For such a small country, Japan makes the absolute best use of the tiny space it has. I see now why people keep returning after their first visit – there is just so much to see and do. After a packed two-week itinerary, I feel like I barely even scratched the surface of what there is to experience in Japan.
To tell the truth, the schedule my fiancé made up for us was a little overwhelming in the first few days, but I still wouldn’t trade it for any other way of doing it our first time. The next time we go though, I’ll definitely tweak some things to make allowances.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. No chairs – anywhere!
This was probably the most difficult aspect of Japan for me. I have problems with flat feet, hypermobile joints (especially knees) and back, and it was extremely hard to get used to. Luckily, the different public transport types are quite regular, so if there’s a train or bus that looks too crowded, give it a miss and get on the next one so you can give yourself a small rest. Failing that, stop at coffee shops or parks if you can, depending on the weather, as even many restaurants are standing area only in busy areas.
2. Medication is weak and expensive
Although my legs were in agony after the first day walking around DisneySea (totally worth it though!), I had used up all the painkillers I’d brought in the first couple of days, thinking I’d be able to buy while we were there. Huge mistake. Any painkillers we were able to find were weaker than a normal Panadol, and about $8 for a pack of 10 tablets O_O. Poor BB caught a nasty flu just before we left too, and nothing helped the whole time.
3. Onsen, onsen, onsen!
If you don’t have tattoos, go to a public onsen (yes, they do require you to be nude), which should be relatively cheap. If you’re like me however, and desperately want to experience it anyway (which turned out to be very necessary), book into a Ryokan with a private onsen in your room. Not only do you get the most comfortable bed you’ll ever sleep in, but you also get homemade Kaiseki dinner and breakfast. The mineral springs used for bathing have to be magical, I refuse to believe otherwise. After DisneySea, where my usual walking went from about 3,000 steps per day to 29,000, I recovered probably about 88%. This is in 4° Celsius snow, by the way, with Raynaud’s being a factor, after I had run out of painkillers. In every hotel we went to, they even had a bath in each room and provided free bath salts!
4. Combini & Vending Machines
You’re going to need a place to get rid of all your change, and vending machines are the best place. I’m obsessed with Coca-Cola’s Karada Meguri Cha Turmeric & Mint tea you can get most places, and there are heaps of other types of teas. I wish we had such a cheap and accessible selection in Australia! There are Oolongs, Green teas, Coffees (although the ones I tried were not great), as well as things like Pocari Sweat…don’t be put off by the name, I’m guessing it’s just a marker for a drink for when you’re exercising = sweat, because it’s like 100Plus if you’re familiar – a mild isotonic drink – and is helpful for replenishing salts for your aching muscles.
Combini…I’m actually in love. You could get all your meals here, your skincare, makeup, beauty collagen drinks – even some clothes! The best food I had in Japan was Combini onigiri, and I still think about them. It’s just so easy and cheap, and super fresh, unlike going to a crappy convenience store here, with old, suspicious pies in a heater. We frequently stocked up the night before with some dinner on the way back to our hotel rooms, and to make it easier to get going in the morning. Also – the ‘Cell Roller’ in the slideshow was actually a cellulite roller, but it is SO good to roll out knots in muscles and loosen Ilio-tibial band from all the walking! I kept it in my bag and used it every time I got a chance to sit lol.
5. Uniqlo Heattech & Heat Packs (for Winter)
Apart from my dumb decision not to bring much clothes, I didn’t have any adequate winter clothes, living on the Gold Coast. Uniqlo has surprisingly warm, not-bulky jackets and heat-trapping technology in their clothes, so I bought a down jacket that doesn’t make me look even chubbier than I am (yes!!!), and I wore it every day – albeit on top of 4-5 other layers of my thin summer wear. However, I really wouldn’t have survived without Daiso and Combini heat packs. Just open one up and stick it in your gloves, your pocket, there are ones that stick onto your clothes, and even ones to slip into your shoes. They last for 8 hours, and are my number one takeaway. I would not have been able to feel, let alone move my fingers if it weren’t for these things, and at about $1 for 6 or so, extremely worth it!
Uniqlo jacket, $2 Supre hat & $2 Daiso gloves. Good times.