asking for trouble

Planning for Japan 2016 – 8 Months to Go

japan 2016

A few people said they’d like to know more about how I organise for a Japan trip so I thought I would start a new series of updates about what I’ve been doing. They’ll maybe happen once a month to start with, and then more regularly nearer the time.

First, some facts

  • It will be my fourth trip to Japan and my first since 2010.
  • I’m planning to go in May 2016 around Design Festa.
  • I’ll be going for at least 10 days but maybe up to 3 weeks
  • I’m going solo after spending the last 3 trips with my sister

Everything else is still very much TBD, mostly depending on how much money I’ve saved up. I’ll be spending a good amount of time in Tokyo and almost certainly visiting Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagoya, but there are loads of places I’d love to visit so I could change my mind.

What have I been doing so far?


Saving air miles

The one thing I won’t compromise on is flights – it has to be direct from the UK and comfortable. If you can do long haul flights with connections and budget airlines, I salute you, but I wouldn’t be able to relax for panicking about missing my connection or losing my luggage, so I’m willing to pay more.

I’ve traveled to Japan via ANA and Virgin Atlantic and they were both great, but Virgin has a better schedule for me so I joined their Flying Club and also switched my credit card over to them. I got a bunch of miles for joining and for spending certain amounts and I’ve basically changed my spending to funnel as much as possible through my credit card, obviously paying it off in full each month. I’ve already racked up quite a lot of miles so by the time I book my flights, I should be good for a discount or upgrade, not to mention all the little extras at the airport.

Me and Totoro at the bus stop

Starting an itinerary

I already read tons of stuff about Japan on blogs and websites and social media and I’ve started collecting info on anything I might be interested in visiting. I’m using a Google Docs spreadsheet with tabs for shops, food + drink, museums, random stuff and useful things. As soon as I spot something online, I paste in whatever details I have – name, address, area, website – anything to help me do more research later. Obviously my list is ridiculously long at the moment – and covers the length of Japan, but I plan to publish a long version that you can all use too, and then whittle it down to my favourites for my own trip.

Lake Ashi, Hakone

Starting a shopping list

Not a list of what I want to buy in Japan (because that’s everything), but things I’ll need to buy before I go. For instance, I don’t currently own a camera and with May being pretty warm I’ll probably need some comfortable walking sandals. Instead of leaving it all until the last minute, it’s better if I can do some research and also get air miles on any big purchases.

Todai-Ji Temple, Nara

Saving saving saving

This is still the big one really. I had a target in mind when I started planning this trip a few years ago and hit it quite recently, only then to have to replace both my iPhone and my laptop. Ouch. I’ve no doubt I can replace that pretty quickly, and then hopefully save a lot more too, so that I can go for as long as possible with plenty spending money and have extra for any future emergency purchases.

I don’t really have any special saving tips. I just try not to spend too much generally. I haven’t been on any big holidays or made too many impulse buys and I put all my birthday money and unexpected cheques straight into my savings account. I’ve also a been a bit more prudent with my business – not doing any big risky craft fairs or ordering fancy new products. I’m investing in this trip for my business most of all, so it will be worth it in the long run.


And that’s about it for now. If you have any questions about this, or for a future post, feel free to leave a comment. All the photos in this post are from my first trip in 2006. You can blame the two rival retired amateur photographers on our guided tour for how few photos I took. Their behaviour was so awful that I lost the will to take many photos myself.


Hello! I’m Marceline Smith, the designer and owner of Asking For Trouble. I create illustrated stationery, accessories and gifts using my cute characters inspired by Japanese kawaii. This is my business and personal blog where I write about my creative doings, inspirations, travels, Japan trips and daily life. Read more »

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