Traveling to Japan

Already in my second post, I am in a quandary on what I want to start with. There are so many things I plan on writing about, but in the end, I decided to follow my desire and begin an open-ended series on a subject dear to my heart, Traveling to Japan.

My fascination with Japan began long ago, during the SNES era when I saw a story in Nintendo Power about Dragon Quest 5. I was indignant that a game of this caliber wasn’t going to be released in the US and that I would never get to play it. I immediately had a budding desire to go and learn Japanese just so I could play this game.

Dragon Quest V
Dragon Quest V

My desire to go to Japan and learn Japanese would subside for awhile, before being re-ignited by anime’s like Pokemon, Dragonball Z, and the manga found on Toriyama’s World. It wasn’t until I discovered Light Novels that my desire began to form a raging fire and one that would never die to boot. This all leads up to today, when I was turning 34 my vague and unseen goal of going to Japan suddenly came into sharp focus.

When actually, was I going to Japan?

I was turning 34 and hadn’t made much progress in going to Japan. This time, I became determined that I was going to go to Japan and was going to go within a year.

Due to some mistakes made with credit cards just out of High School and attempting college, my debt had ballooned and has become a weight dragging me down. To this day, I still have debt remaining that I am trying to pay off and it was my main excuse for not attempting a Japan trip. I decided I wasn’t going to let that drag me down this time. Like any good otaku would, I began researching for this trip.

So the very first thing I did was start looking at a budget for the trip. Japan has a reputation for being expensive and worried about that problem I looked for people that had been there to find out what they spent. Strangely, if you look online, people are reluctant to talk about their budget for the trip they took to Japan. If pressed and with a lot of disclaimers, they will say anywhere from $2500-$5000 per a person. Of course, I found a few extreme people that traveled through Japan for under $1200, but I am sure most people don’t want to cut down to the extent these people did.

Armed with that basic information I decided to look up airplane ticket prices, hotel costs, food costs, city and inter-city travel costs, currency conversion, places of interests and basically anything that caught my interest while researching this trip.  The info I found was overwhelming and it took me awhile to figure out what I needed to do.  This would be my first international trip, so I was excited and nervous at the same time.

Roughly I found that:

  • Airplane Tickets ranged from $575 – $3000 for economy class.
  • Hotels ranged from $15-$300+ a night.
  • Food went from $4.50-$60+ a meal.
  • Places of Interest was Free-$5
  • City and Inter-City Travel was varied with >$1 to $100

One of the first things I ran into was what time should I go to Japan? The answer usually broke down into 2 time periods. The first was in late March and early April, the Sakura Blossom season. It is considered a great time to visit Japan due to the flowering of the cherry tree’s, but the weather is a little fickle with temps ranging from 30-60F+ degrees with spring starting.

Sakura Season
Japan Spring
Japan Fall

The 2nd time period was in mid-September to early November to view the changing leaves of fall.   If you like winter sports like skiing or snowboarding than Japan is a very good place to be in winter, but if you’re like me and not very good at it then it was best avoided. Summer starts around June and ends in September and it’s very hot and humid, but it is also the time with the most festivals events happen. Like most other Asian countries Japan does have a rainy season that lasts from the start of summer to October or so, but the rainy season is milder than other countries.  

Looking at that information, I immediately eliminated winter and summer leaving the 2 prime periods of spring and fall. I live in the northern part of the US and I see spectacular foliage changes every year, but I have never seen Sakura Blossoms in person. So spring it was.

Japan Festival
Japan Summer
Shirakawa Village, Japan
Japan Winter











Next was to break down how long I actually wanted to spend in Japan. 7 days seemed too short, you would spend about 16-24 hours + 1 day due to Japan being ahead and then 16-24 hours – 1 day coming back. So 5 days total in Japan, that was too short. 2 weeks seemed ideal, with 12 days being neither too long nor too short. So now I had a rough 12-day benchmark to aim for.

Doing some calculations, I went with a baseline $1200 airplane ticket from Air Canada, $1000 for 12 days in the hotel , $300 on food, $100 on entertainment and at least $400 for souvenirs.  That came to $3000 and I decided to be on the safe side and aim for an extra $1000 cushion in case it was more expensive than I thought.  Oh and let’s face it, I would most likely go wild on the souvenirs and entertainment.  Max budget would be $4000 for the trip.

Next in this series, this internet otaku will talk about, The Trouble with Airplane Tickets.

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