So, which books are they? Here are three classic books I’d recommend if you’re planning on traveling in and around Japan.
The Inland Sea, by Donald Richie (Originally published in 1971, re-released in 2002 by Stonebridge Press).
Once you find how affordable a long-term rental guesthouse in Japan can be, you might find you want to extend your stay in Japan. International guesthouses, colloquially called gaijin houses (foreigner houses) can be very affordable if you’re staying in Japan a month or longer. For example, you can get a room for 48,000 yen (includes electricity and gas) with a shared bath, kitchen and living room. That’s what five nights in a Japanese-style minshuku or ryokan would cost you!
Because of the current high value of the yen, Japan may not seem such a cheap destination anymore. But don’t worry, you can still get by very cheaply in Japan, as long as you are armed with some inside information. Here are some tips the guidebooks won’t tell you.
Japan’s Inland Sea, called “Seto Naikai” in Japanese, is one of Japan’s best kept secrets. While most people only know the bigger islands (called “shima”) such as Awajishima and Shodoshima with extensive ferry services to bring people, cars and trucks from the mainland, the smaller islands are accessible only by the occasional ferry or private boat. As the smaller islands become more popular even among Japanese travelers, the options for getting around to them are increasing, but tourism along the Inland Sea is still in its infancy.
If you’re young and hip, or just want to act like you are, then Tokyo’s Akihabara district is the place to be. And luckily now, as it is becoming somewhat of a tourist-attraction (I say somewhat because if you catch it now, you can still see it before the tourist hordes discover it) you can even get a tour of Akihabara in English.
Japan can be a difficult place to get around if you don’t speak Japanese. If you stick to the big cities, you’ll have no problems as information in English is available, but for anyone who wants to get off the beaten track a bit, you just might want a guide who can communicate in English, show you around town to some of the sights and take you to a regional restaurant known for it’s local specialty.
From the beginning of June to mid-July is “tsuyu” Japan’s rainy season. However, it is a misnomer in some ways. Most Japanese agree that the rainy season used to be a far more significant event than it is now, mainly due to global warming. The rain isn’t as heavy or frequent as it used to be. Sometimes it hardly rains at all during the rainy season.
One thing youâ€™ll notice while you are travelling through Japan is that the Japanese never seem to have any luggage. Youâ€™ll meet Japanese people travelling all over Japan by train, but theyâ€™re not schlepping around large suitcases through train stations, up and down stairs and through train car aisles. No, the Japanese are too smart for this.
The Japanese yen and the US dollar are losing ground on the world market. The Euro and the Australian dollar are getting stronger. What does this mean to you as a traveler to Japan?
Ever considered camping in Japan? Itâ€™s a cheap, fun way to travel around and an easy way to meet Japanese people. Not only that, but you get to meet Japanese insects up close and personal. Don't wrinkle your nose! The Japanese love their insects. Everything from the sound of cicadas and crickets to the sighting of a giant stag beetle are prized occurrences in Japan. So get out there and get to know your smaller neighbors!