I am looking at taking a family of four on holiday to Japan next year. We are looking at the cherry blossom season so would be flying from brisbane to tokyo (?) around march-April 2014.
I need to start saving now but am unsure what to budget for. We are looking at spending time in tokyo and the Mt Fuji area. We hope our holiday would be for 9 - 12 days. We are very open to any area of Japan. As we have a 15 and 13 yr old child we need to keep them entertained
We are happy with budget / backpacker style accommodation as we do not plan on spending much time in the hotel other than for sleeping purposes
If anyone could please shed some light and possibly some destination ideas I would greatly appreciate it. I have looked at the JR passes but find them extremely expensive and question the worth???
Thanks for your time .......Rox :)
Sure, many thins in Japan will be expensive. This site may help you with arranging your budget
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Well, there are heaps of cheap accommodation but hard to find it if you don't understand Japanese or can't read Japanese. However, Japan is changing and now I see many English website for travelers. Tokyo is very congested ( as you can imagine ) and hotel rooms are very very small. Some single travelers they just get capsule hotels ( which is only bed and it is like a capsule..!!) but for you, it's bit difficult... I think there are lots of cheap hotels in Taito-ku, Minamisenjyu station area, ( ie: Tokyo Back packers.) Also, there is a affordable chain hotel calls ' Sakura hotel'. I suggest maybe you can take a look at those area and hotel. If you take Sakura hotel, I suggest to choose Sakura hotel at Ikebukuro or Asakusa for your convenience. Ikebukuro and Asakusa are some of the major train station in Tokyo, connection is good, handy to go to many places.
For your kids, I suggest to take them to Ameyoko, and Akihabara, if they are really into Audio, games, manga, etc. I also have a 14 years old boy, and he loves this area!! Ameyoko is like a little market, you can get everything!! On that street, there are some game centres which your kids can enjoy.
If your kids are into fashion and clothing.. then take them to Shibuya, Aoyama, Harajyuku. That's the fashion city. If it's on the weekend, Harajyuku will have heaps of young kids with interesting fashion.
Unfortunately it is quite expensive to take train or bus in Japan. But I think it might be cheaper to get JR pass if you think you are going to many places.
Well, it's depends what you are looking for in Tokyo but my suggestion to do in Tokyo is
Asakusa to see shrine and walk around
Ueno park ( especially if you are going around March to April, it will be cherry blossoms season, it's beautiful and maybe you will see some people are enjoying picnic and enjoying cherry blossoms )
Roppongi if you are into clubing!!
Harajuku and Shibuya to see some interesting fashion
To go to Mt. Fuji, I think there is a cheap one day tour 5500yen per person.. google mt fuji bus tour.
If you have some extra time, go to Hakone, Enoshima. It's beautiful!!
In Japan, you can choose to spend big or small. There are good convenience stores in every block, Most of major station has got good shopping mall. Japanese people are usually quite helpful. Especially quite a few young people can speak English these days.
Hope this info helps you...
We found that traveling in Japan was slightly more expensive than traveling at home; with the cost of accomodation and to a lesser extent food being the main cost drivers; but this meant staying in ryokan (traditional Japanese hotels; with tatami mat floors and futons to sleep on, rather than beds, and sitting on floors, not on chairs), rather than western style hotels and picking small family restaurants (and eating Japanese foods) or the ones in some of the major department stores. If you insist on sticking with western meals and accomodation I hear the prices can be outrageous. The $Cdn was slightly stronger versus the Japanese yen when we were there. Some items, like fresh fruit are outrageously expensive.
What to do with the kids? Depends on their interests. We were there when our oldest daughter was 18 and our youngest was 11. Both were quite into the culture and wanted to see castles and temples. If the Ghibili animation studios are on your "to do" list, then book well in advance as the tours are full months in advance (we found out the hard way).
In addition to the area around Tokyo; the other "must see" area is Kyoto; the Imperial Capital of Japan for over 1000 years before it was moved to Edo (Tokyo during the Meiji restoration). Historically, Takayama is quite interesting as well. Historically, you might want to consider a day trip out of the Kyoto / Osaka area to Hiroshima and if you want to rush things a bit (or spend the night) Miya Jima as well.
We were there for 3 - 4 weeks (2 travelled for 4 weeks and I and my youngest daughter came later and stayed for 3 weeks). We had a 2-week JR pass and did a fair bit of travel on it and did come out ahead a bit, but if you only do the Tokyo and Kyoto, it won't be worth it. You do have to do a fair bit of travelling to break even.
If you can get an affordable "open jaws" flight where you fly into one city and out of the other, you should look at flying into Tokyo (Narita airport) and out of Osaka (Kansai airport) to save the extra train trip.
Business hotels tend to be less expensive than other hotels and Ryokans, but I believe most hotels limit up to 3 person per room. Booking one ryokan room holds all 4 of you may be cheaper than paying for 2 rooms. So, it's good to shop around. (You have plenty of time to do that.)
Unless you plan to travel long distance, JR pass may not save you much. If you plan to stay around Tokyo, and maybe go to Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka area, you probably don't need a JR pass.
I like GrumpyDiver's idea of getting an Open Jaws ticket. It would save time and some money.
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