Traveling: See Japan for Cheap with the Seishun 18 Kippu

On a previous travel guide post, I mentioned some cheaper ways to travel around Japan.  One of the ways to to do this is with a Seishun 18 Kippu (read as “seishun juuhachi kippu“), that allows you 5 days of unlimited JR train access except for special expresses/shinkansen.  Granted you’ll need a lot of time to get around, but it’s great for backpackers, group travel, and hopping off random stations to explore…  Or people like me who don’t mind spending half a day or two on the train to save 40,000 yen ($400 USD) in travel costs.

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

That’s right!  I went to Gifu, Okayama, and back, and that’s about how much I saved with this ticket and choosing to by local/rapid trains instead of taking the bullet train.  My whole train fare for the trip (including another trip I took to Tokyo with a friend to see the Fushigi Yūgi play) cost me less than 10,000 yen ($100 USD) with a Seishun 18 Kippu.

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Traveling: Discount Train Tickets

Most public transportation discounts are only available if you’re a tourist without a visa or buying a multiple trip ticket/commuter pass.  This can be a bit of a bummer if you’re a resident and would just like to save a little money on a one-time trip out somewhere.  Luckily ticket shops have the perfect answer, in the form of discount ticket vending machines. 🙂

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Traveling: Autumn Takes Branch in Kyoto

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Kyoto tower, the first landmark you’ll see outside of Kyoto Station.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

Mr. J and I finally got internet up and running on the 3rd, woohoo!  Over that weekend a couple of friends and I decided to take a short trip to Kyoto, since the foliage is supposed to be stunning there around this time of year.   Up until now I’d only ever visited Kyoto for training with my first company, where all I saw was my hotel room, the boardroom, and a cheap mom and pop izakaya (Japanese-style pub) down the street.  So needless to say I was pretty excited to finally have a chance to actually see the old capital after so many years!

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Traveling: Booking Cheaper Flights Abroad

It’s that time of year where many foreigners living in Japan are starting to cement their winter vacation plans.  In my case, I haven’t been home in 4 years so I purchased a ticket back, and I’ll be joining the crowd returning home for Christmas. 😀

With Christmas plans settled, what I’ve been in the market for now is a plane ticket to Quebec to attend a BFF’s wedding next May.  It might sound like jumping the gun, but finding the best price usually takes a few months of keeping up with the going fare, watching out for when it dips in price, and being ready to book then and there when a good deal comes up.

I’m not an expert at playing the market and finding outrageously cheap deals, but I’m generally able to fly back home or halfway across the world for around or lower than 100,000 yen ($1,000 USD) round-trip no matter what season, and so some of my friends said I should make a post about it.

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Music: Fuji Rock Festival 2014

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

So Fuji Rock Festival, ya’ll!  Fuji Rock, held at the end of July, is arguably the big daddy of all music festivals in Japan.  It and the Summer Sonic Festival, held mid-August, compete for the biggest international headliners, although either one is great if you’re new to the Japanese music scene and want to sample some new artists within the safety net of more well-known international acts to fall back on.  So how do you pick?

Fuji Rock is set amongst the lush mountains and greens of the Naeba Ski Resort located in Niigata prefecture.  On top of the music, it prides itself on being an eco-friendly event and that depends on volunteer help along with hired workers to keep everything running smoothly.  Most people camp out as long as they’re attending, so expect to encounter a lot of hippy and mountain girl/boy types.  There’s a lot of drinking and bonding with others/the earth going on over good music and eats.

Summer Sonic, on the other hand, is pretty much about music and music only.  Summer Sonic tends to feature more pop and billboard/oricon chart acts than Fuji Rock.  There’s no camping on premises or any extra frills.  That said, Summer Sonic’s one-day ticket is almost half the price of Fuji Rock.  Fuji Rock can really add up with all the extra traveling, camping, parking, etc. expenses tacked on to the original ticket price.  One of the girls I was chatting with at the festival blew about half her month’s salary on transport, 3 day festival ticket, and 3 nights at the nearby Prince Hotel.  Reasonable accommodation outside of roughing it is few and far between.

But if you know me, you know I like doing things on a budget and I’m not very outdoorsy.  So without further ado, here’s my take on how to do Fuji Rock for one day as a single, female traveler, and as cheaply as possible without camping. 🙂

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Traveling: Haneda Airport & Air Asia

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

Last post I mentioned I caught a good deal on a flight to Singapore from Air Asia.  I’d considered flying with them last year when a friend and I took a trip to Bali together, but with the extra baggage fee cost in the end we decided to pay a little more for service and comfort, and booked with Malaysia Airlines instead. (Relax, this was way before they got a bad rap for losing an airplane.)

This time around I took Air Asia up on their offer.  It was my first time booking with them and flying out from Haneda Airport, so I didn’t exactly know what I was getting myself into.  Reading other Air Asia reviews beforehand, going in my expectations were pretty low.  To my surprise, although I didn’t care much for Haneda Airport, Air Asia’s service far exceeded my expectations and even rivaled or surpassed other airlines I’ve paid “normal” fare for.

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