I have wanted to start a travel blog and share my adventures for quite some time, but have been pretty lazy about just doing it. So I thought what better way to kick this off is with posts about mine and Jason's holiday to Japan. We did a lot of reading (other people's blogs and Lonely Planet travel books), asked a lot of friends for suggestions (thanks Meghan, David, Jenny and Colin), and put in a lot of planning to get the most out of our 8 days so I will try and share as much as possible for those of you planning on going to Japan sometime soon.
After reading in several locations that we should order a Japan Rail Pass before leaving for Japan, we ordered online rail passes about a month before our departure. The rail passes allow you to travel for 7, 14 or 21 days within Japan on any JR train line, which includes some of the bullet trains (also known as shinkansens) as well as the Narita Express (the train that runs from Narita airport to central Tokyo where you can catch other trains). The website also offered SIM cards for unlocked smart phones and pocket WiFi devices. We weren't really sure which would be the better option for navigating and looking things up on the internet so we ended up getting both a SIM card for Jason's iPhone and a pocket WiFi. We got our SIM card and Japan Rail Pass vouchers in the mail and were emailed directions for picking up the pocket WiFi at the Narita airport.
And then we were off....
We arrived into Narita at about 8 am local time. After going through the border, picking up our bags, and going through customs (which only took about 20-25 minutes in total) we found our way to the Post Office in terminal 1 to pick up our pocket WiFi device. There were signs and maps in English and Japanese all over the airport so it was pretty easy to find. We then headed towards the train station at the airport where we stopped at the JR Travel Center to exchange our Japan Rail Pass vouchers for the actual passes. The woman who helped us get our rail passes also asked where we were going and reserved us seats on the Narita Express from the airport to Shinagawa station and then on the shinkansen from Shinagawa station to Osaka station. She was so efficient we were out of there in 20 minutes and most of that was in the queue.
We were then off on our journey from the Tokyo area to Osaka, which was our first destination point in Japan. In total it took ~4 hours of travel time on the Narita Express and the shinkansen. It was pretty tough to stay awake for that long, but we managed to not completely doze off and miss our stop. We were SO happy to finally arrive into Osaka and see our hotel from the train station. After some showers we rewarded our selves by going up to the hotel lounge and taking in the view.
We watched the sunset over the city, watched trains and planes and started making our plans for the next 2 days in the Osaka area.
I promise the next blog post will be a lot more interesting and more pictures!!