My friend and I are planning for a trip to Japan (finally!) in the third week of July, so periodically I’m going to talk about some of the process on here (trust the process).
A few weeks back I ranted about how it was cheaper to fly to Japan from LAX than our local airport SFO. The savings from flying out further south is quite significant, which is just as well because the next item on the list after plane tickets is accommodations, and it’s expectedly expensive in Tokyo.
It’s also astonishingly small. I’ve dealt with land scarce cities before, namely Hong Kong, but even the tiny hotels rooms there are generally larger than the ones I’ve browsed around Tokyo. Japan’s idea of a hotel room with two twin beds is an area that’s just big enough to fit two beds nearly stuck together, and not much else. Sure hope you didn’t pack a lot of luggage!
Obviously, the western branded hotels are slightly more hospitable to our American sensibilities of personal space, but those are prohibitively out of our price range. The space situation on Airbnb is better than hotels if you choose to rent an entire home, but even there you should plan to be somewhat cozy with your chosen roommate. The place we reserved is nevertheless appropriately tiny, but at least the two beds aren’t directly adjacent to each other.
Small living spaces is indeed how Tokyo manages to cram over 13 million people within its city limits.
After we sorted our living situation, the focus turned to renting a car. Now it must be said that we fully realize the public transportation system in Tokyo is robust and envy of the world, and we will be utilizing to the maximum. However, there will be a few days where we plan to leave the capital for the countryside, and the original plan was to rent a car because I’ve always wanted to drive on the wrong side of the road in a foreign country.
And as a car enthusiast, I really wanted to visit and drive on the famed Hakone turnpike, a toll road that absolutely requires a car.
Upon further research, it turns out it’s highly not recommended to drive anywhere within or near Tokyo. The grid structure is practically a maze, and the signage isn’t the greatest if you don’t know Japanese. Getting lost is almost guaranteed. Yikes.
So a change of plans then: we are going to rent a car closer to the turnpike, and instead will travel to Hakone via the reliable and fast bullet train.
Much more to come!