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Thread: Going to Japan

  1. #1
    Newbie Horus may be famous one day Horus may be famous one day Horus's Avatar
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    Cool Going to Japan

    Hi all,
    I was just wondering if anyone in this community is going or planning to go to Japan. Even just recently came back from Japan. Either it's through a student exchange program or whatever. I am interested in going to Japan and need more information on how too. Thanks!
    "No Lie. Just know I chose my own fate, I drove by the fork in the road and went straight."

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    Newbie Opocot may be famous one day Opocot may be famous one day
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    Re: Going to Japan

    I've been to Japan last year on a Homestay Program sponsored by my country's government. Though its only for two weeks. But I'm considering on going there next year through AFS's Intercultural Program. Perhaps you could check that out?
    Hmm, I'll get back to this later.

  3. #3
    Newbie JEEB may be famous one day JEEB may be famous one day JEEB's Avatar
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    Re: Going to Japan

    I went through a Student Exchange program to Japan (in fact, I'm writing this from there). I'm a European, so I got to pay the 7,000$ price for the 10-month- programme Americans don't have to pay for (they say it relates to the "occupation" of Okinawa by Americans - earlier you needed your passport to get there). Americans get a stipend for which they have to pay some money. For high school students it's a good way to be in the country for a quite long time, although many schools simply deny you any certificates or any other papers that might prove you've actually studied over there. So it's not the best of options.

    When in university, usually the larger ones have some kind of exchange system you can use. That'll propably cost you lesser bucks in the beginning, but will cost you more later on (the flat, the food, the oven you burned when first trying to prepare your food by not using the microwave oven...). Although you do have the possibility to have a job, since usually the visa permits it, differing from the high school exchange visa. Plus you study as usually and get the merit as usually.

    If just looking for fun, there're many tour agencies that offer trips to Japan, with lengths differing from 5 days to 2-3 weeks. This fun isn't cheap, on the other hand. It'll cost you a couple of thousand dollars at least, if you're lucky.

    If you, on the other hand, want to go by yourself and not with a travel agency there're no limits. Be it anything from a crazy day (not recommended) or good three months (the limit of visitation time without a visa), it's all OK. If you want to go for a longer time, visas aren't that hard to get and serve a good time.

    However, when going there by yourself, you have to do all the research by yourself, dig all the airlines or their representatives for the cheapest prizes (those who are for it on the longer scale can use ferries, too - that can really save money - just like using the Trans-Siberia- train to get to Japan through Russia, if you're from Europe, that is). But don't expect to get price much lower than about 600$ - and that's only to get there.

    When in there, expect that your spendings will increase - sometimes expotentially, even if you stop at a local hostel or something. If you have (good) friends in Japan, go on and ask (politely and well beforehand) if you can stop for a few days. That'll save you some money.

    About jetlag: The jetlag will take away (about) three days or so off your schedule, so be sure to count that into your schedule. So trips that are less than a week are very much not on the "good" side. So aim for a longer schedule better than for a short one. It'll be much more fun.

    If counting the money, Tokyo can cost you about 2500 yen for transportation (using non-JR trains), food will take you about 2800 yen and a random figure between 0 and 20000 yen for the night. Plus all the things you will randomly buy on the way here and there. Not to forget that if you stop somewhere outside Tokyo, you'll have to pay about 2200 yen for the there-and-back JR trains every time you go there.

    Then the language. For all well's sake, study! And start it well beforehand. There's no point in going to Japan without any knowledge of its language. The kanas and about 25 kanjis with a good array of vocabular options give you some chances of speaking with Japanese and even going through the JR train system. Although all Japanese study English on a daily basis, there's no usual level they should be - therefore to know Japanese has more meaning than going there wishing it'll all be OK.

    As another tip, you should always try to get as much money as you can to use in Japan. Whether it's a Visa that allows you to get money from the local ATM or just plain cash, it should be available. At least 300$ for free use per month at least and, if staying for a small amount of time, even bigger sums, like 2000$ per month are normative. I do not mean that Japan is such of a costful country, I mean that you should prepare yourself for the worst, not the best - that way you'll keep yourself afloat around there. And don't expect to get a part-time job easily. Earlier the job of an English teacher was propably the most easily accessible job in Japan for gaijins - now times have changed and levels have risen.

    And then for the links:
    • Student Exchange (high school)
    • Student Exchange (university)
      • Google your own university and phone them. Or just ask the people directly.
    • Various
      • Japan-guide.com (clickie)
      • Japanese Online (once one of the best online japanese language guides out there) (clickie)

    Just my 2 cents, because I just can't write no more (it's almost midnight here and I haven't slept well for a week).
    人生フゥ~!!!

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    Newbie Horus may be famous one day Horus may be famous one day Horus's Avatar
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    Re: Going to Japan

    Wow thanks JEEB and Opocot, great advice!
    "No Lie. Just know I chose my own fate, I drove by the fork in the road and went straight."

  5. #5
    Ikorose Shinsō Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145's Avatar
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    Re: Going to Japan

    Quote Originally Posted by JEEB
    I went through a Student Exchange program to Japan (in fact, I'm writing this from there)
    What program did you use?



    If counting the money, Tokyo can cost you about 2500 yen for transportation (using non-JR trains), food will take you about 2800 yen
    2,500 yen for each time you use transportation in Japan, or 2,500 for the whole trip? Same question for the food.



    Then the language. For all well's sake, study! And start it well beforehand. There's no point in going to Japan without any knowledge of its language. The kanas and about 25 kanjis with a good array of vocabular options give you some chances of speaking with Japanese and even going through the JR train system. Although all Japanese study English on a daily basis, there's no usual level they should be - therefore to know Japanese has more meaning than going there wishing it'll all be OK.
    You think it'll be fine to go ahead and try to live/visit such as you are doing without any serious experience with the Japanese language, and do you think it is hard to learn?



    As another tip, you should always try to get as much money as you can to use in Japan.
    How much money would you recommend (not including airlines expenses) at your side for about 2- 3 weeks? Would 1,000 cover everything you'd need/like to do?

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    Otaku sedka may be famous one day sedka may be famous one day sedka's Avatar
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    Re: Going to Japan

    I went to visit Japan last year. I went alone and met a friend there. The most expensive part of the trip for me was the plane ticket. I went through a travel agency and got a round trip ticket for a little over 800 USD. The next very important thing to get is one of those JR rail tickets for foreigners. It's about 260 USD for 1 week. But that is one of the best investments you'll have when in Japan. It allows you to ride any JR trians, unlimited times during that time frame. Also , the JR train is the main train in Japan, which means you can pretty much go anywhere in Japan on the JR rail. It will save you a lot of money, since on average each trip (one way) cost around 2.60 USD. Also this ticket is only for foreigners and native japanese people can't buy it.

    Next, you need to find a place to stay. I advise you get online and search and book ONE MONTH ahead of time. It will be harder to find a hotel when you get there for a low price.
    There are a few main types of places you can stay.
    Cheapest: capsules
    These are mainly for business people who stay over night or a few days, but you can have them for a long time. It's the smallest place with a bed and you have a lot of these capsules in one place. like a bunk bed. I would not recommend it, unless you really don't have cash.

    Next: Ryokan hotels or Homestay
    These are mainly run by families. This is usually the best places for the best prices. But they go out very quick, you'll need to reserve it at least 1-2 month ahead of time. It's a place where you live with the owner of the family. They either rent a room out to people or several rooms out to people. You clean your own room and can eat with the family or other people who rent the rooms there. Usually they have a public bath. It's also the best way to learn about japanese culture. They can have western style rooms (more expensive) but usually japanese style rooms. (40-150 USD a night)

    Hotels: Not cheap but can be everywhere

    There are two types: Western style rooms and Japanese style rooms
    These are your typical hotels. Some offer public baths or private ones in your room.
    price: 100-120 USD

    Last one: Gaijin houses (guesthouses)
    These can be cheapest among the group, if you plan to stay a month or more. They are like renting a house at the beach. You do all the cleaning, taking out the garbage and getting your own food. But you have a large space with a kictchen, and other rooms.
    price: 500-1000 USD a month.

    The best place is to search the web for accommodations.

    You will need to learn some basic Japanese but nt a lot to get around. Most people around the major cities like Japan will understand some English. But bring a guild that has both Japanese and English written in it so you can point to it to get directions to sites and places.

    Spending money: around 1,000 USD. Most of it will be on food unless you plan to eat noodles every meal you are there. I only spent around 500 USD. I didn't buy much, the most I spent on was a large 100 USD stuff hello kitty doll (don't ask ^^).

    Encluding airfare, hotel, food, JR ticket etc..I would say I spent about 2,000 USD.

    Last thing, plan ahead. Plan on where you are going to go and HOW to get to each places.

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    Newbie JEEB may be famous one day JEEB may be famous one day JEEB's Avatar
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    Re: Going to Japan

    Sorry, I guess my grammar slipped a bit towards the end (^^;)

    As for answers to Silverskater:

    Money 1

    The 2,500 yen was pretty much counted with the aid of a couple of trips to Tokyo on saturdays. It includes that you visit several places there that cost you about 160 yen one-way if you go somewhere near. So about 10 train rides for a day. The same for food. It's a one-day pay - two small meals (300 yen, morning and evening) and something bigger for lunch (about 2000 yen in a no-high-class- restaurant). Then there was the added ~2200 yen if you're living in the closest prefectures to Tokyo (for example, Chiba or Yokohama) and have to go to Tokyo by train.

    And yes I go with Sedka as far as the JR thing goes. But isn't, for example, the Marunouchi line a non-JR- line? So it's not accessible with the JR Rail Pass? If living in Tokyo it could make a point to ponder about such lines. Of course trains to other prefectures are usually JR-powered and there the JR Rail Pass will make your life easier (I know the prices since I didn't get one).

    Language

    The language was (and still is) not that hard, but you'll have to get used to it. I studied it for a year before I left and there was break before I left (about 12 months) and my level was the one I recommended. But I would not recommend going there without any study-related contact with the language.

    As Sedka stated, the people in larger towns speak English somehow, but you shouldn't rely on it if you don't have to. Not only do you get the good feeling out of learning a new language, but you actually get a lot of more kudos from Japanese if speaking Japanese to them. Not to mention that you can actually understand what all those people around you speak about.

    I point that you should have grabbed the study book for Japanese well before going to Japan, preferably a year before, but I think that you can get along even if you have studied only a bit. But the main point are the kanjis. Of course the kana systems give you a big headstart, but many things, including magazines, newspapers and public bathrooms have text written mainly in Japanese (read: in kanji). You'll get much more out of it if you've studied the language.

    In Japan you'll get a hold of the language better (if you're on for a longer trip), but the basics really help. No experience - hard start, some experience - much easier. That's how it goes with all the languages of the world.

    Money 2

    For two-three weeks I'd say your budget could go from 1,500 dollars all the way to astronomical sums. If you'll be staying in Tokyo, prices will be high (since majority of the english-speaking personnel reside in the central part of the metropolis, not in the suburban middle-land, where the prices are lower), but if you'll stay in - for example - Chiba-shi or Yokohama, the prices will be lower (and you'll propably have to ask the Japanese for advice about them).

    So take about 2000$ if you're planning to stay in one town or about 5000$ if you're about to go to Osaka or Kyoto from the place you're staying. And that's for two weeks. A week more adds about 1000$ to the price. But don't be fooled, you might actually spend less. It just helps to have money available if you might need it.

    And I went with YFU.

    Then other things:

    Capsule hotels are usually referred as to be cheap, but all of them are not. Especially in Tokyo. Try to get a hang of where the cheapest are, just like with any other type of accomodation. The homestay option or a rented house seem the best for me as far as accomodation goes. Those, on the other hand, require reservation well before the trip.
    人生フゥ~!!!

  8. #8
    Ikorose Shinsō Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145 is a hero here Silverskater145's Avatar
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    Re: Going to Japan

    Sedka, JEEBS, thanks guys for all your advice and help.

    I have a seriously strong interest in going to Japan. It's all I think about these days. The only thing stopping me is the money issue. I still think 300 yen for a small meal is an extreme large amount of money, although I might just think so because of the "300." I checked out YFU, they seem too costly, I could try going alone, like Sedka.

    Anyway, it's something I'll be looking forward to. Thanks guys for your help, hopefully I'll be able to pull it off.

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