I have spent a good part of my life both living and travelling in Asia, but Japan remains one of my favorite places to explore.
This is now my second time to live in Japan, and now is the time to explore something different. Not the usual Shibuya, Kyoto, Nara and Okinawa, but the numerous nooks and crannies that make travelling in this country so rich and fascinating.
One of the appeals of Japan is that travel can be both complicated yet highly rewarding.
What I have found is that despite the boom in travel apps and information such as travel blogging, there still remains a dearth of information on how to get around to some of the most interesting places. At the same time, I also do see a trend in foreign visitors being more sophisticated in choosing the places where they want to go, with the emphasis on engagement and getting to real local experiences, yet it seems that there is still a lot that remains to be discovered.
So that was my inspiration.
The other part about me is that I both love walking and I have adopted a minimalist lifestyle. So my travel is focused on getting the more out of less. Japan is one of the safest places in the world to go walking, has an amazing public transit system and the culture by nature is minimalist. Japan can also be very affordable if you take the time to get outside of your normal comfort zone.
The other thing that I really like is to be a bit of a contrarian and travel off-season. Off-season travel can be a tremendous value, and you tend to get a more local experience even in traditional tourist spots when they are not clogged with tourists.
I chose the name “Kakuekiclub”, or “local train club” to express that I’m getting beyond the normal Shinkansen run to the traditional tourist destinations. As wonderful as the Shinkansen is, it is relatively expensive and bypasses many interesting places. By taking the slow train, you not only save a lot by you can also see a lot more. For example, I recently took a trip to Izu – If I had taken the Shinkansen, fares would be been close to 5,000 yen. When I took local trains, it was a bit more difficult to navigate, but I did it for 1,500 yen and the extra time was about 90 minutes, but at the same time I was able to experience and learn more by taking the slow train.
My tips won’t be for everybody, especially the time-constrained traveler looking to see as many places in a limited time, but if you are interested in trading some of your time for a little more richness of experience, you may find some of my advice useful.
Anyway, let’s get out and explore!