Travelling to Japan - things you need to prepare

It's more been >2 years since I've cancelled our trip to Japan because of the disastrous earthquake happened on 11 March 2011. I finally made it to Japan with my wife on Oct-2013, yay!

I'm trying to list down what I've prepared (right and wrong) before the actual trip so hopefully could help those interested in travelling there with a tips or two.

Money
Of course you need to have enough savings in your account before you could travel to your destination.

Air Ticket
Please monitor your preferred airline for any promotion. You might need to plan ahead to save some money. I got mine with AirAsia X about 1 year in advance.

  • Kuala Lumpur LCCT airport(2:45PM) to Haneda Airport(11:00PM) for RM373(15kg luggage, insurance, seat selection and 1 meal)
  • Osaka Kansai aiport(11:00AM) to Kuala Lumpur airport(5:00PM) for RM579.245(25kg luggage, seat selection and 1 meal)

This is first mistake I made with AirAsia X. I should land in Osaka(reach at morning) and fly back home(reach at night) from Tokyo to maximize the travel opportunity in Japan. Moreover, reaching Tokyo at 11pm would get you into a risk of no more public transport such as train to reach your Hotel. Train service stop at around 12am and resume after 5am.

Weather
For a 4 seasons country, travelers need to make sure they travel in the right time to meet their expectation.
Here is the second mistake I made. I chosen to travel on mid of October till end of October which is too early to see the leaves to change color in the autumn season. Therefore, make sure you check the weather besides your own work schedules as well as Japan's travelling peak seasons.

Passport & Visa
Malaysian(myself) nationals who holds a new passport with an embedded microchip no longer require to apply Japan Visa prior travelling to Japan starting from 1-July-2013. However myself still holding the old version of the passport, hence Visa application still required but it's much easier now. I was not required to submit any documents like before and just a form will do. >6 months passport validity applied for a Malaysian travelling to Japan.

Stays
After purchase your air ticket, you might need to reserve and book your hotel/hostel in Japan. Good hotel and hostel running out fast. Survey for hotel reviews from good websites and make sure the hotel location is good for you to reach train station (remember your heavy luggage). Some train station in Tokyo is not having escalator nor elevators. So beware!

Travel Itinerary 
To fully make use of every minute you have during your travel efficiently, you need to spend a lot of time preparing a realistic itinerary (which is the hardest part for the preparation). You will find yourself reading a lot of attraction reviews and forums. Ok, my third mistake. A too detail planning on the itinerary would possibly reduce the level of surprises because you will start to have some high expectation from your travel.
Try to not view too much pictures or read too much reviews of the attraction of your interest. Just focus more on the transport matter i.e how you get there from there.

I would post my itinerary soon, so you could use it as a sample/reference for your preparation.

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