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17 June 2010 @ 08:28 pm
Japan Travelogue  


So, how to you travel from central Europe to Japan? By plane, certainly. So, I went to a travel agency for information and found that I did not have to get to Germany to get a decent flight without spending my entire travel savings. I was really happy about that. I'm even flying from Vienna directly to Tokyo, which I find quite amazing.

It was a huge advantage that I knew exactly when I wanted to go and planned so far ahead. The flight costs are rather low, when booking several months ahead. I have to say, though, that they rise exponentially. I went for information and got 3 possibilities. I discussed everything with my travel buddy and then booked the flight about 5 days later, but the price had already gone up by 30€. So, if you know when you want to go, book your flight as quickly as possible. For "exotic" destinations it's not true that last minute bookings are cheap - sometimes it's even quite the contrary.

Well, flight was simple enough. And there are some pretty nice organized travels through Japan, starting from 6 and going up to 20 days. I think that's nice if you want to get a first impression. A big advantage is that everything will be organized for you and for a reasonable price. For me this sort of trip was not really attractive, though. The schedule tends to be VERY tight and organized. I've got quite some ideas of what I want to do and see, when I want to go where, etc., so that wouldn't have worked. A fact that I found rather sad is that you will ONLY be able to see Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. That's it. No exceptions. Well, there are day trips too, but that's about it. So, I decided that it's not for me.

Another problem arose when I wanted to book hotels. At the travel agency the prices were extremely high (at least for my understanding) - not a chance below 60€ per night and person. And again, the variety is limited toTokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. So, for Nagoya I would have had to book for myself anyway. The travel agency could not help me there. This is very bothersome when you really want to visit Nagoya, or any other smaller town, but don't know anyone who is living in Japan, or regularly keep up to date because you visit conventions, etc. I happen to have both these advantages, so it wasn't that hard for me to find a good place that wasn't too expensive. But this is a real problem. If anyone who reads this wants to go to a smaller town and cannot get a room via a travel agency, search the internet. But don't look for "hotels" , but try "ryokan".

Ryokan: Traditional Japanese hotels. There's a huge variety of them in every town. Some of them are very expensive, but you can usually find some with good prices too. In a Ryokan you will only get a room to sleep in, traditionally with a futon on the floor. No furniture, or anything. It's simply a place to go to sleep. Two important things to check when you want to visit a Ryokan: Ask whether they accommodate "western" people. Some Ryokans are entirely "Japanese". Second, in quite a lot of Ryokans you won't have your own shower, but you'll have to use the common bath. Some places don't even have a bath and you'll have to visit a near bath house. So, make sure you check that.

Living in Japan is generally very expensive. I couldn't get a decent place (well, I decided I wanted my own bed and a shower) for less than 45€ per night. But that'll be okay. I have only just finished my list of hotels and I'll book my rooms by the end of the week. It's important I finish it soon. I need to know my traveling expenses, in order to get an insurance for my trip. So, that's what I'm currently on.

I'll update on this once I booked my rooms to report about any obstacles that might have come up, but it seems to be rather simple. I'm hoping for the best.

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