One of the biggest perks about teaching abroad is being able to visit nearby countries! I’m from Canada where travelling requires a lot of time and money. If you have a car then road trips are a somewhat inexpensive option, but I’ve never been very comfortable behind the wheel. Last year, while teaching in Korea I visited Japan five times! I thought that was a lot, but this year I met a woman who has been eleven times! In this post I hope to give you a sense of what the places in Japan I visited were like.
I went to Fukuoka in May 2018. I stayed at Book and Bed Tokyo. It was initially a little difficult to find because I didn’t realize it was in a department store. Once I got settled in, the staff was extremely hospitable and the decor was amazing. The coffee was great (but expensive!). While I was there I visited a cat cafe, walked around the city, and went shopping. This was my first solo trip in a country in Asia and I was a little intimidated. After the initial shock wore off I really enjoyed myself and ate a lot of ramen.
While in Sakegawa I stayed with a friend who was an English teacher. In addition to speaking Japanese she also had a car so we were able to travel widely. This was my favourite experience in Japan because I felt like I got to see things that tourists typically don’t. From Sakegawa we traveled to Yuza, Yamagata City, Sendai, Shinjo, Higashine, Semboku, Sakata, Fukushima, and Tsuroka!
Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan, so if you’re going to visit get excited to eat some delicious food! While there I went to the aquarium, went on a Ferris wheel, and ate a lot of food!
Tokyo is amazing and there are so many things to see. If you only have a short time I recommend choosing one neighbourhood and sticking to it.
Also, though it might look really cool on instagram I’d recommend skipping the teamlab Borderless light rooms. It’s pretty far outside of the city and I think Tokyo has better things to do than wander around a dark room with a mediocre light show (sorry!).
I’d recommend trying to score tickets to the Ghibli museum! It is absolutely amazing and never too crowded because there are a set amount of tickets available each day. Each day the museum shows a short film that is only screened there. When I visited the theme was colours. It was amazing to see their initial sketches and what colour schemes didn’t make it into the films. Additionally, it was interesting to see what inspired the artists. There were hundreds of film photos of European Architecture and pages taken from books.
General Japan travelling tips:
If you have never been to Japan or don’t speak a lot of Japanese I recommend staying at a hostel because the staff will generally speak some English and they can give you excellent recommendations. Remember to bring cash, a coin purse, and a small towel to dry your hands on!