PLANNING A DREAM-WORTHY ITINERARY
Japan is ripe with dream-worthy destinations, making it easy to come up with a seemingly endless list of must-see destinations. Narrowing that down into an itinerary? The pruning process can be challenging. Now that you have discovered so much of what Japan has to offer, here’s how to put together a realistic (albeit dream-worthy) itinerary.
Create a List
Comb back through your itinerary inspiration (there’s plenty from Tee George, Sal DiBenedetto and Ciara Johnson, as well as Chelsea Mealo and Rod Trevino) and note each destination that sparks your interest. At this stage don’t worry about logistics. Just consider what would make a trip to Japan dream-worthy for you. Maybe you want to experience a Michelin-star meal, soak in an onsen or explore Japan’s coastline. Reflecting on what has inspired you is an excellent place to start.
Reflection can lead to some interesting discoveries. For example, you may be surprised to learn that many of your favorites are closer to Kyoto rather than Tokyo. That type of information can help with decisions on lodging and the amount of time spent at a given location.
This list isn’t your final itinerary — now it’s time to refine.
Timing is Everything
Now that inspiration has struck, it’s time to delve into details. Consider your timing, as seasonality affects the availability or likelihood of attractions and natural phenomena.
If planning a June vacation, it would be best to leave the snow monkeys off your list and instead opt for the Hakone Tozan Railway — aka the Hydrangea train.
However, if a seasonal experience is an absolute must, make sure to book those vacation days and flights accordingly.
Small Things Matter
From breakfast at a cute cafe to walking Shibuya Crossing, not every itinerary item has to be a major expedition. Work time into your plans to enjoy the little things — be it finding a specific food truck or spotting the Tokyo Tower.
Leave your Comfort Zone Behind
While a trip to Japan has something for everyone, don’t discount the experiences that might otherwise be outside your comfort zone. Do you love to appreciate art and history in museums? Try scheduling time for a hike or guided walking tour that will allow you to experience another side of Japan’s history and beauty. If a day spent savoring the excitement and bustle of Tokyo sounds thrilling, book time at an onsen to practice the benefits of being still. Do you connect with the richness of Japanese cuisine and enjoy fine dining? Book a cooking class and learn to make your own culinary masterpiece.
Create Space for the Unexpected
Travel’s best moments are oftentimes the unexpected ones. Your favorite memories can come from otherwise unplanned or unforeseen experiences, like the ramen restaurant recommended by new friends, the alleyway bar you just happen to stop into or the town that you just don’t want to leave.
An itinerary should have room to breathe. If possible, leave time to explore and steep in the beauty of Japan. Leaving room for the unexpected may yield your most dream-worthy experience.
Refined, well-timed and with room to breathe — your itinerary is ready to go! Next step, click ‘book.’ The dream of waking up in Japan is only a flight away.