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JAPAN Backpacking...

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1. Posted by John Goez (Budding Member 11 posts) 6y

Hello Im trying to decided where to go, I had my mind made up for Thailand but everyone keeps telling me to visit JAPAN. How come I dont see any post about backpacking JAPAN? does anyone have any info about JAPAN?
Thank you

2. Posted by SamSalmon (Respected Member 626 posts) 6y

It's an expensive place to visit and not particularly easy for solo travellers.

3. Posted by steph2710 (Budding Member 8 posts) 6y

Hi John
I am going in May to backpack for 10 days with a friend, then am staying for anther 4 days in Tokyo by myself. Everyone has told me it is an expensive place, but I have had some time to look into it and reckon I can do it on about $700 (or less) after flights and buying a 7 day JR Pass. I will be visiting Osaka (Kyoto, maybe Nara and/or Himeji castle on day trips), Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Tokyo. I know this isn't much time, but we really only want to wander around and enjoy the cities we visit, and will only go to a few places where we will need to pay for entry, and we will eat cheaply. We want to get a feel for the country, not explore every inch of each city, and with the bullet trains getting between cities will be easy enough. Compared to Thailand $700 won't go as far, but I am not that interested in Thailand. (I have been told to only spend this short amount of time in Osaka and Tokyo, but maybe next time I'll concentrate on these.) Japan to me is just so amazing, and I got a ridiculously cheap flight from Aus so I thought why not?! If you want to ask any specific questions let me know! And maybe if I go before you do I can let you know of any helpful tips. Just don't discount it because of expenses if it's what you really want to do!

4. Posted by John Goez (Budding Member 11 posts) 6y

Thanks Steph
I dont care about the money part, my flight from Miami to Tokyo is 1000 dollars, thats really GOOD I was thinking of going in August for 3 weeks, its not much but thats as much time as I can get off from work :( anyways I was looking to see if I found any sites on google of people who have been there backpacking and cant come across anything.
When are you going, if you go before me I would love to see the route you chose, im going solo cuz none of my friends can afford the trip or get off of work
Steph you have facebook? Im 26 male john goez look me up its ezgoeazyhotmail.com

5. Posted by steph2710 (Budding Member 8 posts) 6y

Hey John

$1000 seems really good! And if you're not worried about money I think it'd definitely be worth it. I have to say I am a bit jealous of the fact you'll have 3 weeks. If you are going by yourself, and you have a bit of time, maybe learn some really basic conversational Japanese? My friend and I are going to have a few basic phrases to help us. I am going at the end of May (29th to be exact) so I can definitely give you better info after that.

There are a few things I can give you advice on already for you to have a bit of a look at etc if you like.
You have to get a Japan Rail pass before getting to Japan, and if you google this you should find their website which has the info on how much, and even where to buy the pass at home. (The Ordinary/Brown pass is much cheaper and apparently there isn't much difference)
http://www.hyperdia.com is the english guide to trains, with route planning/prices and its great.
http://www.seat61.com has a bit of info on trains, and all travel all over the world actually.
http://www.jrbuskanto.co.jp/bus_route_e/cotimep01.cfm?pa=2&pb=1&pc=j0010841&pd=0&st=1 is for night buses, but this I found really hard to navigate and I think we are just going to get trains.

You probably don't need to start planning just yet! But if you are interested my route is going to be basically the following-Fly into Osaka, stay there for visiting Kyoto, Nara and Himeji castle for day trips. Hiroshima, Nagasaki and then Tokyo. I am going to stay longer in Tokyo to have a look around and maybe see Mt Fuji (from one of the better vantage spots rather than going to the mountain itself or climbing it.)

Google/Wikipedia/Lonely planet or any travel site and the travel guide on here have heaps of info about specific sights or things to do. I just compiled a little list of the ones I found most interesting that I will take with me, rather than buying or even referring to a guide book.

Hope some of this helps a bit anyway!

6. Posted by Nomadess (Budding Member 7 posts) 6y

Steph,
I am also in Australia and also backpacking in Japan...Aug/Sep.
We are then getting a ferry from Osaka or Kobe for a 2 day Journey to go into China.
I will be interested on your posts on your return :)
We were looking at getting a JR pass but will now have a look at the brown pass.
We are thinking of staying in Tokyo for 4 nights, I now wonder if that is too long.
I am from Perth and got a one way ticket for $744(flying back from Beijing with Air Asia) .

John, I also have not seen a lot of info on backpacking/Japan. All the more exciting eh :)

7. Posted by Degolasse (Travel Guru 823 posts) 6y

There are definitely lots of backpackers in Japan, but you are right, compared to Southeast Asia, where life if very very cheap and tourism seems to revolve around food and beaches, there are relatively few. I would most definitely disagree with SamSalmon who says that it is because Japan is not particularly easy for solo travelers. I personally found Japan to be one of the easiest countries in Asia to travel in. Sure, there will always be a few language barriers, but Japanese people are always quick to help and you will never find yourself stuck anywhere for long. Also, in general most things, for example transportation, function pretty much the same as, and probably more efficiently than in any western country. So there is very little stress compared to less developed countries in Asia.
Really though, the reason there are fewer backpackers in Japan is because it's the most expensive country in Asia. Transportation in particular is painfully expensive. As mentioned above, the best solution is to plan where you are going, calculate the costs, and consider buying a rail pass before you go if it seems it will save you some money. Other things, however, don't have to be expensive. If you don't mind eating in cheap restaurants, like Sukiya or Yoshinoya, you can eat for a couple dollars a meal. Grab some snacks at a convenience store for breakfast and you'll live very cheap. You'll spend a bit if you plan to go out drinking, but having a few at your hostel will cost you very little. I've always found admission to tourist sites to be quite reasonable in Japan.
As for places to go, steph laid out the classic highlights - Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, and Hiroshima. I'm also a big fan of the Alps, and a trip up to Hakuba for some hiking, and Takayama would be nice. Climbing Mt. Fuji, or at least looking at it, is recommendable.
As a side note to Steph - I would consider staying in Kyoto rather than Osaka. Osaka really isn't a very exciting city to visit and can be seen on a day trip. Kyoto on the other hand is a very exciting city to visit and requires about 5 day trips to see.
Hope some of this helps. Tough decision between Thailand and Japan. Thailand is always good fun and the food, the temples, the jungles, the beaches, the beer and the prices haven't bored me even after 5 trips. But Japan is a second home to me now and there's no place I love visiting more.