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Japan - info needed

Travel Forums Asia Japan - info needed

1. Posted by koalabear (Full Member 121 posts) 11y

Myself and my other half are starting our RTW trip in about 10 days our first stop is Japan
and i need to know a good hostel or cheap hotel to stay in, in tokyo. I have looked at the information provided on this site but would like the advice of someone who has actually stayed in a place themselves.

We are spending 3 days roughly there and then getting the train down south, stopping along the way. We have been advised to get the japan rail pass but the information is slighty confusing. Is this the right thing to do because it is expensive aswell.

I just need some guidence as to where to stay and what the best sights to see while in japan. We plan on staying in Japan for a total 10 days and plan to fit alot in (i hope) in that amount of time.

Ta

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3. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 11y

We have been advised to get the japan rail pass but the information is slighty confusing.

In virtually every case, yes. Travel over here (i`m currently in Japan and have been travelling around 2.5mths. I leave in a week or so) is expensive. It is possible to cut back on expense, using buses (esp overnight ones to/from Tokyo) or purely local trains (which take time and several changes) or hitching, but long distance trains, rural trains off the major routes and Shinkansen are not cheap.

Basically, if you do a Tokyo-Kyoto return trip in 7 days, a week rail pass would cover itself. And save you lots of time. Anything more and your into savings. Especially if you are flying in and out of Tokyo so have to backtrack, I`d get one, and then work out when the best time to start it is according to your schedule (i.e. if spending 3 days in Tokyo when you may be mostly walking or using subway, start it later on. If your going to Kamakura, Nikko, Youkohama etc as a day trip from Tokyo, or just to sites around the Yamanote circular line, then it may be worth starting it a day or so before you leave Tokyo and use it for that). If you have a rough idea where in Japan you are going and in what timeframe, and want to know if its worth it, drop me a message or chuck it on here and i can work it out for you.

As for accom, I stayed in the Khaosan in Tokyo for a few days (and go back there in a couple of days) which is central ish and quite cheap. There are cheap hostels in Tokyo and Kyoto, but outside it is hit and miss. Lots of Official YHA ones - a YHA card can almost cover itself in one night, so get one before you leave - which range from 2000yen (10gbp) in Hiroshima and for foreigners on Shikoku island, to almost 4000yen in some other cases (Hakodate, for example). Using a free accom site like www.couchsurfing.com - i use this as my #1 accom option anywhere - or www.hospitalityclub.net is another good way to save money and meet locals/residents.

In addition, although sometimes more expensive, i`d recomend a night in a capsule hotel (i stayed in one in Tokyo for only 3000yen), and a night in a traditional Ryokan (more expensive, but authentic traditional Japanese, so worth it)

HTH

4. Posted by koalabear (Full Member 121 posts) 11y

great information thanks for that. Yeah i did look at the khansao in toyko but it is booked for the time we arrive.

We are looking at heading to kyoto right down to hiroshima, we will be flying out of Osaka rather then heading all the way back up to toyko. We will get the rail passes, seems to be an easier way to get where we want to go and seen that we only have 10 days in total, wish it could be longer but it's just too expensive for us to stay any longer, but then again we might fall in love with the place.........

We want to see as much as possible in the small amount of time we have. So you reckon we should get a YHA card before we leave, yeah ?

So what advice would you give us and what would the main things to see and where to stop when heading from toyko to Hiroshima. I know lots of questions but it's better to get advice from someone who is actually there. ;)

Thanks

5. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 11y

We are looking at heading to kyoto right down to hiroshima, we will be flying out of Osaka rather then heading all the way back up to toyko. We will get the rail passes,

Rail passes work out a saving. 7 day pass is 28000 yen, whilst on a basic Tokyo - Kyoto (13020), Kyoto - Hiroshima (10590), Hiroshima - Kansai airport (11730) trip, you save about 7000yen straight off. And thats before any other stop offs.
Prices are Shinkansen, but unless you have most of an entire day and enjoy changing trains on locl lines, you will be using Shinkansen anyway.

So you reckon we should get a YHA card before we leave, yeah ?

Especially if you are going elsewhere, as it lasts for 12months, yes. HOWEVER. Many of the hosels in Kyoto and Tokyo are independents, so if you base out of those two, it may not make as much sense if you will only be in Japan.

wish it could be longer but it's just too expensive for us to stay any longer, but then again we might fall in love with the place.........

I was originally going to be here for a month (1 week with friends in Nagasaki, then a 3 week rail pass and leave), figuring that after a month i might be tired of Japan and it would be too expensive. In the end, I didn`t even start my pass until i`d been here almost 2 months! The fact that i will leave the day before my 3mth visa expires, and already have plans for another 3mth trip probably tells its own story!!

Travel IS expensive, but a combination of coaches (overnight buses in particular are decent), seasonal offers, ferries (long, but so dirt cheap, it`s crazy!), plus some hitching and local trains havs kept the costs down. I tried to do all the obscure and long journeys during my pass (i whacked a huge distance on to it - probably about the same as in the 6previous months of travel combined!) and only used the shinkansen and express trains on my pass.

Accom can also be very expensive, but a combination of overnight travel, friends and Couchsurfing plus a bit of camping and roughing it helped a huge amount, whilst some hostels are randomly very cheap or have offers for foreigners.

Food is normally quite cheap - you can get huge bowls of ramen noodle soup for 500-700 yen (2.50 - 3.50gbp) - and there are convenience stores everywhere for cheap sarnies, DIY noodles etc. And most supermarkets sell off food cheaply (fresh food and fresh meals etc) ever evening after about 5 or 6pm.

So if you take care, it is possible to live relatively cheaply.

So what advice would you give us and what would the main things to see and where to stop when heading from toyko to Hiroshima.

Nagoya, and most of the stuff between Tokyo and Kyoto isn`t particularly special, so you can straight through. Nara, south of Kyoto is lovely although the main points are mostly outside and involve walking, so in dodgy weather it could be grim...; Iseshi (90mins sth of Nagoya) is the most holy shinto shrine and worth a look, although on a short time span, probably not.

Osaka i love the feel of it (and people watching), but it lacks many true tourist sights. Kobe (15mins away) also has a very relaxed feel.
Himeji, West of Kobe has a great castle - take a look around if you have time, you can get students who want to practice their English guide you arpound for free as well - Okayama has one of the famous gardens, although i wasn`t overly impressed, and Kurashiki (nearby, change from Shinkansen in Okayama, not Shin-Kurashiki) has a wonderful but small canal district ((in fairness, you can see the main area in an hour or so, and with walking to/from station, you can probably leave barely 2hrs after you get there if you are in a hurry)).

Hiroshima has the obvious stuff, but if the weatehr is good DO NOT miss Miyajima island, just West of Hiroshima and with JR pass covering one of the ferry companies to the island. A lovely place, one of teh most famous views, plus great panorma from the top off the mountain. If you walk up instead of cheating, after going to the summit, so to the cable car station anyway to see the wild deer and lots of monkeys. Further on, there`s a famous vine bridge at Iwakuni, but the area itself isn`t so great.

And in the Tokyo area, Nikko (north) is great, especially if you head out past the main temple area - after visiting - around Lake Chuzenji. Kamakura and Hakone, south of Tokyo are also worth considering.

Everything else is off your Tokyo-Hiroshima core.

My blog is on TP (link in my profile) and you can probably get some more ideas and pics etc from that if you are bored and fancy a look!

HTH.

6. Posted by Twinkle (Travel Guru 1112 posts) 11y

Hello!Yeah I agree with these guys, the JR Pass is a godsend, you will save so much money and you can be really flexible with it, we used it to get to airports and everything, saved loads of money1!!!We stayed in a little traditional guesthouse in Tokyo, in the Tarawamachi area, very close and a simple 10 minute walk to the temples in Asakusa....it was called the Toukaisou Ryokan and it was fantastic, perfect if you are looking for something typically japanese in a good area!!!!Theres some great shopping arcades around there including 2 great 100yen stores!!!!!!
If you go to Kyoto, check out K's House, it was the best backpackers accomodation I have ever stayed in!!!!Really modern, super clean, the staff are amazing and really helped us out when we were in trouble!Theres a couple of communal kitchens which are well equipt as well as communal areas which are great for meeting people!We gave the dorms a miss here as we ended up with a private room, but we checked them out and they were really nice!!!!Shared bathrooms are lovely,the toliets are the crazy ones with heated seats and fake flushing noises!!!!Great location, Kyoto tower and both big temples very close!!!!!