I took a two week trip to Japan and Korea (Dec. 20, 2017 – Jan 3, 2018) from LA with 2 friends.

  • 1.5 days for travel
  • Korea for 6 days
  • Japan for 6.5 days


  • Total: $2,069.13
  • Flight: $1,078.86 (Chase Rewards Points)
    • Booked 4 months in advance
    • Japan Airlines 12 hours there, 10 hours back to SD then 30 min to LAX
  • Housing Total: $588.92/person = $65.44/night
    • Tokyo Shinjuku AirBnb: 105.66/night – 1 night total – $35.22/person
    • Hakone AirBnB: $194.55/night – 1 night total – $64.85/person
    • Kyoto Hotel: $179.62/night – 3 nights total – $179.62/person
    • Tokyo Akihabara AirBnb: $231.92/night – 4 night total – $309.23/person
  • Cash Expenses: $401.35 roughly


Train from Hakone to Kyoto


  • Street signs are difficult to read
    • Example Address: 1F Social House Okachimachi, 1-3-9 Kojima, Taito-Ward
    • Google Maps is not good in Japan
      • It will get you close to the area, but then finding the actual location will take some work
    • The first number represents the neighborhood or Chome. The neighborhood is a block of houses together.
    • The second and third number 3-9 will help you find the actual building
    • Walk around in clockwise direction to find the numbers
  • SIM Cards / WiFi
    • I never was able to activate my SIM Card and unless you have LTE, I would buy a portal wifi – it’s great
    • $40 for 2.5G
  • Train Tickets
    • Some trains require you to buy two tickets – one for the train, one for the seat. If you buy both tickets, you can stack them and put them through the machines
  • ATMs
    • Get a no transaction fee debit card prior to going. You’ll save anywhere between $10-30 on fees alone.
    • It’s better to over withdraw because you’ll find a way to spend it. Trust me.
  • If you lose your stuff – don’t panic. Even if you don’t speak Japanese
    • Japan is very safe and I lost my entire purse on a bus and was able to retrieve it at the end bus station
  • Fushimi Inari was pretty overrated
    • I went during the holidays so it was extra crowded and therefore not as worthwhile
    • The view at the very top of the mountain is non-existent
    • It’s way better to wander off into the paths and find some authentic Japanese food where no one speaks English
  • Make reservation for dinner places in Kyoto
    • Have someone with an American Express Platinum card ask the concierge to help you make reservations if you want to eat anywhere nice
    • Kyoto has one of the most Michelin restaurants in the world
  • Markets are closed Jan. 1 – 5 so prime sushi restaurants will also be closed



  • Dec. 21 – arrive – Shinjuku – Max Ramen for dinner
  • Dec. 22 – explore Shinjuku – Ichiran in the morning – recommend to avoid the lines
    • Train to Hakone – settle in AirBnb – do an onsen
  • Dec. 23 – Bus to Lake Ashi to see Mt. Fuji
    • Explore Hakone some more
    • Train to Kyoto – Explore Geon for dinner
  • Dec. 24 – Explore Arashiyama – bamboo grove (worth it)
    • Iwatayama – monkey park (worth it) – a bit of a hike
    • Menbakaichidai – fire ramen – 45 min wait – interesting experience – indifferent
  • Dec. 25 – Fushimi Inari (Red gates) – not worth it
    • Kinkaku-ji (golden temple) – cool enough I would say is worth the $5

Break for Korea – see other post

  • Dec. 31 – New Years Eve
    • Arrive at AirBnb, go out in Shibuya
  • Jan. 1 – Wash of a day
    • Shibuya Part 2
  • Jan. 2 – Ginza – Uniqlo – Shibuya – Harajuku – Red Light
  • Jan. 3 – Ichiran Pt. 2 – Harajuku Pt. 2
    • Fly home

Things I Would Do Better:

  • Make reservation for dinner
  • Get some tea from a legit place
  • Pack lighter




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