Our 2 week Japan vacation

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We've been back from our 2 week Japan vacation for about 1.5 week now. For some reason the 2 weeks in Japan felt much longer. I guess that happens when you're on vacation. šŸ™‚

I've been to Japan numerous times for business previously. I usually tagged on a few vacation days at the end of my trips so I could travel around the country. This was my first time to be traveling in Japan for 2 weeks completely onĀ our own schedule. We had a great time in Japan and really loved the country, especially all the different types of food. AsĀ mentioned in my traveling with a toddler in Japan post, traveling with a toddler offered some challenges. Adapting traveling plans and schedules to Baby T was a good idea. After two weeks battling with the crowd constantly and hearing noises on speakers whenever we were outside, we were ready to come home to Vancouver.

Slower pace travel
We decided to travel on a slower pace since we're traveling with Baby T. We visited the following cities - Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Fukuoka. When I traveled along in Japan, I was definitely moving at a faster pace. The slower pace was nice though, allowed us to relax and enjoy our time. It alsoĀ provided lots of flexibility so we couldĀ alterĀ to our plans.

4 nights in Tokyo
We flew into Haneda Airport with ANA on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I love flying into Haneda because it's so close to Tokyo. We managed to get out of the airport in 30Ā minutes after landing and converted our Japan Rail Pass before the JR office closed for the day. Whenever I flew into Narita Airport, I'd always encounter long lines at border & customs. Not to mention that it would take about 1.5 hour on the Narita Express to get to Tokyo. Given the choice, definitely fly into Haneda.

We stayed in an Airbnb house for the first 4 night. It was close to the Mejiro train station on the Yamanote line, which meant we could getĀ to the major train stations in Tokyo very easily. We picked Airbnb because it was significantly cheaper than staying at a hotel. The Airbnb host was very friendly and gave us a lot of tips and local attractions that we wouldn't be able to find inĀ our guide book. We definitely felt like we were immersed in the Japanese culture. This is why I'd highly recommend Airbnb. You can sign up here and get a $26 referral credit.

The highlights on this portion of the trip would be checking out Meiji Temple, going to the sumo tournament, and going to Disney Sea. Meiji Temple is situated inside a forest. To get to the temple, you have to walk through a long forested path. Definitely very zen. Here are some pictures from Meiji Temple:


Meiji 2

meiji 3

As it turned out, there was a sumo tournament in Tokyo when we were in Japan. We pre-booked tickets and checked out this traditional Japanese sport. I was amazed how much physical contacts there wereĀ during a match. The sumos probably took more beatingsĀ during a match than boxers during a boxing match.


sumo 2

sumo 3

sumo 4

When we were in Disney Sea, it happened to be during their Halloween celebration. We were pleasantly surprised to see so many people dressing up as characters (i.e. Cozplay). In fact, weĀ weren't able to differentiate the visitors and the theme park workers.

disney sea 3

disney sea 5
Dressing up as Belle from Beauty and The Beast. She's a visitor of the park.

disney sea

5 Nights in Osaka
After 4 nights in Tokyo, we took theĀ Shingansen train to Osaka. For this portion of the trip we splurged and used theĀ Marriott points that I accumulated through business travels to stay atĀ the Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel. Our hotel room was on the 46th floor which offered an excellent view. Because I got upgradedĀ as a Marriott gold elite member, Mrs. T and I received complimentary club lounge access. We were able to get free breakfast and free afternoon tea during the entire stay. This was not expected and definitely saved some money for us.

guest room 3
Glorious view.

guest room 2

guest room
Fancy. šŸ™‚

We checked out a few attractions in Osaka and managed to meet up with a couple friends of ours and also Jeremy, Winnie, and GCCjrā€™sĀ from Go Curry Cracker. It was great talking toĀ Jeremy and Winnie's about financial independence and their FI experience so far.

Dotonbori in Osaka

osaka 2

osaka 3

We also made a few days trips to Kyoto to check out some of the major attractions. Because it was Japan's silver week where the entire nation is off for 5 day, we encountered a lot of people in Kyoto.

kyoto 2
Crowd on a non-busy day! Now imagine what it was like during silver week with 3-4 times more people.

kyoto 4

kyoto 5

kyoto 10

kyoto 12

kyoto 14

kyoto 16

3 nights in Hiroshima
After Osaka, we went to Hiroshima for 3 nights and stayed a hostel. I stayed at the same hostel years ago and had a great time. We stayed in a Japanese style private room for 1/3 of the cost of a typical hotel room.

To safe money, we walked all over Hiroshima instead of taking tram or bus. The Hiroshima Peace Park was a nice place to walk around with a lot of sad histories.

A-bomb dome

Hiroshima 2
Hiroshima Peace Park

Hiroshima 3
Hiroshima Castle
Hiroshima 4

We took a day trip to Miyajima Island to see the famous floating torii gate.

torii gate 2

torii gate

Because we are crazy foodies, we rode on the the Shingaensen train for an hour one night to go to Fukuoka just to check out yatai (food stalls). It was worth the trip!


2 final nights in Tokyo
We spent our last two nights in Tokyo to check out some attractions that we missed. We previously booked an apartment through Airbnb but the host canceled on us 4 days prior to our arrival. Instead of spending time on the computer to find another suitable Airbnb place, we decided to use my Marriott points for one night and pay for the other night. Our return flight was at 9 PM. Thanks to my Marriott status, we were able to get a late checkout timeĀ of 6 PM. This allowed us to tour around Tokyo on the last day of the trip then returned to the hotel to freshen upĀ before heading to the airport. It was an added benefit.

During the trip we checked out many Japanese traditional markets. It was really cool to see the different items that are up for sale.

market 2

market 3

market 5

market 6
Not sure what this is about...

market 7

market 8

The best part about our Japan vacation? All the delicious food that we had. We had A LOT of ramen, sushi, and sashimi. And of course many other Japanese dishes too. We stayed away from western food completely. Who wants to eat Italian and pizza in Japan right?

Now we're back in Vancouver, both Mrs. T and I really miss ramen.

food 2 (2)

food 2

food 3

food 4

food 6

food 8

food 10

food 11
Matcha tea

food 13

food 14

food 15

food 17



Overall Impression
Overall, we loved Japan. It's a great place to visit for vacation. I'll probably go back there for business trips in the future. Would we ever consider moving to Japan when we reach financial independence? We might but it would definitely need to be living in a small Japanese town. The constant crowd and noise in big cities like Tokyo and Osaka really wears on you. Considering it's super hot and humid in Japan during the summer, if we were to live in Japan, we would have to avoid summer.

Hope you enjoyed my trip report. Sorry for the heavy picture content. :p

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  • Reply
    Income Surfer
    October 7, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Outstanding post Tawcan. Don't apologize for all the high resolution photos. I've never been to asia, and live vicariously through you and your trips. Asia's is definitely on my list, but we have a bunch of other traveling to do first.

    My wife and I have a similar reaction to the crowds and noise of big cities, to what you expressed. It's nice to visit, but I don't think I could live there. She lived in Chicago for a couple years, and I've spent a lot of time in New York......but it wears on me after a while. I guess you can say I'm a "country mouse". Glad you guys are home safe!

    • Reply
      October 8, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Hi Bryan,

      I tried to post a few pictures so people can see what Japan is like. I actually never noticed the crowds and noise in previous Japan travels.. but I usually only stay for a week or so.

  • Reply
    Dividend Hustler
    October 7, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    That sounds like a wicked trip Tawcan. Glad the family had a wonderful time. The food looks awesome! Love sushi and sashima. Just love food! Glad everything worked out and your back sweet home.
    Thank you for sharing my friend. It's trips like this and spending time with the family that makes life worth living. It's to have more memories such as this and create new ones such as these is why we pursue Financial Independence through our passive investing.
    Cheers buddy.

    • Reply
      October 8, 2015 at 9:40 am

      Hi Tyler,

      Food was totally awesome in Japan. But to be honesty, it was good to cook our own meals and eat at home after 2 weeks.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2015 at 7:37 am

    Hi Tawcan
    I'm from Asia and japan happened to be our favorite destination.

    Maybe you can try hakone next time, definitely suits your relaxed lifestyle and it is very relaxing to enjoy a day or two at the city. The best part is it is very easily accessible via shinkansen from tokyo. Perhaps you can try that next time.


    • Reply
      October 8, 2015 at 9:43 am

      Hi B,

      We thought about going to the lake area by Mt. Fuji this time but that might be a bit of a stretch. I think hakone is close by too? Definitely on our list for next time. Would love to go to hokkaido too.

  • Reply
    October 8, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Awesome trip!! You make me want to go to Japan and experience it for myself. haha! šŸ˜›

    I'm a bit nervous every time I travel to a country where I don't speak the language, although after the trip, I'd miss the experience, the people, the food, and everything. I want to do the 88 temple walk in Japan someday, hopefully, it would be equally as rewarding.

    • Reply
      October 8, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Hi vivianne,

      Japan is a lot of fun, you should definitely go. I didn't find language to be an issue, we had no problem getting around. 88 temples? Boy I'd be templed-out by about 5. šŸ˜€

  • Reply
    October 8, 2015 at 9:22 am

    That all looks amazing! Japan is such a different culture, must be very exciting each time. I agree that Tokyo and Osaka are probably not very pleasant cities to live in for a long period of time. I also need some peace at times.

    Thank you for sharing.


    • Reply
      October 8, 2015 at 9:48 am

      Hi Mike,

      Japan is an amazing country to visit, I am always excited to go there. Food is amazing too. Would love to visit the smaller towns next time.

    • Reply
      November 15, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      I actually lived in Osaka for 5 years- When you go to the major shopping streets, yeah it's busy. Go outside these areas, and it's quiet and not packed with crowds. Osaka's the food capital of Japan, the people are the friendliest and most outgoing of any city in Japan. it's not very touristy, but for food and fun, it was an amazing place to live

      • Reply
        November 16, 2015 at 3:57 pm

        Hi Geoff,

        Good point, I guess we spent most of our time in the major shopping streets in Tokyo and Osaka. The food in Japan was AMAZING. We loved that aspect. Would love to visit the smaller Japanese towns for future visits.

        • Reply
          November 16, 2015 at 7:09 pm

          I loved Fukuoka as well, I'm glad you got to visit it. I think most people just visit Tokyo and Kyoto and think they've seen Japan. If you went to certain places in kyoto, you can wander amongst amazing temples and barely see anybody. Just don't go on a Saturday or on a national holiday, then you're asking for it!

          • Tawcan
            November 17, 2015 at 10:35 am

            We went to a few less touristy places in Kyoto and really enjoyed it. Fukuoka is a lot less touristy is seemed and it was great walking around.

  • Reply
    October 9, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    Awesome blog! I'd also highly recommend going in the winter to visit the snow monkeys (the only monkeys to ever travel far enough to live in the snow are in Japan). They're quite amazing and made my trip, in addition to the delicious food and all the other reasons you highlighted above. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      October 13, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      The snow monkeys is something we'll have to check out next time we're in Japan.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    Very cool! We were there just last month, and sumo was a surprise highlight for me.

    • Reply
      October 23, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Cool, sounds like we were in Japan around the same time.

  • Reply
    October 21, 2015 at 2:11 am

    Hi Tawcan

    Wow, from your amazing photos, it looks like you had a fabulous time!

    I'm off to Japan for the first time next year but don't think I will see much beyond airport and ski slope, although I don't know what my family have got planned. I too love ramen, sushi and sashimi and am looking forward to the food!

    I imagine the crowds in Japan are similar to the crowds in Hong Kong, although I guess the Japanese are more polite!

    Thanks for sharing these.

    • Reply
      October 23, 2015 at 10:09 am

      I would love to ski in Japan. I've heard the snow is very dry, so it's the good kind to ski on.

  • Reply
    January 15, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Hi Tawcan,

    Thanks for the useful information. It's good to know that Airbnb is available in Japan, especially Mejiro.

    I had a trouble with communicating Japanese people in English during my last trip while I was staying in a hotel in Mejiro.

    Were there any trouble while staying in Airbnb? If there's good one you can recommend, I would love to stay in Mejiro area again when I visit Tokyo this summer.


    • Reply
      January 15, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Hi Ken,

      We didn't have any problem with speaking English as our Airbnb host spoke excellent English. This is the one we used:

      Hope this helps.

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