Crowd Source Your Epic Itinerary

Originally I decided to go to Japan for two weeks. Then as I started to find out more about the country I realised it definitely wouldn’t be long enough to fit everything in.

I wanted my trip to Japan to be unlike anyone else’s. I wanted to see the things only those in the know see, as well as combining this with the big must-do sites. And I wanted to ski too.

To find all this info I decided to turn to the gapyear.com community. From my time working at gapyear.com I knew that some of the gappers had spent whole years abroad in Japan, so they’d definitely have some insider knowledge. Turns out I was right.

The boards were filled with advice on cool things to do in Japan, and even specifically what to do there in January. I need to give a big shout out to AmberMarie in particular for all her advice which has ensured I’ve had a brilliant 5 weeks in Japan – how long it eventually turned out to be with all the gapyear.com message board input.

If you’re looking to have a more unique trip in a destination, rather than just the generic point-to-point backpacker trail, I’d definitely recommend you search the message boards on here for insider tips and actual tried and tested knowledge on any destination.

Here’s how the gapyear.com message boards helped me to plan my epic trip to Japan.

Spends in Japan

As soon as I mentioned to anyone I was going to Japan you could guarantee they’d make some comment about how expensive it was, not that any of them had been. I think this is the number one thing that puts people off visiting Japan, so I went to the message boards to see what the community was saying.

Jordan85 gives some great tips on how much you can expect to spend in Japan on things like accommodation and food and drink. He reassured me that it wouldn’t be as expensive as everyone thinks to make it day by day.

AmberMarie advises going to nomihoudais, combinis and Cocos for cheap food. All of which I did, so thanks for that!

I genuinely didn’t find food, drink and accommodation to be that expensive in Japan. It was even cheaper than London. I did end up spending a lot during my five weeks, but that was mainly because of the skiing. Probably didn’t need to go three times. Oops. 

This guy, mitchmckee2010, was planning on spending 4 months in Japan on £500. Would love to know how that went!

Things to do in Japan

ChowDown started this board about the craziest things to do in Japan, which really helped to create my itinerary. I ended up at a Maid Café and the Robot Restaurant thanks to the suggestions in there from AmberMarie. They were both awesome – weird, but awesome. She also recommended one of the best things I did during my trip to Japan, which was a trip to Nagano to see the snow monkeys. I’ve just realised it was also thanks to her that I made it to Mount Zao, skiing in among the snow monsters of Yamagata. It must’ve been in my subconscious after reading that thread.

I definitely didn’t agree with AmberMarie on how great the onsens were, though – bathing naked with everyone else – in fact they were one of the few things I really didn’t like about Japan! 

This message board thread was great as it was about travelling Japan in January – which is exactly what I’d be doing. It’s great that you can get such destination and time specific advice on the message boards. With xx members culminating over the past 10 years you can pretty much bet that there’ll be a board to cover the topic you want to know more about.

When I go back to Japan (and it’s definitely a ‘when’ rather than an ‘if’) I’ll be going down to Okinawa to check out the beaches and offerings of the islands in the south. Sounds like AmberMarie had a great time down there – check out her advice on the south of Japan here – I just didn’t have time for that in my five weeks.

Nara was on my radar thanks to hhh_dean and Jordan85 discussing it on the Japan Must Sees board here. Then when I got to Kyoto I got chatting to a guy who said there was a festival there on Saturday, and so I made sure I was there. Another awesome place on my eventual Japan itinerary thanks to gapyear.com boards.

Transport and travel in Japan

I was planning on getting the JR Rail Pass and having a good look around Japan. I didn’t really know how the pass worked though, or which one to get for the best value for what I was doing, which is where, again, the message boards came in handy.

There are a few tips on accommodation and the JR Rail pass on the message board thread here. AmberMarie also goes into the JR Rail Pass a little more, and for her love for Kyushu the most southern island of Japan, on the thread there. If you’re planning a visit down south I’d definitely recommend you check out the board for some hints and tips on route planning. I found it quite complicated to sort mine with all the different names, stations and ticket options.

The most useful things I learned about travel in Japan from the message boards were to get the JR Rail Pass beforehand as you can’t purchase one when you’re actually there, and the tips and advice on weird things to do in Japan were absolutely invaluable.

You can join the message boards by clicking the button below!

Message Boards

Check out my gapyear.com blog to find out more about what weird and brilliant things I got up to during my trip to Japan!