In 11 days, I’ll be hopping on the first of our flights to get us to Japan (with a lovely little stopover in Seoul on the way!). Yesterday, we got one step slower when we picked up our JR Rail Passes here in London.
These passes are fantastic – we’ve used them before and can thoroughly recommend them to anyone considering doing a bit of travel in Japan. We can basically go anywhere in the country by rail – even using Shinkansen – with makes for lots of day trips out of Tokyo, as well as covering our journey from Osaka to Tokyo.
The pass also includes use of railways within Tokyo (as opposed to metros), including the extremely handy Yamanote line. It’s a massive circular railway line that takes in several of Tokyo’s most interesting neighbourhoods.
We found it incredibly useful on the last visit, as our hotel was located really close to one of the stations (Meguro) and it made it very easy to get to Shibuya, Harajujku and Akihabara – to name just a few places we visited.
We still need to pick up the actual passes once we get to Japan. You have to buy them before you arrive, while proving that you’re not Japanese or a resident in Japan, and then exchange a token for the real pass once you get there, in one of the main stations.
I still have my last one, pasted into a page of my Midori Traveler’s Notebook from last year. That and a bunch of ink stamps from some of the stations on the Yamanote line.
There’s still a lot to be done before I’m definitely ready to leave, including making a packing list, a shopping list (duh…), a plan for Seoul (the last-minute decision to fly there still makes me smile) and actually pack some bags. But Japan is once again within sight and I’m getting really excited at the prospect.