If you are a lover of all things Japanese and a bit of a foodie who likes the simple things in life and don't travel equipped with an enormous budget, then read on to find out some excellent J-based travel tips that will ensure you'll have a great time out there without having to break the bank or skimp on that all-important worldwide travel insurance.
1. If you're looking for good, inexpensive accommodation in Tokyo, then give Shiodome's Park Hotel a try, which often offers rooms at rates as low as ¥15,000 pppn over the web. While the rooms can be on the pokey side for a hotel, the views make it all worth it, offering breathtaking vistas of the Tokyo skyline.
2. A super-early-morning escapade around the Tsukiji fish market really is well worth the early rise, where visitors can find all manner and means of weird-looking seafood - and people.
3. If you do one thing, make sure you hop on the subway to Nihonbashi station and go to Boulangerie Maison Kayser, where the pastries are truly out of this world. This Paris-based company is so good at making these tasty things that it’s now a success all the way over in Japan.
4. If you walk from Yurakucho station to Shimbashi station after 5pm, you can take a pit stop at a yakitori bar which serves a wonderful array of tasty grilled chicken skewers which can be washed down by some top quality ice-cold beers.
5. Hop on a 300km/h bullet train (shinkansen) and treat yourself to Green Car, which is this train's version of business class, and not as pricey as you might first think. The route it takes you on is absolutely superb if you travel to Kyoto, passing Mount Fuji (Fujisan) and a large number of rather epic-looking tea plantations. Get yourself deep fried pork cutlet sandwiches (katsu sando) for company, and there you'll have yourself the most perfect train journey known to mankind.
6. Get yourself down to Uji where you can enjoy a good old-fashioned chanoyu tea house surrounded by only the finest tea farms in all of Japan. And if you’re a fan of ice cream, you can even treat yourself to a tasty green tea ice cream cone afterwards.
7. Ask your concierge where the best, locally-loved kaiseki restaurants can be found. There are basically two kinds of traditional Japanese meal styles called either kaiseki or kaiseki ryōri/cha-kaiseki – the former referring to the kind of flouncy, fancy meals typically served at banquets, and the latter referring to the simple meal that the host of a Japanese tea party (chanoyu) would serve to their guests.
8. Go to a local izakaya, drink shochu until the middle of the night with locals who will revel in your tales of travel travesty and triumph.
9. Visit Nipponbashi, in particular its Kuromon Ichiba markets, where you can saunter into one of the many sushi bars there and eat fugu – otherwise known rather ominously as poisonous blowfish – to your heart’s content.
10. Go to Spa World in Tennoji, where you can strip naked and revel in the hot springs (onsen) there. Toasty.