Welcome to the Japan Travel Planning fortnightly newsletter for 24 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
- Subscribe Below to Receive our Fortnightly Email Newsletters
- Key Japan Planning Information
- Top Articles This Fortnight From the Facebook Group
- How to Reserve a Table at the Pokemon Cafe Japan by Nintendo Soup
- One monster Lake Kawaguchiko full day itinerary by Connie and Luna (a perfect article for cherry blossom season!)
- How To Rent A Japan Wireless Pocket Wifi by Pretraveller
- Other Facebook Groups – Rugby World Cup 2019 and Olympics 2020
- Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group
Planning our Trip to Japan in April 2019
We have had a busy time finalising our upcoming trip! As I write this newsletter we will in one weeks time be on our first flight to Singapore for the first leg of our 4 1/2 week trip! It is an exciting time and we have been trying to finish off a very large to do list before we depart.
A key activity over the last two weeks has been to get the whole family vaccinated – we wanted to ensure that everyone was protected against influenza, given the recent outbreak in Japan – fortunately the new flu vaccine was just released a couple of weeks ago so we were in good time. We told the kids that they were going to get one needle each, but when we saw the doctor she also advised that they should get Hepatitus A and Typhoid vaccinations, so they each ended up with three needles – which they all took with (relatively) good humour.
We have now received our 21 day Japan Rail Passes from Klook plus some of the sim cards that we plan to test out. We have also booked in to do a Helicopter Flight over Tokyo with Klook, so we are really looking forward to this activity! Other activities we have booked through Klook include Edo Wonderland in Nikko, Disneyland and Disneysea in Tokyo and the Hakone Kowaki-en Yunessun Hot Spring Theme Park near Gora.
We also had booked in to do a Private Tokyo new Toyosu Market and old Tsukiji Market Tour through Voyagin – we also had to separately apply for the tuna auction lottery – and yesterday we were advised that our lottery application had been successful! The only downside is that it will be a 4.30am start that day, but hopefully it should be a unique experience! Here is the link to apply for the tuna auction lottery – note that the lottery is open for an 11 day period each month for all auction places for the following month, so ensure you check the timing. A key tip is to plan to visit on a weekday rather than a weekend to have the best chance of success.
Other activities that we have booked through Voyagin include Royal Passes for Universal Studios Japan, a Taiko Drumming Class, Mario Kart, a Sumo Stable Tour, Kawaii Monster Cafe, Ghibli Museum and the Robot Restaurant!
We have also now obtained our International Drivers Permits, booked our table at the Pokemon Cafe, and have also booked our Express Bus tickets from Kawaguchiko Station to Shinjuku – online ticket sales open one month prior to the date so again we wanted to get in early to ensure we can catch our preferred time, as we will be on a tight schedule that day to head to Nikko. We have now also booked all of our airport transfers – for home in Sydney as well as arrivals and departures from Singapore, and our arrival transfer in Tokyo. We don’t need a departure transfer from Tokyo as we will be travelling direct to Haneda Airport on the train 🙂 .
We have also been buying a lot of new items in preparation for our trip as follows:
- Two new cameras, the first a Sony A7 III Mirrorless Camera plus a couple of lenses. We have also purchased a compact Canon Powershot G7x camera to use in lower light situations and also for general photography while on the trip.
- I have also purchase power adaptor plugs for both Japan and Singapore.
- We reviewed the weather forecast and then checked our children’s and our winter clothing. We live in Sydney where my husband and children typically wear shorts all year around! But it is going to be a noticeable step colder in Japan, plus we have two days where we will be at higher altitudes in the Japanese Alps where the temperatures will be a lot colder, so wanted to ensure that everyone had appropriate clothing. We have purchased new cold weather jackets, rain over jackets, thermals, beanies, gloves and scarves, as well as stocking up on longer trousers and a few new shirts and daypacks etc thrown in for good measure!
We have now registered our trip with the Australian Smart Traveller website – to ensure that they know how to find us in the event of an emergency situation or if we need assistance they have all of our details.
So a very busy past two weeks getting that all done! What is left to do you may ask? Here is a few things we still have to do:
- Finalise input of all bookings into the Tripit app – so they are easily available through the app on my phone while we are on the go, and we can also then create a pdf itinerary to send to family with all of our details. The paid version of the Tripit app also monitors our flights and notifies of any changes in timing or gate changes – often before we receive any official advice through the airport! I think this service is well worth the expense of a paid subscription.
- Finish a last few shopping items.
- Final tidy and clean up of our house and garden, arrange neighbours to keep an eye on the house, collect our mail and put our bins out from time to time. We do not have pets so at least that part is easy!
- Clearing all of our camera and video memory cards, charging up all batteries.
- Review of all of our medications we need to take, refilling any scripts if needed.
- Set up all of our money for the trip – transfer funds into our new overseas credit cards.
- Cancel accommodation bookings which are no longer required before they reach their cancellation date.
- Start writing more articles for our trip!
I am really looking forward to the moment that we hop in our airport transfer from home to Sydney airport – it is easy to get stressed in the period leading up to the trip – between finishing up tasks at work, finishing trip planning, finishing off some tasks relating to our blog (like this newsletter!). So when you hop into the airport transfer hopefully that is the moment to really relax as everything which can be done has been done. We are often aspirational in our to do lists, and as we get closer to the departure date we start to drop off the less critical activities. One week to go!
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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, which even now is getting started. First bloom is already occurring on cherry trees in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Hiroshima and all places in between. 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 started from 21 March 2019, full bloom starts 30 March 2019.
- Osaka/Kyoto/Nara. First bloom starts 24/26 March 2019, full bloom starts 3/5 April 2019.
- Hiroshima/Miyajima Island. First bloom started 22 March 2019, full bloom starts 2 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.
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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!):
- 19 March – 7 April 2019. Sumida Park Cherry Blossom Festival in Tokyo
- 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)
- 17 April 2019. Opening of Kamikochi National Park between Matsumoto and Takayama.
- 20 April – 6 May 2019. Kawachi Fujien Wisteria Garden between Fukuoka and Hiroshima.
- 22 April – 5 May 2019. Tonami Tulip Festival in Tonami, near Toyama (4 hours north west from Tokyo)
- 25 April – 16 May 2019. Nemophila (Baby Blue Eye) Bloom at Hitachi Seaside Park in Ibaraki Prefecture (2 hours north east from Tokyo)
- 26 April – 26 May 2019. Start Setouchi Triennale 2019 Spring Encounters Art Exhibition. Largest contemporary art festival in Japan which is held every three years. Additional information.
- 27 April – 6 May 2019 Golden Week public holidays (All of Japan) (Peak Period)
- 27 – 28 April 2019. Nico Nico Super Conference (Anime and Pop Culture Event)
- 28 – 29 April 2019. Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festival
- 30 April 2019. Abdication Ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
- 30 April – 6 May 2019. Kurayami Matsuri (Darkness Festival) in Tokyo
- 1 May 2019. New Emperor’s Accession Ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo (National Holiday in 2019).
- 2 May 2019. G1 GP Drift Racing Round 1 in Ebisu, 3.5 hours north of Tokyo.
- 3 -4 May 2019. Ebisu Drift Matsuri (Drift Heaven Week),5 hours north of Tokyo.
- 3 – 4 May 2019. Hakata Dontaku Matsuri Festival in Fukuoka
Upcoming sumo tournaments:
- 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.
- Voyagin are offering a new special package for the upcoming Tokyo event in May 2019 where they are offering a package which includes either a Masu B seat, which is a 1.5m2 seat option where you’ll be seated on the front & opposite side of the ring, with a futon cushion to sit on the floor in comfort – which is perfect for family of up to 4 people, or a Chair B seat, which is located behind and a little bit higher than Chair A, which is perfect to view the whole fight from above in comfortable western style seating. Both of these packages include a Chanko lunch, pus when you order these seats they are guaranteed. When you order a ticket only option you need to wait for the official ticket release date before you receive your booking confirmation from Voyagin, and we do have people missing out on tickets from time to time. This package has been pre-negotiated so if you place an order, once you receive the confirmation your booking is locked in. Click here to pre-order a guaranteed sumo seating package including lunch through Voyagin.
- 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
How to Reserve a Table at the Pokemon Cafe Japan by Nintendo Soup
The Pokemon Company has announced new information on how customers can dine at Pokemon Cafe, along with a huge FAQ page. The permanent Pokemon Cafe is scheduled to open on March 14, 2018 at Nihonbashi Takashimaya, alongside Pokemon Center Tokyo DX.
First up – if you’re intending to walk in the day the Pokemon Cafe opens, you’re out of luck. All customers must have a reservation in order to enter the Pokemon Cafe. Reservations will start on March 5, 2018 6pm Tokyo Time on the official Pokemon Cafe website (in Japanese). Click here to read more…
One monster Lake Kawaguchiko full day itinerary by Connie and Luna (a perfect article for cherry blossom season!)
It’s always the unexpected things that surprise you most, isn’t it? Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko) was a side-stop we decided on late in our trip planning, after finding out about the Fuji Shibazakura festival (Pink Moss Festival) which happens every April-May delivering a stunning landscape of vibrant pink flowers amongst the backdrop of stunning Mt Fuji. It was the original reason why we decided to do a two night / 1 full day stop over at Kawaguchiko- to visit this festival. As luck would have it, when we arrived, we heard that the flowers were blooming much later than expected this year and so it just wasn’t worth our effort to trek to the festival grounds.
The removal of the festival from our itinerary gave heaps of breathing space in our schedule to check out other things in the area. So instead, we spent our day hopping on and off the tourist sightseeing bus and exploring Kawaguchiko itself. Turns out, it was the best decision ever and Kawaguchiko ended up being probably my favourite stopover! Click here to read more…
How To Rent A Japan Wireless Pocket Wifi by Pretraveller
A FAQ in the Japan Travel Planning Facebook is how to rent a Japan Wireless pocket wifi for your upcoming trip to Japan. As a result the aim of this article is to provide you with an overview of this pocket wifi option and provide details on how to book, and also provide you with a Japan Wireless coupon code to get a discount on your pocket wifi booking. 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.