I always took pride in being able to travel by myself. Go backpacking even. This trip wasn’t one of them. For one, I couldn’t fit 11 days worth of warm clothes in my pink North Face backpack so I was stuck with this huge pink luggage, which I dragged across 6 cities in Japan:
which you’ll see more of it later.
Second, I wasn’t exactly “solo” traveling. I met friends and family along the way too.
So, here’s how my 10-day Japan trip during the cherry blossom season of 2018.
FIRST STOP: TOKYO (1 NIGHT)
This leg of the trip was meant to reunite with an old friend I met in Singapore, who I met through another friend who I met when I was backpacking in Hong Kong. Haha, yup. One of the best things about solo traveling is meeting people.
And through this friend, Anna, I met more!
It was already past midnight and I was exhausted from a flight from Singapore, but what the heck. Might as well.
Turned out to be fun. We ended up going home around 6am after eating ramen. (Photos not here because we were all so blah by then, one was even sleeping at the restaurant. Signs of a fun-filled night indeed.)
I was knocked pretty much the whole day after that and was only able to go out at night.
Didn’t do much either except for taking #mandatorytouristphotos.
OFF TO: KAWAGUCHIKO (1 NIGHT)
And the dragging of the huge pink luggage begins.
Anna, Laila, and I hopped on the train to Lake Kawaguchiko. We chose this as one of our stops to see Mt. Fuji.
They say it’s not a guarantee that you’ll get to see it, so we consider ourselves blessed because look:
We got a pretty good view even before we got off!
We got off the train and made our way to our hotel.
Yup, with my huge pink luggage.
Kawaguchiko is so different from Tokyo. Here, it’s quiet. You can peacefully walk along the streets undisturbed. Personally, I prefer this side of Japan. It’s like a small town from the 90s. People here live a simple and basic life.
Sometimes I ask myself how I ended up in Singapore. Hahaha.
It was my first time to stay at a traditional Japanese hotel. It took me a while to get used to the bed on the floor and the pillow that was filled with beads. Not exactly the most comfortable but for the experience, why not?
After unloading our stuff, we rented bikes and made our way to have our first meal since we left Tokyo.
And had a little sightseeing along the way.
Finally, authentic Japanese food!
We only had one night in Kawaguchiko. We made sure we’ll make the most out of the scenic view.
And the reason we went to Japan during this time: cherry blossoms!
GOING SOLO TO: HAKONE (1 NIGHT)
The next morning, I left on my own to head 74.5km southeast of Kawaguchiko to go to Hakone.
Having to take two train rides across cities and one bus ride up the mountain to get there wasn’t exactly the most convenient but it was worth it to see The Little Prince Museum.
I can’t begin to express how excited I was when I got there!
No shame, I shoved my ginormous luggage to the side and begged strangers to take as many photos of me. HAHA.
I couldn’t read and understand a thing, but it didn’t matter. I knew the story and its history by heart.
It didn’t seem like it, but I was extremely exhausted at this point.
#happykidmoment, I tell yah.
I couldn’t leave the museum without eating at the restaurant.
It wasn’t cheap, but I didn’t care.
I just had to get that boa constrictor pasta!
Last agenda for the museum was the gift shop. And I went craaaaaazy! This was the only photo I had ’cause I was too engrossed with shopping.
After getting the stuff I needed (well, mostly wanted HAHA), I dragged my luggage again and found my way to the hotel.
By this time, it was already around 6pm. I was too tired to do anything else. And besides, nothing was open at that time except for the small restaurant near my hotel.
Grabbed a bite and slept through the night.
’cause the next day, I got on the train again.
NEXT UP: HIROSHIMA (1 NIGHT)
I had no idea how long the journey was until 4 hours after and I was about to get on the 3rd train ride for the trip.
10 hours and 729.3km later, I finally got to Hiroshima.
The journey didn’t end there.
After dropping off my luggage at the hostel, I got on the train again to get to the port.
Road the boat to Miyajima to meet up with Anna and Laila.
Miyajima is a small island in Hiroshima.
The place with deers roaming around.
Cute and friendly deers!
It was nearly sunset when I got there.
The tide was already low, but I just had to have my mandatory tourist shot at the Itsukushima Shrine.
It was again a small, quiet town which felt quite homey.
There weren’t any malls or establishments, except for the small village stores and eateries.
After a long walk, we got to a place that serves Hiroshima’s specialty: okonomiyaki.
It was a long day for the three of us. Especially for me. Hahaha.
The next day, we left the hostel early to make the most out of the morning before leaving for another city.
We got on our bikes and explored Hiroshima.
We went to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial
and saw what was left of the Genbaku Dome after the first atomic bomb in 1945.
We didn’t have much time left before we had to get on the train again. So what to do?
Have another okonomiyaki! Haha.
Definitely the best way to end this leg of the trip.
OFF TO: OSAKA
(PART 1: 1 NIGHT)
It was the last night I had with Anna and Laila before I meet my family.
What to do with the last few hours we have left together?
And just have fun.
(PART 2: 3 NIGHTS)
The last part of my trip was with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law who flew in from Manila.
Finally, I get to stay put and not go to a different city early morning the next day.
But we did go to different cities.
NEXT ON THE LIST: KYOTO AND NARA
We booked a tour to conveniently go to the must-go-to places
And of course, Universal Studios Japan.
It rained pretty much the whole afternoon, but we still got to visit the must-see attractions.
And I got to let the kid in me have fun.
The rest of the trip was spent exploring the bright and lively sights of Osaka
and of course eating. You can never have enough Japanese food.
It was a quite an experience, Japan! It was worth seeing my savings slowly get depleted because of this trip.
And with that…
© SAMANTHA ARELLANO
Please ask permission if you wish to copy / save the photos and use for personal use.
All the photos are taken by me and for those with me in it, I’ve asked locals or fellow tourists.
Cameras used: Samsung Galaxy Note 8, GoPro Hero5
Writer | Solo Traveler