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Can a 16 year old travel alone to Japan?

Can a 16 year old travel alone to Japan?

Old Aug 27th, 2002, 02:05 PM
  #1  
carla
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Can a 16 year old travel alone to Japan?

My 16 y/o son (will be 17 in January) wants to visit his older brother (24 y/o) who is living in Tokyo. His brother has suggested that he come and stay in a youth hostel or inexpensive ryokan for a week. He assures us that it is safe and that there's plenty to do in Tokyo that will keep him amused.

The older son is living in a kind of dorm, apparently too small to accommodate his brother. That's why he's suggesting a hostel or ryokan.

I think he's crazy; but thought I'd ask what others thought. I've never been to Japan. My 16 y/o has traveled internationally (once), but was with me. He speaks no Japanese.

I know that youth hostels won't be a problem, but will he have any trouble checking into a ryokan alone? (I would make reservations before he goes.) I would also insist that his brother pick him up at the airport and return him to the airport at the end of the trip. Estimated stay: 7-10 days.

Any views appreciated!!

thanks!
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 03:09 PM
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sema
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in Tokyo everything is so organised and easy, you do not have to speak the language..I always travel alone, last year I stayed in hostels and also capsule hotel is a must! his brother can reserve a room in a hostel either in shibuya or shinjuku district, if he does not like it, he will move to another one..it is safe, clean, fun city with great architecture, arts, and wonderful young crowd with lots of cheap but yummie sushi restaurants. Western style beds are cheaper than Ryokans..it is around $25 a nite...coming from airport to the city is easy with subway..I paid extra airport tax around $30 before departing..make sure he has some money left over..and let him go! I am off to Mongolia on friday, for a month all alone but with myself!
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 06:57 PM
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carla
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thanks Sema, can you tell me how old you are?
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 07:20 PM
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E.J.
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Hi Carla,

Don't worry--Tokyo is one of the safest cities in the world. My brother and I have been going back and forth between Tokyo and the U.S. with my family since I was 8 and he was 4 (I am 25 now). When I was in junior high I guess I was around 12-y/o, my parents would have no problem sending me off to school, friends' houses, and Disneyland without them. I don't think I have ever gotten lost in Tokyo, and back then I hardly knew any Japanese. My brother went to all 4 years of high school there and also never had any problems navigating the city alone. I'm sorry I can't help you out with accommodations--fortunately whenever I was there it was my home, so I lived with my family. I'm sure your son will be fine if he knows the basic rules of travel and common sense--and this is a wonderful opportunity for him!! Let me (us) know what you decide!
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 07:30 PM
  #5  
mari
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carla--

i think it wd depend on how independent ur son is. if he's fairly independent and likes to get around and do things on his own, tokyo shd be no problem.

but if he doesn't thrive in unfamiliar surroundings and prefers going to new places w/ other people, tokyo might be overwhelming.

u are definitely right in insisting that ur older son meet him at the airport. it's huge and located 2 hours outside tokyo, w/ several options for public transport to the city. i once arranged to meet my sister there, and not knowing that there were 2 exits to customs, we missed each other. fortunately, we she had the number to my office in tokyo, where people spoke english, and they were able to direct her there. (she was 30 at the time.)
 
Old Aug 28th, 2002, 01:17 AM
  #6  
WM
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Hi Carla,

The Japanese working adults there do understand a bit of English, but it helps alot more, if you write your queries in paper and show it to them.

My husband and I had an impromptu 2 nights' transit in Tokyo this February. Though totally unprepared, we got by without problems. I do not know whether it's part of Japanese culture, but we met some kind Japanese who, I guess saw our blur and confused expression, voluntarily rendered assistance to us at subways, trains and at the airport.

We are going back in November again to Tokyo and Osaka with our friends for autumn viewing! Looking forward to see Japan again!

 
Old Aug 28th, 2002, 01:17 AM
  #7  
WM
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Hi Carla,

The Japanese working adults there do understand a bit of English, but it helps alot more, if you write your queries in paper and show it to them.

My husband and I had an impromptu 2 nights' transit in Tokyo this February. Though totally unprepared, we got by without problems. I do not know whether it's part of Japanese culture, but we met some kind Japanese who, I guess saw our blur and confused expression, voluntarily rendered assistance to us at subways, trains and at the airport.

We are going back in November again to Tokyo and Osaka with our friends for autumn viewing! Looking forward to see Japan again!

 
Old Aug 28th, 2002, 09:53 AM
  #8  
sarah
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No matter how safe Japan is, it seems rather irresponsible to allow a 16 year old to roam alone and unsupervised in a foreign country.
 
Old Aug 30th, 2002, 01:25 PM
  #9  
carla
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thanks to those who replied. This issue is still under discussion at our house. On the one hand, it would be a terrific adventure...

Any others have thoughts to share?
 
Old Aug 30th, 2002, 01:48 PM
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Leslie
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I can only speak as a parent and not a travel expert to Japan (though planning our first family trip).... I wouldn't let a 16 roam alone in any foreign country, even one as reputedly safe as Japan. The ONLY way I'd let this happen is if the 24 year meets him at the airport and delivers him back, as you say, and he has a local adult contact in the event they miss each other. Also, only if the hostel or ryokan he stays at is VERY near where his brother is staying and they do all their siteseeing together.

Please consider things like whether he could (being under age) even give consent to medical treatment, as would be an issue even in the U.S.

As to Tokyo specifically, this is one of the world's largest, most crowded, bustling cities. No minor should roam it without an adult, in my opinion.

Maybe you could go with him, or postpone the trip for a year or more.
 
Old Sep 1st, 2002, 02:40 PM
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Josie
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I don't think your son would encounter many problems exploring Japan on his own as long as his brother is there to advise and accompany him when he so wishes.

He might encounter some language problems, but he will be able to find somebody to help him. Students are always eager to practice their English although conversational English is poor with most adults.

Remember that Japan is not as safe as it used to be a decade ago. Your son needs to be cautious in certain areas at night.

Make sure that he checks in daily with his brother...it should be an experience of a lifetime.
 
Old Oct 5th, 2002, 05:40 PM
  #12  
Mary
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When my son was 14 he had the opportunity to visit Japan and stay with a Japanese family we are acquainted with. He flew by himself to Narita then was met by our friend and accompanied on the domestic flight. While in Japan he rode a bicycle by himself around town, and took several train trips to other cities by himself. He made the return flights by himself. On the trip home he was able to negotiate going between the domestic & international terminals without a problem. He had the time of his life while he was there and his level of self confidence was boosted by a chance to be independant. This was five years ago and he was in a smaller city. I say let him go and don't worry! By the way, I am normally very overprotective and I would never have let him do the same thing in a city in the U.S.
 
Old Oct 6th, 2002, 01:31 PM
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orgy7
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I've slept in the streets of Osaka and walked aound where the bums lived and nothig happened, it is the safest country I've ever been too. TOO SAFE.
 
Old Oct 21st, 2002, 12:29 PM
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carla
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well, here I am, replying to my own question!

As it turns out, I went to Japan with my son after all. My comfort level wouldn't allow me to let him go it alone, especially since his older brother was rather sketchy about actually meeting him at the airport and hanging out with him in general.

Anyhow, we had a great time. In Tokyo we found many signs in English, but this was mostly in subways and train stations and on major streets and department stores. Menus were difficult in most places, unless they cater to foreigners, and many shops had only kanji for signage. Yes, the plastic food displays are everywhere, but both my sons are squiggy about fish, and it seemed that every dish had at least one suspicious looking item.

Our second ryokan (Ryumeikan Honten, in near Ochanamizu station, a modern style ryokan, and very nice!) had absolutely no exterior signage in romanji. If my older son had not accompanied us and pointed it out, I'd have been clueless.

After 3 days in Tokyo, my 16 y/o was craving a return to the country and so I was glad we had booked Hotel Fujiya in the Hakone area. What a bargain they offer for foreign travelers! It's a grand old lodge-style hotel with superlative service in the hills. We upgraded to the Flower Palace rooms and never regretted it. I get misty just thinking about this place! I was ready to move in.

Anyhow, if he wants to return to Tokyo, now he can go it alone and know a little about what to expect, and I'll not fret the entire time.

Carla
 
Old Oct 27th, 2002, 03:54 PM
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linda
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carla,

Thank you for taking the time to let us know what your final decision was. I am the mother of two teenage boys and although they are very well travelled I would also have been reluctant to send one of them alone.

Glad you had such a good time.

linda
 
Old Dec 7th, 2012, 11:04 AM
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Carla, glad your trip went well. I have a question hope you can help.
In August '13, my 2 sons 13 and 16 will be flying home on their own, to San Francisco after 4 weeks in Singapore (they'll be staying with relatives). I was hoping they could visit Japan en route. They are pretty independent, flew on their own to Asia once before but have no friends in Japan. They will be flying Singapore Airlines and my questions are
1) what airport should they land in
2) what itinary should they shoot for, 8 hour layover or a few nights
3) how safe is it for them to travel alone
4) is this just crazy of me and should I scrap the idea

Any comments and guildance would be greatly apprciated.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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The post you are responding to is 10 years old. I doubt that Carla is still around checking responses.

Many people responded to your previous post with information. While you may not have liked the responses, people gave you good information.

The first thing to resolve is whether your sons would be allowed to stop over in Japan unaccompianed. Remember that they must be 20 in order to rent a hotel room. The next issue is how complex it will be for them to travel alone into Tokyo or another city. Given these complexities, I would say that your plan for them to stopover in Japan for a few days is unrealistic.
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Old Dec 7th, 2012, 11:38 AM
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Old Dec 8th, 2012, 07:06 AM
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Kathie,
I am so touched and impressed with your contribution and care. I appreciate all the comments I got. FYI I've found day tours to Tokyo from Narita. Following up suggestions of hosting families, I am reaching out to Japanese folks I know in Ca ... seems encouraging. Thanks again!
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Old Jan 5th, 2013, 07:15 AM
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hi, can you share some informasion to me??? im thinking to go on a consert with some frends to tokyo. how old do you nead to be to book a hotel without parrents? if you an't to know im 17 and oldest in the group on 6
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