14 days in Japan | Traveling in Japan With a Photographer
(Tokyo – Takayama – Shirakawago – Osaka – Kyoto – Kawaguchiko)
Japan is a very famous tourist destination and one of
our favorites in our Perfectto Photo Group Team (in 2 years we have gone there
three times already)
We planned our trip with other 2 travel buddies (Tommy
and Fon) for almost a year and we chose to travel in the winter when there is
snow – from Christmas to New Year’s day (DEC 21 2017 – JAN 4 2018)
After returning from our trip, many people asked us about our travel plan. Now it is a good time to write our first blog!
First Day -Tokyo
We arrived in Narita around 8 PM. After buying our JR PASS and making a Shinkanzen reservation, we used our pass to travel to Toyko. Tonight, we stayed at the OAK HOSTEL which we had previously stayed before between Nippori and Ueno. This hotel is well loved by Thai tourists as well because it is easy to get there, a bathroom is included in the guest room and it is not expensive- you can make a reservation through Agoda :)
Since the weather is quite nice (around 8 degrees Celsius), we went outside for some sake at GOKAN in Uguisudani (IG). Gyudon (beef bowl) and stewed beef is recommended in the menu.
Second Day — Tokyo
Our goal for today is to buy some Heat tech clothes and warm items in preparation for traveling to Takayama, going on a cable car in Shinhotaka and Shikawago a few days later.
Later on we went to the Yanaka neighborhood, also known as Cat Street, near Nippori. Maybe it’s because it was so cold, we saw only 1 cat in the street. In this street, there are cat shaped snacks, cat dolls and other shops available.
We spent some time there then we took the train on the Yamanode line to Harajuku. We ate at the Kyushu Jangara Ramen a favorite shop of our travel buddy. There is a Thai menu available. The food was delicious and inexpensive. We were ready to have fun in Harajuku! But after a while, we went to an Owl café (650 JPY) in an alley. You can pet the owls here but only with the back of your hand!
Next, we went to Uniqlo, GU, ABC Mart and Matsumoto Kiyoshi stores in Shibuya to buy some warm clothes, shoes and medicine to help us fight against the cold. :D
Third Day— From Tokyo to Takayama
We took the Shinkanzen to Nagoya and then the Hida Wide View Express to Takayama. There, we had to by the Okuhida Marugoto Value Kippu (5,XXX JPY) ticket at the JTP building opposite the Tourist Office near the bus terminal (open from 10AM – 4PM) which is a ticket for boarding the bus + visit the onsen + cable car of Shinhotaka Ropeway that we are going to tomorrow.
Today we stayed at the Takayama Tanyaporn Guest House owned by a Thai named P’Pui who was very nice and took great care of us.
P’Pui took us around the city and gave us directions to a convenience store and a boxed lunch shop near the guest house and gave us a bottle of wine as a Christmas gift J
After unpacking, we went to the old part of the city which wasn’t too far from the guest house. It would take some time if we walked but P’Pui offered to drive us there instead, dropping us off at one of the city’s landmarks – the red bridge.
For those who love beef, this city is famous for its Hida beef. If you visit here, you have to try it! While walking in the old part of the city, we saw some skewed grilled beef which was quite expensive (around 600-1000 JPY each). We recommend finding a proper restaurant to dine in instead. If you do, you can eat gyudon for around 1500-1800 which will be worth more for your money.
Forth Day — Takayama (Shinhotaka-Ropeway)
We took the Nohi bus to Shinhotaka Ropeway. It took around an hour and a half to get there. Along the way, we could see more and more snow starting to fall. When we arrived at the ropeway, it was quite cold. The cable car here offers a round trip, but we bought the Okuhida Marugoto Value Kippu so we could get on immediately without delay. The first level wasn’t very exciting. We went on a cable car with two floors on the second floor (many people queued on the second floor, but the view here is the same as the first floor’s where it is less crowded). At 2,156 meters, the sky was clear today so we were lucky J We could see the fluffy snow too. We took some photos on the second floor and then we ate some food in the cafeteria. We recommend the udon and curry ramen. Then, we exited the cafeteria to walk in the snow and take photos with the mountain view.
Fifth and Sixth Day — Shirakawa-go
We woke up late and took the nohi bus to the Shiwakawago village to celebrate Christmas by sleeping in Grandma Etsuko’s house named Gensaku (源作). This house is a few hundred years old. Today the snow started falling again after having stopped for 3-4 days. We took some nice photos along the way. At Shiwakawago, we were so excited because it was very beautiful like in a fairytale. The houses were shaped like ginger bread houses with snow as the sugar on top. After going to the viewpoint, we checked in with grandma Etsuko and took more photos in the village then returned for dinner consisting of Hida beef, grilled fish, soup, snacks and refillable rice. It was very delicious!
For those who want to make a reservation, we made one through Gassho Travel Concierge . An agent will email you the houses that you can choose. However, we went there during the high season so we made a reservation 5 months prior. It costs 13,000 JPY per person including traditional Japanese breakfast and dinner prepared by Grandma Etsuko herself.
Even though there is a heater in the room, at night it is very cold – but don’t worry! Grandma’s blankets are very warm. Even if we don’t understand each other very well, the family is very nice and took good care of us. We shared the house with a group of Thais and an Asian couple. However, the walls are extremely thin so you can hear noises pretty clearly (be careful!). We woke up, had breakfast and took photos. It was more beautiful than the previous day because it had been snowing during the night. We said goodbye and went to Kanazawa to take the JR to Osaka.
In Osaka, we stayed at the Drop Inn Osaka which wasn’t far from the station. We went to Dotonburi in the late evening before sleeping at the hotel after a long day.
Seventh Day — Osaka
After checking out, we left our baggage at the hotel before traveling to Kaiyukan Aquarium. As we are animal lovers, this trip to Kaiyukan was a must for us J
After enjoying the cute whale sharks, seals and stingrays, we returned to get our things and left for Kyoto. At Kyoto, we stayed at a place we found on AirBnb near the Gion neighborhood because it was easy to travel at night. Luckily, we met Meiko too!
Eighth Day — Kyoto & Kimono ~
In the old city of Kyoto, we decided that we would rent some kimonos :)
We rented them from Yumeyakata which is near Gojo station. You can easily reserve through their website (Thai language available). We reserved 2 of them for 7,000 JPY not including makeup and hair styling. Everything happened so fast! We chose the kimonos (the nice staff will help us and give us a bag to put them in).After picking the kimonos, we went to the dressing room upstairs (downstairs for men). The whole activity took around an hour (we left our stuff with them and returned for them in the evening).
We had time from 11PM to 7PM to wear the kimonos so we only wore them to two places: the bamboo forest (Arashiyama) and the Inari temple. Actually we finished around 5PM. After returning the kimonos, we found some food to eat. :D
Ninth Day — Universal, Osaka
Next, we went to Osaka to the Universal City Station at 9AM. Our main goal is to go to the Harry Potter zone, buy minions and get on the rides there (since the boys didn’t really like the scary rides, we didn’t go on them). It was crowded the day we went there so we only went on the Jurassic Park – The Ride and watched the minion parade and bought some souvenirs.
After visiting the Harry Potter zone, we recommend eating lunch at the shop with three brooms. You can order a set for 4 people (Christmas Feast for 4) the meal consists of 2 chicken, salad, sausages for 8,500 JPY and butter beer for each person.
Tenth Day — Back to TOKYO
We took the shinkanzen back to Tokyo and stayed in Akihabara at an AirBnb accommodation which is near the JR station. After some walking around, we ended up in an underground bar named HUB filled with tourists, cocktails and beer.
Eleventh Day — Countdown to 2018This shop sells organic makeup and offers a café with delicious multi-flavored toast (Jiyugaoka)
We also went to Asakusa temple. Today Japanese people will queue up to pay respects to the shrine on New Year's Day. It is also crowded because of a fair in the temple.
Twelfth Day— LUCKY BAG 2018 : ODAIBA, Here we go!
We think most of you are familiar with the Lucky bags. In Japan, during 1-2 January, shops sell lucky bags that are priced from 1,000 JPY to around 10,000 JPY. You won’t know what is in the bag, but the shop will tell you that the value of what’s inside is more than the price you paid for (some shops show what’s inside like ADDIDAS).
We went to ODAIBA because most department stores are closed, but ODAIBA is open! Besides shopping, we came to see the new Unicorn Gundam. We recommend seeing the show in the afternoon then going shopping and see the show again in the evening because there are special light effects!
At ODAIBA, we recommend WEGO (chic items), Flying Tiger (many 100 JPY items) and DAISO (souvenirs and more) for shoppers.
In the evening, you can see a mini statue of liberty and rainbow bridge at the dock.
Thirteenth Day — Shimokitazawa ~ Cool Kid District
For those who love second hand clothes, we recommend Shimokitazawa where you can reach from a short ride from Shinjuku. There are many cute cafés. A famous pancake shop is located here, but we went there 3 years ago and it wasn’t that great… This time our favorite shop is closed for the New Year so we went into another shop instead.
Pluffy cafe – We tried this shop because there weren’t many people but when we saw the latte art here our hearts melted! The baristas here made cute little cartoon characters on the lattes that we sat there for a long time! This shop offers waffles too. The salmon and avocado here is very delicious. Then, we had the fluffy pancake here. It was expensive but very large.
For black coffee lovers, we recommend Urban local living The owner is very nice. The shop sells special coffee made by the shop and cool wooden items from America. If you eat here, the owner will ask you to take a photo so the shop can post it on their Instagram.
Fourteenth Day — Fuji san~
We finished our long trip by taking the Highway bus which you have to reserve in advance from Shinjuku station to Mount Fuji (around 2 hours). We arrived at Kawaguchigo staion where the temperature is -3 degrees Celsius. But it feels like -10 because of the lake and the wind. Here, we bought the Retro bus and got off at the last stop to eat blueberry ice cream then returned to the station. (You can find more reviews on Pantip)
We recommend getting off at the Music Forest and walk along behind the lake. There, you can see Mount Fuji clearly if you want to take photos. But it is very windy! If you have time after that, you can take the cable car to see Mount Fuji from above; the day we went there, it was so windy so we didn’t go on one.
At 2PM, we went back to Shinjuku and bought some souvenirs before going home. Then, we went to a Japanese bar near our hotel. There were so many people that we had to sit on the 4th floor. The ambiance was nice and we recommend the maguro sashimi – the tuna is very fresh and the hoppy which is sake mixed with soda. It comes in a bottle and a glass of ice and sake. Mix before drinking!
Fifteenth Day — Bangkok, we are back.
We returned to the airport by Keisei-Skyliner in the morning, then Airasia back to Thailand safely :)
Since we went to many places we spent around:
- Air Asia plane ticket (15,xxx THB)
- Accommodation reserved through Agoda and AirBNB (29,xxx THB)
- JR PASS for 14 days from KLOOK (13,000 THB)
- USJ Ticket from KLOOK (2,700 THB)
- SIM CARD for 8 days from LOSTTRIP THAILAND (9xx THB)
- Other costs (5,000 THB)
In total, we spent around 6x,xxx THB not including the money we spent shopping and dining.
We think that Japan is a country where it is never boring to travel no matter how many times we go there and each trip is never long enough for us. We still have many places that we want to visit at least once during our lives J We think that we will go to Japan again soon.
Finally, we hope that our review is a lot of help for those who want to take a long trip to Japan and looking for some destinations. If you have any questions or want to contact us, please do so at PERFECTTO PHOTO GROUP