Things to do in Aomori

Many people have heard of Aomori but don’t know much about it. 

Aomori prefecture is located on the northern tip of the Honshu main island of Japan. They produce some of the best apples in the country and is home to one of the most distinct dialects in Japanese: Tsugaru-ben. 

If you want to experience a completely off the beaten path experience in Japan, we highly suggest you come to Aomori. In this port town, you can indulge in Aomori’s specialty foods while learning about the local culture and the Nebuta. Separate away from the main city, and you can find lots of hidden gems in both the nature and other local towns of Aomori Prefecture.

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit Aomori may depend heavily on the seasons. 

Aomori has 5 long months of winter, from November to March, with lots of snowfall, making it a great place for winter sports. Around April/May, you’d be able to visit the snow corridors and enjoy the sakura trees. During the summer and fall, hiking trails open up for those that love exploring out into nature. Finally in August, the famous annual Nebuta Festival takes place. 

How to Get to Aomori

From Tokyo

  • Shinkansen: The fastest option. From Tokyo Station to Shin-Aomori Station, it usually takes around 3.5 hours and costs around 17,000 yen. Best option if you have a Japan Rail Pass
  • Highway Bus: The cheapest option but also the longest. It takes roughly 9-11 hours to go from Tokyo to Aomori and usually the prices are less than half the cost for the Shinkansen.
  • Plane: Usually considered the middle option. The plane ride from Tokyo to Aomori takes roughly 1.5 hours, but with the trip to and from the airport, it can realistically be around 3-4 hours.

From Osaka

  • Plane: From Osaka, plane is the most effective method. It takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes and average price ranges around 20,000 yen.
  • Shinkansen: Taking the Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Aomori Station will cost around 31,000 and take roughly 5.5 hours. Taking the plane is recommended, but if you already plan on getting a Japan Rail Pass and can spare half a day for travel time, we recommend the Shinkansen since it comes at no additional cost. Read more about it here

From Sapporo

  • Plane: The best way to get to Aomori from Sapporo is by plane. It takes roughly 45 minutes and average price ranges around 13,000 yen.
  • Train: By train, the journey takes 6 hours 30 minutes, costs roughly 14,000 yen, and requires a transfer at Hakkodate. 

Things to do in Aomori City

Learn the Culture at the Nebuta House Warasse Museum

Nebuta house Wa-Rasse

You can get a great introduction to the native Nebuta culture at this uniquely designed museum. Here, you can learn about the Nebuta Festival, learn how the floats are made, and experience the culture through various interactive exhibitions. There’s even a seafood buffet and a shop that sells various Aomori specialties and souvenirs. 

If you are in Aomori during August, don’t forget to check out the Nebuta Festival!

Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-1-1 Yasukata, Aomori, 030-0803

Cost: 620 yen

Phone Number: 017-752-1311

Seikan Ferry Memorial Ship, Hakkodamaru

The ferry ship, Hakkodamaru, was one of few ships that served as a connection between the main island of Japan and the island of Hokkaido. In 1988, the Seikan Tunnel was completed, which allowed trains to travel to Hokkaido from the sea, allowing a safer passage. Since then, the Hakkodamaru halted operations, docked on the shores of Aomori, and was transformed into a museum. 

Hours: 9:00am – 7:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-4 Yanakawa, Aomori, 038-0012

Cost: 510 yen

Phone Number: 017-735-8150



The big A, one of the most distinct buildings in the Aomori Bay skyline. The ASPAM building is like an all in one building. The bottom floor is like a mall, with lots of restaurants and souvenir shops selling Aomori’s goods. There’s also a movie theater and an observation deck on the upper floor. 

Hours: 9:30am – 6:00pm

Address: 〒030-0803 Aomori, Yasukata, 1 Chome−1−40 1F

Phone Number: 017-735-6675


While you’re in the Aomori Bay, check out A-Factory to try the best foods and drinks of Aomori. Inside, there’s a market that sells various goods made in Aomori. They also brew their own ciders and juices with Aomori grown apples, which we highly recommend as souvenirs. Towards the bay-side, there are several restaurants and cafes from which you can relax and enjoy the fresh air of Aomori Bay on a nice summer day.

Hours: 9:00am – 8:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-4-2 Yanakawa, Aomori, 038-0012

Phone Number: 017-752-1890

Sannai Maruyama Site

Slightly separated from the city center is an ancient archaeological site with artifacts that date all the way back to around 3000 B.C. You can visit this site and experience what it was like to live in the Jomon Period. 

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: Maruyama-305 Sannai, Aomori, 038-00311

Cost: 410 yen

Phone Number: 017-766-8282

Aomori Museum of Art

Right next to the Sannai Maruyama site is the Aomori Museum of Art. In fact, the museum’s design was inspired by the ancient structures, having a  minimalist look and low profile. The museum is most remembered for by the 8m tall dog statue, Aomori-ken. Inside, various artworks are on display that represent the art and culture of the Tohoku region.

Hours: 9:30am – 5:00pm, closed Mondays

Address: Chikano-185 Yasuta, Aomori, 038-0021

Cost: 510 yen

Phone Number: 017-783-3000

Eat a Nokke Don from Furukawa Fish Market

When you come to Aomori, you have to try the fresh fish and you can do exactly that at Furukawa Fish Market. The Furukawa Fish Market is a local fish market where they sell fish freshly caught. You can get a build-your-own bowl called a Nokke Don. You first tickets, which you can exchange at the stores for different types of fish to put on your rice bowl. Aomori is famous for having delicious tuna, scallop, and squid!

Hours: 7:00am – 4:00pm, closed Tuesdays

Address: 1 Chome-11-16 Furukawa, Aomori, 030-0862

Phone Number: 017-763-0085

Eat Apple Anything

弘前 青森 Trip to Aomori

Aomori City and the western part of the prefecture are famous for producing high quality apples. When you’re in the city, try some apple, apple pies, and take some apple ciders home!

Try Some Niboshi Ramen

In the cold climates of Aomori, people turn to ramen as a source for warmth and comfort. As a result, Aomori has developed lots of high-quality ramen, but the most native to this land is the Niboshi Ramen, made from dried sardines.

Where to Stay in Aomori City

 Budget Option

Mid Range

Things to do in Aomori Prefecture

Winter Sports at Hakkoda Mountain

If you’re looking for winter sports in Aomori, Hakkoda Mountain is the spot. When it comes to ski resorts in the Tohoku region, most people tend to go to Zao which is halfway towards Tokyo. Both Hakkoda and Zao have great onsens and the Juhyo “Snow Monsters”, but Hakkoda tends to have fewer people since Zao is the more popular resort. 

Hours: 9:00am – 3:40pm

Address: 1-12 Arakawa-Kansuizawa, Aomori-shi, Aomori 030-0111

Phone Number: 017-738-8591

Check out the Snow Corridors

Snow-wall (yuki no otani) at Murodo Tateyama

Aomori has one of the most snowfalls in Japan and you can really feel this when you go through the snow corridors. Around April of every year, roads near Hakkoda Mountain are open up after a long winter of snowfall. Only the snow on the roads are cleared and what’s left is a huge wall of snow, sometimes as tall as 10 meters. 

Time of year: Starts April 1st

Address: 青森県青森市荒川国道103号線

Phone Number: 017-723-7211

Experience the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival

Not too far from Aomori is Hirosaki, a city famous for its cherry blossoms. The Hirosaki Castle Park Sakura Festival is one of the biggest in Japan and many people travel to Hirosaki during Golden Week to experience this. At Hirosaki Castle, there are over 2600 cherry blossom trees with 50 different kinds. The whole park gets covered in pink and its like you’re in a cinematic film.

Time of Year: mid April until early May

Food stall hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm

Night Illumination Hours: 6:30 – 10:00pm

Address: 1 Shimoshiroganecho, Hirosaki-shi, Aomori 036-8356

Phone Number: 0172-33-8733

Towada Lake


If you want to experience the real nature of Aomori, head down to Towada lake, the biggest caldera lake in Japan. There are several viewpoints around and you can also ride a ferry boat on the lake. On the way down is the Oirase Gorge, where a river flowing through a lush forest. Public transportation runs to the lake, from either Aomori or Hachinohe, but is closed during the winter time. 

Where to Stay in Aomori Prefecture

  • Nambuya Kaisenkaku – Ryokan hotel with onsen and views that overlook the bay side from Asamushi. Easily accessible and only 30 minutes away from Aomori City.
  • Lamp no Yado Aoni Onsen – Ryokan in the middle of a lush forest near the snow corridor and Lake Towada.
  • Hakkoda Hotel –  Relaxing cabin stay, close to the Hakkoda ski resort.
  • Towada Prince Hotel – Upscale hotel with a remarkable view of Lake Towada. 

Things to do in Kagurazaka

If you want to experience real, traditional Japan, then we recommend that you take a visit to Kagurazaka. Located just outside of the Imperial Palace, Kagurazaka used to be the geisha district in the Taisho Period in the early 20th century. While maintaining the traditional Japanese vibes, Kagurazaka has also developed a French community, with various French restaurants and supermarkets as well. Unlike most parts of Tokyo, Kagurazaka still maintains its traditional appearance, similar to that of places like Kyoto.

Where is Kagurazaka?

Kagurazaka is located in the central area of Tokyo, near Tokyo Dome and stretches out between Iidabashi Station and Kagurazaka station.

To get to Kagurazaka from Shinjuku Station, you can take the Chuo line down to Iidabashi Station. From Tokyo Station, you can walk to Otemachi Station and take the Tozai line to Kagurazaka Station. 

Things to do

Spend the Whole Day at Tokyo Dome City

Tokyo Dome City LaQua

Tokyo Dome is a venue for many huge sporting events and right outside of the stadium is Tokyo Dome City. Here, there’s all kinds of things from an amusement park to hotels, many restaurants, a space museum, a hot spring, and so much more. You can easily spend a whole day within Tokyo Dome City and it’s kid-friendly as well!

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-3-61 Koraku, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-0004, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-5800-9999

Take a Stroll Through Kagurazaka Street

The main street of Kagurazaka runs from Iidabashi Station all the way down to Kagurazaka Station. We recommend starting from Kagurazaka station and walking all the way down to Iidabashi Station and take a look at all the shops in between. You can also take a detour around the narrow, stone-paved back alleys where you’ll find shops and restaurants in surprisingly narrow spaces. 

Address: 神楽坂 Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825 Japan

Morning Walk in Koishikawa Korakuen Garden

JP-13 Bunkyo-ward Koishikawa-Korakuen-garden

Koishikawa Korauen Garden was built in the 17th century and it’s one of the best gardens to visit in Tokyo. Located right behind Tokyo Dome, this garden feels like the hidden nature getaway in the middle of a busy city.

This garden is also one of the best places to go for sakura or fall foliage season so make sure to add that to your bucket list!

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-6-6 Koraku, Bunkyo City, Tokyo 112-0004, Japan

Cost: 300 yen

Phone Number: +81 3-3811-3015

Akagi Shrine

When you exit Kagurazaka Station, you may notice a bright red shrine gate when you come up exit 1. Akagi shrine is small compared to other famous shrines like Meiji, but it’s one of the cleanest, most modern shrines around. The whole shrine was redesigned in 2010 with a modern look and the whole place gives off an upscale atmosphere, which is quite uncommon for a shrine!

Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm

Address: 1-10 Akagi Motomachi, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0817, Japan

Cost: Free

Phone Number: +81 3-3260-5071

Tokyo Daijingu Shrine

Shrine, Tokyo Daijingu - Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan - DSC04748

If you come to Kagurazaka, it’s worth visiting one of Tokyo’s 5 major shrines. The Tokyo Daijingu Shrine is close to the main Kagurazaka street and many people come to this shrine because it’s the shrine for marriage, love, and relationships (which is a big part of many people’s lives!).

Hours: 8:00am – 7:00pm

Address: 2 Chome-4-1 Fujimi, Chiyoda City, Tokyo 102-0071, Japan

Cost: Free

Phone Number: +81 3-3262-3566

Zenkokuji Temple

When walking through Kagurazaka street, it’s hard to notice the big building with the red gate. Zenkokuji Temple is one of the most popular temples in the area and was built to worship one of the 7 lucky gods. There are two tiger statues guarding the front and it’s also a good place to bring your kids and pray to the luck gods!

Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm

Address: Japan, 〒162-0825 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kagurazaka, 5 Chome−36

Cost: Free

Phone Number: +81 3-3269-0641

Yayoi Kusama Museum

Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Louisiana Museum, Denmark

Yayoi Kusama is a world famous Japanese artist. Yayoi had a rough childhood and had hallucinations since she was little, which became the inspiration for her work. Her museum showcases some of her best work, including the famous polka dot designs. There’s no same day admission and you’re required to buy the tickets ahead of time. Here’s a link to the museum’s website.

Hours: 11:00am – 5:30pm

Address: 107 Bentencho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0851, Japan

Cost: 1100 yen

Phone Number: 

Museum of Science at Tokyo University of Science

If you’re looking for something free, you can check out the Science Museum at Tokyo University of Science. There’s various exhibitions that displays a lot of the technologies used during Japan’s industrial age. It’s a good place for a rainy travel day or somewhere to take your kids!

Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Closed Sundays, Mondays

Address: Japan, 〒162-0825 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kagurazaka, 1丁目3

Cost: Free

The Hidden Alleyways of Kagurazaka

Kagurazaka Streetscape - 43

Kagurazaka is known for its stone paved back alleys from the Edo Period. While walking on the main street, turn into one of the back alleys and you’ll find lots of hidden restaurants and izakaya rooted in these areas. In the daytime, these back alleys make for a great photo shoot location as well!

Bring Home Some Traditional Japanese Souvenirs

If you want traditional, authentic Japanese souvenirs, then Kagurazaka is the best place to buy it. Here are some great places to shop at in Kagurazaka.

Gallery & Cafe Mikado

Local ceramics shop.

Hours: 11:30am – 6:00pm

Address: 2F 6 Chome-34, Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-3235-3222

La Kagu

Hipster household goods shop.

Hours: 11:00am – 8:30pm

Address: 67 Yaraicho, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0805, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-5946-8241

Noren Kagurazaka

Traditional Japanese items store.

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: Japan, 〒162-0825 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kagurazaka, 1 Chome, 12番地

Phone Number: +81 3-5579-2975

Ramla Shopping Mall

Shopping mall for everything else.

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: Japan, 〒162-0823 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, 新宿区Kaguragashi, 1−1 セントラルプラザ

Phone Number: +81 3-3235-0181

Geisha Performance Dinner

Maiko In Gion Kyoto Geisha District (135266873)

Kagurazaka is one of the few places left in Tokyo where you can meet an actual geisha. You can make reservations for a dinner geisha performance where a top level geisha performs on stage. This is an awesome way to experience the luxury lifestyle of Edo Japan.

Male Geisha Taikomochi Show

Many people are aware of female geisha, but did you know that there are male geisha as well? They’re called Taikomochi and they’re similar to a joker during the Medieval Times (not the one in batman). Similar to their female counterpart, the Taikomochi also sings and dances on stage, but with a more energetic twist.

Relax at Atami-Yu

Atamiyu is quite different from other hot springs in Tokyo in many ways. When it first opened in 1954, it used to be a bathing ground for geisha and still uses its firewood boiler. Inside, there’s a huge mural of Mt Fuji which definitely creates a relaxing experience!

Hours: 3:00pm – 1:00am, closed Saturdays

Address: 3 Chome-6 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

Cost: 470 yen

Phone Number: +81 3-3260-1053

Kagurazaka Events

Kagurazaka Summer Festival

There are not too many events in Kagurazaka, but the Kagurazaka Summer Festival has always been the biggest.

The festival is to celebrate Obon, a Japanese holiday, and lasts for about a week in late July. During the summer festival, decorations are put up on the main Kagurazaka street and there are parades of various traditional Japanese dances. There are also lots of food stalls selling festival foods near the Zenkokuji Temple area. Best of all, it’s absolutely free, so we recommend checking it out if you’re in the area!

Places to Eat

Canal Cafe

Canal Cafe - Tokyo, Japan - DSC04913

Italian food an desserts right in the middle of the river. 

Hours: 11:30am – 11:00pm

Address: 1-9 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-3260-8068

Kagurazaka Sushi Academy

Sushi buffet run and managed by a sushi chef training school. 

Hours: Weekdays 11:30am – 3:00pm, 5:00pm – 10:00pm, 

            Weekends 11:30am – 10:00pm,

             closed Wednesdays

Address: 3 Chome-6-3 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

Phone Number: +81 50-5266-0379

Oreryu Shio Ramen Kagurazaka

Small chain ramen shop

Hours: 10:00am – 6:00am

Address: 2 Chome-11 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-3266-1050

Kagurazaka Saryo Honten

Japanese set menu and desserts

Hours: 11:30am – 11:00pm

Address: 5 Chome-9 Kagurazaka, Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0825, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-3266-0880


Soba shop

Hours: 11:30am – 2:30pm, 5:00pm – 8:30pm, closed Monday, Sunday

Address: Japan, 〒162-0825 Tokyo, Shinjuku City, Kagurazaka, 3 Chome−6 神楽坂館1階

Phone Number: +81 3-3269-3233

Kagurazaka Kado

Very traditional Japanese restaurant. 

Hours: Weekdays 4:00pm – 10:30pm,

             Weekends 2:00pm – 10:30pm,

             Closed Mondays

Address: 1-32 Akagi Motomachi, 新宿区 Shinjuku City, Tokyo 162-0817, Japan

Phone Number: +81 3-3268-2410

Where to Stay Near Kagurazaka

Kagurazaka is a great place to stay in Tokyo and there are lots of affordable options near Iidabashi station. It’s also very convenient being positioned in the middle and having transportation options to many popular places in Tokyo. If you plan on exploring Tokyo from Kagurazaka station, we highly recommend getting a Metro Pass since many of these lines operate here. 

Budget Option:

Mid-Range Option:


Things to do in Shibuya

The Times Square of Japan. 

Home to the famous Shibuya Crossing, countless skyscrapers, and a vibrant night life, Shibuya is one of the busiest places in Tokyo and the city that never sleeps. It’s known as the center of pop culture in Japan and there’s an endless selection of entertainment, restaurant, and izakaya. During the day, there’s also lots to see including unique shops and cultural sites. We hope that this guide can show you the best that Shibuya has to offer. 

Things to do

Experience the Shibuya Crossing

Locals tend to try to avoid the Shibuya Crossing, but to everybody else, it’s quite a sight. On a busy night, up to 2,500 people cross the intersection at once and it’s considered one of the busiest crossings in the world. 

After you experience it first-hand, take a step back and watch the crossing from a distance to see it’s real magic. These are some recommended places to get a good view of the crossing:

  • Starbucks in the Tsutaya building
  • L’occitane cafe
  • Mag’s Park in Magnet
  • Roof of Shibuya Scramble Square

Address: 2 Chome-2-1 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0043, Japan

Take a Picture with Hachiko

The Hachiko statue was built in memory of a truly loyal dog named Hachiko. 

Hachiko was a dog who had a special bond with it’s owner. The dog was very loyal and always showed up to Shibuya station in the afternoon to greet his owner after work. Unfortunately, it’s owner died while at work in 1925, but the dog continued to come back to Shibuya station at the same time, every single day. Hachiko kept this up for 10 years past his owner’s death, and only stopped because Hachiko had passed away as well. In honor of the dog’s loyalty, its body was cremated and was placed next to his owner’s ashes.

Address: 1 Chome-2 Dogenzaka, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0043, Japan

Konno Hachimangu Shrine


Rs1421 / CC BY-SA

If you’re curious about the history of the Shibuya area, then you should definitely check out Konno Hachimangu Shrine. This 900 year old shrine is the site of the Shibuya family, the family from which Shibuya was named after. Despite being in one of the busiest places in Japan, it’s one of the less popular shrines in Tokyo, so it may be a quieter experience than shrines like Asakusa. 

Hours: 24 hours

Address: 3 Chome-5-12 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan

Cost: Free

Phone Number: 03-3407-1811

Check out Tower Records

Tower Records Shibuya

Another interesting thing to do in Shibuya is to check out the flagship store of the famous Tower Records in Shibuya. Out of all the 85+ stores they have across Japan, the one in Shibuya is the biggest, and there are 8 stories filled with various genres of music from the latest hits to old school classics. This is also one of the few places in Tokyo where they still sell CDs and vinyls which may interest some collectors. There’s also a cafe inside with a nice atmosphere where you can grab a light snack!

Hours: 10:00am – 11:00pm

Address: 1 Chome-22-14 Jinnan, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0041, Japan

Phone Number: 03-3496-3661

Shop at 6 Floors of Muji Store

Over the last few years, Muji has gotten popular outside of Japan, and if you’re a fan as well, then you need to check out the 6 story Muji store in Shibuya! Muji is known for its simple yet high quality products and this Muji store has all kinds of selections and even a cafe!

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: Japan, 〒150-0042 Tokyo, Shibuya City, Udagawacho, 21−1 モヴィーダ館B1~5F Parking Building, B1F 渋谷西武

Phone Number: 03-3770-1636

Visit the Very First Tokyu Hands Store

DeepSkyBlue / CC BY-SA

Tokyu Hands is a department store in Japan and it’s also one of the best place to go to for DIY materials. The store in Shibuya is the first Tokyu Hands store ever and may be worth checking out to get a unique Japanese souvenir!

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 12-18 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan

Phone Number: 03-5489-5111

Splurge at Mega Don Quijote

The biggest Don Quijote in Japan is located in Shibuya and it is HUGE. The Mega Don Quijote is a massive 7 story building that’s open for 24 hours and has everything from souvenirs to imports and shampoos to today’s lunch. Best of all, it’s tax free for tourists so take advantage while you’re here!

Hours: 24 hours

Address: 28-6 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 154-0042, Japan

Phone Number: 03-5428-4086

Take in Some Art at the Parco Building

Towards the end of 2019, the new Parco Building opened up in Shibuya and this place is almost like an art museum. There are various manga inspired figures and artwork displayed throughout the building. There’s also a Pokemon store, free rooftop garden access, and is home to Japan’s first official Nintendo store.

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 15-1 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-8377, Japan

Phone Number: 03-3464-5111

Shibuya Scramble Square

2019 Shibuya Scramble Square 1
Kakidai / CC BY-SA

The Shibuya Scramble Square opened towards the end of 2019 and became the tallest skyscraper in Shibuya. This 47 story skyscraper has to offer various traditional and western restaurants, office buildings, shopping malls, and the tallest view of Shibuya with the rooftop observation deck.

Hours: 10:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 2 Chome-24-12 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan

Phone Number: 03-4221-4280

Shibuya Stream

Once you’re done exploring rooftops, you can come to the southern end of Shibuya and take a stroll through Shibuya Stream. On the inside, there’s office buildings, shopping malls, and restaurants, similar to the Shibuya Scramble Square building. On the outside, there’s an LED lit stairs and a river bank with aesthetic illuminations running along it which is the perfect spot to take your date after a nice dinner!

Hours: Weekdays 11:00am – 1:00am, 

             Saturdays 11:00am – 10:00pm,

              Sundays 11:00am – 9:00pm

Address: 3 Chome-21-3 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan

Phone Number: +81 570-050-428

The Shibuya Night Life

Nonbei Yokocho

Nonbei Yokocho is Shibuya’s version of Golden Gai. Right next to the Shibuya crossing, there’s two alleyways with old architecture houses that are packed with bars and izakaya that can seat up to 5-6 people at a time.

Address: 1 Chome-25 Shibuya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0002, Japan

Center Gai

Shibuya Center Gai

Right across the Shibuya crossing is the entrance to Center Gai. During the day, this area is filled with tourists looking through various shops. At night, this place becomes the gathering place for Tokyo’s youth. From Center Gai, you can have easy access to bars, clubs, or any other way to spend the night.

Hours: 24 hours

Address: 12-3 Udagawacho, Shibuya City, Tokyo 150-0042, Japan

Phone Number: 03-3461-3314

Party at the Club Central of Tokyo

If you’re into clubbing then Shibuya is your place. With over 15 different clubs, ranging from EDM to Hip Hop, Shibuya is the center hub for all kinds of night life. Here are some clubs and their websites for more info. 

Stay Out ALL Night

If you miss the last train, no worries because you’re in Shibuya! There’s lots of places that run 24 hours or at least until the morning train. There’s 24 hour karaoke, ping pong, bowling, billiards, and so much more. If you’re feeling a bit exhausted, you can go relax at a manga/internet cafe nearby and if you’re feeling hungry, McDonalds, Ichiran, and many other chains are open 24 hours as well. 


  • Karaoke
  • Ping pong
  • Bowling
  • Billiard
  • Darts

Place to Rest

  • Internet/Manga cafe
  • Cheap Love Hotels


  • McDonalds
  • Ichiran
  • Matsuya

Restaurants to Try

There are millions of restaurants in Shibuya and with the construction of new buildings, the numbers are only increasing. While we think that there are no bad choices in any restaurant in Shibuya, here are some unique places we’ve discovered that we recommend trying out. 

  • Sushi Uobei/Genki Sushi: Bullet train sushi restaurant
  • Wired Cafe: Awesome cafe in a book store
  • Streamer: Japanese coffee chain.
  • Sincere Shibuya: Michelin star French restaurant
  • Kobe Beef Teppanyaki: Luxury wagyu beef restaurant
  • Afuri ramen: Healthy ramen with yuzu
  • Pizza Slice: Authentic NY Pizza


Shibuya is one of the best places to stay in Japan when it comes to convenience. Not only is everything open til late at night, Shibuya also connects to various places with 10 different lines running through this one station. Here’s are some places that you can easily access from Shibuya:

  • Shimokitazawa
  • Yokohama
  • Kichijoji
  • Kawasaki
  • Kawagoe





  • Shibuya Stream Excel – Luxury style hotel at a moderate price
  • Hotel Koe – Minimal yet luxury hotel with a restaurant, store, and occasional events. 
  • Trunk Hotel – Hotel with stylish interior and modern architecture.


Tokyo Full Guide

Tokyo is a city like no other. 

It’s incredibly massive and there’s so much to explore from cultural experiences to endless night life. The city has a unique balance between modern technology, city-vibes, and cultural traditions. It’s no wonder why Tokyo is one of the most popular destinations in the world!

If it’s going to be your first time in Tokyo, we want to help.

We’ve been living in this urban metropolis for over 3 years and while there’s still a lot we don’t know, we are excited to be able to guide you and show you what this city has to offer!

Best Time to go

The “best” time for planning a trip to Tokyo may depend on what you’re looking for. 

The most popular season to travel to Tokyo is during the sakura and fall foliage season in March, April, October, and November. Big national holidays like New Years, Golden Week(early May), and Obon(mid August) are also popular travel times. During the popular season, air ticket prices peak out and Tokyo can get insanely crowded. 

Any months and dates besides the ones mentioned above are considered to be the off-season and aren’t as busy in comparison (but Tokyo is always crowded). For those that would rather go for the lower cost plane tickets and don’t mind missing out on the nicer seasons, the off-season would be the best time to plan your trip. 

How Long Should I Spend in Tokyo?

Most people say that 5 is the recommended number of days to spend in Tokyo, but there’s no specific number that we can recommend to everyone. 

If you’re planning on traveling around the whole country with the Japan Rail Pass, then we recommend staying anywhere around 2-4 days in Tokyo, which gives you enough time to see most of the major spots of Tokyo and go off to explore the rest of Japan. 

If you’re planning on seeing only the big cities like Tokyo and Osaka, then 5-7 days can be enough to see and enjoy more of Tokyo.

However, Tokyo is massive and if you really want to get to know the city well, it takes much longer than a week. If you find that Tokyo was a great experience after your trip, we recommend coming back and trying different stuff and more local experiences!

How to Get to Tokyo

There are two main airports in Tokyo: Narita and Haneda

You can fly into either one to get to Tokyo, but Haneda is slightly closer to the city so unless there’s a big incentive to fly into Narita, we recommend aiming for Haneda. 

To get to Tokyo from Narita, you can take the Skyliner Express or if you have the Japan Rail Pass, you can ride on the Narita Express without paying extra. From Haneda, you can get to Tokyo by taking either the Keihin Tohoku Line or the Tokyo Monorail.

Another popular way of traveling Japan is to fly into Osaka and then make your way to Tokyo. To get to Tokyo from Osaka, you can either take the Shinkansen or the highway bus. 

Transportation in Tokyo

Trains and subways are the main form of transportation in Tokyo. 

Riding the train can often get confusing since there are different companies operating different lines and each require a different train ticket. what?

To make your Tokyo travels much simpler, we highly recommend downloading Google Maps and getting a Suica Card

Google Maps is extremely useful in Japan and can easily help you find the best route to take. In our opinion, it’s even better than the local app, Navitime.

The Suica Card is the universal transportation card of Japan and can save you a lot of time and confusion. When buying individual tickets for every line, you have to know your destination beforehand and operate a ticket dispenser every time you use a different line. With the Suica Card, you just charge a certain amount and can use the automatic ticket gate to quickly make it in time for the next train. 

Tip for iPhone users: If you own an iPhone, connecting the Suica with Apple Pay can be extremely useful. By doing so, you can charge your Suica Card straight from your bank account instead of exchanging money and using cash. The Suica isn’t limited to trains and can also be used for payment in lots of restaurants and convenience stores. 


Quick Facts About Trains in Tokyo

  • First train starts around 4:00am – 5:00am
  • Last train leaves around 12:00am – 1:00am
  • Peak train hours are 8:00am – 10:00am in the morning and 6:00pm-8:00pm after work. 
  • Trains are crowded going into the city in the morning and out of the city at night. (Most people live outside of Tokyo and work in Tokyo).

Recommended: Get a Metro Pass

Tokyo subway map.PNG
Public Domain, Link

If you’re exploring Tokyo for a couple days, we highly recommend getting the Metro Pass.

The Metro Pass allows unlimited transportation with the Tokyo Metro and Toei Subway lines, which make up most of the transportation in the central parts of Tokyo.

Even if you have decided to purchase the Japan Rail Pass, the Metro Pass can be a great add-on and a much more cost-effective deal within Tokyo. 

If you’re thinking of getting the Japan Rail Pass, we have a guide about that in this post.


Best Area to Stay in Tokyo

For 90% of people traveling to Tokyo, we would recommend accommodation near Shinjuku Station. Shinjuku Station is a very convenient location and by basing yourself here, you can have an extremely easy time getting around. 

We say this because there’s so many benefits of staying in Shinjuku compared to staying in other parts of Tokyo.

  • Shinjuku has 12 different lines and over 200 exits from the station. Shinjuku is a HUGE transportation hub and you can easily get to any other part of Tokyo from here.
  • If you plan on making day trips from Tokyo, then staying in Shinjuku is a must. There’s direct trains to famous spots like Hakone and Yokohama, direct trains to neighboring prefectures, and is home to Tokyo’s biggest bus terminal that provide bus transportation to just about anywhere such as Kusatsu, Fuji 5 Lakes, and much more. 
  • Lastly, Shinjuku is an area that can be enjoyed by anyone. They have various shopping centers, late night izakaya, and restaurants with just about anything. 

For the other 10% of travelers that plan on using the Shinkansen to travel around Japan, we recommend staying near Tokyo Station. By staying close to this station, it lets you take the early Shinkansen and you can have more time to explore other cities.

If you have the Japan Rail Pass, it can be even more beneficial to stay in Tokyo Station and use the Shinkansen to make day trips out to further places. Here are some potential day trip destinations with the JR Pass.

  • Osaka
  • Kanazawa
  • Sendai
  • Nagano
  • Nagoya

One of the main reasons why we recommend Shinjuku before Tokyo is because of the neighborhood. Tokyo Station tends to cater more for the upscale tourists and businessmen while Shinjuku is more universal and has something for everyone. If you want to enjoy more of the nicer atmosphere, we recommend staying at Tokyo Station!

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Where to Stay Near Shinjuku Station

Budget Hostels

  • Imano Tokyo Hostel – Affordable hostel with wifi, cafe/bar, and both dorm and private room choices. 
  • Book and Bed Tokyo Shinjuku – Library themed hostel with capsule-like beds hidden in the bookshelves with a cafe and library. 

Budget Hotels

Mid Range Hotels

  • Hotel Gracery Shinjuku – Western style hotel located in the heart of Kabukicho, behind the famous Godzilla Statue.
  • Shinjuku Granbell Hotel – Hotel with clean interior design and a rooftop bar. Located a couple minutes from Seibu Shinjuku Station. 

Luxury Hotels

  • Keio Plaza Hotel – 4 star hotel with various amenities such as an outdoor pool, shopping arcade, and a gym. Located next to the famous Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building. 
  • Park Hyatt Hotel – 5 star hotel with a clear view of Mt Fuji and an indoor pool. Famous for being the film location for the movie Lost in Translation.

Capsule Hotels


Where to Stay Near Tokyo Station

Capsule Hotels


Budget Hotels

Mid-Range Hotels

Luxury Hotels

  • Marunouchi Hotel – 4 star hotel by the Marunouchi group, located less than a minute from Tokyo Station. Offers a gym, bar, and restaurant with various dining options.
  • The Tokyo Station Hotel – The station itself is also a hotel. It’s a 5-star hotel that comes with upscale rooms, spa, cafe, and restaurant.


  • Hoshinoya Tokyo – Luxurious Ryokan experience, one of the few in the area. Modern design mixed with Traditional Japanese style rooms. 

What to Pack

Seasonal Clothes

Tokyo has 4 seasons and it’s appropriate to bring the right clothes. 

As commonly known, you’d need warm clothes in the winter and thin clothes in the summer. Spring tends to be colder than autumn so you may want to bring a warm jacket in spring and a light jacket in autumn. 

Here’s a rough table of how the seasons are each month. 

Month Season Month Season
January Winter July Summer
February Winter August Summer
March Winter/Spring September Summer/Fall
April Spring October Fall
May Spring/Summer November Fall
June Summer December Winter

Small Compact Umbrella

Tokyo tends to have random but light rainfalls and having a small umbrella around can help. If you happen to be coming during the summer during a typhoon, you may want to invest in a bigger and stronger umbrella, but for all other cases, a small portable one can get you through during your travels. 

Google Translate and Google Maps

Two of the most essential apps that we recommend you have on your phone are Google Translate and Google Maps. These are apps that I still use today, even after living in Japan for several years. 

Google Translate has many functions that can help you through various situations. First, it can help translate your English expressions into Japanese. Next, it has the speech recognition which can help translate you understand what the locals are saying. The most useful function would be the  image recognition where you can take a picture of Japanese text and it can translate for you. This can be really great for reading the menu at restaurants, where the kanji tends to be difficult. 

Google Maps is another extremely useful app in Japan. If you input your destination, it shows you the best routes, a number of other options, and a timetable for when the trains come. The only thing Google Maps is not great at is finding your exact location and which direction you’re facing, especially when using it inside a building. 


There is wifi usually in cafes, hotels, and convenience stores, but it may be a good idea to have your own data plan if possible. Although it’s free, most wifi hotspots in Tokyo require you to sign up and going through this process just to use the wifi every time can get a bit tedious. Plus, having your own data can allow you to navigate with Google Maps and look up places on the go. 

If your data plan doesn’t offer international data, you can purchase a pocket wifi or SIM card that you can pick up at the airport.

Buy Pocket Wifi here

Buy SIM card here


Tokyo has made progression with cashless payment, but there are lots of places where you will still need cash. For example, most mom and pop stores and restaurants with the ticket dispenser require cash. Lots of other traditional places require cash as well. 

If you forgot to bring cash, there are lots of places to withdraw cash. Cash can be withdrawn at any Japan Post ATM and Seven Eleven ATMs, which can be found almost anywhere in Tokyo. 


If you’re traveling to Tokyo during the summer, it’s probably a good idea to bring your own deodorant. Japanese deodorant is made for Japanese people and may not work at all for some people.

Electric Adapter

Japanese outlets have the same shape as the ones in the US. If you’re coming from the US, you won’t be able to connect your three-prong outlets. If you’re coming from outside of the US, you may need to bring an electrical adapter.

Popular Things to do

Tokyo is a huge city and there are endless amounts of things to do here. Here are some places that you can check out grouped into different categories. 


  • Sensoji Temple
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Oedo Onsen
  • Tokyo Imperial Palace
  • Tsukiji Fish Market
  • Akihabara 


  • Ueno Park
  • Shinjuku Gyoen
  • Yoyogi Park

Exhibitions and Amusement Parks

Awesome Views

  • Shinjuku Metropolitan Building
  • Tokyo Skytree
  • Tokyo Tower

Food to Try

Tokyo doesn’t have its own regional specialty, but its a place where you can find lots of great restaurants and specialties from all over Japan. Here are some foods to try when visiting Tokyo.


Ramen is a classic when you come to Japan and you can find ramen literally everywhere in Tokyo. There’s all kinds of shops from famous chains like Ichiran or Ippudo to local mom and pop restaurants in each block. There’s also lots of affordable Michelin Star ramen restaurants in areas like Shinjuku and Otsuka and worth trying out!

Beef Bowl

Beef bowls are the popular cheap and fast food of Tokyo. There’s popular chains like Sukiya, Yoshinoya, and Matsuya and you often see these places fill up with businessmen during lunch or students after an event. If you don’t have any huge dinner plans, we recommend filling some of your meals with a beef bowl!

Stamina Bowl

A stamina bowl is an upgraded version of a beef bowl and its one of my personal favorites in Japan.. Stamina bowls are essentially pork fried with garlic and soy sauce, over a bowl of rice with a raw egg on top. It’s one of the more filling dishes that you can eat in Japan at an affordable price. 

Convenience Store Food

If you’re from outside of Asia, the convenience store foods might be something new. Convenience stores in Japan don’t limit to just chips and drinks like they do in America. They have a huge selection of full meals, school supplies, household goods, printing machines, and so much more. Shopping at a convenience store is fun and we recommend stopping by a nearby convenience store and eating in for a night!


If it’s your first time in Japan, you have to try sushi. If you mention sushi in America, people often think of rolls with lots of sauce and decoration on top, but in Japan, it’s simply raw fish on top of sushi rice. You can try the high-end omakase sushi bars, but even the cheap, conveyor belt (kaiten) sushi in Japan has decent quality.

Wagyu Steak

If you want to try some of the finer foods of Tokyo, we recommend trying the Wagyu steak. Wagyu is the high end Japanese beef which is made from cows that have an even balance of fat and muscle. When you eat wagyu, the meat is extremely soft and just melts in your mouth. 

Tokyo’s Different Districts

One of the best features of Tokyo is the different atmosphere of each neighborhood. Every area in Tokyo has a different vibe and there’s sure to be an area that matches yours. 

  • Shinjuku
  • Shibuya
  • Tokyo Station
  • Akihabara
  • Ikebukuro
  • Ebisu/Daikanyama
  • Kichijoji
  • Shimokitazawa

Day Trips from Tokyo

When traveling to Tokyo, day trips are half the experience. There are lots of stunning destinations close to Tokyo that are definitely worth visiting. We highly recommend adding a day trip or two into your travel itinerary as it can add a good balance to the urban settings of Tokyo!


Kamakura is one of the most simple day trips you can take from Tokyo. Kamakura is located in Kanazawa prefecture and it only takes an hour to get there by the Yokosuka line from Tokyo station. The area is famous for lots of small temples and shrines. It’s most easily recognizable by big buddha statue and is also a popular beach destination as well. 


If you want to have a proper ryokan and onsen experience in Tokyo, come out to Hakone. Japan is known to have small villages that have some of the best onsen and Hakone is one of the closest ones to Tokyo. While a day trip out to Hakone is still awesome, we recommend staying for one night at a ryokan, if possible, to get the full value out of this onsen village.

Get the Hakone and Mt Fuji Day Tour here


Yokohama feels like the suburbs with less hustle and bustle, but still keeping a lively atmosphere. Head over to Minato Mirai, where you can enjoy a nice stroll on the harbor front with a gorgeous view. Yokohama is also home to the largest Chinatown in Japan, Motomachi Chukagai. Here, you can enjoy some of the best Chinese food you can find in Japan, like steamed buns and dim sum. 

Fuji Five Lakes

Even without climbing Mt. Fuji, you can still appreciate the heart of Japan by coming up close and personal. More than just a viewpoint for Mt. Fuji, the Fuji Five Lake area makes for a perfect day trip from Tokyo, having an amusement park, stunning nature, and the nice peaceful atmosphere that exists only in the Japanese countryside. 

Purchase Mt Fuji Day Tour here


We hope that this guide was helpful to you and that you have an awesome time in Tokyo. There is so much to see and do in Tokyo and if you’re planning a trip to Japan, Tokyo is definitely one of the places to visit. 


Step-by-Step Guide for Traveling to Japan for the First Time

Traveling to a brand new country can be exciting but scary at the same time. The thrilling feeling of finally crossing a destination off of your bucket list mixed with not knowing how to prepare for it. 

If Japan is a place you’ll be traveling to soon, we’re so excited for you!

There is so much to see and do in Japan. The cities have a nice balance between modern technologies and timeless culture. Explore out and you’ll find plenty of off the beaten paths to natural destinations with beautiful landscapes. 

We prepared this guide for the first-timers and those who don’t have much experience traveling to an Asian country. We’ll walk you through the different processes you need from choosing the best time for your trip, all the way to finally packing your bags for departure. 

This post is packed with lots of information so be sure to pin it to reference later!

1. Choosing the Best Time to Go

The first step to planning any trip is to decide when to go. 

This may depend mostly on your availability but other factors like ticket prices and seasons have an effect as well. Like most other countries, Japan has a tourism peak season and off-peak season as well. This not only affects the air ticket prices, but also how crowded it gets in Japan. 

When is Peak Travel Season in Japan?

Japan’s peak travel season is during the seasons of spring and autumn, around March, April, October, and November. In particular, many people visit Japan during these seasons to view the sakura flowers and the fall foliage. The weather is also much nicer in these seasons compared to winter and summer. 

In addition to the seasons, travel peaks in Japan during major holidays in Japan. These holidays include New Years, Golden Week(early may), Obon(mid August), and some three day weekends. During these holidays, a lot of travel happens domestically, so lots of flight and hotel prices tend to go up.

Prices and number of people may increase during the peak seasons, but there are pros to visiting during these popular times. There are seasonal events that occur throughout Japan, like the Obon festival and the summer fireworks festivals. Sakura and fall foliage seasons are incredibly popular too as the country becomes covered in different colors. 

Japan During the Off-Peak Season

Off-peak travel season in Japan is any dates in between the popular seasons. This is mostly during the months of winter and summer, when the weather is not as pleasant. 

The advantages of traveling during the off season are that the air fare and hotels will be cheaper and there will be less people at the destinations. Big cities like Tokyo and Osaka tend to get very crowded during peak seasons and this can lead to bad travel experiences for some, so off season might be a better time to travel for some people.

How Many Days Should I Spend in Japan?

Let’s be honest. No amount of days is actually enough to see all of Japan. However, when traveling, most people choose anywhere between 5 to 14 days to spend in Japan.

In our opinion, 1 week is just enough to get a sample for different parts of Japan and 2 weeks is a good amount of time for a much deeper Japan experience. This way, you can spend 2-4 days in the city and make smaller trips out to smaller off the beaten path destinations. 

If it’s your first time in Japan, we recommend going for 2 weeks or more, but if that’s not possible, spending 7 days to get a taste of several different places in Japan may also be a great choice. 


When to Book Your Flight?

We recommend booking your flight 2 to 3 months in advance. If you decide to travel during the peak seasons/dates mentioned above, we recommend securing your tickets up to 6 months in advance. You may be able to find fair prices despite the peak season!

When booking international flights, it’s a general rule of thumb to book around 2-3 months prior. However, depending on the season and the destination, the best time to buy your tickets may vary.

2. Plan out your Itinerary

Congrats! You just booked your tickets to Japan! Now it’s time to plan out your itinerary and decide which areas you want to explore. 

Tokyo and Kyoto are two of the most popular destinations in Japan. Kanazawa, Kusatsu, and Okinawa are some of our personal recommendations.

How many days to spend in each location may depend on many different factors. In general, we recommend spending around 2 to 4 days per location for a 7-day trip and 4 to 5 days for a 14-day trip. 

3. Booking Your Hotel/Accommodation

Once you decide on your general itinerary, we recommend looking for and confirming your accommodation ahead of time.

For most places, it’s safe to book your accommodation at least a month ahead, but if you’re traveling during peak season or decide to stay at a popular hotel, bookings can run out up to 2 months in advance. Even accommodations in convenient locations such as city centers and near stations run out of rooms quiet early on.

A personal and honest statement, we tend to use when we can, because it allows you to make reservations for a room, which we can cancel anytime, before booking it. This is extremely useful for when you’re trying to decide between multiple accommodations. 

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4. Prepare For the Trip

You have your flight booked and your hotel reserved. Now it’s time to prepare the smaller details for the trip. 

Confirm Your Visa

This is one of the first things you should do after booking your flight and hotel.

For most people reading this, they can receive a tourist visa for Japan upon arrival, but for some, they may need to fill out some prior paperwork. 

In this website, you can see under which category your passport falls under. The application needs to be filled out after your flight and accommodation is confirmed, but it’s better to check if you require a visa before deciding on your destination.

Check Transportation Methods

You’ve decided which areas you want to go to in Japan. Now it’s time to find out how to get there. For most places in Japan, you can get there either by bus or the bullet train (Shinkansen). 

You may want to look into getting a Japan Rail Pass, as it gives unlimited Shinkansen rides that connects various parts of Japan. For more information on the pass, you can read our beginner’s guide to the Japan Rail Pass or purchase the pass here.

Get a Suica Card

The Suica Card is the universal transportation card that you can use on nearly any train or bus throughout Japan. 

You charge it up with cash at train stations and you can scan it to board the train. Many stores and restaurants also take Suica as a form of payment, which allows you to go through checkout in a swift manner.

Pre-purchasing a Suica Card can be a good choice for two reasons: you can use your home currency to buy it and you don’t have to go through the hassle of using the Japanese machines to purchase one. 

Pro-tip: If you have an iPhone with Apple Pay, we highly recommend registering your Suica Card to your phone. This allows you to recharge your Suica Card with your credit card instead of using your exchanged Japanese cash which is the only option. This method is not only convenient, but also saves you lots of currency exchange fees. 

International Drivers Permit

Japan has great public transportation that connects most parts of the country, but for some places, renting a car can be much more convenient. If you plan on renting a car to explore the beautiful countrysides of Japan, don’t forget to get your International Drivers Permit before coming to Japan!

Google Translate

Google Translate is an essential item for anywhere that you travel to. 

It’s convenient for when you want to say a certain phrase and also for understanding a certain phrase with voice recognition. The image translation allows you to take a picture and read signs and menus, which is extremely convenient for traditional Japanese restaurants (which has lots of difficult kanji letters). 

One note of advice, the translation isn’t 100% perfect so you shouldn’t always take the translation directly. 

Google Maps

Google Maps is another convenient app that you should get for your Japan trip. It has information on all the trains in Japan and shows you the time tables for every vehicle. It’s definitely a must to avoid getting lost in Japan!

Pocket Wifi

Wifi isn’t a necessity, but it’ll definitely enhance your travel experience. There is public wifi available in stations and convenience stores, but it requires you to sign up every time you use it. If your phone service provider doesn’t have an international data plan, you can buy pocket wifi and pick it up at the airport. 


Convert Money

More and more shops in Japan are starting to adopt a form of cashless payment, but there’s still a a good amount that only accepts cash. You can use your credit card for the most part in the cities, but in the countryside, cash is still dominant. 

If you need to exchange cash once you’re in Japan, look for a Japan Post or a Seven Eleven ATM!

Attraction Tickets

If you plan on going to an attraction, it can be a good idea to pre-purchase your ticket. Here are tickets you can pre-purchase for popular attractions around the Tokyo area.

Travel Insurance

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world, but it’s also one of the most expensive ones too. If something out of your control were to happen during your trip, having travel insurance can help cover various things like medical emergencies, lost baggage, sudden cancellations of trips or tours, and many other occurrences. 

Budgeting For Your Trip

Budgeting for a trip is hard, especially if it’s you barely even know the name of the currency. Everyone’s spendings are different, but for the average, medium range travelers, setting aside about 10,000 yen per day is sufficient. 

This is for what you would be spending for daily travels, such as going to restaurants, transportation costs, park admissions, and daily necessities. It doesn’t include alcohol cost, shopping, and other prepaid costs such as flight, hotel, and wifi. 

Learn Basic Useful Phrases

Last but not least, it’s helpful to know a couple phrases. 

  • Arigatou gozaimasu – Thank you very much
  • ___ wa doko desuka? – Where is ___?
  • Kore wa ikura desuka? – How much is this?
  • Osusume wa nan desuka? – What is your recommendation?
  • Ohayo Gozaimasu. – Good Morning.
  • Otsukare sama desu. – Used as every other greeting except good morning.

5. Pack your bags

The dates are closing in and its time to start packing your bags. This is usually the time when it hits you and you start to feel the excitement. It’s also the time when you start to search for everything to bring and constantly ask yourself the question “am i missing anything?”

To help ease some of the nerves, here is a list of some important things to pack.


The one very most important thing to pack. Keep it at an easy to find place before your travels. 

Seasonal Clothes

Japan is a country with all 4 seasons and the weather changes drastically with the seasons. What to wear may depend on where in Japan you’re traveling to as well, but here is a general rule of thumb. 

  • Winter: Warm clothes. 
  • Spring: Warm jacket
  • Summer: Thin clothes
  • Fall: Thin Jacket

How Many Clothes to Pack?

For a 7-day trip: 

  • 3 shirts
  • 4 underwear/socks
  • 2 pairs of pants

For 14-day trip:

  • 5 shirts
  • 6 underwear/socks
  • 2-3 pairs of pants

Power Adapter

Japan has same shape as US but doesn’t have the three prong outlets and higher voltage. Having a universal power adapter is useful so that you can use it when you visit other countries with completely different shapes. 

Comfortable Shoes

You’ll be walking a lot during your travels so it’s important to have comfortable shoes to walk in. 

External Battery

If your phone is several years old and the battery dies quickly, this starts to become more of a necessity when traveling. Getting a cheap one won’t do too much good. 

Compact Umbrella

No matter the season, Japan has random rainfalls. It’s good to keep around a small compact travel umbrella instead of buying one of those clear convenience store umbrellas only to use it once. 


Keeping a pack can be good for traveling in general. Even if you don’t bring a complete set, we highly recommend bringing deodorant if you’re coming during the summer since Japan’s deodorant is known to be extremely weak. 

Your Best Camera

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring a camera! This can be anything from your phone to a professional one. Japan has many beautiful places and why not take some of these images back home with you?

If you want a nice, simple travel camera, try this one! It comes with everything you need for travel including SD card, mini tripod, extra battery, and much more. 

6. Enjoying Your Trip!

We hope that you have an awesome time in Japan! If you’re looking for things to do while you’re here, don’t forget to check out our other articles!



Guide to Kusatsu Onsen

If you love hot springs and you’re in the Tokyo area, why not take a trip out to Kusatsu Onsen Village?

Kusatsu is one of the most famous onsen villages in Japan, yet it’s not very known by those who travel to japan. The village is at 1200m above sea level in Gunma Prefecture and it’s a close distance to Tokyo. 

Kusatsu is also a great place to go for hiking in the summer and snowboarding in the winter, which are both great activities when combined with the natural healing hot spring waters. 

About Kusatsu

What’s most interesting about Kusatsu is that the local culture developed around the hot springs. The most famous landmark, Yubatake, is the heart and soul of the village and is located right in the middle. The Yumomi dance, started off as a method of cooling down the hot spring waters and has developed into a cultural dance. There’s also an endless choice of ryokans in this village where you can relax in the onsens and experience the finest Japanese hospitality. There are also free hot springs located throughout the village where you can just walk in and soak while you’re traveling.

Best Time to Visit

Winter is probably the best time to visit Kusatsu, and just about any onsen village. There’s no feeling like hopping into a nice warm open air bath on a cold, winter day. 

In addition to that, the slopes open up for winter sports and there’s a ski resort located just 20 minute walk from the onsen village. In Japan, snowboarding and onsen go together like milk and cookies, which makes Kusatsu one of the best places to go snowboarding in Japan!

How Much Time to Spend in Kusatsu?

Kusatsu Onsen Village is quite small and to be honest, it can be covered in a day. However, the charm point is the hot spring so we recommend staying one night in Kusatsu to take your time and experience the high quality hot spring waters. 

Getting to Kusatsu From Tokyo

The best way to get to Kusatsu is to take either the Shinkansen or bus from Tokyo.

By Shinkansen

Getting there by Shinkansen takes about 3 hours and requires two trains and a bus. This is the recommended way for those with the Japan Rail Pass since you can ride the Shinkansen for free. 

From Tokyo Station, take the Joetsu Shinkansen to Takasaki Station and switch to the JR Kusatsu Limited Express train. You get off at Naganohara Kusatsuguchi Station and transfer to the Kusatsu Onsen bus to get to the village. 

By Bus

For those without a Japan Rail Pass, you can get to Kusatsu Onsen Village at less than half the cost of the Shinkansen. It takes 4 hours but there are also no transfers. Two popular English highway companies are Willer Express and Highway Buses.

Things to do in Kusatsu


The Yubatake is the heart and soul of Kusatsu. Translating to “Hot Spring Field”, the Yubatake is a massive fixture that pumps up hot spring water and cools it down in the middle of central Kusatsu. You can definitely smell the sulfur as it pumps out about 4000 liters per minute, which makes it Japan’s biggest source for hot spring water. If you’ve seen it in the daytime, we suggest visiting it again at night, when the fixture is lit up!

Yukemuri-tei Hot Spring Foot Bath

There’s a small foot bath (ashi yu) located right next to the giant Yubatake. Here you can sit down, relax, and dip your feet into a small pool of the water cooled down through the yubatake. 

Watch the Traditional Dance at Netsu No Yu

After the hot spring water is cooled through the Yubatake, the water temperature ranges around 51 to 94 Celsius which is still too hot to bathe in. Mixing this water with cold water would take out the value of the hot spring water, so the traditional method to cooling it down is by stirring it with a long wide paddle. This process developed into a traditional dance called Yumomi, in which they sing folk songs while churning the water.

At Netsu No Yu, you can watch the Yumomi performance and participate as well! Entering Netsu No Yu costs around 600 yen and the performance happens up to 6 times a day. Netsu No Yu is extremely popular among locals and extremely long lines can form, but the building can fit a lot of people so we recommend going in and taking a look.

Kosenji Temple

From the Yubatake, you may notice a set of long stairs leading up to a red temple. If you take the stairs up, you arrive at Kosenji Temple, and you also get a nice clear view of the Kusatsu Onsen Village. 

Sainokawara Park, a Natural, Hot Spring Park

You’ll never see anyone leave Kusatsu without visiting the Sainokawara Park. Sainokawara Park is a natural park located close to the central area of Kusatsu. Here you’ll see streams and puddles of what looks like rainwater but is actually hot spring water. 

Towards the other end of the park is the Sainokawara Rotenburo (open air bath), one of the biggest open air baths in Japan. The baths are usually separated men and women, but around once a week at night, you wear a special gown and the baths become multi-gender. This onsen also allows tattoos as well!

Kusatsu Tropical Wonderland Zoo

What looks like a small sphere dome towards the east of the Yubatake is actually a zoo. The Kusatsu Tropical Wonderland may not look like much from the outside but is Japan’s highest zoo and is actually the number one zoo when it comes to reptiles. It houses many rare species and many visit the zoo to view the ruffed Lemur.

Hike up Mt Shirane in the Summer


You can take a bus from Kusatsu to Mt Shirane, a nearby active stratovolcano. Near the top of Mt. Shirane is the Yugama Crater Lake with its sky blue colored waters. 

The mountain is closed during the winter and bus routes usually run from April to November, so if you happen to visit during the summer, we recommend taking a short hike up to see the incredible views!

Ski & Snowboard in Kusatsu in the Winter

There’s no other feeling like soaking in hot, mineral-rich water after a long day of snowboarding.

In Japan, winter sports and onsen go together like bread goes with butter and very few ski resorts have onsens with bath quality like the one at Kusatsu. The Kusatsu ski resort isn’t huge like Niseko or Hakuba, but it also isn’t as crowded. It’s also one of the closest ski resorts to Tokyo, which makes it a great winter destination!

Dip in the 3 Famous Onsens

While there’s a ton of free onsens, there are three famous ones that are paid: Otaki no Yu, Saigonawara Rotenburo, and Goza no yu. 

Saigonawara Rotenburo is the only outdoor one located at the end of Sainokawara Park and the other two are indoors. If you’re a huge fan of onsen, we recommend checking out all three!

Try out a Free Public Onsen

If you walk around Kusatsu, you may notice small bath houses that kinda look like bathrooms. They’re actually small public bath houses and they’re completely free!

Theres many of these throughout the village and you can just walk in and have a bath in a small tub. They tend to be small tubs filled with very hot water so it may not be pleasant, but it’s still worth peeking into. 

There’s 19 in total and they’re hard to recognize. Try to see if you can spot them spread throughout the village!

  • Shirahata no Yu (白旗の湯)
  • Okina no Yu (翁の湯)
  • Chiyo no Yu (千代の湯)
  • Choju no Yu (長寿の湯)
  • Shirane no Yu (白嶺の湯)
  • Chitose no Yu (千歳の湯)
  • Ruri no Yu (瑠璃の湯)
  • Seki no Yu (関の湯)
  • Mutsumi no Yu (睦の湯)
  • Kimi no Yu (喜美の湯)
  • Tatsumi no Yu (巽の湯)
  • Jizo no Yu (地蔵の湯)
  • Nikawa no Yu (煮川の湯)
  • Nagi no yu (凪の湯)
  • Megumi no Yu(恵の湯)
  • Tsutsuji no Yu (躑躅の湯)
  • Choei no Yu (長栄の湯)
  • Kobushi no Yu (こぶしの湯)
  • Midori no Yu (碧の湯) 


There isn’t a whole lot of selections when it comes to restaurants in Kusatsu, but these are some that are worth checking out!

  • Cafe/Bar R
  • Chikyu ya
  • Yumehan
  • Mikuniya
  • Yumehana

Where to Stay in Kusatsu


  • Hotel Ichii – Spacious ryokan with Japanese and western rooms overlooking the famous Yubatake. 
  • Hotel Sakurai – Upscale hotel with western room options, surrounded by tranquil gardens.
  • Ryokan Tokinoniwa – One of the few 4 star hotels with outdoor baths, free dining, and sake bar.

Mid Range 

  • Yubatake Souan – Western style accommodation located near the village center.
  • Kusatsu Hot Spring Hotel Takamatsu – Modern upscale hot spring hotel at an affordable rate.