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: Missing My Flight

If you’ve been traveling for as long as I have, you’re bound to eventually experience that one flying disaster from hell.  (And if for some reason you never do, I envy you 😉 )  Mine came as I was coming home to Japan, on an American Airlines flight from Dallas (DFW) that got re-routed from Chicago (ORD) to Los Angeles (LAX).

Long story short, there were some maintenance delays with the aircraft that caused me to miss my connecting flight in Los Angeles (LAX) to Narita (NRT).  Well technically I didn’t miss it and arrived at the gate 10 minutes before take-off, but they refused to board two other guys booked for the same flight as myself, probably because they had given our seats away to stand-by.  Irritating, but hey it happens.  Little did I know a shitstorm of bad customer service and excuses was next to come.

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Souvenir Culture

I’ve talked about souvenir culture in some previous posts, but since this will be my last post before I leave for the U.S. and I’m getting ready to make my souvenir list, I thought I’d write a more detailed post about what makes a good souvenir/gift and when to give them.

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Traveling: Summer Vacation in Hokkaido!

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

It’s officially Obon break for most folks in Japan!  This year I lucked out and Mr. J was allowed to take a few days off for us to take a trip together to Hokkaido.  Of course, being the holiday week everyone else was traveling, flights and hotels were pretty pricey.  Still it was nice to get away from the heat and the incoming typhoon for a few days, and we had a really nice time.  If you find yourself over that way, here’s some suggestions for sightseeing in the Sapporo/Otaru area of Hokkaido.

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Traveling: One Day Sightseeing in Niigata

© J // Washing Rice Blog

© J // Washing Rice Blog

I ventured up to Niigata Prefecture for the Fuji Rock Festival, but I scheduled my return bus for a Sunday night departure/Monday morning arrival so I could have a little time to check out Niigata City.

Wanting to be a frugal as possible, most of the stuff I did was either free or easy on the wallet. If you’re looking for good recommendations for a short trip in Japan or are curious about what Niigata has to offer, click below!

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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: Singapore Days 3, 4, & 5

© J // Washing Rice Blog

A view of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from the waterfront.
© J // Washing Rice Blog

Hopefully you were here for last week’s post!  Today’s entry is where the heart of all the action is.  Read on for lots more Singapore sightseeing highlights and pic spam! 😀

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