Travel Tips

Japan Travel Tips:

I've said it before but, if you want to travel cheaply in Japan, the best way to do it is to use a Japanese web site (Rakuten Travel and Rurubu are the ones I frequently use). 

I was booking hotels for Nagasaki and Kochi the other night and realised Rakuten had an English option so I did that instead.  It didn't even bring up the same hotels.  Instead of Cheap McCheap's business hotel, I got places like the Best Western. 

I'm assuming that instead of being a straight English language version of the Japanese site, they only have places that want to attract Westerners.  I'm not sure if the hotels have to pay for placement on the site or how it works.

Anyway, I got most of my rooms for 2500 yen a night.  Much cheaper than the Great Western that's for sure.  I could have got cheaper but I refuse to share a room with random strangers.  I'm quite happy to share a bathroom/toilet though. 

Warning - once you sign up with Rakuten, they send out spam like spam sending bastard.

Random photo of our beers on the Shinkansen

My second travel tip is to make sure you pack chargers for all shit.  I took my phone charger (for my Australian smart phone, not my Japanese stupid phone) and my ipod.  Why did I take my ipod charger?  Good question, cos I never even had my laptop or anything else to use to charge it with.  I had no camera for 2 out of the 3 days I was in Aomori.

Aomori bridge sunset

Tip 3: the cost of a cheap yet delicious regional speciality food is around the same price as getting into a tourist atrraction.  If, like me, you have much fonder memories of the foods you eat on holidays than anything else, it's worth foregoing sight-seeing places and spending the cash on foods. 

I always feel a mixture of pity and contempt for people who run around all day trying to fit in everything on the tourist must do list then eat cup ramen in their hostel kitchen to save money.

Enjoy the food, drink with the locals.  That's the precious memories you make.

Izakaya dude in Aomori - he said he was the Japanese Johnny Depp.  He was also surprised we understood that - it's freaken English, dude.
I got back from Aomori yesterday and am heading off to Nagasaki tomorrow.  My legs are in a lot of pain today and I think it's from the Shinkansen, not from walking around.  Can you get deep vein thrombosis on the shinkansen?

I have shitloads of arse sitting time on that train tomorrow which I'm not looking forward to but I want to get max value from JR Pass and I've travelled before between here and Fukuoka so 10 hours on the train it will be (can get to Aus faster).

Aomori Travel Tips:

I've been to Aomori once before and both times it's annoyed me how hard it is to get anywhere.  Basically if you want to see much out of town you have to a super organised freak (to the point of having OCD - I'm pretty organised with travel but it defeats me) or rent a car.

For example, we wanted to go to Lake Towada but it's a 3 hour trip on a bus that costs 3000 yen each way - that would have been 18,000 for a return trip all up for the 3 of us. 

We also wanted to go to Jesus' grave but that is on transport route at all.

We did get a tourist map and found a few places out of town we wanted to travel to that looked close together but, when I asked at the visitor information, there is no transport connection between them. 
The English language map/guide has everything broken into different areas when it'd be much more useful to have it by bus route or train line.

If I knew who to write to, I'd send a letter with my suggestions because Aomori is such an incredibly place.  Even though we didn't get to do half of what we wanted, we did get to eat the best seafood I've ever tasted (and I come from a fishing area in Tasmania).

Anyway, I might not be online for the next week or so, unless I get really bored and/or broke and have to hang out at the hotel internet PC.