Japan always finds a way to amaze me every time I visit. With good friends and two weeks of nonstop movement, we managed to cover a lot of ground over the course of our trip. This trip was sponsored by Doob3D, so you will be seeing my mini action figure in a lot of the images.
It's been roughly three years since my last visit to Japan, but I'm most excited for this particular trip because I've never visited in the fall. It's not cherry blossom season, but the climate and the scenery during this time of year just cannot be beat. The flight coming into Narita was about 11+ hours. It's probably one of the longer flights that I've been on all year, but it was surprisingly smooth going all the way. Wish I could say the same about the immigration and customs process!
This trip was intended as a vacation with friends that starts with a tour from Narita through Osaka and then ends with a five day journey from Yokohama to Tokyo. All in all, two weeks of nonstop movement was pretty much the breakdown I was looking at.
Here is some advice for new travelers... here are two things you should invest in before you plan your trip to Japan.
#1. JR Rail Pass. If you're a tourist traveling into the country, this will save you a lot of headache using the subways and trains. This pass will allow you to use any JR train, including the Hikari and Kodama Shinkansen. It won't allow you to use the Tokyo Metro Lines, but you can buy a Pasmo card and fill it up with money for that. This offer is only available for foreign travelers, so you will not be able to purchase this when you arrive. You will have to activate it at the airport when you get in, which will take a while because the lines might get pretty long going into the office. You can purchase it using this link.
#2. Pocket Wi-fi. This is a lifesaver and I wish they offered this everywhere. You pay a flat fee of $49 for unlimited bandwidth and data for wi-fi coverage all over the country. This is more data than you would ever receive with any international data plan and it will save you a lot of money. You can have it sent to the post office at any airport and pick it up from there. You can even set the days that you want the wi-fi activated! Here is the link to purchase the add-on.
Once we got out of the gates, we took the shuttle directly to our hotel at the Narita Excel Hotel Tokyu around 8 PM. This will eventually be the first stop in our tour, so they booked us an overnight stay here. The guys and I only had time for a nice dinner at the top of the hotel at this quaint view top Japanese restaurant called Azuma.
I would totally recommend it because this restaurant offers a various selection of traditional Japanese foods that are well prepared with an emphasis on presentation. I selected the sashimi set course on the menu which had an excellent selection of fish and Japanese side dishes. Needless to say, everyone was stuffed and ready to hit the sack for the next day.
As a side note, my trip to Japan was partially sponsored by Doob3D... a 3D printing company of miniatures for personal figures. You'll be seeing a lot of my action figure in many of these shots, so if you like what you see, please visit this site and create one for yourself! They make wonderful holiday gifts.