Thursday, April 27, 2017

Japan trip Spring 2017 Part 10: OOTD breakdown

I am doing a type of outfit breakdown post for this trip since I loved pretty much every outfit and they didn't get highlighted nicely in the daily posts! I'm trying to make the format is a little different than my usual 3-photo square collage OOTD posts to make it a bit more "distinct" and will go into detail about what I picked and why. (Unfortunately, I anticipate that the gifs will take a while to load. Thank you for your patience!) In this way, it will kind of bring in the concept from my packing post from Spring 2016 (in terms of going over how I picked and planned for each day's outfit) while getting to focus on each outfit specifically, but without having to mention my packing technique which hasn't changed.

There are some items like my daily purse that was repeated every day because it's the only one I had with me, but I think it's important to show how it coordinated with each outfit. The phone case I used was my Liz Lisa present print iPhone case. The charms on my rose quilted purse were my Champouf pass case and my Liz Lisa My Melody 2017 fukubukuro My Melody charm.


Arrival / HNL to HND plane outfit -
OP - Liz Lisa boa bustier OP
Outer - Liz Lisa rose applique frill blouson
Shoes - Liz Lisa heart organza pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace
Bag(s) - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse, Liz Lisa 2013 royal rose fukubukuro tote

I always have the hardest time figuring out what I want to wear on the plane. I don't want it to be too fussy with details that could be mussed after sitting for 10+ hours. It needs to be okay in the hot Hawaii weather but transition well enough when I arrive in Japan spring weather at night. I would highly prefer that it be something I might willingly wear during the trip if something happens (I can't find enough new outfits to buy or my suitcase gets lost, etc). I think the best dresses I have for the plane ride have already been worn, so I really didn't know what to do for this trip. I eventually settled on this simple tulle dress with the furry bustier that makes it a little less casual. It's not a dress that holds super special value to me so if something spilled during the plane ride, I wouldn't be upset and it's not very heavy so it's okay in the HNL airport. By adding the jacket upon arrival, I was okay for a quick walk to the apartment. It was actually pretty decent for its purpose and the white color was easy to match with. I made sure the jacket and the shoes were with hand carried with/on me because I knew they would be important for the rest of the trip.


Day 1 - Liz Lisa shopping (Shibuya, Harajuku, Shinjuku, Omiya) and Ueno Park
OP - Liz Lisa chandelier print jumper skirt
Outer - Liz Lisa rose applique frill blouson
Shoes - Liz Lisa heart organza pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, ribbon barrette from Daiso
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

This chandelier print jumper skirt was something I knew I absolutely wanted to bring with me to wear on this trip. I purchased it from TKL in December 2016 and almost brought it on my January trip, but it didn't make the cut because it didn't seem best for the winter weather (in comparison to a few other items). It worked out for the best because I think it looks great with the blouson and heart organza pumps which were staples for me for this spring trip. It also paired really well with the peplum cardigan (my 2nd outer choice), and I had a hard time deciding which way to coordinate it, but I liked that this was a bit more casual for my first day since I would mostly be running around shopping and probably trying things on.


Day 2 - Liz Lisa x My Melody 11th collab vol 2 release at Shibuya 109 with Ebony, Liz Lisa shopping (Machida, Yokohama) and Yokohama Ramen Museum
OP - Liz Lisa x My Melody 10th vol 1 collab sweet cake OP
Outer - Liz Lisa peplum cardigan
Shoes - Liz Lisa heart organza pumps
Accessories - opaque tights, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, large ribbon barrette from Daiso
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

This was another dress I brought with me that I didn't get to wear during the January trip, but I knew I would want to wear for spring! (Instead, I had chosen the Liz Lisa x My Melody vol 2 cache coeur OP on Day 1 of my January trip.) I knew I wanted to go to the Shibuya 109 Liz Lisa x My Melody 11th collab vol 2 release, and ofc I had to wear a collab dress! This is one I haven't yet worn, so it was an easy decision. It doesn't hurt that I love how it looks paired with the peplum cardigan which was one of the outer pieces I knew I wanted to wear during the trip. Plus I got to twin with Ebony ♡! It was a bit cold sitting outside of 109 in the early morning hours without a coat so I did layer my blouson over it but I wouldn't consider that part of the outfit - it was just so I wouldn't freeze to death lol. Not a fashion choice at all. 


Day 3 - Catching the shinkansen to Shin-Osaka, meeting Mintkismet/Rilakkuma cafe, shopping in Tennoji
OP - Liz Lisa rabbit ribbon jumper skirt
Outer - Liz Lisa frill denim jacket
Shoes - Liz Lisa lace-up platform pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa rabbit motif necklace, Liz Lisa strawberry ribbon barrette, fluffy circle scarf from Grandege
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

I was meeting Mintkismet on this day and wanted to wear something cute and new! This outfit was full of new items purchased during the trip except the scarf, socks and bag! I knew I needed to wear the red shoes (purchased on Day 1) because I had spent the past two days in the heart organza pumps and I've found it's best to rotate shoes when you're doing a lot of walking on a trip. With that in mind, I chose to wear the rabbit ribbon jumper skirt (also purchased on Day 1) which had just the right amount of red accents. The strawberry ribbon barrette (Day 1 buy) was the perfect match as well. And all of it unintentionally matched with my Liz Lisa My Melody 2017 fukubukuro suitcase which also features a bunny (My Melody) and strawberries! I hadn't yet worn the denim jacket (bought on Day 1) on the trip but wanted to (having already worn my two other outer choices once each) and it was the perfect balance to all the red plus kept me really warm without overheating! I had worn my circle scarf so I didn't have to pack it and I was nervous that the denim wouldn't be enough, but it was totally fine. It was raining in Tokyo when we left in the morning, so I'm glad I was wearing the red shoes which are made of a material that performs a bit better in the rain than my pink pumps.


Day 4 - Hiroshima Peace monuments/museum, Hiroshima Castle, Miyajima/Itsukushima shrine
Top/Sukapan - Liz Lisa bouquet print top and sukapan
Outer - Liz Lisa peplum cardigan
Shoes - Liz Lisa heart organza pumps
Accessories - opaque tights, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, Liz Lisa rose clip set
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

I packed this set up to wear because I wanted to make sure I had a non-dress/OP option during the trip. I love how the peplum cardigan looks layered over it although it's not really much to see from the back. There wasn't any specific reason I wanted to wear it on Day 4 except that I wanted to wear the pink shoes again (rotating from red the previous day) so the outfit needed to be pink to match. That was probably wasn't the best option since it was supposed to rain in Hiroshima this day and I knew I would need to walk in the wet sand to the giant torii during low tide. The pumps are made of faux suede which really shouldn't get wet, but because of how the days were panning out, I knew I couldn't wear the red shoes this day and not screw everything else up. It turned out okay - maybe some minor stains on the bottom 1cm of the pumps, but I'm not someone who babies their shoes anyway, so I don't consider it a big deal. I did have to be very careful with where I was walking though, which I probably would have done within reason regardless. Although there's nothing super special about it, I really like the balance in this outfit.


Day 5 - Nagoya Public Aquarium, Nagoya Castle, Science Museum, Oasis 21, Liz Lisa shopping (Nagoya Maruei and Passe)
OP - Liz Lisa fruits logo OP
Outer - Liz Lisa frill denim jacket
Shoes - Liz Lisa lace-up platform pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, ribbon barrette from Daiso
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

It was the red shoes' turn again so the dress had to match! The fruits logo OP (Day 1 purchase) was perfect for it. I ended up wearing the denim jacket again based on process of elimination because I knew I was going to wear the blouson as an outer on Day 6 and the peplum cardigan on Day 7. Given the chance, I probably wouldn't have wanted to pair the denim jacket with the red shoes again because it looks so similar to Day 3, but if that's not a factor, I really like the fruit print paired with the denim! I'm still kicking myself for not buying the fruits 4-set hair clips on Day 3 when I had the chance because I meant to wear them with this outfit :| I went to two Liz Lisa stores with Danielle and yet no bells went off in my head to buy them, knowing that I'd need them prior to Day 5 and I'd have no chances on Day 4. I kept thinking - "oh maybe I'll buy them from one of the Nagoya stores", but uh duh. I can't buy them from the Nagoya stores at the end of the day and also wear them with the outfit -__-. My mistake, and the outfit would have been improved with red clips, but it was definitely too late by the time I realized it.


Day 6 - Catching the shinkansen to Tokyo, last minute shopping, MariCAR go-karting
OP - Liz Lisa x My Melody 11th collab vol 1 sailor OP
Outer - Liz Lisa rose applique frill blouson
Shoes - Liz Lisa heart organza pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, Liz Lisa x My Melody 6th collab vol 2 bow barrette
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

I wasn't able to get this dress online because it sold out so quickly, but I'm so lucky Ebony was able to find me the white version in store back in February! I didn't pack this and it technically wasn't purchased (or in stores) while I was in Japan but it was something I knew I'd have that I'd definitely want to wear. Thank goodness it fits well and matched with what I had already packed. I think this dress could have easily paired with any of my three outer options, but the pink blouson seemed to play off of the pink in the print the best! It probably wasn't an A+ choice for driving a go-kart, but it worked out fine underneath the costume jumpsuit, and it was a good shopping outfit prior to the night time activity anyway. (Also, My Melody collab dress unintentionally matching with the My Melody collab suitcase ++++)


Day 7 - Kawatsura Strawberry Farm, National Art Center fail, Rikugien Garden Illumination and last minute (Liz Lisa) shopping (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku)
OP - Liz Lisa strawberry gingham OP
Outer - Liz Lisa peplum cardigan
Shoes - Liz Lisa lace-up platform pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, Liz Lisa tulle can can hat
Bag - Liz Lisa rose quilted purse

I'M SO HAPPY I WAS ABLE TO WEAR THIS DRESS IN JAPAN WHILE ACTUALLY PICKING STRAWBS. My bf was actually the one who suggested strawberry picking and initially I hesitated a bit because it requires a lot of travel time, but then I realized I can wear my strawberry dress though and immediately got on board. My next problem was that the pumps I was planning to bring (the pink heart organza pumps) do not match this dress at all. I only wanted to bring one pair with me so I had more room to bring stuff back, but when I finally warmed up to the red lace-up pumps and solidly planned to buy them in store, I knew I could commit to bringing this dress and wearing it on the strawberry picking day and I was super excited! The peplum cardigan is practically the perfect length to pair with the dress because the embroidered strawberries at the hem just peek out. I chose the hat to wear because I didn't want to smash it when I was packing, so the best way to guarantee that was just to wear it on my head. Luckily it matched perfectly! Although my purse doesn't match at all, this was definitely my favorite outfit of the trip. I just adore this dress and all the red ♡♡


Departure / HND to HNL plane outfit -
OP - Liz Lisa (boa bustier) OP
Outer - none
Shoes - Liz Lisa lace-up platform pumps
Accessories - ankle socks, Liz Lisa 2-chain butterfly necklace, Liz Lisa tulle can can hat
Bag(s) - Liz Lisa 2013 royal rose fukubukuro tote and Liz Lisa My Melody 2017 fukubukuro suitcase

The accessories and shoes are all the same as the Day 7 outfit because this was still technically Day 7, just much later in the day. I knew I didn't want to wear the strawberry dress on the plane because if one of the strawberries on the hem got caught on something or tore, I knew I'd lose my mind, so I tried to look for something to buy to change into that evening while in Shibuya but wasn't successful! I ended up just changing into the dress I wore on the plane ride over since it wasn't in terrible condition (having only wore it for the plane ride over and nothing else). It was easy and comfortable, and still matched with everything else I was wearing. I packed away the cardigan once I got to the gate at the airport because I knew I wouldn't need it anymore. I even wore this "outfit" straight to work after arrival, including the hat. This dress ended up being a good choice after all and was kind of multi-functional!

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Trips, especially to Japan, especially during the colder seasons, spur some of the best outfits for me. They're not all perfect because I have to consider what's practical and can't bring 7 different pairs of shoes and 7 different purses for a week's worth of travel, but honestly mixing and matching with the limited items I bring and combining them with what I end up buying is one of my favorite parts of it - that by thinking ahead I'm able to create outfits I absolutely love while still packing smart. I love the challenge and I'm almost always pleased with the results. It's 100% worth it.

(Sorry about the gif quality! It doesn't help that the original video doesn't have great lighting to begin with - something I didn't notice until after I was done filming. But during the gif process with the free trial of Photoshop CC that I downloaded, something happened to the image color. I usually gif with Photoshop Elements 4.0 and literally select each frame by a click and moving the cursor which I thought would be too cumbersome for this so I downloaded the free trial of the newer software but it's not what I was expecting. And actually the gif files are so huge, I wouldn't be surprised if they never loaded and you're all the way down at the bottom of this post and reading this paragraph wondering "what gifs?" Although if you scrolled all the way down the post without stopping to read any of the excerpts, you're probably not reading this blurb either lol. For the record, there are supposed to be 2 animated gifs associated with each outfit. Not just some random bad angle, blurry selfie of me haha. Anyway, just wanted to acknowledge the quality but I guess that's what happens when you try something new under a time crunch. Live and learn.)
(Also can I just note that it was hellish rewearing outfits meant for 50F, dry weather in 80F, humid weather, so that's why I'm not jumping to reshoot even with the bad lighting.)

This is my last post for the Japan trip Spring 2017 trip series! I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I'm always open to suggestions or questions, so just comment or message me if there's something you feel my posts haven't covered. If you've missed any of the past posts, please check them out below!

🌸 Japan trip Spring 2017 🌸
    Part 1: Arrival and Day 1 - Liz Lisa shopping and Ueno Park
    Part 2: Day 2 - Liz Lisa x My Melody Shibuya 109 release and Yokohama Ramen Museum
    Part 3: Day 3 - Tokaido Shinkansen to Osaka and meeting Mintkismet/Rilakkuma cafe
    Part 4: Day 4 - Hiroshima Peace Museum, Hiroshima Castle and Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine
    Part 5: Day 5 - Nagoya Aquarium, Nagoya Castle, Science Museum and Oasis 21
    Part 6: Day 6 - Tokaido Shinkansen back to Tokyo and MariCAR Street Go-Kart Tour
    Part 7: Day 7 - Kawatsura Strawberry Farm, National Art Center, Rikugien Park Illumination
    Part 8: Liz Lisa & Other shopping purchases/coordinates
    Part 9: Travel Notes - Airbnb, JR Pass, luggage & Pupuru pocket wifi
    Part 10: OOTD breakdown 

Japan trip Winter 2017 posts
Japan trip Spring 2016 posts
Japan trip Autumn 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2014 posts
 

Monday, April 24, 2017

Japan trip Spring 2017 Part 9: Travel Notes - Airbnb, JR Pass, luggage & Pupuru pocket wifi

This is the concluding wrap up post for my trip! Unfortunately this is probably the most boring post out of every travel series, but it's good for the supplemental information that overflowed beyond just one day. Hopefully this catches all the odds and ends details that you didn't know you didn't know!

Accommodations - Airbnb and Hotel
This is the 4th time I've chosen Airbnb for trip accommodations! Check out my posts from Summer 2015, Autumn 2015 and Winter 2017 if you're interested.

Tokyo Airbnb - Arrival to Day 3
For our arrival and first 3 nights in Tokyo, we decided to go with what was familiar - the very first Airbnb apartment we ever tried back in August 2015. Luckily it was available and approximately the same price as before. I made sure we started booking accommodations as soon as we solidified the plane tickets because I know late March is a popular travel period!
We already knew exactly how to get there, so we didn't have any issues navigating to the apartment late at night from the station, finding the key or getting into the apartment.
Everything is pretty much exactly as we remembered, with a few small improvements that are always welcome. One of the best parts of this apartment in particular is that the bathroom is in a separate enclosed space from the shower. My bf and I are reasonably comfortable with each other, but it's just more convenient to have the toilet separate, especially with the bathroom size so small to begin with.

It had all the basic hotel amenities - shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, towels, hair dryer, hangers, plus a small kitchen and kitchen supplies and appliances like a microwave. The unit also comes with a pocket wifi unit which is a great perk for us.
Although there's only one key to access the apartment, the mailboxes for the units aren't in a locked area so when we left for the day, we'd leave the key in the mailbox. That way, we didn't have to worry about splitting up and having one or the other of us come back first and not be able to access the apartment. It was also good because we didn't have to worry about losing the key while we were out and about. 

The location is one of the big reasons we decided to go with this particular apartment again. We did look at other options, but considering price and distance from the station, this one just made the most sense. We arrive from Haneda late at night and prefer not to transfer with our luggage so the Shinagawa area is an obvious choice. The apartment is close to station to give us easy access to the Shinkansen tracks and it was also close to the Prince where we dropped off our bags on Day 3, so we didn't have to lug around our suitcases much at all.

Osaka Airbnb - Day 3 to Day 6
We've stayed in an Airbnb while in Osaka before, but the same unit didn't seem to be available anymore. There's actually quite a few options and it took us a while to narrow down the selection. After solidifying our trip schedule a bit more, I thought that it would be easiest for us to stay in Shin-Osaka this time instead of Umeda since we'd be catching the shinkansen every day we were there. We picked an apartment with a reasonably cheap rate on a familiar side of the station but a bit of a longer walk.
The apartment is very spacious and had plenty of room for what we brought with us. The bed was actually like a queen size and was really comfortable! The apartment came with a pocket wifi unit and also had wifi for the room itself. So if for some reason your group split up and someone stayed back in the apartment, they'd still have connectivity.

Aside from the usual shampoo, conditioner, body wash, towels, etc, my favorite amenity of this Airbnb was the full size mirror which is such an essential for me but really not a staple in a lot of the apartments we book lol. The second best part (okay actually this should actually be the best part) is that there's an electronic number lock for the apartment instead of a singular key which means we don't have to worry about losing anything and we can each easily access the apartment without having to coordinate anything.

We wanted to get an early start in Osaka if possible and I messaged the host ahead of time when I noticed that the couple days previous to us checking in weren't booked. She wasn't able to confirm early check-in until the day before (which was fine with us, and more than acceptable because people can last minute book), but she allowed us to drop off our luggage about 3 hours early. The room wasn't yet cleaned from the previous guests, but we really only needed to drop our stuff off anyway and I was happy that we were accommodated at all because it allowed us to get going at around 13:00 instead of around 15:30. 

The location leaves a little bit to be desired, but I think most Japanese people wouldn't consider the distance such a hardship and it is really easy to navigate to. Basically just a straight walk from the exit of the station. It's just not great when you're a tourist who spent the entire day walking around and it's raining and you just want to get back and fall asleep. I would consider staying here again, but not during the hot/summer months because the 10-15 minute walk would be absolute hell in the humidity.

Prince Shinagawa N Tower - Day 6 to Day 7
We first stayed at this Prince Hotel back in Summer 2014 and continuously come back to it when we're in Tokyo. This is my 5th time staying at this hotel and it's become really nice because things feel so familiar at this point. We know exactly how to get there and what to expect.

We often book at a hotel for the last night of the trip (versus an Airbnb) because we need some of the hotel services like baggage holding, lobby area and shuttle service. Since the flight is close to midnight, we'd have to book an Airbnb for an additional night that we wouldn't even stay for in order to leave our things there after check-out time and have a place to just sit and relax before leaving. In some cases, that can be cheaper and less troublesome to do (re: Japan trip Winter 2017), but since my mom had a "free night" from Hotels.com, it just made sense to make a reservation at a hotel.
We had a twin room and everything is essentially how I remember it. It's small by American standards, but there's enough room for us to get what we needed to get done done. The bathroom is also nicely laid out and has a full size tub and everything feels fresh and clean.

We had no issue with the second wifi unit being delivered because there is always hotel staff present to receive the package and have it waiting for us upon check-in. It was also great help to have the hotel hold our extra bags 3 days before check-in when we didn't want to take everything to Osaka and back.

One of our favorite perks about the N Tower specifically is the free "buffet-style" breakfast on the top floor. Although the selection is not as generous as a typical $27 hotel breakfast, it more than fits the bill for us, you can eat as much as you want of what they have and comes at no additional cost. You can also get unlimited soft drinks from the lounge and take them back to your room!
During this trip, we also learned that there's a small laundry facility on the 5th floor that also includes a microwave which was really useful to my bf.

The location is very close to Shinagawa station which is where we like to stay when we catch the shinaksen like we did during this trip. My recent favorite feature of the general location is the Wing Takanawa East which has a grocery in the basement with tons of great selection at a price cheaper than convenience stores but has a really upscale feel since it's recently built. It's easy to get off the train, exit the station, pop down to buy a drink and snack and then just cross the street to get to the hotel.

In the last hours of the trip, my bf and I were done shopping and needed to collect ourselves and rearrange our stuff before the shuttle came to take us to the airport. The lobby in the Main Tower worked out well for us. My bf was actually done probably more than an hour before me, so he really made use of the lobby. (Although we stayed in the N Tower, since we had to drop off our lugagge to be held in the Main Tower and that's where the airport shuttle picks you up, it makes the most sense to wait in the Main Tower lobby.) There is also a mail slot that we use to drop off the wifi units so we don't have to worry about mailing them at the airport.

One of the most important things for me is to be able to get to the airport easily when we leave. We have more bags than we can really handle (and more than you should handle) on the train, so we need to be able to get on a shuttle and go directly to the airport without issue. The Prince has a shuttle that goes directly to Haneda Airport just around the time we need for our flight. It would probably be better if it left maybe 1/2 hour earlier, but on a scale of things, it's really not that bad and it doesn't take very long to get to the terminal from Shinagawa.
You don't have to be a hotel guest to buy the shuttle tickets, but it doesn't hurt either. We bought our tickets on the morning we checked-out at the same time we dropped off our luggage. The bus left exactly on time and dropped us and all our bags off safely at the airport.

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Getting around with the JR Pass
We've been consistently getting a Japan Rail Pass for every recent Japan trip, and this one was no different. I've mentioned it in previous travel series, but at the risk of being repetitive, I'm going to go over the basics again in case you've never heard of it. Essentially, the JR Pass allows you to catch unlimited JR-type transportation within a set period. There are 7, 14 and 28-day variations at varying costs.

The cost for a 7-day pass is usually around $250-260USD but it depends on the JPY exchange rate. It seems like a giant expense, but if you plan to catch the shinkansen for the equivalent of Tokyo to Osaka and back, then it's basically already paying for itself. One way from Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka on a Hikari-type shinkansen is 14,140yen for a reserved seat. If you do a round trip, at a 110JPY to 1USD exchange rate, that would be $257USD total, basically the price of the pass on its own.
If you plan to catch a lot of JR trains besides that, it definitely can save you out on overall transportation cost. You also have the convenience of not having to purchase tickets per ride/reload a card and keep track of the balance or really think about how much it will cost to go any particular distance.
We knew that at the very least we'd be going to Osaka because there's a few stores my bf likes to go to in Kansai and we were flying out of Tokyo so we had to be sure to return.  Our trip was 7 days long so it was a no-brainer for us to get the 7-day pass. And once we committed to getting it, I was able to plan a few other things into our trip with the freedom of not having to worry about the transportation cost through JR. 

We purchased our vouchers from JTB before the trip and exchanged them for the actual pass on the morning of Day 1 at Shinagawa station so we could use it right away. (There's also a place to exchange the vouchers at the airport, but we do not arrive within its business hours.)

One big perk of having the JR Pass is unlimited non-Nozomi/Mizuho shinkansen rides, and there's no additional cost to reserve seats. We loosely know our agenda ahead of time for every trip, so we usually try to pick out our ideal times to catch the bullet train and make all necessary reservations at once. In some stations, you can reserve tickets in the same place you exchange your voucher. In Shinagawa station, you have to cross a busy flow of people to get to the other side and stand in a separate line, but the offices are still fairly close. You just show your pass to the staff member and let them know what train you want to reserve seats for.
You don't need to reserve seats to catch the bullet train but if you're traveling with other people and you all have the JR Pass, you may as well reserve so you can all sit together and you'll be able to go to the tracks just a few minutes before departure knowing you're all guaranteed a seat.

Of course you can also catch the shinkansen with the JR Pass even without a reservation! You just show your pass at the shinkansen gates and get in an unreserved car. I caught a shinkansen 8 different times during this trip - 2 in an unreserved car and 6 with reserved seats. Here's the routes and what they would have cost individually -

from Ueno to Omiya on Day 1 via Asama-type shinkansen, unreserved car - 1,330yen

from Shin-Yokohama to Shinagawa on Day 2 via Hikari-type shinkansen, unreserved car - 1,270yen

from Shinagawa to Shin-Osaka on Day 3 via Hikari-type shinkansen, reserved car - 14,140yen

from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima and Hiroshima to Shin-Osaka on Day 4 via Sakura-type shinkansen, reserved car - 10,230yen and 10,230yen

from Shin-Osaka to Nagoya and Nagoya to Shin-Osaka on Day 5 via Hikari-type shinkansen, reserved car - 6,350yen and 6,350yen

from Shin-Osaka back to Tokyo on Day 6 via Hikari-type shinkansen, reserved car - 14,140yen
 

I caught a shinkansen 6/7 days during my trip, just because I could lol. It would have cost 64,040yen or approx $570 (exchanging at 112JPY to 1USD) for all the shinkansen rides if I had to pay out of pocket for each. That's way over 2x what I paid for the pass. If I didn't get the JR Pass, I wouldn't have done that much moving around and wouldn't have gone to Hiroshima or Nagoya which were amazing day trips, specifically made possible by us not having to worry about the train fare.
There are times when it's just more convenient and ofc faster to catch the shinkansen, and I don't have to worry about getting a seat on a regular local or even express train. And then there were the times when it was absolutely necessary like going longer distances to Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagoya (and back)! Plus you can easily eat a small meal like I did almost every time I caught it lol. The chairs recline, there's a pull down tray, the window seats have an outlet if you need one. It's not as hard to have a space for your bags/luggage and worry about people constantly getting up and moving around you.

On Day 7, I didn't catch the shinkansen but I did go all the way out to Naruto which would have cost 1,490yen on the regular JR trains. I also caught partial JR on the way back with a stop at Chiba station which would have been 1,310yen. When I got back to Shibuya, I then caught the train up to Komagome (200yen), and on my way back down the loop, got off at Shinjuku (170yen), then got back on and got off at Harajuku (140yen), then got back on and stopped at Shibuya again (140yen) before finally making my way back to Shinagawa (170yen). My total cost for JR trains for just Day 7 would have been 3620yen.

Even without me breaking down the costs for JR (but non-shinkansen) train rides on all the other days, I think it's pretty obvious that getting the 7-day Japan Rail Pass was worth it for us. Although we do catch the subway or other private lines when we need to, the JR Pass covers so much and can easily get us where we want to be for the most part.

Bonus: During this trip, I also used my JR Pass to catch the JR Ferry to Miyajima Island when we were in Hiroshima! It's just 180yen each way (360yen total), but we didn't have to hassle with buying the tickets.

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How I dealt with My Luggage
(It's easiest to just talk about the bags I had with me instead of both me and my bf together but keep in mind that he had to handle his own set of bags.) In the past, I've had a few questions about how I used my luggage/how many pieces I've had with me. I think my previous explanations haven't been the best so I'm going to take a new approach with simple diagrams this time. Because of how we made our arrangements for this trip, we didn't need to use a luggage forwarding service at all which saved us on stress and money.

For this trip, I used 4 different bags -
Black Travelpro 25" spinner wheel suitcase
Liz Lisa My Melody 2017 fukubukuro small suitcase
Liz Lisa 2013 royal rose fukubukuro large tote
Liz Lisa rose quilted purse (daily use)
Although there's been some slight variation on the exact bag I used for previous trips, I basically always have 1 large check-in suitcase, 1 carry-on size suitcase, 1 large tote and 1 purse for daily use.
Even though I'm allowed 2 free check-in bags from Hawaiian Airlines for the international flight, I've realized that it's just too hard to get around Japan in the trains with two huge check bags - no matter how much I want to buy. I pack carefully and intentionally, only bringing with me to Japan what I need and making sure I don't make purchases during the trip that can't be accommodated in my suitcase(s).
I've figured out that I can handle about three bags at a time at maximum while still functioning like a semi-regular person in the stations and on the train. So whenever we have to go somewhere on the trains with our bags, I make sure that I don't have too much to take care of. It's best that way for me and for other people - so they don't have to deal with me being an obtuse tourist who can't handle her shit lol. Since I have 4 bags total but only want to handle 3 at any given time, this is how I did arranged things for this trip -

On the way over to Japan/for arrival in Japan, I checked-in the large, black suitcase with My Melody fuku suitcase inside and then had my my large fuku tote and my daily purse with me on the plane. This way, I only had to deal with one large rolling bag when we boarded a train full of other travelers at nearly 23:00 after arriving. I also tried to stuff my purse into the large tote after deplaning as well, so I really only had two bags leaving the airport.

When we went from Tokyo to Osaka, I brought my large tote (with my daily purse inside) and My Melody fuku suitcase with me. I packed all the things I would need for the 3 nights in Osaka into those bags and put everything else in my large suitcase. On the morning we were leaving Tokyo, I dropped off my black check-in suitcase at the reception desk of the Prince Shinagawa N Tower in Tokyo where we already had our reservation set.

On the way back from Osaka to Tokyo, I still had my large tote and the My Melody fuku suitcase, but my bags were much fuller thanks to three days of purchases, and I had my daily purse on its own.

By the time we checked out of the Prince on our last day, I dropped off my black check-in suitcase, My Melody suitcase and large tote at the baggage hold area and took my daily purse with me for the day. I had packed my check-in luggage at the max so I wouldn't have to bother reopening and shuffling anything in there and instead reserved space for possible purchases in my two easier to open bags - the My Melody suitcase and the large tote, both mostly empty.

Before boarding the shuttle to get to the airport, I shuffled a few things around after making my last minute purchases and ended up with what I needed for the plane - 1x large check-in suitcase, 1x carry on bag (My Melody fuku suitcase), 1x personal item (fuku tote). My purchases and daily purse got packed away.

I hope with the diagrams, it's a little easier to understand! I think many people pack in a similar way now, so it's not exactly innovative, but I do think there's some merit to really thinking about what bags you choose to bring and their practicality, especially when you plan to move around with them on the trains! I've definitely figured out what system works best for me after a few trips and I don't worry so much about space as much anymore. I do occasional weight checks throughout the trip to make sure I'm not too close to the 50lb limit, but otherwise, I'm usually able to buy most of what I want within reason!

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Pupuru pocket wifi
When we were picking Airbnb apartments, we made sure that a wifi unit was included in the amenities.

But because my bf and I have been very independent travelers while in Japan, we thought it would be best to get a second unit so that we could be separate but still connected.
This is our 6th time choosing Pupuru for pocket wifi in Japan. Although I had a slightly discouraging experience during our recent winter trip, we decided to give them another chance since all of our previous times using it went without issue. We were already familiar with it, so we didn't want to bother with a different service if possible. Thankfully, everything was timely and nothing went awry this trip!

I actually ended up ordering one unit starting on the first real day of the trip and an additional second unit starting on the 6th/second-to-last day of the trip. Since we were staying at a hotel for our last night, we wouldn't have a second unit provided and still planned to be separate for portions of those days. It is so much easier for us to be connected than not that I knew it would be worth it to pay for the second unit even for such a short period.

We didn't have any issues with the first unit being delivered to the Airbnb apartment. I had already cleared it with the host ahead of time and had been instructed about how to let the delivery person into the building. I was sitting in the apartment from 09:45, hoping and praying it would arrive on time and the guaranteed delivery time this time was actually accurate, thank goodness. The units arrive fully charged, so I just had to bust open the package and I could be ready to go and on my way.

The second unit arrived without issue as well to the Prince Shinagawa. I made sure to add "N Tower" to the address (as well as my name and check-in date) because last time the package had been sent to the Main Tower and we didn't immediately get it when we needed it because they had to sort it out. This time, it was waiting for us at the N Tower reception desk when we arrived just after noon. Again, I was able to just open the package and start using it immediately.

We didn't have any issues with connectivity while using the Pupuru wifi units. In comparison, they perform better, faster and more consistently than the ones provided by the Airbnb apartments. The battery life would typically last all or most of a day, but we would charge them for a bit occasionally just to make sure they wouldn't die.

Despite the hiccup during our last trip, I do think I would trust Pupuru again on a future one since there weren't any issues during this one. If there is a second screw up, I would definitely cross them off the list, but so far, it seems satisfactory and I'm happy with what occurred for Spring 2017.

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http://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-1-arrival.htmlhttp://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-2-day-2.htmlhttp://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-3-day-3.htmlhttp://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-4-day-4.htmlhttp://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-5-day-5.htmlhttp://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-6-day-6.htmlhttp://emiiichan.blogspot.com/2017/02/japan-trip-winter-2017-part-7-liz-lisa.html

I was able to do so many fun things on this trip - some I was really familiar with and others were completely new experiences! Buying my newest favorite items from Liz Lisa, browsing through the physical store and being able to touch and see the items/fabrics in person isn't easily matched with online shopping. And waking up at 3:30am to get to a Shibuya 109 My Melody collab release by 05:00am to be the first person in line isn't something that can be rivaled easily either. I was able to spend time with Ebony who's really become such a good friend and also meet Danielle for the first time! Hiroshima and Nagoya were both amazing in their own way and now I can say I drove on the streets in Tokyo dressed as Mario! We missed the full bloom sakura by about a week, but since that wasn't the primary goal of our trip, I'm not too upset and was still able to see a handful of beautiful trees full of pink flowers.
Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with what transpired on this trip although I did come back feeling a little exhausted in terms of travel. It probably doesn't help that I just went on a long distance trip in November and then in January. I'm really not a travel-oriented person so 3 trips in 5 months is more than I really like to do. I'm not saying it's not worth it, but I was just starting to feel a bit run down for some reason. I suppose that'll fade with time, but I wouldn't count on me going back to Japan again any time soon. Thankfully I've had enough great experiences recently to last me a while!

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I try to include one "unique" information-type post per trip series but I haven't had any good ideas for this one. I guess I'm running dry. In the past I've done "Getting around" (how we navigated around Japan), "Pre-trip Planning" (all the things I think about before leaving for Japan), "Airbnb & accommodations" (I tried to thoroughly break down the pros and cons between staying in an Airbnb and a hotel), "Budgeting for a week in Japan" (a specific cost breakdown for what I spent for a 7 day trip), "Packing (Liz Lisa) outfits" (how I chose what to bring and how I pack) and "Whats in my bag?" (#wimb tag for my daily purse, carry on tote and luggage). Meanwhile, most of those are also accompanied by a Travel Notes post similar to this one which holds a bunch of general travel information specific to that trip.

Currently slotted for Part 10 is an OOTD breakdown post, but please let me know if you have any other suggestions or think I should revamp a previous information-type post! I can always add another part or keep that in mind for a future trip. I think a few people may have mentioned being interested in reading about how I got around but what's not in the previous info post is often covered in Travel Notes and I'd have to seriously think about how I'd make it different enough to warrant a 2.0 post.

Separate from the trip series, I was also considering doing a post that would feature my "ideal 7-day Japan trip" (or maybe 10-day, I'm not sure yet) knowing what I know now. I'm certainly not an expert but it was something I was thinking about when I was talking to my friends who were going to visit Japan for the first time. It would answer questions like: what should I pack? how much money should I bring? where should I stay? how should I prepare? It would be personal to me so I'm not sure if people would find it too self-indulgent. I want to change things up here a little so it's not just clothes but also don't want to come off like I'm trying to be an authority on anything because I'm definitely not. Please let me know if this is something you'd be interested in reading about (even if you didn't want to follow my advice lol)!

🌸 Japan trip Spring 2017 🌸
    Part 1: Arrival and Day 1 - Liz Lisa shopping and Ueno Park
    Part 2: Day 2 - Liz Lisa x My Melody Shibuya 109 release and Yokohama Ramen Museum
    Part 3: Day 3 - Tokaido Shinkansen to Osaka and meeting Mintkismet/Rilakkuma cafe
    Part 4: Day 4 - Hiroshima Peace Museum, Hiroshima Castle and Miyajima/Itsukushima Shrine
    Part 5: Day 5 - Nagoya Aquarium, Nagoya Castle, Science Museum and Oasis 21
    Part 6: Day 6 - Tokaido Shinkansen back to Tokyo and MariCAR Street Go-Kart Tour
    Part 7: Day 7 - Kawatsura Strawberry Farm, National Art Center, Rikugien Park Illumination
    Part 8: Liz Lisa & Other shopping purchases/coordinates
    Part 9: Travel Notes - Airbnb, JR Pass, luggage & Pupuru pocket wifi
    Part 10: OOTD breakdown 

Japan trip Winter 2017 posts
Japan trip Spring 2016 posts
Japan trip Autumn 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2014 posts