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First travel

cin.na.mon

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Hello! This is my first post here =)
I'm gonna travel to Japan in the end of this year and it's my first trip. As I'm going alone, I'm a little bit afraid 😌... so, if you could give me some advices I would thank you very very much.
I'm planning a 7-days trip. I looked at some guides on the Internet and I saw that usually people do the trip around Tokyo-Kyoto. But I feel lost (?) because I have no idea about things such as how I'm going to arrive in the places (and what places) or where I'm going to sleep or if my low budget is enough to cover the expenses (how much do you think is the minimum to survive and get some fun?)...
About how much I speak Japanese, I think I can speak as much as I talk in English... Not fluently (there are many things I don't know how to say) and I still have some difficult in reading kanji (I think I know only those that appear 'til 3kyuu of Nouryokushiken - though I'm going to take the 2kyuu this year :eek:). About me: I'm 20 and I'm interested in sight-seeing and in visiting science museums, if it's possible. Nice to meet you.
Some questions:
-> is Visa Travel card accepted in most places? (or did anyone experience it?)
-> is it possible to get accommodation in that youth hostels without booking it in advance? In order to sleep in this kind of place it is necessary to become a membership [of the organization?]?
-> I saw in one of the last posts that it's possible to sleep in karaoke boxes or manga kissa (what is this?). Is it usual?
-> is it too cold? How expensive is to get some good coat in some store? (by the way, can you recommend some places to buy cheap clothes?)
For now, that's it...
Thanks a lot.
 

dreamer

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Hi !
Here are a few answers:

-> is Visa Travel card accepted in most places? (or did anyone experience it?)

You'd be better off exchanging some money before coming here as most atms don't accept foreign credit cards. If you need to withdraw money though, you can do it at the ATMs in most post offices and 7eleven.

-> is it possible to get accommodation in that youth hostels without booking it in advance? In order to sleep in this kind of place it is necessary to become a membership [of the organization?]?

No need to enroll in some kind of organization but you'd better book online indeed.

-> I saw in one of the last posts that it's possible to sleep in karaoke boxes or manga kissa (what is this?). Is it usual?

Basically these are 3 of the most popular options. Karaoke, manga cafe(喫茶店) and capsule hotels.
Most of these go between 2000 to 5000yen for a "night" although I wouldn't say they're specially comfortable.

-> is it too cold? How expensive is to get some good coat in some store? (by the way, can you recommend some places to buy cheap clothes?)

Right now I can still go out in T-shirt and short sleeves (about 15°C) but it'd be reasonable to bring your coat with you. Clothes are pretty expensive here if you go for brands but you can find some "not so fashionable" ones around most districts.



Also...for the tokyo-kyoto trip, the shinkansen costs about 24000yen for the round trip (no need to book in advance). You can also go have a look at Osaka, Nara, Himeji, etc. which are around kyoto_Otherwise, I usually spend about 15 000/20 000yen per week on food and transportation to give you an idea of the expenses.
 

tigermilk

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Contrary to the other reply, I don't think you need to worry about the Visa card. Yes, bring money or an ATM card, but credit cards work in many places. I've had well over 90% success at restaurants and shops.

Weather? 0-10 C I'd say.

Cheap clothes? Uniqlo and Right On are both pretty cheap. They are a chain store, and you'll find them all over Tokyo (even at Narita Airport).

If interested in science, Tsukuba is only 45 minutes from Akihabara Station. Information at http://www.info-tsukuba.org/english/. JAXA is the Japanese version of NASA, and they are located there. They have a small museum. Tsukuba also has many other science institutes, but I've only been to the JAXA facility (for my work). I wouldn't spend the 2000 Yen in train fare (to/from Tokyo) just to see JAXA, but if there are other things you want to see there...
 

cin.na.mon

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Thanks for answering! =)
Another question: do u think it's worth to get a JR pass?
@dreamer: the 15k~20k includes the transportation in the cities (how much is to take buses and subway?). Is there specific tickets for those who are going to use the subway several times during a day?
@tigermilk: what are the other things it's possible to see there [in Tsukuba] that might be interesting in your opinion?
Thanks again.
 

tigermilk

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Thanks for answering! =)
Another question: do u think it's worth to get a JR pass?
@dreamer: the 15k~20k includes the transportation in the cities (how much is to take buses and subway?). Is there specific tickets for those who are going to use the subway several times during a day?
@tigermilk: what are the other things it's possible to see there [in Tsukuba] that might be interesting in your opinion?
Thanks again.
JR Pass is only worth it if you plan to travel to another large city. A 7 day pass is around 20,000 Yen or so. One way to Nagoya runs 10,000+ Yen. If just staying in Tokyo, it's not a deal. Better to stick with a subway pass (around 1000 yen for unlimited travel in one day).

Other things in Tsukuba? Well, there's Mount Tsukuba, which has been getting more popular since the Tsukuba Express opened. It's probably a 30 minute bus ride from Tsukuba Center (never took the bus - I've taken my bike to Japan many times and rode there). If you like auto racing, perhaps there's something going on at Tsukuba Circuit. Never been there, so not sure how to get there. Honestly, there's not much going on in Tsukuba. Just a large but quiet suburb of Tokyo. It is different than most Japanese towns I've been too. Much better urban planning and it looks more western. All my coworkers who have to travel there for work always go to Tokyo or elsewhere on the weekend.
 

cin.na.mon

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Well, I want to travel to other places rather than being in Tokyo. So, do u think becoming a membership of "Hostelling International" Organization is worth? 'cause I saw that they have discounts for members (is there a reasonable number of youth hostels associated to this organization?)
Thank u a lot.
 

myegotrip

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Tokyo in one week

Hi cin.na.mon,
I recently travelled to Tokyo, and this was my first trip too. However, I did not go out of the city as I had only 5 days.. But I did really enjoyed it.. There are many things to do, I landed in Shibuya (which is quite expensive for hotels..) and started from there. I had 0 insight on Tokyo before going there and managed to survive without speaking a word of Japanese... You might want to take a small guide (lonely planet or similar) to get a sense of direction, but after all, it is an easy city to get by. Shopping is great (a bit of expensive depending on where you come from) and you will get you share for clothes.. I have a blog and wrote a short overview of my trip there if you are interested myegotrip.org (not clickable as I just arrived on the forum!) 🙂
 

ellechic14

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Hi cin.na.mon

I went to Japan last Oct for about 10 days and traveled alone as well. I met up with a couple of friends in Tokyo and Osaka but spent most of the trip on my own.

To answer your questions:
-> is Visa Travel card accepted in most places? (or did anyone experience it?)
Japan is still a mostly cash-preferred country so it's best if you bring cash - and it is safe to carry large amount of cash - but always practice caution, of course. Large stores and restaurants accepts credit cards and Visa and MasterCard are popular and widely accepted. If you need to withdraw cash, Citibank is one of the few banks with ATMs that accepts foreign cards. 7-Eleven ATMs also accepts foreign ATM cards.

-> is it possible to get accommodation in that youth hostels without booking it in advance? In order to sleep in this kind of place it is necessary to become a membership [of the organization?]? Most hotels/hostels require advanced booking especially if its during the weekend. I recommed for you to do so.

-> I saw in one of the last posts that it's possible to sleep in karaoke boxes or manga kissa (what is this?). Is it usual?
It's common to stay at karaoke or manga kissa if you miss your last train (last train usually is between 1200-1230am and the first train at around 500am) since people find it cheaper than staying at a hotel or hostel.

-> is it too cold? How expensive is to get some good coat in some store? (by the way, can you recommend some places to buy cheap clothes?)
I don't know how cold winter is in Japan but I'm sure it'll be around 0-8C/30-45F? Check the weather trends before you leave for Japan.

As for JR Rail travel, stop by at the JR Pass agency at Narita Airport for English Tokyo/Kyoto maps. This will help your commuting from city-to-city easier.

I spent a great deal of time researching so I don't feel so lost.
I also suggest you limit yourself to 2 to 3 cities and at least 2 to 3 days in them. Make a list of what you really want to see in each of the city so you can maximize your time when sightseeing.

I highly recommed going to an onsen! That is my favorite experience when I was in Japan.

Good luck and safe travels!
 

ArmandV

Eight Times To Japan
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You can get a detailed Tokyo street map in English from JNTO for free. That's what I always use when going to Tokyo. Also, each subway station office has available subway maps, also free. JNTO also has street maps for Kyoto and other Japanese cities along with brochures on different attractions.

You can request maps and brochures here: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/
 
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