Japan! Finalllllly getting around to the “travel” part of this blog. Since a few people have asked us about places to go in Japan and if we have any tips for their trip, I figure we’ll just use this opportunity to write about them here.

Back in January of 2016, (I am still in a state of shock over how quickly this year flew by) we spent 20 days running around Japan. We spent two full weeks in Tokyo, and a week traveling through Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka.

To prevent this post from being too long, I’m going to write a short summary of some of our tips here, and expand/link to them in future posts.

Booking a Place

If there’s one thing you do: stay close to a train station. This was the best decision we made. After walking all day, your feet will totally thank you. 😀 

JR Pass / Passmo / Suica

There’s one sure fire way to figure out if it’s worth it – do the math. You can input your various locations into google maps and it’ll give you the price. The pass runs around $250/person USD (depending on conversion rate), and with one-way tickets from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka coming in at around $140 USD, it’ll save you a lot if you travel more.

If you’re staying in Tokyo, I would just pick up a Passmo or Suica card. Think Clipper Card in San Francisco or the Metrocard in NYC. The machines to get them offer English and will be marked with their logos. If you don’t have one of these cards, you’ll have to look at the train maps and figure out the exact cost and input that into the machine and buy a ticket. Every. Single. Time. 

Mobile Wifi and Google Maps

This is a total lifesaver. We got ours through Global Advanced – and the standard 75Mbps speed was more than enough for us. You can also get them at the airport. 😀

Before leaving I downloaded a bunch of transit apps (Navitime, Hyperdia, etc) but in the end – google maps was by far the easiest interface to use. It shows you the color of the line, sometimes even giving you what platform you need to be on, as well as the total price (if you decide to go the ticket route). Best, ever.

Takkyubin (Ta-Q-Bin)

You will prob never see any Japanese folks dragging their giant suitcases around – all of them use ta-q-bin, a pretty affordable bag forwarding service. We did it on the last day, from our AirBnB to the airport. It was $78 for 3 large suitcases, but totally worth it.

Outlets and Adapters

For the most part, you won’t need an adapter, but you will want to bring the 2-prong version of whatever device you’re using (like your macbook) if you have one. 

Google Translate 

This one was pretty helpful when I was totally stumped as to what a sign said. You can take a pic and highlight the text you want translated and boom – in business. 


If you do want to learn a few things before you go, this site is awesome. I would just check out some of the “Survival Phrases Season 1”. 

That’s it for now. I think that covers the basics for things we learned the hard way. Hahaha. Will write more about how to use some of those services and where to get things in the coming weeks.

Maybe I can also use this to segue into writing more about the places we visited, as well. It’s tough to figure out a way to make your blog flow and not feel like everything is just at random. For now, I’ll stick to my Hawaii posts on Sunday and Japan on Wednesday.