Getting Ready for Japan
It is crunch time as my trip to Japan draws closer. Departure is a little over a week away. Each day I get more excited and try to get more done. Preparing for Japan can take time and be involved if it’s your first trip but it’s also fun. I’ve been to Japan many times but there’s always plenty to do. I’m chipping away at my list and I’m almost prepared.
Determining arrival and departure dates were difficult to get right and took about a week to nail them down. Getting the cheapest prize proved difficult and I wasn’t as successful as I hoped. Flights are more expensive during certain months and days of the week. Prices were cheaper if I was willing to leave from one of the New York airports. But taking the train and getting there by 1 AM in the morning was a bit too much. So I spent about $300 more for a convenient flight out of my airport about a 10-minute away. This will be my first flight into Haneda airport which is much closer to Tokyo than Narita. That’s going to save me lost time riding the Narita Express train. I’ll have more time sightseeing in Tokyo when I arrive. I recommend always purchasing flight insurance. The extra cost is worth it.
With my flight secured, I immediately bought a 7-day Japan Rail Pass. If you plan to travel across multiple cities and you are eligible for the rail pass, definitely buy it. It will save you hundreds of dollars. I will visit Tokyo, Karuizawa, Nagoya, Osaka, and Kyoto and the Shinkansen cost would well exceed my limit trip budget if it were not for the rail pass.
Next, I had to secure my accommodations. Having friends and established relationships in Japan goes a long way when planning destinations, accommodations, and budgets. It’ll allow you to go more places and save a lot of money. I’m fortunate to have wonderful friends to see and to visit for an evening or two. When this is not possible, I recommend flight and hotel packages that include hotel and transportation accommodations and touring options. Now that I’m an experience traveler, I plan my own trips and make all my accommodations. It’s been made easy with travel sites like Orbitz.com, Kayak.com, Booking.com, and more.
Hotels can be very expensive usually starting at $100 per night. So I recommend youth hostels. They are very affordable. I’ve had 3-night stays in Tokyo for a total of $120. In Japan, most rooms are small whether you stay in a hotel or not. Hostels offer dormitories often with bunk beds and single rooms for a little more. Bathrooms and showers are shared among the guests. But it’s worth the savings. You can usually find accommodations close to a major subway stations that will get you to a major district in Tokyo within 10-30 minutes. I often use booking.com to make my arrangements. You can usually book without any paying and cancel days before arrival.
Over the following days I mauled over getting a mobile WiFi device. In the past, I needed an internet connection when out shopping and sightseeing. I don’t have a mobile phone so I rely on free WiFi and hot spots, but they are not as readily available in Japan as in the US. I went back and forth on the decision. But I was convinced upon talking with a fellow Godzilla fan and friend who had one on a recent trip to Japan and said it was a good move.
This brings me to another important point. Consult friends and family who may have traveled to Japan and or frequently travel internationally. They can be a wealth of information and priceless advice. When you don’t know something, ask. Many travelers to Japan jump at the chance to share their experiences and to provide priceless advice.
I’m now in the prepacking phase. I’m determined to only travel with a backpack. This is not as crazy as it sounds. Don’t over pack. I’ve learned the hard way. You will most likely not need all the clothing you plan to take. Know the season, temperature and likelihood of rain in Japan at the time of your visit. Take a jacket or coat that keep you warm in the evening but can be removed and carried easily during a warm day. Dress in layers and they will provide that addition warmth under your coat when needed. You will need a good pair of walking shoes. For my short trip (10 Days), all I need are 3 pairs of pants (khakis and jeans). When I need additional garments I go to Uniqlo where you can find quality affordable items that can be left behind if need be. When it rains you can buy an inexpensive umberalla just about anywhere in Tokyo. Carry tissues because you’ll need them when traveling.
There are so many places I must visit again and there’s many new places to see. But there is never enough time. Traveling between destinations takes up so much time. And traveling, sightseeing, and shopping are exhausting. Falling asleep on the trains and subways are normal. Getting good sleep is essential and battling jet lag is imperative. Sometimes resistance is useless. Drink plenty of water. Eat for energy.
Everyday now, I thinking of what Godzilla sites and shops I’m going to visit. There are a couple Godzilla events going on. I have a surprise early on my trip that I’m looking forward to sharing. I’d love to go back to Kamakura and track the footsteps of Shin Godzilla 2nd Form up the Nomi River. I’m making a list and checking it twice. There are new shops my friends have brought to my attention. This trip I’m looking for smaller Godzilla items, books, and not figures as much. I’d like to put up a few Ultraman figures, if I can find them.
Over the coming days I will document my trip as much as possible. I hope you can follow my adventure. Wish you were with me. If you are planning a trip, check out my trip guide.