“How was your trip to Japan?  How much did the trip to Japan cost?  Do you have an itinerary of your trip to Japan?”

These were the most common questions I got asked after coming back from Japan.  So I’ll do my best to answer these questions below in Journey to Tokyo (2017)…

 

journey to japan 2017 dtphan

“How was your trip to Japan?”
Finally back home from my trip to Tokyo, Japan, I’m able to sit down, edit, relax for a bit, and write about how fun this trip was.  This was my 4th time traveling to Japan, but each time is a different adventure with different people.  Traveling alone is more convenient, but with more people, it’s a lot more fun… in my opinion at least.  So my first advice is to find a person or group to travel with!

Is it possible to get around Japan without knowing any Japanese?
It is most definitely possible if I can do it.  I know as much Japanese from watching Dragonball Z to One Punch Man… and that’s mainly from reading english subtitles.  Restaurants have an english menu or ‘eigo menyu‘ for people from the states.  If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try eating out at small bar and grills, they might not be as accommodating.  You might have to point at something and guess what it is… you could end up with a live octopus.
Google maps app will be your best friend as well as the Translate app.  So download it if you don’t have it.

Is public wifi available everywhere?
Most places have wifi, but I would recommend getting a mobile wifi unit from the airport.  There are several places to rent from and the price of unit ranges from data speed to length of rental.   I opted to rent fastest speed with unlimited data for 7 days.  The cost was $62USD.

PLANNING THE TRIP… 

Some people like to plan and some people don’t, but for me, I just like being ready for anything and everything in any situation.  I used a previous trip to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, etc. as a template and updated things I wanted to do.

journey to japan itinerary

This is just an hour by hour itinerary around Tokyo area.  If you want to see the full itinerary, just click on the photo.

The itinerary is pretty intense so don’t get too overwhelmed.  My brother, David, is a professional traveler so I kinda learned from him.

“So how much did the trip to Japan cost you?”
Booking airfare was probably the most expensive part of this trip for me but not by much.  I booked through a third party site, Vayama.com, and found a flight from LAX to Japan for $530 in November 2016.  Deals usually pop up on sites like Escape Houston.  Now, I just needed to get to LAX from HOU.  Southwest was having a $130 round trip sale on domestic flights, so I just used my Southwest points to cover the fare and just pay the $11 fee.  These are prices after taxes and fees.  @shihtake tagged along from Houston this time around and we got an Airbnb for 7 nights.  The total was $245 split between the two of us.  After fees, we each paid around $130 each.

Our Airbnb in Akasaka… 

airbnb journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

An exterior view of our Airbnb apartment as school children pass by.

People think you have to bring $2000USD in cash because Japan is expensive, but the exchange rate favored USD this time around.  By the end of the trip I had spent about $400USD (which covered food and trains) and $62USD for the mobile wifi.

So the total cost of the trip to Tokyo, Japan was $1252 USD for 7 days.  This was a mild budget trip, but I would say it could be +/- $200 of that total depending how frugal you are.

interior airbnb journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

interior airbnb journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

interior airbnb journey to tokyo 2017

interior airbnb journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

This was the interior of our Airbnb apartment or ‘flat’.  Only one bed with a blanket and a floor futon couch kinda thing.

I actually arrived one day earlier than Joseph aka @shihtake, so I met up with another friend, Enrique or @sargy2, from Virginia.  The plan was to just relax and sight see until Joseph flew in.

exterior flat airbnb journey to japan 2017 dtphan

exterior flat view airbnb journey to japan 2017 dtphan

exterior airbnb journey to japan 2017

Views from the flat.

journey to japan 2017 dtphan

These vending machines are almost always convenient because they’re almost on every block.

journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

Our usual morning walk to Akasaka station.

Architecture design in Japan is amazing.

journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

Steps underground to Akasaka Station.

espresso journey to tokyo 2017

It was early in the morning so I had to stop by for an espresso.

enrique journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

Enrique doesn’t drink coffee so this was his first cappuccino.

danh_phan_tokyo_japan_2017-19

Our first destination was Tsukiji Fish Market.

tsukiji journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

The weather was cool and chilly.  Not freezing.

tsukiji fish market journey to japan 2017 dtphan

You know you’re close to Tsukiji Fish Market when you start seeing signs with fish.

Tsukiji fish market journey to japan 2017 dtphan

We arrive around 9:30 AM which is mid day for shops.

tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

It is always packed with people and tourists though so don’t be surprised if you hear someone else from the states.

tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

I can feel we’re getting near the fish market now…

Tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

You would pass by a bunch of sushi shops with lines outside the door.

tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

This is kinda like a farmers market except they’re for seafood.

skyline view of tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

A view of the Tsukiji Fish Market from a random parking garage we found.

tsukiji skyline journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

More views…

tsukiji skyline view journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

and more views….

tuna tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017

We walked all around and found a small market area with small shops that sold tuna like the one above and other types of fish…

tsukiji fish market journey to japan 2017 dtphan

A guard watches the gates making sure people don’t enter the wholesale area before 10AM…

tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

This was the fish wholesale market after 10AM.  It’s pretty much end of their day so it’s not as crazy.

tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

You could sign up to watch the tuna auction, but you would need to wake up at 5AM to stand in line for access.

sushi dai tsukiji fish market journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

We went back outside to the sushi shops and saw this line…

sushi dai daiwa journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

There were actually 2 queues…  One for Sushi Daiwa and Sushi Dai.  The wait time was somewhere between 1 to 3 hrs…

tsukjiji journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

We got a little hungry so we got some quick street food.

street vendor tsukiji journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

It was rice, salmon sashimi with fish eggs on top.

skyline bunkyo journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

After Tsukiji, we decided to go to the Bunkyo Civic Center in Byunko district…

journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

The views aren’t too bad for the cost of free…

bunkyo journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

Awesome views because you can see Mt. Fuji. 

journey to tokyo 2017 dtphan

This old man is probably explaining some Japanese history…

journey to tokyo 2017

journey to tokyo 2017

Enrique taking in the views…

journey to tokyo 2017

Found this guy with a super telephoto lens.  Probably ‘bird watching’.

 

This is it for Part 1 of Journey to Tokyo (2017).  If you have any questions, just post a comment or email me!  As always, thanks for reading.

 

Danh Phan
http://www.dtphan.com

http://www.instagram.com/dtphan

Gear:
Nikon D750
Sigma 35mm f1.4