#BlogGreatness: Counting down to Japan

One month (God willing) until we leave for Japan!

I am desperately in need of some R&R. To be honest, it’s probably going to be a pretty full-on trip.

We are there for a week – the plan is to spend most of it in Tokyo, but also get away for an overnight trip to Kyoto and Osaka. (Because fooooood.)

I’ve already built a Google food map, so I’ve got a fair few places to look for – while also leaving room to explore and discover random gems along the way. Nothing worse than the frustration of spending ages hunting for a restaurant, particularly if it winds up being fruitless.

What I DO need advice on is the following!

Phones – sim cards/wifi and data

Should we get a pocket wifi doohickey? Or look into a sim card with data? I am positive we’ll want to be able to get online in Japan to look things up and get directions. Remember we’re in NZ and roaming charges on our own telcos are exorbitant.

Sumo tickets

We’re hoping to catch a sumo match (or at least, T is). Tickets go on sale next week, so fingers crossed! That will determine our final itinerary. I’m leaning towards buying normal chair seats, which I think will be not only cheaper but more comfortable for us. He’s far too large to enjoy the traditional box seats, I suspect. And yes, we could line up for cheap tickets on the morning of the match … but time is the more precious commodity on this trip. Anyone care to comment on box vs chair seating?


One non-food thing on the agenda is staying in a ryokan. Originally I thought we’d do this in Kyoto but I’ve got a recommendation for one in Tokyo that sounds pretty good. Thoughts?

12 thoughts on “#BlogGreatness: Counting down to Japan

  • Reply Christina Garofalo August 5, 2015 at 08:31

    I haven’t been to Japan, but having traveled in much of SE Asia, where Wifi is more limited, I think you’d honestly be fine forgoing international data in your phone plan. But if you are the type who really likes to look things up on the go, I think most plans offer something like $40 a month for unlimited international, which isn’t bad. Also, T-Mobile offers free international data and texting!

  • Reply Rebekah August 5, 2015 at 09:57

    Because we’re cheapos, we decided not to rent wifi and see how far we got without it. I downloaded the Japan Wifi app which allows you to connect quickly with free wifi in train stations: http://www.ntt-bp.net/jcfw/en.html (Basically it means you can connect just by pressing a single button, whereas station wifi usually requires you to log in.) All the major train stations in Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka that we tried had free wifi. We supplemented this by downloading an offline map of each city – CityMaps2Go was my favourite app for this – and we could mark places on it that we wanted to visit each day. (All our accommodation had free wifi too.)

    In Kyoto I can highly recommend this ryokan: http://www.gotokandk.com/casa.html It doesn’t serve Japanese food, but it’s otherwise traditional in style, very cheap, and the owner is really lovely. It’s also next to the part of the city I most enjoyed, the Philosophers’ Walk. And Keiko has bikes that you can use for free if you ask!

    BTW, with Kyoto, I wish I’d known in advance that some temples are on the tour bus route and totally crowded; others are not, and empty of tourists, but equally lovely. There are just so many! I really rated Shoren-in, which is along the Philosophers’ Walk, gorgeous, and had about 5 people inside the giant complex.

    The other thing I’m glad someone told me in advance is that all the food you get from convenience stores (on the street, in train stations) is AMAZING and incredibly cheap. Kind of takes the pressure off trying to find an awesome place for every other meal, if that’s something you feel (I do!!)

  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline August 5, 2015 at 12:58

    I love that you’ve built a Google food map. I really need to do that next time I go somewhere! I’ve never been anywhere in Asia, but I fantasize about taking a trip someday. Have fun!

  • Reply Funny about Money August 5, 2015 at 14:07

    Son went to Japan. He and his then-best buddy went over there. Buddy’s dad was carrying on with a Japanese mistress, living in-country. They had the time of their lives. Hope you have a great trip, too!

  • Reply Sense August 5, 2015 at 15:32

    Agree with the above re: convenience store food. I’m super picky and was completely blown away with how delicious and cheap food on the go was!

    Kyoto was my absolute fave part of Japan. Just totally romantic, beautiful, interesting…

    I think I just relied on wifi when I was there…didn’t get a new SIM. We had most everything planned out beforehand, though.

    Didn’t stay in a ryokan (stayed with a friend over there to save $$) but have heard it is a must-do experience!

    Enjoy Japan, you’ll love it!! 🙂

  • Reply Leigh August 5, 2015 at 16:05

    I stayed in a ryokan in Tokyo and it was awesome. I loved Kyoto – my favorite part of the trip! Can’t wait to see your photos 🙂

  • Reply Rina August 5, 2015 at 23:50

    Data- I used a portable wifi. Reception was sketchy at times, but I think I managed to stretch it through using 2 portable batteries/chargers (one personal, one came with the wifi). I don’t know how much data sim would cost, but wifi worked pretty well imo.

    Ryokan- stay in as many as you can! especially if there are good reviews! you can never have enough nights in ryokans trust me xD

    I haven’t been to see a sumo wrestling yet unfortunately. Can’t help you there :/

    Hope you have a fabulous trip hun!


  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank August 5, 2015 at 23:57

    Seriously? Japan is one of the best places on Earth! The food, the weather, the people, and everything like the cherry blossom. Have fun there!

  • Reply Cassie August 6, 2015 at 06:41

    I’ve never been there, but it’s definitely on my to do list! I’m looking forward to your review when you get back 🙂

  • Reply Prudence Debtfree August 7, 2015 at 05:20

    I have never been to Japan. I’ve never been to New Zealand either. And travel is pretty well out as we make our way out of all debt, so I’ll have to vacation vicariously through people like you. Food in Japan sounds heavenly. Enjoy your trip!

  • Reply Revanche August 10, 2015 at 06:54

    I wish I had more useful information but mostly I’m just looking forward to seeing your pictures and getting your recommendations for whenever we finally manage to go 🙂

  • Reply Untemplater August 10, 2015 at 15:56

    Japan is wonderful. I’ve been several times, mostly to Tokyo. Ryokans are incredibly charming and quaint, although I haven’t been to one in a long time. But the ones I went to in the mountains and at a beach town were wonderful – especially when they had onsen (hot springs).

    Sumo I only watched on TV, so I don’t have any advice on the real thing.

    Phones – I’ve seen places at Narita airport where you can rent phones. I never did because I had my employers international data plan when I was there. I guess it’s up to you on how connected you want to be. Nowadays I just use wifi at the hotel and at Starbucks and stay in airplane mode the rest of the time.

    Hope you have an awesome trip!

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