I visited Japan after my tax season here because I needed a break and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that Japan is one of my favorite countries in the world to visit.
Getting There – Visa & Flights
Since I travel with an American passport, I did not need a visa to visit Japan. My google search informed me that if you intend on traveling to Japan with a Nigerian passport, you need the following;
Complete the visa application form
Original signed Nigerian passport
2 passport photographs
Possibly a letter of invitation (very intense I must say).
I flew to Tokyo on Air Canada with a layover in Vancouver and the flight costs $877 with total flight time of almost 13 hours. Being that Tokyo is a major city in the world, the most affordable and reasonable way to get to your accommodation is to take the JR Line. I wouldn’t suggest taking the subway because it takes over an Hour from Narita to Tokyo on the subway and take half that time on the JR Line.
Another piece of idea only if you do the math and it is worth it should you purchase the Japan Rail Pass at the airport. When getting around any city however, take the subway.
As with major cities on this beautiful green earth, there are tons of accommodation available in Japan. Being that I travel very light with my backpack only and I love making new friends wherever I go, I chose to stay in a hostel. Japan is expensive so hostels are obviously the cheapest form of accommodation and if you decide to go this route stay in a pod-style hostel cause of the privacy it affords.
Things to do
I will start by saying in Japan I visited Tokyo, Osaka, Nara and Kyoto. Japan is an ancient country that takes pride in preserving its culture so there are beautiful temples and shrine you can visit all over the country. On my very first night in Tokyo, I took the subway (costs around $180JPY) to the world famous Shibuya crossing (the world’s busiest crossroad). Shibuya crossing seems intimidating but people in Japan are so nice that walking on the crossroad isn’t as scary because a lot of people stop to take selfies. If you want an aerial view of the crosspoint, go to the Starbucks (I didn’t go).
On day two, I wanted to go to the most intense fish auction in the world but I chose sleep instead (you have to start standing in line at 3:30 in the morning to experience the auction). I went to the Fish market at 6:30am to eat delicious fish breakfast and it was totally worth it.
Also on day two in Japan, I hopped on the fastest train ever called Shinkensen to Osaka. I took the Nozomi because I wanted to be on the very fastest train (costs about 13,000JPY I think and took about 2 and half hours). In Osaka, I went to the Shitennoji Temple built around 593AD but mostly rebuilt in 1963. If you climb the Shitennoji temple, you get a pretty sweet view of Osaka. Osaka is a pretty vibrant city so go out at night. I went to this Jazz bar and met my Japanese Grand father. In Osaka try to eat takoyaki, it’s a famous snack down there.
On the morning of day three, I went to a maid cafe (you have to go there to experience this) and the took a 15 minutes Shinkensen (Kodama) but you can take the JR line also to Kyoto. Kyoto is tame compared to Tokyo and Osaka. In Kyoto, rent a bike it costs about 50JPY a day. In Kyoto I went to Nijo-jo castle, be prepared to walk a lot because this place is huge and gorgeous. My favorite place to visit however was Fushimi Inari Shrine, it is a hike of about 2 hours or more but worth the hike because you get to see an aerial view of Kyoto.
On my way back to Tokyo, I made a quick detour in Nara. Nara has this cute park that also has a temple but friendly not so wild deers roam around the park and it’s pretty incredible because you can feed them.
Back in Tokyo, I met up with a friend that took me to Skytree which is pretty much a skyscraper. The highlight of my day in Tokyo was our trip to an Onsen (a bath house), where you basically soak up in hot to lukewarm water naked in front of people, you can also get a massage (make you hide your tattoos because they aren’t allowed).
As always I was sad to leave but I had to face the real world.
Tips: Visit late March to Early April so you can see the cherry blossom. Take cash with you because Japan is big on spending cash. Buy one of those wi-fi card things because wi-fi is scarce in Japan. Eat a lot of food!