Planning A Trip To Japan During Cherry Blossom

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

Japan is a country where beauty reigns in every corner. Looking at our pictures from Japan never fails to lift my spirits. This place floored me. It's ridiculously crowded yet amazingly organized. It’s really minimal yet equally extravagant. It’s incredibly modern yet rooted in it’s tradition. It’s fragile and wild at the same time.

No matter where you are, you will never be too far from amazing food, sake, and pure zen. It was nothing short of incredible. The entire experience is hard to sum up in words but if I were to try I would say that it is truly an out-of-this-world, fascinating, mind-bogglingly unique and inspiring country in every sense of the word.

Here is a day-wise itinerary of our trip.

Day 1 - Tokyo City. Part 1.

Day 2 - Day trip to Mount Fuji 

Day 3 - Tokyo City. Part 2. 

Day 4 - Kyoto - Part 1/2

Day 5 - Kyoto - Part 1

Day 6 - Kyoto - Part 2

Day 7 - Day Trip From Kyoto to Osaka-Nara. 

Day 8 - Kyoto to Tokyo Day 9 - Tokyo to Home


Best time to visit

Japan is beautiful. Period. For a truly otherworldly experience, I recommend visiting during the cherry blossom season* (subject to change every year) but it is mostly from mid to end of March, sometimes running into the first week of April.


Flights and Visa

We flew directly into Tokyo with Emirates.


Getting a Japanese visa is pretty straightforward - simple paper work and we got the visa in all of 3 days (in Dubai).


Language

Japanese. It helps to know a few words since small store owners don't speak English BUT despite all this, you will never be short of people wanting to help. We actually had one seriously old person going out of his way to walk us to a temple we couldn't find (unasked, he just volunteered - nowhere else have I seen this happen - ever). This place is something else.


Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency

Travel Insurance is always recommended. Japanese YEN is the official currency. Most places accepted card but I would recommend carrying cash for the metro and buses.


Where we stayed (Tokyo and Kyoto)

In Tokyo, we stayed at the Hotel Monterey Akasaka. The service and the rooms were amazing. It was a short 10 minute walking from the metro station. The best part? All rooms have a cell phone with data that you can take with you during your day out. You won't need to buy a data plan. Now THAT is what I call a great hotel.


In Kyoto, we stayed at a Ryokan for one night and then moved to Sakura Terrace for the remainder of our stay. The Ryokan was cozy and in the middle of the city. The hotel was on the other side of the city but closer to the metro - big rooms and great (but over crowded) breakfast.


Cost and getting around

Japan is not cheap by any means. When we were not walking, we mostly took the metro and the bus to get around in cities. They were on time (duh) and super efficient - just be sure to carry enough loose change.


Safety

Hands down one of the safest countries (after Iceland) in the world.

Guide to Finding Vegetarian Food

We decided not to carry any food on this trip since I knew we were mostly going to be in cities and would be in a position to pick up grocery. That being said, there was no shortage of brilliant vegan cafes in Tokyo and Kyoto. Using happycow, we found the most amazing places - small but seriously GOOD. I recommend these must-try places:

Tokyo - T's Tan Tan in Tokyo Metro Station (best vegan ramen in town)

Kyoto - Veggie Cafe (owned by an old man, who was single-handedly rocking it in the kitchen), Falafel Garden, Mominoki House

Osaka - Sangam


What to pack

Toiletries. Medicines.

We traveled in March so mornings and evenings were chilly. Bring a poncho or rain jacket and maybe, a wind jacket as well.

Day 1 - Tokyo city. Places covered Places covered Asakusa street, Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo Metropolitan Building, Ueno Park, Choyoda, Imperical Palace

Welcome to Tokyo’s pink and modern world o