In general, I get asked a lot of travel questions – everything from my opinion on certain lodgings to troubleshooting itinerary snafus. Before I answer anything, I always try to determine what the emotional needs or desires around the trip are. What kind of trip are you doing? Is this a vacation or something else? Is seeing as many sights as possible more important than resting? That kind of thing.
The one place I get asked about more than others is Japan. While I have been there multiple times, I rarely give advice on it. From a practicality standpoint, Tokyo itself encompasses 2500 square miles. It’s huge. From a cultural and amusement standpoint, there are so things that you could do that I wouldn’t even know in which direction to point you.
So, instead, I give 3 pieces of advice. First, think about what you like and find things that match your interests. There is always more going on than you could reasonably do. Second, English is not a primary language, even in the big cities. Depending upon your comfort level, it may be easier to stay at an international hotel and book some English speaking tours. People do speak English but it’s best to assume that you may not readily find someone who can help you on the fly. Third, read up on as much of the culture as you can. The more you are cognizant you are of things like train manners or what to do with your chopsticks, the better your experience will be.
Having said all that, there are some great sites that can help you plan a dream trip:
Airbnb Experiences – one on one cultural experiences at a fair price
Viator – Tours and excursions of all kinds
Trip Advisor – reviews & forums for anything travel related
JNTO – for tourist advice & discounts for visitors