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Japanese Journey: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hakone

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With a Japan Rail Pass in hand, take a trip through three of Japan's most celebrated cities in no time. These are highlights from a 10-day stay in the country, including hostels, memorable meals, and experiences to take advantage of while exploring in the springtime.
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Japan, 〒150-0001 Tōkyō-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingūmae, 5 Chome−53−70
When in Tokyo on a Sunday, head to the weekly farmers market in Shibuya. Visiting markets is one of my favorite ways to learn about a new culture--seeing the different kinds of fruits, vegetables, plants, pickles, spices and more that are a part...
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Tokyo, Japan
Tonkatsu is a must-try meat dish when in Japan. Maisen Katsu does it very well, and there are several outposts across Tokyo. The dish consists of panko-breaded and fried pork cutlets, served over a bed of cabbage and with a sticky-sweet brown...
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2 Chome-11 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku, Tokyo 160-0023, Japan
From Shinjuku’s bar scene to Roppongi’s polished cigar bars and Shibuya’s all night karaoke, Tokyo nightlife offers something for everyone. Dogenzaka’s Love Hotel Hill is sprinkled with small Love Hotels, Japan’s kitschy themed rent by the hour...
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1 Chome-6-19 Higashishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 542-0083, Japan
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Splurging for an eight-course omakase, or chef's tasting menu, at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Osaka was entirely worth it. The array of dishes made the whole meal thrilling, and the presentation made it all the more memorable. We ate...
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Arashiyama Genrokuzancho, Ukyō-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 616-0007, Japan
In western Kyoto, there is a very large forest of bamboo. As you can see in the photo, the shoots grow very tall, making those who stroll by look quite small. I'm sure there are times when this road is crowded, but when we were there, people were...
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Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
A ryokan-turned-hostel, Piece Hostel Sanjo is one of the coolest hostels I've ever stayed at. The design is fresh and minimalistic, and it's a fairly new property, so it's very clean and well-run. There's a bustling kitchen and communal space on...
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Tokyo, Japan
I've done my fair share of the hostel circuit by now, in Europe, Scandinavia, South America, and now Asia. And I can safely say that Kaisu is my favorite. The name in Japanese is a play on the word "ocean," so the main space has this laid-back,...
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Lake Ashi, Motohakone, Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture 250-0522, Japan
In a country filled with shrines, I'll admit I got a little jaded by them towards the end of my trip in Japan. However, I was surprised by the Buddhist shrine opposite the Hakone tori gate on Lake Ashi. This one, set inside the lakeside forest and...
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Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Ark Hostel is conveniently located in downtown Osaka, near the canal. Go for a run along the water to start your day - you'll need it before all the eating you'll do in Japan's culinary capital. Ark has a campy vibe, with wood bunk beds and...
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Hakone, Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
Aura Tachibana is in Hakone, the hot springs resort only 36 minutes away from Tokyo on the shinkansen (high-speed train). The staff are so overly friendly in a great way; they greet you green tea and hot towels, and help you book any soak in a hot...