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Old 01-29-2007, 05:53 AM   #1
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Talking Japan

Anyone been to Japan? I've only been in Osaka there once for 3 weeks, but it chewed a lot on my budget.

I was wondering if there are other places to visit such as countrysides, and maybe some good hostels.

Thanks!
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Old 01-29-2007, 11:00 AM   #2
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I've been to Tokyo and Kyoto but both of those cities I was with the fam so it wasn't a tight budget. I could imagine though that Kyoto would be pretty cheap, plus it is really pretty there. I would also say, if you can, swing down to Hong Kong, it's worth it
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Old 01-29-2007, 08:35 PM   #3
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I am hoping to go to Japan in 2008 so I too would love advice on hostels how the hostel scene is there etc.

--Joey
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Old 01-29-2007, 10:34 PM   #4
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We lived in Japan for three years, and did a fair bit of traveling around, though mostly in the north of the country. It can be fiercely expensive, but there are ways to cut back a bit and still enjoy the experience.

For eating, a bowl of udon or soba is a cheap and filling option, with meat or fish and veggies as well as lots of noodles for energy and a full stomach. Alcohol is horrendously expensive, generally.

100 Yen stores are great places to pick up decent quality souvenirs and anything you suddenly require (toothbrush? straw hat? sunglasses? photo album? underwear? chopsticks? teapot? - just going in to the store is a trip.

We only stayed in one hostel, in Hakkodate (Hokkaido), which was impeccable and pretty much deserted when we went there in the off season - it was either spring or early fall - warm enough for shorts but all the kids were in school. I don't have my guide book handy, but check one out from the library for current prices and suggestions. Another interesting and budget concious option is to stay at a ryokan - we stayed in one in Tokyo (Ueno area - a good base, incidentally - ours was in an old cobblestoned residential district, but walking distance to the metro, Zoo and park with all the museums), and one on a tree lined canal street in Kyoto. In Osaka we stayed one night at the Holiday Inn Express, which was the cheapest option I could find at the time, and close to a park and tennis stadium, though a hefty walk from the train station in the dark, pelting rain, porting three small children and a backpack. Perhaps not my best decision ever...

There's a ton to see and do in south central Japan, but if you have time to get up north, you'll have quite a different experience of the country and culture. We lived in Aomori prefecture, which is has hiking trails around beautiful gorges and lakes, lots of rural farming areas, sandy coasts, colourful parades (Aomori's Nebuta festival and the lantern festival in neighbouring Akita prefecture are big summer draws) and little of the crowded neon frenzy you find in the south. You could search for glass fishing floats on Mutsu Bay after a stormy night, or check out the wild horses at the Cape. At the "tip of the hatchet" (look at a map, you'll understand what I mean), you can catch a ferry to Hokkaido, which is even more distinct from the typical Japanese experience. Sapporo is the capital, though we visited only Hakkodate, a 19th C. trading port with quite a bizarre mix of architectural styles, great restaurants, and a pleasant atmosphere.

We also visited Okinawa, which is quite crowded and is the most "American" part of Japan that I've seen - K-Mart and Walmart and every kind of fast food, because of all the military bases there, but really interesting once you get past that - different cultural traditions from the "mainland", and wonderful beaches. We swam in the ocean in December, and saw giant clams and barracuda and thousands of colourful fish from a glass bottom boat.

If you have a chance to get away from the main cities and check out the countryside I think you'll really enjoy it - hiking along a river path and suddenly coming to an isolated temple or torii you can almost feel like you're in an old woodblock print.

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Old 02-12-2007, 08:55 PM   #5
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I saw that Continental had roundtrip flights to Tokyo from my hometown of Tampa for 758 dollars in March. That seems like a good deal because I checked the prices in May and they were around 1200. Are we too far out from May or is that roughly the price difference? Seems like if that is the case, I may want to force a March trip even though I just started learning Japanese two weeks ago that way next year when I was planning on hitting China and Japan, I can just concentrate on China.

If I do China and Japan, as I was planning, I would have 14-17 days for both. That may be a little tight. But if do Japan these year, then it is like I had 24-27 days to do both and that sounds pretty reasonable. The price difference of splitting it up is only about 100 bucks

Decisions, decisions...

--Joey

PS Did I read it right, that Continental only offers lunch on the Newark/Houstin-Narita leg? That is 14 hours with only one meal.
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:22 AM   #6
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^ dude, for 100 bucks and TWO awesome fabulous trips...I'd say GO FOR MARCH man!
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Old 02-13-2007, 07:42 AM   #7
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Yeah, definitely break up the journey, if you can afford it - more time to delve a little deeper into each. Plus two trips instead of one is always a good option.

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Old 02-13-2007, 09:41 AM   #8
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Other options for cheaper places to stay in Japan are capsule hotels and love hotels. Both offer a unique view of Japan as well.

I second the post on visiting 100 yen shops. They really have anything you could want. I lived in Japan for a year and probably didn't go over 3 days without going to one
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Old 02-13-2007, 05:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tumblezweedz View Post
Yeah, definitely break up the journey, if you can afford it - more time to delve a little deeper into each. Plus two trips instead of one is always a good option.

I agree. Thanks everyone!

Mushroom22: I am definitely going to sleep in a Capsule Hotel just for the experience, though I have heard they aren't the cheapest accommodation.

--Joey
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Old 03-14-2007, 08:32 PM   #10
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^Bump.

After rulling out my other vacation options, I am headed to Japan. I need to buy a ticket still (looks like 1000 bucks on Continental)

I am planning on budgeting 100 bucks a day for 10-12 days with a rail pass thrown in. Sound reasonable?

I lose day one completely in flight and half of day two. So after arriving in Tokyo, I am planning on staying put at least the night. My sister will join me about four days later (tentative).

Day 1 Leave Tampa
Day 2 Land in Tokyo and walk around
Day 3 Tour Tokyo, trip to Kamakura, see baseball game (capsule hotel)
Day 4 Takayama
Day 5 Takayama
Day 6 Head back to Tokyo - Sister arrives
Day 7 Highlights of Tokyo Imperial gardens (possibly another baseball game)
Day 8 Mount Fuji area
Day 9 Kyoto
Day 10 Kyoto
Day 11 Tokyo Disney (yes I know Disney World is 80 minutes away from my house and I have been there 50 times but I have to do this)
Day 12 Leave Tokyo arrive in Tampa

If my sister decides to skip this trip, I will still start and end in Tokyo but probably hit more cities in between (reclaiming day 6 and 7) and do a lot less backtracking.

--Joey
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:29 PM   #11
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I lived in Tokyo for 2 1/2 years. Staying around Tokyo is not a bad Idea but, you will need a lot more than 100 a day if you like the nightlife. If you like the nightlife go to Roppongi, Tama is a good place to go during the day. They have lots of Shrine tours and snow monkeys everywhere, they are friendly and a lot of fun to play with. Over bu Fuji the is a amusement park called Fuji-Q with the biggest poller coaster in the world I believe and I think the 3rd fastest as well. The young locals are very friendly in Japan, and they will help you get around as much as they can. The train system is pretty confusing at first. If you need any help on anything just ask, I have a lot of friends that still live in Tokyo, so if I dont know the answer I can find out. Also Full moon festival every month is a must.
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Old 03-14-2007, 10:31 PM   #12
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also Kyoto is kinda expensive to get to from Tokyo, Im now sure how expensive, but its for sure over 100 round trip
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Old 03-15-2007, 07:17 PM   #13
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Good advice! I wondered where I could run into some snow monkeys!

How does the rail pass work? It seems like I need to preorder a certificate that I present at a trainstaiton in order to get the pass. Also, how do I add Shinkansen trains that aren't supported?

Are there some cities that most tourists overlook but should be seen?

--Joey
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Old 03-18-2007, 08:43 PM   #14
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Tweaked my schedule a bit

Today I committed and bought a ticket (the first time I have ever done that! I always used frequently flyer mileage or someone bought it for me and then I paid them...not quite the same)

1200 bucks poorer but a lot happier, I am headed to Japan!

So here is my very rough itinerary and I am open to any and all suggestions (accomodation, food, sites etc)

May 2nd - Submit my final exam and crash early
May 3rd - Fly from Tampa to Houston to Tokyo (Narita)
May 4th - Land in Tokyo, find my hostel and walk around Shibuya
May 5th - Do something in Tokyo (Yokohama?) and catch a Japanese Baseball game
May 6th - Hang around Tokyo (Kamakura?) and ride back to the airport to snag my sister and bring her into the city
May 7th - Kyoto
May 8th - Kyoto (Kiyomizu Temple)
May 9th - Mount Fuji area
May 10th - ???
May 11th - ???
May 12th - Tokyo Imperial Palace tour, something else (Tama) sleep in Capsule Hotel
May 13th - Tokyo Disneyland
May 14th - Pack up, hang around Narita head to airport around 4:30 in the afternoon

I want to see something that is representative of old Japan on May 10th and 11th. The rail pass seems like a good idea.

--Joey

Last edited by joe7f; 03-19-2007 at 05:34 PM.
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Old 03-18-2007, 09:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe7f View Post
Tweaked my schedule a bit

Today I committed and bought a ticket (the first time I have ever done that! I always used frequently flyer mileage or someone bought it for me and then I paid them...not quite the same)

1200 buck poorer but a lot happier, I am headed to Japan!

So here is my very rough itinerary and I am open to any and all suggestions (accomodation, food, sites etc)

May 2nd - Submit my final exam and crash early
May 3rd - Fly from Tampa to Houston to Tokyo (Narita)
May 4th - Land in Tokyo, find my hostel and walk around Shibuya
May 5th - Do something in Tokyo (Yokohama?) and catch a Japanese Baseball game
May 6th - Hang around Tokyo (Kamakura?) and ride back to the airport to snag my sister and bring her into the city
May 7th - Kyoto
May 8th - Kyoto (Kiyomizu Temple)
May 9th - Mount Fuji area
May 10th - ???
May 11th - ???
May 12th - Tokyo Imperial Palace tour, something else (Tama) sleep in Capsule Hotel
May 13th - Tokyo Disneyland
May 14th - Pack up, hang around Narita head to airport around 4:30 in the afternoon

I want to see something that is representative of old Japan on May 10th and 11th. The rail pass seems like a good idea.

--Joey

kamakura is apparently one of the best 'old japan' places near tokyo, and asuksa is ment to be quaint (a suburb of tokyo) god i lived the for a few months, but never left tokyo. cant be of much help outta tokyo sorry.

as far as places to eat...

shibuya as you exit the train station and are stading outside tokyu department store near the dog statue,looking at starbucks, walk right. there is an AWESOME steak place just under the bridge there called pepper lunch. its the best. get the 980Yen steak and mung beans. yumness!

your sister will probably want to check out 109 building in shibuya, so while shes doing that, go to HMV, or tower records. at the top of HMV is THE BEST internet cafe in the world! as voted by me. if your ever stuck for a place to sleep one night, go there, its only 1500yen for 6 hours, form 11pm. and its open 24 hours, includes free drinks-tea coffee,coke etc.
there is a sushi bar as you walk up to hmv on the side street. god only knnow what its called, but you will know it when you see it. its super famous, and there is sually a que to get a seat. worth the wait if you like japanese sushi (no western style here!)
theres a 300yen bar too, everything is 300 yen, alcohole drinks, food, the lot. its tucked away a bit, but its near the harley davidson shop in shibuya, i think near dennys?

shinjuku is great, just wander the whole area. theres a massive park. cant rememebr the name. youll find it easy enough. its about 200yen to enter, but its nice to just be able to relax fromt he city for a few hours there.

harajuku is a must. even for just an hour or two. you can walk there easily from shibuya. they have a great souvioneer shop there too. big red building.

um... obida bay is a sight, youll see it from the train as you go to tokyo disneyland. disneysea is crap, only go if you have a spare half day. there isnt many rides, and theres shit all there really. kinda cool i guess.

roppongi is the place to go if you wanna catch up with other westerners. not much point tho if your going to japan to get away form them! ahha

hope that helped.

oh, wait.

you HAVE to go to don quiote!! its a huge jumble store in shibuya,roppongi,shinjuku, tonnes of random cheap crap. imagine kmart crammed into a smaller area.

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Old 03-18-2007, 09:33 PM   #16
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Awesome Jess, thanks for the advice. There is so much to do in Tokyo maybe I should just hangout in one of the surrounding areas.

I am so stoked for this trip and I am hitting the Japanese pretty hard to prepare.

--Joey
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Old 03-18-2007, 09:42 PM   #17
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have you got a lonely planet guide on japan?

theres a lil one on tokyo- the best of, comes with a great map and a few phrases (you probably wont need them tho, they speak english there too hah)


oh, and if you wnana buya cheap cellphone- take your credit card, find an address (fake it, doesnt have to be where you actually live) go to bic camera in shibuya (its on the corner of the intersection by the train station) they have vodaphone cellphones for 1yen. brand new. all they ask is to go under contract for one year. say you will. pay your one yen. get your phone. when you leave tokyo go to the vodafone stand at the airport, and cancel your number. it will cost 9000yen. but you get a brand new phone not locked in. when you get home go to the cellphone store in your area and unlock the sim from japan. easy peasy. i done it with tonnes of phones and sold them all for a tidy profit when i got back

depends on the cost of cellphones in your area tho i guess. nz is stupidly expensive for a new phone.
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Old 03-19-2007, 06:08 PM   #18
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Phones aren't that expensive in the US (in general most things tend to be cheaper stateside) since we don't have a VAT.

It sounds like the cell phone situation has changed because now they do a check (or that is what a website said as of April 2006). I am thinking of a prepaid phone in case I go back to Japan. If you think of anything else PM me or (probably better so others can benefit) post it to the thread.

Five weeks left!

--Joey
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Old 03-19-2007, 07:23 PM   #19
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mmmm maybe? they always say they check, but if your only there for a week, say you have just arrived, your 'planning' on staying a few years... actually, if phones are cheap in the states its fully not worth the bother.
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Old 03-20-2007, 09:39 AM   #20
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I was applying for jobs today and for shits and giggles I sent my resume to the Morale and Welfare department for one of the bases in Japan that needs lifeguards.... room and board provided and the pay is 250 a week.... Not amazing but it could be fun for the summer. We'll see if they reply.
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