Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Destinations > Asia > Japan
Reload this Page >

A rave about Japan

A rave about Japan

Old Apr 17, 10, 5:01 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark (CPH)
Programs: Grounded ex-Flyer
Posts: 266
Thumbs up A rave about Japan

Hi all,

I just returned from a two-week stay in Japan, the first ever for me, and it was an absolutely amazing experience. I live in Western Europe and had only visited North America until now - Asia is clearly a different world !

In a nutshell, my wife and I flew to Tokyo and stayed in the Ginza area (for the Tsukiji fish market and the shopping), headed to Kyoto for a week and stayed at a ryokan with a two-day side trip to Koya-San, back to Tokyo for five more days and stayed near the Tokyo Tower then flow back home.

The language is a slight issue, but I found the Japanese to be so nice, friendly with foreigners and willing to help that it always worked out eventually. The food is amazingly good and diverse, and usually very reasonablly priced for the country. The Onsen bath experience is a delight for the senses. The shopping is great and the department stores have the best customer service ever. History is everywhere (much more in Kyoto than Tokyo, obviously) and the permanent contrast of tradition and modernity is fascinating.

Can't wait to go back.

Thank you all who made our trip such a great experience (the waitress at the yakitori place who spoke no English and had no english menu but still spent a good fifteen minutes doing everything she could to help us order - when we were straight off the plane, jet-lagged, tired and clueless - comes to mind... but so do many others). Domo arigato gozaimasu.

End of rave... back to looking for another cheap flight to go back

Cheers,
J-
JudgeJ is offline  
Old Apr 17, 10, 5:45 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, Air Miles
Posts: 942
Originally Posted by JudgeJ View Post
Hi all,
Can't wait to go back.
Cheers,
J-
There are two kinds of people. One who has never been to Japan and finds it too expensive - and one who has been and fell absolutely in love with it.

When i first went in 2004, i loved it so much, I went back 10 months later. I will be going for the 6th time this August.
Ichinensei is offline  
Old Apr 17, 10, 9:16 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota,USA
Programs: UA, NW
Posts: 3,743
I'm glad you had such a great experience.

When I first went to Japan in the 1970s, people were already moaning and groaning about how expensive it was, but you could get a full meal for US$4 in a neighborhood restaurant, which was comparable to U.S. prices at the time.

In the mid-1980s, the popular U.S. program 60 Minutes did a trip report about Tokyo in which they clearly did everything the most expensive way possible (taking a cab from NRT to the city, ordering a Western-style bacon and eggs breakfast in a luxury hotel, gawking at the $80 gift melons and the $5,000 dress kimono, etc.).

Half the population of the U.S. must have seen that program, because since then, whenever I have an upcoming trip to Japan, someone invariably asks, "How can you afford that when it costs $200 to get to the airport?"

I think the rest of the rumors of Japan as outrageously expensive come from backpackers who have been traveling through Southeast Asia for months and suddenly find themselves back in the First World.

Some things are outrageously expensive in Japan, most notably recorded media. Even in the 1980s, a prerecorded cassette was about US$30, and although I've been tempted by some of the DVDs available on Amazon Japan, I'm put off by the prices, which average well over US$100 for a TV series. Apartment rents, especially with the key money system, and real estate are expensive, too.

However, the types of expenses that travelers are likely to encounter are about the same as in North America and may be less than in Western Europe.
ksandness is offline  
Old Apr 17, 10, 9:24 am
  #4  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: London
Posts: 16,073
Originally Posted by Ichinensei View Post
There are two kinds of people. One who has never been to Japan and finds it too expensive - and one who has been and fell absolutely in love with it.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/japan...pan-tough.html
Which kind is the OP of this thread then?
LapLap is offline  
Old Apr 17, 10, 1:08 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: LHR, NRT
Programs: HH, BD
Posts: 8,932
Originally Posted by LapLap View Post
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/japan...pan-tough.html
Which kind is the OP of this thread then?
He's in love - in a Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen sort of way.
jib71 is offline  
Old Apr 17, 10, 5:07 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 349
Absolutely agree with you, JudgeJ. Can't wait to go back too.

The Japanese are so welcoming, helpful and polite that the language barrier isn't much of a hindrance. I've sat at sushi bars on my own, thinking it'd be a quick 30-45 mins meal but ended up as an all night affair because everyone wanted to have a chat. One of the restaurant owners who had a Japanese-English digital dictionary became the translator between all the other customers and myself.

Once when I asked the couple what they were eating (was I rude?!), they gave that piece of sushi to me instead and asked me to try it. Present, they said. I was so embarrassed because I did not know how to thank them properly in Japanese. I should buy them something back but they left shortly after.

The Japanese are very tolerant and patient with photographers too. Possibly because there are many of them around as well? I managed to chat to several of the 'retirees' (?) and got some tips from them.

The first time I went to Japan was in Oct 07. I came to this forum asking for advice. I have been back several times since. After my recent trip (just came back to the UK last week), I have decided I need to start learning some conversational Japanese. It is ridiculous (and very rude of me!) when the Japanese are making an effort to converse to me in English and I cannot even reciprocate with some standard Japanese phrases!

I usually drop by Tokyo in transit or fly to Tokyo via redemption miles. I tried looking for paid fares from LHR but they seem so expensive.
phaleesy is offline  
Old Apr 18, 10, 7:40 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: YYZ
Programs: Aeroplan, Air Miles
Posts: 942
Originally Posted by LapLap View Post
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/japan...pan-tough.html
Which kind is the OP of this thread then?
oh, he'll be back.. He's in love.

You're right - a lot of people don't like to deal with languages. But then Thailand is very popular with North Americans - further away, and not as safe as say Japan, but cheap so everyone goes there. I think ultimately, it comes back to $$. If you think it is too expensive, language barrier or not, you're already put off by it. Everyone always keeps saying I must be rich when I tell them I am going to Japan...again... but the thing about Japan is, there is no inflation there. The ryokan I always stay at in Tokyo costs the same back in 2004 as it is today.
Ichinensei is offline  
Old Apr 18, 10, 9:30 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Houston, TX, USA
Programs: SPG Gold, AA Lifetime Platinum, UA Platinum, DL Platinum, HHonors Diamond, Hyatt Platinum
Posts: 7,444
I think most of the "Japan's too expensive" notion comes from the backpacker crowd, or more broadly, the budget traveler. I think that for a lot of people, "Asia = very cheap" so Japan is kind of off to the side as an anomaly. But many of us here that Japan doesn't have to be any more expensive than traveling in the US if you give it even a tiny bit of effort. Of course, if you stay at the Park Hyatt and eat only in its restaurants and take taxis everywhere including the airport, then it's going to be very expensive.

Then there are those that are scared of it for some reason. If you dismantle the "it's too expensive" reason, another one immediately pops up in it's place. I've heard everything, including someone that didn't want to travel to anywhere where they couldn't drink the water.
Steve M is offline  
Old Apr 18, 10, 3:31 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Programs: Dirt
Posts: 948
Originally Posted by Ichinensei View Post
oh, he'll be back.. He's in love.
I agree. It appears to be a tsundere kind of love.

In Japan now and don't want to leave.
msb0b is offline  
Old Apr 18, 10, 9:03 pm
  #10  
Hilton Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Riding the rails
Programs: Japan Forum, Skyteam Elite Plus, BW Diamond Select, HHonors Gold, NWA, DL, NH
Posts: 1,936
I was reading one of the criteria used to rate these "most expensive cities" is the cost of a taxi from the international airport to the city center. Well that's all fine and dandy exept those ratings don't take into account most average people don't take the taxi from Narita Airport to Central Tokyo.
What was it, 60minutes or some program that was showing how expensive Tokyo was, the first thing they did was get into a taxi from the airport and go into central Tokyo. No mention of the train or bus options.
railroadtycoon is offline  
Old Apr 18, 10, 11:19 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota,USA
Programs: UA, NW
Posts: 3,743
Originally Posted by railroadtycoon View Post
I was reading one of the criteria used to rate these "most expensive cities" is the cost of a taxi from the international airport to the city center. Well that's all fine and dandy exept those ratings don't take into account most average people don't take the taxi from Narita Airport to Central Tokyo.
What was it, 60minutes or some program that was showing how expensive Tokyo was, the first thing they did was get into a taxi from the airport and go into central Tokyo. No mention of the train or bus options.
Yes, that's exactly the program I mentioned above.

They also ordered a gargantuan Western-style breakfast at a 4-star hotel and quoted its price in shocked tones: US$25. They also showed the $80 melons that people give as gifts.

But they left viewers with the impression that these were prices that the typical Tokyo consumer or tourist paid routinely.
ksandness is offline  
Old Apr 19, 10, 2:00 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: LHR, NRT
Programs: HH, BD
Posts: 8,932
Originally Posted by ksandness View Post
They also showed the $80 melons that people give as gifts.
Hah. Tightwads!
jib71 is offline  
Old Apr 19, 10, 9:02 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Programs: Marriott Plat, Hyatt Glob AA Plat
Posts: 261
But those $80 melon gifts come in such nice packaging!!

Honestly, as a past budget traveler to Japan, I've found that if you speak some Japanese(which I do), and plan your trip well in advance, JP is a very reasonable place to travel. For example, every time I go to Tokyo, I stay at a very nice, clean, private room hostel for $35/night. now its 15 mins outside the Yamanote line loop, but compared to a normal "hotel", it works for me.

I can see JP getting expensive for family vacation travelers, in comparison to young students like myself!

It is amazing how the 'japan bug' hits you hard. It will be my 4th visit this winter! People always ask why I keep wanting to go back, but I find that I appreciate it more and more each time!
gates_2 is offline  
Old Apr 20, 10, 2:01 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: BWI
Programs: LH M&M, CX MPC Green
Posts: 1,754
Thailand...

Yes Thailand is cheaper, but English is most certainly much more widely spoken, especially in tourist areas, which makes it easier for most folks (despite its being more dangerous, full of scams, polluted etc).

I was surprised at the poor level of English at even my hotel, a 5 star business hotel in Akasaka, though the staff was very kind, helpful and let me work on my Japanese (I think I had 10 phrases at the time, now its down to 2).

But the OP's post and some of those following is one of many views of why I need and must go back to Japan and explore the country more and I am resolutely determined to do so. Plus those girls...

As for travelling on a budget, accomodation can always be found (ie. planning in advance as gates_2 so rightly points out), but budget food can be found just walking into random restaurants and bars. In Tokyo (the only city I have been to in Japan) I ate Udon and Gyoza for 6 USD (a long story - the waitress was Chinese and thrilled to speak Chinese with a funny foreigner in Japan so she comped a lot of beers), but the next night with my colleagues we spent god knows how much on a feast of sushi, sashimi and other things. The following night was with my boss who wanted "something cooked" and thus was 200-300 USD/pp at a Teppanyaki place in Roppongi, followed by my lunch the next day of 8 USD Tonkatsu.

FWIW - I think language can be a major barrier that a tourist/short term visitor can easily overcome with body language, a smile and some willingness. Yes getting official things done will be impossible, a bunch of girls may run away from you and you might have to play charades at the supermarket to say you want hand sanitizer and not soap (this actually happened when I first went to China) but most of these issues will not come up for most tourists.
Jamoldo is offline  
Old Apr 20, 10, 6:01 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: ATL
Programs: DL SkyMiles DM/2MM, AA EXP, IC RA, Peninsula regular, amanjunkie
Posts: 5,762
I am one who thought Japan would be very expensive before my first visit. I found it merely expensive, in the way that New York is an expensive city. Certainly if you're trying to do the nicer, higher-end things in Japan, it is an expensive or very expensive place to visit. But plenty of things are not totally out of control expense-wise. The Tokyo subway, for example, is not expensive at all, and you can get plenty of good meals in perfectly acceptable restaurants for roughly what you'd pay in other major world cities.

You want to talk about expensive cities for visitors: try some of the European hotspots like Paris and Venice. Yikes. When Mr. Megatop and I talk about where we want to go next, discussion of Europe typically ends with "it's so expensive." Discussion of Japan typically runs something like, "When should we go back and where should we go while there?"

Looking forward to our next visit, Christmas upcoming, because we're among those who fell in love with Japan on our first visit.
MegatopLover is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: