I lived in a new International Dorm that my school (Sophia University) had just acquired. This was an amazing experience and something I highly recommend because I was able to make many lifelong friends from all over the world, not just Japan. There were always people around to gather and drink or go somewhere or do anything, and there were clubs that would meet at the dorm to gather and practice Japanese and English. I don’t think I would have enjoyed my experience as much if I were in an apartment or something. In fact, some of the people in my dorm had lived in apartments the previous semester and they told me how lonely they were being by themselves.
Top 10(+) Places to See in Japan (In no particular order):
Climb Mt. Fuji – It was a long and hard trek, but the view was absolutely beautiful and completely worth it. This was definitely one of my favorite experiences.
Hiroshima – There is a park dedicated to world peace at the epicenter of the a-bomb drop and a museum dedicated to the event. It was a very sad but touching experience, and definitely a must-see.
Miyajima – A small island off the coast of Hiroshima. There are tons of really cool shops where you can get souvenirs, local foods, and more. There is also a big tori gate on the water that you can walk underneath when the tide goes down, and you can climb the mountain to see historic sites and an amazing view
Odaiba – A man-made island in Tokyo Bay. There is a nice beach and a hundred other things to do such as Madame Toussad’s Wax Museum (fun!), Legoland, a video game amusement park, malls, museums, and more.
Nikko – Home of the Nikko National Forest and the tomb of Ieyasu Tokugawa, a famous warlord from hisotic Japan
Karaoke – Karaoke is truly a fun experience for you and your friends. Unlike in America, each group gets a personal karaoke room to enjoy privately. If you’re lucky, you can find awesome deals. We found a Japanese-style pub that gave us two hours of karaoke and unlimited beer and cocktails for 2 hours for only around $10!! Who said Japan had to be expensive?
Harajuku – A busy street with lots of crazy fashion and clothing stores. Even if you don’t like shopping, the people-watching is fantastic
Hakone – A slightly touristy city, but there’s an amazing outdoor art museum there. Also, you can buy a two-day pass for around $50 to get transportation there and back from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, transportation on all the trains in Hakone, transportation on the Hakone ropeway up the mountain, and on a sightseeing cruise on the lake. Eat black eggs that were boiled in the sulfurous hot springs at the top of the mountain to add 7 years to your life!
New York Bar – Anyone who has seen the movie “Lost in Translation” knows this bar at the top of the Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel. The specialty drinks are expensive, but delicious, and it’s somewhere you need to go at least once. There’s a sitting charge if you stay past 8PM to listen to the live music, or you can go downstairs to the other bar without paying any charges.
Kyoto – A historic capital of Japan. There is way too much to see in just a few days, but Kyoto is filled with shrines and temples (including the Gold Pavillion, a must-see), a castle, a monkey park, and more.
Disney Sea – Truly the most magical place on earth! Right next to Tokyo Disneyland (I didn’t get to go), but with different rides and attractions. Go as a “single rider” and you go straight to the front of the line of the best rides. And stay to the end for the night show, it was absolutely amazing!
Ghibli Museum – Studio Ghibli opened a museum in Tokyo dedicated to its movies. The museum is small and cheap, but beautiful. Especially if you’re a fan of Ghibli films such as Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, and Ponyo, this museum is a must-see.
Yoyogi Park – A beautiful park in itself, Yoyogi Park often hosts festivals that are always popular and interesting. I went to the Cinco De Mayo Festival and the Thai Festival.