Tokyo tour for the Budget Conscious

Tokyo tour for the Budget Conscious

One will definitely look with a pair of skeptical eyes when they heard that there is a link between cheap and Tokyo. Tokyo is known as an expensive metropolis with high food cost and skyrocketing rentals which will put much strain in any Tokyo traveller's budget. However, there are ways to get around without having to eat just plain rice every day in order to have a fulfilling Tokyo experience.

First on the list is settling your sleepover needs through the night. Internet sites are very robust and accommodation providers have all gone high tech by listing on webpages. Shop around in the online space many months earlier diligently as room rates can have volatile fluctuations and you may be able to get a good deal depending on current demand and the specific day you are making the booking. More budget accommodations are usually located far away from train hubs and you may have to contend with the noise and smaller room. Some of the highly recommended places include Sanya, described as an old hood located north from Asakusa. Juyoh Hotel has decent clean rooms for traveller with low expectations and requirements. Traveller can also consider Hotel Accela or New Azuma. For those in the Chiyoda (photo) area a cheap stay can be obtained at Sakura Hotel. Browse around travelling sites for good deals.

Getting the best food deals is also essential to satisfy everyone's 3 meal per day requirement. Sushi served on conveyer belts offers reasonably priced sushi made in advance. Tachiqui, or stand up noodle shops offer delicious noodles that is guaranteed to fill your stomach. Sakata is revered as the classic noodle hot spot in Tokyo. Their sanuki udon is also a must try item that will make you wanting more. Street stalls can also be found around Tokyo where you can grab cheap drinks and small bites (think yakitori or grilled skewered chicked). Head over to any of the pubs (aka izakaya) for a quick refreshing alcoholic drink. Lunch hour menu are usually at least half the price compared to dinner menu and you can eat your hearts out by devouring fresh sashimi served at noon. Look out for restaurants having long queues outside as longer line means higher quality food and lower prices. There are vending machines that sell all imaginable items and a can of kirin beer is only half the cost compared to the bar.

Watching movies at cinemas or getting a game at bowling alleys are expensive affairs. Instead head over to Sony building for free console playing sessions for the latest games on their trademark PlayStation consoles. If you really want to watch movies, be sure to ask for offers and discounts available for children, students and senior citizens. Same goes for museum tickets. For nature lover, head over to Imperial Palace for their magnificent East Garden sights for a temporary escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Entrance is free of charge. If you need to stock up on snacks and toiletries, stop by large supermarkets or 100 yen per item shops that will give you the best bargains over convenience stores. Hunt your souvenirs over at flea markets and antique fairs. One can try out Nogi Jinja or Azabu Juban flea markets.

Do not take taxis unnecessarily and always strive to get by walking around. Ren a bike if possible as there are dedicated bicycle lanes all over the city. Always keep in mind the operating hours of subway where they halt their lines from midnight to 1am. Save you budget from taxi rides and use the subway to get around. For those wanting a complete tour of the city, you can always purchase a Rail Pass offered by Japan Railways. That way you can reach multiple destinations at a much cheaper fare.

Peak travel season for Tokyo happens around December to January period, late April to early May period and middle of August. If you want to save up, avoid the abovementioned travelling period. Do not procrastinate on looking for the best travel deals online and plan as early as possible. Utilize all great sources for local deals such as local publications Tokyo Journal or Metropolis.

Tokyo around Yamanote Line

Tokyo around Yamanote Line

Tokyo which is the capital city of the innovative and technologically savvy country, Japan, is well known as a major attraction centre for its modern technology applications that are applied to the public in the city. Technology is a public amenity in Tokyo it can be said. A visitor to the city who wants to see it with all its modern advancement and diversity, all needs to do is take a ticket, and ride along the Yamanote Line. It is different in every aspect from others be it the one station from other or the east from west or the south from north.

The Yamanote Line is a railway track that is running since 1925 and forms a loop in the heart of the city separating two aspects of the city: the downtown side of Tokyo defined within the railway loop and the residential housing aspect that lies outside the loop. A ride along the iconic Yamanote Line is a well-recommended way to see around Tokyo as suggested by its civilians.

The Line connects 29 stations in all, carries millions of passengers every day and runs between stations within few minutes when the hours of commute are at their peak. There's no doubt in saying that Tokyo's functionality and high profile workability is massively dependent on this line. But as said, Yamanote Line doesn't just serve the functional needs of Tokyo. It also provides a window for tourists travelling within the city to speculate the entirety of the capital by taking you on a journey right from its high rising modern buildings that leave you awestruck for sure, to the street low life or the more covert intimate side of the city. Once a person has travelled across all the 29 stations along the line, the perception of a city the was coherent within itself as a sky scraping fast lane land of organisation and advancement, which changes to a truly amazing city which is composed of a collection of small diverse towns each with a different story of its own to tell. Which is why commuting on the line as a tourist, you'll be suggested to drop by at every single station on the Yamanote Line if you really want to know Tokyo as Tokyo is.

Visit places such as the Meiji shrine at the Yoyogi station, the shopping spot for youth especially the teenagers at Harajuku, the signature Tokyo Tower at Hamamatsucho station, Imperial Palace at the-the Tokyo station, Yebisu garden place at the Ebisu station, the park well known for it's mesmerising cherry blossoms the Ueno park along with Ameyoko shopping street at the Ueno station, the what-is-called 'old Tokyo' Nippori at the Nippori station and a lot more which can be experienced once you hop the Yamanote trains and let the railway tracks guide you while the engines of the train drive you. It is the best way to see the best of Japan.

And while you are at it, travelling around Tokyo spectating a fine city in a train along the loop, do make sure to visit the Imperial Palace and the East Gardens to be a part of the Japanese culture. It is where the Emperor of Japan and his family reside. But the palace buildings and the gardens are open to public only on two dates; Jan 2 and Dec 23. On these two dates, the royal family can be viewed greeting from their balcony

It's certain to say that Yamanote is much more than just a commercial purpose serving facility in Tokyo. It's Tokyo's beating heart without which the city won't be able to survive a day.

Sakura season

Sakura season

Kyoto is reminiscent of ancient Japanese, complete with bamboo groves, traditional Zen gardens, streets and lanes populated by geisha and many Buddhist temple structures at various locations. Already a booming travelling hotspot, Kyoto will see surge in tourist arrivals during the cherry blossom period every year without fail. It is considered a Japanese distinct culture where thousand flock over to the best spots for picnic parties. It is a symbol of spring arrival, where sakura are formed which decorates the rivers of Kyoto and dramatically changes the garden scenery which resembles a coat of fairy floss.

Cherry blossom has long been associated as culturally significant to Japan only. 100 yen coins are imprinted with cheery blossom images and it is used as a motivational campaign to spur nationalism spirit among Japanese during the Second World War. It is widely believed that cherry trees blooming are a symbol of how short life can be and a timely reminder that one should appreciate the importance of time. Cherry blossom has a deeper meaning where it calls for reflection on our achievements and to always plan ahead and not waste any precious time. Moving on from philosophical discussion, it is a time where commercial brand popular in the Japanese home country seize the opportunity for launching products related to Sakura. Examples of launches include Sakura Frappucino by Starbucks or Sakura based Kit Kat filled with white chocolate topping with a tinge of cherry flavor.

Hanami, a tradition deeply rooted in Japanese culture, has no defined official start date, but its depiction has appeared in classic literature. Its first appearance is in Tales of Genji, a Japanese literature classic first written around 12th century. Locals will have their own good time partying and organizing all-day picnics while breaking free from their conventional hardworking routine. All you need for a good time during Hanami parties is to get ready with some beer and bento box available for sale from the closest convenience store. Kyoto has plenty of awesome viewing spots for one to fully immerse in the sakura culture. Be mindful of the huge crowd you will encounter on the popular viewing spots. One good tip to take into consideration is claiming your spot by arriving early with a decent picnic rug. Booked spot is honored by picnic goers and will remain yours for the remainder day.

First in the list of top viewing spots is the Kodai ji. It is actually a Zen temple strategically located at the Higashiyama region. It is credited with being the maiden temple to launch in the dark illuminations where gardens are filled with multicolored spotlights during the night. It allowed viewing of cherry blossom to stretch all the way into nighttime. A famous path named Tetsugaku no michi which stretches for 3km along a tiny river located in the east side of Kyoto is another highly recommended viewing spot. The name originated from a century old philosopher by the name of Nishida Kataro, and links Nanzen ji to Ginkakuji temple. It is famous pedestrian path decorated with blooming cherry trees and its reflection is clearly seen from the calm waters. It is the perfect spot for admiring the natural beauty.

At the bottom of the western mountains of Kyoto lies the Arashiyama region which is regarded as a great tourist spot due to the magnificent bamboo groves and stunning foliage views. Tourists flock to the place all year round, but arrivals really surge ahead during the sakura season. People will get on the Togetsukyo Bridge for a good unobstructed view of the trees so be sure to avoid the main path less you want to be surrounded by hordes of humans. Food stalls selling Japanese snacks are operated throughout the night and the area will be lit with bright lights for maximum viewing pleasure at night.

Around the southern region of Higashiyama, there is another magnificent spot names Maruyama Koen. It is perfect for those seeking peace and tranquility after having a tough long day visiting temples all over Kyoto. However, the cherry blossom period will draw huge crowds and the park may be noisy owing to its huge popular weeping trees. The most optimal viewing period is from March to April, and spans no longer than 2 weeks. The period for blossoming trees is short and swift, and progresses from southern to northern region of Japan. Japanese Meteorological Department will closely monitor the progress every year and issues status report every night on the news. More information can be gathered from forecast releases issued by the Japan Tourism Organization.

The Japanese slopes

The Japanese slopes

The conditions may not be so ideal for skiers and snowboarders in the United States. It is not the case in the eastern side of the world as the conditions in Japan are just right and may be even perfect. The ski resorts in some parts of the island were open and receiving plenty customers until late March. Unlike the shabby conditions in the western world, Japan has gotten an ideal amount of snow fall this season reaching approximately five meters.

On Japan's most northern of its main islands, Hokkaido, sits Mount Niseko Annupuri. This is the location of the Niseko ski resorts. These resorts have the longest season in Japan. They are normally open way into the early weeks of May. Complimented by the conditions provided by the peak makes the spring skiing in Niseko among the best in the world.

The Niseko peak is famous for its quality and consistency in great conditions for skiing. In the last ten years the peak has become very famous among the Australian skiers and boarders. The yearly visitors to Japan has reduced significantly following the Tsunami and earth quake of 2011. Is has only been recently that the population of visitors are returning and in their great numbers. The center of Hirafu is usually crowded with skiers and boarders alike with property developers transforming the small village into a resort center but it has been quite empty with a lack of activity for the last winter season.

The chairlifts and gondolas of the Niseko peak position skiers and boarders in the perfect position to tackle the slops. It will take about twenty minutes of hiking to get to piste slopes. This area is linked to the trails and roads of the mount's more remote sections. The Hanazono resorts provide a backcountry skiing run for all, including beginners, the Strawberry Fields forest run. This area is never without thigh high powder that is easily accessible. Mount Niseko is home to three other areas the Niseko Village, the Grand Hirafu and Niseko Annupuri and they too offer trails suitable for everyone at any level. The Grand Hirafu offers a variety of ungroomed trails that include the Miharashi expert run. The trails winds into a trail called the Holiday and is one of the longest trails offered by the mountain and stretches longer than two and a half kilometers. The combined length of trail offered by the all areas of Mount Niseko add up to 48 kilometers.

To the southeast of Mount Niseko Annupuri you can find Mount Yotei. This mount is preferred by professionals and powder hounds. It will take approximately five hours to reach the peak and it is usually visited by the skiers and boarders that seek fresh backcountry powder.

Skiing is not the only fun to b had on the Niseko. The Apres Ski might be just as fun. Nothing is more comfortable than a nice hot bath in the cold of winter. There are three baths in the area and the Niseko Yu Meguri pass will give you access to all three for only a bit over a thousand yens. This includes the Apres-ski, the Yu meguri and the Niimi Onsen that is a remote bath house that offers comfort and serenity to all its bathers.

Ezo Seafood is located in Hirafu and they serve only the best they have to offer in seafood delights. This includes snow crab legs, Akkeshi oysters and fresh sashimi of every variety. The Gyu will provide you with a variety of beverages from mulled wine to Hokkaido's single malt whiskey. This is a well concealed cottage like bar that is practically invisible in the snowy area. On Ishikari Bay that lies in the north you can find the Otaru fishing port. It is seventy minutes' drive from Hirafu and it is worth the drive. The area is one with a vintage feel with the Sushiya-dori completely devoted to selling sushi. Lake Shikotsu is only two hours' drive from Hirafu and is one of the deepest lake in Japan second only to one. This location is in an underdeveloped park area that boast the likes of the Marukoma and the Ito onsen that overlooks the caldera. This is the perfect spot to end your visit slow boiling out the aches of the body in a vintage style bath house.