I am the worst at publishing major posts in a timely manner (like how the wedding posts came up oh, late summer) but now this truly feels like the last time I can reasonably get a summer post out without waiting until next year. Our early summer wedding led to a mid-summer honeymoon in what was an adventure and food-filled adventure.
We spent 2 weeks in July exploring Tokyo, Hokkaido, & Kyoto with little day trips throughout. And because we spent so much time in each place, and each site could reasonably have its own page, I’ll be breaking out the trip by major city and possibly day trips. Bullet points for shopping, eating, and sites with more detailed information at the end of each post about getting around, tips, etc.
I will preface this before jumping in that:
- Flights & hotels were Michael’s parents’ wedding gift to us, so while I can say the Ritz in Kyoto was worlds above anywhere we’ve ever stayed, we didn’t really do any research on accommodations besides picking hotels near what we wanted to see/do.
- We saved for a year to be able to splurge on food (and shopping). Japan has one of the most for foodies, and we wanted to try everything.
- We broke down things we wanted to do by: coffee shops, shopping, sites, food, and activities. Finding niche design shops and cafes is a huge way I like to experience local culture so be prepared for lots of coffee talk.
These are not going to be short posts. Japan has been a huge bucket list check since I first got into Manga in middle school so there will be lots of over-enthusiastic, over detailed explanations. But I hope it’s helpful for anyone else planning to go during the summer!
Hokkaido – coming soon
Kyoto – coming soon
General Traveling to Japan Tips
Get a portable wifi device
For roughly $__/day, we had reliable wifi everywhere. It honestly worked better than cell service in the States. You can set pick up and drop off at the airport or your hotel and is the easiest way to get around.
Google Translate is The Bomb
Translating complex text like menus wasn’t accurate, but the best way to use it is to speak into it and have Google translate to Japanese. You can then show someone the translated tet or play back the Japanese audio! We did this when asking if we could photograph someone/have someone take our photo and a cheesecake vendor was able to instruct us to let the cheesecake thaw for 45 minutes before eating!
Cash is King
Every guide we read highly recommended cash as a lot of places in Japan don’t take card. We found this to be mostly true, but especially with Tokyo preparing for the 2020 Olympics, we were able to use a credit card more than we expected.
Maybe this is an American thing, but a lot of places we looked at for food/coffee/shopping would have ratings in the low 4’s, and those would be across the board the most recommended. In the States, I’m used to skimming past anything below a ~4.4, and if you’re the same, don’t use that as a metric for scoping out spots in Japan!
General Japan in Summer Tips
It’s freaking hot. Coming from a Floridian, it is freaking hot. Bring lots of loose dresses and linen pants (for the parks for bugs), and don’t bother beyond sunscreen for makeup. They have mastered the balance between not blasting ac indoors though, so carrying an extra sweater is necessary!
Drink yo water. And get it from a 7-11. The vending machines are around $1.50 for a standard bottle, but it’s worth grabbing the 1 L from a 7-11 for less.
If/when you get a bug bite, look for the light blue package with an angry, cartoon mosquito. That thing was a lifesaver!
Japan has a zillion ice cream flavors. The heat is the perfect excuse to try them all.
Check the festival schedule! Summer is festival season, and almost every city will have some kind of festival. Perfect excuse to break out that Yukata you hauled from home *cough cough*