Monday, November 23, 2009

Japan - Land of the Rising Sun - travel tips more than welcome!

I am so so so excited that in 3 weeks time I leave for Japan - Land of the Rising Sun.

pic borrowed from

As this is my first time there, I welcome any tips, recommendations and anecdotes of experiences you may have had in Japan...

Briefly, and roughly I plan to stay:
  • 7 nights in Tokyo (I will have to explore it slowly, as I will get tired easily - possible day trips if I feel I need to see something other than concrete jungle)
  • 1-2 nights in Hakone - onsens (natural hot spring baths) with views of Mt Fuji & Lake Ashi
  • 7-8 nights in Kyoto (with possible day trips to nearby cities)
In Tokyo, I will be staying in Shinjuku, and plan to explore:


In particular, the Prada store (for its incredible architecture), Dries Van Noten (so different from the Paris store!), and of course, Japanese designers/labels such as Comme des Garcons, Yohji Yamamoto & Issey Miyake

Shibuya, Roppongi Hills, Shinjuku & Harajuku
  • To explore the famous Shibuya crossing, the incredible neon lights, shops of all these areas...
  • Check out the youngsters at Harajuku (as well as the markets on Sunday).
  • Visit the Meiji shrine & Mori Tower
  • See if I can find any consignment stores with Chanel reissues (any recommendations?)

Ginza & Tsukiji Markets

I plan to explore the famous Ginza strip with its limitless stores, and will pop into Laduree & Pierre Herme as well. I also plan to go to the Tsukiji (Fish) markets, for the freshest fish sashimi/sushi ever...Ginza should be especially beautiful at night with all the christmas lights & ornaments...

Asakusa & the Imperial Palace


Time to relax after one week's sightseeing in Tokyo, enjoy the beautiful views, onsens (sadly I will not be able to partake of this activity, but hubby, lil' sister & mom will), a boat trip along the lake...and hopefully...a beautiful kaiseki-style meal...

Then on to Kyoto - where my parents have been staying for the last few months...

Exploring this traditional city of Japan, the many temples, castle, shrines and gardens...Hopefully see a geisha or maiko (geisha in training). Possible day trips to Nara, Kobe (yum...kobe beef), Osaka...

Looking forward to sampling all sorts of Japanese food (bento boxes, ramen noodles, okonomiyaki, sushi, sashimi, MOS burger...

Hope to buy:
  • Vintage kimonos (any recommendations on where to find these?) - perhaps even a furisode, if I am lucky (Japanese wedding kimono)
  • Beautiful Japanese crockery/china
  • Carved and painted Japanese kokeshi wooden dolls
  • Maybe a tatami mat
  • Any gorgeous or cute Japanese thing I come across that I must have...

So, any tips/recommendations/stories/experiences?

Thanks in advance!


  1. oh gosh, i am SOOOOO jealous! can't wait to see your photos!

  2. Hi Brig!
    I don't want to post these comments on the Vogue forum, so i've come here.

    You can pick up some vintage/cheap kimonos in the side alleys from the Asakusa - Sensoji Temple main entrance alley. The stores on the main alley sell the vintage kimono but are heaps overpriced, along with the horrendeous Satin tourist kimonos.

    Kokeshi dolls - there are heaps at the Asakusa-Sensoji alley too. They are around the same price if you buy them from large department stores, even from the likes of Yodabashi and Donki Quote.

    Ginza - make sure you try the Manneken belgium Waffles - OMG, these are to die for and there are always huge lines. It is close to the Hermes / Sony building.

    Also, in Ginza, they close off the main road on the weekends so it is easier to walk around.

    MOS Burger - If you go to the one at Akihabara, you can get yourself the MOS Burger coasters. I've been to a few stores, and it seems the coasters are available at this store only. I had to get DH to *ahem* acquire these when no one was looking.

    100 yen shops - Good place to look for cute made in japan crockery and other stuff. I bought small dragonfly plates and cherry blossom greentea cups. For 105yen each, i'm not complaining!

    If you want homewares, you much visit Tokyu Hands. It's like a Gowings - stuff range from DIY, homewares etc... I could've spent a whole day there and bought back the whole kitchen section, if DH did not restrain me.

    Sorry, that's it for now! My post is mega long

  3. Sigh...I was in Tokyo for 48 hours once...hoping to go back one of these days.

  4. Thank you so much for your tips Amy!!! *lol* re: MOS burger coasters...DH loves the actual burgers :)


  5. i preferred shopping in omotesando over ginza.
    i think thats where the prada store is you posted about.

    i also like meiji shrine in tokyo. its quite nice and peaceful in the crazyness that is harajuku, its right behind the station you get off to go to takashite dori...( i think its harajuku station but im not 100%)
    so you can go shopping in all the craziness and skip over to the shrine for an hour of peace and quiet.

  6. Very exciting. Can't wait to see the food pics and of course your purchases. I have no idea about japan as I have not been but as I am sure you have seen - Judy Aldridge had some amazing photos and tips on her site.

  7. Have to try the tofu banquet in Kyoto, it comes usually in 3 courses meal! Okutan has this amazing traditional cuisine and the best dessert ever made by tofu!

    Kyoto Gion Hotel and Westin Hotel are prob best for accomondation.

  8. I have always wanted to go to Japan, I hope you have a fab time xxx

  9. i am so excited for you!! lots of pictures!!! :)
    and i hope you find a beautiful wedding kimono.

  10. Wow you are SO organized - makes me feel really guilty about playing my trip by ear!

    I've never been to Japan but am looking forward to hearing all about it from you! xx

  11. CC - definately go to the Studio Ghibli Museum, it was the best place I visited in Tokyo!
    I was curious about why you might not be using the Onsen, but then I saw you were still eating sushi so... I was wrong ;)

  12. Thx for your lovely comments everyone!

    Haha, thanks Kato!!!

    No, you were right ;) But I have done loads of research and believe eating sushi in Japan is safe as long as I don't eat masses of it...LOVE sushi!!! Will definitely check out the museum! Which area is it in?


  13. Oh my! Good luck with taking it slow in Tokyo...:] There's just so much to see, everytime I go, even though I've gone multiple times, I run myself and my family completely flat from running around like crazy!

    The Prada building is definetly amazing, although I didn't go see it at night and that picture you've got there is amazing! At day time it's gorgeous, especially on a sunny day. :]

    Make sure you take some time to go to the basements of the department stores! The food halls are to die for! Mitsukoshi's is great, I also loved some of the food places in Mid Town, the shopping complex in Roppongi.

    Oh and go to Ginza on the weekend (or maybe just Sunday, I can't remember entirely...) before 6pm as they close the streets and make it a walking district. On a nice day, it's absolutely charming to be out in Ginza then. :]

    I'm tired otherwise would try to think of other things, but enjoy your trip! :]

  14. I'm going to Japan for the first time in 5 weeks! So excited! Thanks for some of the tips- i didn't know about the Prada store! Def need to do some more research before i go!

    Love the blog btw!


  15. Oh you lucky girl.
    I´m sure you´ll enjoy your trip so much!
    Keep my fingers cross you´ll find some amazing vintage kimonos!!!

    Have a joyful day with looots of sunshine!!!
    It´s raining...raining.. raining here :(

  16. This is so amazing. Your itinerary makes me jealous! I never got to go to Tokyo due to work complications, but I really can't wait to see your pictures and read your shopping reports. It just looks like my dream city-- shopping, eating and crazy street fashion.

  17. How exciting! Can't wait to see your pics... I took an Asian art class in college, as part of my art history degree. It made me want to go to Japan.

  18. O Japão é um sonho para mim!
    É o país asiático que mais tenho vontade conhecer!

    Desejo uma viagem linda para vc!

    Mil beijos B!

  19. Ooh your trip'll be amazing :)! I really want to visit Japan too some time. Haha, the Dries Van Noten shop looks completely different in Antwerp! Different places, different people, different shops I guess :)!

  20. What an amazing trip you are going to have, a ton of great tips that I will store away for future reference, want to go so bad!!

    Have fun and take a million photos :)

  21. Take the wallpaper* guide book for Tokyo and definitely forgo Ginza for Aoyama/Omotesando. Have lunch at the French restaurant at The Peninsula as it overlooks the Imperial Palace. Pierre Herme IS a must, but if you'd had macarons from there I doubt you'd want Laduree also. Have sushi near the fish market; so fresh! Check out the consignment shops dotted around Japan's cities; god bless the minute attention span of the Japanese fashion set and the golden recession!

    Have fun! I'm heading back to Adelaide after a month traipsing around Spain and France myself.

  22. what a fantastic post .... the photos are breathtaking ....xx

  23. omg so exciting!! my boyfriend is actually there now -- not so much about fashion but he keeps raving about the food and ramen - i should hit him up for some restaurants. they were in tokyo for most of it but osaka now i think..

  24. Hello!! I love love love Japan. I've been there twice, and plan to go many more times!
    I notice you've mentioned you will be visiting Harajuku - I spent two days there last time - great shopping and just so much fun to people watch. Hours just fly by....
    Also I went to Beppu which is right in the south. Great town which has lots of healing springs. You can be buried (with only your head left out) in the hot sands. Feels soooo good!! Not sure if there is anywhere else like this closer to Tokyo.
    Lucky you - I'm following now so I get to hear all about it.


    One Love,

  26. im so jealous i have always wanted to go there x

  27. I know nothing about Japan, but this sounds like an incredible trip! xo

  28. Ohh, I'm so jelaous you are going to Japan!! =)

  29. im so excited for you! ive always wanted to be a tourist in japan. but i only get to see the insides of their airport on layovers. have fun!!! :)

  30. Kyoto is awesome. If you can I also suggest Osaka and Nara. I think Osaka has the best food in all of Japan. :)

  31. I hope u have an awesome trip!!! will be such an awesome experience :))


  32. o im sooo excited for you!
    im dying to go to japan, try to visit sanrio land while in tokyo, they have the cooolest hello kitty stuff!

  33. These photos and your descriptions (even though you haven't yet been) have convinced me that this will be my next overseas destination!

  34. So exciting, darling!
    It promises to be an amazing trip!!


  35. so cool! enjoy your trip, oh there's also this cream made out of sake remanents that is great to keep skin in amazing condition do check it out

  36. B, i spent 3 days there recently (september) and was amazed at the toyko craziness ..... no place in the world is like it.

    If you choose, pick up a copy of Lonely Planet's "Tokyo Encounter" - it has places to visit, eat and shop at in each district of Tokyo as well as a detailed map and subway way too ..... well worth the $20.

    For the dolls, go to Yoshitoku (its in the Lonely Planet) - its in Asakusabashi, right near the subway entrance and they have the best dolls in Tokyo! Their family has been dollmakers to the Emporer since the 1700s.

    And make sure you go to Senso-ji, you can get your fortune there - its inside on the right hand side .... you have to do this weird thing with sticks and then whichever stick you choose you have to find the corresponding box holding your fortune - mine and my fiances proved to be just about right!

  37. I want to visit Asia so badly. I've never been, and the culture is so different from anything I've experienced!

  38. You're so lucky!! My uncle lives in Japan and I love visiting him when I can! I guess the people above me have already give you excellent tips and advice so I just want to wish you a wonderful trip and lots of fun!!! xoxoxoxoxoxo

  39. You know me I can only recommend beauty products:)
    I highly rec the Shiseido Tsubaki Shampoo/Conditioner, cloth masks, also check out a few makup brands. Email me if you want more info too many to list:) Have fun & the desserts are soooo good.

  40. Thanks for the lovely comments everyone!

    M - Thx for the tip! Are you referring to the SKII range by any chance? Mine isn't a cream, but I do know they have creams in their range?

    anonymous - thanks for the tips!!! Do Yoshitoku also do the wooden carved dolls? Will definitely check them out ;)

    Monica - thx for the link! Will post it below so I can print this whole page and take it with me :) I actually tried that Tsubaki shampoo! My cousin's ex-gf did the design graphics for their advertising, and had many of their bottles, would you know whether they are sulfate/silicone free? :) I am in desperate need of mascara, so will definitely check out Majolica Majorca (I like lengthening mascaras in particular), and love cleansing oil (my SKII is about to run out, and I've used Shu Uemura previously as well). Will definitely look for the sunscreen too :)


    Japan #1 selling Shampoo-Shiesiedo Tsabuki line
    The white bottles have been recently introduced. This line is for dry hair whereas the original red bottles are for normal hair.

    Another favorite & top-seller is Majolica Majorca Mascara. I got the one for fuller lashes & I'm loving this mascara! (see pic)
    Another brand to try is DHC, a must to try when in Japan (you can buy this line online & is found in stores world-wide, mostly in Asian stores). One of the most popular items is the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.
    But like any skincare products we all react differently so trial & error are sometimes the only research we can do. Thus far, I've been using the "Oil Cleansing Method" (which at a later date I'll get into) for the last year 1/2. I've also made my own which I will post the recipe at a later date. In the past my faves have been my own recipe & ShuUemura's.
    I also picked up some cloth masks (in the red box) which feel fantastic & are inexpensive! And the 2001 Shampoo is for thinning hair & that's a gift. And of course a little souvenir!
    P.S-I can't believe I forgot to add the Sofina Perfect UV SPF 50+ Lucent sunscreen. A must in anyone's anti-aging skincare routine. More suitable for oily-combination skin (so I'm saving this one for the hotter months).

  41. Wait! There's more LOL! I actually like the Kate Gel mascara better (no fibers), FANCL skincare is awesome (especially the cleansing oil & powder cleanser-->good for travel in carry-on).
    Ok no more! Once you get me on a role I can't stop :0
    Thanks for linking above!
    I've also added you to twitter!

  42. Oh no, Monica, please feel to bring more on ;) Have heard of Fancl, will definitely look for their powdered cleanser, my Dermalogical microfoliant is running out, and I always struggle bringing cleansers with me on travels, as mine are usually in pump buttle form :)

    Thanks for the tips! I welcome more ;)


  43. I've never been but it's on my list of places to visit. Have a wonderful time!

  44. B, anon again ..... Yoshitoku definitely have the wooden dolls and all forms of porcelain dolls with handmade silk clothing - its a wonderful store.
    I picked up 3 dolls only spending about $70 australian!

  45. how exciting! what an amazing trip it will be -- sister was in tokyo last summer and adored it. looking forward to hearing all about it!


  46. If you can make it, Toji Temple in Kyoto has a huge flea market on the 21st of each month. I think they also have smaller markets every sunday, but I'm not too sure. At any rate, the flea markets are _the_ place to find vintage kimono at reasonable prices. I bought so much vintage fabric there I could barely carry it home.

  47. Aw, this is a really quality site.

  48. Real nice Photos, do you have more from them?

  49. Japan is one of a list of a-must cities that you should visit once in a life time.

  50. Japan ist my favorite country!
    But never forget to make a Stromrechner Vergleich