Japan Trip 2018 (Tokyo/Hokkaido): Part 1 – Introduction

By | July 23, 2018

I recently returned from a trip to Japan that I mentioned a previous post. As I’ve done for some other trips, I’ve decided to write a series of articles about my experiences on this trip, in the hope that it will be of interest to others. In this first article, I’ll give a brief overview of the trip and a taste of what is to come. If you haven’t already, you might want to read my series of articles on my Japan 2015 trip here, and my detailed report of my 2017 trip to Hawaii here. In my 2018 trip report, I’ll try to avoid covering areas too much that I have already discussed in the 2015 trip, though I’ll try to still mention things of particular importance.

My wife and elementary school-age son accompanied me on this trip, and as you can imagine having a young child on a trip limits the places and activities. Also, this was my fourth trip to Japan, and on previous trips, I had already seen several of the more popular tourist areas, including some famous places like Kinkakuji and Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. While visiting specific places for aesthetic or historical reasons is fun, on this trip I was more interested in seeing a different side of Japan, even if it didn’t involve exciting tourist destinations.

After a lot of planning, we ended up with an itinerary of a little over two weeks (15 days), staying in five hotels across Narita, Tokyo, Aomori, Sapporo, and Hakodate. We chose the latter two cities since none of us had been to Hokkaido before and wanted to see what it was like

.Some of the topics that I will write about as part of this series include how I practiced and improved my Japanese skills in Japan, some notes on culture, and some tips about traveling around Japan. The highlight of this trip was a full day visit to a Japanese elementary school in Tokyo with my son, where I got to see what the Japanese school system was like first hand.

To save luggage space and weight, and because I knew I wouldn’t have that much time to focus on picture taking, instead of my Nikon DSLR I just took an iPhone and took pictures with that. I posted around ~150 on my Instagram account which you can find here, and these can be viewed even if you don’t have your own Instagram account. I haven’t decided if I will also put pictures directly on this blog but I may make an article with a slideshow of my favorite pictures from the trip.

It so happened that right around the time of our trip there was terrible flooding in southwestern Japan, resulting in casualties of over 200 people. On news broadcasts, we got to see some of the difficult situations thousands of Japanese people were going through and felt guilty that we were on a family trip for leisure whereas other families were being torn apart. If you haven’t heard about the situation, please consider reading about what happened and donating to somewhere like the Japanese Red Cross. You may also want to check if your workplace matches donations since that will help even more. I wish the best of luck to those that survived this terrible tragedy and hope they can recover their lives as quickly as possible.

I have prepared a table of contents page here and will add links to the other articles as I  post them.


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