July 21, 2017, 05:45:34 PM


Author Topic: Traveling to japan, first time, alone....any tips for a reserved person?  (Read 1030 times)

Offline hiyase269

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This is my last year in Korea and i haven't gone to any of the places i wanted to go to since coming here. I want to go to Japan around October, I will be going alone and it will be my first visit to Japan (outside an airport of course). Just need to get some advice from anyone who has gone alone andwhat seemed to be your experience. Any information on accommodations,  cheap flights, best time of year, best way to go (train, ferry or plane). I was thinking of visiting the ghibli museum and J World in Tokyo, however I lose energy in crowds and get tired easily (true introvert). Iwas also thinking of some more traditional areas with temples, tori gates and bamboo groves. Anyway, any advice and tips you can guys can give is greatly appreciated, thank you in advance.

Offline yirj17

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Yo!  So I've been in Japan twice, once with a big group and once solo.  Had an amazing time both trips.  Definitely get yourself to Japan!  I'm going again this summer vacation. 

For accommodations as a solo traveler, I used Airbnb.  There are some pretty sweet deals to be found (I play it safe and only use ones that have a decent amount of ratings and positive reviews).  Otherwise you could try some hostels/guesthouses.  I think other threads have recommended specific ones, I don't know any myself.  Depends on your budget/preferences.  If you can afford it, at least one night in a traditional inn (ryokan) with an included meal is a cool experience (did that on the big group trip). 

For cheap flights, I do preliminary research on google flights (use incognito mode) and then check out specific airlines.  I've found good deals from Busan/Gimhae airport to Fukuoka, for example.  And since my summer vacation dates were slightly flexible, I was able to find a stellar price by playing around on Air Busan's website.  Someday I'd like to go by ferry but so far plane tickets have always been cheaper, at least at the times I looked into going. 

Since you're looking at October, I would start looking for tickets now, to get an idea of cost, as that's a pretty popular season (tickets are pricier during Chuseok week especially, I checked). Someday I'd like to go during the fall, I hear it's the best time to go!  Otherwise, spring is also popular (cherry blossom season).  So, whenever the weather is nice is recommended.  One day I'd love to see Japan in the winter with tons of snow.

The Ghibli museum is definitely cool if you love Miyazaki films.  You have to buy your tickets online in advance off of the website, you can look at their website for details and I think someone posted about that recently in waygook.  It was super crowded when I went (jam packed with children, children everywhere, up to my ears in children!) and as someone who is also an introvert and averse to huge crowds, seeing the place was still worth it in my opinion.  I'd go again.  If you try going on a weekday it'll probably be less crowded, though it's a very popular destination. 

For more traditional areas, Kyoto is the place to go!  Gotta check out Inari shrine (the fox temple) with tons of red torii gates.  It's a beautiful place and fun to hike through.  Nara (an easy day trip from Kyoto) is also memorable but more for the local deer than the temple itself.  I really loved Kyoto and plan to go back someday when I have more time.  Kyoto is more traditional old Japan where Tokyo is new, technological, modern.  Hiroshima is also a worthwhile visit, if you want to make the trip out there. 

Some questions for you to help guide further responses-- how many days do you plan on staying in Japan?  Do you intend on going back?  Do you like to take your time traveling or would you rather cram in as much as possible? 

Depending on how long you're staying and where you plan on going, a JR pass may or may not be worth your while. 

http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/

I also like this website, has lots of recommendations on places to see:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623a.html

Offline MayorHaggar

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Kyoto is way nicer than Tokyo. Tokyo is like Seoul with cleaner streets and a grungier subway. Osaka is forgettable. Hiroshima is nice and quiet.

Offline turningsteel

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I haven't been to Tokyo but go to Kyoto. You absolutely won't regret it. Stunningly beautiful. If you want the traditional looking Japan like in a studio Ghibli movie, go to Kyoto. Fushimi Inari Shrine, Ginkaku-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Philosopher's Walk, Nijo Castle, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove -- there is so much to see. I went for 7 days last August and was busy every day. Also, I went alone and stayed by myself in an airbnb, I prefer privacy when traveling, but if you want companionship, stay in a hostel.

As for tips, make sure you get the subway card for the Kansai region, it's much cheaper than paying for fares and it works on any public transportation besides the JR high speed rail. Also, pocket wifi. It's like 60 bucks for a week and you can order it online before you go. I used ninja wifi and picked it up at the airport. The wifi is so good and with google maps, you can navigate your way to anywhere. It tells you what bus to take, what subway line, the stops between point A and B. Absolutely indispensable in my opinion.

Offline Dave Stepz

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I've done Hiroshima and Tokyo by myself. 

I went to Hiroshima about 7 years ago for 4 days and loved it.  There is lots to do if you're by yourself as it is a small city and everything is easily reachable.  There is the Peace Park, Hiroshima castle, Peace Memorial Museum and Shukkei-En gardens all of which are really nice just to hang around and take at your own pace.  There are also a lot of really good okonomiyaki restaurants.  Then you can take a tram to Miyajima Gate and go hiking on Itsukushima Island.  There is also a lovely palace there with deer walking around everywhere.  Hiroshima is good for a few days if you want a stop gap.

Tokyo has loads to do.  As it is a massive city, everyone is almost invisible. 

Offline kriztee

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If you['re going to Tokyo I suggest flying unless you want to lose most of a day travelling. Peach Airlines is super cheap but the flight times usually suck. They're typically either really early so it's hard to take public transit to the airport to get there in time, or it's late enough that you can't get out of the airport after you land. I usually pay the 50,000won more to get a better flight time through Expedia, that way I can get in around 3pm and do a bit on that first day.

Don't worry about J World or the Studio Ghibli museum being too crowded. The museum limits the amount of visitors each day and J world was pretty dead when I went last summer.

I suggest getting a subway pass in Tokyo. It's 1200yen or 1500yen (about 12,000 or 15,000won... I forget...) for a 72 hour pass that lets you take 2 of the 3 subway lines unlimited times in that time. They have 24 hour and 48 hour passes too but 72 is the best deal. Otherwise it can cost you about 3,000won per ride and another 3,000 if you change to a different line on your journey :/

Offline Mr C

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I second Kyoto as great entryway to Japan.  In addition to sites like Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama as mentioned, a short train trip and you can eat Kobe beef in Kobe.

My first trip, I took the ferry from Busan to Shimonoseki (for the fugu) then the shinkansen to Kyoto.  After several days, I took the train again to Tokyo for the last few days and flew back.

This was a pretty successful itinerary IMO.  There's little point in directing you to my blog, since those b@$tards at Photobucket are holding my pictures for ransom.

Offline fishead

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Spend at least a day in Tsijuki market in Tokyo. If you want to see the tuna auction  you have to go early. Walk around enjoy  some street snacks. Getting the Charashi  don is a must. The tuna in Japan is a must try the stuff in Korea is kind of frozen.
Kyoto is great too. The temples all look different  it is worth it seeing more than one

Offline wanderlust8

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I am doing a solo trip to Japan in August. I also don't do too well in crowds. I am spending a couple of days in Tokyo to do the Ghibli museum. That's really the only reason why I'm going to Tokyo at all. Tickets sell out crazy fast for the museum so make sure you are on the computer the moment they go on sale. I was teaching when they went on sale and almost didn't get tickets.
The majority of my time is going to be spent in Kyoto exploring the temples. I found accommodation way cheaper in Kyoto but maybe I just got lucky with my airbnb.
I've also given myself a sort of free day where I have yet to plan anything. That way if I get too overwhelmed during the trip then I have the spare time where I can shuffle things around and take a break.

Offline Arabin

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Give Tokyo a whirl. Don't worry about the introvert thing and crowd fatigue. Japan gets introverts. It's more or less a national trait. Crowds in Tokyo and crowds in Seoul are to very different things, stress wise. People walk in predictable lines, people understand personal space and the concept of noise pollution.

It's basically the best place on earth to be alone in a throng.

Offline ashwalton

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I am also going to be spending a week in Japan by myself come Chuseok time. If your planning on going there during that time as well I suggest buying your tickets there and back now, the prices are way higher then normal for that time.
I am taking the ferry there from Busan to Fukuoka, then going to spend some time in Kyoto and a day trip to Osaka, then going back to Fukuoka and flying back to Korea.
I am also an introvert so most of my plans are walking around and visiting temples and parks and just relaxing away from Korea for the week.

Offline yirj17

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Give Tokyo a whirl. Don't worry about the introvert thing and crowd fatigue. Japan gets introverts. It's more or less a national trait. Crowds in Tokyo and crowds in Seoul are to very different things, stress wise. People walk in predictable lines, people understand personal space and the concept of noise pollution.

It's basically the best place on earth to be alone in a throng.


This.  Probably part of why I like Japan so much.  Being introverted isn't seen as a negative thing or as something "to overcome" like it is often perceived in the west. 

Online Chinguetti

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This is great. I'm planning a solo trip to Japan myself for this winter vacation, and I was a little concerned about it. It's good to read that it's a fairly comfortable experience even for introverts. Gets me all excited way too early in the year to be getting this excited.

Offline CJ

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I've been twice to Japan mainly for hiking.  I'm not a big fan of the cities, but Kyoto is a must-do, especially spending a night in a ryokan (spend as much as you can; you get what you pay for). My favourite town in Japan so far is Takayama which isn't too far from Matsumoto which has an amazing castle. Look into Shirakawago or the more remote Gokayama valley and try some hiking in Kamikochi.

Offline Maclean

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Prepare yourself for garbage-strewn streets, lawless traffic, rude people, spitting, yell-talking, line cutting, snorting, pushing on the subways, hacking, ...wait, where are we talking about again? Japan? My bad. Japan is none of that. Japan is clean and the people are polite and law abiding. You'll enjoy it. And it's not nearly as expensive as people say.

Enjoy the freaky Japanese fashions.  "I'm now going to walk into this closet full of clothing of every conceivable colour and style. The closet will explode and I will step out of the closet after exactly two minutes. That will be my fashion for the day." ;D

Offline hiyase269

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Yo!  So I've been in Japan twice, once with a big group and once solo.  Had an amazing time both trips.  Definitely get yourself to Japan!  I'm going again this summer vacation. 

For accommodations as a solo traveler, I used Airbnb.  There are some pretty sweet deals to be found (I play it safe and only use ones that have a decent amount of ratings and positive reviews).  Otherwise you could try some hostels/guesthouses.  I think other threads have recommended specific ones, I don't know any myself.  Depends on your budget/preferences.  If you can afford it, at least one night in a traditional inn (ryokan) with an included meal is a cool experience (did that on the big group trip). 

For cheap flights, I do preliminary research on google flights (use incognito mode) and then check out specific airlines.  I've found good deals from Busan/Gimhae airport to Fukuoka, for example.  And since my summer vacation dates were slightly flexible, I was able to find a stellar price by playing around on Air Busan's website.  Someday I'd like to go by ferry but so far plane tickets have always been cheaper, at least at the times I looked into going. 

Since you're looking at October, I would start looking for tickets now, to get an idea of cost, as that's a pretty popular season (tickets are pricier during Chuseok week especially, I checked). Someday I'd like to go during the fall, I hear it's the best time to go!  Otherwise, spring is also popular (cherry blossom season).  So, whenever the weather is nice is recommended.  One day I'd love to see Japan in the winter with tons of snow.

The Ghibli museum is definitely cool if you love Miyazaki films.  You have to buy your tickets online in advance off of the website, you can look at their website for details and I think someone posted about that recently in waygook.  It was super crowded when I went (jam packed with children, children everywhere, up to my ears in children!) and as someone who is also an introvert and averse to huge crowds, seeing the place was still worth it in my opinion.  I'd go again.  If you try going on a weekday it'll probably be less crowded, though it's a very popular destination. 

For more traditional areas, Kyoto is the place to go!  Gotta check out Inari shrine (the fox temple) with tons of red torii gates.  It's a beautiful place and fun to hike through.  Nara (an easy day trip from Kyoto) is also memorable but more for the local deer than the temple itself.  I really loved Kyoto and plan to go back someday when I have more time.  Kyoto is more traditional old Japan where Tokyo is new, technological, modern.  Hiroshima is also a worthwhile visit, if you want to make the trip out there. 

Some questions for you to help guide further responses-- how many days do you plan on staying in Japan?  Do you intend on going back?  Do you like to take your time traveling or would you rather cram in as much as possible? 

Depending on how long you're staying and where you plan on going, a JR pass may or may not be worth your while. 

http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/

I also like this website, has lots of recommendations on places to see:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623a.html

Thank you so much for your response! The details of my trip are still up in the air. But I do know I want to go for 3 days and my budget is about a month's salary worth (that would include all expenses and spending money). I would like to take my time (another reason why I'm going alone, I'm a bit slow and I don't want someone constantly pulling on my arm "let's go here, let's go there" kind of thing). I want to see how this trip goes before I make plans to go again, if things go pretty well, I will go again after my contract is over. I'm pretty adaptable and not a complainer. My plan, in general, is to maybe visit 2 modern places/areas, 2 traditional areas and one or two shopping districts. I also would like to stick to mostly one area and not run around from area to area, I'd just tire myself out. Thank you for taking the time out to respond to my post, much appreciated.

Offline hiyase269

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Prepare yourself for garbage-strewn streets, lawless traffic, rude people, spitting, yell-talking, line cutting, snorting, pushing on the subways, hacking, ...wait, where are we talking about again? Japan? My bad. Japan is none of that. Japan is clean and the people are polite and law abiding. You'll enjoy it. And it's not nearly as expensive as people say.

Enjoy the freaky Japanese fashions.  "I'm now going to walk into this closet full of clothing of every conceivable colour and style. The closet will explode and I will step out of the closet after exactly two minutes. That will be my fashion for the day." ;D

Lol...and depending on your appearance, your experience in Korea could be ALL that PLUS more negative situations (or positive). Actually, if I had the confidence (and the body) I would let my closet explode on me everyday...haha. Thanks for the insight about Japan.

Offline yirj17

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Righto, then I'd imagine sticking to one city at a time (especially if only for a few days) might be more your speed.  I spent a few days in Fukuoka over golden week and had a baller time solo, just wandering around at my own pace.  Btw, Fukuoka is a great, affordable destination to keep in mind for a future trip  :)

If you end up in Tokyo, definitely go check out Harajuku to see some crazy fashion on display!  Unfortunately the one day I was there, happened to be the off day so I didn't get to see much.  I hear it's quite something though. 

Offline weigookin74

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Tokyo and metro areas such as Yokohama are enough to consume an entire week vacation.  Old forests in the heart of the city with very tall trees near Harajuku.  You can also the Harajuku girls on weekend afternoons.  Emporer palace grounds.  Ginza.  Rropongi but watch for guys trying to get you into their clubs.  Tokyo Edo museum was cool.  Lots of noodle shops on every corner are cheap.  7 11 has atm for cash advances off the credit cards if you run low on funds.  Also there are citibank branches, etc.   There's so much to explore everyday.  Maybe start with the Tokyo Metropolitan City government buildings.  High rises with lots of tourist info.  Good view of the city from the upper floor.  Other stuff people have mentioned here too.

Actually it's Shibuya where the Harajuku girls hang and park next to it cool to explore.  https://www.google.com/maps/@35.6697065,139.7024696,0a,75y,95.96h,88.96t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sz69UG85UTkVGbn1uW7avWw!2e0 Check out Shibuya, Tokyo Shared via the #StreetView app

Offline turningsteel

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Righto, then I'd imagine sticking to one city at a time (especially if only for a few days) might be more your speed.  I spent a few days in Fukuoka over golden week and had a baller time solo, just wandering around at my own pace.  Btw, Fukuoka is a great, affordable destination to keep in mind for a future trip  :)

If you end up in Tokyo, definitely go check out Harajuku to see some crazy fashion on display!  Unfortunately the one day I was there, happened to be the off day so I didn't get to see much.  I hear it's quite something though.

Actually, regarding Harajuku --  I read a really good article about how the height of Harajuku fashion is long since gone. It was written by a Japanese photographer who basically introduced the style to the world through his photos and running various underground magazines. When everyone thinks of harajuku, it's the late 90's to the mid 2000's. Sure some people still dress up, but it's nothing like it used to be. So don't be disappointed if you go and there isn't much to see in terms of crazy fashion.

Again, I've never been but that's just what I've read.

 

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