YAAAAY! My sister and I will be going on a holiday to Japan soon! How amazing is that?! As you can tell, I’m super excited 🙂
It wasn’t really a trip we planned months in advance. More of like a spontanious one! My sister texted me, saying ‘Hey, do you want to go to Japan?‘, and of course I said: ‘Hell yes!’. To which she replied: ‘Well then, let’s fucking go!‘. Hahaha. And that’s how we decided to go to Japan.
I’ve actually wanted to go there ever since I was a teenager. I used to be really into anime and manga. I actually made some drawings in those styles myself. The feeling of wanting to go there someday has never left my body, but I now want to go there for different reasons. Exploring a totally different country and culture is now reason number one. They do things so different from what I’m used to over here in Europe and the language is so different as well! I never thought this dream holiday would happen to me so early in my life, but I’m extremely happy it did! And I get to experience it with my sister, which is extra fun. 🙂
A little while after my sister and I had the whatsapp conversation that led to the trip, I visited her and we decided on the date we wanted to go (and come back). I basically just used the website www.skyscanner.nl to figure out what the cheapest month would be to buy our flights. At that time the site said June or the end of September would be best. Or we would have to wait untill next year, which we both didn’t feel like. So we decided on the end of June! –Keep in mind, my sister texted me on the 3rd of May and the preperations started the 7th. So this was kind of a last minute holiday haha-
We dediced on leaving the 25th of June 2018 and arriving back home the 7th of July. Six of these nights we planned on spending in Tokyo, one on the bus to Osaka and the final ones in Osaka itself. We didn’t book anything yet that day, simply because we didn’t have enough time. I had to go to work. However, ever since we had decided on the date of departure, I started studying Japanese. Yes, the language. Just the most basic phrases though, like how to introduce yourself, how to buy train tickets, how to order food and say ‘thank you’ or ‘sorry’. I also studied some words related to food and tried to find some food-related words translated into the Japanese alphabet. Words such as ‘big portion’, ‘small portion’, ‘sushi’, ‘water’, ‘pork’, ‘egg’ and ‘coffee’. I even started studying the hiragana! Hiragana is one of the actual ‘alphabets’ that the Japanese people use. It’s really difficult actually, apart from the ‘drawings’ they use for the letters a,e,i,u,o.
I just used Youtube videos in order to learn Japanese. The video that helped me study the alphabet, is this one: Learn ALL Hiragana in 1 Hour – How to Write and Read Japanese. This Youtube channel helped me a lot to master the basic phrases (search for their ‘learn Japanese’ videos) and it helped me with buying train tickets, checking in at the hotel and buying things in grocery stores (search for their ‘innovative Japanese’ videos). And this account helped me with ordering food: JapanSocietyNYC , which might just be the most important one because FOOD IS LIVE! Haha. Of course I watched a lot more other videos as well just to get used to the language.
Booking the flights
The 14th of May is when we booked our flights and the bus to Osaka as well. We managed to book sort of a return ticket but with multiple destinations through Skyscanner. We just went with the cheapest option that included a duration of the flights no longer than 20 hours one way and we also didn’t want to leave from Schiphol Airport Amsterdam too early since we would have to be there three hours before departure time and traveling to Amsterdam by train already takes us two hours. Of course we also didn’t want to leave Japan early in the morning. So those were our criteria and we eventually booked two KLM flights operated by Air France. Both with one stopover in Paris.
We booked the bus tickets right after. There is also the option of going to Osaka by train (or even by plane) but that would cost us about 115 euro per person, while the bus was only about 40 euro per person. Obviously the bus would take a lot longer, but there was the option of taking the night bus so we would just sleep the whole way there anyway and not waste any precious daytime during which we should be exploring. Therefor, we decided to take the bus. I think this is the website we used to book the tickets, but I am not entirely sure. There’s a lot more, but not all of them are in English. -Sidenote!: we had to use a creditcard to book our bus tickets, so make sure you have one or know someone that does!-
Booking the accommodation
We tried to figure out where to stay during our holiday as well. We wanted a hotel that wasn’t too far from the city center, wasn’t too expensive and that actually had a twinbed or two single beds. A lot of the rooms for two persons that the hotels in Tokyo offer, have a really tiny two-persons bed. One that is actually made for like 1,5 people. Would definitely not be comfortable for two girls our length that like to have lots of room to toss and turn haha. I definitely didn’t want to sleep in a hostel either. We thought booking the rooms was going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy, but it was more like difficult difficult lemon difficult. Hahaha.
During the search for our accommodation we also figured out that it would be best if we were to stay in two different hotels in Tokyo, one on the east side of the city and one on the west. This made the search a little easier and a little more difficult as well since we now knew what areas to look in but also one of these was super expensive. The 16th of May, we eventually found a hotel in Akihabura, the APA hotel, and decided we would try and find an Airbnb in Shinjuku. We eventually found a nice place owned by a guy named Hiro. After booking a hotel in Osaka for the wrong dates (Woops, my bad) and immidiately asking for a refund, we also booked a hotel in Osaka for the last few nights. This hotel is called Hotel Links. Which is funny, because in Dutch the word ‘links’ means ‘left’.
So we now have booked everything we need in order to go to Japan, stay there for about a week and a half and return home. All we need now is a list of places we want to visit and lots of money to spend of delicous food and souvenirs! 🙂