Japan Travel Planning Newsletter – 12 January 2019

Welcome to the Japan Travel Planning fortnightly newsletter for 12 January 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 information and references for you to better plan your trip.

Planning our Trip to Japan in April 2019

We have just been developing the finishing touches on our upcoming 4 week trip to Singapore and Japan in April with an aim to making the most of our time and money.  After much wrangling of itinerary options we have now locked in our plans and accommodation to visit the Mt Fuji Area as well as the Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Takayama and Toyama area. In both areas we have decided to hire cars to give ourselves the maximum flexibility, as well as a family of 5 people it can often be a cost effective option to get around and fit in as many activities as possible.

Next on our planning list is to finalise our detailed schedules for Singapore (3 days), Tokyo (10 days), Nikko (2 days) as well as our visits to Hiroshima, Miyajima Island, the Shiminamo Kaido, Osaka and Nara.  We have already booked all of our accommodation, but we need to finalise our other bookings, so expect to be paying out a lot of money over the next month or two on tickets and tours to ensure we do not miss out on our preferred activities and dates!

You may ask what are we booking first?  Top of our list are our Universal Studios Express Passes to enable us to skip the queues at USJ.  We are visiting USJ during Golden Week so plan to book our Express Passes as soon as they go on sale to ensure that we do not miss out and have to stand in the massive queues (like last time…). Voyagin are currently selling passes dated up to 10 March 2019 – so in about six weeks time we need to be ready to book.  Check out our USJ article for more information.

Also at the top of our list is our sumo stable tour through Voyagin – these usually sell out early. And many more tours and tickets… our credit card will definitely be getting a workout.

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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.  The first forecast has now been released, and so far it is indicating that the bloom may occur slightly later this year. The cherry blossom forecast usually gets updated fortnightly in the early part of the season and then shifts to daily updates.  You may not realise that Okinawa is the first area to start the bloom in late January!

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 1 April 2019.
  • Mt Fuji Area.  First bloom starts 10 April 2019, full bloom starts 17 April 2019.
  • Kyoto/Nara.  First bloom starts 2 April 2019, full bloom starts 10 April 2019.

Here are some resources to help you plan your cherry blossom viewing 🙂

Voyagin Chinese New Year Promotion

Voyagin is currently running their New Year Sale to celebrate Chinese New Year from 7 January to 10 February 2019 with the following coupon code discounts, note that this deal does not include discounts on Tokyo Disneyland or Tokyo Disneysea tickets or whole of Japan Rail Passes:

  • Spend $US 80, Save $US 5, use coupon code`NEWYEAR5`
  • Spend $US 130, Save $US 10, use coupon code `NEWYEAR10`
  • Spend $US 350, Save $US 30, use coupon code `NEWYEAR30`

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.

Tour Radar Online Expo – 17-24 January 2019

Tour Radar is about to run their awesome Online Expo over 17-24 January 2019 which offers great discounts on multi day package tours from a large selection of providers including Intrepid, Peregrine and many more.  Click below to register and receive the great deals before anyone else!

Click here to register for the Tour Radar Online Expo

Viator Foodie and Cultural Short Tour Deals

Viator have four 3-4 hour long Japan foodie and cultural short tours on special at the moment as follows – get in quickly as the first three tour deals expire in only a few days time:

Save 30%! Tokyo: ‘New York Times Journeys’ Afternoon Walking Tour with Local Beer & Snacks

Take a trip into ‘The New York Times’ much-loved “36 Hours” travel column in one day! Tokyo is the original metropolis. A frenzy of technology, history and humanity that can be tricky to navigate by yourself. Join us on a specially curated tour in partnership with The New York Times and discover the highlights and hidden quirks of Japan’s neon-lit capital. See the ‘Ghost Station,’ meet a robot and find out all about the Japanese craft beer boom! Expect a local’s perspective, hands-on experiences and behind-the-scenes access courtesy of The New York Times’.

Click here to check out and book the ‘New York Times Journeys’ Afternoon Walking Tour of Tokyo through Viator (deal expires 15 January 2019)

Save 11%! Tokyo by Night: Japanese Food Tour

Combine the cultural delights and delectable bites of Tokyo on this 3-hour food tour of Japan’s capital. Accompanied by a guide, delve into the culinary scene of the city by visiting several popular bars and restaurants. Sample local specialities like succulent grilled meat skewers, sweet cakes and refreshing sake. Deepen your knowledge of Japanese culinary and cultural traditions and enjoy personalized attention from your guide on this small-group tour limited to 12 people.

  • 3-hour walking tour of Tokyo’s nighttime food scene, with all tastings included
  • Visit 3 eateries that few visitors know about Try local favorites such as yakitori, monjayaki and wagashi
  • Wash your food down with a refreshing beer or sake
  • Learn about Tokyo’s culinary scene from your expert local guide
  • Small-group tour limited to 12 people ensures a more personalized experience

Click here to check out and book the Tokyo by Night: Japanese Food Tour through Viator (deal expires 15 January 2019)

Save 16%! Small-group Kyoto Walking Tour including Traditional Japanese Snacks and Drinks

Experience the glowing lanterns and lively atmosphere of Kyoto after dark on this 3.5-hour evening walking tour with a small group. Experience the ancient Japanese capital after dark as you stroll the city’s serene back streets and visit city landmarks like Yasaka Shrine, the Pontocho restaurant district, and a ‘tachinomiya’ stand and drink shop for included food and drink samples.

  • Discover Kyoto after dark on a small-group walking tour
  • Explore the charming back streets and traditional Japanese lanterns of this ancient Japanese capital
  • Try to catch a glimpse of a kimono-clad ‘Geisha’ in Kyoto’s Gion area
  • Party it up with the locals at the street food stalls found near Yasaka Shrine
  • Shop for souvenirs at the eclectic stores of the Teramachi retail area
  • Included Japanese food and drink samples
  • Small group trip limited to no more than 12 guests

Click here to check out and book the Small Group Kyoto Walking Tour through Viator (deal expires 15 January 2019)

Save 15%! Small-group Kansai Soul Tour in Osaka including Japanese Snacks

Osaka, often referred to as the soul of Japan’s Kansai prefecture, is an integral stop on any tour of the Land of the Rising Sun. Experience Osaka’s neon-fronted nightlife, exceptional food, and buzzing markets on a 3.5-hour sightseeing tour. Sightseeing highlights include Kuromon Ichiba Market, famed for its gourmet hole-in-the-wall restaurants, Tsutenkaku Tower in Luna Park, and Dotonbori, a canal-side strip home to neon signs and a giant mechanical crab. Japanese snacks, including octopus balls and skewered meat, are included on this small-group tour, limited to 12 people.

  • 3.5-hour sightseeing tour of Osaka including Japanese snacks
  • Ideal for lovers of local culture and cuisine
  • Discover hidden hole-the-wall restaurants in Kuromon Ichiba Market and explore Osaka’s garish downtown district
  • Stroll around Dotonbori, a canal-side strip home to a mechanical crab and famous Running Man sign
  • Sample Japanese delicacies including octopus balls and meat skewers

Click here to check out and book the Small Group Kansai Soul Tour in Osaka through Viator (deal expires 31 January 2019)

Major Upcoming Events in Japan

Other Japan Events

Click on this page for Tokyo and this page for Japan to see the upcoming events.

Snow Monkey Season!

With winter now here in Japan many of you will be planning to visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park near Nagano to see the monkeys bathing in the hot springs.  Click here to check out our article:  How To Visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park From Tokyo And Nagano In Winter 2018-2019, which details how to visit the park either as part of a one or two day tour, or to visit independently.

How to Visit Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park from Tokyo and Nagano in 2020

Everything Sumo!

Upcoming sumo tournaments:

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.

How to Buy Sumo Wrestling Online Tickets in 2020

Top Articles This Fortnight From the Facebook Group

Explore Tokyo’s speciality shopping districts by TimeOut Tokyo

Looking for sports gear, musical instruments, Japanese textiles or something equally specific? Tokyo has neighbourhood shopping areas devoted to them all.  Click here to read more…

Kyoto Geisha by Inside Kyoto

Meeting one of Kyoto’s geisha is a magical and memorable experience. Here, I’ll tell you all about them, where to find them and how to enjoy geisha entertainment – on any budget.  Click here to read more… 

Tokyo Winter Illumination Guide 2018–2019 by JW Web Magazine

What’s the best thing to do in Japan during winter? Ski, hot spring or eating winter foods?? One thing you shouldn’t definitely miss is winter illumination events which are held across the country during winter! Especially in Tokyo, there are numbers of spots offering gorgeous illuminations brighten up the city.

Today, I have picked the most recommended illumination events held in a central Tokyo in 2018–2019 winter. They are all FREE to visit and totally photo-worthy winter wonderlands.  Click here to read more…

There’s a magical Japanese candy that reveals a new scene each time you slice into it, and it’s stunning by Insider

Dessert crazes often begin in Japan, a charming land where design and food go hand-in-hand. Take, for example, cookie shots, cronuts, and a “non-melting” ice cream.

If anything, Japan has nailed one ideology: if something tastes good, why not give it looks to match? Candy maker Nagatoya has thus created ‘Fly Me to the Moon’—a block of sweet jelly that displays a new scene after each slice.

Each piece shows an exquisite image of a bluebird and a moon. At every slice, the bird gradually spreads its wings and approaches the ever-changing moon—which explains the candy’s name.  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

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!

Japan Travel Planning

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.