I partnered with All Nippon Airways to finally embark on my dream trip to Japan! With my fellow foodie Sydney Yorkshire from @whatcouldbebutter, we set out to not only find the absolute best food in Japan, but to experience every last inch of one of the greatest places I have ever visited. Over the course of 17 days, we traveled from Tokyo to Fukuoka, to Hiroshima, to Osaka, to Kyoto, and finally back to Tokyo! Along the way, we made daily vlogs of our adventures, which you can find here on the BrunchBoys YouTube channel (link to YouTube). Whether it’s your first time traveling to Japan or you are an expert at navigating the country, here are our Top 10 Things to Do to maximize your trip and to have the absolute best time.
1. Fly All Nippon Airways. Flying All Nippon Airways – Japan’s largest 5-Star airline – especially in business class is truly the only way to get there. Not only were we treated to the best plane food I’ve ever had and with the most hospitable flight crew, but it was also a joy to fly with all the extra amenities that we had including the goodie bag hand cream, facial mist, eye mask, and more! One of my favorite things was that they serve Ippudo ramen on board – as a snack, whenever you want! Also, the seats recline all the way down, and for the first time ever, I was actually able to sleep on the plane. Check out the video from our flight over.
2. Food Markets. Food markets are all over Japan and visiting them is a great way to experience the local cuisine and culture. In each one we visited across Japan, I had some of the best food I’ve ever tried. After weaving in and out of the many food stands, some of our favorite food finds include Daifuku, Matcha Ice Cream, Uni, and more! Also, our favorite market was the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, which is probably the most well-known out of any of them.
3. Convenience Stores. There is NOTHING like a convenience store in Japan! I know what you are thinking, but they are nothing like the convenient stores we have in the states. Everywhere you look, there are multiple stores on almost every single street corner, and the food is amazing! We probably ate at them more than once every single day! Our two favorite things to get were the Onigiri with Tuna, and the Egg Salad Sandos!
4. teamLAB. Throughout Japan, teamLab has set up different experiential art installations, which you have to see to believe! We went to the one in Hiroshima at the Hiroshima Castle, as well as teamLAB Borderless in Tokyo! What an experience – and it’s very Instagram-able too.
5. Temples and Shrines. Hidden within all of these big cities in Japan are incredible Temples and Shrines, which really let you appreciate the history of Japan. Two of them really stood out to me as my favorites: the Sensō-ji Temple in Tokyo, and the Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island off of Hiroshima.
6. Eat at a Yatai. Yatai’s are little pop up restaurants that you can find on the streets of Fukuoka, as well as throughout Japan at night and during the day. Not only was the food fantastic (we got Ramen), but the experience of eating right alongside locals at a truly authentic spot is the biggest difference in the world!
7. Basements. Basements in Japan are hiding some amazing things! The best example of that is when you go into the basement of a department store. Hiding there is a whole other food market with fresh produce, epic desserts, everything fried imaginable, and everything in between!
8. Bamboo Forests. Specifically, the Sagano Bamboo Forest outside of Kyoto is a sight to behold. Just towering over you are these majestic bamboo trees, and it’s another thing on the list that you truly have to see for yourself to realize just how special it is. Pro-tip: get the roasted Japanese Sweet Potatoes from the cart right outside the entrance!
9. Miyajima. A 40 min ferry ride outside of Hiroshima is the island of Miyajima. Not only can you find the Itsukushima Shrine there, but we had some of the best street food on our trip while exploring the island. The biggest and best oysters I’ve ever had were from there, as well as my first experience eating Kare-Pan, which is a savory Japanese curry donut!
10. Don’t be Afraid to Splurge. Japan is amazing because at every level you will have an incredible time BUT picking out a few things to splurge on will take your trip to the next level! Whether that’s the $80 Wagyu Sando (steak sandwich) from Shima in Tokyo, or the incredible Omakase dinner we had in Kyoto at Sushi Gion Matsudaya, those experiences will last a life time!