japan notes

i've realized this is a great landing page for all of my trip itineraries - and it will be the first time I've probably saved my notes :) Our trip to Japan and the Philippines was short, silly, (not-so) sexy, and quite sweet. i seem to enjoy packing everything in short stints - it keeps things interesting and you get to explore plenty of places without the mere thought of getting bored. 

Below you can find my list of things I wanted to do, what was actually checked off the list (+ notes) and what I'd recommend moving forward.

this was one of my favorite trips - not because I thought Japan was the bee's knees like everyone else seems to believe (it really wasn't my favorite), but because I was able to explore with my partner and learn to roll with the punches when things were out of our control. Some days were definitely better than others, but all of them were memorable 🙈


my Do's + Dont's


Don't plan a trip that requires hot and cold weather clothes.

Do pack a good weather jacket no matter what. 

Don't expect to jive with the culture if your'e not used to it.

Do try and embrace the culture for what it is.

Don't pack your day with things that you're supposed to do.

Do plan activities that excite you. 

Don't eat everything. 

Do eat often. 

Don't expect anyone to say no, but rather "it's very difficult".

Do push for a more direct response, but be polite!

Don't expect to always plan well. 

Do plan to be flexible. 

Don't get on social media the entire trip showing off to yo friends.

Do take photos to remember the blissful moments. 


where: 4 days in Japan + 4 days in Philippines

when: Dec 2017 / January 2018

who: L + N

why: found a cheap direct flight + heard amazing things about Japan + L wanted beach time and I wanted anything that felt like winter in winter

Japan in 4 days

my summary:  i would recommend going a little later in the year. It was too cold for us, or just pack better thehn we did. However new years was beautiful. It is considered the largest holiday in japan and focused more on family + reflection than partying. Nice change of pace.

Read # 1

Read # 2 

Read # 3

3 days in Tokyo



✓ Prince Gallery Hotel: $$$

high tech room with great views, however in quiet part of town, perhaps finance district, so it did not feel lively at night. Concierge was also lackluster. 

- Park Hyatt: $$$$

- Capsule Hotel: $ I wanted to stay at a capsule hotel so bad, but since we'd be separated by gender we decided to skip. 9Hours looks great - clean, cheap and they have a location at the airport for ease of travel. 


Museums + Art + Activities

✓  Fish market: it was an amazing experience and recommend getting there early to see the set-up. Went the last weekend it was opening before moving.

✓ Ginza shopping: fancy fun. Didn't spend enough time here. 

✓ Shibuya Crossing (famous walking district); underwhelming, but still fun to walk. 

✓ Harojuku area: overwhelming in a great way. dessert vendors every 15m. ladies everywhere. general happiness from everyone. Get a Pablo tart or a happy pancake. highly recommended. Expect to wait in lines everywhere. 

- Mori Art Museum

- Ramen museum

✓ Meji Jingu Temple: extremely crowded, but beautiful. Close to harojuku district so you get too very different vibes. 

✓ Mikimoto pearls in Ginza: can easily get at airport (which we ended up doing), so no need to go to store. 


Food + drink

- coffee + matcha: not sure how I didn't accomplish this yet.

- new york bar @ Park Hyatt: heard great thing about this bar, but it didn't seem that exciting to me via photos. 

Bar Tramfelt like SF, so good but nothing special. pretty sure everyone in SF googled where to go and followed the NYT list. 

- Sushi Ko Sushi

- Fu Unji Ramen (get there at 5p)

- Sushi Bar Yasuda - send request 

✓ Robot Cafe: too touristy for me

✓Golden Gai (Albatross if you're lucky): a must, although it felt americanized. the streets were littered with people and the sweetest small bars. Hard to choose just one. 

✓vending machines: LOVED. had hot coffee options at every single one, and they were tasty. And they were in very obscure locations. Do these things make money?!

1 day in Kyoto 



- Solaria Nishitetsu 

Ryotei Ryokon: i don't know if i would stay here again. it wasn't clear that you had to reserve a time for dinner before you check-in therefore when we got there at 7p they would not serve us, and all restaurants were closed because of the new year. thank goodness we found a delicious 

- Suiran 


Museum + Art + Attractions

- monkey park

✓ shrines: very busy with everyone and their parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, friends. but everything we witnessed was gorgeous. 


Food + Drink

4 days in the Philippines

my summary: it was technically supposed to be dry season but there was a typhoon warning so we were stuck on Palawan (in El Nido) for 2 days . El Nido has limited accommodations and activities so it felt like we were stuck for a month. After talking to a number of locals it sounds like the weather is unpredictable, so don't get disappointed if you don't see sun or get to go island hopping (which is the #1 tourist attraction).

But in general, the Philippines are gorgeous and the people are the kindest folk i've come across - gracious and full of positive vibes. I'd definitely go back fro better weather and island hopping - the beaches looked gorgeous (from afar) with countless adventures. 

Read # 1

Read # 2

Read #3

1 day in Manila


The Peninsula

✓ The Conrad if you want to be near the water and the action. Boardwalk immediately outside the hotel.


Museums + Art + Activities

- Casino heaven 

- plenty to see, but we saw nothing more than our hotel room for the day :) 


Food + Drink

bucky's poblacion 

- alley at karrivin

- locavore 

- 210 degrees 

- toyo eatery 

3 days in Palawan



✓ Cauayanprefer beach villas over water. It was gorgeous once we got there. Service was top notch. Upgraded us to 2 bedroom pool villa which was divine.

note: I’d highly recommend staying @ El nido resorts, they have access to EVERYTHING. They are owned by one of wealthiest Filippino families so they have more control over everything - airport (they own the only airline that flies into Palawan), waters (their boats could still travel even though there was a travel ban), and resorts onsite. We were stuck in El Nido town because there was a typhoon warning and hotels were limited. We stayed in hostel that was missing basic amenities - I took a shower while sitting on the toilet. 


Museums + Art + Activities  

- snorkeling 

- island hopping 

- day trip to Coron for diving





Food + Drink

we didn't event get to dive into this. Will add some when we go back!

1 day to depart Philippines --> Japan --> USA!