Asakusa

12/30/07 | by Larske [mail] | Categories: -Tokyo

The Senso-Ji temple is definitely the main attraction in Asakusa, this is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Japan established in the 7th century. In front of the temple is a long street (Nakamise) lined up with old-style shops on both sides which sell lots of souvenirs. At the beginning of this street is the 1000 year-old main entrance gate, called the Kaminarimon or Thunder Gate.
The Asakusa neighbourhood still has that old vibe with lots of old shops and restaurants.

Concert tickets

01/02/08 | by Larske [mail] | Categories: Concerts

This is the big post, mostly based on the work of others who went to concerts in Japan before me.

Option #1
The best way to get tickets through official channels is to have someone who lives in Japan buy the tickets. If you have a friend or family living in Japan, you might be able to get official tickets. But the bigger the artist or event, the faster tickets are sold out.

Option #2: Yahoo Auctions
Tons of people sell their tickets on Yahoo Auctions. Some because they can't go on that day, some because they want make a profit or some that got them through the fan club lottery and they can't go or are bad seats. So you could bid on tickets here and win them like on Ebay, but YA has a particular system when the ending time of the auctions comes nearer. When in the last hour, some makes another bid, another hour is added. This is done to counter people who do a higher bid in the last seconds of an auction and they win. This makes it a little bit more fair and actually is good for the seller as he might get a higher final bid.

There is still another big problem, about 99% (read: all) of the sellers on the Japanese Yahoo Auctions site do not ship internationally. Again, having someone you know in Japan helps in this situation again, but for people who don't, there is still a solution: using a third party bidding service.

A third party bidding/shopping service is a website/company who are situated in Japan and who will bid for you on auctions, buy stuff from online Japanese web shops or buy stuff for you from a shop in the street. They also sometimes help you by translating a product page or check if it is actually in stock to buy. Some even have automated auction bidding services through their website, that bids for you on an auction. Of course, there's a catch, such services come with a price, which can be 10-30% + the extra shipping from Japan to your country. But there is really no other option and you're going to be in Japan soon, or don't have anybody in Japan that you know, this is a good option, even if it comes a little pricier.

Option #3: Reseller shops
If Yahoo Auction is not an option either, you still have the reseller shops in Japan, which is the easiest option. You wait to buy your tickets until you're in Japan. This might seem risky because you've come such a long way to Japan and you may be afraid there won't be any tickets left. The first time I got my tickets through Yahoo Auctions, but the second time I bought some at the reseller shops, and usually there are quite a few tickets left. Unfortunately, this also comes at a price, as they sell better seats at higher prices. Front row is very expensive (even on YA, prices of 50-100.000yen are not uncommon). But tickets are usually in the 10-50.000yen range. Also, ticket prices may vary greatly as the concert date draws nearer, because they have to sell the ticket anyway or they don't have any profit. But don't count on the price of a certain ticket to drop, cause someone may have bought the ticket before you do.
There are about 4 reseller shops in Tokyo and I suggest checking them all to compare prices and seat location.

Option #4: Scalpers
This may be a last option if you didn't find a ticket you liked in the reseller shops. Usually there are people outside the concert, trying to sell their tickets, again for a higher price. Or you might be able to trade 2 tickets for 1 better ticket. But remember that scalpers are actually illegal and you don't always see them. But if you're lucky, you can find a ticket at the last moment. As these scalpers need to lose their ticket badly, they will drop their price a lot when the concert has already started. But you see, everything comes at a price.

As a final note, the original ticket prices for concerts are always the same for the whole venue, it doesn't matter if it's front row, or you're in the back, the original ticket is fixed...

I will write up some more detailed info about the reseller shops later.
This guide is originally based on the experiences of people from the AHS forum, added with some personal experience.

Finding a cheap flight

12/31/07 | by Larske [mail] | Categories: 2. Preparations

Your flight is probably gonna be the most expensive piece of your trip to Japan. This can range from 600eur up to ... (fill in 4-digit number). So here are some tips that I learnt from my experience.

  • When booking your flight online, always try several websites. Also try to check that some of those websites aren't using the same search engine, as those will probably give the same results.
    And if they are using the same search engine, try finding out which search engine and try to find flights directly on that search engine in stead of going through the portal of the travel agency, as they might get some commission.
  • Start checking for flights about 4-5 months ahead, and keep doing so until 2 months before departure. This is because there can be a week where a certain airline might have a (big) discount. Low prices tend to be around 700-900eur, but in that cheap week, I've seen it drop to 580eur (I was even too late to book that one). I have always had a flight that was between 600-700eur (flight & fuel tax included)
  • Try finding a japanese travel agency or one that is specialized in Japan in your city/country. Check their website or call them up as they might have good deals for cheap flights. (tip from Corybobory

So when you think you have found a cheap flight, don't hesitate too much, because they might be gone in a few days. I've had it myself, if you happen to have one under 600eur, take it immediately, if you have one between 600-700 wait 2-3 days,above 700eur, wait until about 2 months before you go.

Links:
Belgium:
https://www.connections.be/
https://www.vliegtickets.be/
https://www.cheaptickets.be/

Rest of the world:
http://www.expedia.com/

I'll try to find some other links to websites.

Getting Tickets

06/19/08 | by Larske [mail] | Categories: 6. Getting tickets

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Hostels

06/19/08 | by Larske [mail] | Categories: 4. Where to stay

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Booking.com
My humble tutorial to Japan. How to get there, what to do, how to prepare, how to travel, how to get concert ticket, ...