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Budget Trip to Tokyo,March 2011

Old Nov 6th, 2011, 09:05 AM
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Budget Trip to Tokyo,March 2011

I am going to enclose a few budgets tips from my trip to Tokyo this past March.I stayed two weeks and that was also the time of the Earthquake.After in the comments section, I'll post some of my observations of the Quake when I returned home in March

Tokyo has a lot of great sights and most of the tourist sights are covered pretty well in the guide books.I'll try to add my recommendations and also add some budget tricks that I didn't find listed in the guidebooks.

The National Museum,Tsukiji Fish Market and Auction,the Metroploitan Government Building are big tourist sights ,but still well worth seeing.The auction is still great with the tour.I walked there in the morning. ,The Rikugien Garden is also very nice.I noticed most sights had very reasonable admission prices.The Government building is free and I got a clear view of Mt. Fuji from it one day.

I have a recommendation that is not in the guidebooks, but well worth an afternoon.Tokyo Race Course,a horse track right off the Monorail line makes for a fun day.They sell some pretty good food there as well.The entrance fee is 100 yen and minimum bets are also a hundred yen. I asked people to help me with some of the betting slips and had some great conversations and met some great people. I found the track crowded with people of all ages. Horse racing is very popular in Japan,unlike most of the US. The fields are large.I saw 15 horses in most races.I really found it a great place to interact with local people.

I couldn't of been happier with booking.com.I stayed at one hotel room in Tokyo with a bathroom ,that was $42.00 a night which included taxes.They also gave out free ramen soup in the evenings.The room even had a small kitchenette.

For me the metro day passes worked the best.I used the metro a lot and if I went outside the area ,there was only a slight fare adjustment.

My favorite food site,bento.com was great.I found some neat places with good fixed price meals. Their reviews were great and the menu prices they gave were accurate.

I also noticed that Seiyu (The Japan Walmart) and Costco were very popular in Japan and had a lot of inexpensive food choices.They are a good place to buy drinks and other food that you normally might get at the 7-11 or Lawson, but at a good savings.

What I was really impressed with was the Japanese Cake and Candy stores within the department stores.I am normally not a cake eater ,but I enjoyed looking at the great presentations at the different booths.

One thing that I learned the hard way is to bring Advil from home.I had a tooth ache on my plane ride over and forgot Advil at home.When I arrived ,I asked where I could purchase some.I found out that only pharmacies sell pain medications,so I was out of luck until the next morning.

The 7-11s still work great for Atm withdrawls.Pay phones are all over the place and actually work.The accept 10 yen coins if you have to make local calls.

I found Tokyo really inexpensive with a little planning ,even with the horrible exchange rate.

And March is a great time to go,although I hope that's the last of the big earthquakes for me.I saw some of the Cherry blossoms beginning and the weather was clear and only a little chilly.
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 09:12 AM
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Here is what I posted after I got back.

I just got back today from a great trip to Japan. I'll post a little later some photos and other info about the trip. I actually got some great photos of Mt. Fuji while I was there.

I just wanted to post some things I saw during the quake. I was near Asakusa station in Tokyo waiting for my son. We were going to visit Nikko for the weekend. I was in a building on the first floor. After I felt the quake , I exited the building and waited in the middle of the street with others. Being from California, we are told to stay put or get under a desk or doorway during a quake. In Japan, it seems like everybody wants to be outside during a quake. Right or wrong, thats what I did. The quake lasted for so long and people were screaming. The buildings were swaying and the ground was moving in a rolling motion. So many sounds. I think there will be a lot of structural damage to the buildings that they will find out about later. After the quake, I looked for a payphone to call my son and I luckily ran into him on the street.

We went to Asakusa station to inquire about our train, when a big aftershock hit. They directed people out of the station and we waited in the street again. They closed Asakusa station after that and I had to be escorted in to get my luggage from the day lockers.

The electricity remained on but the cell phones didnt work. We took a bus from Asakusa to Ikebukuro. There was so much traffic that the bus didn't go too far. We exited and walked the rest of our way to Ikebukuro. So many people were stranded. The metro stations and train stations were crowded with people sleeping on the floor. The funny thing is there was garbage all over the floor, a strange sight to see in Japan. We spent most of the night at 24 hour cafes. Part of the night we rode the metro lines that were up. They had some running throughout the night. My son lives on the outskirts of Tokyo and his line didn't open until 5 am.

I felt bad for many elderly people that I saw stranded. Later I heard there were places for people to go, but that information was not reaching the majority of the people. At Haneda, I met a lot of interesting people that were leaving the country. A lot of European companies are having their people leave. I did not see too many Japanese or Americans too concerned about radition coming to Tokyo, but the European really were.

I really was impressed at how regular people handled the earthquake there. I thought there could of been more information given out at metro and train stations to elderly or handicapped people on where to go during a chilly night. The majority people took the earthquake well and just walked home or spent the night out in cafes. My son informs me that they will having rolling blackouts now for a few days, but besides that, life in Tokyo seems pretty normal.
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 10:09 AM
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travelrob, what was the name of the racecourse by the monorail? Was it Nakayama in Chiba? I saw that from the bus or train that I took to Narita once.

Tokyo Race Course is in Fuchu and on the Keio line, not the monorail. Maybe you didn't mean the monorail or there is a third track in Tokyo that I don't know about. I saw the Japan Cup there but have not been to Nakayama. I'd be interested in a comparison of Nakayama to other tracks, if you can do that. It looked like just an average track, not a Santa Anita or Churchill Downs or Longchamps.
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 10:54 AM
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mrwunrfl-Your right it was the Ohi Racecourse or also known as Tokyo City Keiba.Good catch.And it is right near the Monorail.BTW - I really like Haneda compared to Narita Airport.It's not that the actual track is the greatest, but the large fields and big crowds make it a unique way to meet other horse race fans.It's the only track I've been to in Japan so I can't compare them yet.

My favorite track is Santa Anita,but I'm saddened that the whole industry here in the US has taken a hit in the recent decades and doesn't really attract new fans and the fields are normally very small.

http://tinyurl.com/7895a5k
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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Interesting. I didn't know about Ohi, so it must be a 2nd or 3rd rate Japanese race course and would not compare to SA or CD. I've been to Japan Cup, Hong Kong International Races, Singapore Cup, the Arc, Royal Ascot, Irish Derby, Epsom Derby, U.S. Triple Crown and tracks in Brazil, Argentina, NZ, and Germany. I might return to the Fuchu keiba-jo on the 26th, the day before the Japan Cup this year.

I remember when I was at Tokyo RC that I could see over the crowd because I am tall. It was a sea of black/brown-haired heads, with a scattering of blondes. All Japanese, I don't think I saw more than a handful of foreign tourists.

I might go to the Metro Govt Bldg based on your recco.
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 11:41 AM
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I was in Liverpool and Chester England over the summer and got to see their tracks.The one in Chester is pretty neat.

mrwunrfl- Great that you have been able to go to all those great tracks.As for the track in Japan,I think I was the only foreigner there that day.It was the middle of the week, but still packed.

I do have some nice photos from the Metropolitan Gov Building of Mt. Fuji, but I don't know how to post them on Fodors.

As for the Fish Auction,I heard visiting has changed since the Earthquake, but I hope the schedule is back to normal now.
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 06:55 PM
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mrwunrfl-Have you posted your reviews of the different racecourses on Fodors? That would be an interesting thread.

I also forgot to include some of the daytrips I took in the Tokyo area. I'll see if I cant dig that info up. I noticed the guidebooks for Japan were not really budget conscious.
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Old Nov 6th, 2011, 07:03 PM
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I forgot to include the names of the hotels I stayed at in Tokyo
I stayed at two different hotels in the Tokyo Area.I normally wouldn't recommend changing hotels in a city,but Tokyo is so big that it worked for me.Here was my reasoning .I arrived at Narita with a lot of baggage.Although I only had a small carry on bag for myself,I brought some gifts over in my checked bag.I wanted a hotel room off the train line so I wouldn't have to make any connections after a long flight.

Hotel Nihonbashi Villa was a basic hotel steps away from the Bakurocho station.You can arrive there in 80 minutes from Narita on a rapid train without any connections. Its also half the price of the faster trains.It was a small room with a bath.I paid $70 a night.While there ,I also walked to the fish auction in the morning.It was a long walk,an hour an a half,but I really enjoyed it.Actually the tour didnt start until 5:45am, so I could of taken the metro at 5:00 am and arrived in time.

After I unloaded my gifts ,I moved to the outskirts.I stayed at the Day and Stay Hotel Dormy Inn in Yatsuka.It is convenient to Ueno Park,Asakusa,and Akihabara.It was $42 a night.It worked for me ,but is an extra 5 dollars a day in metro costs per person ,because it is outside the area of the metro day passes, so you have to pay a supplement.Take the metro to Kita- Senju and buy the day passes from there. The room was good sized and the people were very nice.I especially liked seeing everybody eating ramen in the evenings.Tokyo does have day passes that include JR lines too for extra- That makes it convenient for getting to areas like Ikebukuro and Shinjuku. The hotel is also pretty convenient to Asakusa station,where you can take day trips to Nikko.

Those areas might not work for everybody,thats why I'd suggest looking at booking.com and the reviews.You can search by area ,price and group size. I tried Agoda.com also in Japan,another Priceline company, but was more satisfied with booking.com The reviews as always were spot on and they make it so easy to book or cancel.

One more tip,if you stay or go to the outskirts,download online a good metro map before you leave.The map they give out at stations and tourist offices is great, but does not include the outskirts
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Old Jan 6th, 2012, 07:01 AM
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Airfares from the East coast to Japan have been rather high the last few years- except for the occasional sale.Normally the sales take place in late January or February,so i'll try and post if i see a good one.I'm planning on visiting in March agsin if I can get a good airfare .Last years AA sale was good at $680rt including all taxes and fees.
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 06:46 AM
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Another tip when there are no airfare sales to Japan is to use
American Airline ff miles.A lot of dates are just 25000 miles one way with only $55 in taxes.A great deal from the East coast
especially.
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 03:10 PM
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yes, but have you looked at the return one-way fare if you use ff miles one way - I thought about doing that last year and the one-way return flight was four figures...maybe it's changed....

I watched the fare for over a month before I finally purchased it a couple of weeks ago and it's over $1000 - $200 more than the exact same time last year....
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 03:49 PM
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Mara- sometimes STA and other sites have good one way fares.I bought one last year for $500.00BTW- most fares are not just for students.Their best prices are usually a few weeks out though.Momondo also lists 3rd party sites with cheaper one way tickets.

Also, if one had to even buy the miles for the other one way ticket,it wouldn't be all that bad.
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 04:36 PM
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Thanks for the info, travelrob....I guess I stick with AA as that's where I get my miles.....it really didn't occur to me to try to get a one-way fare someplace else....
I used all my miles for my November trip - when I get them built up again I'll see what I can find....
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 04:58 PM
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Last year AA offered double miles too for the NY-Haneda and those $680rt fares with taxes included.I made sure i went through NY on my way back

But like you said,the sales haven't been as good so far.(especially from Florida)Again have a great trip.I'm sure you will put those new miles to use.
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 06:25 PM
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Yes, I remember some special for Haneda - then they cancelled the flight from JFK to HND shortly after 3/11 but I recently read that sometime in June AA is no longer flying from JFK to NRT but only to HND - personally I don't care for that as the scheduled time of day is very inconvenient....

Thanks, I'm sure I'll have a good trip.
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Old Feb 8th, 2012, 08:07 PM
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For those early morning flights out of Haneda ,it is a pain.The
Monorail doesn't run at night so unless one takes an expensive taxi, one has to arrive late before midnight.

But on the very top floor, there are some comfortable seats to get a little rest.And the do have a convenient store for some cheap snacks

This year the double miles are from other locations. If one can get the miles though ,when convenient, the miles add up quick on that long of a flight.
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Old Feb 9th, 2012, 05:09 AM
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Funny thing,right after i posted about last years double miles i saw the AA E-mail.They are offering Double miles on the new JAL non stops Boston-Narita starting in April.I don't believe on the cheapest class economy seats though The best part is those are on the new 787's. Even if one could get the double miles to fly its worth it for $1000.00 rt total for some dates.
Hopefully there will be no further delays with the plane,but with the 787,who knows.
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Old Apr 7th, 2012, 08:36 PM
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AA is offering flights to Tokyo for 40,000 miles rt for travel dates in April and May.Not bad at all and I think it even includes the new non stop JAL 787 from Boston in the sale.I believe you have to use the phone service to book the 40,000 mile sale. A $25 fee.I just booked a one way for 25,000 miles and a $52 tax from Tokyo -Orlando.The 40,000 mile fare is only for rt purchases onlyand between those months

Still great deals for miles with small taxes. A great way to use miles in comparison to London where you have to pay the high departure taxes too.
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 07:43 AM
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It's time for budget travelers to consider Japan again.
I know a lot of budget travelers have put off traveling to Japan in the last few years because of the Yen's high value.It's actually started to drop in the last several months.Here's what a Bloomberg article said today after a eleven week straight drop in value for the Yen.

"The yen slid 0.9 percent to 90.91 per dollar this week in New York trading. It touched 91.19, the weakest level since June 2010. The yen has never previously lost for 11 straight weeks, according to records compiled by Bloomberg dating to 1971. Japan’s currency tumbled 2 percent against the euro to 122.32. It was the seventh weekly loss, the longest run since July 2008."

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-0...n-further.html
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Old Jan 26th, 2013, 08:18 AM
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Someone has mentioned this before here rob but great news isn't it.

Aloha!
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