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Trip Report Sushi, Shrines and Shinkansen; 8 Days in Tokyo and Kyoto

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In February, I came across a package deal for a flight on the new Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 route from LAX to Tokyo. The deal was for R/T airfare, 5 nights at the Tokyo Hilton, transfers and a half day tour for about the cost of a plane ticket. We jumped at the chance because Tokyo has long been on our list of places to go.

Then on March 11th, disaster stuck Japan in a trifecta of traumatic events; first a 9.0 earthquake off North-Eastern Japan, followed by a devastating tsunami, and a nuclear power plant on the verge on meltdown. We watched the aftermath glued to the TV, horrified and helpless. It took us a long time to decide whether or not to continue with our trip and in the end we decided to go, departing Los Angeles on April 15th. If you want to read more about how and why we made our decision, please read this post on my blog: http://www.wired2theworld.com/2011/04/11/on-deciding-to-go-to-japan/

A little background about us; my husband and I are in our early 40s and do at least one international trip a year, sometimes two. We particularly love South East Asia and Europe and have traveled extensively in both places (click on my name to see links to my trip reports here on Fodor’s). I’d never been to Japan but my husband had been there when he was 15. We travel fairly mid-range in terms of cost. A large part of our travel is focused on food and markets because we love to eat, and I’m a former chef who still works in the restaurant industry. Plus, I believe learning about the local food can teach you a lot about the culture.

This trip was 8 nights, the first 3 in Tokyo, followed by 3 in Kyoto, and then the final 2 nights back in Tokyo. In Tokyo we stayed at the Hilton in Shinjuku as part of the package and in Kyoto at the Westin Miyako Kyoto, using cash plus Starwood points.

I tend to do obsessive research before I travel and for this trip the research was slightly curtailed by the delay in deciding if we were even going to go. Still, I managed to do a fair amount and I have a list of all the links and books I found helpful in planning a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto on my blog: http://www.wired2theworld.com/2011/04/19/japan-travel-resources-and-links/
The links there cover transportation, general sightseeing, food and dining resources, and other misc. helpful sites for planning a trip. There’s also a link to my newly revised packing pages (we pack light).

Coming up…some observations and tips from a first time traveler to Japan.

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