Before we dive in…..

We work hard to help our travelers make their Japan trips unforgettable. We love to hear about their journeys when they get back.

In this post, we speak with Roxanne and Geissler who were first time Japan independent travelers and had ambitious plans to absorb as much land, nature, food, and culture as possible in their 15 day trip.

 

Where in Japan did you go? Why did you choose those places? Was there a reason why you went in November?

R: We went to Tokyo, Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima, and Naoshima.
I wanted to see Hiroshima to better understand impact of the US’s decision to drop the first a-bomb on Japan. The other places were easily accessible by train and gave us a sense of common but also slightly different cultures within Japan. Thanksgiving is our annual vacation time so that is why we chose Japan. It was an amazing time to go with the leaves changing!
G: I mostly wanted to be impacted by the culture and for efficiency our locations were close enough to allow maximum diversity in 14 days. Experiencing the bustle and particular style of Tokyo; the home-town feel of Kanazawa and historic essence of Shirakawago; Stately and enshrined Kyoto; the ebullience of Osaka and solemn beauty of Hiroshima; and lastly, the playful charm of Naoshima.

What were some of the highlights of your trip? Anything that blew your mind?

R & G: In no particular order:
1. The kindness and consideration of the Japanese people. There was no pollution including noise, trash. People don’t talk on their cell phones or play music that disrupts others around them. Everything was so clean.
2. The food!
3. The Peace Museum and park in Hiroshima
4. Hiking the Fushimi Inari (Tori gate) shrine at night. There were very few people and it was an amazing experience (kind of spooky and magical).
5. Glamping in Naoshima. They have raccoon dogs!!!! The island is so beautiful.
6. The bathrooms. Returning home has been so sad, I really miss the toilets:)
7. Japanese Craft Beer
8. Japanese Coffee
9. Attention to detail and amazing art-like aspect to desserts (especially at the Train Station in Kyoto!)
10. The way folks dressed, the fashion!

Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

Rox and Geiss headed west from Tokyo to Ishikawa prefecture to visit Kanazawa, a city that consists of well-preserved Edo-era districts from the Geisha to samurai. 

Shirakawago

A short bus ride from Kanazawa or Takayama, UNESCO Heritage site, Shirakawago is a living history village famous for itss gassho-zukuri farmhouses. 

What was your overall impression of Japan? 

R: It was beautiful. The people are so kind. Despite being on the go for the most of the vacation, I came back rejuvenated and happy.

G: A peaceful coexistence of ancient traditions and gorgeous outdoors with the most modern aspects of culture and technology.

How was the food? What was your favorite meal? How was it easy/difficult to order food?

R: The food was excellent. It is hard to pick a favorite. Although the curried meat buns were particularly delicious on chilly days. Okonomiyaki is delicious.

G: It was a bit overwhelming in choices. Dinner at a yakiniku restaurant in Osaka ranks very high for me as well as the abundant and humble onigiri!

 

Did you encounter any trouble during the trip? What was the most challenging part?

R: Tokyo was a little overwhelming for me upon arrival. The train/subway station could sometimes be hard to navigate (google maps can’t really help you underground) but once we figured out the colors and saw where the English was, it was fine.

 

How was KiKO able to help you plan your trip? What kind of requests did you have for them? 

R: KiKO was amazing. They gave us options of hotels and provided details on things to do and in what order. Their directions for walking tours were on point. 

G: The best part about working with KiKO was the planning. It was very stress-free. We simply started with general aspects which were appealing to us and then drilled down to certain cities, areas and experiences we wanted and they assembled a very manageable and flexible itinerary (with excellent hotel and food recommendations). These were presented to us on a very handy phone app which kept us on target. They were also available for questions during our trip through the app! We then had the presence of mind to absorb the experience with little of the logistics!

 

Any tips for folks who are planning on traveling to Japan? What shouldn’t be missed? Any dos and don’ts?

R: I think our trip was perfect for two weeks. The only thing I would recommend is for people to stay two nights in Naoshima so that they can explore all of the art in one day.

G: Naturally, if you’ll be covering some long distances, I would recommend a JR pass. Try combini food! Peek into a Don-Qui store; Duck into some Izakayas.

 

Now that you’re back, what do you miss about Japan? Would you go back? If so, where would you go? 

R: Everything! Mostly I miss the aesthetic beauty of everything from food presentation, to architecture, to fashion. I also miss how considerate they are of other people’s space and the reduction of noises from phones, cars, even other humans. The calm and peace I felt in Japan cannot be replicated in the US. 

I would go back in a second, perhaps to explore the northern part and experience more nature.

G: (What Rox said!)

 

Inspired by Rox and Geiss?


 

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