Home Forums Off Topic JAPAN TRAVEL MEGATHREAD

This topic contains 117 replies, has 31 voices, and was last updated by  Joel 10 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #23419

    missingno15
    Member

    My personal goal this year is to raise money to go to Japan. No more being wishy washy about traveling there.

    Of course when planning a trip, there are so many things to consider first because that will, in the end, equal the amount of money and effort that must be put into making the trip happen.

    Let’s talk about those things here. Also, let’s talk about any sort of travel to Japan, in Japan, and/or back from Japan. Also this is kind of an effort to shorten the amount of japan travel threads as there is no search feature on this forum.

    As for me, my plan is still tentative (not even, just a theory!). I don’t know how long I want to stay, when I want to stay, where I’m gonna stay, where I want to go exactly other than touristy places, the suica cards, money expenses for day to day bullsnit, concerts, souvenirs, and love hotels. Actually, staying somewhere isn’t so much a problem since I have friends have offered me to stay at their places and its kind of pick and choose for me lol. Also belligerent airfares.

    Since lodging seems to be free for me, I’m still looking at a good $3000-$4000 for maybe 2 weeks? (airplane roundtrip included) Yen is currently stronger than the dollar. Checked recently and its about 75-76yen to the dollar WTF

    where to get cheap airfare rates? link?
    大学生としてどこでバイトしようかな?という問題

    Also lots of people here talk about going to Japan. Thats just talk. Now let’s actually get to work on actually getting there.

    うん、ということで、みんなで一緒に計画を立てよう!

    #23431

    Mark
    Member

    I’m going in April, how about you?

    #23433

    missingno15
    Member

    So like I said, its all tentative because its really just a thought to me right now, but in order for me to start working towards this goal, I have to establish some criteria for this trip. The criteria part is what I wanted to discuss

    #23460

    Joel
    Member

    Get a JR Pass if you’re going to do a lot of Shinkansen travel. Check out http://www.japanrailpass.net – there’s lists showing where you can buy them (and they need to be bought before you leave your home country); just ignore the airline sellers and scroll down to the travel agent lists.

    If you want to work out whether a JR Pass is worth it, http://www.hyperdia.com will show you how much your rail travel will be otherwise. And, for that matter will also help you get from place to place once you’re there. Also, the peace of mind offered by the JR Pass is amazing. =)

    If you want to stay somewhere that doesn’t have a friend to put you up for the night business hotels are cheap and quite nice – I suggest Toyoko Inn, which has branches practically everywhere, cost just eight thousand yen or so a night, and give free Internet and breakfast. http://www.toyoko-inn.com

    My friend and I went for two weeks starting from August in 2010, and we spent a total of $AUS 3333 each.

    Lastly, you wrote:
    > there is no search feature on this forum.

    Account > Profile > Topics or Replies > search box. It’s well-hidden, but it exists.

    #23531

    Quufer
    Member

    Note that all the below is for the Kansai region. YMMV elsewhere.

    There should be somewhat-cheap hostels in various cities. I didn’t stay at hotels in Kyoto when I was there in December (as I was staying with friends), but I remember seeing places advertising for around 6000 Yen, or 80 USD/night, which didn’t seem outrageous. Hostels are probably cheaper still.

    Money is a pain. I tried 3 ways of getting yen. I took some cash with me, and exchanged it at the airport. There was approximately a 4% fee for doing this. I used my credit card; there was a 1% fee for doing this. And I used an ATM (look for 7-11, most/all US ATM cards should work there); there were three fees for this, totaling around 4%. Needless to say, use your credit card whenever possible (but not all places that accept cards will accept US cards). And, as noted above, the exchange rate sucks. Take any number in Yen, divide by 100, and increase by a third (i.e., 6000 Yen –> approx. $80) for everyday use.

    Most shrines/temples were free. Some had a nominal fee, usually 300-500 Yen. The most I saw was 1000 Yen, though that included tea, and was technically a garden. Food prices were not unreasonable (compared to the US).

    Train prices are dirt-cheap compared to how much it costs to get around in other countries by car. The Seishun 18 ticket (http://wikitravel.org/en/Seishun_18_Ticket) can be awesomely cheap, though note that it’s only for JR lines, and that there are many rail operators out there besides JR. Also, at least in the Kansai region, there was a card you could buy that essentially functioned as a debit card for rail use; once you bought it, you could just add money to it, and didn’t have to buy individual tickets for each trip. And it worked for all train operators. And at the end of your trip, if you talk to JR at the airport, they’ll even give you back your 500 Yen deposit and any money you have left on the card. This is really awesome, and I recommend that you get one ASAP.

    For flights, I think Koichi has a decent summary: http://www.tofugu.com/2010/11/16/how-to-get-cheap-airplane-tickets-to-japan/ There should be a place at the airport to ship your bags to your destination, if needed. I did this when flying in to Osaka (KIX) and then staying in Kyoto; I think it cost around $40 for two (large) suitcases.

    Note that, for the most part, signs are in Japanese. I repeat: signs are in Japanese. Unless you’re relatively far along in your studies, don’t expect to be able to read much of the historical background signs at temples/shrines/museums/etc. My wife (native) could read them no problem, my other two friends (one has lived in Japan for 3 years, the other has been there 9 months, both also studied in the US) can get by on the trains and the like, but were also mostly lost at temples/shrines/museums. For myself, 6 months into Textfugu and 4 months more into RTK, I could read the occasional word (and recognize many of the kanji), but that was about it. Note that I’m slower than most other learners, though, due to being an old fogey and not getting school breaks. Trains stations (well, airports too) are about the only exception, you don’t absolutely need Japanese for trains (though it doesn’t hurt). But most temples/shrines/museums will have a one-sentence (at most) explanation for each item of interest in English with a wall-of-text in Japanese, and most do not have English tours (though a couple did have English audio tours).

    And, as always, Wikitravel is your friend.

    #23541

    I’m planning on heading out Toyko in August or September of this year. Still in the saving process as well. I’ve been looking at tour groups recently, as there are quite a few places that will do full tours of Tokyo for a few days, then full tours of Kyoto for a few days. The rail pass and some meals are generally included. Since you have friends that you would be staying with, I would see if they would be willing to take you around and really get immersed in the culture, the stuff real people do, not what the travel companies want to show you.

    As for cheap airfare, I’ve setup some price alerts on Kayak.com, when tickets hit the price point I want, I will get an email letting me know rates are where I want them to be. Defintiely check out that site. I would also do a quick Google search to see when the cheapest days to buy tickets are (yup, apparently some days are cheaper than others).

    Good luck with your trip! I hope you make it over sooner, rather than later!

    #23543

    ooh_a_robot
    Member

    Wow I didn’t spot this thread… forum is swamped with introductions at the moment.
    It’s gonna be a long time before I can afford to go there, but I’ve already been planning/reading up on everything I’d need to know.

    Question though…
    I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a trip which half consisted of a guided tour (maybe a week), and the rest of the time (another week or more) spent exploring by myself.
    The tours I liked were a wee bit expensive, but took you to so many amazing places. There was a lot of free time to wander about by yourself, but the main thing I liked the idea of, was having somebody pointing me in the right direction all the time. One thing I’m scared of, is going to Japan and missing out on so many amazing places/things, just because I got lost, or didn’t even realise they existed. Some things on the tour I wouldn’t know where to begin arranging by myself.

    Does anyone else think this sort of thing would be worthwhile? Or just a monumental waste of money? I’m very undecided, and skeptical about my own skills as a trip planner!

    That also brings up another question… what would be everyones expected budget for a Japan visit? Excluding flights, as that would vary depending where you’re all from! Joel, you said you spent $AUS 3333, did you expect to spend that much/more/less?

    #23544

    ooh_a_robot
    Member

    @Andrew Marcec… it’s like you read my mind, while I was constructing my epic post :P

    Btw, this is what I’ve been looking at… http://www.magicaljapan.co.uk/
    Though that’s from the UK, it’s a rough idea of what I was getting at, for anyone not UK based. Hope I’m allowed to post that link, please mod me if not!

    • This reply was modified 12 years, 1 month ago by  ooh_a_robot.
    #23551

    missingno15
    Member

    I would see if they would be willing to take you around and really get immersed in the culture, the stuff real people do, not what the travel companies want to show you.

    This is actually a rather good point, not because my friends can show me around places but I have to consider when they are free or not because my friends are always mad busy. So one thing that I have definitely have to consider is the time of year based on Japan’s school system schedule.

    But even though I have friends, it would probably be a good idea to buy a sightseeing guide of some sort. Even though I live around 40minutes to an hour away from NYC, I have never seen any of the touristy places until I went around with my Japanese friends and they used a sightseeing book that they bought from Japan. So I’d do the same thing and plan out my day to day schedule. The idea like you mentioned of having people show you around and where to go in a tour guide is great but I’d rather plan these things myself as it is more cost efficient. But of course, if you have and are willing to spend the money on guided tours, I don’t think that sounds like a bad idea.

    Also, budget as I’m thinking about it right now, including airfare though because its around $1150 USD plus JR Pass [$615], amounts to around $1770, so tentatively $4000? and max limit of $5000 for 2 weeks? Looking at the amount that Joel spent, it seems like I’m overestmating. But at the same time, I have to take in account my interest in idols and the fact the yen is much stronger than the USD so I’d have to shell out more money than I need.

    Speaking of money, if its alright with you, where you guys working at? I’m a poor college student so part-time jobs are the way to go for me. Any ideas?

    Also about when I can go, I have no choice but to fit it according to my school schedule so whenever or not I have classes or not. If I can raise an absurd amount of money in a short time, I’ll go in the summer or next winter break, if not, then next year. But then I also have to consider the fact that I will probably be studying abroad for an entire academic year during my junior year.

    #23566

    work? hmmm
    well seeing as I get paid 550$ a month by the government for being a student, I only need to work little. I work in a supermarket placing new goods on the shelves and helping people. It is decent, but I think I might quit it soon due to having banked a pretty big fortune by now ^^. Maybe you are lucky to be able to find something better than me, but when being a student you can’t really get the best jobs…

    Also, I think 5000$ won’t be enough, because you will go broke as soon as you enter an idol shop :P

    #23573

    missingno15
    Member

    AKB48 cafe @ Akihabara all day bro

    Which reminds me, I have to plan on how many times im gonna visit Akihabara. Can’t go there for the entire trip

    #23593

    Ian Smith
    Member

    $1800 for a month (incl. airfare), with accommodations covered by my fiancée and her family. I didn’t get much in the way of souvenirs, but I did manage to visit Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Tokyo, and a couple islands (Awaji and Miyajima) with some pretty good meals sprinkled in here and there. $5000 is quite comfortable even for more of a tourist. I’m a serial hitchhiker and general wanderer, but if I were advising friends or family I’d estimate $5000 for two people for two weeks being a reasonable (and quite enjoyable) budget experience.

    To clarify: most of my expenses were books. We ate at a few nice restaurants but mostly convenience stores, MOS Burger, and bakeries. Obviously if you’re limited to the city and normal tourist destinations the cost is much higher than if you’re more into exploring the outskirts and slightly less urban areas.

    #23595

    Joel
    Member

    Joel, you said you spent $AUS 3333, did you expect to spend that much/more/less?

    I couldn’t really say, to be honest. I don’t think we ever really had a budget in mind.

    We went there basically knowing exactly how much the hotels were going to cost, and having already paid for the airfares and JR Pass. We made an educated guess for how much our day-to-day expenses would be, and went with that. I wound up going to a 711 ATM on the very first night we arrived because I spent like a quarter of the cash I’d brought with me on the taxi that we caught when we thought we’d missed the last train for the day. With that money, plus $US 500 my grandparents gave me, I wound up spending about ¥4500 per day, and took home a little over ¥22,000.

    To be fair, though – and to address missingno’s concerns of overestimating, we didn’t go there to shop. I think we each spent maybe ¥10,000 or thereabouts on souvenirs and that was pretty much it, so I guess if you’re planning on shopping, you can crank the estimate up a bit. Also, the Aussie dollar was pretty strong against the US dollar at the time (though not as strong as it was when I went to America in November =P) so we were getting something in the range of 82 to 85 yen to the dollar. I don’t honestly recall the exchange rate exactly.

    Speaking of money, if its alright with you, where you guys working at?

    I’m not. Been broke since I got back from America, aha, aha.

    #23600

    missingno15
    Member

    You bet I’m gonna go shopping. I have this unnecessary need to accumulate more and more books in japanese, and then probably get idol stuff which can get really really expensive if im not in the right state of mind. Example: spent $400 in one sitting on idol goods….O| ̄|_

    This is also including emergency money for stuff like taxis cause my japanese friends had to take taxis a bunch of times while they were here

    And Mark, I don’t think you should quit your part time job. C’mon, disregard females, acquire currency.

    #23654

    Karu
    Member

    This thread is great!
    I’m planning on studying abroad in Japan, either next Fall or Spring. Haven’t decided exactly when I’m going, but it would be nice to see the cherry blossoms in bloom!

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