“You’ve never been to Japan?!”

“You’ve never been to Japan?!” - I’d just lost my dream job, was wondering what to do next, so I packed my bags and finally booked that flight. 

Being an avid traveller, it was a rare feeling of nervousness that I had about this trip. Honestly, I was afraid of getting lost, but as I’d been told by many, “that’s the best part about Japan”.

Armed with a list of weird and wonderful places to visit but with limited time to organise, I used Rome2rio to plan out the whole holiday – it made everything so easy! I found some great deals, cheap transport, boats, trains and planes. If I had tried to book flights and transport on my own it would have cost almost double what I paid.

So off I went, addresses for accommodation printed out, exchange rate card stuck to the back of my phone and passport in hand! It was sunny and hot when I arrived and as expected at times I found myself on unplanned adventures getting lost in the city. I spent my first day exploring beautiful Osaka and walked 32,000 steps (you can see my health app if you don’t believe me).

Tip 1: Hire a bike. It’s a much more fun, fast and effective way to get around the bike friendly cities of Japan.

Geisha in Gion - Kyoto

A few days later I travelled via 2 trains to Kyoto. After walking the Philosophers Path, spotting two Geisha’s in Gion and eating at the famous Nishiki Market I found myself searching for somewhere to sit and rest.

Tip 2: There are air-conditioned department stores everywhere. Take advantage and head inside to cool down and rest your feet.

Another train and a few hours in transit later, I had finally made it to Tokyo. It was just like the movies – starting with Shibuya Station Crossing to getting lost in translation at Sega game centres.

Tip 4: Sega's are open 24hrs and are the perfect bit of night-time fun

Tokyo was wild, I spent my days holding hedgehogs and getting trendy in Harajuku and let me tell you the world’s best Ramen at Ichiran was well worth the wait.

Tip 5:  Many restaurants are made to suit dining alone, set up with solo booths for the millions of people who live in the city alone and dine alone daily.

Harry Hedgehog Cafe - Harajuku
Pork Ramen - Ichiran, Shinjuku

The trip was incredible and life-changing but it didn’t come without its minor frustrations of being solo in such a confusing country. 

If I had of known these 5 things before I left it would have made travelling there just a little bit easier:

  • Street numbers are in no order what so ever… try to use Google maps where you can
  • Get a JR Rail Pass if you are headed to Tokyo, you will save so much money
  • You just have to flash your rail pass at the station masters and they will let you walk through, don’t bother looking for a place to swipe it
  • Once you put your 2hr train ticket into a ticketing machine to exit a station, it doesn’t pop out at the other end – just keep walking!
  • Don’t get a sim card as most accommodations supply you with a portable wi-fi to take wherever you go.

There's so much more to share about my trip to Japan but I hope these little hints and tips help you plan your first solo-trip there too!

Birds Eye View of Shibuya Station Crossing
Photobooth photos from Sega Games Centre Tokyo