While many visitors are content to enjoy the sights in and around major tourist destinations, others are drawn to the allure of “next-level” experiences. JR Kyushu's Seven Stars Cruise Train offers this kind of unforgettable experience, pushing train travel to new heights of sophistication and luxury.
My friends and relatives visiting Japan always ask me this one question before visiting: should I rent a car? It really depends on which part of Japan you are visiting, but in general, unless you are visiting a major city like Tokyo and Osaka and planning to stay in the city throughout your trip, there are many benefits to having a car to travel in when you are here.
Having said that, you have to do both planning and researching, which implies relying on side opinions as well. Luckily, Japan has many different transportation options available and is very easy to commute cross-country. So I just want to share some of my experiences on traveling in Japan. Of course, everything is circumstantial and will depend on the individual(s).
One of the biggest exemplifications of Japanese life can found in and on its train system or the Shinkansen. The trains here in Japan can be seen as a metaphor of Japanese life, its humanity, pop culture, and the technology all rolled into one; while moving over 130 mph, or for my metric friends, 210 km/h.
Tokyo’s train system is borderline miraculous. Its almost 900 train stations serviced by over 120 lines makes for perfect sightseeing opportunities with visitors able to explore Tokyo along any one or more of these train lines. One such line is the Tobu Skytree Line. With 30 train stations extending from Tokyo’s famous downtown to the sprawling countryside of southern Saitama Prefecture, the 114km of the Tobu Skytree Line offers scores of places to visit.
Traveling is not cheap, and a huge part of the cost comes from accommodation. Sure, you don’t have to stay in a fancy hotel. However, some of us (hello!) want to save as much as possible so we can splurge our budget on other parts of the trip, such as trying out all the high quality local cuisines.
There used to be thousands of ferry lines connecting the over four hundred inhabited islands of the Japanese archipelago. But that number has been steadily declining since the islands became increasingly connected by bridges and tunnels. It is a shame that we no longer have such charming little lines as the Tako Ferry. But despite the arguably diminished demand, some ferry lines are still alive and well.
Cycle the island of Hachijojima south of Tokyo for an amazing experience off the beaten path.
Sunsets alone along the Sea of Japan, or Nihonkai as it’s called in Japanese, make getting there well worth the effort, and the cycling and camping it offers make it more than well worth it.
As a person who loves Japanese rail and appreciates natural landscapes, I decided that I should definitely ride Akita Nairiku Jukan Railway right after I found out about it and saw amazing pictures and videos taken from its trains.