Posted in Travels in Japan

When You Miss the Last Train

Despite the fact that Tokyo is a huge metropolis completely capable of 24 hour transportation, it chooses not to because reasons. Last trains are generally from 11:00 p.m.to 12:00 a.m. Most train lines start back up at around 5:00 a.m. In general, you’ll just need to stay somewhere for about 5 hours or so if you miss the last way back.

Still, where do you go? What are your options? Well, you’ve got plenty of them! But I’ve narrowed it down to the top five things you can do if you missed your last hope towards home.

#5: Internet Cafes

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Wikipedia Commons

In Kentucky, internet cafes weren’t exactly common, and what few there were didn’t have much besides computers with quarter slots. Japan’s internet cafes are a completely different thing, it’s not even an apples and oranges comparison.

Internet cafes will have large lounge chairs, small mat rooms, and other types of corner office spaces transformed into a cheap place to crash. For less than ¥2,000 you can sleep in that space for 8 hours, and it only gets cheaper if you want to stay for less time.

Of course, the main reason it’s so cheap is because it’s not like a hotel. Your small space will have very, very thin walls. No pajamas or amenities unless you want to pay (about ¥700 for a set). They will give a blanket for warmth, but that’s about it.

Manboo is my top pick, because 8 hours at Manboo you’ll pay ¥1,600 to stay. Also, in my experience every Manboo I’ve ever stayed at has showers that are nice. Other internet cafes will have showers too, but they’re not always as well maintained as Manboo’s. They even have ¥500 t-shirts available if you want to feel a little less grungy in the morning.

#4: Capsule Hotels 

Capsule Hotels
Wikipedia

Capsule hotels have an interesting reputation abroad, with many tourists wanting to stay in them for the sheer novelty. They are generally pretty cheap, running between ¥3,000 to ¥7,000 a night. Why are they more expensive than internet cafes? Well, you get more stuff usually.

Unlike an internet cafe, you’ll have a bed with sheets and blankets. You’ll be given a locker for your stuff, as well as pajamas to sleep in along with shower packs (razors may or may not be included though). The walls aren’t as thin as the internet cafes, so odds are your sleep will be more restful.

However, a big downside to capsule hotels is that so many of them are for men only. For whatever reason, all internet cafes are fine with men and women, but capsule hotels can be only men. There are some co-ed and a few only women capsules, but not all. Be sure to check out if you can get in before you check in!

#3: Business Hotels

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Japan-Guide.com– “Business Hotels”

Business hotels are intended for Japan’s salarymen, the business guys who travel a lot and want a no frills hotel room. You’ll get the basics here, a bed to sleep in with a bathroom. It’ll have towels and soap, but don’t expect anything 5 star. These rooms will range from ¥5,000-¥20,000 depending on what kind of place you’re going to stay in.

For example, I usually stay at the small ones about ten minutes walk away from the nearest train station. Those tend to not have as many people in them, and will welcome someone trudging in a midnight needing a room.

If you get one close to the station and has more than fifteen levels (and say possesses a bright neon sign that stays lit even in the darkest of nights) odds are it’s going to cost you much more.

And honestly, for the money you’re going to spend, there’s not much difference between a lower end business hotel and a higher end one. You’ll just be wasting money if you pay more than ¥5,000 for one night, since they all come with the same basic amenities (that aren’t very good). For Americans, if you know what a Holiday Inn Express is, you will be getting more or less the same thing with a Japanese business hotel.

#2: Love Hotels

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Kotaku– “Inside Japan’s Plasure Hotels”

For these, the price range can be super cheap from ¥3,000 to a whopping ¥50,000! So be careful and ask before you just sign up for a room. Usually with love hotels you need to have a partner with you, you can’t just sleep by yourself, but that’s fine! Grab your friend who no doubt stayed out late with you and make them experience this!

Love hotels generally on the outside look, well, ridiculous. They’ll have the oddest names like “Goddess” or “Passion” or something crazy like “Hotel Castle” and even be in the shape of a castle! Neon lights, signs with purple or pink colors, some kind of theme or statue to set it apart from everything else around it, they’re just amazing to see.

The reason some of them are so expensive is because some rooms have unique designs and themes, and along with them a bunch of adult toys to play with. They’re made for a night of love making, after all, but the big ones make an American honeymoon suite in Las Vegas look tame in comparison. Meanwhile, the cheaper ones fit with the hotel theme, but they’re smaller and just provide lube and condoms. Basically, you’ll be staying in a room with a friend (or special friend *wink,wink*) for cheap if you find the right place.

#1: McDonalds, Saizeriya, Denny’s, Jonathans, Gusto, etc.

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Satoko Kawasaki Photo featured in Japan Times

Let’s say you don’t want to stay at a hotel. The morning trains are coming soon enough, you don’t want to shell out your precious money for a room you’re only going to use for a few hours. Family restaurants are for you then!

Denny’s, Jonathans, Gusto, just to name a few, are all 24 hours. They will serve you food and get you sober for that first train back home. Those restaurants offer sit down meals that will fill you up, too. However, if you want to be super cheap, the golden arches are also 24 hours for your convenience. McDonalds will be the place to go for free WiFi too, so if you want to watch a movie on your smartphone, eat a greasy burger, and just chillax until the trains are running that’s where you want to go.

All in all, these are the options that I like the best. These are also, for me, the safest options as I’m a female who often travels alone. If you’re a male, you might be able to get away with just sleeping on the sidewalk. I’ve seen plenty of guys doing that after a night of hard drinking. But if you want a good place to stay, these are the best and cheapest options for you.


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Posted in Travels in Japan, YouTube Videos

I Went to Korea!

 

Finally! I did it. I went to Korea (the South part, of course, I’m not a risk taker). A couple of friends from JET moved over there semi-recently and I promised them over and over again that one day I would hop on a plane to see them. I booked my flight and got out right as summer vacation started, giving me about one week to travel around the country.

The first place was near Incheon, where I’d be staying with one of my friends in her apartment. Thanks to her, I didn’t need a hotel for most of my stay and I’m appreciative of that. If and whenever you can, go where your friends are, and you’ll sure to feel right at home even far away. She let me crash on her floor, fed me, sent me all these messages telling me where to go, she was da bomb!

We headed out together on the KTX (Korea’s version of the Shinkansen, only much cheaper), to Deagu. There we met up with our other friend and toured around a bit. We hit up Duryu Park, which is where I decided to start off the vlog.

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At night, we went up Deagu Tower and took all the pictures. (Sidenote: I also just so happened to buy my first ever selfie-stick there. I’m officially a mellinial.) Deagu Tower is located in EWorld, a kind of knock of Disney Land, which was really pretty and romantic looking at night.

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All three of us went down to Busan, and that meant BBQ and beach time! I didn’t vlog it, but there is a Brazilian place near the beach that is just AMAZING. They just keep bringing over meat on sticks and filling you up, but it’s never enough! I can’t recommend it enough.

 

The beach itself was actually nice and clean, the waters were pretty clear. The only issue I had was that the lifeguards weren’t letting people swim out very far at all. I don’t know if it was some sort of safety issue, be it sharks or strange swimming regulations, but they wouldn’t let anyone go further than chest high. Still, it was a nice day, and I got tanned up.

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After the beach day, I decided to visit the Busan Sea Life Aquarium. They have otters! And their special “Finding Real” exhibits had all the fish from Finding Nemo/Dory. The kids were loving that, but I was all about the sharks. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by them, although my brother was the real fanatic when we were youngin’s.

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The last day in Busan, I ran off to a seaside temple. Apparently, I didn’t managed to take any videos of that side trip, which is a rotten shame. The whole place was simply magical, the way the waves were beating against the side of the cliff holding the temple, the serenity of the sea breeze, I can’t capture it in words. Luck for me, I did remember to do photos, so I have those to commemorate the experience.

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My friend and I returned to Incheon that day. She told me about a bus that could easily take me into Seoul, so that’s what I ended up doing for the last leg of my journey.

The first thing I did immediately was go to Gyeonbokgung Palace. I spent the majority of that day simply walking the grounds.

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I ran into a museum half way through the day to get out of the heat, though. I couldn’t believe how hot it got! I stayed there recuperating my energy until I could make myself move and find more things to discover.

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I ended up finding more gates and stone guards. That night I tried to go to the market, but apparently if there aren’t that many people around they will just close up shop before even 8:00 roles around. It was disappointing not to get that experience, but overall I couldn’t complain about the other adventures.

The next tourist site was Seoul Tower. It took me a long time to figure out how to get to it, a combination of very rude/unhelpful tourist guide information people at the Seoul Train Station and my lack of GPS navigation. On that note, I highly suggest that if you can splurge, go ahead and grab a pocket WiFi from the airport. Getting around Seoul without a smartphone was a pain, and the maps were just an urban mess. Still, I found my way to my destination, eventually.

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The view from up there was amazing! I spent so much time wandering around and around the tower just looking out at the horizon. Unfortunately, just as I started taking pictures, a mist or a fog of some kind swooped in, messing up the shots very effectively.

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Oh well, it was still a fun time. After that, I returned to have one last dinner with my friend, a proper Korean BBQ dinner with pork and kimuchi. I really enjoyed getting to see her and our mutual friend. I hope one day I can go back and see them, and perhaps even see other friends that have moved out there.

Until then though…

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