Melbourne time

Hello, こんにちは Kon'nichiwa

Well hello, Kon'nichiwa, or should I say こんにちは.....

This blog is about my trip to Japan later on this year. The countdown has begun, today is Easter Sunday, 27 March, I fly to Japan in 70 days, 5 hours and 10 minutes! I know three words in Japanese - hello, thank you and goodbye. I don't drink beer and I don't like raw fish. But I love meeting people, seeing new places, culture and history. I will only pass this way but once and I feel the need to try and see as much as I can in as little time as I have. .
Cheers. 乾杯

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

13. JR Pass

MY JR Pass arrived today from JTB. Junior handed it to me saying gee their drivers are lazy. It had been put on the floor outside. Oh, ah well, it didn't require a signature. And it came. I opened the envelope with anticipation trying to make head of what I was seeing.
It tells you to check
a) Your name (must be the same as your passport),
b) Ticket name (Type of Ticket, Duration, Adult/Child)
c) Exchange deadline (Please check the exchange deadline written)
d) You have been given both the "Passenger Coupon" and "Exchange Coupon".

Above: What a JR Rail Pass Voucher looks like

The above isn't mine, it was floating around on the internetosphere

Always check your ticket
Or in this case, your voucher. Always check, it pays to check. They (JTB) had made an error. I was surprised at this, because the JTB Corporation is the largest travel agency in Japan and one of the largest travel agencies in the world. They specialise in tourism. For some reason, I had the idea JTB were the "Official" Japanese tourist company in Australia. I don't know where I got that idea from, maybe from reading some of their stuff. Anyway, I won't say I'm not disappointed because I am. Very. Disappointed. One can only hope things carry on more smoothly in Japan than they have so far. And the trains run on time.

JTB gave me the wrong one!
They gave me a 7 day pass, and I ordered and paid for a 14 day pass. I checked the confirmation email and yes, it definitely says 14 day pass and the amount $560. Then I checked my account and yes, the amount of $560 had been debited to my account last week. I rang them but of course it was after office hours so will have to ring them tomorrow. I hope they don't tell me I have to post the incorrect one back to them, I wouldn't be a happy chappy if that happens. I mean I paid $7.00 to have the thing delivered to em, but I'm damned if I'm expected to pay to post back when it's their mistake. Bugger. I wish I'd gone with the other mob after all now, not only would I have saved $8, but I'd have received some free stuff and most likely the correct voucher.

Today's quote: Smart people learn from their mistakes. But the real sharp ones learn from the mistakes of others ~ Brandon Mull

Saturday, 26 March 2016

12. Buying your Japan Rail Pass

Well the time has come the walrus said
to speak of other things,
and go and buy your JR Pass
and see what travel brings....
................ No seriously, I am within the three month period now, so time to buy my JR Pass (it's quite exciting isn't it? I mean it's actually starting to happen!)

Anyway, the question I am pondering is this - does it matter which website you buy it from? Do you go for the cheapest? Is one site more reliable than another? One site I found was $15 cheaper but for title it's either Mr, Miss or Mrs - no Ms. Seeing as I have made it to my advanced age, I am certainly not a Miss, I am no longer a Mrs, and I sure as hell don't want to be called "Miss" again!

For the benefit of travelling around Japan, does it matter a great deal or not? Another site seemed alrgiht until I read the bit that said if the voucher when being sent got lost in the mail, then stiff shite, you're up you know what creek without a paddle. Hmm, great. I won't be going with that one.

If you're going to be doing a lot of travelling over long distances, it pays to get the JR Pass, it pays for itself before the end. I calculated it would cost me around $900 were I to buy each ticket separately but, getting the pass I save about $400 - that's a lot of money.

I started this post yesterday, came back today to finish writing it and also to book the JR Pass. The website that had the pass $15.00 cheaper doesn't have it $15.00 cheaper anymore. When I went to their website today, the price had risen and although still cheaper, the difference was only $8.00 so I ended up going with the other mob. Yes, I know I paid $8 more and eight bucks is eight bucks and feelings about how a website is run shouldn't come into it, but I did think them sneaky with their free book with your booking (you have to book a minimum of two passes) and for $13.00 you can speak to them any time in Japan if you need help. To me, that's a bit of a con, you can speak to the JR people at train stations for any help you need and you don't need to pay $13.00 for the privilege of doing so.

I used JTB Travel and decided to have the voucher/pass delivered. The cost was $560. Now, all I have to do is wait.

Today's quote: The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes ~ Marcel Proust

Friday, 4 March 2016

11. Hiroshima/Miyajima Accommodation

As you know from my earlier writings on itinerary, I plan on doing a day trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima/Miyajima. A friend who is from that part of the world advised me to stay overnight as it needs more than just a day. That's all well and good, but when you have limited time, you do the best with what you have. I'm toying with the idea of going straight to Hiroshima from the airport, it will be a long day - a very long day indeed and I wouldn't get to Miyajima until after five in the afternoon, so a one night stay wouldn't be worth it, but two nights there and make my way to Kyoto on the Wednesday, I'll have five nights in Kyoto instead of seven. That could work.

With this in mind I've made a booking at a place on Miyajima Island - Sakuraya which is right on the beach. I've opted for a room with a sea view. Should be lovely looking out the window, inhaling the freshness of the sea. The only downside of this place is there are no meals provided or served. Not even breakfast.


The 3 star hotel is at Hatsukaichi-shi Miyajima 853-1 Miyajima. and less than a 5 minute walk from the Miyajima Ferry Terminal. Which is good at the end of a long, tiring day with luggage.

Japanese-Style Room with Sea View
No meals available

Room size: 17 m²
Beds: 4 futon beds
This air-conditioned room features sea views, tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Each comes with a flat-screen TV and an electric kettle with green tea bags. Comes with an en suite bathroom.
Please note that you cannot see the great torii gate from this room.

Room facilities:
Sea view, Flat-screen TV, Air Conditioning, Seating Area, Heating, Shower, Bath, Free toiletries, Toilet, Bathroom, Slippers, Electric kettle, Towels, Linen
Free WiFi is available in all rooms.
¥20,600 - $249

Photos are from the hotel website - obviously you get to watch the sunset at the end of the day, which is an added bonus. I love sunset and sunrise. No two are the same and each and every one is beautiful and special. (Now if I just had a better camera.....)