Welcome to the Japan Travel Planning fortnightly newsletter for 10 March 2019, which includes information to help you plan your trip to Japan, top travel deals and articles about Japan.
The cherry blossom season will be starting shortly (and many of you are travelling to Japan at this time!) so if you are planning to make the most of your visit then I have put together a heap of tours, information and references for you to better plan your trip.
Planning our Trip to Japan in April 2019
We have had a busy time finalising our upcoming trip! We have now locked in our tickets to visit TeamLab Borderless Planets, and are watching day by day to ensure we get our booking to visit the Pokemon Cafe in Tokyo – our preferred date should open in the next few days and we are checking each day to ensure we do not miss out on this very popular activity. We have been advised that the dates get updated at 6pm Japan time each day, and we have now confirmed that this advice is correct, so we now know what we need to do in a few days time to get our preferred timeslot.
We have also now locked in some additional local tours with our new partners.
Asakusa Culture Food Tour with Washoku Club
We will be doing an Asakusa Walking tour with Washoku Club, which will include wearing a Kimono, a tea ceremony and a walking tour around Asakusa, which will include food, tea, soft drinks, sushi , tempura, Yakiniku (Japanese sweets) and ice cream. Click here to check out more details about the Washoku Club Asakusa Culture Food Tour.
Akihabara Anime and Gaming Adventure Tour with Magical Trip
On our last visit to Japan we stayed near Akihabara and did walk around the area ourselves, but felt that we missed many experiences by choosing that option. When we saw that Magical Trip offered a guided tour option for Akihabara we decided that would be a great option for our family. We are looking forward to immersing ourselves into classic video games, a maid cafe experience and having a guide show us the anime culture from a local’s perspective. Click here to check out more details about the Magical Trip Akihabara Anime and Gaming Adventure Tour.
Nishiki Market Tour with Magical Trip
Magical Trip is about to launch a new tour for Kyoto which is a Nishiki Market Walking Tour, and we have the pleasure of being able to try out this tour pre-launch! We are looking forward to seeing and trying the many foods on offer at this very famous market. Click here to check out the Kyoto Night Foodie Tour offered by Magical Trip at this link, and once this new daytime tour is launched we will let you know.
We also now have finalised our bookings to stay at four of the Hoshino KAI Luxury Onsen Resorts – we are visiting the KAI Hakone, KAI Kinugawa, KAI Nikko and KAI Matsumoto onsen resorts. You may not realise that these Hoshino Resorts provide a true luxury Ryokan experience, which includes authentic Japanese style breakfasts and dinners. In addition they include many additional entertainment and activity options for guests. We are really looking forward to walking with traditional Getta shoes (straw sandal equivalent), also experiencing a Sake Hot Spring and seeing Japanese style concerts in the evenings.
Ghibli Museum and Robot Restaurant
We have also finalised our visits to both the Ghibli Museum and Robot Restaurant – we are visiting both on the same day! You definitely need to pre-book your Ghibli Museum tickets to ensure you do not miss out. We are also visiting the Robot Restaurant at a peak time so to ensure that we get our preferred timeslot it is also worthwhile to pre-book your tickets.
- Click here to check out how to book your Ghibli Museum tickets
- Click here to check out how to book your Robot Restaurant tickets
Japan Rail Passes
With only three weeks to go until we depart, we have also now placed our orders for Japan Rail Passes, to ensure there is enough time for our physical exchange orders to be delivered before we depart.
Pocket Wifi and Sim Cards
We are also going to be trialling several different pocket wifi rentals and sim cards on this trip, so that we can write more detailed review articles for all of these products. We have already taken action to pre-book all of the options we plan to trial 🙂 .
- Click here to check out our article on the Best Pocket Wifi Rentals for Japan
- Click here to check out our article on the Best Prepaid Data Sim Card for Japan
What do we have left to book?
So what is left to book for our trip? Quite a lot still…
- Baseball match, Disneyland Tokyo tickets, Suica public transport cards (we still have our Suica cards from last time but two of our children are now aged over 12 years old so we need to get adult Suica cards, so we need to order an extra two passes).
We are also going to start going through our own pre-departure checklist for Japan to ensure we are ready to go.
- We need to purchase our International Drivers Permits (we have two car hire periods plus Mario Karts!), review all of our clothing including our cold weather clothing (beanies, gloves, scarves, warm jackets) as we will be going up to the top of the Japanese Alps (and we live in Sydney so do not normally use these items at any time of the year!). I also need to do our trip registration with the Australian government, so they know where we are in the event of an emergency, book child minding services for our children, book our airport transfer for our arrival in Narita Airport, review our medications and ensure we have topped up where required, etc!
- We have just received our new travel credit cards – to minimise how much we are paying in international fees on our trip. We already have travel insurance (we booked our insurance with World Nomads just after we booked our flights), we have just purchased our new cameras (a new Sony mirrorless system), new memory cards, batteries etc.
- We also need to book our airport transfers for departure and arrivals in Sydney
- And the list goes on – finish tidying the house and garden, make sure we have asked our neighbours to put our our garbage bins and keep an eye on our house, finish/progress key projects at work so they are ready to be handed over while we are away. Write newsletters like this one, do the Japan planning calendar update for release next weekend, start writing articles for the trip where we are being hosted so they are ready for publication either during or shortly after the trip.
I always enjoy that moment where you are actually on your way to the airport – once you are on your way everything is done and there is no turning back, so you can then relax and look forward to your trip. As we will be travelling for a lot longer period of time we have had a lot more effort to make the arrangements for this trip so it has been a big job!
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Key Japan Planning Information
Getting Ready for Cherry Blossom Season in Japan
Many of you (like us!) are planning to visit Japan for the upcoming Cherry Blossom season. Here is the website with the latest forecasts – make sure you scroll down to below the map to see the specific forecast dates for each location. Note that this forecast is now being updated daily right through the cherry blossom season.
Current forecasts for the major tourism areas are as follows. Note that the blossoms are usually on view and at their peak for around one week after the full bloom date, subject to weather conditions. The bloom progressively moves from the south to the north of Japan, with alpine areas blooming later than close by lowland areas.
- Tokyo. First bloom starts 21 March 2019, full bloom starts 29 March 2019. (no change since the previous update)
- Osaka/Kyoto/Nara. First bloom starts 23 March 2019, full bloom starts 2 April 2019. (slight change to full bloom date)
- Hiroshima/Miyajima Island. First bloom starts 23 March 2019, full bloom starts 1 April 2019.
Cherry Blossom Day Tours in Japan
Along with the sakura cherry blossom season comes a heap of great day tour options to make the most of the sakura season. Here are some of the top options to check out 🙂 :
- Voyagin has a great range of sakura tour options for Tokyo, which include daytime tours, nighttime tours, river cruises and much more. Click on this link to see the Tokyo Sakura tour options through Voyagin.
- Voyagin has a great rang of sakura tour options for Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe which include a Sakura flight, day tours and cruises. Click on this link to see the Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe Sakura Tours through Voyagin.
- You can also book day tours to visit Mt Fuji throughout the cherry blossom season. Click here to check out Mt Fuji Cherry Blossom tours through Klook.
Shiba-Sakura Pink Moss Phlox Festival Day Tours from Tokyo
Close to the cherry blossom season is the awesome Shiba-Sakura pink moss phlox festival which will be held over 13 April to 26 May 2019 near Mt Fuji. Klook has two day tour options from Tokyo which are an easy way to see the festival as well as other experiences and views around Mt Fuji.
- Fuji Area Sightseeing, All-You-Can-Eat Fruits & Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway Day Trip from Tokyo. Click here to check out the details through Klook.
- Tokyo Fuji Shibazakura, Mt. Fuji 5th Station & All-You-Can-Eat Strawberry Picking Day Tour. Click here to check out the details through Klook.
View this post on Instagram
Cherry blossoms with Mt.Fuji viewing reminder in May – Fuji Shibazakura Festival near the lake Motosuko in Yamanashi prefecture. The best time to see is the beginning of May. #japan #iphone 富士芝桜まつりの見頃は例年GW明け。 . . . #shibazakura #shotoniphone #cherryblossom #cherryblossoms #cherryblossomseason #cherryblossomtree #instacherry #sakura #桜 #櫻 #さくら🌸 #桜🌸 #sakura🌸 #cherryblossom🌸 #櫻花 #벚꽃 #벚꽃🌸 #樱花 #bungasakura #mountain #mountfuji #fujisan #fuji #mtfuji #富士山 #instagramjapan #japanphoto #instajapan
Resources to Help you Plan Your Cherry Blossom Viewing
Here are some resources to help you plan your cherry blossom viewing 🙂
- 15 Tokyo Cherry Blossom Spots That You Just Have To See!
- 17 recommended places Sakura – Cherry Blossoms around Lake Kawaguchiko
- 5 Best Cherry Blossom Spots around Mt.Fuji
- 15 Best Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Kyoto!
- 5 Best Places to See Cherry Blossom in Osaka
- The ultimate “Hanami” (cherry blossom viewing) travel guide to Nara’s Yoshino area
- Five Recommended Spots to See Cherry Blossoms in Nara
- 10 Great Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots in Kansai: Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima
- Nagano’s Top Cherry Blossom Spots
- 6 Best Places to See Cherry Blossom in Sendai
- Hokkaido’s Cherry Blossoms|Top 8 Cherry Blossom Spots Chosen by Hokkaido Residents
- 4 Famous Cherry Blossom Viewing Spots In Hokkaido
Voyagin Sakura Spring Promotion
Voyagin is currently running their Sakura Spring promotion to celebrate the upcoming cherry blossom season from 11 February to 31 March 2019 with the following coupon code discounts, note that this deal does not include discounts on Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo Disneysea tickets or Japan Rail Passes:
- Spend $US 150, Save $US 10, use coupon code`SakuraSpring10`
- Spend $US 300, Save $US 25, use coupon code `SakuraSpring25`
- Spend $US 450, Save $US 40, use coupon code `SakuraSpring40`
To see a great range of popular purchase options through Voyagin to take advantage of this sale I suggest you check out our Voyagin Tours and Tickets page at this link.
Major Upcoming Events in Japan
Other Japan Events
Upcoming major events for the next month (and you can find many more events into the future in our Japan Planning Calendars as mentioned previously!):
- 10 – 24 March 2019. Sumo Wrestling Tournament in Osaka.
- 11 March 2019. Fukushima Tsunami Remembrance Day
- 14 March 2019. White Day (response to Valentine’s Day)
- 15 – 17 March 2019. Osaka Motorcycle Show
- 19 March – 7 April 2019. Sumida Park Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo
- 21 March 2019. Spring / Vernal Equinox Public Holiday
- 21 March – 8 April 2019. Ueno Sakura Matsuri Festival in Tokyo
- 23 March 2019. Start Japanese school holidays
- 23-24 March 2019. Anime Japan and Family Anime Festa in Tokyo
- 29 March 2019. Start Japan Professional Baseball Season
- 1 – 30 April 2019. Miyako Odori Geisha Dances in Kyoto, held daily
- 5 – 7 April 2019. Automobile Council Show in Chiba, near Tokyo
- 6 – 7 April 2019. Motor Sport Japan Show in Odaiba, Tokyo
- 7 – 21 April 2019. Kyō Odori Geisha Dances in Kyoto, held daily
- 7 April 2019. Kanamara Matsuri Penis Festival in Kawasaki, Tokyo
- 7 April 2019. End Japanese school holidays
- 13 April – 26 May 2019.Fuji Shibazakura (Moss Phlox) Festival, on western side of Mt Fuji.
- 13 April – 19 May 2019. Ashikaga Wisteria Festival (2 hours north of Tokyo) (most famous wisteria festival in Japan)
- 14 – 15 April 2019. Takayama Matsuri Spring Festival
- 14 April – 5 May 2019. Kameido Tenjin Wisteria Festival in Tokyo
- 15 April 2019. Opening of Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route between Nagano and Toyama (Ice walls)
Upcoming sumo tournaments:
- 10 – 24 March 2019 in Osaka. Click here to order tickets through Voyagin. Your other purchase option is to book reseller tickets through viaGoGo at this link.
- 12 – 26 May 2019 in Tokyo. Official ticket sales commence on 6 April 2019. Click here to pre-order tickets through Voyagin. Ensure you place your order early to ensure that you have the best chance of getting the tickets you want.
- 7 – 21 July 2019 in Nagoya. Official ticket sales commence on 23 May 2019. Click here to pre-order tickets through Voyagin. Ensure you place your order early to ensure that you have the best chance of getting the tickets you want.
- 8 – 22 September 2019 in Tokyo. Note that this sumo tournament overlaps with the Rugby World Cup 2019, so get in early to pre-order your tickets through Voyagin to ensure you have the best chance of success. Official ticket sales commence on 3 August 2019. Click here to pre-order tickets through Voyagin. Ensure you place your order early to ensure that you have the best chance of getting the tickets you want.
For more information about how to purchase your sumo wrestling tickets check out my article on How To Buy Sumo Wrestling Online Tickets In 2018 and 2019.
Top Articles This Fortnight From the Facebook Group
29 foods you need to try if you visit Japan by Insider
Japanese cuisine is known for being just as beautiful, affordable, and healthy as it is delicious. Beyond sushi — which is popular many places throughout the world — the country has pioneered other incredible dishes that both look and taste like heaven.
Next time you find yourself in the land of the rising sun, don’t forget to try at least a few of these popular Japanese dishes. Click here to read more…
Japan on a Budget – An Insider’s Guide to Saving Like a Boss by The Blessing Bucket
Want to know how you can enjoy Japan on a budget? Well you’ve hit gold! Your friendly insider, AKA yours truly, is here today to dish all the best secrets! I want to crack the myth that “Japan is expensive” and teach you all the tricks I’ve gathered in my two years living in Japan. So if you are ready, pop open a Japanese beer and read on! Click here to read more…
7 Dark Tourism Destinations Around Tokyo by Ridgeline Images
Like most major cities around the world Tokyo isn’t all beer, salarymen and skittles and has a definite dark side if you care to look. If you’ve checked out most of the traditional tourist attractions or are looking for a more macabre experience associated with death, tragedy or somewhere just plain creepy the following destinations may well fit the bill. While visiting such sites might make us uneasy, remembering what happened and why is essential. George Santayana’s sentiments still ring true today “those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. From WWII tunnels dug out by conscripted laborers to the deadliest mountain in the world, take a look at these 7 Dark Tourism sites located both within Tokyo and surrounding prefectures. Click here to read more…
TeamLab Borderless: A visitor’s guide to Tokyo’s new jaw-dropping interactive light museum by SorNews24
Before you head to Mori Building Digital Art Museum: EPSON teamLab Borderless, there are a few things you’ll need to know. People around the world added a new destination to their Japan bucket list on June 21, when world-leading Japanese digital art collective teamLab unveiled their new awe-inspiring permanent digital art museum.
Produced in collaboration with local urban landscape developer Mori Building Co. Ltd., the amazing light displays are housed in their very own building, spread out over two floors in a huge space in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. Described as “Tokyo’s most Instagrammable spot“, we decided to stop by to see the place for ourselves, and as soon as we stepped inside we were blown away by the truly amazing works. Click here to read more…
Thanks Anne and Tony.
PS. If you have any questions you are welcome to ask questions in the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group
Other Facebook Groups – Rugby World Cup 2019 and Olympics 2020
If you are planning to visit Japan for either (or both!) of these events you are invited to join the groups with details below
- Japan Travel Planning – Rugby World Cup Facebook Group
- Japan Travel Planning – Olympics 2020 Facebook Group
We are just getting started in putting together the content for each of these groups and look forward to having a dedicated area where group members can interact without overloading the main group!
Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group
You are also welcome to join our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you be inspired and to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.