-Get a little portable wifi thing. We got one it was $100 for 10GB…it was a lot cheaper then paying for international AT&T/Verizon plan and it was really helpful when it came to getting around. We got ours at Yahoo Japan in Osaka and we were able to return it in Tokyo via an envelope they provided to mail it.
-Cabs are pretty expensive in Osaka, and still pretty expensive in Kyoto+Tokyo…Our flight got in at 1am and so we had to take a cab to our hotel and it cost $200USD
-Bring some medication for your stomach. The food in Japan is delicious, but it is extremely rich and can easily make you feel a little sick. Bring something or buy something incase you get sick.
GENERAL: Osaka was really cool because of the lack of tourists. Not many people touring Japan visit here, so enjoy the quietness of this city and try to walk around a lot.
ACCOMODATION: We stayed at intercontinental which we thought was in a great area and it was nice. would reccomend
-Explore the massive department store/food court buildings. They have like 10 floors and the clothes are cool/the food court is massive with a ton of options. Cool to see how packed it is during lunch time. The one we went to was by Umeda, right by giant Ferris wheel.
-We didn’t do Ferris wheel, but it could be cool to see at night
-Osaka aquarium was pretty cool if you have spare time, but not essential
-Super trendy clothes – go to noon + cafe and just check out all the shops in that area. Very cool retro stuff
-Go to the dotonbori- it is touristy but a cool area to see and explore at night
-Tachibana Street also called orange street – really cool trendy shops for clothing and random gifts
-Matsusaka beef is super famous and the famous restaurant that serves it is “Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho”, but it is expensive and they make you cook it yourself, which you’ll probably mess up, so get so don’t go here. But if you really want to try it then find a place where they cook it for you. We did not bc we went to Matsuzakagyu and didn’t wanna get it twice.
-Takoyaki is a famous Osaka snack that is basically an octopus fried ball. It is pretty disgusting, but they sell it everywhere and you should try it.
-Route271 is a very famous bakery that is really good, just try a bunch of stuff there. There will be a line, they run out of stuff by late afternoon.
-Streetside wagyu/kobe and otoro is much cheaper then at restaurants and just as good. Highly recommend doing this around the dotonbori area. If you go when market closes the otoro is on sale too. I think it’s around 5pm
GENERAL: super touristy town where you will mostly be going from site to site. Looking at temples and other traditional points of interest.
ACCOMODATION: We stayed at a ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast type place. It is a cool experience which I would reccomend doing. they are a bit more expensive than traditional hotels, but I think it’s worth it for the uniqueness, at least for a night.
Gion Corner – cool area with interesting shops and places to eat. At Gion corner basically every night there is a 6pm and 7pm show that you should see. The show includes a Tea ceremony, geishas, and other tradition Japanese shows so you can check all these off your list. You can get a brochure for it at the main train station in Kyoto.
-Explore all over this area around Gion corner, during the day and at night. We got a few drinks around rooftop bars in the area at night, which I also recommend.
Philosophers path – cool to see if the trees are in bloom, otherwise probably not worth the walk, but something to do if you have time
-Arashiyama – ton of sites around here that you should explore. Definitely go to all the big temples and make sure to see the bamboo forest.
-Arashiyama – after you see the sites it is just a cool place to walk around in general. Certain parts are not very touristy so you can see traditional Japanese communities that haven’t really been overrun with tourists
-Gold temple is the super famous site to see and so you should probably go, it is really touristy but it’s probably worth checking out BC everyone who visits checks it out
-There is also a famous area where geishas walk around, I forget what it’s called, but Google it and see if you can find any out and about. We went and saw a few on dates.
-% Arabica Kyoto arashiyama – is a super trendy coffee shop you need to go to if you like coffee
Arashiyamayoshimura – get the Soba noodles lunch special. it is really good and famous right up the street from % arabica Kyoto -arashiyama
-Go to the four seasons and check out the pastry shop “Pierre Herme”. it is so good, just get one of the desserts. Also it is a nice four seasons for lunch if you feel like some traditional American food
-Bakeries – there are a ton all over the city. It is worth checking them out and getting some snacks or baguettes
GENERAL: obviously the most touristy place of them all, but also the coolest in my opinion. there are so many different ways to do Tokyo and I was only there 5 days, so I did what I could. I’m sure we are missing a ton of the activities and possibilities, so definitely do additional research online.
ACCOMODATIONS: we ended up staying at 3 different hotels, don’t ask why, but here we go:
Cerulean – is the first hotel we stayed at and it is in a great area, no question. it is right in the center of the action, but was kind of overpriced for the quality of the rooms. worth it if you want great location, but not that comfy of a room.
Hilton – we only stayed here BC they got us a reservation at Jiro, but it was reasonably priced and in a decent area. would recommend if you want something predictable
Tokyo claska – it was a boutique hotel kind of out of the way. would not recommend staying here BC it is far from everything and not that nice
Park Hyatt – I did not stay here, but probably would if I was going back. it is in a solid area and is really nice/beautiful. It’s also famous BC of the movie lost in translation with Bill Murry/scarlett johanson. at least go to the top floor of it for 360 Tokyo views and a drink.
NIGHTLIFE: finally the nightlife. There are so many different nightlifes to experience. We went to a club called ele, which was awesome I highly recommend and they welcome foreigners. If you get a bottle you get a table for like 2 hours which is pretty nice.
We also spent another night just going out to bars in shibuya.
There is also a street that people like to check out with a bunch of cosplay women dressed up and I forget the name, but I’m sure you could find it online.
Sumo – tournament or stable tour…depending on what time of year you go then you can do one of or both of these. I HIGHLY reccomend you do it, it’s awesome. Just Google it and you will find out if it’s going on and when you could go. Book this in advance. With the stable tour you get to watch them practice, do a Q&A with them, and eat their daily meal.
Tsutaya crossing – check it out during lunch time or when people get out of work. It is more packed than time square and is amazing to see. Watch it from the Starbucks for a good vantage point.
-Coast2coast – if you want to watch an American sporting event then go here. it is also in a hip shopping area with trendy clothes and souvenir stores. Also close to a few cat cafes, which are fun to check out.
-Original bape store is cool to check out and is surrounded by other cool shops
Robot restaurant – very hyped up. It is $100 per person, but I probably think it’s worth going to for the novelty. It’s an hour long show of crazy lights and robots. It’s a classic wild Japanese show that is worth seeing, I reccomend going once you’re already drunk/tipsy and don’t eat the food there.
-Sony showroom – it’s really cool to see this 7 story showroom with all the concept stuff Sony is working on and all their newest products. Good to see if you like tech.
-Apple Store – tallest Apple Store in the world is right down the street from Sony showroom. It’s just a massive Apple Store, but if you’re there might as well check it out. there is really cool shopping around this area, so I suggest walking around and exploring.
-Fish market auction – you actually need to get to the market at like 330am if you want to get inside. they only reserve 140 spots. We arrived at 330am and 100 spots were already taken, so I’m not exaggerating when I say go early. it is really cool to watch the massive tuna be auctioned off. highly recommend doing this. After the auction check out the fish market and eat a sushi breakfast at a local place, it is the freshest fish you will ever eat. One unfortunate side note is that if u go to the early morning tuna auction you have to wait until 9am for the actual market to open, so just keep that in mind.
Park Hyatt – get a drink on the top floor, if you go after 7pm there is a $20 cover, so go before then if you don’t wanna pay an extra $20.
Sukiyabashi Jiro – if you are a lover of sushi and Netflix documentaries then you should definitely check this place out. 3 Michelin stars, 87 year old sushi chef who has been making sushi his whole life , just go watch the documentary on Netflix. $300 prefix 20 pieces of sushi menu. 30 minute meal, very cool experience. Reservations open on the 1 of the month before the month you want to go i.e. You want to go February 8, then you need to have your hotel book you a reservation January 1. It is no guarantee that you get in, but it’s a cool experience. Jiro Roppongi is his sons restaurant, which is basically the same but it has 2 Michelin stars and cost $200 and is easier to get into. It is OK to ask for a photo after the meal at either restaurant with the chef, so don’t be nervous.
-Monkey cafe is a super trendy coffee shop/art gallery that you should definitely check out. Great coffee and it is right at the beginning of a trendy shopping area.
-Sorasio – really great view of the financial area/fish market. Go here for a beer
-Raw chicken – find a safe place and eat it somewhere, they just sear the outsides. It’s a traditional Japanese dish and tastes just like normal chicken
-Ramen – just find a top reviewed place online and get it somewhere
-Sake tasting – definitely worth doing and a fun pregame before you go out, just Google it and you’ll find a good one online
-Scotch tasing was also pretty fun – we went to a place called “single malt bar moonshine”
-Alcatraze.r shibuya medical prison – pretty absurd place…kind of entertaining, but very very weird in terms of atmosphere and drink choices. they do a prison escape show every hour which is kind of entertaining when drunk.
-There is a famous pancake dish thing that you should try, people love it
-Moma design shop located in a really cool department store complex and it worth checking out for gifts and interesting shopping
-Lukes lobster roll – super famous place, that was on shark tank. the line will be crazy, but could be worth it if you love lobster rolls. Both locations are in very trendy shopping areas.
Tandoori -we were tired of Japanese food and found some delicious Indian food. It was very good and all you can eat naan aka heaven
-Peninsula afternoon tea – it’s in a really cool area and is delicious. The hotel itself is kind of average, but I’d still go for the tea
-Shabu shabu – is a traditional way to eat and cook Japanese meat. You put it in boiling water then dip it in raw egg and eat it. Very rich meal, but good to eat and experience.
-Chicken skewers (yakitori) – so delicious and you should eat it wherever