So, this isn't going to be your typical, "I GO JAPAN WAT DO?" post. This is essentially a blog or log to keep track of notes and ideas as I plan a trip to Japan for myself and the g/f. I'd like to include everyone interested in the entirety of the planning/preperation for this trip and get feedback along the way. Feel free to interject with whatever, help do research, share ideas, etc. whenever you feel the need. This is going to be long-winded because I sit at work for 12 hours a day, so I hope you're looking for something to read.
To get some of the most basic questions out of the way, here's a rough outline of where we stand so far.
I'm 23, she's 24. We're both in good health, I'm only borderline legally retarded. We're both short white folk in good physical condition. Neither of us is into anime, but we both love the food. I'm a cop in the USAF, she's an IT nerd. That should answer any basic questions about us, moving on!
The plan is to take a 3 week trip to Japan as a present to the g/f and myself for finishing my military contract without pistol whipping any of the window lickers I work with. We are aiming for roughly Aug 30th to Sep 20th. There is a major caveat to this though... we are planning on hiking from the outskirts of Tokyo to the peak of Fujiyama then back down to the edge of Gotenba where we will stop being stubborn mules and return to public transit systems again. The idea is to have enough time to mix touristy shit with walking through the smaller towns along the road from Tokyo to Fuji-Yoshida. Besides this hike and the night in Hakone, there is -nothing- set in stone, so this is where I want ideas of where we can go and things we can do.
I know survival Japanese, but pick it up pretty quick from working with JASDF (Japanese Air Self Defense Force) guys on my last deployment in 2008. Before I left I was able to carry short conversations(Albeit slowly!), more if I was using my notepad with vocab in it. She is studying her ass off in fear of sounding like a "baka gaijin", despite me reassuring her that even if she only knows a few phrases, the people will be impressed she took the time to learn at all. I don't view the language as a barrier at all, but in addition to studying I'll keep my personal rite-in-the-rain (Water resistant) notepad with vocab, key phrases and hiragana/katakana table on me at all times. Just in case.
We're currently budgetting for 12k, all inclusive. The basic, basic breakdown for now is;
Flight - 1500 each (3k) - This is the baseline estimate, I've seen a few flights cheaper. We will be living in Connecticut, so we'll be flying out of either NYC or Bradley international. If anyone knows a good way to pick up tickets for less let me know!
Japan Rail Pass, 7 days - 370 each (740) - This may increase next year, I'm not sure when they review their pricing. We're only looking for a 7 day pass because our first two weeks will be either in/around Tokyo or walking. The last week we plan on hitting the bullet train for a few days either North or West before shooting back to Tokyo the night before our flight.
Food - 50 each, per day (100x21=2100) - I know food will be nowhere near this, but it will ensure we are always behind the budget.
Lodging - 100 each, per night (200x21=4200) - This is a more realistic number than the food, but I still highly doubt we'll be paying that much. If you couldn't guess by the plans to walk across the country, we're not planning on staying in expensive hotels. Hostels, ancient ryokans, it doesn't really matter. The only caveat to this is Hakone, where I want to spend one night in a -nice- modern ryokan after our 100 mile death march (Joking).
That puts us at 10040 for 21 days. If you're wondering where our money for trinkets and things is, we don't plan on spending much. We're packing light because of the hike and to maintain the ability to be completely self reliant if we need to. With round-trip plane tickets, a 7 day JR pass and contacts in the greater Tokyo area, we are fairly safe from running out of money and being stranded bar getting stuck on the opposite side of the country or another catastrophic Tsunami.
Areas of interest;
Fuji Sengen Shrine [Fuji-Yoshida]
Chureito Pagoda [Fuji-Yoshida]
Fujiyama summit [Fujiyama!]
Hakone hot springs [Hakone]
Fushimi Inari Shrines [Kyoto]
Hida no Sato [Takayama]
"Japanese Alps" [Takayama/Hida]
Akechidaira Ropeway [Nikko]
Meiji Shrine [Tokyo]
Basic google map layout for our Fuji hike;
This is where the actual itinerary will go.
Packing list! (Come up with ideas for good gear!)
4 days of clothes (3 warm weather, 1 cold weather)
7 days of underwear/socks
Foul weather gear (Jacket/Poncho)
Rite-in-rain pads (2)
[Dec 6]Tonight I'm looking at Ryokans. I'm looking for a place with, at a minimum, private onsen baths for reservation, preferrably with private bath with the room. The g/f has some large tattoos on her legs, so public onsens aren't exactly an ideal option. I'm looking to spend, at most, 400 for the both of us with dinner/breakfast included. This is going to be our relaxing night after the long hike, the appearance of the place isn't a big deal, I'm more concerned with the quality of the baths, availability and the food. A nice view would also be awesome.
Possible Ryokans for the night in Hakone;
- Decent price, great reviews. Private Onsen reservations.
- Strikes me as more westernized, but has private baths. Pricey. Not sold on it.
- Cheaper, no guest room baths, but privates available.
- Looks like the best. Options for outdoor bath with the room, meals, all right within budget.
Sushi Dai @ Tsukiji [Sushi]
Choco Cro [Restaurant]
Grill Miyata [Steak, NICE!]
COCO curry, Mos Burger and Lotteria. [Fast Food]
Things to try;
Onsen [Hot springs]
Thick tuskemen [Food]
Baseball game [Event, derp]