Eight friends, sixteen days Japan trip through Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo

In September 2018, after I had spent a year and a half in Japan, seven of my Dutch friends decided to come to Japan for a road trip. It was their dream too to go to Japan and see this fantastic country from up-close. My reasons for writing about our trip is to immortalise our amazing experience. This has been the best trip we ever had, and I had this urge to write about it. More importantly, I wanted to share our experiences with you. I received many questions from my dear readers who would love to visit Japan at least once in their lifetime, but have no idea where to start. All they know is that it is expensive. This blog will inform you of the costs and provide some tips! 

This is going to be my biggest blog ever, but unfortunately, it will also be my last. I already returned to my home country, and I have picked up my life here again. I enjoyed writing about my student life, Japan life, and my trips through Japan. Much has been said in my blogs, and I am more than happy with the results. The idea of writing a blog derived from the lack of information regarding APU’s student life and Beppu city life. It felt like it was my calling to share my stories and experiences with you.

My blog was born from this idea, and I have enjoyed writing them it two years. However, all great things come to an end. If I ever go to Japan again, I might write more about my experiences, but for now, this will be my ‘Ultimo Capitolo.’

Preparations

As this was going to be an epic trip with seven of my friends, we took our planning quite seriously, and we took our time reading about almost everything. For our trip in September 2018, we started to develop a plan somewhere in November 2017.

There was one thing that we had to tackle first; the plane ticket. Getting from Europe to Japan is expensive. The cost of your ticket really depends on when you book your plane and for which period. I already experienced the extreme heat and humid weather of Japan in July and August, and I knew that this is the most terrible time to come to Japan. I advised my friends to go to Japan either April/May or September/October. The weather conditions during the Summer are horrible. In July and August, the humidity is between 90% and 100%, daily. Walking outside is like walking in a sauna with no off-switch.

May and April were not possible for me due to exam week and due to the Ramadan that took place in those two months. Therefore, our trip was planned for September. With September in mind, we looked at the plane tickets through websites like www.flights.google.com. A straight flight from Amsterdam to Tokyo was too expensive. So, therefore, my friends had a stop in between which would in turn drop the price drastically. My friends did not book the plane immediately, as there was more to plan first. The ticket was around €650 (¥70000) and €700 (75000) (roundtrip with a stop) including luggage, and etc.

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The next part took most of our time, which was finding where to go and what to do. There are hundreds of itineraries on the internet, all with ideas and tips from other people. These itineraries are meant for people who travel either alone or two to three peoples. We were eight strong. As this was our first trip through Japan, we decided that we wanted to see the big famous cities, Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. Kyoto and Tokyo had to be visited. Kyoto because it was more of a traditional, samurai era-ish place, where you can see geisha and the traditional temples. And Tokyo, well Tokyo is just crazy, you have to visit it anyway. The reason we decided on Osaka because it has an international airport and it is close to Kyoto. In our opinion, the things we visited in Osaka was quite dull. It is merely a big shopping city. We are not really the shopping-type people. You have Dotonbori, which is the most famous place in Osaka, other than that, nothing really appealed to us, then again we were there for only 2 days. Our main focus were Kyoto and Tokyo). Do try their cuisine. Osaka is renowned for its delicious Takoyaki (dough with a piece of squid inside)! It is very yummy. Takoyaki is by far my favourite snack in Japan (see my other blog about food in Japan).

Luckily, our itinerary was mostly based on a website named TripAdvisor. We looked into the must-sees to not complicate things too much. Some of us had some particular niche things that they wanted to see or do, such as visiting a saké brewery or joining a Jiu-Jitsu dojo, but overall, we had a clear idea of what we wanted to see and experience. But like I said, it took a lot of time. Japan is not around the corner, and we wanted to see as many places as possible.

When we had the lists of what we wanted to see and visit, we then made a schedule. This schedule was not a rulebook, but more for keeping an oversight and to act as a guideline for ourselves.

Now we had the accommodations that needed to be booked. Since we knew what we wanted to see on which day, we could look for the places where we could stay the nights. We booked an apartment, houses, and capsules. Since Japan is the safest place in the world, we were not worried about housing. You can safely book a place through booking.com and airbnb.com. This is what we did; we roamed the web, checked the locations of the sites, space, prices, and availability. I reckon that you will have less difficulty in finding a place as we were looking for places to accommodate eight..

When we had finally decided on what we wanted to visit, one of my friends opened Google Maps (G-maps) and added all the locations on a map which he then shared with us on Google Drive (G-drive). Basically, we shared all our ideas and predicted costs on G-drive. G-maps is a great tool to use. It visualised the locations, and if we would ever get lost in Japan, we would know where our accommodations were located and the locations of the places we would visit. We also sharWe marked all the locations on G-maps prior to our arrivaled all kinds of links of webpages that provided information on all the places. Some accommodations had specifications such as codes to enter the house or time slots when we had to enter and leave, and etc. All the info was shared in the same G-drive for everyone to read. We all shared the responsibilities together.

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We marked all the locations on G-maps prior to our arrival

 

Note: Under each section, I will share with you the links of the accommodations and the costs. 

When arriving at the airport get these three things first:

Exchange money

This one speaks for itself. Your foreign currency cannot be used in JP. Make sure you have enough cash. Japan is a cash-heavy country. Don’t even think about your fancy credit cards or debit cards. Cash, cash, cash, cash, and cash. If you think you had enough cash with you, think again, get more cash. And like I said before, Japan is the safest country on the planet. Don’t worry about your pockets. Criminals are slim to none in Japan. Just be careful with other tourists, though.

IC card

When traveling in JP, get yourself an IC card. It is a card which you charge with ¥, and you can use it almost anywhere, from trains to busses, arcades to restaurants. We mostly used it for public transport. This IC card can be purchased at every train- or metro station. You will be traveling by public transport a lot, so get one of these cards and charge it. It is very convenient, and it made our trip easier.

¥2000 (€17) for a first time purchase. In reality, the card will only cost ¥500 (€4.50), and your card will be charged with ¥1500 (€12). From thereon you can charge it at every station.

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Source: These are all the IC cards. Just get 1 per person and it works literally everywhere.

Internet

The most important thing in my honest opinion. Get yourself some internet when traveling in Japan. A lot of info is provided in English, but the vast majority is simply not. It is not that difficult to get lost in Japan. Always bring a small power bank with you and internet so you can always use G-maps to find your way back (I assume you have a smartphone). You should have marked all your accommodations on G-maps by now, so no need to search.

As I was already living in Japan, having internet was not an issue. I simply had a sim card. Sim cards in JP require a one-year subscription. I did read there is a version without a subscription for tourists, but it’s a bit of a hassle to acquire it. When my friends arrived at the airport, they rented a pocket WIFI at a shop. Pocket WIFI is a small WIFI router with a sim card. You turn it on, and you will have WIFI for as long as you require. Make sure to recharge the battery every evening. This will make your life in Japan much more comfortable. Of course, at every hotel, and hostel, there is internet available. Or when you are in a pickle, go look for the nearest convenience store (it will not take long finding one), and tap on their WIFI for free. Internet was vital for our entire trip.

What we paid for the pocket WIFI: ¥7700/ €69 for 16 days.

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Source. Just rent them at the airport

Our Trip Through Japan

Osaka (12 Sep – 14 Sep)

After finally finishing our preparations, booking, and paying lots of stuff upfront (accommodations), the day came for us to meet in Osaka. Since I was already in Japan, I took the ferry from Oita to Kobe (a city right next to Osaka). My friends took the plane from Amsterdam to Frankfurt, Germany, and from Frankfurt to Osaka. Unfortunately, my friends flew to Osaka a week after a huge typhoon had hit Osaka and Kyoto. Osaka airport was damaged, and as a result, my friends did not land in Osaka, but in Nagoya. This was quite a pity, as they had to take the shinkansen (bullet train) from Nagoya to Osaka. Shinkansen is quite pricey, but we were glad that we were reunited in Osaka.

We immediately dropped our stuff at our accommodation. The great thing about Japan is the cleanliness of their places. Everything was clean, and all the apartments are equipped with all your needs. Air conditioner, foot-massage-machine-thing (no idea why it was there, but it was very convenient), television, refrigerator, and more! We chose a strategic location, close to the metro, and close to the city centre. We love to walk, so we did not mind taking our time to go to the city centre. My friends were a bit jet lagged, but it did not stop them from roaming the city.

We walked through the Shitenoji area, and of course, we ended up at Dotonbori. Shitenoji area is not a special place per se, but we were staying in that area, we wanted to explore, and so we did. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, I arrived at Osaka early. I looked for a Daiso. Daiso is a ¥100 (€0.90) shop, which sells lots of cheap stuff. Umbrellas were cheap, and I had them prepared for my friends.

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Where our trip started: Dotonbori, Osaka

Nara (13 Sep)

The next day we traveled to Nara. Luckily public transport is easy to get used to. Even though everything is in Japanese, in the tourist areas we visited, a lot of the signs were in English. And when in doubt, Google it.

Nara is famous for its huge temple called Tōdai-Ji. We were stunned by its size.. The temple is impressive, and the location is beautiful. Furthermore, Nara is, probably, more famous for its deer. The deer roam freely outside the temple, and they bother the tourists for snacks. There are stands where they sell snacks for the deer. If you hold the snack in your hand, you can count on ten deer who will surround you like a mob and demand you to hand over the dough :p. The deer are harmless, they do not bite, but they are very curious creatures. They will look into your bags for food. The area is beautiful, lots of forestation, and small temples. We had a great day, and we walked a lot.

Accommodation we had in Osaka for 2 nights ¥23000/ €216 = ¥3000/ €27 per person.

Kyoto (14 Sep – 17 Sep)

After spending a day in Nara and two days in Osaka (mostly Dotonbori), it was time to travel to Kyoto. Fortunately, Kyoto is only 30 minutes away from Osaka. The house we rented in Kyoto was unbelievable big and beautiful. The house was equipped with all the necessities. The landlord even provided us with jukatas, and clean towels everyday. We had no idea that it was this amazing. Below the pictures of said house:

After settling in our accommodation, we headed out for Fushimi Inari Taisha. It is a mountain that has allegedly 1000 torii gates all the way to the summit. Believe me when I say it is a lot more than 1000…. It is a beautiful mountain with lots of trees. The mountain is 233 meters high. As a bunch of fanatics who love to walk, we decided to go all the way up the mountain. The stairs are steep, the weather was very humid and hot, but we managed to do it. It took us one hour to reach the summit. We hoped that there was something special on the top, but it was just another shrine, nonetheless it was great to get to the top. The higher you get, the fewer people you will meet. It was very crowded at the foot of the mountain. The big hike is only for those who are crazy enough :).

On the same day there was a special event at the Kiyomizu-dera temple. Once a year there is a blue dragon event. The Japanese were carrying a long dragon through the streets of Kyoto. Starting from the temple, and after an hour finishing at the temple. We rushed to the temple to see this event. It was a great sight. There were priests with instruments walking behind the dragon, and priests who were chanting. This event is called Seiryū-e (青龍会). We, of course, went in to the temple; which has a magnificent view of the city. I advise you to leave no temple unvisited. Just around a corner at this temple, there is a funny superstitious place where two rocks are standing across each other. The idea is to start at one rock, walk with your eyes closed to the other rock in one straight line, if you reach the other rock without missing it, you will find true love. There is so much I would like to tell you, but I will need a book to fit it all.

Later that evening, we decided it was time to go to Gion; the place where the geisha live. Due to its worldwide fame, the book and movie ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ had a big effect on Gion. The book and movie romanticised the work of geisha. Due to its terrible representation, people in the West tend to think that they are exotic, oriental prostitutes, but this is far from the truth. They are merely entertainers. Unfortunately, the damage has been done, and Gion is swarmed by tourists. I really hated how the streets were crowded with tourists looking for geisha. It is tough to see a geisha in Gion as they live an obscure life. The geisha travel by taxi, because on the streets they will be chased by tourists for pictures. We were lucky to see a geisha on the street, and surely we made a picture from a distance, but other tourists would make a big commotion of seeing one. The streets were lovely, very typical traditional Japanese architecture. But there is not much to discover other than hoping to bump into a geisha.

The next day we visited Kinkakuji. You cannot tell your family or friends that you have visited Kyoto without visiting the most famous place in Kyoto. The golden temple. You cannot enter the golden temple/ pavilion, but that is not the point. The temple is fully covered with golden leafs. It was built at a large pond, and it is surrounded by a typical Japanese garden. When visiting the place, you can feel the zen around you. In one word; tranquillity.

After our visit to Kinkakuji, we visited the bamboo forest. An incredible forest with giant bamboos. Pictures cannot describe how fascinating it is to walk there. Unfortunately, many of the bamboos were bent due to the typhoon that passed by a week earlier. The amazing sight of the bamboo forest kept us in awe. It felt like walking through a samurai movie scene.

It was originally not part of our plan, but monkey mountain was close to the bamboo forest. We went to monkey mountain, as the name implies, it is a large mountain where all the monkeys roam freely. Just like the deer, the monkeys are very curious too. However, these monkeys are used to people; basically, they do not pay any attention to you. Only if you have food, otherwise you do not exist. Monkey mountain had the best view over Kyoto, in my opinion.

Accommodation we had in Kyoto ¥140000/ €1231 for 3 nights = ¥17000/ €153,90 per person. 

Mt. Fuji (17 Sep – 19 Sep)

Part of the Japan experience was visiting Fuji-san. Kyoto is very far away from Mt. Fuji. We had already planned for this and did our research on the web. We really wanted to experience Japan to its fullest, so we had to travel by Shinkansen (the bullet train) at least once in our life. The bullet train travels 300 km/h (186 mp/h). The trip from Kyoto to Fujikawaguchiko (a town near the mountain) was only 3 hours (!). It travels extremely fast! And the shinkansen is exceptionally luxurious and spacious. I now understand why traveling by shinkansen is so popular. You do not need to reserve a seat. You can just go to the ticket shop and buy a ticket any time of the day.

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The shinkansen (bullet train) we took to Mishima

We wanted to climb Mt. Fuji; however, we were offseason. You can only climb Mt. Fuji till the first week of September. the authorities deem it dangerous as the mountain is starting becoming cold again. Nonetheless, it was our mission to see Mt. Fuji from up close.

When we arrived at our accommodation, we were not able to see Mt. Fuji. In fact, we had no clue which direction it was, as the weather was very cloudy. It was not until the evening of the following day that we were able to see Mt. Fuji, the clouds finally broke. There was a small window of time to see Mt. Fuji without the clouds, but luckily, we were able to take pictures. We went up a mountain by ropeway two or three time to see Fuji-san, but we had no luck. Some of my friends went at 6 AM to see Fuji-san, but it was even worse due to the mist. We were very fortunate to witness Japan’s largest mountain on the very last night.

Kyoto to Mishima by shinkansen ¥12000/ €109 per person

Mishima to Fujikawaguchiko by bus = ~ ¥2000 (€17)

Accommodation we had in Fujikawaguchiko 2 nights ¥50000/ €464 = per person ¥6500/ €58

Tokyo (19 Sep – 27 Sep)

On 19 September 2018, we finally arrived at the crazy town, Tokyo. Visiting the world famous city was no longer a dream, it had become reality. After finding our way to our capsule hotel, we decided to go to the most important place in Tokyo, namely Akihabara. Akihabara is THE Mecca for all the gamers, geeks, nerds, and anime lovers. Akihabara is a vast area with large buildings that have all the niche things for gamers and whatnot. All the buildings are emitting lights, making sounds, and like a moth, you will walk into one of these buildings without you even noticing. We practically stayed at Akihabara the entire day. There is much to discover, much to see, and much to buy. We even made friends with the donür kebab guy. I strongly advise you to visit Akihabara at least once!

In Tokyo, we spent an entire week visiting all kinds of places:

  • The Owl Cafe
  • Tsukiji Market (famous fish market, however, it has been relocated now)
  • We attended a Kabuki show at the Kabukiza Theatre
  • Shinjuku Park
  • Yoyogi Park 
  • Asakusa (free park)
  • Tokyo Sky tower (largest Japanese tower) 
  • Karaoke 
  • Robot Cafe (¥8000 (€74)f overpriced-batshit-crazy-no-idea-what-happened-robot show)
  • Shibuya crossing
  • Pachinko
  • Nikko National Park
  • Harajuku street (niche shopping street)

Each of these deserves their own blog post. On the other hand, I also love the element of surprise. If I spoil too much, it wouldn’t be fun for you :p.

Fujikawaguchiko to Tokyo by train = ~¥2000 (€17)

Staying a night in a Capsule hotel ¥20800/ €160 = ¥2600/€20 per person. 

Apartment we had in Shinjuku ¥211571/ €1654 = ¥26446/ €203 per person.

Total Costs of our Japan Trip

It is difficult to give you an exact number on our expenditures per person. Surely, the big expenditures such as plane tickets, shinkansen, accommodations, were all documented here, but of course, we spent much of our money on food, drinks, tickets for sightseeing, omiyage (souvenirs), and whatnot.

However, I asked my friends, and we think that our entire trip would have been around €2000 (¥250000) per person.

It was a fantastic experience, and we had an amazing time. I love Japan, and I will definitely revisit Japan. To all my dear loyal readers, thank you a lot for joining me on my journey. I hope you enjoyed reading my blogs, and I hope I was able to bring Japan closer to you.


Arigatou Gozaimasu, Dankjewel, Sukran, Danke Schon, Merci, Grazie, Gracias, Salamat, Terima Kasih, Gomabseubnida, Dhanyavaad, Xièxiè, Thank you very much!

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Masha’Allah

Nagasaki: Road trip part 2

In September 2017, after our successful trip to Huis ten Bosch in Sasebo, we headed out to Nagasaki. When I was a kid, we were hammered with the WWII stories at school. And of course, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had their own chapter in the history books. When I was thinking of Nagasaki, I couldn’t stop imagining how the city would look after the bombing. Was it still safe? Is it still flourishing? Basically, I had no idea what to expect. This trip set my image of Nagasaki straight. 

(Wait, your title says part 2? Did I miss part 1? Yes, you did :p. I wrote a blog for APU, but it was too long for their webpage. Therefore they cut my road trip story in half. In the APU’s half, I wrote about my experiences of my trip to Huis ten Bosch in Sasebo. I recommend you read that one first 😀 MY MOST MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE IN JAPAN.)

The next morning we left Sasebo, and we went to Nagasaki. Sasebo to Nagasaki is only an hour’s drive. Nagasaki is a big city with quite some history. Our objective for our trip to Nagasaki was to learn more about the horrible history of the Second World War. We went to the Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. We all, most likely, were taught about the atrocities that Nagasaki had suffered. However, I was still shocked to read all about the bombing and the visual representations of the event. We had spent about two hours in the museum as there was much to read about. I recommend you to go to this museum as this is a significant page of mankind’s history. Just in front of the museum, you will find Ground Zero (epicenter). The experience of standing there was quite unforgettable.

 (There was a smudge on my GoPro, I had no idea until I checked my pictures on my laptop. My apologies)

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Real life-size of the A-bomb “Fat Man.”

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I remember standing at the epicenter and thought of all the people that lost their lives in a time when mankind was at its worst. The feeling that went through me was surreal. I couldn’t imagine it as it is unfathomable. Destruction at such a scale wiped an entire city, and I was standing there where it all happened 72 years ago.

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Ground Zero of Nagasaki

After we visited the museum, it was time to cheer up. I felt quite down, as the pictures at the museum and standing at Ground Zero really had an impact on me. One of my wishes was to visit Dejima. In the Edo era, only two countries were allowed to trade with the Japanese, namely, China and the Netherlands. The Dutch were only allowed to do business in one location, which was Dejima. It was a great experience to walk through the quarters.

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Dejima is a small area with cabin-like houses, and the area is quite tiny,  located at the sea lake. Dejima had been turned into a museum. You could read about all the Dutch people who traveled to Japan and the goods they had brought from Indonesia and Europe in these houses. Japan and the Netherlands have been doing trade with each other for over 400 years. You could feel the pride in Dejima, or maybe it was just me feeling proud of my country. Most likely, the latter :p.

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Entrance of Dejima
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Inside one of the houses

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A miniature Dejima
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Miniature Dejima different angle.
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One of the streets of Dejima
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No idea why Nijntje (Miffy) was at Dejima but okay :p

Coincidentally, there was a festival in Nagasaki. We were unaware that this festival was held at that time. It is called the Kunchi festival. As we were walking through the city center, Japanese men were carrying a ship with the Portuguese flag, and they would run about through the streets passing the shops whilst chanting. I believe they were bringing blessings to the shop owners. Around the city center, there were many stands with lots of food and snacks. The Matsuri (festival) was ten times bigger than the one we had in Beppu. The stands were along the dock by the sea. It was a fantastic sight. We just had finished Dejima, and we decided to go for lunch, and we just walked into a big event without knowing.

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The Japanese carrying a huge boat with the Portuguese flag whilst chanting passing by the stores.

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There was lots of music. The streets were crowded with people. The Japanese were wearing their traditional clothes (yukatas and kimonos). The weather was great, and lots of food and drinks. We were delighted to experience such a great event!

Later that evening, we roamed around the city, and in the end, we went on top of Mt. Inasa by ropeway. Here we had a Nagasaki night view. The entire city was emitting light, and it was very bright. It was a great way to end our Nagasaki trip. If you are ever in Kyushu, please go to Nagasaki. You will not regret it.

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I guess this IS my street.
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Peace and love
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A church was bright at night

EDIT 24 July 2019: A friend of mine with whom I went on this trip reminded me of another thing we had stumbled upon. When we came down the mountain after our evening city view, we just walked randomly towards an area, and we saw a huge cruise ship.

The ship was massive, and we were in awe, so we had to see it up close. When we arrived at the cruise ship, we came across two sailormen who were members of that cruise ship. They came from Italy, and we had a nice talk about their occupation and Japan. They were wondering where they could eat good Japanese food. We advised them to walk into a random alley or perhaps try to get “lost” in the streets. There are food stores in the weirdest places, but everything is safe, and the food too. After having a friendly chat with the sailormen, we headed back to our guesthouse in Sasebo.

My friends and I remember the most is the vibe the streets had in Nagasaki, especially at night. It was very friendly and cheerful. People had a great time, and the streets were full of people. Nagasaki is a safe city, and do not worry about any radiation issues. Nagasaki is a beautiful city, and I would love to visit it more often.

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I hope you enjoyed reading both my blogs about my trip to Sasebo and Nagasaki. Japan is a beautiful country, the people are very kind, and there is much to discover. My intention with these two blogs was to bring Japan closer to you and convey a message on how remarkable it is to travel through Japan. My next blog will be about my trip through Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. The coming blog will be more about tips and tricks, budget, etc. I received lots of questions on what to expect when traveling through Japan, and I will dedicate this blog to that.

As always, thank you for reading!

 

Masha’Allah

Japanese food is life, Japanese food is love.

I had heard and read many stories about Japanese cuisine before I came to Japan. If someone I knew had visited Japan and asked them about the food, their eyes go wide open. And their smile is from ear to ear, and a tsunami of details about all the food they have tried and how incredibly delicious it was. I have to admit, I have become such a person now :p.

The food is indeed amazing, and the Japanese are magicians when it comes to food. They will make something straightforward into something beautiful. There is also no lack of food whatsoever. Food is a massive industry in Japan. In 2015, Japan’s food industry was valued at $261 billion (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2016). Rightfully so, as food is everywhere in Japan. In the darkest and weirdest alleys, you will find a place to eat. So in this blog post, I will share with you my personal top 5 Japanese food:

5: Chicken curry
I was stunned when I learned that the Japanese LOVE curry with rice. When you think of Japanese cuisine, you probably thinking about the classic/stereotypical food sushi. But the Japanese are fond of curry. The first time I went to a supermarket, I saw a section all dedicated to curry. I cannot name half of them, but there were all sorts of curries such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetable from what I could see. The Japanese use rice as their main dish; they love to add curry to their rice. The curry is very easy to prepare. They come in an aluminum sealed package. All you need to do is either put the aluminum package in a pan with water and boil it for a few minutes or put it in a bowl and microwave it for 6 minutes. Within minutes you have a great dish. There are big curry chains in Japan fully dedicated to curry rice. One of the biggest is Curry House CoCo Ichibanya. They have all curry versions, and if you love spicy food, they can make it extremely spicy for you. Even though I am very used to spicy food, I could barely handle level 5. A friend of mine took number 8, and he was crying and sweating like a pig the entire lunch. You are warned :p.

For me, I love the (halal) chicken curry that is provided by the shop at my school campus. The chicken curry is creamy, smells fantastic, and I love the chicken because it is heavily spiced. The chicken curry is already in a small plastic bowl with rice, and I only need to microwave it. Since my stay here in Japan, I have tried several curries as in my country, curry is not a real common thing to eat. But this spicy chicken curry rice really takes the cake :).

Chicken curry

4: Okonomiyaki
The first time I tried okonomiyaki was by accident. A friend of mine thought the restaurant was making udon soup, but it turned out to be okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a batter of flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, green onion, octopus, and other vegetables. Though there is no one standard. Okonomiyaki is derived from 2 words ‘okonomi,’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ means ‘grilled.’ You sit on the table, and you can ask the waiter to bring you the okonomiyaki, and you grill it yourself. The table where you sit has a hot grill. The experience is excellent. You are your own cook, and you can make funny ‘pancakes’ of your favourite ingredients.
If this is your first time, you can ask the restaurant to make the okonomiyaki on your behalf. So what about the taste? Mamma mia… it is delicious and healthy. Your body will be overjoyed for all the vitamins it gets. Your tongue will be overjoyed as well as the balance in the taste is excellent. The grilled flavour of the batter gives it an extra edge. The interesting part is that you can add the things you love. I always add squid, octopus, and cheese. Oishi!

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3: Ramen
If you have watched the anime show Naruto you know that Naruto could not start his day without eating ramen. Naruto would go crazy about ramen every time he walked past the shop. If you lost Naruto, you would find him at the Ichiraku Ramen shop. This show amazed me and made me curious about ramen. The first time I tried ramen was, funny enough, in Amsterdam at the Sapporo Ramen Sora. Fortunately, for me, the ramen was cooked in a miso base. For your information, the vast majority of ramen has a broth made without pork. When my friend introduced me to this ramen, I remember the first bite quite clearly. IT WAS AMAZING. The ramen was unbelievably good. The number of vegetables, the (miso) broth, and the spices had a perfect balance. No wonder Naruto would go crazy with the thought of eating Ramen.
Unfortunately, Japan is not very on the hype when it comes to providing food for vegetarians. The vast majority of food has either pork, beef, or chicken. We Muslims cannot eat pork, but we can also not eat beef and chicken that is not prepared the Islamic way. This is called ‘Halal,’ or perhaps you are more familiar with the Hebrew term ‘Kosher.’ Luckily, there is one restaurant that provides ramen prepared with soy milk and fish stock instead of pork in Beppu. As such, Muslims can also eat ramen at Ittoryu. The ramen is fantastic. There is an egg, noodles, seaweed, and various vegetables in the big bowl of ramen. But the magical power of ramen is the broth. You do not go for the noodles, but for the robust, tasty soup. Even if you would, you cannot leave a single drop in the bowl as you want to drink all of it.
Tip: For my Muslim brothers and sisters; download the app Halal Navi. This app will show you the places that have halal food available to you in Japan :). For Android users. For IOS users.

Ramen.jpg

2: Sushi
A bit of a cliché, I know. But I cannot deny my true feelings towards this. I just love sushi. The quality of sushi you will get in Japan really differs from what I had in Europe. I can tell in the way the fish is prepared and the taste of rice. The texture is amazing. Not only that, but the experience of eating sushi in the restaurant is also fun. Some of the restaurants have these sushi treadmills where you can pick your sushi that waggle around. Though the sushi is all random, so you have to wait until your favourite sushi comes. The Japanese found a solution to that. Each table has a tablet where you can select your favourite sushi. When you finished picking your sushi, the sushi will then come on a train directly to your table. The sound the tablet makes and the sound the train makes are hilarious!

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (1).jpeg

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1: Takoyaki
Just give me a second… I need to align myself. I am not sure where to start… This is the best thing since sliced bread. For those who do not know what takoyaki is, it is a small ball made out of flour batter inside with a piece of octopus, minced ginger, dried shrimp, and small chopped onions. The batter is grilled on a ball-shaped grill, which intensifies the taste. It is quite similar to the Dutch ‘poffertjes,’ but the Dutch ‘poffertjes’ are sweet and have nothing inside. Takoyaki after it is grilled, the chef cook would then put some mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and green aonori seaweed on the takoyaki.
The first time I tasted takoyaki, a friend of mine introduced it to me during Animecon in The Hague. The takoyaki was just prepared, and I tried to take a bite, but the takoyaki is hotter than two volcanoes. The inside of the takoyaki is like magma. So be very careful when you take your first bite. But when the takoyaki lands on your tongue, sweet lord have mercy on my soul, the taste is heavenly. I am addicted to the taste. Whenever I see takoyaki, I cannot resist the urge, and I have to buy it. Takoyaki can be found almost anywhere. This dish is making me broke. It is relatively cheap, though, but I keep buying it. Takoyaki costs around ¥500 for 8 takoyaki balls. It is worth it! When you have the chance to eat takoyaki, please do. You cannot miss this opportunity.

Takoyaki.jpg

I hope this blog has triggered your appetite to try some new Japanese food other than just sushi. Japanese cuisine is very diverse, and there is much to discover. Take your tongue on a voyage of incredible taste :D.

As a bonus for my readers, below, you will find all kinds of Japanese delicacy that my friends and I had stumbled upon on Nagasaki. There was a big festival going on in October. The food came in different colours and forms. Enjoy!

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GOPR0921.JPG

GOPR0927.JPG

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GOPR0912.JPG

GOPR0895.JPG

Masha’Allah

References:

Otsuka, M. Approved by Nelson. R. (2016). Japan HRI Food Service Sector Report 2016. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (2016). Retrieved from: https://gain.fas.usda.gover

I had heard and read many stories about Japanese cuisine before I came to Japan. If someone I knew had visited Japan and asked them about the food, their eyes go wide open. And their smile is from ear to ear, and a tsunami of details about all the food they have tried and how incredibly delicious it was. I have to admit, I have become such a person now :p.

The food is indeed amazing, and the Japanese are magicians when it comes to food. They will make something very simple into something beautiful. There is also no lack of food whatsoever. Food is a massive industry in Japan. In 2015, the food industry in Japan was valued at $261 billion (USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, 2016). Rightfully so, as food is everywhere in Japan. In the darkest and weirdest alleys, you will find a place to eat. So in this blog post, I will share with you my personal top 5 Japanese food:

5: Chicken curry
I was stunned when I learned that the Japanese LOVE curry with rice. When you think of Japanese cuisine, you probably thinking about the classic/stereotypical food sushi. But the Japanese are fond of curry. The first time I went to a supermarket, I saw a section all dedicated to curry. I cannot name half of them, but from what I could see, there were all sorts of curries such as beef, chicken, pork, fish, and vegetable. The Japanese use rice as their main dish, they love to add curry to their rice. The curry is very easy to prepare. They come in an aluminum sealed package. All you need to do is either put the aluminum package in a pan with water and boil it for a few minutes or put it in a bowl and microwave it for 6 minutes. Within minutes you have a great dish. There are big curry chains in Japan fully dedicated to curry rice. One of the biggest is Curry House CoCo Ichibanya. They have all curry versions, and if you love spicy food, they can make it extremely spicy for you. Even though I am very used to spicy food, I could barely handle level 5. A friend of mine took number 8, and he was crying and sweating like a pig the entire lunch. You are warned :p.

For me, I love the (halal) chicken curry that is provided by the shop at my school campus. The chicken curry is creamy, smells fantastic, and I love the chicken because it is heavily spiced. The chicken curry is already in a small plastic bowl with rice, and I only need to microwave it. Since my stay here in Japan, I have tried several curries as in my country, curry is not a real common thing to eat. But this spicy chicken curry rice really takes the cake :).

Chicken curry

4: Okonomiyaki
The first time I tried okonomiyaki was by accident. A friend of mine thought the restaurant was making udon soup, but it turned out to be okonomiyaki. Okonomiyaki is a batter of flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, green onion, octopus, and other vegetables. Though there is no one standard. Okonomiyaki is derived from 2 words ‘okonomi,’ which means ‘whatever you like’ and ‘yaki’ means ‘grilled.’ You sit on the table, and you can ask the waiter to bring you the okonomiyaki, and you grill it yourself. The table where you sit has a hot grill. The experience is excellent. You are your own cook, and you can make funny ‘pancakes’ of your favourite ingredients.
If this is your first time, you can ask the restaurant to make the okonomiyaki on your behalf. So what about the taste? Mamma mia… it is delicious and healthy. Your body will be overjoyed for all the vitamins it gets. Your tongue will be overjoyed as well as the balance in the taste is great. The grilled taste of the batter gives it an extra edge. The interesting part is that you can add the things you love. I always add squid, octopus, and cheese. Oishi!

Okonomiyaki.jpg

3: Ramen
If you have watched the anime show Naruto you know that Naruto could not start his day without eating ramen. Naruto would go crazy about ramen every time he walked past the shop. If you lost Naruto, you would find him at the Ichiraku Ramen shop. This show amazed me and made me curious about ramen. The first time I tried ramen was, funny enough, in Amsterdam at the Sapporo Ramen Sora. Fortunately, for me, the ramen was cooked in a miso base. For your information, the vast majority of ramen has a broth made without pork. When my friend introduced me to this ramen, I remember the first bite quite clearly. IT WAS AMAZING. The ramen was unbelievably good. The number of vegetables, the (miso) broth, and the spices had a perfect balance. No wonder Naruto would go crazy with the thought of eating Ramen.
Unfortunately, Japan is not very on the hype when it comes to providing food for vegetarians. The vast majority of food has either pork, beef, or chicken. We Muslims cannot eat pork, but we can also not eat beef and chicken that is not prepared the Islamic way. This is called ‘Halal,’ or perhaps you are more familiar with the Hebrew term ‘Kosher.’ Luckily, in Beppu, there is one restaurant that provides ramen prepared with soy milk and fish stock instead of pork. As such, Muslims can also eat ramen at Ittoryu. The ramen is amazing. In the big bowl of ramen, there is an egg, noodles, seaweed, and various vegetables. But the magical power of ramen is the broth. You do not go for the noodles, but for the robust, tasty soup. Even if you would, you cannot leave a single drop in the bowl as you want to drink all of it.
Tip: For my Muslim brothers and sisters; download the app Halal Navi. This app will show you the places that have halal food available to you in Japan :). For Android users. For IOS users.

Ramen.jpg

2: Sushi
A bit of a cliché, I know. But I cannot deny my true feelings towards this. I just love sushi. The quality of sushi you will get in Japan really differs from what I had in Europe. I can tell in the way the fish is prepared and the taste of rice. The texture is amazing. Not only that, but the experience of eating sushi in the restaurant is also fun. Some of the restaurants have these sushi treadmills where you can pick your sushi that waggle around. Though the sushi is all random, so you have to wait until your favourite sushi comes. The Japanese found a solution to that. Each table has a tablet where you can select your favourite sushi. When you finished picking your sushi, the sushi will then come on a train directly to your table. The sound the tablet makes and the sound the train makes are hilarious!

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (1).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (2).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (3).jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-15 at 17.04.24 (4).jpeg

1: Takoyaki
Just give me a second……. I need to align myself. I am not sure where to start…. This is the best thing since sliced bread. For those who do not know what takoyaki is, it is a small ball made out of flour batter inside with a piece of octopus, minced ginger, dried shrimp, and small chopped onions. The batter is grilled on a ball-shaped grill, which intensifies the taste. It is quite similar to the Dutch ‘poffertjes,’ but the Dutch ‘poffertjes’ are sweet and have nothing inside. Takoyaki, after it is grilled, the chef cook would then put some mayonnaise, bonito flakes, and green aonori seaweed on the takoyaki.
The first time I tasted takoyaki, a friend of mine introduced it to me during Animecon in The Hague. The takoyaki was just prepared, and I tried to take a bite, but the takoyaki is hotter than two volcanoes. The inside of the takoyaki is like magma. So be very careful when you take your first bite. But when the takoyaki lands on your tongue, sweet lord have mercy on my soul, the taste is heavenly. I am addicted to the taste. Whenever I see takoyaki, I cannot resist the urge, and I have to buy it. Takoyaki can be found almost anywhere. This dish is making me broke. It is quite cheap, though, but I keep buying it. Takoyaki costs around ¥500 for 8 takoyaki balls. It is worth it! When you have the chance to eat takoyaki, please do. You cannot miss this opportunity.

Takoyaki.jpg

I hope this blog has triggered your appetite to try some new Japanese food other than just sushi. Japanese cuisine is very diverse, and there is much to discover. Take your tongue on a voyage of incredible taste :D.

As a bonus for my readers, below you will find all kinds of Japanese delicacy that my friends and I had stumbled upon on a trip to Nagasaki. There was a big festival going on in October. The food came in different colours and forms. Enjoy!

GOPR0920.JPG

GOPR0921.JPG

GOPR0927.JPG

GOPR0929.JPG

GOPR0930.JPG

GOPR0931.JPG

GOPR0933.JPG

GOPR0934.JPG

GOPR0928.JPG

GOPR0894.JPG

GOPR0896.JPG

GOPR0897.JPG

GOPR0898.JPG

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GOPR0911.JPG

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Masha’Allah

References:

Otsuka, M. Approved by Nelson. R. (2016). Japan HRI Food Service Sector Report 2016. USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (2016). Retrieved from: https://gain.fas.usda.gov