Japan Dreaming: Pretty Good Number One

Pretty Good Number OneFishing 4 Deals focuses on budget, domestic travel.  But anyone can dream, right?

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
  • fashion
  • 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
Japan by RailAmazon has the kindle version of the book on sale for $3.99.I am not going to Japan any time soon, but in the meantime, I enjoy reading travel books.

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.

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Japan Dreaming? Stop By New York’s Grand Central Terminal March 6-8

Japan Week 2014 Grand Central Terminal

If you are dreaming of a trip to Japan, like I am, you may want to stop by Grand Central Terminal in New York City for the annual Japan Week events March 6th through 8th, 2014.

The theme this year is “Discover the Past and Future in the Present,” a celebration of Old and New Japan.  

Japan Week is a public-private partnership organized by the Japan Tourism Agency and Japan National Tourism Organization, supported by the General Consulate of Japan in New York.

The festival will take place at Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall from March 6 – 8, 2014.  Half of Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal will transform into early 20th century Japan, and the other half will represent Japan’s present and future.

The event aims to introduce people to the unique features of Japan via cultural events, technology, art and music exhibits, food and beverages.

There will be a virtual reality theatre to guide visitors through Japan’s culture heritage, and a special appearance by a master of amezaiku, who transforms candy into marvelous sugar sculptures, and who is one of only a few people left in Japan who still perform this art.

There is also sweepstakes for free roundtrip tickets to Japan from JFK to Narita, sponsored by Delta Airlines, that you can enter online.

The only aspect of the festival that requires tickets is the Pop Up Bar, a replica of a 100-year café with servers dressed in Taisho era costumes, featuring exclusive sake from regions throughout Japan.

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Free Lonely Planet Guide to Northern Honshu, Japan

Lonely Planet Japan Guide

There is a prepublication offer from travel publisher Lonely Planet for a free download of a chapter from its forthcoming 2013 guide book to Japan.

The chapter covers the northern third of Japan’s main island of Honshū. This region of Tōhoku experienced the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, and the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

The chapter covers not just the typical tourist attractions — it also offers information on how to volunteer in the recovery effort.

Lonely Planet writer Rebecca Milner visited the region to research updates to the Japan guidebook.

She reports that area of the coast hit by the tsunami is still in rubble, but that the inland areas that were affected only by the earthquake have largely recovered.  Of course there is still a 20-km exclusion zone around the nuclear power plant.

Milner reports:

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