It’s finally happened! We’re heading back to Japan at the end of the year for just over two weeks.
Jetstar (one of the local Australian aircraft brands) does regular deals from Gold Coast Airport to Narita Airport, and with the route now sporting amazing new Boeing 787 Dreamliners (better exit row seats, boom) it was tough to resist the latest offer Jetstar put out, which was essentially two tickets for the price of one.
Give or take a day due to flight times, we’re heading over for seventeen days – that means we’ll be there for over a week more this time around. This gives us a chance to travel further south, experience more theme parks, see more temples, and discover more new stuff like themed bars in Akihabara, which i’ve heard is an experience in itself (think hospital bars where you drink from syringes and get served by naughty nurses etc.).
We’re also planning a lot more efficiently this time round. We learnt valuable lessons the first time travelling through Japan about timing, catching trains and just finding out way around using the tools we had. Compared to 2012, this time we’ll have sim cards that actually work, and Google Maps is actually an app on iOS again (it wasn’t when we went because of the Apple/Google riff that happened around that time) – this means transit and timing is going to be way easier, especially now that we have our bearings.
I thought i’d start writing a series of articles about our Japan trip to help others out who want to do the same thing as we do – lots of people ask why would anyone go to another part of the world to hit up theme parks, and the answer in itself is simple. When you think about cliche sayings, like “it’s not the destination but the journey” – when you travel across the world to discover theme parks, not only do you discover brilliant things & people along the way, but the payoff is at the end of the day, you get to jump on some of the world’s coolest, craziest, endorphin releasing thrill machines, and Japan is home to many to say the least. It’s like getting to have your cake, and eat it too. We travel roads most tourists don’t to get to the thrills that interest us, which in turn puts us in the thick of unpredictable, crazy and highly memorable experiences that ultimately we get to cherish forever.
With all this in mind, here’s where we’re at so far – flights are paid, and we’re pulling together a rough itinery. We stayed in hotels on the fly last time, with creating a home-base in Tokyo for five days. This time round we’re thinking of using crowd-sourcing sites like Airbnb to get some amazing accommodation in the heart of Ginza and/or Shibuya while we’re in Tokyo, and doing hotels for the rest of our trip. We also plan to do a Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) for atleast a night or two (maybe after Fuji-Q Highlands, there’s a place that apparently has amazing open baths looking out to Mount Fuji). We’re going to smash out theme parks in four waves, starting with Tokyo theme parks, then down to Nagoya for east coast parks, and then Osaka for mid/south theme parks before finally heading back up to Tokyo and spending a few days at Tokyo Disneyland Resort and at the Studio Ghibli museum before heading home. Like I said, it’s not all just theme parks, we’ll be discovering Hiroshima and Kyoto while we’re south, along with a day at Osaka and plenty of time in Tokyo travelling around temples, discovering new stuff, and generally just taking it all in. We’ll be using JR Rail Passes to get around (they’re worth their weight in gold) and hopefully getting by with a little luck and broken Japanese.
For a play by play itinerary now, this is how it’s looking:
Day 1 (evening) – arrive, check in
Day 2 – Tokyo dome, Explore Tokyo, Yokohama Cosmo World & Sea Paradise
Day 3 – Fuji-Q Highlands
Day 4 – Nagashima Spa Land
Day 5 – Tobu Zoo, Explore Tokyo
Day 6 – Universal Studios
Day 7 – Lagunasia / Parque Espana
Day 8 – Hijemi Central Park / Explore Osaka
Day 9 – Space World / Explore Osaka
Day 10 – Explore Kyoto
Day 11 – Explore Hiroshima
Day 12 – Explore Tokyo / SkyTree
Day 13 – Explore Tokyo
Day 14 – Tokyo Disneyland
Day 15 – Tokyo DisneySea
Day 16 – Tokyo DisneySea
Day 17 – Studio Ghibli, Fly Home
As you can see there’s heaps still to nut out, but it’s a rough idea which is already exciting just to check out. Do you think we’ve missed anything? Leave us a comment below. I’ll continue to document what’s happening as we continue to refine our plans.