Fascinating culture, architecture, cuisine, and extremely polite people. We associate Japan with many things, but this country still remains quite mysterious and inaccessible to most. The distance and the price of tours make Tokyo, for example, not the most popular choice in travel agencies’ offers. Would you dare to set out on this magical journey yourself?
An organised 10-day trip to Tokyo costs between 2.3 - 4.6k euro. How much does it cost to escape on your own volition with formalities that you would have to face across the borders to the Land of the Rising Sun?
Book in advance
With a serious expense for take-off alone, paying for the flight is a feat in its own right.The price of a ticket can’t be downgraded since Warsaw and Tokyo share almost 9 thousand km distance. However, even a ticket is booked two months in advance, the trip will cost about 700 euro. A trip with a changeover in Dubai will take almost an entire day. Savings can, however, amount to around 200 euro if the tickets are purchased seven to eight months ahead of time. The Japan’s capital can be reached in less than 11 hours directly from Warsaw, however, the flight becomes higher.
After purchasing tickets for the flight, the next chunk of change will be easier to swallow. Accommodation prices in the Japanese metropolis do not differ from European standards. In search of savings, it is not worth paying attention to the periphery, because the Tokyo metro does not run around the clock and taxi services cost an arm and a leg. Any hotel, hostel or guesthouse near the centre seems to be a better option because you will be left with more time to explore. Sample prices in Tokyo: Bed in a dormitory room in the hostel - 14 EUR, bed and breakfast in a single room in a 3-star hotel - 50 EUR per night. Booking accommodations and purchasing flights are very similar. You can get the lowest prices when you make a decision well in advance or take what is left available at the last moment. Traveling to Japan doesn’t contain any additional formalities. At the Tokyo airport, you will receive a 90-day stay permit. Those who are going to study or earn a living must apply for a visa.
The country of Cherry Blossom
It’s impossible to see all the attractions and peculiarities that Tokyo has to offer in only a few days. However, there are places that need to be seen. In the central area of the Shinjuku Gyoen Park (an area of over 3.5 hectares) over 20,000 trees are grown, including about 1,500 cherry trees that are a symbol of the country. Every single year, tourists from all over the world come to Japan for Hanami, the festival of cherry blossom. Usually, it is in the turn of March and April, but has sometimes been held at the beginning of May. During Hanami in Tokyo, picnics, festivals and concerts take place and attract crowds. It can be hard to find empty places in the parks, especially since there are a lot of restaurants and souvenir stalls. The flower buds on the trees usually only last for a few days and festival-goers have fun until dawn during this time.
Temples, famous markets and the electronics capital of the world
Tokyo’s Tsukiji - the world's biggest fish market - where restaurants, shops and wholesalers buy their seafood, is certainly worth mentioning. To see an auction of a 200 kilo tuna as well as how the market works, you should pop out of bed very early - around 4.00 a.m. There are around 500 types of fish and seafood as well as shops to cook up only the freshest fish.
In Tokyo, the oldest temple in Senso-ji is visited by up to 30 million people every year! Built in 645 A.D. and reconstructed after World War II, it is a place of not only worship, but religious gatherings, festivals and other cultural events. The Meiji sanctuary is no less popular than Senso-ji and was also destroyed during the war and then restored. To get there "... you must first cross a huge and majestic gate, then pass a whole collection of sake barrels to finally trek for a few hundred meters in the midst of evergreen forests," describes blogger Światowy Warszawiak. Visiting the two temples is free. Fans of electronics and animated movies should book some time to visit Akihabara, Tokyo's famous techy suburb. Street vendors offer plenty of characters from popular games and animation movies. The venues in this suburb are home to conventions, park festivals and hundreds of shops with new and used electronics and cartoon-themed restaurants.
The wealth of flavours
The best way to have your own opinion of Tokyo's venues is by using special lunch offers. On a daily basis, most restaurants prepare a popular dish and serve it cheaper than usual at specific times. In Europe, ramen noodles are becoming more and more popular. Those who have tried it in Japan agree that the dish that we have here has little in common with the original Asian delicacy. The popularity of vegetable-meat noodles with pasta, eggs and seafood is often compared to chicken soup. One portion of ramen costs about 1000 yen. How many euro is that? - The yen's value has clearly dropped in recent months. Last year, the Japanese currency against the euro was worth more approximately 14 percent more than today. Currently, 1 euro costs 130 yen. This is partially the result of the ultra-mild policy of the Japanese central bank, which has run an unlimited asset purchase program and maintained a 10-year bond yield close to zero percent. The effect of this policy has an impact on the currency, which significantly loses its value.
In recent months, we saw a significant strengthening of the euro, explains Bartosz Grejner, an analyst at Conotoxia.com (a service offering the online exchange of more than 20 currencies from around the world, including yen).
Okonomiyaki, which are more expensive than ramen, are pancakes that are cooked on hot plate with chopped cabbage and various choice ingredients. The most common are meat, shrimp, vegetables, cheese or octopus. Less than 700 yen will pay for tofu cream cheese, which is especially popular among vegans and vegetarians. It can be served in many ways - as an appetizer, main dish, or dessert. In Japan, vending machines that serve meals are very popular. Tokyo has an abundance of these machines that we can find on almost every street. However, they are significantly different than traditional vending machines that sell candy bars and sweet drinks. In Japan, food machines are provided with a wide selection of fresh salads, sandwiches, pasta or boxed lunch sets. The most popular are onigiri, which are rice sandwiches with a choice of filling. The price after conversion is about 1.5 euro.
Sushi cheaper than home
Of course, sushi is the most popular dish among tourists. In Japan the things that are so popular at home, like rolls (maki), aren’t ordered often. Nigiri is king of the castle here, which consists of fresh fish with two balls of rice and wasabi. The variety of fish and seafood makes menus dozens of pages long. Wanting to try as much as possible is not connected with wallet stress. It is estimated that sushi in Japan is twice cheaper than in other parts of the globe. Two large pieces of salmon cost 1-2 euro. Nigiri is somewhat more expensive when it contains tuna, shrimp, eel, sardine, octopus or Japanese mackerel. Their quality is very different from what we can buy in Poland. At sushi bars in Tokyo, we usually have a choice of several types of tuna or salmon. In other parts of the world, only the cheapest ones are usually available.
Most sushi places serve their green tea gratis. The waiter collects payment bason on the number and colours of the plates that are on our table. Each colour is designed for a different kind of sushi and has a different value. However, prices are affordable. Even a grown-up gourmand can be satisfied with eating a full sushi feast without spending more than - after currency conversion - around 11-14 euros.