Japan Travel

Val and Ash spent 7 weeks backpacking and urban-camping (aka camping in public parks, use 20+ locations already tested) in Japan. We only spent $10,000 USD total for the both of us.

  • Week 1: First Site of Tokyo

      • Visiting: Tokyo, Yokohama, Hakone, and Kyoto
      • Hit the ground running and tried to accomplish all/most of what we initially wanted to see in Tokyo, but quickly became overwhelmed and needed a little breather. That breather included days near Mt Fuji on the Hakone Loop, Katahara Onsen, and a visit to the land of Geisha, Torii’s, and Bamboo in Kyoto.
    • Chicken Heads in Tokyo Our Tokyo experience began by riding the Sky Train from Narita Airport to catch a local train to our Ryokan, and eventually the chicken ...
    • Heart of Tokyo: Ueno Ueno is the historic center of present day Tokyo, containing the imperial palace, Ueno park and zoo, and Tokyo Station. A great place to ...
    • Odaiba and beyond Trying to visit Tsukiji fish market, successfully visiting the Gundam on Odaiba, vantage of Shibuya crosswalk, and on to Yokohama rounded out day 3 ...
    • Hakone Transit Hakone had been mentioned by one of my colleague’s; with multitudes of transit forms taken, the lucky black eggs, and fabulous views.
    • Middle of nowhere Katahara Onsen Katahara was WAY out of the way, and didn’t have the fireflies or the hydrangea festival we had planned on attending, still too early ...
    • Kyoto the Land of Geisha Kyoto Pontocho Geisha dance and tea ceremony topped off the end of our sixth day Japan with our Hammocks set up behind a centrally ...
    • Field of Torii’s & Bamboo: Kyoto On the top of the Kyoto list was Kiyomizudera Temple which provides a great view of the city, Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine of Torii’s, ...
    • How to travel cheaply:
      • Tokyo – where to sleep, find cheap but tasty food, and great attractions
  • Week 2: Resident of Banshu-Ako

      • Visiting: Nara, Himeji, Banshu Ako, Osaka, Hiroshima, Beppu, & Sakurajima
      • A day by day account of where we were and some of the experiences we had in Week 2; the highlight being Banshu Ako.

    • Attack by Nara Deer Kyoto was an amazing experience, but it was time to move on. Nara was close by and was famous for their native deer. On to ...
    • Himeji Castle and Food Himeji Castle was a wondrous place to sleep, explore, and learn about. We ventured about the grounds, bought breakfast from a friendly local vendor.
    • Banshu-Ako Camping and Clamming Banshu-Ako was not on our list of places to visit, but was our favorite. It provided laid back charm, friendly atmosphere, sea views, and a ...
    • Industrial Osaka We had yet to visit Osaka; we had a couple of attractions we wanted to visit; the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Umeda Sky Garden, and the ...
    • Somber Hiroshima & Floating Torii Hiroshima was a must stop due to our United States nationality, to learn, see the Peace Memorial Park and museum, ending with the Floating Torii.
    • Beppu’s various Onsen We were ready for a relaxing bath and Beppu was just the place to find one; being famous for the largest concentration of onsen and ...
    • Volcanic Sakurajima We were off to Dinosaur park on Sakurajima Island. Urban camping at, which then came with 2 story location, pet hawk, and viewing of a ...
  • Week 3: Exploration of Mononoke Island

      • Visiting: Sakurajima, Kagoshima, Yakushima, & Toyota
      • Visit to my much beloved movie destination: “Princess Mononoke” by Studio Ghibli or as Yakushima Island had been called by my mother ‘Mononoke Island’.

    • Kagoshima & Sakurajima exploration We were in Sakurajima for the dinosaur park and Kagoshima for the 4-hour ferry to Yakashima. Staying here another day wasn’t in the plan, but ...
    • Yakushima, Onaida Nature Trail Onaida Nature Trail was rigorous and beautiful, it helped us understand our limits and push past them. This Lonely Planet hike is not for the ...
    • Turtles of Yakushima Turtles being turtles, they only come ashore during the night; continuing our crazy streak we went out in a torrential downpour to watch them. ...
    • Ferry from Kagoshima to Yakushima Our exploration of Yakushima had been intense and exciting, pushing us to the limits and rewarding us with natural beauty and exploration of the wild. ...
    • “Wind Rises” in Nagoya A huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, it was a lot of fun stopping off on our way to Toyota in Nagoya. Then ...
  • Week 4: Castle in the Sky & the Beach of my Dreams

      • Visiting: Toyota, Osaka, Ikeda, Takeda, Shirahama, Kii-Tanabe, Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage
      • We needed a little rest and felt that a beach destination and a Castle in the Sky could rejuvenate us.

    • Toyota Factory Tour Visiting the Toyota Factory Tour and museum was a highlight of the trip. It provide insight into corporate businesses and the Toyota Production System.
    • Castle in the Sky Visiting the Taked-jo Castle in the Sky was high on my priority list as huge fan of anime, but while in Osaka we had to ...
    • Introduction to Shirahama Beach Castle in the Sky was interesting, pretty far off the beaten track, and a lot of fun; all in all though, we were ready for ...
    • Pacific Ocean Swimming Peering between palm trees we saw the lapping of the waves and heard the ocean. We fell asleep content that we would be swimming in ...
    • Rejuvenated at Shirahama The white sand beaches, the clear blue waters, and the convenient location of everything, and the perfect temperature makes us yearn to return to Shirahama.
    • Start of Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage Recommended by National Geographic, the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage is a difficult but interesting trek on the Kii-Peninsula, including multitudes of wildlife.
    • Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage We were a little over the National Geographic recommended pilgrimage by the second day. We were ready for trains and buses and a boat through ...
  • Week 5: Conclusion of Pilgrimage

    • Visiting: Kumano Kodo, Katsuura, Nachi, Nagoya, Yamaguchi, Akiyoshidai, Asa, Matsue, Kanazawa, & Wajima
    • Rounded out our Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage on the Kii Peninsula and ventured further inland and West.
    • Daily accounts:
      • Kurano Nachi Grand Shrine, Kii Peninsula Trains, stairs, and lockers were normal. Visiting Kurano Nachi Shrine with a breath-taking waterfall, pagoda, and beautiful old growth trees was not.
      • Yamaguchi…Maybe not The way to Yamaguchi was a very non-touristy experience and one of the more realistic experiences we had, as we were not visiting an attraction.
      • Akiyoshido Caves The longest limestone cave in the world was extraordinary and worth the trip. Far from traditional attractions, we felt we were experiencing real Japan.
  • Week 6: Monkeys, Fireflies, and Sea

      • Visiting: Wajima, Senmaida, Niigata, Matsumoto, Hagurosan, Akita, & Sapporo
      • Japan day-by-day this week included Monkeys, fireflies, brush with the Sea of Japan, and hundreds of rice fields.

    • Week 7: Northern-most Japan

        • Visiting: Sapporo, Wakkanai, Okayama, & Tokyo
        • Our 7th and final week in Japan contained a trek to Northern Japan and sad farewells to this great land.