Japan Travel Tips

JR Pass 
I bought a 7 day JR Pass for ~33K Yen in September 2023 and apparently, it will go up in October (got lucky there). Instead of going thru agent, I just directly bought it at  https://www.japanrailpass-reservation.net/, I think it's slightly more expensive but just a few hundreds yen (really not much) but you can easily refund and you can already use the same site to book for a trip as long as it's within one month of the scheduled date.

Here are some tips when booking
  • It's pretty easy to get seat reservation, do book early, I tried booking on the day itself and couldn't get reserved tickets. I have to either gamble to try Nonreserved seats or find a later train.  It's a bit weird though it was fully book, seems like people don't really use the reservation.
  • When you book, you may not want to issue it till you know you are going to use that train, otherwise, you can't cancel or easily rebook it. 
    • Once it is issued, you have to go to the JR center and have it changed and updated there
    • You can't book two reservations that have overlapping time, that is the only constraint. You can book weird trips as long as they don't overlap in time. e.g. 2-3 pm Hiroshima to Osaka and then 4-5 pm hakata to hiroshima ( so you better check your ticket and destinations)

Where to buy souvenirs and things?
  • Don Quijote (it's in every other location) is definitely the must-place to go but note that it gets very crowded and the line for tax-free counter can be very long. Took me an hour to line up Saturday 10.30 PM at Ginza but there was not much line the next day in Akihabara at around 2 PM. 
    • Shibuya outlet is definitely huge and has like 7F, it's called Mega Don Quijote for a reason
    • Ginza was just 2 floors but "really long floors"
    • Akihabara was like 4 floors (2-5) and felt smaller, it also felt like they had less for the stuff that I was looking
    • As for what to buy
      • Kitkats! They have all different flavors
      • Beauty products - they are much cheaper here. SK2, Hada Labo, Shisheido
      • Ichiran, Ippudo, Mensho Ramen
      • More snacks

Hello Kitty Train
  • Booking the Hello Kitty Train was really really really confusing
    • The English site mentions Hakata to Shin-Osaka direction for both Kodama 838 and 842 (one was mentioned and the other was the timetable, really confusing, but fortunately, we went to the JR center and asked the service personnel to book one for us and she checked the Japanese site/timetable and ended up it was Kodama 840! Grrrrr! Maybe check the day before if it's the right one :)
      • FYI, Car 2 which is the KAWAII room is NON-reserved so go early and line up. If you are in Hakata and taking the 7.04 AM - there's really not much of a line and car 2 was almost empty when we went in.


There is a tour bus (Lemon, Purple, etc route) that is actually part of JR company and thus, you can use the JR rail pass for this. It goes to important stops and it's actually like a hop-on-hop-off bus that actually tells you something for every stop you go to.


People were talking about Steakland, we went for the Lunch set and tried the kobe beef set and the kobe tender beef set. Not much difference, I guess the other one was more tender but it was OK. I guess. I s hould have gone for the more expensive grade?

Otherwise, I saw a lunch for 21K Yen (~140 USD) at Misono which is the first Teppanyaki place in Japan. Maybe it's worth going and spending there to really try a good grade of kobe beef?


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