The dolls festival called “Hina matsuri” is held annually on March 3, girls’ day in Japan when people display a set of ornamental dolls on platforms with a red carpet to wish young girls beauty and happiness.
Japanese Girls’ Day is not a public holiday. Businesses and schools are open as usual.
“Japan is expensive!”, I don’t know how many people told me that. They’re not wrong, actually. Japan doesn’t come cheap compared to other Asian countries like India or Thailand. But I don’t want you to be put off coming to japan by the fact that Japan is expensive. So, I’ll give you some useful tips for budget travellers.
Do not take Narita Express but take Tokyo Shuttle
Although the easiest way to go to Tokyo from Narita Airport is to take Narita express train, the fare doesn’t come very pretty; it costs 2,940yen for a single ticket. If you are on a tight budget and do not have a JR Pass, your best option is Tokyo Shuttle run by Keisei bus. It takes 90mins to Tokyo station and costs only 900yen! (¥2,040 saved!) You can buy your ticket at the Keisei Bus ticket counter at Narita airport. For more information on Tokyo Shuttle, go to: www.keiseibus.co.jp/global/en/nrt00.html
You can’t afford a JR Pass? Choose a coach trip!
Japan boasts a fast and reliable rail network but fares are rather expensive. For example, a single ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto costs ¥13,520, which is more expensive than going to Paris from London. Japanese people who don’t want to spend such money on transport, they use a coach instead.
Willerexpress offers an extensive coach network in Japan.
A single ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto is from ¥3,440. (¥10,080 saved!)
Don’t stay in Ryokan but stay in hostels
I know everyone wants to try Ryokan, or Japanese traditional inn, but Ryokan with hot springs are like a resort hotel to Japanese people so they stay in Ryokan only for a night or two for some special occasions. So, if overseas tourists stay in Ryokan for the entire time of their travel, it’ll cost a fortune. All you need is a bed and shower, isn’t it? Then, stay in a hostel or guest house.
Hostels and Guest houses in Tokyo
SAKURA HOSTEL ASAKUSA
Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro
Khaosan Tokyo Samurai
Khaosan Tokyo Laboratory
Hostels and Guest houses in Kyoto
K’s House Kyoto
Khaosan Kyoto Guesthouse
GUEST HOUSE SAKURA KOMACHI
1. Go to the oldest temple in Tokyo
Tokyo is not just skyscrapers with neon signs but it offers historical buildings and relics from the 9th century. Sensoji, the oldest temple in Tokyo, built in 628 AD attracts 30 million people each year. The big lantern hung down on the gate is a landmark of Asakusa.
2. Visit Sumo stables
Do you know where you can see giant Sumo wreslters? Sumo tournaments are held three times in Tokyo, in January, May and September. Even if you couldn’t get tickets to the tournament, there’s still a chance to see Sumo wreslters. Visit Sumo stables. Some of Sumo stables in Tokyo welcomes visitors for morning practice.
For more information, go to: Can I visit Sumo stables?
3. Meet ”Kawaii” girls in Shibuya 109 and Center Street
Every Japanese girl loves the iconic Shibuya 109 shopping center where you can find everything girls need: clothes, shoes, bags and accesorries. Even if you’re a man, you would find yourself fascinated to see what Japanese ”Kawaii” culture is all about. Shibuya 109 is located just off Center Street which also offers lots of shops and restaurants.
4. Night view from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building Observatories
Forget about the rip-off Tokyo Skytree and go to Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building for a beautiful night view of Tokyo. Visitors are allowed to go up to their observatories, 202meters above the ground, and it’s free of charge! They have two observatories, the South and North, and the North observatory opens until 11pm (Entry ends 30mins before closing). So you will have time to visit there even after you have your dinner at night.
5. Drink as much as you like at Izakaya in Kabuki-cho
There are hundreds of Izakaya. or Japanese pub restaurant, in Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku. Izakaya offers a wide range of Japanese cuisine at a reasonable price. You can order several dishes to share with your friends, like Spanish tapas style. What’s exciting about Izakaya is many of them have a special drinking system called “Nomihoudai” (飲み放題) meaning “drink as much as you like”. The price for Nomihoudai is around 3,000yen and you can order as many drinks as you like from the menu, usually within the limited time of 90 mins or 2 hours. If you want to completely get wasted, you should definitely try this!
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