We told ourselves in March that we needed our plane tickets by the first week in June, or we wouldn't go. It was time to save money in any way possible. I was nervous about being limited to no extra activities, but felt Japan would be more than worth it. We did notice that plane tickets were cheaper now than they had been a few years ago. Right after the major quake/tsunami, the flights were just over $1200! As of now the flight price hovers between $800-900.
We of course began to consider lodging as a major necessity to our trip. Out of all the tips we had seen or read, Tokyo has many "Hubs". This fact makes it hard to choose exactly where to stay. A place like NYC makes it easy. The closer to Time Square, the closer to the tourist action. Tokyo seems very spread out like Los Angeles. Although we were definitely looking to be a tourist, we also wanted to take a road less traveled, but not get lost. In early April Eric came across a News report that changed how we approached our trip planning.
Eric saw on television a promo for Airbnb.com, a new way to travel. It isn't actually a new concept. The site is more of a liaison between you and someone running a "bed n breakfast". It was being featured because through this site, people were making extra money. We both looked into the site and downloaded the app.
The Hosts on the site all seem very excited to "host" you and show their town. For Tokyo we came across Tokyo natives and people that have moved to the area from various countries. In some cases the guest doesn't even need to see the host. Check in is done on site at a lock box and so is check out. Imagine NOT having an awkward language barrier at a Japanese hotel!
I could go on about all the details of this service, but it would get very lengthy. I would suggest to at least look into it when traveling to a major city with high hotel prices. We found these apartments for rent to be about $20-30 cheaper than hotels. Also, most of these apartments come with a portable wifi router. I'm sure we will need that when lost in Tokyo! Obviously there will be more to write about the full experience once we've stayed there. Will it be negative or positive?????
This Trip Planning post is getting rather lengthy, but I just received word that we are confirmed for the second leg of our stay. For the first half we are staying at an apartment closer to Tokyo Disneyland and the second half we will be in the city (near that crazy crosswalk you may have seen).
Our flight is booked on Singapore airlines. Although I am not a huge fan of flying, especially for 11 hours, I'm excited! I've read so many great reviews for Singapore Airlines. It sounds so much more interesting than my flights to and from Europe.
Eric bought a book called "A Geek in Japan". It has a lot of great cultural information. I keep re-reading sections because I want to know as much as possible. There are amazing facts on home life, work life, and what it means to be a "nerd" in Japan. If you ever to go Japan I think you should pick this up via Amazon. We have also been doing homework on YouTube as we learn about the subway system and possible day trips (i.e. Kyoto).
I'm sure I'll think of more as time goes by during the Summer. Ever heard of The Robot Dinner Show in Tokyo? Well, it looks really crazy and I think that's going to be a must. Women hanging from the ceiling while wearing robotic bikinis and dinosaurs fighting robots! Sounds like a whirlwind that is exactly four months away!!