Rachel: Hey guys!
Jun: Hey guys! Rachel: We’re back for part two of pros and cons of traveling around Japan, and if you haven’t seen part one then you can click here, and it will be right there. Otherwise, let’s get into it! Pro number two is transportation in Japan. Japan is a super easy country to travel around because the transportation is so accessible, pretty much everywhere. Jun: Right.
Rachel: Most of the places we’ve gone during this past year, and we’ve been to, again, 19 prefectures so far all of these rural areas even if there’s not a direct train to the spots we go almost all of them have had buses that could take you near there or past there. Jun: Yeah, or you could take taxis too. Rachel: You could take taxis, which are pretty expensive in Japan. Jun: But if you go with a group than you could split the bill,
Rachel: Right. Jun: and you could actually save money that way too. Rachel: Yeah, yeah, if you’re in a big group. You can also rent cars at most big train stations which we’ve done a lot during traveling here which is — I think it’s really nice to be able to rent a car because then it’s easier for you to go places especially some of the places we went like Fox Village last year. Jun: It was on a mountain.
Rachel: Fox Village was on a mountain. And you can get to these places by bus, but it would take you longer, and if you want to save time, then being able to drive there yourself is a lot easier. This kind of goes into con number two as well, which is price. Transportation is really expensive in Japan. Jun: I grew up here so I don’t really know,
Rachel: Right. Jun: but she’s been to other countries and she can compare, so I’ll let you talk. Jun: Is it that expensive?
Rachel: Especially compared to America, yeah.
Jun: Really? Rachel: I mean America’s just really cheap in general. I think it’s cheaper than most countries in Europe as well, so if you’re from Europe, this might not even be an issue for you. Jun: Okay.
Rachel: But transportation here is pretty expensive. So between our city, Nagoya, and Tokyo, if we wanted to drive there, we could get there in maybe about four-ish hours, or something. Rachel: But it would–
Jun: Four? You mean by car?
Rachel: Yeah. Jun: Four, five… if you want to take a break, maybe six. Rachel: Yeah, but it would cost us $76 or more, one-way in tolls! If you take the expressway here, all the expressways are tolled, and they’re quite expensive. Again, if you’re traveling with a big group, then it’s not going to be an issue because you can split the cost between everyone else. But, if you go by yourself, or just like, two people, you don’t save a lot of money taking a car to Tokyo. And it would end up like, taking so much more time that it’s just better for us to take the Shinkansen. Jun: Do you have expressways in America–
Rachel: We do! Jun: where you have to pay?
Rachel: Yes. Actually, there are tolled expressways in America. Jun: But, like, what was it? Freeway? It’s almost like expressway, but you don’t have to pay at all on those roads. Rachel: Well, the expressways in Cincinnati are not tolled. It depends on where you are. Some cities have tolls, but they’re not that expensive. You pay a couple dollars, or something like that. It’s not like, $75, one-way. Jun: Mhmm, okay, but America’s huge, so…
Rachel: Yeah. Jun: It shouldn’t be expensive. Rachel: We have to drive–
Rachel: in America, pretty much. We don’t really have the option of public transportation in a lot of areas. If we’re traveling between Nagoya and Tokyo, the cheapest way — the absolute cheapest way for us to get there is Night Bus. Or even Day Bus. If you book at the correct time, and you book like, a good time for the bus we can get tickets as cheap as, I think like, $25 one-way. Although it’s usually more like $50, one-way, per person. But compared to $75 one-way for the car, not including gas, and renting a car if you have to rent a car and $110 one-way if you take the Shinkansen, then bus ends up being a lot cheaper. If you’re coming from out of country, then getting a JR Pass is a really good idea if you’re going to do a lot of traveling by Shinkansen. Jun: Yeah. [Inaudible] JR Pass, right?
Rachel: Yeah, so– JR Pass. It costs a lot of money. It’ll cost you several hundred dollars for a few days of all-you-want travel on JR Trains. But JR Trains include: trains around big cities, like the Yamanote Line; in Tokyo, you can get to a lot of places through JR Trains, you can do that here in Nagoya as well; and then the Shinkansen is JR as well. So if you’re going from like, the Northern to Southern tip of Japan you’re probably going to want to get a JR Pass, because then you can take the Shinkansens for free, after you buy your really expensive pass! Jun: Yeah, and this is only for foreigners who are living abroad.
Rachel: Yeah. Jun: This is not for Japanese people so I can’t buy it!
Rachel: You have to get it from out of country. Jun: Yeah.
Rachel: We can’t use it.
Jun: Yeah. Jun: Another tip would be you can buy special tickets called Ichinichi-ken, or whatever they’re called. Rachel: If you’re in a big city such as Nagoya or Tokyo, they have Ichinichi-kens or all-day passes where you can pay a set amount of money and then ride the public transportation as much as you want in that one day. So if you’re in Tokyo and you’re going to a bunch of stops in one day, you can end up spending like, $30 on a train. But you shouldn’t! You should by an all-day pass for $16 instead! There are different levels depending on which trains and stuff you want to use, so you can check that out but calculate how many places you plan on going that day and see if it’s going to come out to be more than $16 and if so, then get the pass. Otherwise, you know, just take the trains freely. But, they do have transportation most places, so that’s really convenient. Rachel: So if you don’t have a car, you can pretty much get anywhere you want to go–
Jun: Right. Rachel: by the trains, the buses, and then taxis if you absolutely have to.
Jun: Yeah. Rachel: Some more cons as far as cost goes, a lot of things just in general, are pretty expensive here, like admission to certain areas. Tokyo Skytree is really expensive! To me, that’s kind of a ridiculous price to pay just so you can get a nice view. I, personally, would not be willing to pay that but, that’s what it is. There are a lot of admissions to big places that are really expensive like that. However, admissions to temples and shrines are really cheap — It’s usually only a couple of dollars, if you have to pay at all. A lot of them are free. And temples and shrines can be really, really beautiful. Rachel: So I highly recommend going to those–
Rachel: if you’re traveling to Japan. Jun: Just bring some coins for praying.
Rachel: Yeah. /Jun claps twice/
Rachel: Right. Rachel: Other things that won’t really affect you if you’re just visiting — but if you live here, things like Jun taking driving training was $2000. For him to get his license he had to go through driver training in Japan and it cost like, $2000! Rachel: It’s insane!
Jun: I wonder how it’s like in the other countries though, Jun: I mean, in America everyone has to drive to go places so it cannot be that expensive. Rachel: I don’t think there are many countries where it’s $2000 to get your license! Jun: Okay.
Rachel: That’s really expensive. Rachel: Buying pets here is really expensive. Most people still go to pet stores and pets there can be, you know, anywhere from $2000 – $5000. Jun: What about daily expenses? For example, food? Jun: That’s where you spend the most normally. Food, electricity, water, gas…
Rachel: Right, right, right, right. Jun: What about those? How about that? Rachel: If you’re living here, in an apartment, I wouldn’t say it’s too expensive. Jun: That’s how you feel–
Jun: as, you know, as a Japanese living in this country. Rachel: Right.
Jun: I mean, it is expensive compared to other countries. Jun: Some–
Rachel: It depends on where you live, Rachel: so if you’re living in like, if you’re living in high-demand areas in Tokyo then a tiny apartment is going to be really expensive.
Jun: Yeah. Rachel: But if you live farther out, then you can get something nice, pretty nice, for not much at all. Like, our apartment is $600 a month. That’s not too bad. Jun: With the parking lot–
Jun: and everything. Rachel: Food — if you’re traveling around, we have gotten a budget of $20, about ¥2000, per person for food per day while we’ve been traveling, and I don’t think there’s been a single day where we’ve been able to go under that. Jun: Is it possible in America, I mean, without eating just fast food? Rachel: Ah! But fast food is– there’s so much more fast food in America.
Jun: I mean, we have fast food too. Jun: And we’ve, we were only eating fast food, we could go under the budget but we weren’t. Rachel: Yeah, well we just ate at normal restaurants which tended to be, you know, like $10-13 for one person, not including a drink. Jun: Isn’t that the same in America if you go to a decent restaurant and you just have to tip too?
Rachel: But that’s like, in America– Rachel: that’s like Applebee’s or Friday’s level restaurants, which is not something you would eat at every day if you’re traveling. There are a lot of other places you can go and you can get cheaper meals in America, I think. But again, America’s just a cheap country in general. So, if you’re traveling here, budget a lot for food per day. Rachel: I would say–
Jun: You’ll probably want to eat a lot of nice meals Jun: if you’re traveling.
Rachel: Right, right, and you’re going to want to eat out. Rachel: Like, you’re going to want to have nicer meals, so I would say $30-40 a day if you want nice meals. But again, if you’re just stopping at Konbinis and going to fast food, you can come in under $20. Jun: And another tip I can give you would be, if you go to a restaurant, and don’t want to spend too much, then go there for lunch. Rachel: Oh, lunch is a lot cheaper.
Jun: A lot, lot cheaper. Jun: Like, sometimes like, dinner could be twice as expensive as lunch, so…
Rachel: Right, right. Rachel: That’s true in a lot of places.
Jun: Yeah. Rachel: You can also get pre-made meals at supermarkets, and they’ll be marked down before the supermarket closes. Where we live, the supermarkets close at 8pm, so you would have to go in at around 7pm to get the marked down prices. I think in some cities like Tokyo, they might close a little bit later. Jun: They either close at around 8 or 9, or are open for 24/7. Rachel: They’re not the healthiest, but you know, it’s cheaper meals if you’re on a budget. Another thing you have to be careful about is payment methods. So there are still places that do not accept credit cards here, like– big chain stores, and cities probably mostly take credit cards. However, smaller chains or like “mom ‘n’ pop” type restaurants or souvenir shops, probably don’t accept credit cards.
Jun: Yeah, just cash only. Rachel: Right, and also if you’re traveling on business, there are still a fair number of places you cannot get receipts for. If it’s a store, then if they don’t offer a receipt most places should at least offer a Ryoushuusho, which is a like a fancy written receipt specifically for business expenses. They’ll like write down the name of your business on there. Like, we took a bus, a four-hour bus, or something in Miyazaki prefecture. And we had to get him to write out a Ryoushuusho for the price of that, because buses– you usually don’t get receipts. If you get on a bus here, you just pay your fare and that’s it. So, if you need a business expense-like receipt for that, then ask for a Ryoushuusho. If you get a coin locker at a station and you need a receipt, most places do not just directly offer receipts but you can go find a baggage storage office, or if they don’t have one of those, talk to one of the station staff at like, their windows where the like, turnstiles are, where you–
Jun: The gates.
Rachel: Yeah, at the gates, Rachel: and they will probably be able to write you a Ryoushuusho.
Jun: Or at least help you. Rachel: Yeah. So far we’ve done that a couple of times, and they’ve all been able to write us a Ryoushuusho, even though sometimes it took them a while to figure out who we needed to go to because it doesn’t happen very often. But, yeah, make sure if you need a receipt: Ryoushuusho. And, just one other pro I wanted to mention before we leave: Japan is really diverse! It seems like when you’re coming here, it looks like it’s going to be a small country, but it’s actually not that small, and there are so many different things to see here. Jun: Right.
Rachel: It reminds me of America, in that aspect, because a lot of Americans don’t travel out of the country because there’s so many things to see in America itself. Like, you have all of these different climate zones, and different areas you can go to, and it’s really similar in Japan. So you have, like, the Winter Wonderland of Hokkaido, if you go there during the Winter, and there’s so many amazing things to see there, like snow festivals and ice sculptures and ice cafés and villages, and then if you go down to, like, Okinawa, there’s like tropical paradise. They have places like the Fox Village, and like these robot cafés and all these other fancy cafés, and like, beautiful empty gorges where you can take like, boat rides. They have like, amazing temples in the mountains where you have to walk up like, hundreds of stairs, but it’s beautiful. Rachel: They have like, sand dunes. They actually have sand dunes.
Jun: Yeah, sakyu. Rachel: Yeah, in Tottori prefecture, which we haven’t been to yet. Even in Tokyo alone, all of the different districts there are so different from each other, and there are a lot of different things you can see. Odaiba is like, this beautiful port area, where you’re on the ocean and you can take like, a Ferris wheel ride. Like, Harajuku is like, fancy-cool-young-hip shopping. Jun: I like really, you know, like, hidden, tiny stores, and you just go in– and you will be amazed how awesome those restaurants are sometimes. Rachel: Yeah! Yeah.
Jun: Well, it looks nothing from the outside, but inside, wow! And food, amazing. Rachel: That’s one of the best things, is just stumbling into like, this tiny restaurant, and then finding out that the food there is amazing! Rachel: This has happened to us so many time while we’ve been traveling,
Jun: Yeah. Rachel: and sometimes you just really find these hidden like, treasure locations. They’re just wonderful. Jun: Yeah.
Rachel: So, definitely like, don’t always just go to like, the big, bright restaurants, try going to some of the small areas as well, because you might be surprised. Although, they probably don’t have English menus, in a lot of those, but– Jun: In Tokyo, some do actually.
Rachel: In Tokyo, but if you’re traveling around the country, not all of them will. Some do though! So, give it a try!
Jun: Yeah. Rachel: And, my tip for that is, if they don’t have anything in English, and you can’t speak Japanese, just say, “Osusume”. Osusume means recommendations, so if you say, “Osusume kudasai”, then that means, like, “Please give me, bring me your recommendation.” Jun: Or you can ask them, “Osusme wa nan desu ka?” Rachel: “Osusme wa nan desu ka?” Jun: Then they might give you some options.
Rachel: Yeah, but then they’re going to say it all in Japanese, and if they don’t speak Japanese, they’re not going to know. If they have pictures, they could point. Yeah, you could say, “Osusume wa nan desu ka?”, which is– Jun: Or, we can speak a little bit of English, like I could say, “Fish?” or “Meat?” Jun: “Salad?”, “Vegetables?”
Rachel: A lot of places will really try, if you go in and just attempt to communicate. Like, even if you have to use like, hand gestures. Jun: They always do, yeah.
Rachel: A lot of places are really friendly, and they’ll do their best. Jun: We just went to the best izakaya, and it was so tiny, but the workers were so nice. Rachel: Oh my gosh! We went with Simon and Martina. That one?
Jun: They couldn’t speak English very well, but he tried so hard to explain to me, it was so funny. Rachel: That– oh, that one was amazing. I think they made a video about it. Simon and Martina? Jun: Yeah, check them out.
Rachel: I’ll link it here if I can find it. That place was awesome! I love that place! And, yeah, and the food there was amazing! Jun: So, I hope this was helpful and if you have anything you can share with us, please let us know in the comments section. Jun: Thank you for watching!
Rachel: Alright, bye!