Lately, I have been dreaming about traveling to Japan.
There are a number of things that intrigue me about Japan:
- the natural beauty
- J-pop culture
- traditional arts like pottery and paper making
- the trains
- manufacturing industries
- hot springs
- old Japan
- the gardens and temples
- and, of course, the food
To indulge my fantasy, I picked up a copy of Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo, by Seattle-based food writer Matthew Amster-Burton.
The book is about an American couple and their adorable eight year old daughter Iris, who rent an apartment in Tokyo for one month.
Tokyo is the opposite of the DMV. It is the least annoying place I have ever been to. –Matthew Amster-Burton
Amster-Burton used Kickstarter to crowd source the publication of the book in ebook form.
Here’s what one reviewer said about Pretty Good Number One: An American Family Eats Tokyo, published in February 2014:
The layers of the city, its extraordinary food pleasures, its quirkinesses, emerge as the author and his family spend an intense month living in Tokyo and exploring widely . . . Warning: this book will make you hungry. You’ll yearn, as I do, to catch the next plane to Tokyo, so you can get eating. —Naomi Duguid, writer and traveler
I’ve picked up a copy of Japan by Rail, which offers incredibly detailed advice, down to how to find your platform, where to stash your bags, and where to exit the train station.
I am planning my miles and points accrual strategy with this trip in mind, focusing on collecting United miles and Ultimate Rewards points for the airfare, and Barclaycard Arrival points for the Japan Rail Passes.
The goal is to stay at hotels as close to the train stations as possible. Japan Rail has a network of hotels throughout the country adjacent to rail stations. These hotels offers discounts to rail pass holders. The JR hotels would be super convenient but are mostly lux properties on the expensive side.
The Japanese airline ANA, offers discounts at their hotels to ANA Mileage Club members. These ANA hotels are affiliated with the Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG) which has a large number of hotels in Japan. One option I am considering is the IHG credit card which offers a generous sign-up bonus.
There are some Japanese chains of budget, business class hotels that offer loyalty programs. The Toyoko Inn has 200 hotels throughout Japan, many convenient to train stations or public transit. The Toyoko Inns offer many convenient amenities such as free hot breakfast, free WiFi, business centers with printers, and washing machines. They have a loyalty program too, which offers a free night after ten stays.
If any readers have experience with travel to Japan, I’d love to hear your thoughts on budget strategies for hotels.
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