I had a good reason when I did – I don’t remember because there aren’t that many things to do here) and I think I’ll be able to get a bit more rest. Until the end of the journey, I’ll probably have only 1 or 2 other cities where I sleep just 1 night.

I arrived in Takayama at 10:15, and the first thing I did was to check Google Maps for what I wanted to visit today and saw that everything was close. After all, Takayama is quite a small city.

So I started walking towards the Miyagawa Morning Markets. Lots of shops there with food, souvenirs and … basically everything. I even saw a samurai costume and some swords. From this place, I bought a simple sweet dessert made of butter. Paid 840 yen for 6 portions (they were small) and then got for myself and my mom two souvenirs. Oh, and two fridge magnets. 😅 After that, I started walking through the old town, which was really close, and explored its streets.

Next on my list was the Temple Walk. In Takayama, there’s an area with 15 temples that are close to each other. It took me almost 2 hours to visit all the temples and take lots of photos. The Temple Walk was such a great experience. I only wish I had more energy to do the short hikes around the temples but for now I’m happy with what I did.

At one of the temples, I found these sort of cardboard characters (I don’t how else to call them) with a hole in their faces so you could put your face there and take a funny picture. Since I’m traveling alone, I can’t always experience all the things I see but this time it was different.

As I walked past it, an old lady (and probably her daughter) approached me and told me that they would take a photo of me behind one of the cardboard figures. While the daughter took some photos, the old lady was laughing her ass off. 😂 After all, it was her idea.

After the last temple (which was amazing!) I saw a shop that was selling things made of wood. Of course, I went inside and got two tea cups made of wood for some friends. Whoops. 🤭 But they’re great! Both my friends and the tea cups.

And that was it for today. Walked a bit over 10 kilometers and now I need some rest.

After I got to my accommodation, I was happy to see how amazing the dormitory was. Also, I went to a nearby conbini to buy some sushi rolls and ‘a special combination of almonds and chocolate’ – that’s written on the box and let me tell you something: it is special. They’re so good!

Costs:

  • Bus to takayama: 4400 yen
  • Fluffy sweets made of butter: 840 yen
  • Gifts: 7000 yen
  • 2 x magnet: 440 yen
  • 7-eleven food: 683 yen (almond chocolate + sushi rolls)
  • Dinner + drinks: 2500 yen

Day 9

3767 yen spent in total

Day 9 in Japan – Takayama

I was woken up today at 7 by the alarm and then stayed in bed for one hour, when I moved into the hostel’s living room for another couple of minutes.

At 8:30 I went outside and started walking around the city already expecting to walk more than 10 kilometers today.

So I started walking and walked for 1 hour to reach Harayama City Park – it was beautiful. There was a hiking route nearby but I saw one too many bear signs and decided to not follow the hiking route. 😅 I mean, the bear signs were 100 meters away one from another.

Then I started walking to Hida no Sato Open Air Museum. To get there, I had two options: either on the main road or through a forest. Of course I chose the forest as there was no bear sign this time. And I’m glad I did. In this walking area were no people and no cars. It was all peaceful and silent.

The Hida no Sato Open Air Museum is basically an old village where you learn about how Japanese people lived in the old days. It was an educational walk, as I read about the old ways of living and explored the interior of some old houses and workshops.

At one point, while walking through this area, I almost stepped on a small snake (around 1 meter in length) but I think it was more afraid of me than I was of him.

After exploring the Hida no Sato Open Air Museum, I decided to go back to the forest and hike a bit more, as the Squirrel Forest was 2 kilometers further on the same route. On this short distance, I didn’t meet any beers on the road, even though I got a bit scared because there were lots of signs saying to keep an eye out for beers. Instead, all I saw was a raccoon trying to cross the street. 😅

When I got to the Squirrel Forest, I paid 880 yen for the entry fee and 100 yen for the food to feed the squirrels. It was a fun experience and the trick to feed the squirrels was not to run around after them but to wait for them to come at you. The only downside about the Squirrel Forest is that it could have been a bit bigger. And also there weren’t too many squirrels as the staff said they just had babies and not too many will be seen. But nonetheless, it was still nice.

After feeding the squirrels, I continued walking for a few more kilometers and eventually I reached Matsuri no Mori Museum. I paid 1000 yen for the entry fee even though Google Maps said it was free.

This museum was both amazing and odd. The 1000 yen I paid was for a dancing festival of puppets that were some kind of automated robots to perform a dance at a specific hour. But they were looking so great and the space was huge. I spent there around 20-30 minutes and then decided to take the bus back home. It was only 100 yen and it saved me from walking an extra hour.

Before getting on the bus, I asked everyone I could about the ticket just to be sure I didn’t have to run around the area to purchase one, like I did yesterday in the Matsumoto bus station. 😅

And because yesterday evening I went out for dinner with some of the travelers from the hostel, today I didn’t feel like eating too much. So when I got back, I went to 7-Eleven and got a rice bowl (with chicken, pork, and vegetables) and an ice cream.

Costs:

  • Entrance Hida no Sato Open Air Museum: 700 yen
  • Squirrel forest: 980 yen
  • Matsuri no Mori museum: 1000 yen
  • Bus home: 100 yen
  • 7-Eleven (rice bowl with prok, chicken, and vegetables; ice cream; bag of chips): 937 yen
Japan day 10 - Kanazawa

Day 10

8119 yen spent in total

Day 10 in Japan – Kanazawa

I have no energy left for anything. But I’m not sure it matters. 😂

Today I woke up at 5 because I couldn’t sleep anymore and left the accommodation at 6:40. It took me around 10-15 minutes to get to the train station as I was cosplaying a snail. Got the ticket and waited around 30 minutes for the train to arrive.

The first train was to Toyama and then I changed the train to get to Kanazawa, where I’ll be staying for 3 nights.

It feels like every city has its rules for trains and buses. This time, there was a staff member of the train station of Takayama who checked my ticket as I was passing through the gate. Also, today was the 1st time they asked to see my ticket inside the train, around 15 minutes before arriving in Toyama. I don’t know who made the rules in Japan regarding trains and buses, but they’re not consistent with them.

When I arrived in Kanazawa, I realized I was in a big city again because I was surrounded by small shops, especially in the tourist areas.

The first thing I did was to go to two districts: the Nahamachi District and the Geisha District. The first one was crowded, the second one was overcrowded. Both with really narrow streets. I’ll try to visit them again in one of the other days around sunset time so maybe there won’t be as many people.

After that, I took a break and reconsidered my plan for today. I’ll wake up tomorrow early in the morning and visit what I wanted to visit today.

I heard in Kanazawa is good sushi and wanted to try some but decided not to rush, since I’m staying here for a couple of days. I also spoke with Kevin (whom I met two days ago in Takoyama) and we’ll probably meet for sushi tomorrow.  So I just took a break and went to get some food from 7-Eleven.

I checked Google Maps again and realized there was a mountain close enough (15 minutes away) and started walking towards it. There are smaller parks inside the area, an observatory, and, according to Google Maps, a 400-year-old forest. The forest was cool (it would have been cooler during Sakura but it is what it is) and so was the hill of flowers and tea crops next to the forest. 💚

After finishing the walk, I went to the accommodation to check in but I was there 30 minutes earlier. While waiting, I ordered a beer and some snacks from the accommodation’s bar. Also paid 600 yen for city tax for three days of staying in Kanazawa. Don’t ask me what it is but I remember paying for it during Camino de Santiago last year as well.

Costs:

  • Train to toyama: 1690 yen
  • Train to kanazawa: 1290 yen
  • Salmon jerky + chocolate: 739 yen
  • Edamame + garlic bread + beer: 900 yen
  • City tax 3 days: 600 yen
  • Strawberry on stick: 500 yen
  • Drinks: 3000 yen

Day 11

5677 yen spent in total

Day 11 in Japan – Kanazawa

This morning, I woke up at 6 and stayed in bed a little longer, for around 45 minutes. Then I went downstairs and sat there for another 30 minutes. It was too early to leave as the things I wanted to see opened at 8:00 and 9:00.

So I left the accommodation at 7:30 and walked for 30 minutes to get to the Samurai district. That was a short experience, as the districts are, in general, small neighborhoods.

After that, I went directly to 2 big green areas. One of them was with the Kanazawa Castle Ruins and the other one was with the Kenrokuen Garden. Both were amazing and I paid 320 yen to see the garden.

The funny thing is that yesterday, after I checked into the accommodation, I met someone from Germany and we went for a walk in these two areas. But the Kenrokuen Garden didn’t have an entry fee and it was also lighten up. In my opinion, both areas are more beautiful during the day but the night gives them a special something.

After walking around for almost two hours, I took a break and waited for the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art to open and went there.

The museum was partially closed so I didn’t have to pay any entry fee but there was only a little art available and the queues were insane. Probably more than 100 people waiting in each queue. So I just walked around and decided to move on (quite early) to my final destination for the first part of the day: sweets!

Since it was early and I had only walked 7 kilometers, I decided to keep walking. Made around 1 hour to Don Quijote – a big supermarket in Japan where you can find … everything!

I went to Don Quijote to look for KitKat and find as many kinds as possible, but I only found with Matcha (the last bag on the shelf) and dark chocolate. The one with Marcha is kinda weird but I’m not too much into the taste of Matcha anyway. I also got a rice bowl from Don Quijote so I eat some proper food as well.

After that, I went back to the accommodation by train. The train station was close to Don Quijote so I decided to take the train instead of walking for another 3 kilometers. I need to preserve some energy for tonight because I’m going for sushi and will walk again for sure.

Costs:

  • Snaks for friends: 200 yen
  • Kenrokuen garden: 320 yen
  • Food don quijote (classic and matcha kitkat + rice bowl): 943 yen
  • Train ticket to kanazawa: 220 yen
  • Night food: 3994 yen

Day 12

4125 yen spent in total

Day 12 in Japan – Kanazawa (rest day)

Today was a day with one plan in mind: go to the sea. And that’s what I did. I wanted to see the Sea of Japan and spend a few minutes on the beach.

But I’m not going to write about it. I’m also not going to tell you that I have finally found more kinds of KitKat and, in total, I tried 8 of them.

Today’s text is a reflection of my experience in these almost 2 weeks in Japan.

I’d like to start by saying that I love Japan. I love that even when it gets crowded, it’s still organized and people are respectful. People are so respectful, they’ll say ‘Thank you’ at least 3 times and bow whenever they do it. And they will always ask for consent if, what they want to do, involves you in any way. Japanese people like to think not only about them but also about those around them.

Besides people, the food in Japan is amazing. I got to try some food I’ve never thought I would try (didn’t even imagine it existed) and, because of some of the food I discovered here (for example, Karaage and Tempura) I feel like when I’ll get back home, I’ll start eating meat again (before Japan, I was pescatarian).

Also, in Japan you’ll find all kinds of experiences. From visiting temples and shrines, to doing karaoke with your friends in a small room where you can scream (I mean sing) as much as you want and having the ultimate cringe coffee experience at a maid cafe. Or to spend your night at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) while wearing a yukata and bathing fully naked (which I didn’t do) in an onsen. Japan is so different than what I used to experience at home on a daily basis that it feels like a new world.

But more than that, during this short period, I feel like I got to deepen my values a bit more and be more connected to myself. I know even more what the next steps are for my life (both Personall and professional) and there’s nothing that could get in the way. Maybe I’ll speak more about this after I get home.

To conclude, in Japan you’re not only going to explore a new country, but a new part of yourself as well.

Costs:

  • Metro to uchinada and back: 800 yen
  • Bowls (gift): 220 yen
  • 6 KitKat bags + sushi: 2695 yen
  • Washing + drying clothes: 500 yen
Japan day 13 - Kyoto

Day 13

8987 yen spent in total

Day 13 in Japan – Kyoto

I woke up today at 6:20 and felt a bit tired because in the last two nights I went to bed after midnight. Anyway, after I left the accommodation at 7:00, I walked directly to the train station.

For the route to Kyoto, Google Maps said that there was a reduced service (whatever that means) for a certain train so I took the slow path but with the fast train (shinkansen). From Kanazawa to Fukui. From Fukui to Tsuraga. From Tsuraga to Kyoto. I spent around 8000 yen for the whole trip and also bought some snacks at Tsuraga station.

I arrived in Kyoto at 12:10 and started walking towards the Summit of Mount Inari. It was one of the things from my list for Kyoto and decided to start with it as it also helped me explore the city.

As soon as I got to the hiking part, it started raining but only light rain for like 15 minutes. I was afraid it would rain all day.

On the way to the Summit of Mount Inari, the hiking route is paved with many tori gates which makes the hike more enjoyable. Also, during the hike, I found two spots from where you could see Kyoto from afar. And only one of them was full of tourists. The other one was empty. 🕺

After I reached the sumit, I looked on Google Maps to see what else was around and saw a waterfall. But when I got there, I was surprised to see the thinnest waterfall ever. 😅 Such a joke.

I think I walked on the hiking routes for around 1.5 hours and it was beautiful. I’m happy with my day.

Moving on, I checked again Google Maps and realized I was close to the Fushimi Inari Temple and decided to visit it while I was getting back in the city. I also took a 30-minute break there. This area was full of tourists and, after my break was over, I felt like running out of there.

After that, I started walking towards the accommodation but (thanks to Google Maps once again) I saw another temple on the way. The biggest so far.

It’s called Higashi Gohan Ji Temple and is the most amazing temple I’ve seen so far in Japan. Has wonderful architecture and a beautiful design and being inside it felt peaceful. I hope I’ll find others like it.

While I was inside the temple, it started raining again so I took the metro train for 3 stations to get as close as possible to the accommodation.

Before checking in, I went to a supermarket (2 minutes away from the hostel) and got some sushi. I ate it meanwhile and this sushi doesn’t feel as good as the one from Kanazawa.

When I checked in, I had to pay again the city tax. So far, I only had to pay it in Kanazawa and Kyoto.

Also, it’s the first time I’m staying in a capsule hostel and I have mixed feelings. While the room looks great and it’s more spacious than the usual capsule rooms, I’m curious if I’ll be able to rest. At the same time, everything looks amazing and they even gave me pyjamas. Didn’t expect that.

Costs:

  • Train from kanazawa to fukui: 3210 yen
  • Train from fukui to tsuraga: 2730 yen
  • Train from tsuraga to kyoto: 1690 yen
  • Snack: 378 yen
  • Metro: 220 yen
  • Sushi: 759 yen

Day 14

9997 yen spent in total

Day 14 in Japan – Kyoto

Woke up today at 7:00 and I could say that I slept pretty comfortably in the capsule hostel. Stayed a bit more in bed and eventually left at 8:00.

It was raining but, at the same time, it was warm so it felt a bit odd to put the rain jacket on. But I didn’t want to get wet.

Anyway, I started moving towards the first destination: The Philosopher’s Path. But the Heian Jingu Shrine was on the way and I stopped to take some pictures. It seemed too early for the average tourist as it was only me and maybe 5 more people in an area as big as half of a football field.

I got back on the route and started walking towards the Philosopher’s Path. It’s an amazing area for walking and reflection and, again, not that many tourists. But this path was going up north and everything I wanted to see was down south. Didn’t care too much and walked it anyway. Twice because I had to go back. 😅 But nonetheless, I found it very peaceful and didn’t feel like I had to think about anything.

After that, I started walking toward the southern part of Kyoto (everything I wanted to see for today was on this route) and discovered many things that weren’t on my list.

For example, shortly after the Philosopher’s Path, I found the Ekiando Temple and paid 600 yen to explore the area around the temple. I’m happy I did because it was amazing and so was the temple. I think I spent 20-30 minutes just walking on the temple’s wooden paths. This kind of experience is a must if you visit Japan.

There was also a small lake in the garden of the temple and saw there a golden koi fish for the first time. And also an orange one. It was so cool!

After that, I found again some things that weren’t on my list. I visited the Nanzenji Temple, the lecture hall next to it, the waterway bridge, and also paid 600 yen to go to the top of the Nanzenji Sammon Gate.

After that, I visited Chion-in and saw a Buddhist ritual (or at least I think that’s what it was). When I left this area, while taking a photo, I saw a Japanese old man waiting behind me so I could take the photo. I bowed while thanked him for letting me take the picture. He then offered to take a picture of me with my phone and I wasn’t expecting the picture to be so good.

After that, I got to the Kodaiji Temple but didn’t feel like paying another 600 yen to see one more temple, so I kept walking to the next two things on my list: Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka.

On my way, while I was looking around just to see new things, I found a place that was doing caricatures. I went inside and the artist was really. I decided to go for it and have my caricature done for 5000 yen (a scroll to protect the caricature was included). Not too expensive and it was ready in 10 minutes. I found the caricature really funny and I’m happy I did it.

Going back to my route, Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka were full of tourists. So many, I couldn’t even take photos.

After that, I took the metro train to the Imperial Palace so I could see a few more things before going back to the accommodation.

To my surprise, right when I was buying a ticket, I heard someone talking Romanian. These are the the first Romanians I met since the beginning of the trip and it was a family with two children. Usually, I don’t meet other Romanians when I travel. We’re premium rare. 😅

Going back to my sightseeing, the Imperial Palace was closed so I just walked around the area and went back to the accommodation.

Costs:

  • Ekiando temple entry fee: 600 yen
  • Nanzenji Sammon Gate entry fee: 600 yen
  • Charicature: 5000 yen
  • Metro train: 280 yen
  • Food: 917 yen
  • Dinner: 2600 yen

Day 15

3603 yen spent in total

Day 15 in Japan – Kyoto & Nara

Woke up today at 7 with no energy at all and left the accommodation 40 minutes later.

I took the metro train to the Kyoto station and then the train to Nara station. There aren’t that many things to do in Nara, except for seeing a few temples and the main attraction, which is the Nara Park and the deers.

It took me around 2 hours to get to Nara from the accommodation in Kyoto. When I got there, I went to a 7-Eleven to buy some snacks and get some money from the ATM. After looking around for a few minutes, I saw some dried fish and wanted to see how it was. I was a bit unlucky this time with trying out new foods because the fish was bad! Smelled bad and tasted bad so I couldn’t eat it. 😅

After leaving the 7-Eleven, I found quite fast a small park with some benches and deers. I was curious to see if the deers liked the fish so I sat on a bench and waited for the deers to come at me. They loved it!

They loved it so much, even though I had no fish left, they kept smelling it on my hands and wanted more. One of them even tried to eat my shoelaces. 😂 Crazy ravagers! As long as you keep feeding them, they keep eating.

After I fed my fish to the deers, I canceled all my plans for the day and decided to walk around Nara Park and explore it. For today, I also had a temple and a shrine on my list, but I felt like walking in the park was enough for today.

While walking, I purchased some food for the deers (200 yen for 10 biscuits) and started to feed them one by one, randomly. A deer was a bit too hungry (or just crazy) and bit my ass thinking that I have more food. 😂 I had, but not for that specific deer.

I realized that as long as the deers see you have food or see you taking food out of your pocket, they’ll chase you. So I put the biscuits inside my pocket and took them out, one by one, when no deer was around. After giving a deer that one biscuit, it didn’t chase me because it thought I had none left. Today I mind tricked the deers! 🤡

Also, there are two interesting things:

  1. If you bow before giving food to the deers, they also bow.
  2. If you show your empty hands and raise your shoulders 🤷‍♂️, they understand that you don’t have food anymore and they leave you alone.

I kept walking in Nara Park for a few hours and after that I took the train back to Kyoto. It was a nice day and I’m glad I didn’t do too many thing.

In these first 2 weeks I walked over 250 kilometers.

Costs:

  • Metro: 220 yen
  • Train to Nara: 720 yen
  • Snacks: 500 yen
  • Deer snacks: 200 yen
  • Train to kyoto: 720 yen
  • Metro: 260 yen
  • Food: 983 yen

Day 16

3078 yen spent in total

Day 16 in Japan – Kyoto

Woke up at 6 today, before my alarm went on.

Shortly after, I went to the lounge and looked at my budget for Japan. I realized quite fast that I don’t know what I spent around 6000 yen on, in the first half of the journey. Basically, they’re missing. Practically, I must have spent them on something. 😅

I’ll check it when I get back home as I write down every day how much money I spend and on what.

I left the accommodation at 7 and took the metro train to get close to the Togetsukyo Bridge. After I got there and enjoyed the area, I wanted to visit the monkey park next to the bridge but it was closed for another hour. So I kept walking along the river with the next destination in mind: the bamboo forest.

This walking area was so nice that I randomly found a beautiful park along the way with a few observation decks. I took my time there, had some rest, and captured the great landscapes on my phone.

After looking at Google Maps, I realized that the bamboo forest was next to me so I went there. But I wasn’t too happy about it. The bamboo forest is such a tourist trap. A way too small forest with soo many tourists.

Since this was everything I had for today on my list, I checked Google Maps again and saw Mount Ogura close enough – around 30 minutes away, so I went there. But soon enough I ended up on a highway and there was no path to the mountain. Not even through the highway. 😂 The good part was that there were zero tourists. The time was 9:20 and I decided to walk back to the accommodation and listen to some music.

On my way back, I found a place with some souvenirs and beautiful postal cards. Got 5 postal cards for 500 yen (quite cheap – the price is usually double or more) for some friends back home. And then stopped at another one and got a really nice Japanese bell.

I haven’t eaten anything yet but I’ll buy something later, after I wash my clothes.

That’s it for today. I’m going to work a bit and relax. Tomorrow I’m changing the city and going to Hiroshima for 2 nights.

PS: today I started to feel like I don’t want to see any castle, temple, or shrine anymore. I saw too many 😅

PPS: since the first days in Tokyo, I realized how dumb, disrespectful, disorganized, careless, and unpatient tourists are. The more I walk around tourists, the less I feel like I want to travel.

Costs:

  • Metro: 200 yen
  • Postal cards: 500 yen
  • Gift: 400 yen
  • Metro back: 200 yen
  • Wash + dry clothes: 600 yen
  • Food: 1178 yen

Day 17

13032 yen spent in total

Day 17 in Japan – Hiroshima

Woke up at 6 because I couldn’t sleep anymore. It was cold in the room, probably because of the AC.

Left the accommodation at 7 and went to the Kyoto station so I could take the Shinkansen to Hiroshima. But boarded on the wrong metro train and rode 4 stations in the wrong direction. 😂 It’s fine, I just blame the guy I was speaking with for distracting me.

When I arrived at the Kyoto station, I went to the ticket vending machine and paid 10770 yen for the Shinkansen from Kyoto to Hiroshima. Cheaper than what Google Maps suggested (11940 yen). I also had a non-reserved seat, which meant I could only take a seat from the first few cars (depending on the Shinkansen – but usually the first 2 or 3). And I’m happy because I found a window seat.

These trains are expensive but are fast. It’s a direct train and the alternative is not worth it.

After arriving in Hiroshima, I got some snacks from 7-Eleven and went to the Peace Memorial Park. It’s a beautiful area, surrounded by water, with lots of benches where you can sit and do nothing. And that’s exactly what I did for 30 minutes or so.

I have 2 nights in Hiroshima and, from what I heard, people come here for half a day. They don’t even sleep here. So I probably have plenty of time.

Shortly after my break, Riccardo (an Italian guy I met three days in Kyoto’s hostel) showed up and we went together to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

The museum was interesting as I learned many things about the atomic bombs from less than 100 years ago and the tragic stories of Japanese people.

After that, me and Riccardo went to eat something and I tried the Hiroshima-style Okonomiyaki, which didn’t impress me too much. I’m still in love with karaage since the first day in Tokyo. 😅 But the experience was nice, as we saw the food being prepared in front of us.

After we ate, we walked a bit more around the Peace Memorial Park to see the entire area.

Next, Riccardo took the train and the ferry to Miyajima Island, which is what I’m going to do tomorrow, and I went to my accommodation. It’s another capsule hostel but this is not as fancy as the previous one. But it’s only for two nights.

Costs:

  • Metro: 260 yen
  • Shinkansen to Hiroshima: 10770 yen
  • Snacks: 602 yen
  • Hiroshima peace memorial museum fee: 200 yen
  • Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki: 1200 yen

Day 18

6972 yen spent in total

Day 18 in Japan – Hiroshima & Miyajima Island

Woke up at 5:50 and left the hostel 30 min later. On my way out, I accidentally knocked down the sign at the entrance door of the hostel that said the location was open/closed. It was quite big and it made a lot of noise.  😂

Went to the metro train and Google Maps said the earliest one was leaving at 8:26, but the time was 6:38. I asked some Japanese guy from the metro train, what was going on and he tried to help me, but I had the feeling he didn’t understand what I was asking for. He was helping me even after the metro left and that was my main problem – that I would have to wait 2 hours in the metro, which didn’t feel right anyway. 😂

After 4 stations, I changed the metro to get as close as possible to Miyajima Island. But even though I asked the guy from the ticket counter if I was on the right platform and he confirmed, I boarded on the wrong train and rode it for 2 stations. It seemed like I had to change the train after one station but I had to learn it the hard way. 😅 And I had to change it once again a bit later, but this time I heard the announcer say it and I got out of the train in time. This was the most chaotic experience with public transportation in Japan until now. Anyway, I’m happy I didn’t have to pay extra.

With my learning process, it was a total of one hour of metro and train riding. If I felt a bit sleepy after I left the accommodation, now I was fully awakened.

Eventually, I got out of the train and jumped into the ferry boat to reach Miyajima Island and walked for a few minutes. And there it was: the famous tori gate (which is named Itsukushima Shrine but I’ll just keep calling it tori gate), as big as it can be.

Even if it was 8 in the morning, there were a lot of tourists on the island. At least on the road to the tori gate.

When I got to the tori gate’s deck, I had to pay 300 yen to have access to this better area for taking photos. It was also a nice short walk.

After I was sure I had enough photos, I took a break as the plan was to spend here half of the day and wait for the water levels to get lower. But I think I got there too early as I would have had to wait until 5 PM to be able to walk next to the tori gate.

30 minutes later, I started walking again around the area, as I found a short hiking route. Saw a snake right before the hiking route and a small park with probably a few dozen of deers right at the beginning of the hiking route. It was only me and the wildlife in the area and, after 10-15 minutes of walking, I decided to go back.

But I took a slightly different route and, on this route, I saw some old staircases made of stone, that were leading to some higher ground. I was hoping to get a nice view of the tori gate. But as soon as I reached the top, a few big nasty bees appeared and started to aggressively fly around me, so I ran back. 😂 I’m glad they didn’t actually attack me. It was more of a warning.

So I went back to where I took the previous break and decided to stay there a little bit longer before heading back to town.

As I relaxed, I saw more and more tourists come in the area and decided not to wait for the water level to drop.

15 min later I started walking again and found a shop from where I purchased 5 fridge magnets to get back home with me. And since I also was close to the ropeway experience, I decided to do exactly that and paid 2000 yen.

The ropeway up was amazing and a bit scary, as I don’t really like adrenaline-related experiences and I think I was 100+ meters above the surface.

After the ropeway, I hiked for 20 minutes to reach two observatory decks. The views were amazing and I’m happy I invested 2000 yen into this experience. And I’m also happy I came this early to Miyajima Island because as soon as I went back to the ropeway so I could get the ferry and leave the island (around 1 PM), an ocean of tourists appeared out of nowhere. But it’s Saturday so it’s understandable.

If you ever come to Miyajima Island, make sure you add the ropeway to your itinerary. For sure, it’s a must!

So I took the ferry and the train back to Hiroshima, this time with no problems. 😅

After arriving in the city, I walked 15 minutes to a restaurant so I could try Tsukemen. It was pretty interesting for a weird ramen.

Costs:

  • Metro: 190 yen + 330 yen
  • Ferry round trip: 500 yen
  • Entry fee: 300 yen
  • 5 fridge magnets: 1000 yen
  • Ropeway round trip: 2000 yen
  • Metro: 190 yen + 330 yen
  • Tsukemen: 1300 yen
  • Snacks: 832 yen
Japan day 19 - Kitakyushu

Day 19

7940 yen spent in total

Day 19 in Japan – Kitakyushu

Woke up at 6 and left the accommodation at 6:45. It looked like the rain just stopped and all the streets were quiet. But 10 minutes later it started raining again.

I walked slowly to the train station so I could get to the next city: Kitakyushu.

After waiting 30 mins for the train to arrive and another 50 mins with the train, I was in Kitakyushu. I’ll sleep here only one night and I don’t have too many things on my list. From what I can see on Google Maps and the little research I did, it seems like this city is a hiking city, with a few mountains nearby and a ropeway experience. But I’m too tired of any of these so I’ll take it easy.

After arriving in Kitakyushu, I noticed it was pouring rain. And I also checked the weather only to see if was going to rain all day long. If I had known, I would have left a bit later the accommodation, but I didn’t check. 😅

It rained the whole day in Kitakyushu and I walked through the rain for more than 10 kilometers. And because of the heavy rain, I only saw two things today. And also passed the Kokura Castle but didn’t want to go inside. Except for Osaka Castle, no more castles!

First, I went to a zoo and I was the only tourist there. I saw some flamingos, a tiger, and some goats trying to hide themselves from the rain.

Then, I went to the Toto Museum (a museum of toilets). While the toilets were interesting and the museum wasn’t bad at all, their customer experience was top-notch!

As soon as I entered the museum, I went to the information office to ask if they had a hair dryer. They didn’t speak English, so they used a mobile app to translate. They said they didn’t have a hair dryer but gave me some towels and took me to a really spacious bathroom where I could dry myself.

They also gave me access to a locker room to put my backpack and, when I left, they offered to give me an umbrella and two more towels. I politely declined because the hostel was 20 minutes of walking away and I was already soaking wet.

When I arrived at the hostel, the customer experience was shit. I was there earlier than my check-in hour and asked if I could use the bathroom but they told me that I could only use it after the check-in. I tried to explain that it was raining and I was wet but they didn’t care. I was surprised they even let me stay inside, at a table, but my clothes were still wet.

Fuck them. I’m staying here only 1 night so it doesn’t matter.

While waiting for the check-in, I opened my backpack and took some dried socks and a T-shirt to put on. After check-in, I’ll get something to eat from a conbini. (later edit: found some snacks in the backpack, ate them, and didn’t feel the need to eat anything else)

Costs:

  • Shinkansen to kokura station: 7140 yen
  • Entry zoo: 800 yen

Day 20

9792 yen spent in total

Day 20 in Japan – Nagasaki

Woke up at 5:50 and stayed in bed for almost one hour. Tried to stay longer, but I just wanted to leave. Eventually left the hostel at 7:40 and went to the train station, which was only 10 minutes away. On my way to the train station, I entered a conbini to buy some snacks.

Didn’t have to wait for the train as it was waiting for me at the station. But I had to ask for help to buy the ticket.

Today I had to change the train two times and they were a bit slow. But also not so expensive. The first train took a bit over two hours. The second train took 40 mins. And the third train took 30 mins (this was a shinkansen). All for 6880 yen. On the second train, the conductor also checked my ticket.

The weather in Nagasaki was so sunny, I decided to get some proper food. So I searched on Google Maps for miso ramen and found a place that was closing pretty soon. So I walked from the train station directly to the restaurant and enjoyed a good miso ramen.

Then I walked around the city for about one hour, to get to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. I was curious to see how different it was compared to the one in Hiroshima. I think it was more enjoyable because, compared to the museum in Hiroshima, the one in Nagasaki had only a few visitors. Because of this, I was able to take my time and follow the story of the atomic bomb.

I also purchased some cute pins to give as gifts and also keep for myself.

After that, I took a break in the Peace Park. For some reason, I felt tired. Maybe it was because I walked with the backpack all day.

On the way to the accommodation, I also made a small detour to see the one legged tori gate. It wasn’t too impressive but it seems to be an important historic landmark.

Costs:

  • Snacks: 712 yen
  • Train from kokura station to tosu station: 1680 yen
  • Train from tosu station to takeo-onsen station: 2130 yen
  • Train from takeo-onsen station to nagasaki station: 3070 yen
  • Miso ramen: 1100 yen
  • 5x Pin as gifts: 1100 yen

Day 21

5268 yen spent in total

Day 21 in Japan – Nagasaki

Woke up today at 5:50 and stayed in bed for around 2 hours. Then eventually left the hostel at 8:30.

Today was a walking day and I wanted to visit a few parks, the first one being next to the harbor. It’s called Nagasaki Seaside Park and it’s a beautiful area. I could have stayed here all day long but I only took a short break of maybe 20 minutes.

After the short break, I went to the Nagasaki Koshibyo Confucius Shrine and Historical Museum of China. The shrine was pretty impressive, as I saw the different statues of Confucius’s disciples. I also enjoyed the experience of the museum and saw some beautiful art but I was disappointed to see that everything was in Japanese. No English translation whatsoever.

Next, I visited the Glover Garden. It’s a huge garden and I think I spent at least 2 minutes on the escalators to get to the top of the garden, which was also the beginning of the route. Many beautiful flowers and trees around here. For sure, it was worth the entry fee (only 620 yen). There was also an observation point at the top of the garden from where you could see the entire city. Plus, they seemed to like Scottish/Irish music as it was played from the speakers all over the garden. 😅

The exit of the garden was through the Nagasaki Traditional Performing Arts Center, which I liked. Also, at the end of the center, I got some matcha powder. I don’t like the taste of matcha (yes, sue me 😅) but my mother said she wanted to try so it seemed like a good opportunity. Also, it was quite cheap. 30 grams for less than 600 yen.

After the garden, I wanted to go to Mt. Nabekanmuri Park. I walked uphill all the way to the entrance of the park (or somewhere close to it) and, as soon as I saw a big black bee, I thought to myself ‘fuck no!’ and went back. After my interaction with some of these bees from a few days ago, whenever I see them, I start running backward. 😅

So I found a bench in a nearby area and stood there until I felt a bit hungry.

And since today it was pizza day in Italy (no, it’s not, but I needed my excuses) I searched for a restaurant where I could try some pizza. I skipped so many Italian restaurants here in Japan until now and I told myself that I should try it once. Today was that day!

I walked around 30-40 minutes from where I was to the Italian restaurant and ordered a quattro formaggi pizza. They also had one with fries on it but decided not to go to the extreme. 😅

The pizza was not so good as it lacked cheese (it was so little cheese) but the sundae dessert was good. And I paid a bit more than expected but I wanted to try it. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. In 10 days I’ll be in Italy and I’ll indulge then in proper pasta, pizza, and focaccia. PANETTONEE!!!

In this Italian-ish restaurant was the first time I saw Japanese people using forks and they struggled. 😂 It was so funny because I saw myself using chopsticks when I looked at them using forks.

After my Italian experience in Japan, I went back to the accommodation and went inside a conbini as well to get some snacks. I had to refill my backpack supplies. 🤭

Costs:

  • Nagasaki Koshibyo Confucius Shrine and Historical Museum of China: 660 yen
  • Glover Garden: 620 yen
  • Matcha powder: 572 yen
  • Quattto formaggi pizza + sundae: 2343 yen
  • Snacks: 573 yen
  • Wash + dry clothes: 500 yen
Japan day 22 - Okayama

Day 22

20340 yen spent in total

Day 22 in Japan – Okayama

After waking up at 6 in the morning, I had two thoughts:

first: it seems like the first part of the trip was more fun. Around the period I was in Kyoto, things started to get a bit boring and, at the same time, I started to get more tired.

second: I started feeling that waking up at 6 is not too early and it should be my waking up hour. I’m an old man. 😅

Anyway, I left the hostel at 7:15 and walked for about 20 minutes to get to the train station. Today, I went all the way from Nagasaki to Okayama, which means almost 600 kilometers and, since two of the three trains were Shinkansens, it took me only 3 hours and 15 minutes to reach the destination (the waiting time in train stations is not included). In total, to travel to Okayama, just for the train tickets, I paid 18000 yen (a bit over 100 eur).

Today, according to the original plan, I should have taken the train to Kumamoto, but I canceled the reservation and booked one more night in Okayama. I did this a week ago, when I started to feel tired and canceling Kumamoto seemed to be the right decision. I would have spent an extra 20000 yen on the trip and Kumamoto doesn’t have that many things to see. And right now, as I’m writing this, I feel like it was the right decision.

While I was on the train to Okayama, I started getting a bit hungry and I searched on Google Maps for a place to eat. I saw a restaurant with burgers and told myself that if yesterday I tried pizza, today I should try a burger. When I checked the restaurant’s location, I realized it was only 10 minutes away from the train station. Perfect!

When I got there, I realized it was more of a small bar than a restaurant but with an amazing vibe. It felt like the place where you could easily befriend some strangers on a Friday night and it seemed to be managed by only one person. The place is called Raccos Burger. I ordered a burger with avocado. It was good but kind of small. And they also had kaarage, which is my favorite Japanese food. 💚 This time, the kaarage was with some sort of mayo chili sauce and I think I like more the classic one. 🕺 Also, this was the first time I used a fork to eat food in Japan. The owner just brought me a fork with the burger, without even asking for it, bot no chopsticks.

I wanted to tip the owner/chef/manager/waitress but she didn’t want to take the extra money. I really liked the food.

After finishing my food, I started walking towards the Okayama Castle and the Korakuen Garden, my two things for today. But I also took a short break by the Asahi River.

The castle was quite impressive but sadly there was no English translation of anything inside the castle. They transformed the castle into a museum and now, on every one of the 5 floors, there was a piece of history. I got to hold a samurai sword though, so I’m happy about the experience.

On the other hand, the garden (which is basically a small island) is a huge place, carefully taken care of, with amazing flowers, trees and plants. You can walk around for two hours and not get bored or tired. Just for this garden, I believe it’s worth visiting Okayama. Such a beautiful place.

After visiting the castle and the garden, I walked to the accommodation, which was 25 minutes away. The hotel is nice and I’m glad I’m staying here for two nights.

Costs:

  • Nagasaki station to takeo-onsen station: 3070 yen
  • Takeo-onsen station to hataka station: 2880 yen
  • Hakata station to okayama station: 12100 yen
  • Hamburger + kaarage: 1650 yen
  • Okayama castle + garden: 640 yen

Day 23

2341 yen spent in total

Day 23 in Japan – Okayama

Another day when I woke up at 5:50 but this time I decided to meditate and listen to music, and eventually left the accommodation at 8:30.

Since Okayama is not a big city, the main (and probably only) thing I had on my mind for today was the zoo. And also walking around the city and see if the city had anything to offer besides what I saw on Google Maps. There seemed to be a few parks, but not so many.

As soon as I got out of the hotel, I noticed the strong wind and, even though I didn’t like it, I was happy it wasn’t raining.

On my way to the zoo, I walked on some narrow streets where you could barely fit a car and, probably because of that, many people were cycling on these streets.

I stopped at a conbini to buy some food and snacks to try out new things and one of the snacks was a combination of peanuts with spicy pepper. The odd part was that the pepper was dried, cut, and then put inside the bag. I think inside the bag were a total of two medium-sized peppers. At first, the taste was interesting but as soon as I drank some water, I started sweating and feeling all the spiciness. It was like it had a delayed effect.

The zoo experience was a bit sad as I saw too many animals held in captivity, where the cages were too small and too dirty. It seemed to be the only zoo in Okayama and that should have been the extra reason to properly take care of it. The only thing I liked was the variety of species but nothing else.

After visiting the zoo, I started walking the streets of Okayama for around 2-3 hours and walked so far, I crossed a bridge and felt like the wind was going to swipe my feet off the ground. But I got to an area that wasn’t so populated, not even by Japanese people.

Eventually, the wind got so bad that I felt like it was time to get back to the accommodation and that was a great decision. 10 minutes before getting back to the hotel, it started raining but not enough to even wet my hair.

Today was a short day and I’m happy about it.

Costs:

  • Snacks & food: 709 yen + 332 yen = 1041 yen
  • Ikeda zoo: 1300 yen
Japan day 24 - Naoshima Island

Day 24

5062 yen spent in total

Day 24 in Japan – Naoshima Island

Woke up today at 5:25 with a single thought on my mind: today I’m going to an island and sleeping there for two nights. But it was a bit to early and I tried to back to sleep. No success in that regard.

Left the hotel at 6:40 and went to the train station, which was 2 minutes away. After I got there and purchased the ticket, I realized I had to wait one hour for the train to arrive. 😅 Since I’ll use the same train in two days, when I’ll go to Osaka, I’ll keep in mind the long waiting time.

After the train ride, I got to the ferry port and got my ticket for Naoshima Island. Since the 7-Eleven was 100 meters away, I went inside and got some rice crackers and then waited for around 40 minutes for the ferry to come.

When I arrived on the island, the first thing I did was to go to the other side of it (east of the island). But the island is quite small and it took me around 30 minutes. And then, the quest began.

On the island, there are 6 house art projects and when you buy the ticket to visit all of them, you get to collect their small stamps after each visit. So it took me around 1 hour (maybe a bit more) to see all of them.

I was happy with the experience. The houses had specific and distict design and I felt different in each of them. The interior of one of the houses was in complete darkness and I was in there with a group of people. Whether you had your eyes open or closed, it didn’t matter. It was all pitch black. And the whole experience was around 10 minutes, 5 of which we sat on a bench.

It’s so crazy to see that some people (well, most of them) can’t fucking sit still for a few minutes. They were moving, looking at their phones (even though it wasn’t allowed), and always in a hurry. The experience itself was great but the people in the group …

Moving on, I also entered some sort of stone cave. It was small but also narrow and, because I went inside with my backpack, I couldn’t turn around. 😂 But luckily, at the end of it, I had enough space to turn and move.

After that, I went to the closest beach (probably 5 minutes away) and I spent around 1 hour there. It was really nice to sit on the sand and do nothing.

While I was at the beach, I remembered that a tourist I met on the island told me about a nice museum, so I booked my entry for tomorrow. The fee was 1500 yen and I hope it’s worth the money. The photos on Google Maps are nice. So are the reviews.

Then, I decided to walk in the direction of the museum anyway. It was close, another beach was there, so why not?

I think I stayed on this beach for another 30 minutes and then checked for some places with food on Google Maps. To get back to the ferry port, I had to walk for one hour but I really enjoyed it. I walked along the water, up on the mountains (or hills), with some amazing landscapes on the way.

The place I found on Google Maps mentioned falafel in the menu and I was really curious. But when I got there, it was closed. As was everything else. So I found a conbini and bought some food from there.

Eventually, I went to my accommodation and checked in. I am staying in a twin room – the last available and I booked it two months ago. The island is amazing but cheap accommodation is difficult to find here.

Costs:

  • Train from okayama station to uno station: 590 yen
  • Ferry to naoshima: 300 yen
  • Snacks: 290 yen
  • House art projects: 1050 yen
  • Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery: Time Corridors entry fee: 1500 yen
  • Food: 1332 yen

Day 25

2600 yen spent in total

Day 25 in Japan – Naoshima Island

Woke up at 5:05 today and I felt like, the more I’m staying in Japan, the earlier I’ll wake up. Eventually, I’ll start waking up before going to sleep. 😅

Since today I wanted to rent a bicycle and the shop opened at 8:30, which was also 5 minutes away from the accommodation, I wanted to stay inside before the shop opening hours. But I couldn’t. I think I left the accommodation at 7 and then waited around the ferry station area, which was next to the bicycle shop. I said to myself that it was better to wait outside in the sun than to stay in bed.

Eventually, I rented the bicycle for the whole day for 1500 yen (good price) and, after around 1 hour of riding it, I explored everything I didn’t explore yesterday.

At first, I went up north, but I was not allowed in that area as it seemed to be full of chemical factories and other industrial buildings.

So I kept cycling and taking breaks until 11:30, when I had my ticket for the Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery.

The gallery was interesting. I looked at various art and attended a short tea ceremony where I tried Sencha and ate a small Japanese dessert. Overall, a great experience and, if you intend to come here (which I recommend) you have to purchase your tickets online the day before.

After the gallery, I felt a bit tired and decided to circle the island once more on my bicycle and go back to the accommodation. I also got some food on the way.

Costs:

  • Bicycle rent: 1500 yen
  • Food: 1100 yen
Japan day 26 - Osaka

Day 26

11810 yen spent in total

Day 26 in Japan – Osaka

Woke up today at 5:15, even though I set my alarm for 6:00. I don’t even know why I have an alarm anymore. I stayed in bed for a short while and left the accommodation at 6:15 to catch the ferry for Uno Station and then the train for Okayama.

It all went pretty smoothly as I only waited 5-10 mins for the ferry to arrive.

Then, when I arrived at Okayama station, looked for the Shinkansen ticket vending machine and purchased one for 5680 yen. 40 minutes later (around 9 in the morning) I was in Osaka, my last city for this Japan trip.

When I arrived in Osaka, it was raining a bit, but not too much. The first thing I tried to find was the Pokemon Center, as Google Maps showed me it was in the same building as Osaka station. To my surprise, it was on the 13th floor. Also, I was 30 minutes before the opening time and the elevator didn’t want to take me to the 13th floor so I had to wait. 😅 But I walked around a bit just to get a feeling of this immense building.

Eventually, I got to the Pokemon Center and it was … overcrowded. It triggered my anxiety so many times. But yeah, I remembered it was Sunday. I didn’t buy anything but I told myself I’ll come tomorrow when hopefully it won’t be as crowded as it is right now.

I took the metro train to the accommodation, left my backpack there and then I went out again, to walk around the city, find some souvenirs, and look for something to eat. It was still raining but I didn’t feel the need to borrow an umbrella.

I ended up walking to Dotonbori, a huge market full of shops. And when I say huge, I mean shop next to shop on top of another shop, inside buildings of 5 floors, and thousands of pedestrians. It was crazy and it triggered my anxiety more than I would have wanted. But I really looked forward to exploring this part of the city and also buying some souvenirs. I think I spent there around 3-4 hours, just walking. Eventually, I found a shop with souvenirs and bought some maneki neko (lucky cats). Meow! 😸

After that, I decided to go back to the accommodation by the metro train and also get some food on the way.

Tomorrow I intend to go back to the Pokemon Center and the Dotonbori market because I’m curious how many people are during the week. And also because I didn’t purchase anything from the Pokemon Center. Other than that, I’ll visit Osaka Castle and Osaka Aquarium tomorrow. I hope it’s not too much as they are in different parts of the city.

When I got to the accommodation center, I washed my clothes and decided not to go out again today as it was still raining.

Costs:

  • Ferry to uno: 300 yen
  • Train from uno station to okayama station: 590 yen
  • Shinkansen from okayama station to shin-osaka station: 5680 yen
  • Train from shin-osaka station to osaka station: 170 yen
  • Metro: 240 yen
  • Maneki neko: 3630 yen
  • Metro: 180 yen
  • Food: 1020 yen

Day 27

28205 yen spent in total

Day 27 in Japan – Osaka

Woke up at 5 and I tried to sleep some more but that was impossible. Instead, I got out of bed and organized a few things to make sure I knew what souvenirs I needed to buy and what I wanted to do today. I also unpacked everything I bought until now. That whole process took a bit over an hour.

Around 9:30, I left the accommodation and took the metro train to the Pokemon Center.

By mistake, I went to the wrong metro station (it was close to the one I actually had to go to) and purchased a metro ticket. Soon enough, I realized that I wasted 290 yen. 😅 Now I’ll keep this ticket as a souvenir.

I got to the Pokemon Center a few minutes after opening and there were not too many people, but 15 minutes later it got a bit crowded. I looked for a few things and one of the things I purchased I don’t even know what it was. 😂 Good deal!

Next, I went to Don Quijote to buy some fridge magnets and KitKat with wasabi flavor. I tasted them later and they’re not my kind of dessert. Wasabi is not for me. But I think I tried around 10 kinds of KitKat here in Japan. YOLO!

After Don Quijote, I checked Google Maps for a shop with kimonos I found yesterday. I walked for around 10-15 minutes and I was surprised to see kimonos at decent prices. To understand how cheap were the prices, let’s just say I spent less on one kimono than what I spent at the Pokemon Center.

After that, I went back home to eat and to leave all the things I bought and purchased food on my way.

Then I took a one-hour break to just relax a bit and then went out again to see the Osaka Aquarium. But first, I walked for 30 minutes to get to a souvenir shop and buy some postal cards because it seemed I needed a few more. 😅

Took the metro train to the aquarium. The more I travel by the metro train in Osaka, the more I am impressed with how impressive the underground network of metro trains is. 

When I got to the aquarium area, there was a ferris wheel and decided to give it a try. The views were pretty nice but I had some difficulties as I don’t really enjoy heights or any kind of adrenaline-related activities. In the gondola next to mine, there were 3 guys and they were waving at everyone. 😂

After that, I went to the aquarium. Pretty happy with the experience as there were many species of fish and also enough space for them in the aquarium. I liked that, at first, I walked up, before seeing anything, and then, as the exploration of the aquarium started, I went down, little by little, as I was diving into the water. Some areas were crowded, but not so many. Overall, a great experience!

Oh, and right before going inside the aquarium, I paid 1500 yen for a physical photo with a shark behind me (no, not a real shark). Overpriced, for sure, but I had some extra cash and I felt like it was better to have this photo than to go back home with some yen in my wallet.

PS: I think it would have been better to get a 1-day metro pass for 890 yen. I mean, for sure it would have been but I didn’t know I would use the metro this much today (spent around 2000 yen on metro tickets today).

PPS: I would have loved to explore the city by foot by I’m too tired for that. Nonetheless, I still walked 14 KM.

Costs:

  • Wrong metro train: 290 yen
  • Metro ticket: 290 yen
  • Pokemon gift: 5100 yen
  • Metro ticket: 240 yen
  • Don Quijote: 3610 yen
  • Kimono gifts: 9020 yen
  • Metro ticket: 190 yen
  • Food: 1340 yen
  • Postal cards: 1650 yen
  • Metro: 240 yen
  • Metro: 240 yen
  • Feeris wheel: 900 yen
  • Aquarium fee: 2700 yen
  • Photo: 1500 yen
  • Metro: 290 yen
  • Metro: 240 yen
  • Food: 365 yen

Day 28

9433 yen spent in total

Day 28 in Japan – Osaka

I started today with the plan to relax more than anything. Tomorrow I plan on having the same plan as I won’t go back home after Japan and need to manage my energy a bit better.

The first thing I did today was to go to a Ramen Cooking Class with a professional chef. I booked it around two months ago and it started at 9:30, so I left the accommodation at 8:30, just to be sure, and took the metro train to get closer to the location.

I got to the cooking class a few minutes earlier and it was me and one more person attending the class. I learned a few new things about ramen and understood how difficult it can be to properly cook ramen. I don’t see myself doing that anytime soon 😅 but I may use the knowledge when cooking in general.

Because we were only two people attending the class, I felt more connected to the experience and the chef (who was also the owner of the place) took the time to explain things in detail and also answer our questions. The place is called 麺や修 ~shu~ and I booked the class through Japanbyfood.

After the ramen cooking class was over, I walked for around 1 hour to get to the Osaka Castle but when I got there, there was a queue of at least 100 people and didn’t have the energy to stay in line. So I just walked around the area of the castle and enjoyed the views.

Eventually, I decided to go back to the accommodation and got some sweets on the way.

I thought about it and tomorrow I won’t go anywhere. I think I saw enough of Japan and even though I still have 1-2 things on my list for Osaka, I feel like I need to rest more than anything.

Costs:

  • Metro: 240 yen
  • Pen + water: 306 yen
  • Food: 1231 yen
  • Don Quijote: 2104 yen
  • Metro: 240 yen
  • Choco gift: 312 ye
  • Ramen Cooking Class: 5000 yen

PS: After buying some food for 1636 yen, I spent day 29 in bed, relaxing. I left Osaka on day 30 and paid 970 yen for the metro ticket from the accommodation to the airport.

If you want to see more photos, check my Instagram account @davidtheoptimist.

Final thoughts after visiting Japan for one month

In life, we have many things that seem out of our reach. For me, less than one year ago, visiting Japan was one of these things. I used to think Japan was too expensive and that belief was holding me back from doing any kind of further research or even thinking about it.

Maybe you have in your life things that you would want but because they seem too big, you give up even thinking about them. This is an invitation to reconsider the things that you put inside the ‘impossible’ or ‘not right now’ boxes and maybe set yourself a new challenge.

Don’t let the current version of you decide how your life will be one year from now. Instead, encourage the current version of who you are to become someone who has the resources needed to do the things you want to do.

All the costs

  • Accommodation: 138136 yen (around 813 euros)
  • Food & drinks: 65470 yen (around 386 euros)
  • Transportation: 95090 yen (around 564 euros)
  • Entry fees: 37470 yen (around 219 euros)
  • Gifts: 48058 (around 283 euros)
  • Wash & Dry clothes: 2000 yen (around 12 euros)
  • Others: 1596 yen (around 10 euros)
  • Internet: 50 euros
  • Plane tickets: 900 euros

Total costs for one month in Japan: 3237 euros