Smart & Cheap Japan Travel

Is Japan Really That Expensive? Getting the Most Bang For Your Yen

December 1, 2010

Have you always dreamed of traveling to Japan but were afraid it would be too expensive and too intimidating?

Yes, Japan is expensive, and yes, its unique culture can be intimidating for travelers. The secret to a successful trip to Japan is not how much money you spend and how much you tighten your budget, but how you maximize the return on your investment. You need to travel SMART, not CHEAP, though they do often coincide. With today’s unfavorable exchange rate, now is the time to plan your trip wisely!

"All-You-Can Japan" Travel Guide

In my book, “All-You-Can Japan: Getting the Most Bang For Your Yen” that is now out and can be purchased through my website,, or directly from the eStore (Amazon), I provide you with a SMART Japan travel strategy (including many useful Japanese phrases).

Let a veteran who has lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for over a decade combined show you how to make the SMART choices and achieve the complete Japanese experience within your set budget, and even save hundreds of dollars while you are at it. Download the first chapter for free from to get a sneak preview!

As part of the book and website launch, the blog has now moved to a new domain: Make sure you resubscribe to the feed there!

– Josh

For an Unforgettable Japanese Vacation

March 28, 2010

Thinking of traveling to Japan, or just interested in learning more? You’ve come to the right place.

Josh Shulman in Japan

I will be sharing here all of my insight on Japanese culture, food, language, and travel gained from 13 years of living, working, and traveling in Tokyo and around Japan. Having been born and raised in this magnificent country that still remains enigmatic to most, you will get a glimpse of Japan through the eyes of a true local – I even get accused of being more Japanese than the Japanese.

Japan, and especially Tokyo, has been long categorized as an expensive travel destination and place to live in. Count on me to tell you where, when and how to go for a genuinely Japanese adventure. No need for shoestrings or volunteering on farms as part of silly budget travel schemes out there! The point is to get what you should get out of Japan, but get it cheaply. Your vacation is not another season of Survivor.

Apart from the information available on this blog, I have also written a booklet that guides you through the smart way to experience Japan, while saving hundreds of dollars. My goal is for you to find the right things to do in Japan, and make them affordable for those of you who are on a budget or just want a wallet-friendly vacation. It will be published soon, so stay tuned.


Japanese Love Hotels: Sneak Peek

November 7, 2011
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My friend came upon these photos from within Japanese Love Hotels. Creative stuff:


October 11, 2011

The Japanese Ministry of Tourism announced that it will be offering free flights to 10,000 foreigners wishing to visit the country in 2012. This initiative intends to increase tourists after the sharp decline in tourism after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country in March.

THe application is not out yet, but stay tuned to the Japan National Tourism Organization website:

When the Japanese Become Adults: Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi)

September 24, 2011
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A Japanese holiday, Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) is marked every year on the second Monday of the month of January. The day is marked as a congratulatory feat for all those who have attained majority age, which in Japan is twenty years, helping them appreciate the fact that they have now become adults. Once twenty years old, Japanese citizens are allowed to vote, drink, and purchase cigarettes.

Some of the festivities of Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) include Seijin-Shiki (coming of age ceremonies) that are held at the local prefectural offices and other public spaces, followed by parties among friends and families. For instance, in Okazaki, the ceremony is held at the Chuo Sogo Park. The participants listen to older generations impart some of their wisdom through speeches that provide advice and explanations of their new roles as adults in society.

The Coming of Age Day (Seijin no Hi) has been celebrated in Japan for centuries. Initially, it was marked on the 15th of January, but in 2000 this was changed to the second Monday of January in accordance with the Happy Monday System. Some adolescents are permitted to participate at age 19 provided their birthday falls before 1st April of that year.

Seijin no Hi is also a photo shooting opportunity. Most male graduates put on suits, while the majority of young women wear the traditional Furisode kimono dress. The latter is a special type of kimono with extended sleeves and comes in various elaborate designs. It is probably the most formal dress an unmarried woman can wear in Japan. The Furisode kimono is an expensive attire that can cost well in excess of ten thousand US dollars.

Coming of Age Day (Sheijin no Hi) reflects increased responsibilities for the Japanese youth. The significance of this holiday has perhaps grown in recent years as the Japanese have been confronted with the problem of an aging population in which not only there is not enough youth to support the retiring citizens, but that youth is also deemed to be less competent and irresponsible compared to older generations.

Japan Travel Destination: Kanazawa

September 5, 2011
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Kanazawa City, part of the Ishikawa Prefecture, is located approximately 180 miles on the North western side of Tokyo. The city is situated adjacent to the Sea of Japan, bordered by the Japanese Alps, Nato Peninsula and Hakusan National Park. It lies between the Asano and Sai rivers, with a climate similar to that of Tokyo although slighlty rainier.

Kanazawa is well-known as a tourist destination in Japan because visitors get to enjoy a part of the country preserved perfectly as it once was. It is also known as one of the castle towns of Japan. The famous Kanazawa Castle was constructed in 1583 and for many centuries it has been the feudal Maeda Clan headquarters. Today, the castle forms one of the major tourist attraction sites in Kanazawa and in Japan. The castle has been renovated over the years enabling it to regain its grand facade after the various earthquakes and fire damages, while still truthful to the country’s traditional architectural style. In 2001, a major renovation exercise reached completion creating a better and newly looking castle. The current castle which has a double earthen wall stands 17.3 meters above a stone base. It is large enough to serve as a hall and currently serves as a command post. Perhaps the most unique feature about the Kanazawa Castle is its white roofing tiles. The lead-made tiles make the castle remain impervious to damage by fire. In the past they were built so that they could be melted to make bullets in case of an attack.

Another popular attraction in Kanazawa is its landscape garden called Kenrokuen, which used to be the exterior garden of the Kanazawa castle. It is considered one of the most beautiful landscape gardens in Japan – that is saying a lot. Worth a visit.

Reaching Kanazawa is the easiest from Komatsu. There are regular flights from Tokyo to Komatsu from where you can board a bus to Kanazawa, which will take you there in less than 50 minutes. There are also direct buses from Tokyo to Kanazawa (one way trip takes about four hours and costs about 13,000 Yen). By train, you will need to ride the bullet train from Tokyo to Echigo-Yuzawa Station and transfer there. The city has a myriad of traditional hotels as well as budget guesthouses, all with exceptional Japanese hospitality.

FujiQ Highland

August 17, 2011
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One of the happiest places in Japan is FujiQ Highland, a theme park for all ages. Located near Mount Fuji, a two and a half hour drive west of Tokyo, FujiQ Highland is known for its intensive, high-flying roller coasters as well as its cartoon-based rides for the little ones. Twenty-four major attractions can keep the average visitor busy all day, with more to be found for the youngest to enjoy.

One of the more popular roller coasters is the Eejanaika, the 4th dimension coaster. This hanging coaster (your legs dangle) boasts the highest number of spins in the world. The spins can be categorized into three areas: spins of the seat forward and backward, loops and flip-flops through the air, and twists. Another bloodcurdling attraction is the Fujiyama: King of Coasters. This particular roller coaster hits a maximum speed of 130 km/h (81mph). It also takes passengers 79m (259 ft) off the ground. Although the Fujiyama does not have any twins, loops or flip-flops, the sheer height and huge drops featured, alone, satisfies all thrillseekers.

In addition to the raging coasters available at FujiQ, the theme park also provides young visitors with tame rides and attractions. One favorite part of the park is Thomas Land. This is where children can immerse themselves in the world of Thomas, the Tank Engine. Youngsters can go on a train ride pulled by Thomas, Percy, or James. They can also watch a 3D movie, ride a mini roller coaster, go on a cruise, or engineer their own trains by taking control of Thomas and his friends.

At FujiQ, restaurants and shops are also major attractions for visitors. The park features 14 restaurants or eateries. The restaurants serve a myriad of foods, including crepes, burgers, pizza, and Dippin’ Dots ice cream. Even a Turkish restaurant, Doner Kebab, is on the list of eateries. There are just as many shops as there are restaurants at FujiQ Highland. Visitors are able to shop in specialty stores such as the Warner Brother’s Studio Store, Natural Choice, or the Gegege no Yokai Shop, which features goods from that anime series.

There is never a dull moment at FujiQ Highland, one of the most popular theme parks in Japan. Other parks are also open to visitors in Japan. The Nagasaki Huis Ten Bosch is a park that imitates Dutch villages and is located in the Nagasaki prefecture. Nagashima Spa Land is a theme park located in the Nagahima Resort, which boasts a sports facility, hot spring, and the longest coaster in the world. Tokyo also houses a Disneyland theme park, geared toward children of all ages.

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    About the Author

    Born in Tokyo. Lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for over a decade combined. Author of the book, "All-You-Can Japan: Getting the Most Bang for Your Yen" -

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