While a trip to Japan has been on our travel shortlist for some time, it has not been planned or talked about much (aside from watching an Anthony Bourdain episode or two). Keep in mind that our “shortlist” always has at least 15-20 big trips on it, so there’s no way to really plan out each one until we get a little more serious about actually taking the trip. Well, our fast-approaching Japan trip got real last Sunday, when Ryan and I were relaxing, researching plans for our Argentina trip, and reading the newspaper/doing the crossword puzzle. Ryan was looking through the travel section when he noticed cheaper than normal airfares from LA during the Labor Day holiday. Having no plans yet, he started to actually look at prices, and then verified those prices online.
The most intriguing destination was Tokyo, with fares on United (our current airline of choice, but I keep saying I want to switch my loyalty) around $700 round trip. We played around with different days for departure and return, and realized with our current remaining days off, we could only really get away for a long weekend. We spent the rest of the day researching Argentina and jokingly talking about Japan, as if it were going to happen.
Monday morning at work I started to dig through my email to learn more about unpaid time. We would only have to take 6 hours in order to add a few more days to our hypothetical Japan trip, so I wasted no time in asking my supervisor. Ryan waiting a little longer, but as soon as he got the OK on Wednesday, we booked! This was with very minimal research – although I did talk to a good friend who spent 4 days in Tokyo last year and loved it. The tickets were $799 round trip (we could have added another day for about $400 total, but since we again have two large vacations this year, I thought 7 nights in Japan would be plenty), which is much cheaper than our normal international airfare purchases.
And now the fun begins! With less than a month to go, we haven’t booked a thing, but we do know that most or all of our time will be spent between Tokyo and Kyoto. We also know we will be staying at least one night at a ryokan, or a traditional Japanese inn. And of course we will be eating as much Japanese food as we can handle – sushi, sashimi, soba, udon, tempura – I won’t say “no” to anything! (I’ve already spent a lot of time reading about the food on this Japan Travel Guide site – the picture above comes from the “sashimi” section.)
So now it’s time to scour the books and internet and figure out what our must-see sites are. We toyed with a hike up Mt. Fuji, but since we only have 7 nights, neither of us are in great shape (I’m sure we’d be fine), and it requires packing special clothes and shoes, so I think we’ll have to save that for another trip. So, our activities will likely focus on staying in town (instead of day trips away) to see as much of the two cities as we can with our short stay. I’m looking forward to the research!