Your Best Japan Sakura season starts early and takes planning. As soon as it becomes New Year stores were already out with sakura motifs. It feels like Japan is half momiji season and half sakura season. Winter and summer and just in the way.

And it’s coming soon. March 26th by some estimates. So without further ado here are my tips to make this season or your visit your best Japan sakura season!

Franceslovesyou in Inokashira Park for sakura


Understand any top rated sakura spot will be packed

Was this photo from a top rated spot? Nope!

If japan-guide or hanamiwalker or any other place has given it top rating, it will be super packed. Tokyo is overcrowded on a daily basis. Tokyo is absolutely unbearable for sakura season. Osaka and Kyoto are the same.

Tourism is one of the major industries of Japan. It’s incredibly cheap to get there from Korea and China and considered a once-in-a-lifetime trip for some to see the sakura.

You’re going to have to accept if you follow the guides online about sakura, you will be flooded. Especially on the weekend. Peak sakura season on a weekend is tragic. It’s also very drunk.

Appreciate the nearby sakura

One of my favorite parts of sakura season is actually enjoying the neighborhood sakura. Most schoolyards have a giant sakura tree. Some parks cement and all have a glowing pink tree. It’s still beautiful. It’s not a sea of pink, but appreciate beauty where you can find it.

Take all the walks around your nearby hotel or air bnb. It’s free and it’s a great way to not feel suffocated by people.

This was just a random bridge in Nakano in Tokyo. It didn’t cost anything, I didn’t have to be around a lot of people to get this shot. Daily life sakura is really enjoyable.

Same bridge, just different angle. By the way, the other previous photos except for Frances were ALL taken on a basic pedestrian bridge in Nakano.

Be willing to travel

Sakura are fickle and weak. You can follow every sakura forecast. You can book at the last minute. But one heavy rain and they’re wiped out. Seriously all it takes is a good rain if the blossoms are open enough. Hanamiwalker is excellent at keeping reports up to date. However in English only Japan-Guide is slow but easy to read.

But one of the good things about being in Tokyo or Osaka is there are a lot of elevations and places around that are two hours or less on train. Even if you got your full season (usually only a week) in Tokyo or Osaka you can take a quick train ride and still see more.

From Tokyo my top three quick trip destinations for more sakura are:

From Kyoto my top four quick trip destinations for more sakura are:

Pick river walks over parks

Parks trap people. Parks cost. Parks get all the love. But in all honesty river sakura are the best. Even if it’s crowded there there’s river space that makes you breathe a little. Also it’s easy to cut out people from a river photograph for more insta-worthy shots. Or include people for atmosphere like the Franceslovesyou photo.

This is Yasukuni Shrine for their Sakura Matsuri. Sure this is a realistic photo but not aesthetics.

This is the Chidorigafuchi Walking Path right next door to Yasukuni Shrine.

Such giant sakura, such impact. Even on a cloudy day.

In reality this is how it looked. But because it was a river walk you can take so many pleasing photos no matter the time of day.


I will do a post soon on top sakura walks in Tokyo, but just meander around your area, too!

Go early or stay for light ups

We all know what ruins an experience or a good photo: other people. So the best plan is to wake up and go early to wherever the top ranked viewing places are. There will still be other people, particularly old men with giant cameras. But you’ll get that perfect shot.

Or go at night, there will be a lot of people because light ups are popular. It’s impossible to avoid crowds at light-ups but it doesn’t feel so crowded. And your photos will be fine because darkness shadows out people. Light-ups also use pink light so no matter the blossom color you’ll always get a lovely pink glow. (Seen in my Himeji Castle sakura light up)

This photo was taken at the Roppongi Hills sakura light up

My recommended daily best Japan sakura season plan:

Morning – Head to one of the big popular spots that’s gotten the big stars or says its in full bloom via sakura-walker.

Afternoon – Choose your sakura walking stroll and then eat lots of sakura themed food.

Nighttime – After a lovely dinner finished off with sakura themed desserts. Head to one of the light-ups.


This is my side screw sakura tip: the cheapest, fewest people time to go to Okinawa is mainland sakura season. I did it through discount airlines Air Asia and Peach. I think my flight total was $200. We actually did a snorkeling boat tour that ended up being a private tour and it was only 1,000 yen a person. $10 for a private boat tour. The water is colder but it’s tolerable. I actually flew back into Osaka and got to see some sakura despite leaving for a second.


Absolutely none of these photos cost me any money to take. I guess I could also name this best japan sakura season planning for FREE!


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Flying tips is something I’ve hinted at in my eating healthy posts, packing for Japan, and my dressing fab for Fall/Winter in Japan posts, but finally we’re getting down to it. I fly long-haul (over 10 hours usually 15 hours) flights at least two times a year for the past 10 years. If not three or four times a year. I’ve learned a lot in that time and I’m going to share it with you. I still do not like flying, but I do like arriving.

In order to spill all my secrets I’m going to break it down to basics, beauty and body. Basics are just tips for flying, seating, and entertainment etc… Body is how to maintain health and happiness and sleep on a plane. Beauty is how to look better arriving than departing.

I’m trying to gear this all to free or cheap, but sometimes I’ll suggest a pay item just because I believe it’s worth it. A bad long haul flight can take days off your travel enjoyment. You’ll be tried, jet lagged, skin dry, worn out. Do not underestimate how important taking care of yourself during a flight is to your whole vacation.

My flying tips revolve all around three things: sleep, hydration and lowered stress. If you can accomplish any of those, you’re looking better than the crumpled masses at immigration.


Join the member program of whatever airline you’re flying.

You get instant miles. You often get to automatically check a second bag for free. It’s often a little cheaper to upgrade as well if you’re in the member program. You can also board earlier. Which means you get to put your carryon exactly how you like it. You get settled in before worrying about someone else. These little things to cut your stress are important.

If you’re flying economy always upgrade to economy plus.

It’s usually $40 extra per one-way trip but it’s worth it. Extra leg room, boarding earlier to put your luggage etc… I find it much quieter area of the plane as well.


(image source)

Aisle life is the best life

You can often stretch out your legs a bit more. Lean to sleep in the aisle and not into another person. You only have to deal with one person. Windows are for losers and you should not be in them… more on this later.





Stock up on things to keep you occupied

On most long haul flights like ones to Japan there are usually in flight entertainment options. However yours could be broken. Or you hate the selection. Do not depend on someone else for your own happiness or for your happiness in the in flight entertainment. :happydance:

I prefer a paper magazine as a starter.

You can read that for the 30 minutes they have without electronics during boarding and deplaning. If you finish it just recycle and it’s one less thing to carry.


There’s so many interesting podcasts that are free. Vogue has its own if you want to learn about fashion. I’m addicted to the PBS Frontline series on audiocast and Economist’s Babbage about Future Technology.

Load up your kindle or iPad or whatever with an interesting book or two.

The amazon kindle store has daily & monthly deals that you can sometimes find some cheap good books. Or just keep items in your cart or “saved” and they’ll tell you if the purchase price decreases a lot.

Offline iPhone games

You can find a lot of free games on the app store of your choice. Here are a few lists. You’d be amazed how much time you can eat up and enjoy playing some doofy word game. My favorites are Bejeweled2 and Tiny Tower . Both are free and don’t require internet to play after you’ve downloaded.

iTunes and xfinity have downloadable free shows

Usually itunes shows are teasers or first episodes, but they’re free! Xfinity it just depends, and you have to do it through their app, but it’s very useful on long trips. I usually do this before I fly and if I don’t watch them then I can watch them on the annoying long Narita NEX train. Or just traveling in general. Take advantage of free!

If you’re a kindle iPad thing user I know you can download a lot of Prime TV shows offline. Take advantage!

Downloading before a trip is a great idea because I’ve been to many hotels that have crap wifi. Waking up jet lagged at 3am with nothing on TV, you will be happy you have something to watch.


Flying Tips for the Body

Always order two drinks

Ask for two waters or a juice and a water. Usually I don’t drink juice because taking the fiber out of fruit is crazy talk. But it’s a little fructose to keep you pepped. Or a tea and water. Just always hydrate. One of those tiny cups every two hours isn’t enough.

Bring an empty water bottle through security

Fill it up at the fountains inside the gate. Sometimes during long haul flights stewardesses break giving out waters. Or you just sleep through it. A bottle of water during that time is all the difference.

Hydration is life

Do you see the two tips I gave? That’s why you should be in an aisle seat. Pee forever it’s better than not drinking enough. Dehydration shows everywhere. It makes you tried. It makes you eat more. It makes your skin look older. Want to look good and feel good after a flight the two best ways are sleep and hydration.

Bring meals and snacks

You know what is trash? Airline food. It’s not made to be healthy, it’s made to be cheap. You’re putting a cheap meal into your stomach when you’re stressed and probably dehydrated. There’s very little nutrients in what they’re giving you. I have found that checking vegetarian can often make the vegetable content go up, but it just depends. My go to carry on meal is baked chicken, brussel sprouts and a small amount of bacon in a cheap ziploc container that I can keep or throwaway if needed. I get protein, fats and greens. You can cater this to your own needs. Just make sure it’s a dry meal.

Nuts, dry unsweetened fruit, celery, squeezable peanut butter. So many options to bring in your carry on bag. It’s perfectly okay to go through airport security with them.


$15.00 at Aliexpress

Bring a giant shawl

This was a game changer for me. You know how airlines give you a blanket and it’s always to short EVERYWHERE? I think this is one of the big reasons people sleep badly. Waking up cold on your elbow or some other random body part is so weird.

My answer to this is a big shawl. I have a nice cashmere one that I didn’t buy for airline travel. It’s about 60 x 60 inches. It’s pretty huge and makes the perfect blanket, because it’s cashmere it’s thinner but still warm and easy storage. You can even layer up with the bad blanket they give you. I use it traveling as well in the Fall through Spring since mornings and nights are chilly. You can just use and store during the warm parts of the day.

I like to also use mine as a hoodie to muffle airline noise, without actually wearing a hoodie. If you don’t like shawls another choice is a sweater-style calf-to-ankle length cardigan (f21). I actually like combining shawl and cardigan for blanket life.

You know how you sleep better with your own blanket? A shawl is your blanket.


My eyemask from Aromatherapy Associates

Bring an eye mask

I don’t use these daily, but I do like to carry one for travel. They make all kinds. If you fly enough you may get one from your airline. I have a giant one that is velvet and silk because I like fancy. But really it’s just whatever you like. It does help airplane sleeping. Especially if you’ve got someone using their overhead light right next to you.

Japanese brand Kao also makes these disposable heated steam eye masks. They really help relaxation and sleep. I recommend doubling up with a regular eye mask.

Don’t be afraid to sleep medicate

I know some people who go with the heavy stuff. I don’t really like to. For me melatonin or over-the-counter sleep aids work fine. I usually cut off my caffeine during the day to help this. My man always sleeps worse than me on flights and finally gave into sleep aids. It’s helped him get a few more Zs (if he followed all my instructions he’d get even more, but well he’s stubborn).

If you didn’t get good sleep worrying/being excited about the trip the nights before this tip is useless. The whole list may be. Really focus on your sleep the days before, get into good habits like putting away your iPhone three hours before bed, doing a routine like skincare to get you relaxed for bed.

A pack of pocket tissues

Maybe something on the plane affects your allergies. Or you just get the cold sneezes. Either way you’ll be happy you’re using the nice tissue than tearing up your nose on the airplane toilet tissues.

Wear loose shoes or laceable shoes

Feet can swell during long travel. Just stuck sitting around for long. Even if you take off your shoes during a flight. Having tight pinchy shoes when you have to put them on just sucks.

Dress comfortable but you

I know people say that sweats are travel, but I hate arriving in Tokyo or overseas and just looking frumpy. No matter how much your skin is glowing and you slept on a plane, if you feel frumpy you won’t be happy. But I also think travel can make you bloat and there’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in a plane in tight jeans.

Leggings and a dress. Leggings are elastic, you don’t have to worry about showing anything in a dress, or getting cold with weird drafts. Combined with your shawl you look cute. This can work for a lot of style choices.

Or just jean leggings and a tunic. This is the route I tend to go. Or just jeans with a lot of elastic or a long loose dress. Nothing that hugs you. I go for a lot of shirt layers so I can adjust to all the temperatures. Long skirts are okay as well, but beware of drafts. You can always strip off the leggings off the plane.

Put on clean underwear right before you leave the house to the airport

This cuts down on the hours you have to be in the same pair of underwear in a day. I know it’s TMI but well it helps. You will still feel grody after a flight, but not as gross.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 5.05.39 PM

Be comfortable and cute in this Forever 21 bra

A wireless or sports bra is more comfortable to sleep in

And your goal on this flight is sleeping. Just wear something baggy if you don’t like the form it gives.

Stretch in the restroom

It’s a little embarrassing to stretch in a flight and there’s no room. But you can do it everytime you use the bathroom and you’ll be using it a lot because you best be using my water tips. Don’t full yoga, but a good calf raise and touching your toes. Also move your arms around the full range of motion. Stretching out your back is key.



Flying Tips for Beauty

Look better than when you left? I believe it!


The morning of: Dry shampoo your hair

Dry Shampoo looks best when it’s worn overnight, in the case during a long flight. So before you leave your house just spray some dry shampoo in. Traveling can make people sweat and Narita airport is the WORST AIR CONDITIONED AIRPORT EVER (all caps) always. It could be January and they’d make you sweat. It’s always humid.

Wear your hair your most comfortable to sleep

Up, down, braids etc… whatever feels the best for you. Comfort is important. I usually leave mine down and then have a hair tie if I’m annoyed with it in front of my face. I usually put a little bottom curl in my hair before I leave to fly. That usually keeps my hair settled and looking not to scuzzy when I arrive.

Don’t think about wearing make-up 

These 10-14 hours are all about skincare. Let’s get on it. A tinted sunscreen you can wash off is fine for the start of your flight. Washing off a full face in an airplane bathroom isn’t advisable. I’ve done it, but man I was such a tryhard gyaru. hehehe


10-14 hours of sweet sweet skincare

You know what flights are for? Skincare. All this time you have to work on steps. To hydrate. To cream and lather. It’s also a wonderful way to break up the time if you can’t sleep. Or if you wake up frequently.

My three big skincare musts for travel are these: hyaluronic acid, ceramides, a thick cream. Everything else is negotiable. I prefer to talk about ingredients in skincare mostly because ingredients matter so much more than the price or the fancy writing on the bottle. I love ingredients!

Hyaluronic acid I love you. Yes it says acid but it’s not that kind of acid.  Our skin is also naturally acidic. It’s our skin but better. Hyaluronic acid plumps the skin. It holds onto water, it’s the opposite of dehydrated. There’s also some interesting research that maybe it can go deeper than thought and actually plump up deeper levels of skin tissue, which is awesome!! Didn’t think you’d get a skincare tip? Well boom! Put this on first.  The results can be instant.

CosRx Hyaluronic Acid Essence, Paula’s Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster, Mizon Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule – I’ve tried them all. Mizon is my personal favorite.

Ceramides are another skincare ingredient star. Ceramides are long chain fatty acids that help make up the skin’s moisture barrier. Helping that moisture barrier and protecting it is one of the best things you can do for your skin. Ceramides have shown they can help protect that barrier. Plane air is the driest air, so ceramides love you. You can find these ingredients in heavy creams if you’d like to combine the two, but I like to use these with lighter lotions, essences or ampoules.

CeraVe moisturizing lotion, Skinfood Avocado Rich Cream, Mizon Hyaluronic Acid Ampoule

Heavy Cream my one non-ingredient item on the list. Although yours may contain Hyaluronic Acid or Ceramides. Just a good thick cream to help keep that moisture barrier happy and keep you from drying out. Use on your neck and hands! This is one I say just use what you enjoy best. Keep slathering throughout the flight.

My current favorite: Innisfree Orchid Encriched Cream

Other beauty items to bring:

sheet maskMy Beauty Diary brand are the thinnest if you’d like to look not sheet mask white

wash off packInnisfree capsules are very plane portable

hand cream – public restrooms have the most drying soap even if you don’t usually use one I recommend using one during travel.

samples – If you skin is hardy. If you breakout don’t patch test your face with something new. It’ll just create some embarrassing travel photos.

lip balm – Don’t underestimate the plane dryness getting to your precious lips. If you’re in a pinch put some hyaluronic acid on those puckers.

toilet paper wipes – Because airplane toilet paper is so cheap and is not as hygienic as you can be.


A small make-up kit

Either 30 minutes before I land or on the Narita Express I do my make-up. It’s a pared down version just some moisturizer, bb cream, eyeliner, eyebrow mascara, lipgloss. Nothing too fancy but if I’m meeting friends or such I like to look not completely busted.


So this is a lot of tips and it may suit you to ignore some. You do you   :smiley:  Taking care of your health on a plane is so important to your whole trip. I promise if you follow a lot of these you will come out on the other side feeling better. Now I gotta go and start prepping for this, because I’m on a flight in a day.  :smiley:


Sorry an earlier half-finished version came out. I didn’t realize I pressed publish instead of save. This is the final version. Thanks for reading through the full one :hearts3:


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If there’s anything I’ve gotten really good at it’s finding a good place to stay while I’m in Japan. I’m going peg this towards short-term to mid-term stay. Meaning one day to 3 months. Any longer than that and you should be hunting with a Japanese apartment agency to get you a better deal. All of the places I list are geared towards booking on-line before arrival and are mostly kind to foreigners with language offerings.

As always I’m usually a cheapskate so this is budget travel mostly. Personally I think there’s a sweet spot in between price, amenities and location that I try to aim for.

Of course, book a month in advance or longer for most places so you can get the best rate for hotels. After all the talk I’m going to link some places below I stayed at that I really liked and would recommend.



Types of Hotels in Japan

Most types of hotels you will deal with in Japan if you’re in a big city fall under two categories regular or business. Ryokans and Onsens are also an option but they are usually not a full trip experience (read below to find out why).



The Hotel Monterey in Osaka

Regular hotels:


Regular hotels in Japan tend to offer more amenities and are larger. They often have wedding event areas on the premises and a restaurant or two. Hotel Monterey and Hotel Okura are two chains I’ve stayed at and liked. Hotel Nikko in Osaka is one I’ve stayed at and thought was subpar, especially for the price.  These usually have larger rooms than business hotels but are usually pricier.



The layout of a typical business hotel (Chisun Inn here). It’s very small but serviceable.

Business hotels:


Business hotels are pretty spartan and small, but perfect for budget travelers. Business hotels tend to be near major train stations which also make them ideal for tourism. Despite the title of business sometimes there is no wifi (only LAN cable) and limited tv stations, but they’re always clean and are part of large chains.

Examples of business hotel chains are – APA, MyStays, Dormy, Toyoko, Chisun, Hearton. APA is the nicest and most expensive of the bunch. I do really like APA hotels.

Here’s a good post on Japan-Guide with good photos of a business hotel. If you’re on the budget (40-100 USD a night) I recommend these places. They’re usually my go to places.




The Three Sisters Annex Ryokan in Kyoto



You won’t find many ryokan usually if you’re looking to stay central to a city other than in Kyoto. The term ryokan and onsen are often used interchangeably because ryokan can be attached to an onsen. However there are also city ryokan around Asakusa in Tokyo or in Kyoto. Ryokan are older hotels with tatami mat flooring and futons. Whether they provide a kaiseki (full course meal) is not always common. I’ve stayed at one in Kyoto and found it just okay. A thin sheet and a futon only seem magical until you try to sleep on one.

Not many ryokan are around that aren’t attached to an onsen.




Inside a room of the Tsuruya Onsen Ryokan in Nagano


Onsen Ryokan:


Onsen are hot spring resorts located next to hot springs which means away from a city center. Onsen are usually known as a get-away-from-it-all experience. They’re not recommended for touristing in cities, but are lovely 1 to 2 day escapes from a big travel. Onsens are quite expensive. When I say expensive I mean expensive proper onsen start at 200$ a night and can go to $800 a night!! However, they do include a meal or two that you would probably pay $100+ for. And they also provide dramatic scenery, private onsen time and full course dinners. Onsens book up fast so reserving early is recommended. As stated they’re usually off the beaten path so do you research on how to access them and if they will provide transportation to get to the closest hub.

Onsens have a big range. Some are just 12 rooms and run like little boutique hotels. Others are giant complexes with tons of baths and options.

My previous post in 2009 about visiting an onsen.

Japinican which is a subsidiary of JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) is a good English resource to search for Ryokan and Onsen again most will be “Onsen Ryokan”. Their Ryokan 101 is good information to read before visiting an Onsen Ryokan.


Love Hotels

Which I do not recommend at all for touring Japan. It’s fun for a night, but the often no windows and seedy place isn’t so fun. Although a lady friend and I did it in Osaka. Prices still are not very kind. Back in 2009 I made a post on Love Hotels (sorry for the horrible blogspot layout). And lately they’re showing up on reputable sites, but definitely don’t recommend more than a night stay there.



Short Term Stays 1 day to a week is my go to for most every hotel I’ve booked in Japan. The stay 10 nights and your next one is free really makes booking at worthwhile. Their rewards system is nice and no hassle cancellations have saved me more than once. This should be your first click.

tips with this site: Always search via train station you’d prefer to be at, select by distance and click on the map.



rakuten travel

I’ve used them twice and one of the things I like about rakuten travel is they will often list different properties than Also all the totals are done in yen so no worries about a hotel booking company faking the yen to USD/Pound/CAD rate to their liking. You earn rakuten points when you book travel they are transferrable to all rakuten things like liz lisa’s rakuten site or dreamv’s rakuten place. The payback isn’t as good as but still, rewards!



A japanese-only website. This is my desperation website for hotels. If I can’t find anything the times I’m looking for I’ve found places on here.

note: All Japanese hotel sites (rakuten, ikyu) list prices of total booking price not per individual night.


other places to look:

All the silly named travel websites (travelocity, booking, expedia etc…). I didn’t list them because I feel their rewards programs– if any– isn’t as good as or rakuten.

Your preferred airline carrier. Sometimes there are good deals to be had or you can earn more flight miles if you book through them.


Shorter Mid range stays 1 week to a month | airbnb | roomarama

All of these are apartments rented out by users to stay in. Many of the properties listed are people renting out places just for this, so these are not people’s homes often. These come with portable wifi often. Saving you on the $100-$300 price of rental depending on your stay. Also a laundry machine which is always handy.

Tips with these sites:

:hearts3: If you’re staying 2-3 weeks still check full month rental prices. Often it’s cheaper to rent for the month rather than 3 weeks. Madness I know but it happens.

:hearts3: Type in the train stations you’d like to stay at rather than the cities. So instead of Tokyo type in Ikebukuro. You’ll find much better listings if you do this.

:hearts3: All of these have tougher cancellation policies than hotels. Usually it’s 7 days in advance to get a full refund, so be wary of that.

:hearts3: Hosts will often list their apartments on several of these sites. The way each site charges guests is different so maybe you’ll find one site cheaper even if its the same host providing the same apartment. has a good breakdown of these short-stay sites.



Mid-range stays 1 month to 3 months. Tokyo centric.


A typical short-term furnished apartment


sakura house
One of the only places offering full furnished apartments (along with guesthouses) for as short as a month’s stay. You can reserve on-line and pay in advance. Their prices tend to be cheaper than airbnb’s properties for a month in a similar area, but minimum is a month’s stay.


Offering guesthouse stay for 1 day to 3 months. Fontana is minimum of 3 months stay to rent an apartment. I’ve used them in the past. Their prices aren’t as good as Japanese rental companies, but they do not require a year’s lease. From 3 months to 6 months I’d recommend them.


Ichii Corporation
Minimum one month’s stay. It’s a bit harder to find open properties from them as they don’t keep their website updated. However, I’ve used them before and I feel their apartments are a bit nicer than Fontana’s. Although their prices may show that.


Tokyo Monthly

The one of the list I haven’t used. They’re a pricier option but if you like what you see maybe you should try them?


Hotels I’ve stayed at that I really liked for their price and service


APA Hotel Ikebukuro-Eki-Kitaguchi – Very new hotel and extremely close to the station although in the red light area of Ikebukuro. It’s about 5 minutes easy walk to the station. Prices can be as low as $55 a night. My favorite hotel to stay at for distance/price/location. I do like APA hotels the best for business hotel class. Chisun and Toyoko are serviceable and I don’t really have a complaint.


Hotel MyStays Highashi-Ikebukuro – A bit out of the way from the station but the hotel is quite cheap (as low as $42 a night) and has a tiny stove and extra sink in it. Rooms are okay sized and it’s meant for longer term stays. You can refill toiletries downstairs by yourself. They generously let us store our luggage for a small fee for 4 days while we were in Osaka. MyStays is a chain and also located in Osaka and other big cities.


Hotel Kyoto Okura – I don’t know how they had such a crazy deal but I was able to book this place for $70 a night. It’s absolutely wonderful, the rooms are huge, several weddings took place while I was there. If you can find it for cheap or want to splurge, do it. Lovely place with beautiful interior.


Hotel Monterey Sendai – Or other Hotel Monterey. If you’d like to spend a little over business hotels the Hotel Monterey group is quite lovely. I’ve stayed at their Sendai, Fukuoka and Osaka Namba hotels. They always seem to have a little style to them and all are well located towards central train stations


Chisun Inn Honmachi Osaka – I’ve stayed here multiple times. It always seems to be the cheapest and most available hotel near Shinsaibashi in Osaka. Prices are usually $50-70 a night depending on season.



New design

As you may have noticed if you’re not browsing on bloglovin I’m working on the Doll’s redesign. I’m experimenting with the layout and I’ll be tinkering around with it in the next day before I leave for Japan for a month.  Since the Doll is a lot of text I’m working on how to make it the most readable.


I’ll be working on a few more Japanese travel posts when I’m in Japan. The next coming up I think is how to eat cheap in Japan. I’ll also be working on a traveling fashionable post.


Previous good travel posts: Mistakes people make when traveling to Japan or how to smart pack for Japan | How to find any food in Japan to eat | Tips for eating healthy in Japan


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Packing for Japan or anywhere really. Four international trips last year, three the year before and before that. I’ve gotten really used to big packing. So let me share some tips and learn from my mistakes. Hopefully I stick to these rules well since I’m leaving for a month in Japan in a few weeks!

This is a guideline for most airlines which means you can have two checked bags and two carry-ons. If you have different requirements always check and tailor to those.

Not theme packing or considering each piece

A lot of times people say to make a capsule collection of clothing when packing. Based on some theme or something. I like the idea, I do. If anything polyvore and pinterest are great at compiling them. But it doesn’t seem to work for me in real life and it’s mostly geared towards normcore or minimalist. Two things I have realized I am not. And even if I try to do with with my own closet, I do not feel like that capsule person 24/7.

So instead I stick with a few rules.

BIG RULE! Can everything you pack be worn with two other things or more you pack. Is that printed skirt good with more than one top? And as you do this you may find yourself relying on one item more and more. So just play around with it and see.

I’m a big fan of drawing out all the items I plan to pack and doing this check. See my silly drawings of this in the Getting back to Gal post.

Other rule: Bring one coat/sweater cardigan/trench during Spring/Summer/Fall make it go with everything else. Wear it/carry it on the plane. Coats are big suitcase killers. They’re both heavy AND take up space. If you need to bring 1 coat and 1 jacket. But really they’re chunky.

Other rule: Sometimes its better to bring separates than dresses because it’s easier to wear a separate two days in a row. Or just multiple times that week.

Other rule: Consider shoes. Shoes are heavy. Shoes need to be walked in miles everyday. Pick three including the ones you’re wearing to travel. If it’s only a week you get two. (more on this below)

Bringing too much clothing

Too much clothing? You regularly hear people complain they didn’t pack warmly or cooly enough (solve that at uniqlo or GU for cheap), but too much clothing? 

You’ve packed your coordinates and then immediately throw out most of the ideas when you arrive to Japan. You’ve bought new clothes and you probably want to wear them immediately. All your packed clothes seem dull when you see the new releases at stores. Or a good vintage find. You’ll despise most of what you’ve packed. I do this every damn trip.

I swear I’m packing the chicest looks every time. I feel top-level stylish. I arrive. Buy things. Ignore what I packed in my suitcase.

If you’re planning on clothes buying pack much less than you need!

I’m really trying to break my habit of this. And its important. You’ve got to stay a few pounds under your suitcase weight limit so you can bring all the cute stuff you’re buying back.

This is a trick I like to do. I get on the scale and weigh myself, and then weigh myself holding my (fully packed) suitcase. Subtract and you’ll get a better and more accurate weight number than just putting a suitcase on a scale. 7 lbs under is smart, 10 lbs under is genius.

Not considering the trip home

This brings me to sub mistake:  Pack less. You’ll have so much less to worry about on your way home. Packing to head home can be the most stressful part of your whole trip. 

Shoes are a big offender. Wear your heaviest pair of shoes to travel and pack only 3 or less. 

Bring an expandable bag. An eco bag or zip tote you can flatten. If it’s an eco-bag most long-haul flights accept that people coming home are bringing presents. If it looks shopping-like it’s most allowed WITH your carry-on and purse. Or you can shove your purse into the eco bag.


My recommendation is an adjustable shoulder strap duffle bag. Especially a collapse-able one like this with soft sides and light-weight nylon (so it wont take up weight in your luggage). You can find them for $15 or so on eBay or amazon.

If you’ve got a little extra even after that bring it along in a shopping bag. Yes you’re fudging airplane rules, but I’ve never been told no. Especially since a lot of people are carrying these because of duty-free shopping. You’d be amazed how much you can fit into a shopping bag.


Shopping bags are a great way to skirt weight rules.

Carry a large carry-on. Put your purse in it. It can work as a second luggage. You can fill it up at the end of the trip with excess items.

If you have preferred status on airlines usually you can get on first and secure your storage. Most long haul flights have ample storage so it’s not such a pickle.

I usually end up on the flight home with my large carryon and my duffle bag and a shopping bag. Never been told no.

Worrying too much about cute and not enough about comfortable

Long-haul flights cause your belly to store bad bacteria and lack of sleep can cause water retention.  New food to your system and you can have some digestive issues. All of these can lead to a lot of bloating. Also studies have shown the sleep deprivation can help you pack on the pounds even without the water issue.

Or you want to go to the all-you-can-eat Sweets Paradise or indulge at q-pot.  Or you had a really good time last night and drank too much at nomihodai.

While you’ve feeling like it’s time to put your body into the sea and let it be with the rest of the whales, wear something comfy and cute. 

A little bit uncomfortable is okay, but have some back-ups.

Also fitted clothes can be an opposite problem. Sometimes the extra walking and busyness can lead to lots of weight loss and you’re in baggy items. So let elastic be your friend.

Suggestions: A lower heel or platforms or sneakers, an elastic skirt, forgiving jeans. Babydoll and a-line dresses are making a comeback this season. Or just a big cosy sweater dress or sweater + skirt to hide in.


Low heel options are available for every style

Allergy & Stomach medicine

Allergy medicine is my big recommendation. The pollen, mold and other allergens are different in Japan. You may just find out you’re allergic to ginkgo pollen. Zrytec and Claritin and such are prescribed medicines in Japan or at much lower doses if over-the-counter. The flu-like symptoms of allergies can knock you out for days if you don’t prepare beforehand.

I shared earlier why your belly may be upset. And when you’re stomach is bad you don’t need to go hunting to a drug store, you need relief now. I usually pack pepto and a digestive tea. 

Not researching adapters

Universal adapters are cheap. But unnecessary and heavy if your MacBook or laptop or hairdryer is only two prongs US-style. Most of the time you can leave them at home if you’re US or Canada, but have to bring them maybe if you’re from certain European countries. Here’s a quick on travel adapters in Japan

Not packing food

Pack food in your carryon. Pack snacks: nuts etc… This goes in my eating healthy post I’m going to make, but maybe the first night you arrive in Japan you’ll wake up at 2:00am wanting to eat. You can easily snatch it out of your carryon. Your belly will thank me when it has something from home to eat. Again your belly may get messed up, best to have something from home to ease it into foreign food. If you buy bulk snacks from home and put them in snack bags you’re also saving money.

Make everything travel sized and don’t buy travel size

I just buy hairspray in Japan because it saves me from buying a travel one in the US. But switch to solid soap and just pack that. Get cheap travel bottles, don’t buy travel sized items. Travel sized items are usually more expensive and you can make your own of your favorite products instead of having to settle for what’s drugstore travel-size brand.

A while ago I invested in the “GoToob” brand and I really like them. They’re silicone, haven’t leaked for me, and are dishwasher safe. I usually bring 3-4 of them: shampoo, conditioner, lotion and face mask (for the plane). You can find cheaper options on eBay just search “silicone bottle”.


Bring plastic grocery bags or gallon sized bags

Plastic bags can help you store liquids in travel. You can also use plastic bags to store shoes in your luggage. Shoe soles get dirty and you don’t want that dirt on your clean clothes or just floating off in your luggage. I usually bring shoe dust bags but really plastic bags work just fine. They weigh nothing, take up very little space and can really help you manage the mix of your luggage. If you’re in a bind, hotel shower caps work great for covering shoe soles.


These sure-zip ones are perfect for packing lots of liquids.

I hope you’ve learned from my mistakes and have now become a smarter packer!  :wink:

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