JAPAN
When going on a big round trip like this we usually travel by car, but after reading about the Japanese rail system we decided to get the Japanese Rail pass (JR pass) and to see the country by train instead, which turned out to be very convenient. The Japanese rail system is modern and well maintained, there are train stations all over the country making it easy to travel. Most of the time we didn’t book tickets in advance, we just went to the station and got tickets with reserved seats showing our JR pass. Even at the smallest train stations in the countryside there was always someone on duty helping out. Most of the signs are both in Japanese and English and information through loudspeakers on trains and buses were also always in English. During our stay no trains were ever delayed or crowded. Which is an amazing luxury for folks from Sweden like us. We found the Japanese people very friendly and helpful, their concern making our stay pleasant seemed very genuine and most people we met could speak some English.
We were also impressed by how clean it is everywhere and how well organized everything is. People queue to get on trains and there are clean and free public toilets whenever you need them. A lot of things are different from what we are used to, and we wish the rest of the world, including our home country, could be a bit more Japanese. We had 16 days vacation in Japan of which 6 days were in Tokyo. We booked all of our accommodation in advance and this is how we spent our time (a plan we’re really satisfied with):
1. Kyoto, 3 nights
2. Osaka, 2 nights including a day trip to Himeji
3. Koya, 1 night
4. Shirahama, 1 night
5. Kawayu Onsen, 1 night
6. Matsumoto, 1 night
7. Suimeikan Onsen, 1 night
8. Tokyo, 6 nights
PRACTICAL
When to go: All year round. The cherry blossom in spring is very popular. We went in July 2016. Many Japanese escape to the mountains or northern parts of the country during the summer since it can get very hot and humid. But there are great reasons for going in the summer as well, like the many festivals and beer gardens.
Getting there: There are a lot of international flights to Narita International Airport, Tokyo.
Money: Yen.
Other: Make sure to read a bit about the Japanese culture before going, there are some “rules” to respect and bare in mind, like not to leave your chopsticks in the rice, to take shoes off when entering houses and fitting rooms, not to blow your nose and to keep quiet on public transportation etc.
Useful phrases: 
Hello – Konnichiwa
Goodbuy – Sayōnara
Thank you – Arigatō
Excuse me – Sumimasen
That was delicious – Oishikatta (You're expected to say something polite about the food in restaurants)
OSAKA KOYA SHIRAHAMA KAWAYU ONSEN SUIMEIKAN ONSEN MATSUMOTO TOKYO KYOTO HIMEJI
KYOTO
Culture / City
OSAKA
Culture / City
HIMEJI
Culture
KOYA
Culture
SHIRAHAMA
Relaxing
KAWAYU ONSEN
Culture / Relaxing
MATSUMOTO
Culture / City
SUIMEIKAN ONSEN
Relaxing
TOKYO
Culture / City
London Nepal, Everest Circuit
Ola & Maria are full time workers and part time adventurers, follow for photos around the world, over and under water. © sixweeks 2018
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