Mike's Japan by Mike Dixon - HTML preview
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Secure your accommodation well in advance. The Japanese tourist industry is booming. Last year (2015) the country welcomed more than 20 million guests from overseas. Many come from China. They come on weekend trips. Be aware of that. Finding accommodation at weekends can be next to impossible. On a recent trip to Tokyo, my wife and I were obliged to travel to Chiba (about 80 km away) in order to find a place to spend the night.
We used to travel around without making reservations. All we needed to do was head for the main railway station and check out the hotels in the immediate vicinity. Those days have gone.
You can no longer amble around. That’s a shame for those of us who don’t like to plan our holidays in detail. Some of my young Japanese friends overcome the problem by camping. They head for the hills at sunset and kip down amongst the trees.
If you plan to camp, bear in mind that campsites are few and far between and generally intended for school parties and youth groups. Older people, in Japan, have not caught onto the idea of camping. The few who continue to do so, after the age of eighteen, are like my crazy friends or they are on walking treks.
My wife likes to stay in the old-style inns. If you go to one you will have the opportunity to sample traditional Japanese hospitality. Guests sleep on the floor on futons that are stored away in the day and rolled out at night. Cushions or low chairs are available for sitting. Tea and biscuits are free. Meals are usually served in rooms as well as in the restaurant. There is often a choice of both traditional Japanese and Western food.
Photos: Top, a traditional inn. Below, futon room and restaurant area.
Search the internet for places to stay:
- Inn groups that cater for non-Japanese speakers: www.Japaneseinngroup.com.
- Most big hotel chains have pages in English and staff with enough English to book you into your room. I have joined the Toyoko Inn Club (www.toyoko-inn.com). Take a look at them and some of the other hotels that advertise on the net. Prices will remain low so long as Prime Minister Abe manages to peg the Yen at a low exchange rate.