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Bucket List Couples Trip

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Birmingham, United...
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Bucket List Couples Trip

Hi All. My new husband and I are starting to plan a trip to Japan, a destination on our bucket list.

I need some assistance from seasoned Japan travelers to help make the most of our time there.

Initially I've found an 8 day guided tour with Virgin doing Tokyo, Mount Fuji e.t.c. It seems to be between £1,600 - £2,000 each dependent upon the month of the trip which includes flight, transfers/transport, hotels, food and entry fees including an English speaking guide. I've heard that Japan is really expensive so to me this seemed a bit of a bargain for Virgin.

We want a fairly stress free time and as we don't speak a word of Japanese, we think that this pre-organised trip would be the best thing to do. There is a free roaming day which I would love to go to somewhere Sanrio/Hello Kitty themed as I am a huge fanatic. I have heard that Sanrio world isn't as good as the Hello Kitty theme park for adults. Thoughts?

We love oriental food as well as Sushi so food isn't really a problem.

Any info/advice would be greatly appreciated as this would be a once in a lifetime trip for us and want it to be as happy and memorable as possible. Many thanks!

Philadelphia...
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1. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

Would you provide a link to the tour's web site? We'd like to see if it hits the high points. It will also help us to advise you on how to fit free-time activities. Here's an excellent site, with pages for just about every tourist destination: http://www.japan-guide.com/

I truly understand the appeal of an escorted tour, but you can travel on your own if you are the least bit adventurous. Japan is not, in my experience, more expensive than the UK for the average traveler. It is expensive if you're a business traveler on expense account, staying at international hotels and eating steak. The major rail and subway systems have lots of English signage and frequent service. Some restaurants, especially western-style--fast food and coffee shops--have picture menus. Many restaurants have 'plastic food' displays out front: https://www.flickr.com/search/?q=tokyo+plastic+food Take a picture of what you'd like and show it to the waiter.

SF
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for Fukuoka, Kyushu-Okinawa
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2. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

The Bucket List already? You look so young, lol.

Japan is cheaper than England or Europe. You can do on your own, rather than a package tour and it will be more memorable. Not speaking English is least a problem.

Cary
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3. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

I agree you can do Japan on your own and not speaking Japanese won't be a major issue. If you are on your own, japan-guide.com and hyperdia.com will be your 2 new best friends. Also, if you are on a budget, be sure to check out business hotels like Toyoko Inn and Hotel MyStays as nice and affordable options.

There are some advantages of going with a group or private tour guide that speaks Japanese. Cost usually isn't one of them, but certainly saves you time both preplanning and getting from place to place. Here are some to consider--I can personally vouch for at least one of them ;-)

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2275.html

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

The idea that Japan is an expensive destination is a half truth. If you go there and eat lots of western food, and Wagyu beef then food will be expensive. But if you eat lots of Japanese food when you are there, then there are lots of cheap and tasty options.

There are also cheap options for accomodation, such as the business hotel chains. These include Toyoko and Dormy Inn amongst others. The rooms can be small but they are good value places. If you join a tour, you will probably stay at more expensive accomodation, and they will tell you it is a bargain, because you will be staying at Hotel X at less than their usual prices. However it will probably still be more expensive than a business hotel.

Tokyo, Japan
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for Hakone-machi, Minato
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5. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

You won't want to go to Sanrio Puroland, home of Hello Kitty. It's really a KIDDIE park and nowhere near your expectations. Kitty is MUCH cuter as a plush toy!

http://en.puroland.jp/

On the other hand, DisneySea is great. It's the only one in the world!

http://www.tokyodisneyresort.jp/en/tds/

London, England
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for Solo Travel
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6. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

There is a way to go in between a guided tour and doing Japan completely on your own, although both are obviously possible.

A company based in Bristol called Inside Japan do small group tours as well as tailored trips, but they also have something they call "self-guided adventures" which are more than 20 suggested itineraries where Inside Japan sorts out and arranges all the transport, accommodation and, usually, a day of so of a private guide (in different places). You can mess about with the itinerary a bit (on my first trip I stretched a 2 week trip to 3 1/2 weeks and added a couple of destinations), add in experiences that look good to you and the dates can be whatever suits you.

But be careful, Japan was on my bucket list too and I don't usually return to countries because there is so much world to see, but since that first trip I have been back two more times and am returning for a 4th time this November.

I still book with Inside Japan because it is so easy and because I think they save me money. As they know the country so well, they know where corners can be cut and where it is worth a splurge.

The last 2 trips and the one coming up have been/will be tailored trips where I have given the company a list of places/experiences I want, a length and a budget, then they have put together an itinerary, we fiddle with it a bit and when I am satisfied, they book what needs to be booked or bought (including ferry and bus tickets and tickets to a Sumo match)and they get started making it all happen.

The interactive map on the right side of the website is the villain.

My Japanese is limited to about 8 words but the company makes it all so easy.

insidejapantours.com/self-guided-japan-holid…

Tokyo, Japan
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7. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

I don't deny the benefits of tours, but there is no worrying about a DIY trip to Japan. If you can handle a DIY trip in England, to London from Birmingham, for example, there is no sound reason why you can't handle a DIY trip to Japan. Language is not a big issue. About 80% tourists to Japan probably do it on their own without a tour, and more than 99% probably know only a couple of words like thank you, sorry, hello, and goodbye.

I would recommend considering a open-jaw ticket, landing at/departing from Kansai Airport and Tokyo Narita/Haneda. You would likely spend more than 3 days in Tokyo and 3 days in Kyoto.

You may also consider a JR Pass 7 days. Budget hotel chains which should be fine for you would be: Mystays / Flexstay, APA Hotel, Super Hotel, Toyoko Inn, Dormy Inn, Villa Fontaine (see their official sites in English or book through Rakuten and Jalan hotel search engines which are big in Japan).

While Tokyo is great, Kyoto and Nara has historial-cultural assets; provincial towns like Takayama and Kurashiki have their own charms.

Edited: 23 August 2014, 12:02
Manchester, United...
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8. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

Be brave and do what you want to do rather than being told what to do. Me and the wife are going in December and are planning it all ourselves and to our own schedule. I guarantee you would get more out of it and enjoy your trip more if you did it independently.

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

I'm going to agree with the others. A one day tour of Tokyo might be nice on the first day to ground yourself and get an idea of some of the major areas in the city. Other than that, nothing beats exploring a city and making discoveries on your own or having experiences that a guided tour cannot create. Either way, have fun in Tokyo!

Tokyo, Japan
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10. Re: Bucket List Couples Trip

The benefit of tours:

1) You don't have to plan and arrange yourselves. You can be occupied with other things like work up to the day of departure.

2) If things don't work as planned or desired, you can blame it on the tour company.

3) You can make friends with other people in the group.

4) If things ever go really wrong, at emergency situations, you have the guide to rely on (and if s/he can't be a help, you can blame everything on him/her).

Good and reliable tour companies can be expensive, though.

Edited: 23 August 2014, 17:05