I recommend staying in the neighborhood where your research suggests those places of main interest to you are. The hotel will be helpful with any information you might need. Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Ritz Carlton all have fancy properties but are very expensive. Fine Japanese inns are available — especially in Kyoto — as are private accommodations. It all depends on your budget, habits and preferences.
“Takyubin” is the magic word which took me way too long to learn. This is Japanese UPS. They will transport your luggage from one city to another, from your hotel to the airport, from your point of purchase to your shipper, etc. The price is very low and the convenience is unmatched. You will notice that only tourists are dealing with luggage.
What to Eat
Japanese food! Although there are other fine options. There are lots of restaurant guides. Sushi is expensive, but have some. Sashimi is even better. Also tonkatsu, tofu, croissants, fruit smoothies, Japanese crackers, coffee, tea, mochi, rice, sake and beer, seasonal vegetables and fish, eggplant and more.
For a real food treat visit the food basement of any department store.
In Tokyo:Honmura-an, Ikina Sushidokoro Abe, Kagura are only a sampling of 3 places.
In Kyoto: Omen at Ginkakuji, Katsukura in the middle of the Sanjo mall, Bosom (sic) for Italian, Le Bouchon is a cosy French restaurant.
Shinkansen, Bullet Train
I never make a reservation, but prefer to just go to the station and buy a ticket for the next train. They run so frequently — at least between Tokyo and Kyoto — that i save myself the stress of having to meet a specific schedule.
Reserved seat, no smoking and on the Mt.Fuji side please. You can tell when you are near Fuji by using your phone’s location service. It is not visible frequently, but when it is you will want to see it.
My Verizon account lets me use my i-phone in Japan as if I were home for $10 a day.
There are no more travelers’ checks. So I take American cash. You can change at the airport at the same rate as in a bank. Some hotels will also change money as will major department stores. In Kyoto there are 2 money-changing places on opposite corners of Sanjo-Kawaramachi streets with excellent rates and very fast. You will need a passport with you. You will also need a passport if you want to get a tax refund for purchases in department stores or other “tax-refund” shops.
Shoes that are easy to take off and put on and will be comfortable for all day walking are imperative. Two pair for two weeks is plenty. You will need socks not only for comfort, but also because you cannot walk on tatami in bare feet and you will need to take off your shoes at temples, private homes and even in the dressing room when trying on clothes.
Of course your wardrobe should consist of nothing but Asiatica clothes. Check our website before you go.