Travel to Japan – Episode 364

categories: asia travel

Hear about travel to Japan on the Amateur Traveler as I relate stories from my recent trip to Tokyo, the ancient capitals of Nara and Kyoto, the castle at Hikone, the shrines and temples of Nikko and Kamakura.

I made the trip in Winter and went as a blogger ambassador for ANA (All Nippon Airways) as they opened a route from San Jose, California to Tokyo.

I talk a bit about the press trip and his flight on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and then some of the surprises in Japan. Japan was not high on my list of countries to go to because I thought it would be expensive and difficult to get around, neither of which was true. I would love to get back to Japan and return in a month when Tokyo is not seeing an uncommon snowstorm.

After leaving Tokyo I traveled to Kyoto and nearby Nara to see some of the historic sites of Japan. I traveled with easy around the country using a Japan Rail Pass. Both cities are filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites including an Imperial Palace, the Nijo Castle, the Golden Pavilion, the Giant Buddha, and the world’s largest wooden building.

With a brief stop to explore the castle in Hikone, I then headed back to Tokyo and North to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Nikko the “Heart of Japan”. The most impressive of these sites is the temple dedicated to the first Shogun who united Japan in the 1600s. His family then rules Japan until the late 1800s.

Back in Tokyo, I explored “Electric Town”, evening at the famous Shibuya crossing, and again more UNESCO World Heritage temples and shrines in a day trip to Kamakura. In Kamakura, I saw another giant Buddha, people washing their money for good luck and a well-known bamboo grove.

In between all this traveling, I enjoyed the hospitality and politeness of the Japanese people, museums like the Edo Museum in Tokyo, some good sushi, and the ease of getting around this country that lives both in its past and slightly in our future.

right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)

Show Notes

All Nippon Airways
Sensō-ji Temple
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Akihabara (Electric Town)
Kyoto Imperial Palace
Nijō Castle
Shogun Novel
T?dai-ji Temple Nara
Kasuga Grand Shrine, Nara
Great Buddha of Kamakura
Zeniarai Benten Shrine
Hokokuji Bamboo Temple
Kanmangafuchi Abyss, Nikko
25 Interesting Facts about Japan


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Joe wrote on:

Travel to London, England part 2 – Episode 359
Travel to London, England – Episode 352


Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed both parts of the London show. As a frequent visitor to London, I thought the guest was spot on with all of her information. In January I took my ten year old son to London for his first visit. We ate several meals at Pizza Express after downloading coupons which were recommended by the guest. Its those kinds of kernals of information which are so valuable that you can’t find on other travel podcasts.



Barbara from Australia wrote:

Hi there Chris,

It was with some apprehension that I listened to your podcast recently, as I’ve previously found American radio to be rather more nonsense than information. Not so with yours, I’m glad to say. Now that I’ve found you, I’m keen to listen to lots more on my iPod as I do my daily walk. My initial choice was David Grenewetzki ‘s first trip to India, which I thought was great.Then I managed to find one on Burma. Yippee! Now that the country is opening up, I’m sure there will plenty of people who are keen to travel there.

I’m planning a trip to Burma in November and have now listened to the one episode I found on that country. However, there is plenty of scope for another program, visiting different places and perhaps giving more detail about getting around and other things to do in the cities, particularly for a traveler who isn’t on a guided tour. I’d like to hear from someone who’s been on the Irrawaddy River boat between Mandalay and Bagan, and also the slow train through the hills between Kalaw and Inle Lake. Perhaps the caves at Pindaya. Also, the pitfalls of finding a suitable budget guesthouse and things like that. I really like all those little tips that are so important. For instance, are the boats on Inle Lake likely to tip over and ruin my good camera! How can one tell if the cheap hotel has bed-bugs! What drinking options are available if the water is dodgy. And most people love to hear about the food of any country. When travelling to very poor countries, it’s good to know what little gifts the villagers would appreciate from an affluent country. I believe the Burmese children would love to receive papers and pencils, which they can’t afford. In Bali I found the poor women wanted my lipstick.

There could be a lot more useful little Japan travel tips on your tip tab rather than focussing on electronics etc., none of which a person like me would take away. What to look for when buying a backpack and how to keep things safe are also good things to know. As I’m new to these podcasts, it’s more than likely that you’ve covered all these things before; if so I will discover as I make my way through them, and I apologise in advance for the advice.

Looking forward to listening to many more episodes, and thank you so more for a very worthwhile program.


Traveling Soon? These useful links will help you prepare for your trip.
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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

4 Responses to “Travel to Japan – Episode 364”

Pat Bunyard


Loved the podcast on Japan. I too have the same misconceptions about travel in Japan and have had little desire to travel there but after your podcast I can see this destination moving much higher on my list of places to visit. Thanks for the practical information.




Glad I could help Pat

Mami from Japan


Hi Chris,

Thank you for your talk on Japan in your episode 364. I’m happy to hear you really enjoyed your stay and liked my country. Regarding Beniarai Zenten Shrine in Kamakura, it is said that you have to use up all the money you washed there to get a fortune; did you do so?:-)




Mami, no I just took pictures of the money washing.

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