Recently I went on an impromptu trip to Japan for a week courtesy of Air Canada and the Japanese National Tourism Organization. They brought me to the best places in both Tokyo and one of the most beautiful regions of the country called Tohoku. I got to see everything from the best restaurants to try traditional Japanese cuisine and new strange foods, to the most fashionable shopping districts and stunning scenic views.
If you’re looking for adventure, Japan is one of those places that you’ll get exactly that. I got to experience an entirely new culture that I was totally unfamiliar with and I loved it so much, I would go back to Japan in a heart beat!
Luckily for you guys,I vlogged the entire trip on YouTube to share my experience and show you guys what Japan is really like! You can follow my journey along with me right here below or scroll down for my listed guide to the best spots to hit up when you visit!
Let’s get started and say hello to Japan:
Hot Springs/Onsen – Mount Iwate
Let’s take it back a few thousand years and get close to nature in the most authentic way possible–naked of course! Forget all your worries and chill in a natural hot spring literally among the most astonishingly beautiful mountainous scenery for an afternoon. It’ll cost you about $7 and leave you feeling so rejuvenated, I swear.
One of Tokyo’s most iconic scenes where thousands of people cross one of the busiest intersections of the city. If you sit up in the Starbucks in the building above the streets, you can catch a great view to watch the incredible movement. Traffic has never been so interesting! It’s also a great area lit up by the famous city signs and neon lights (for the ‘gram of course!).
A long shopping strip lined with traditional style boutiques and shops. Here you can get your fix of Japanese treats, snacks, gifts, jewellery, and even pick up yourself a high quality Yakuta or Kimono. We spent about 2 hours here and there’s a great selection of authentic restaurants for lunch. Udon, anyone?
Snapchat filters just got a run for their money! Visit Purikura in Harajuko and 10X your photo booth experience! With hundreds of looks to choose from, you can select one of the many photo booths to enter and strike a pose. After you get to touch screen edit your photos adding anything from text to extra makeup. Probably the best souvenir I took home!
Bullet Train to Tohoku
Japan is much more than Tokyo. Hop on one of the famous bullet trains to the northern region of Tohoku where you’ll ride through Japanese country side which is worth the ticket just by itself. Sit back, grab a bento box, and experience the beautiful scenery of lush rice fields surrounded by majestic mountains.
No questions asked, this is Tokyo’s top hotel and the ultimate luxury experience.Each room was designed specifically with an artistic concept in mind with panoramic views of the city, an incredible restaurant and breakfast buffet, touch screen controlled rooms and robot toilets, the Prince Gallery is totally worth the splurge.
Tokyo Train Station
To be honest, I did most of my Tokyo shopping here (only because this was the only opportunity to shop really) but the goodies you’ll find here? Oh my! With an incredible selection of sweets and treats to stock up on, high quality Japanese beauty products, accessories, chopsticks and much much more!
Gwen Stefani doesn’t lie–“Harajuku girl you got that wicked style!” Japanese street style lives and breathes in this neighbourhood. Filled with modern shops and buzzing entertainment, Harajuku has been the hot spot for some time now for high energy eclectic subculture and cutting-edge fashion. Definitely a staple experience when visiting Tokyo!
Extra tips for travelling to Japan:
Customs and Manners:
Culturally, i find Japan very different from North America in the way that one must act when interacting with others in public. Japanese manners are heavily built on a foundation of hospitality, politeness, and courtesy. When greeting someone or walking in/out of a store/restaurant/hotel it is custom to bow your heads to one another as you say hello or goodbye.
When exchanging anything such as cash, credit cards, or business cards, it’s only polite to give or take the object with two hands while slightly bowing your head.
Eating is another time to pay attention to how you act. It is custom to wash your hands with a wet or warm cloth before eating at the table which most restaurants will provide you with. While eating soup, it is polite to slurp it audibly as to show that you are enjoying the meal to the chefs and servers. Once finished eating, place your chopsticks parallel to one another on top of your bowl–never stick them standing up in your dish.
And of course don’t forget to say “Arigatou” as thank you wherever you go!
People drive and walk on the left side of the roads and side walks, not the right. If you’re taking the escalator in a public station, make sure to stand on the left side to let other people pass walking up the right side.
The Japanese public transit systems are very organized, timely, and smooth. A train or bus will almost never leave before or after its scheduled time and if you miss it, it will not wait for you.
If you are travelling between cities or regions, you will likely take the famous bullet trains. These trains move up to 300km/hour and are incredibly smooth of a ride. This is because after every 200 or so train passes, a “doctor train” will inspect every inch of the tracks with sensors looking for any warps or changes. If something is off even by a few mere millimetres, they fix it immediately!
As a visitor, the best transit pass to get is the 7 Day visitor rail pass here.
Packing and Booking:
Need tips on booking your dream vacation on a budget? Click here for that!
Thank you so much to Air Canada and JNTO for sponsoring this trip and making my experience the best possible all the way from take off to landing! If you’re interested in learning more about Japan click here!