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Old 02-26-2014, 01:02 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Air Asia has a special promo Melbourne or Perth to Osaka for as low as $229 one way, and I'm thinking of doing a trip to Japan this September or October. Will probably fly into Osaka, spend a couple of nights there, spend about 4 nights in Kyoto. Was thinking of climbing Mt Fuji but I'm not that fit, do you think it's still doable? Don't care about seeing the sunrise, so would prefer to climb mostly in daylight, would it be doable in one day? Is the mountain still open in September and can I expect severe weather conditions?

I would then spend about 5 nights in Tokyo. What are some of your favourite spots/things to do in Tokyo and surrounds?

If not, don't mind just checking out the place. I was also thinking of flying to Sapporo and checking out Hokkaido. Will there be a lot of autumn colours in late September and October? Any recommendations for Hokkaido?

Alternatively was thinking of either flying to Seoul or taking the ferry from Fukuoka to Busan (which would require a change of plans: would probably fly into Tokyo and head eastward). I wouldn't mind checking out Korea, but just Japan would be fine too.

My goal is to spend no more than $100 on food and accommodation a day, do you think it's possible?
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:27 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,945 posts, read 36,154,437 times
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Air Asia has a special promo Melbourne or Perth to Osaka for as low as $229 one way, and I'm thinking of doing a trip to Japan this September or October. Will probably fly into Osaka, spend a couple of nights there, spend about 4 nights in Kyoto. Was thinking of climbing Mt Fuji but I'm not that fit, do you think it's still doable? Don't care about seeing the sunrise, so would prefer to climb mostly in daylight, would it be doable in one day? Is the mountain still open in September and can I expect severe weather conditions?

I would then spend about 5 nights in Tokyo. What are some of your favourite spots/things to do in Tokyo and surrounds?

If not, don't mind just checking out the place. I was also thinking of flying to Sapporo and checking out Hokkaido. Will there be a lot of autumn colours in late September and October? Any recommendations for Hokkaido?

Alternatively was thinking of either flying to Seoul or taking the ferry from Fukuoka to Busan (which would require a change of plans: would probably fly into Tokyo and head eastward). I wouldn't mind checking out Korea, but just Japan would be fine too.

My goal is to spend no more than $100 on food and accommodation a day, do you think it's possible?
$100 in Japan. As long as you stay in hostels or capsule hotels, and you really limit the public transportation.

Generally speaking, getting on a bus or train sets you back $2.50 immediately, but goes up quite quickly the longer you are on a bus or train.

I climbed Mt. Fuji, but can't remember when the season ends. I'm thinking September might be the end of it, but I'm not sure. Even if you aren't fit, you could probably get a ways up there. You can always go back down, if you just decide you can't for whatever reason.

Also, if you are flying into Osaka, it costs a lot of money to get up to Tokyo. I think it's around $100 one-way by Shinkansin, maybe a bit more. You might be able to do a Willers Express overnight bus (which has a website) that might be less money, maybe $50 one-way overnight.

Well, whatever you do, staying under $100 a day will be problematic. Hostels start at $20 if you are lucky, and Capsule Hotels start around $40, if you are lucky. But, buses and trains can eat up your money really quickly, and you still have to eat. You might be able to search around for something as low as $5-6 for meals, but it's not easy to do. In short, you might be able to get close, but it'll take a lot of planning and sacrificing. If you go up to Tokyo though, or come up from Fukuoka, than it'll cost you $100 just to get up to Osaka from either direction.

There are some passes that you can buy unlimited train travel. You MUST by it outside of Japan, and you must prove you don't live in Japan. Once you are in Japan, you cannot purchase that pass. So, definitely look into that! That could save you some good coin in the long-run.
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Old 02-26-2014, 04:34 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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^ Yes the plan is to stay in hostels or cheap ryokans if I can find any, maybe capsule hotels for the experience too. Plan is to fly into Osaka and fly out of Tokyo, so $100 one way isn't too expensive. Will try to generally eat cheap, and I hear a lot of attractions are free or cheap. In Tokyo I'll probably just explore all the areas.

Rail passes look really expensive, so I don't mind just doing the bullet train once and then just take the bus.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:36 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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Even then a bus between say Narita and a place like my wife's hometown south of Tokyo will set you back $50. But it is definitely cheaper than the Shinkansen.

Note that all my dollars are USD. Re-reading your post, I see you are Australian. Sorry, I'm too lazy to reconvert to AUD.

On $100 / day, let's say you spend $40 / night on a capsule hotel or a hostel. There will be no ryokans or other hotels at that price point.

That leaves $60. Let's say you eat at the cheap local places (look for thin-jacket wearing salarymen with old suitcases or part-timer deliverymen crowding into REALLY TINY nooks between stores ... you'll notice them in Kyoto along the main drags). Each meal will run you around $12 for noodles and a drink. That's a good $36 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That leaves $24. You might have more if you skimp on breakfast, like going to a convenience store for some prewrapped onigiri or sushi or something.

So let's say you have $30 left over. The admission for many shrines is around $2-5, depending on where you go. So you can go to plenty of places or buy trinkets, or take a city bus out to the outskirts. Or you can rent a coin locker and put your stuff in it to lighten the load and not look like a strange foreigner that is carrying all their worldly possessions on their backs and generally getting in the way of everyone else.

I stayed at a place called the Garden Mitsui hotel, near Takamiyacho, and it ran over your budget but if you can find a place near there that would be cool. It's near the old Imperial Palace and if you go north, you can hit up the botanical gardens and shimogamo shrine.

Or if you can find a place near Shojo-ji or Kiyumizu-dera shrines, you can be within walking distance of some shrines in the hills that are quite nice in the fall or spring.


For Tokyo, I stayed a night near Ryogoku, which is home to the sumo stadium and the Tokyo-Edo museum. The sumo stadium has a free museum that is pretty small but has some pretty impressive history and whatnot, if you can read Japanese, mostly about how awesome Taiho was. The Tokyo-Edo museum has an admission price of $6 and it is definitely worth it's admission ... in the USA the same museum would be like, $30. Covers the Edo period right up through the post-war period of Tokyo. Fascinating stories and data on a city that started out as nothing more than swampy marshland to become the (now second, behind Mexico City) most populated city in the world. Also around there are sumo stables, some of which allow guests to come in and take a tour for a fee. Around Ryogoku stadium there's some shabby looking (at least in the winter) city parks that you can take a break in. SOmething about post-war peace, etc. I personally didn't linger long in those parks except to use the toilet. There's mostly truant schoolkids and homeless folks around there so ... yeah.

Ryogoku is just off the beaten path for most foreigners so you should be able to find cheap lodging there, and there's enough fast food places, ramen shops, McD's, etc. that you can find cheap food too. It's within a looooong walk or a short JR line ride to all the major attractions of Tokyo.

A word about not taking mass transit ... I highly recommend you splurge and buy a Japan Rail pass if you linger a long time in Tokyo and want to take the Shinkansen and not waste time on buses. Free admission to Shinkansen and all JR lines within the district you bought. If you Google "Japan Rail pass" you can learn all about it. They run about US$280 for a seven day pass. That is worth it's cost in gold and more. I highly highly recommend it if you can swing it, even if you sacrifice going to Hokkaido. Hokkaido ain't going nowhere and you can save up to go again one day.

Think of it this way: you can spend MORE money on buses and one shinkansen rail ticket, OR you can just buy the pass and get FREE rides all you want, all day long if you want, anywhere. Just flash the pass, your passport, and the helpful mask-wearing conductor guy waves you through. Trust me, if you take the bus and rail, it WILL be more expensive unless you just stay in Tokyo and do TONS of cold (or hot) walking, forming blisters on your feet. Trust me. Not fun. Get the pass.
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Old 02-26-2014, 09:55 PM
 
Location: Macao
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Originally Posted by eskercurve View Post
A word about not taking mass transit ... I highly recommend you splurge and buy a Japan Rail pass if you linger a long time in Tokyo and want to take the Shinkansen and not waste time on buses. Free admission to Shinkansen and all JR lines within the district you bought. If you Google "Japan Rail pass" you can learn all about it. They run about US$280 for a seven day pass. That is worth it's cost in gold and more. I highly highly recommend it if you can swing it, even if you sacrifice going to Hokkaido. Hokkaido ain't going nowhere and you can save up to go again one day.

Think of it this way: you can spend MORE money on buses and one shinkansen rail ticket, OR you can just buy the pass and get FREE rides all you want, all day long if you want, anywhere. Just flash the pass, your passport, and the helpful mask-wearing conductor guy waves you through. Trust me, if you take the bus and rail, it WILL be more expensive unless you just stay in Tokyo and do TONS of cold (or hot) walking, forming blisters on your feet. Trust me. Not fun. Get the pass.
I want to SECOND THIS.

Trains/buses/etc. are so expensive in Japan. Trying to be on a budget and dealing with public transit in Japan is one of the most stressful things you can possibly do to yourself.

The JAPAN RAIL PASS is ONLY good for those living outside of Japan, and its a way to overcome that huge financial hurdle. Take advantage of it! Think of it as absolutely necessary. Take that out of the equation, and you might be able to have a chance of taking on a $100/day budget. Maybe.
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:04 PM
 
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If one wants to travel from city to city within Japan but not necessarily on a daily basis, other than the JR pass, are there cheaper alternatives?
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Old 02-26-2014, 11:41 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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^ What if I just take the shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo one way? I'll fly into Osaka, take the local train to Kyoto, and then just the bullet train to Tokyo? After maybe going to Hokkaido I will fly out of Tokyo. If I just do that one journey is the rail pass really worth it? So the rail pass also covers transport on the Tokyo metro rail lines? Not the subway though? Other than that I plan to fly to Hokkaido, or would it be cheaper to also take the shinkansen to Hokkaido? I'm more interested in Hokkaido than western Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku.

For anyone who's been to Hokkaido, what are your favourite places to go to during October? I want to see a lot of natural scenery, autumn foliage, a national park where I have a decent change of seeing the Japanese Brown bear, and also experience Ainu culture, even if it is in a 'cultural village' setting which is about the closest to the authentic experience you can get. What about hiring a car to travel around Hokkaido, recommended or not? I'm from Australia so driving on the left is no problem.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:28 AM
 
Location: Macao
15,945 posts, read 36,154,437 times
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
^ What if I just take the shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo one way? I'll fly into Osaka, take the local train to Kyoto, and then just the bullet train to Tokyo? After maybe going to Hokkaido I will fly out of Tokyo. If I just do that one journey is the rail pass really worth it?
Yes, very worth it!

Osaka to Tokyo one-way is something like US$125 or something like that. You do a little bit of moving around on the JR Trains just throughout Tokyo, and you could easily add another $50 with very little effort.

If you were going to remain COMPLETELY stationary in Tokyo, and see nothing but your hostel room, than that would make sense, that not worth the Japan Rail Pass. But, it defeats the purpose of being in Japan, no to be seeing things the entire time you are in the country.

If you just pay the money for the Japan Rail Pass, you'll easily save a ton of money in the long-run. You can even take overnight trains and save a night on lodging, if you so desired.

If you are even remotely thinking of taking planes to Hokkaido or Kyushu, you should definitely take the Shinkansins under the JAPAN RAIL PASS instead. Planes aren't any cheaper than Shinkansins, and often the Shinkansins save you a lot of time. You don't have to navigate to airports and such. It'll often cost you $30 just to get to an airport, in addition to the waiting time and airfare prices. With the Shinkansins, you are immediately centrally located in a city upon arrival.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:41 AM
 
369 posts, read 799,935 times
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Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
Yes, very worth it!

Osaka to Tokyo one-way is something like US$125 or something like that. You do a little bit of moving around on the JR Trains just throughout Tokyo, and you could easily add another $50 with very little effort.

If you were going to remain COMPLETELY stationary in Tokyo, and see nothing but your hostel room, than that would make sense, that not worth the Japan Rail Pass. But, it defeats the purpose of being in Japan, no to be seeing things the entire time you are in the country.

If you just pay the money for the Japan Rail Pass, you'll easily save a ton of money in the long-run. You can even take overnight trains and save a night on lodging, if you so desired.

If you are even remotely thinking of taking planes to Hokkaido or Kyushu, you should definitely take the Shinkansins under the JAPAN RAIL PASS instead. Planes aren't any cheaper than Shinkansins, and often the Shinkansins save you a lot of time. You don't have to navigate to airports and such. It'll often cost you $30 just to get to an airport, in addition to the waiting time and airfare prices. With the Shinkansins, you are immediately centrally located in a city upon arrival.
I might spend a week in Japan sometime this summer (probably Osaka -> Kyoto -> Tokyo).

Is it worth it at all to get the JR pass? And I also heard we need to obtain the exchange pass in our own country before going to Japan.
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Old 02-27-2014, 02:45 AM
 
Location: Macao
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Originally Posted by fellowjoe View Post
I might spend a week in Japan sometime this summer (probably Osaka -> Kyoto -> Tokyo).

Is it worth it at all to get the JR pass? And I also heard we need to obtain the exchange pass in our own country before going to Japan.
Yes, you MUST attain it outside of Japan. It's only valid for tourists/foreigners who don't live in Japan. If you wait until you arrive in Japan, than you cannot get it.

Yes, very much worth it. It's insanely expensive in Japan for public transportation. Generally speaking, Japanese people are heavily subsudized by their employer or by their university (and round-about from the gov't through those programs). So, everyone who isn't employed by a company, and not a student, pays a high price for public transportation.

I think of Japan public transportation as a bit like American healthcare. It's insanely expensive for regular people, so they make the employer pay for it. It's like part of the package just for being employed.

But, for people visiting Japan, you're better off with the Japan Rail Pass. You'll save a ton of money.
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