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Photo: Shibuya Foodshow court. Giving it a deep thought and choosing the right kind of pastry is a national pastime.

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Japan Guide

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Suggested Itinerary
photo guide by weeks

Week 1 - Tokyo
Week 2 - Tokyo,Kanto
Week 3 - Nikko
Week 4 - Tokyo
Week 5 - Kyoto
Week 6 - Osaka,Nara
Week 7 - Tokyo,Kanto
Week 8 - Hokkaido

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Tokyo Travel Guide

rent a budget tokyo apartment and let go of the concern

The first two stereotypical comments on this would be the size of the rooms, and the cost. Well, there's certainly a higher price to a downtown apartment in one of the world's largest metropolis than in the suburbs or surrounding cities, but even so the cost can be cut down with some research beforehand.

First of all, don't plan on finding accommodation once you arrive. The rate in which hotels will bill you a room if you just walk in from the streets can be one and a half to double the cost for the same compared to reserving it on the Internet. And this is to be taken seriously. Unless you're ready for bargaining with the people at the counter it's unlikely that they'll go easy on you just because you didn't know.

Service in general is great to outstanding for most hotels, with many of them not just in compliance of international and Japanese standards, but also competing in the elegant race of ( a quite intense ) national and international tourism. There's a lot of attention for every single detail. However you will of course pay the proper price for this as everywhere else in the world. In case the high-end hotel option doesn't fit your purse, you can head for a business hotel. Service there is in one word... okay... and in case you aim even lower in budget expect that other hotels like love hotels and capsule hotels which are NOT the cheapest option by the way, have service literally nonexistent... or in other words sometimes completely automated. Try to choose the right place based on what level of service and help you like, your budget, and your need for the right surroundings, and in case all of these three are low then your tolerance level... but in one word, in case you actually HAVE the money to stay in a good hotel you'll find beautiful places with great service, truly helpful, polite and even cheerful staff, at scenic locations that you'll never forget.

Budget-wise... ( since you're already reading up on the article... )
Guidebooks, in case you have any... have extensive lists, as up to date as your edition, on which hotel fits which budget. In general the smallest room that still is somewhere near a major line of transportation will cost at least four thousand yen per night. Which doesn't sound much until you see the actual room you get for this. A good option if you have to stay at a hotel at all, is to find a midrange priced room near but not in downtown of anything from six to ten thousand yen per night, for which you'll probably even get a window or balcony, and some meal(s) included. The same price in downtown will hardly get you any view, and only if you're lucky will you be able to open the window, if there is any, but it's not quite the trend due to fire prevention. Probably because of its unbelievable number of people commuting to, coming to on business trips from all across the country and the world... the center of any downtown in Tokyo is not a good option for just anyone. Meaning in case you'd like to be within one to ten minutes walking distance from a major train station like Shinjuku or Shibuya, you'll pay one and a half to three times as much for the same room than let's say... for the same but fifteen minutes away on foot. In case you don't have to pinpoint every single item on your agenda down to each second, you may want to choose places like the latter, for they offer much larger and much more comfortable rooms for the same price than their downtown cousins. Apart of this, all western style hotels feature a bath, or at least a shower unit, a toilet, a bed, TV, most of them offer free Internet, are equipped with a freezer, hair dryer, and have the usual toiletries prepared every day along with a yukata and slippers.

As mentioned before reservation made in advance, preferably through the Internet, is the best way to cut back on costs. You'll find that most hotels have a set of dates even within their set seasons in which their rooms will be different in price. National holidays, and weekends in general are sometimes charged at a higher rate due to the higher demand... but following this logic you'll learn that outside the major tourists seasons the cost drops by about ten to thirty percent for nearly any kind of accommodation. Also, most of the time the longer period you reserve your room for the bigger discount you can expect. There are lots of such offers you can keep an eye out for. Mainly aimed at national instead of international tourists, you may need some help when planning ahead in case you don't speak the language, but do ask for it, Japanese people are kind in general and will probably gladly help.
When doing reservation through the Internet you may find that there are lots of websites in English that the largest Japanese travel agencies operate. Please see the tips and resources page for more information on them. In general it is to be mentioned though that no English language version seems to be as up to date or detailed in its functionality as their Japanese counterparts... basically because of having them focused on the migration of Japanese tourists who in fact... love to travel through the country.

Other than hotels... ( recommended )
If you're planning your stay with the lowest possible budget and the longest possible period in mind, instead of a hotel you ought to consider either of the following options ...

Rent an apartment
Some agencies that specialize in Tokyo apartments are fully prepared to lease places to people with no credit, to people they can not check the financial background of ( by other means than asking them to pay up front ), and no guarantor or key money. Of which both are quite high, sometimes equals three month's rent which you need to pay before you even set your foot into the room. These agencies take all the responsibilities, provide all necessary documents towards the owner in the background and all you see from the process is the money you pay for the actual rent, and the key you get in exchange. Shortest period to rent an apartment is a month... but even if you're actually staying less than thirty days you may want to consider this option.
A single room will cost anything from sixty thousand to two-hundred and fifty-thousand yen, depending on its size and location, but what every single one of them will feature is equipment and furniture. Most of them even have either DSL, cable or wireless Internet connection, unlimited use and for no extra charge. But in general a TV, a bed, table, chair(s), kitchen equipment, bath, toilet, microwave, air conditioner and washing machine are all what you don't need to deal with... unless of course you happen to break any of them. For a price close to hundred-thousand yen you'll get a fairly good location. Breaking down this cost to a daily figure you'll find that it's much more economical than getting the same service in a hotel. The agency we recommend for Tokyo is Sakura House ( ) with about a thousand different facilities all over the city, offering not only apartments but shared rooms and guest house accommodation as well. More on this later in this section. But all in all, for anyone visiting or staying for a longer period, if you're missing the financial background to rent an apartment from a Realtor... this is the ideal option.

Shared room
Not as scary as it sounds, the idea is to share an apartment, meaning to have your own room, with its own lock of course, but share some facilities like the kitchen, bathroom or toilet ( or any combination of the above ) with someone. Someone usually of similar circumstances, thus be ready for students from all around the world majoring in anything from art to electric engineering, be about twenty to thirty and share a somewhat adventurous philosophy. This is of course not the only possible room mate you can meet but a the chances are pretty high. Shared rooms are often located even more towards the city centers than apartments you can rent with no hassle, and offer a good base to go on exploring, head out for school or work. With prices ranging from about forty to eighty-thousand yens the cost can be as low as of a hostel, with a much more relaxed and personal atmosphere to it.

If this name wasn't suggestive enough already try your Japanese by saying gaijinhouse... as if it was a Japanese word in the first place. These facilities are the cheapest possible option that will allow you to rest on a bed, second to the hostel networks which are also quite heavily represented all across Japan. If you're traveling to Tokyo with some friends and not much of a budget, you could rent a room with two, four, six to eight beds to have a place to rest in between adventures. And even if you're by yourself... well then the idea is that if you're truly a curious person, not just you won't mind, but probably even enjoy the fact that you're sharing the same room with a person or people, since there's a high chance you'll meet up with others who are just as curious and adventure-loving as you are.
These facilities are well equipped, clean, and looked after by the proper staff, most of them offer meals for some extra and are sometimes like their alpine resort counterparts that will make you feel like you're on a school trip... with a twist that you mistook the bus you got on and headed out with a different class. TV, Internet, bathrooms, coin laundry, toilets, kitchen(s), lounges are a given most of the time, and even though you probably have to keep your own little corner clean by yourself it's probably great fun... if you're up for such fun.
Well of course the main idea here isn't just an opportunity to get to know people of similar interests but the cost. There's probably not even a hostel that will beat the price which broken down to a daily fee equals in between one to two thousand yens at most. But even if some hostels did go below this figure, the atmosphere of a gaijinhouse beats them headlong. Or... at least it is said so. For gaijin at least... which in case you really didn't know thus far is short for foreigner. So short that it literally means outside-person.

Regarding single room sizes... the ones you are most likely encounter
In case you're a visitor, temporary or brand new resident you are more likely be staying in a smaller apartment or room than a family resort. But as your own little retreats from the vibrant life of the streets they will perfectly serve this purpose. Most of the single-room apartments are somewhat smaller in square meters than of those in Europe or in America but this in our opinion is only due to the fact that many, many people try to coexist in the downtown of the capital sharing similar circumstances. A central area in Tokyo isn't only the middle of just any city, it's the innermost hub of both the capital and a good percentage of world economy and culture... well you can imagine how many people arrive and try themselves on these stages at the same time. The result is that the need for cheaper apartments is high, thus there can't be too much of large unused spaces in such residences to create an atmosphere of something else than... an actual apartment. The price versus the size and level of comfort are equally bonded to just how far the location is from the center, so in case you don't mind an extra fifteen to forty-five minutes of commuting, you can get a much bigger place for the same cost.

These typical city rooms are functional and comfortable, and while lacking the illusion of a private "castle" they never fail to deliver the feeling of a separate own world in which you can finally rest, work, study, entertain yourself, cook or just do as you please. The thing why this doesn't seem to be bothering most people, lies in the most common reason why you'd actually need a castle for, elsewhere. There's simply no need to set huge walls between you and the world because the outside isn't unpleasant or dangerous. People are quite reserved and polite in all neighborhoods considering their own lifestyle and privacy of others, and with the crime rate at a world-bottom level you just don't need to lock yourself up together with everything you'd need to feel good. But before you get it wrong, all this means is that decorative open spaces are moved from behind the apartment walls to the other side, being available for anyone, with no real reasons you could think of why not to use them. And for those who live downtown in western cities this may sound a bit like an excuse or idealism. But when staying in Tokyo without a strong background, it's pretty much common sense... a fragile but nonetheless working example on how to be a part of and independent from the city in the best possible balance.

And before you get the image of Tokyo being cramped... this note is to be considered only for downtown, for those who can only afford middle class accommodation. There are great hotels, apartments for rent of middle to large to downright overkill, spacious ryokans even within the city, and many other options for those who are willing to give it some search and pay the price.

Japan Guide

- Japan Visa, border entry, what to bring and be prepared with
- Japanese maps, Navi mobile navigation, easy orientation for travelers
- Convenience stores, the resupply stations that sell everything
- Japanese Vending machines, for drinks, tickets, cigarettes and more
- Japanese Food, and all kinds of food in Japan, restaurants, fast food, cheap food...

Tokyo guide

- Tokyo - as we see it - introduction
- Budget Tokyo apartment rental, accommodation, let go of the concern
- Tokyo Prices, the real cost vs. western legends, how to make most of your budget
- Cheap Tokyo Stores, bargain tips, where to find what, fashion to electronics
- Tokyo Cafe life, a guide to Cafes serving as meeting points, hangouts and life-savers
- Tokyo Parks and Gardens, well maintained icons of tranquility, tradition or having fun
- The Tokyo crowd... escaping from Tokyo to Tokyo, evading downtown rushhours

Photo: Hachiko crossing view in Shibuya, Tokyo
Tokyo Scenes 3
Ultramodern, people oriented city, the young and energetic face of Tokyo

Well, the site may be a little too excessive especially on the issue of Tokyo, but here are some of the most essential photo albums...
Just Click
on any thumbnail to see the pictures of either district or theme

On the picture: Shinjuku, in between the station and Kabukicho
Tokyo Scenes 2
Images on the real downtowns of the city, centers for and of all ages

Photo:  Asakusa, Senso-Ji Buddhist Temple, the Hozo-mon gate
Tokyo Scenes 1
A tour around some of the most famous historic sights in Tokyo

Tokyo Scenes 5
A closer look at some of the most unique and atmospheric districts

Tokyo Scenes 6
Finding the right place... whichever it is... from Shimokita to Koenji

Tokyo Scenes 4
Famous town centers in Tokyo, both historic and modern

Tokyo Scenes 7
A quick tour on the harmony of 21st century architecture and everyday life

See a list of all photo albums on Tokyo


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