Welcome to the Le Voyage Gourmand Japan Travel Guide.
I’ve written this series because I constantly get questions or comments from my friends, people I meet, and from my social media followers that they’d love to go to Japan, but it’s daunting and confusing, or that they’re going to Japan but they have no idea what to do or where to start.
I started travelling to Japan in 2002 because my best friend was teaching English in the Japanese countryside and it seemed like a nice chance to explore a country I had never been to before. As time progressed and as I continued to travel back and forth, I started various businesses including importing racing engines and cars from Japan, and since 2011, I have started working with the photography and culinary communities between Japan and Canada.
These experiences have taken me all over Japan and have allowed me to interact with many different facets of Japanese culture and life.
A key part of making this guide useful for your trip and experience in Japan is to adapt my experiences and travel habits, preferences, and style to your own. Most people may not want to travel like I do; but understanding my travel habits and motivations and modifying my experiences will help you design a trip tailored to the experiences you want to have in Japan.
The following is a little about how I like to travel:
- This is not a guide for family travel or travelling with kids. As I don’t have any kids (which I know about), and I don’t intend to have any. I mainly travel by myself, with my buddies, or my girlfriend.
- I prefer to travel in relative comfort. Although I have done wilderness and survival training in my much younger days as well as hostel and backpacked throughout the world, my old age has increase my love of comfy beds, hotel service, flush toilets, and general civilization. This doesn’t mean I go all baller all the time, but I do like a comfortable apartment or hotel, but I look for the best value wherever I go.
- I stay away from organized tours, and I don’t set strict sightseeing itineraries as I want a relaxing experience where I indulge my whims on-the-spot. Rushing around during your vacation is not “relaxing”.
- I want the flexibility to change my plans based on my wants and desires at any given moment. If I want to stop for a beer at 10 AM and drink for the rest of the day because I feel like it, why not? Just don’t miss the plane.
- Often, one will show up somewhere and hear about something cool or unique happening that day, the next few days at that location or in a nearby location. It’s always good to have the flexibility in hotel, travel schedule and such, to be able to adjust your plans so that you can hit up these potentially once in a lifetime events.
- Food and Drink. My vacations always include hours during the day to casually eat and drink (usually alcohol). This includes first thing in the morning, and last thing before I go to sleep. Never rush a good time enjoying the simple things in life, especially if you’re travelling with your best friends or your loved one.
- Get lost. I will spend time wandering aimlessly often ending up in weird locations. Part of exploring a new place is to immerse yourself in them. So, why not just get lost and see where you end up? I’ve stumbled into some beautiful places and some interesting situations just by picking a random direction and walking. This assumed that one has a good sense of direction and can find your way back to a train station.
- Money is and isn’t an issue. Sticking to a budget for your vacation is important. You never want to spend more than you can reasonably afford. On the other hand, penny pinching and haggling over everything is bound to make you, and those around you miserable (not to mention it will really piss off the locals in some countries). I spend freely, but usually within my means. I do budget, and manage my cash day to day, but I won’t hesitate to pull out my credit card say, if a meal at a once in a lifetime restaurant suddenly became available.
- Travelling with the boys (or the woman) means you’ll have to make some compromises to ensure everyone gets a fair shot at doing what they really want. It’s not a bad idea to split off for a day or an afternoon so that you can each get personal shopping and errands completed. Don’t overlook time on your own.
- I will cover clubbing and partying a bit in this series, but this is not a guide on how to pickup Japanese women. I am not PUA instructor.
This guide will also be a constant work in progress. I’ll update each of the sections as things change inside Japan, and as I keep visiting different places. If you have any additional questions feel free to contact me using the Contact page.