A guide to things to do on the magical Miyajima island, Japan

Things to do in Miyajima island, Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s some of the best things to do on Miyajima island, Japan. Miyajima is one of the most popular places for first-time Japan visitors to head to. The island looks like a floating mountain range and has drawn in travellers with its unusual beauty and serenity for centuries. It’s famous for its picturesque orange shrine gate (Great Torii), which is out in the sea and 100% one of the most Instagrammable spots in Japan! The island is also well loved for its cutest residents: the tame Miyajima deer.

Visiting Miyajima is like arriving in another dimension, where time has slowed down. There are no cities, only small towns with simple houses and rows of tiny shops set against the backdrop of mountains. What’s brilliant about it is that you get the features of rural Japan in a 12-square-mile microcosm: shrines, deer, food, scenery and traditions. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, it’s likely Miyajima is already on your list as a day trip from Hiroshima. You could also treat yourself to staying overnight. But either way, you don’t need masses of time on the island to enjoy it. It’s just important to make the most of a short time there and get the most out of it. As a self-confessed Japan geek, I want you to fall in love with it too.

I hope this list of my personal recommendations of the best things to do on Miyajima will help you plan your time…

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A guide to Kōchi, Japan: things to do, see and eat

Things to do in Kochi, Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

Before I get stuck into this blog post, I should point out that this is a guide to things to do in Kochi, Japan, and not the other place called Kochi that isn’t in Japan at all but in India. When I was researching Kochi before visiting it, I kept landing on pages not even about the right country, so I thought I’d better get that cleared up first off.

ANYWAY, as a total Japan addict who has been lots of times and visited lots of cities, I definitely recommend Kochi as a more off-the-beaten path city in Japan, maybe for a second or third trip. You don’t normally think of palm trees, laid-back attitudes and citrus fruits when you think of Japanese cities, but Kochi is here to turn that on its head.

Kochi (or Kōchi to be 100% correct, but there’s no way I’m copy-and-pasting that all the way through) is the capital of Kochi Prefecture on the southern coast of Shikoku. The city is relatively small by Japan’s usual standards. And it’s incredibly friendly, with a distinct lack of the normal Japanese reservedness (this may be down to Kochi’s love of drinking…). More on that later though.

I spent a few days exploring Kochi, so I feel I can give some decent tips on how best to spend your time there. Here’s my guide to the city, featuring some of the best things to do in Kochi, Japan. Yes, definitely Japan. Move along if we’re in the wrong country…

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10 things to do in Okayama city, Japan

I wanted to put together this list of things to do in Okayama city, Japan, because there’s very little out there about it. When researching the city for my own visit recently, I managed to find loads about Okayama the prefecture, but hardly anything about where to eat, what to see or things to do in Okayama city itself. So here I am, filling a wee gap in the market.

Okayama is a quiet and small city compared with others across Japan, so it’s probably not that surprising I couldn’t find much on it. It’s not very well known and people visiting the general area tend to go straight to Hiroshima, Takamatsu or the incredible art island, Naoshima. But Okayama actually makes a good base for visiting these places and is a nice little city, worth spending a day in in itself. I wouldn’t go mad and say you must visit Okayama like your life depends on it, but there’s plenty to get up to in one or even two days there.

Anyway, here are some of the things to do in Okayama that I enjoyed and a few places to eat as well (because when is food not the priority in Japan?!). Pour yourself a glass of sake and have a read…

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Tokyo itinerary: 3 days in Japan’s capital

Tokyo itinerary 3 days - Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here’s a quick Tokyo itinerary for 3 days. To be honest, I’d recommend more than 3 days in Tokyo if you really want to explore Japan’s buzzing, bustling capital. But if you’re on a time limit, there’s plenty you can cram in. I’ve been visiting friends in Tokyo for several years now and feel like I know the city quite well – until I go back the next time and Tokyo’s madness takes over. Every time, I find more new things going on that I’d never discovered before.

I’ve discovered that you can’t ever get to grips with Tokyo and won’t scratch the surface in 3 days, 5 days or even 2 weeks. It’s a city to be loved but never fully understood and I’m fine with that. So I’ve written this 3-day itinerary, which doesn’t cover even a fraction of what there is to do but has a decent balance of exploring, culture, fun and food. It goes off the beaten track a bit but still includes plenty of the big hits. 

So settle down with a glass of sake and get planning your 3-day Tokyo itinerary…

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Japan 2 week itinerary options: for first-time visitors

2 weeks in Japan itinerary options | PACK THE SUITCASES

Here are some potential itineraries for 2 weeks in Japan. After a few trips there, I’ve become a self-confessed Japan geek and so now I’m always answering questions for friends planning their own Japan trips. So I thought it was about time I wrote something like this.

Your plans will of course depend on which airport you fly into: one of the Tokyo ones or Kansai (in Osaka Bay) or another. But these itineraries might be a starting point for you. They’ll give you a rough idea of where to start and how long you’ll want to spend in each place. Hint: there are very few places in Japan you won’t want to spend weeks in.

Anyway, onto the Japan itinerary options…

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How to plan a trip to Japan: everything you need to know for your first visit

One day in Kobe, Japan | PACK THE SUITCASES

Planning your first trip to Japan involves lots of practical things like booking accommodation, sorting an itinerary and organising transport. But there are also lots of useful things about stuff like toilets, nudity and hairdryers that you need to know before you go too.

Just being in Japan is so, so different to anywhere else so it’s worth putting the time in with your planning to get the most of of your trip. Japan is a brilliant country that’s hard to do justice to. Bonkers, but brilliant. I’m willing to bore people with how much I love Japan at any opportunity (soz about that).

So here’s a huge brain dump of everything we tell people when they ask us about planning their first trip to Japan…

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