Published on December 13th, 20172
JAPAN Prep: The Sleeps
|For those of you anxious to read details of my recent skip to Machu Picchu – fear not! Though I’m a tad distracted just now with my NEW plan for my 50th country come April (JAPAN!), I HAVE started pecking a fairly robust treatise on Machu Picchu – so stay tuned. Hopefully I’ll have it polished and published soon.|
Now then – back to my present unbridled PASSION for All.Things.Japan.
Indeed, I’m up to my EARS in all manner of Japan research here and – yup, ’tis quite a pricey destination all right – worthy of extra due-diligence in noodling out the best itinerary, sleeps, activities, etc. Soooo many kewl things to do, and especially to E-A-T! And happily, I’m finding tons of ways to save pennies here, so as to spend them there.
Case in Point: Dorm Sleeps
With the minimum for a private hotel room running more than twice what I generally spend for lodging in my travels (even in Europe), dorm sleeps are pretty much required for my 11 nt. visit to “The Land of the Rising (and of course likewise Setting) Sun” – especially considering the airfare alone from Ecuador to Japan set me back more than a grand.
But dorm sleeps don’t bother me in the least – indeed, I only spend about 8 hrs. there each night (*unconscious*), plus… they’re a great way to meet other travelers and find out what’s best to do, how to get around, etc. And given that I’ll be in Japan for the height of the “sakura” (cherry blossom) season, I’ve (wisely) already begun to lock in some of my hotel reservations.
WHICH BRINGS ME TO… So I’ve already got some great dorm sleeps in Tokyo and Kyoto lined up for little more than $20-$25 per night:
But I also hope to get up north to Nagano (and the hot springs where those legendary “Snow Monkeys” hang out) and…
Suffice I had a nice dorm set up at Zen Hostel for $21 per night, but then – most everywhere I turned in my research, previous travelers to Japan unanimously harped that staying at an authentic Japanese “ryokan” was not.to.be.missed. Trouble izzz… most every such ryokan I found was fairly pricey (for this budget traveler) – few under $150.
Ah But Wait! An Economical Ryokan!
Taking another earnest browse through the stream of options on agoda.com (my favored hotel/hostel booking site – I used to use booking.com but am finding the same properties quite a bit cheaper on agoda), I unearthed THIS sweetheart (the Yudanaka Seifuso Hotel – rated 9.3 with no less than *4* in-house onsens – Japanese thermal bathing pools fed by natural hot springs). Furthermore, apparently it’s run by an elderly Japanese couple that verily ooze helpfulness – including driving guests to the entrance of the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park, gratis!
All this for just $45 per night! I also hope to enjoy another “must-try” treat during my stay: a “Kaiseki-ryori” (a multi-course haute cuisine Japanese meal). Those often run near a c-note, but hopefully that too will prove reasonably priced at Yudanaka Seifuso.
A Loose Itinerary Is Born…
In any case, I’ve now got most my sleeps lined up (gotta love the ability to confirm reservations, yet no fee to cancel until a few days advance), and likewise my itinerary is shaping up nicely. I somewhat regret booking my air for but 11 days on the ground in Japan, as there’s so much to see/do in Tokyo ALONE! But as I said, Japan is a pricey place to hang out, and I’m hoping to keep the total under $2,500. Nonetheless, I believe I’ve cobbled together an itinerary that will hit most all my main druthers:
5 nights Tokyo
5 nights Kyoto, including a day in nearby Osaka, plus a day trip to Hiroshima on the ***blindingly fast*** “bullet train”
1 night Nagano for those Snow Monkeys
LOTS more details on how I plan to get around, what I plan to do, and of course what exotic Japanese eats I plan to shovel into my mouth. But none of that needs to be nailed down in advance, so I’ve left plenty of open time for whatever serendipity might drift my way once I hit the ground.
The trip itself is (perhaps surprisingly) but 1/3 of the fun of traveling. The planning and dreaming for weeks/months in advance is a good third of the fun as well. And of course the final third – is the memories of your trip that neither rust nor depreciate and last a lifetime!
In closing – given the “dreaming and planning” theme of this post, it seems apropos to mention – as I used to preach to the folks who took my Imagine Belize and Costa Rica trips (in my “10 Commandments for Travelers” handout):