|Japan and Tokyo Guide
2nd Gen Hayabusa
Last Updated : 02 July 2012
Since there's so much to write about I'm splitting the story up into various parts so just follow the links below to skip the parts that you're interested in.
This is account of my travels that avoids commentary about current events surrounding Japan and any other country because that's not what these page are about. But just for international visitors, kangaroos are not endangered species, they are everywhere and breed like rabbits.
Japan and Tokyo Tourist Guide
Picking an airline to go with is pretty easy because I choose to fly direct Tokyo. Qantas does a code share with JAL so youíll end up with Qantas most of the time. JAL tickets are usually more expensive. Other airlines usually make a stop over in another country before reaching Japan. Itís up to which one you wish to take but I recommend direct to Tokyo for the first time visitor. Jetstar also flies to Japan but it arrives in Osaka. The international airport in Tokyo is called Narita and the one in Osaka is called Kansai.
The flight time to Japan is over 10 hours from Melbourne which is a very long time when stuck in a small tube. Airline travel is not as glamorous as the ads would like us to believe. I cynically call it public transport. For economy class passengers there isnít much leg room or a particularly big or comfortable seat. In-flight entertainment usually consists of looking at you tray table of peering at a small movie screen some meters away. However if youíre lucky you get one of the newer Airbus A330 or any of the other upgraded planes (Forget about the A380 just yet thereís only one of them!) with seatback mounted in-flight entertainment. There are a ton a movies, docos and TV shows to catch up on and even a few games during the very long flight. Note that the screen isnít very bright so movies with lots of dark scenes will literally be un-viewable.
Again for first time visitors you really need to work out how to get from the airport to the hotel youíre staying at. Taxis are expensive Ė I donít know how much it would cost from the airport to Tokyo since I usually take the express bus service which takes 1 to 2 hours dependent on traffic and where you are staying. The bus service is called the Airport Limousine bus (company name not description of the busesí interior appointments) which goes to a large number of hotels. You donít need to book in advance just get a ticket at the service desk at the airport. Just write down the name of the hotel in full and hand it to the counter staff or point to which hotel on the board if they canít understand you. Alternately you can get the express train (NEX) from the airport which takes less than an hour. But only take the train if you know exactly where the hotel is. There are so many buildings that you will get lost. Price by bus varies accordingly but I usually pay •3000 Yen one way. The service operates until 11pm so make sure you flight arrives well before this time. So check out where youíre staying first and whether you should book hotel specific transport. The express train run by JR Lines cost at least •3100. However if you're patient you can try to go via the local trains which can a very long time - so Iím told.
Note that all
•Yen pricing is subject to change but where
valid for November 2007. Take into account foreign exchange fluctuations
Choosing between Osaka and Tokyo is easy if you have certain activities in mind. Choose Osaka if you plan visiting Hiroshima, Kyoto and other cultural locations. Pick Tokyo if you want to see current Imperial palace, Mt Fuji, Disney Land and Yokohama. I am recommending Tokyo for the first time visitors purely for ease of getting around and the fact that it represents most of what we, in the English speaking world know of Japan. Furthermore there arenít many people fluent in English away from Tokyo or Osaka. Of course if youíre travelling between the two major cities then it doesnít really matter.
Need a reason to visit Japan? Simple itís completely different experience to the rest of Asia. The genuine language barrier and different culture, people think different, the vibe, behaviour and historic elements makes it excitingly different!
Apart from that, Japan has many sights you cannot get else where, depending on the time of the year the cherry blossom festivals, the lovely autumn colours, the temples and gardens, real sushi and sashimi, amazingly cramped streets and bright lights. For the automotive inclined visitors the different variety of cars and motorcycles they ride are genuinely fascinating.
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