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So - visiting Japan. Tips?

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I know some people on here have travelled to Japan


Planning a trip with the family as turns out we’ve all got it on our bucket list. Can only manage two weeks, most likely at Easter. So assuming we’ll do Tokyo and Kyoto and probably venture out from there but obviously can’t cover length of the country in that time, what should I consider doing? There’ll be a bit of hurtling around by bullet train, but also happy to rent cars and travel out...


Obviously petrolhead type recommendations most welcome as one of the reasons I’m going... but also anything else you’d consider unmissable.



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If you want to rent a GT86 you can do it via Toyota Japan, but you have to phone them to reserve it. You will need an international driving licence available from your post office. 

I'd say check what car events are on when you're going to see if you can tie it in. You'll most likely need a car to get to them. If you have any famous tuners you want to visit try and get in touch with them beforehand or if you have any Japanese friends try and get them to arrange it for you. If you want to go to the Subaru factory in Maebashi you will need a Japanese speaking friend to call them and arrange it for you. Note though you don't actually go in the GT86/BRZ factory they do a tour around the factory next door where the Forester is made. It's pretty cool though. 

You can do all the temples and stuff if you're Buddhist but if it doesn't mean that much to you apart from the very nice wood in there it's not really worth it. Just my thoughts. 

Kyoto is nice and historic and quite different to places like Yokohoma MM which were flattened in WWII. I would consider staying in Yokohama as well as it's like a vision of the future. As with Tokyo there is a lot to do, but it depends what you're interested in really. 

I went all the way to Hiroshima on bullet train to see all the atomic bomb stuff, well worth seeing. The trains are cheap with a weeks pass and you can go first class pretty cheaply, it's a great way to cover distance and get around, they are highly efficient and always on time. 

If you like the Initial D stuff, the Yokota museum is worth a look in Ikaho at the foot of Mt Haruna. 

Also make sure you stay in a Ryokan hotel for the experience. When I do get to go back I'm just going to do car stuff as that's the best bit for me anyway. 


What's on your list? 

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You’ll need and international drivers permit if you want to hire a car which I’d very much recommend. 

The stations are easy enough to navigate and always have English translations but most Japanese don’t speak English. 

You can buy SIM cards with data (some photography chain is where I got mine last time) the. Google maps is brilliant, esp when using pedestrian directions. Having data and a smartphone is all you need really.

There is lots of car stuff to do in Tokyo - Toyota, Nismo and others have museums. There’s a cruise type event at Daiko futo (sp?) which is quite famous but you can only enter this in a car bit by foot. 

The city’s are fine but you should try to get out to see how beautiful the countryside is. 

A visit to Fuji race track is well recommended but beware, if you don’t have a car you’ll have to walk 6 plus miles up a mountain to get there.

There aren’t any fatal spiders but there are poisonous ones and they’re quite common. I nearly walked into a web last time at Ebisu, the webs are cleverly positioned at head height! Google maps is brilliant but will direct you through forests and woods that get very overgrown and are ideal for spiders etc. 

Also Japanese giant hornets need care esp if you have young children. 

It’s horribly hot and humid in the summer months, if you’re thinking of travelling around much try to avoid these times as you’ll be drenched in sweat in no time. 


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A visit to Akihabara is a must for giant electronic stores. For superb scenery, take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Mount Fuji, which is gobsmacking.

Japanese culture is different. Get used to sitting cross legged under low ceilings in traditional restaurants and eating unidentifiable food. The subway system in Tokyo is brilliant and fun getting around. Driving in Tokyo? Don't!

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A trip to the baths is kinda interesting. I went to Sendai for work and we ended up with 20 nerds with laptops lounging around in bathrobes - a strange sight indeed! Gender is segregated for the bathing and the little towels are not there for your modesty!

It's far removed from Tokyo, but I had a curious time in Nagasaki - you can really see the effect of it being the only point of entry for European traders, and the peace museum is appropriately harrowing. Human bones melded with slagged glass and such.

I found it almost impossible to eat bad food, irrespective of price. You can eat very cheaply if you want to, but you should absolutely go all in on Sushi. Most train stations will have little places where the chef makes up your sushi right there in front of you. On the other hand, anyone with a sweet tooth will be struggling by the time your trip is done.

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Brilliant! Thanks for those. Plenty of thoughts to google. Myself? Mainly going for the cultural experience - so definitely a Ryokan and baths on the agenda and plenty of food. My kids are increasingly manga/anime nuts so it’s all about that for them... But can’t go there without at least a bit of a poke around the car museums and renting something interesting. GT86 a bit tight for us all now on a long trip, but plenty of places seem happy to rent me a WRX or some such, so that’ll do .

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I Went there a couple of years ago for 2 weeks but didn't get a chance to do much car-related. I must admit even if i were to go again I might not rent a car as it's really just not needed in my opinion although that might be a bit different for a whole family.


During my 2 weeks I spent 4 days in Tokyo, 4 days in Osaka/Kyoto/Nara and 4 days in Hiroshima all of which I did via Shinkansen (bullet train) which doesn't take very long at all. Even the longest leg of the Journey from Hiroshima back to Tokyo on the last day was just 5 hours (and it's a fair old distance!)

While in Tokyo definitely spend atleast 1 day in Akihabara (a.k.a Electric City or Akiba locally) as your kids will love it, I know I did as I'm also big in to my anime 😎 and infact went back there for a second day. Everything within Tokyo is easy to travel around via the subway, all the ticket machines have an english option, fares are fairly cheap and even the maps are easy to read. I found it easier to navigate Tokyo my first time than I do to get around London even now.

If you want to something car related it's worth taking a trek out to Fuji Speedway as they often have big events going on there like the Skyline Festival, etc so its worth checking what events are on. If you Rent a car you can also take a drive over the Hakone Skyline or other similar twisty tole roads.

I wouldn't try and book a day to see Fuji itself, 90% of the time it's difficult to see due to cloud and very rare to get a day where's the skies around it are clear so if you set a day aside specifically to see if you'll probably end up disappointed.


Definitely make Osaka one of your destinations, it's another big city like Tokyo but has many things Tokyo doesn't for starters its considered one of the best destinations in the world for street food if you're in to that, it also has alot of it's own landmarks like the Dotonbori streets/canal, which really comes alive at night. As well as this from Osaka cultural hotspots like Kyoto and Nara are very easy Day trips with a short 1 or 2 stop journey on the Shinkansen. I went to both and don't regret it at all there's something truly amazing about the big bustling cities in Japan but the same goes for the more peaceful cultural areas. Kyoto is a big tourist trap which might put some people off but I feel its worth it and still a very nice place to visit. Going to Japan for the culture for the first time and missing Kyoto would be like going to London for the first time and ignoring big ben :)


If you do have a few days left its worth spending them over in Hiroshima. There isn't loads to do there but after my 2 weeks I found myself quite tired (we walked something like 100miles in our 2 week holiday) and the quietness of a city like Hiroshima is quite nice although I wouldn't spend a whole 4 days there again next time, 2 or 3 would be just fine. Its good to see Hiroshima Castle as well as the peace memorial museum and if you find yourself with 1 last day and want to squeeze a bit more of the culture in to it Miyajima island just off the coast of Hiroshima which can be reached by a cheap ferry trip is a beautiful little shrine town/island.


As I mentioned above I didn't rent a car and instead went with the Tokyo Rail pass. It covers all the Shinkensen, some bus and tram routes across Japan and even the Ferry from Hiroshima to Miyajima island. It wasn't cheap at around £250-300 but considering the price of a single Shinkensen trip it pretty much paid for itself and took the hastle out of buying tickets.

Another couple of parting thoughts/tips would be about general things there. The locals are incredibly helpful but very very shy so if you need help you can try and ask but don't be put off if they shy away on the flip side if you look lost you may find someone just approaching you to try and help you even if they struggle with the language barrier, I had that a few times! Learning a few simple phrases like Hello (Konichiwa), Thank you (Arigatou), I don't understand (Wakaranai) and especially Excuse me (Sumimasen) can go a very long way especially the last one as alot of cities and stations like Tokyo are packed so you'll be using it alot to get around, when trying to politely make people aware of your presence or even if you bump in to someone.

As mentioned above it was a life saver for me to buy a Pocket-Wifi device as I was using mine non-stop for google maps directions, train information, Translations, etc! and they're fairly cheap so order it soon and you can get it delivered to your first hotel or wherever you're staying.

Japan is also very cash based or it was a couple of years ago, things may have changed but you can always withdraw cash for free from the ATM at any 7-11 using an international card.


Feel free to drop me a PM if you want any more info, I could talk about Japan for hours haha I loved my trip and will be planning my next one back there this year!

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Must see’s that haven’t already been mentioned -

Toyota Megaweb - https://www.megaweb.gr.jp/

Sega Joypolis - http://tokyo-joypolis.com/language/english/

King Buyer - http://www.king-buyer.co.jp/sp/ (Japanese car Exporters. They have some awesome stuff for sale and they’re quite happy for you to have a nosey)

Tokyu Hands (Famous huge department store) - There is one next to pretty much every Tokyo Station - https://www.tokyu-hands.co.jp/en/list/kanto.html

A temple (loads everywhere)

Tokyo Dome - Always baseball on. They are mad for it!

Super Autobacs - Japan’s version of Halfords but with real JDM TRD, Nismo and Mazdaspeed stuff.

Tokyo Tower

Royal Palace

all worth seeing if you have the time.

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It's definitely worth while getting a Japan Rail Pass (you'll need one each), if your going for a couple of weeks. You can get a green class (1st class) pass, however you need to book the seats prior to getting on the train (atleast an hour before hand).

You can get the pass here: https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/?currency-code=GBP 

Whilst your on the site, order a Sim card & a couple of Suica cards (I spent something like £80 over 3 weeks on subways & trains, when I couldn't use the JR Pass). The pocket wifi might also be useful, however most of the accommodation I stayed in included them.

Also the Suica card can be used for various things not just transport, which is really handy. That is until you find out some of the arcade machines accept them.... 😄

This is a good website to use for reference & finding various things to do: https://www.japan-guide.com/ 


If you're spending a couple of days in Tokyo, make sure you visit Tokyo Bay (Odaiba). You can get the subway there and visit Shinonome Autobacs, Toyota Megaweb & historic museum (this is in the shopping center opposite), DiverCity Plaza to see the massive Gundam and Gundam museum. Then finally head to Aqua City Odaiba and have dinner on the top floor, where you can look over the bay and see the rainbow bridge at night.

Depending on who you are going with (this won't work with children), make sure you take a look at the Mario Kart tours: https://maricar.com/en/faq_shinagawa.html - you will need an international drivers license for this.


One final point, on my trip I ended up staying in alot of different locations, whilst this was good for sight seeing it meant alot of traveling.

If I was going for 2 weeks, I'd probably stay one week in Tokyo and then stay the 2nd week in Osaka - Osaka is a brilliant base as the bullet trains are so efficient you can do Kyoto, Kobe, Okayama & Hiroshima within an comfortable train journey (Osaka to Hiroshima is 90 minutes).

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Do fun2drive
Rent a JDM legend from Omoren
Driving is stupidly easy over there, nobody does the speed limit, just watch out for speed cameras
Motorway is expensive as you have tolls
Do touges and mountain passes
If you are going for 2 weeks take around £2k spending money
Jetlag will hit hard
If you are going through dubai check laws and customs as they are super strict

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