Cherry Blossoms/Sakura Season In Japan.
To see cherry blossoms in Japan is a once in a lifetime experience. I cannot even express how spectacular it is in Japan this time of the year. I don't think I have ever experienced something as beautiful and stunning as this in my lifetime. I encourage, and highly suggest, everyone to experience this at least once in their lifetime. In February, my husband and I decided to do an Asia excursion and our first stop was in Tokyo for two nights. We booked all of our flights through JAL (excellent service). When we landed in Tokyo at Narita Airport, we ended up taking a taxi which was a big mistake because we ended up paying $250 to get to the hotel in Tokyo. If you are reading this and are planning your trip to Japan please make sure to email your hotel ahead of time for the schedule of the shuttle bus service. During the two nights in Tokyo, we ended up going to the fish market known as Tsukiji-market to experience the best sushi and it was amazing! This is a must do in Tokyo. Of course, since it was cold in February we couldn't wait in line for 3 hours at Sushidai so we went around the corner and ate. Most places in Tokyo have excellent food. You don't have to eat at an expensive place to experience good sushi/food in Japan, but it is wise to read reviews in Tripadvisor which we always do to be safe.
On the second day, we went to Ginza and Harajuku for shopping and great eats. Harajuku has famous Japanese crepes (must try the ice cream filled crepes). The Harajuku fashion is over-the-top, eccentric and fun. I also bought a lot of beauty products, mainly face masks. Hoping to transform my skin to look as good as the Japanese girls' skin! AND, I cannot forget to mention that we tried Matcha Oreos!!! Yes, they were crazy good!
We left Tokyo and headed to Vietnam, Thailand, and Nepal which you guys have seen my pictures on instagram. Our plan was to make sure to return to Japan in early April to see the cherry blossoms and what perfect timing! We had the best viewing of the blossoms since they were in full bloom. We flew from Bangkok and landed in Haneda airport in Tokyo. During Febuary we had taken a taxi from Narita airport and were slapped with a $250 cab bill so we made sure to check with our hotel and took a shuttle to our hotel for $55. The taxisi are cheaper from Haneda airport then from Narita airport. In general taking taxi's in Japan is very expensive. The trains are excellent in Japan so try and take the subways as much as you can. Here is an App to make it easier for you guys to take the subways. Japanese people are very helpful, but they speak very little English. You just have to be polite and patient with them while asking for directions. Anyhow, here are the first few things you have to book online before you head to Japan to make life easier while traveling.
1. Book a pocket wifi online. We bought it online from Softbank Global Rental and picked it up in Narita Airport. These run about $10-12 a day with unlimited data and can be linked up to 10 devices so even your laptops and iPads can get WiFi on the road. Definitely a plus as a blogger! I used it to Snapchat, etc. This may have been the best money spent of the entire trip! Worth every penny!
2. Purchase your train pass around Japan online through Japan-Rail-Pass.com. This gave us one week of unlimited JR Trains, which made it very easy to get to other parts of Japan such as Izu and Kyoto plus save us a few hundred dollars if we would have bought the train tickets individually. I would also suggest paying the premium for the green pass for the 1st class trains. Not much more in price but a much nicer product, especially if you are traveling with bags. ***Very important, the pass can only be ordered OUTSIDE of Japan.*** We ordered ours while in Thailand and the pass was delivered to our hotel. You must then take it to a train station in order to activate it and book your trains.
On our first day in Tokyo during April we went to Sumida park and thoroughly enjoyed the cherry blossoms, just amazing, amazing! Since it was a Saturday, the park was filled with people enjoying picnics with their friends and family. We wished we also had our own picnic underneath the blossoms, that would have been spectacular! Next time!
Also, we made it a point to go to Rikugien garden at night in Tokyo to see the weeping cherry blossom trees. These blossoms looked like they were floating in the dark. It was truly a magical night. This is highly recommended place to go see during the season.
To experience the traditional Japanese culture, you must stay at a ryokan and experience an Onsen (natural hot springs). We ended up going to Izu after Tokyo to experience these. To get there we used our JR Rail Pass and took the Bullet Train. It was such a relaxing and zen place. This part of Japan is so different from Tokyo. We were given robes to wear the entire time. I felt completely relaxed and stress free at this ryokan. Our ryokan was named Sagasawakan Izu (#1 on TripAdvisor). The best part was that we had a private open air onsen in our room! But, we also enjoyed the other onsens within the ryokan. We slept in a traditional Japanese bed (i.e. on the floor!). This was charming but I'll still take my own bed over this any day! The food was so good and the courses were a lot, I mean A LOT! It kept coming non-stop for the two hours of our dinning period. Amazing food and no way that you are leaving hungry! We will never forget this experience. Thanks to Tripadvisor again for recommending this stunning Ryokan/Onsen.
Even though we didn't make it up to Mt. Fuji we ended up getting the perfect view from our bullet train on our way to Kyoto. We were VERY lucky to get such a clear look and photo. Due to the clouds, it is often difficult to actually see Mt. Fuji, let alone with the snow caps!
The last stop was Kyoto where we only spent 3 days and we wish to go back in order to explore more. The first day it rained heavily but we still made the best out of it. We went to an indoor market Shinkyoku market and did a little bit of shopping and ate some more great Japanese food. In the evening we went to Gion to walk around and experience the night life. We had delicious sushi, enjoyed a bit of sake in Pontocho where the alleys have all the restaurants and bars. I ended up spotting a Geisha as well. That just made my day in Kyoto. It is another rare sight, that you should consider yourself lucky enough to spot a Geisha out in public.
The next day we went to Philosopher's Walk which is a pathway filled with cherry blossom trees. During this time of the year the path is stunning! Don't let the 4 star on Tripadvisor fool you. During the cherry blossom season, this is one of the prettiest sites that you will ever see.
This was towards the end of our walk at Philosophers Walk where we saw the entire stream filled with cherry blossoms. The pink stream was so beautiful. I am so glad I wore pink that day. Doesn't it look good with the view? :)
For our last day in Kyoto, we climbed up to see Fushimi Imari Taisha Temple. The 10,000 torii gates were amazing. This temple was built in 1711 and the torii gates are all sequentially painted orange. It took us 2 hours to walk up but it was worth it!
Thank you guys for letting me share my experience in Japan with you. I hope everyone makes it a point to visit Japan during this time of the year as well. xoxo
I am wearing:
Trench Coat: Burberry
Moto Jacket: Express
Sneakers: Steve Madden