Travel Tips: My Mistakes that can make your stay better


Sometimes things that we usually think are so common in our daily lives can often be overlooked during a big vacation trip like to Japan. You can think of these as “common sense” initially, but often when we end up going on life-changing trips to foreign countries, the excitement of being there can cloud our minds from realizing life there could had been “easier” only until after we’ve left. These topics that I’ll cover are some of many things that I wished I would have paid more attention to, or I actually done more. While this won’t be my last trip to Japan, I certainly will be more prepared for the next trip. 

Physical Addresses

My view from Akasaka

One thing that could have made my life easier in Japan, is having the physical address of my AirBnB location copied into my smartphone. This was overlooked because I thought that dropping a pin of where I’m staying was enough to get me back home. 
Having the physical address of where you’re staying can make it much easier to get directions back home if you’re somehow lost, but especially helpful when using a taxi or uber (yes they run in Tokyo too!). My first night in Japan was past the last train call, so a taxi cab was my option and I wasn’t willing to walk an hour back to my AirBnB. The language barrier wasn’t really the issue, but telling the taxicab driver where I’m staying was difficult. 
Since having only a “pinned” location without an actual address, he was having difficulty pinpointing where home was relative to our starting point. If I had an address, life would have certainly been easier. I eventually did make it home, only telling him to stop by a police station near my AirBnB (kind of ironic). 
A typical Japanese address will look something like this:
〒107-0052 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Akasaka, 2 Chome-13-3

Showing first the zip code (107-0052), the prefecture (Tokyo), the special ward (Minato), the district (Akasaka), along with the district code (2 "chome"), block and building number (13-3)

Taking More Photos

I took a lot of pictures during my trip, but it was only until after I left, it felt like it wasn’t enough. Some simple pictures like shots of my AirBnB home, train carts and stations, and stores that I’ve visited are perfect examples of ones I didn’t take. 
Other ones I lacked were pictures of highlighted spots like Tsukiji Fish Market, the onsen I tried in Kyoto (following the rules of course!) or Dotonbori in Osaka, because I was so excited of being there, I didn’t really slow myself down to get some good shots. These pictures are especially helpful when you return explaining to your friends and family the places you’ve visited, and also helpful when you find websites like Odigo to showcase your adventures (not an advertisement!!). 
Take lots of photos, even random ones, they will be useful in the near future.  

Getting More Rest!

This was a huge mistake that I certainly did when adventuring in Japan! Knowing that my time here was somewhat short (2 weeks still seems short), I was ambitious of trying to explore as much as I can without resting. But because of this silly mindset, I ended up crashing hard when nighttime hit, and I knew that’s when Japan really begins to get more active.
The 16-hour flight didn’t help either since the jetlag didn’t kick in for me until the second night, when I was so tired by 6:00pm Japan time, I ended up not meeting up with one of my friends due to the lack of sleep the first night (stayed awake 31 hours). 
It wasn’t just mental fatigue that I had, but also physical fatigue as well, the constant walking, average 15 miles a day, did put a lot of strain on my body, and now I know I hardly gave my body a break because of all the excitement. This physical fatigue became more significant towards the end of my trip, I had a minor case of plantar fasciitis due to lack of rest and bad shoes (I wrote an article about this one). 
Pace yourselves when you visit here! If I were to do it again, I would honestly take an hour or 2 of resting at my home in early afternoon, before venturing off again. That way, the body is physically and mentally prepared for those long nights in Tokyo, where lots of fun really happens! 

“Chance for rain,” Bring that umbrella!

I guess living in my home state of Colorado, if the weather says chance of rain, it’s most likely a quick passing storm. But in Japan, when it rains, it rains…and rains…and rains. 
Now I am a big fan of rain, but being constantly soaked is not always fun, so this could have been avoided if I had brought an umbrella. Of course if worst comes to worst, buying one is the fastest way to stay dry, but I would look for a more portable one that you can store easily.
Still Raining!
Of course it common to check the weather before you begin to travel around Tokyo, but if it says rain later in the forecast, bring an umbrella!

Not a mistake, but overlooked: Make new Friends!

I believe that to get the true experience in Japan, you have to interact with the people, and what better way than to make some friends there! Japanese are certainly nice people, and some are willing to get to know you if you’re a foreigner. 
Now I’ve heard of “gaijin hunters” that somehow give a bad rep to the locals there, but if you can overlook that and make friends with ones who know English, it can be really helpful to go to places that aren’t usually foreigner friendly.
They showed me Karaoke!
I know some entertainment places like bowling alleys and karaoke bars, or restaurants don’t really cater to foreigners unless you speak Japanese, but if you’re with Japanese friends, you’ve basically get the free pass.
I would've never known this restaurant if it weren't for her!
Since your new friends live there, they know places to check out that are rarely visited by tourists just due to the lack of information. Good examples are restaurants that are praised by the locals, but not very known to foreigners, because Google and Yelp can only help so much.
Good times with good friends!
I certainly did not do this mistake, and I am happy that I was able to make friends in Japan despite having my own group of travelers. I encourage you to do the same, as it is honestly the best way to get around Japan!

Help me Help you!

We all make mistakes, and because of these, they become helpful to those who are about to do the same as you. So learn from my mistakes, and hopefully these can help make your trip to Japan much better than it already is!

Saikham Xiong