I’m visiting Japan again! In a little under two weeks!

Planning for this trip started way back in June, actually, because Qantas suddenly had a sale for flights to Japan. With a family holiday for this year looking a little unlikely due to difficulties in scheduling time off four all four of us at once, I decided instead to head off to visit Japan on my own again, in a semi-impulse buy – semi-impulse in that I only had three days to buy the tickets while the Qantas sale was still on, but though I still have a huge list of things I’d like to do in Japan, I wasn’t even in the beginning stages of planning out another trip, so it wound up being a case of snap up the tickets now, and plan the trip later. And after consultation with the boss at work, I basically had a choice between going basically almost immediately – which is to say, in the July-August range – or going in October. And considering I’ve done August in Japan already, I decided October would be a new experience for me. Plus, as an added bonus, the Tokyo Metro Underground Mysteries starts in October.

(Side note, the Qantas sale included business class flights for only twice what James and I paid (each) for our economy class tickets for the last trip, so I was sorely tempted to fly business… except that by the time I’d cleared things with work, all the business tickets for October had been sold. Sad face.)

So, I picked some cheap dates, and booked the flights in practically no time at all. Easily the furthest in advance I’ve bought tickets for any of my holidays, I’d say. With that done, I intended to sit and think over the itinerary for a while. My biggest thought was that considering it’s early Autumn in Japan, I could head to the northern end of the country and enjoy the Autumn leaves, a popular autumnal pastime in Japan… until the moment I started idly penciling in some things that looked interesting, and discovered the place I considered visiting first actually had a major event in the very weekend I arrived – an event I had, up until that moment, thought took place in summer. And then I discovered another event was taking place in a different nearby town the following weekend. And suddenly it turned into a frenzied rush of booking hotels in case these events are popular and the hotels book out, and then I thought I might as well fill in the gaps, and then suddenly everything had been decided and booked before the end of July (aside from my JR Pass and travel SIM, which could only be ordered at most two months prior to the departure date).

In some ways, getting everything worked out so far in advance was a mistake, because I then basically spent all of my waking hours endlessly rehearsing every planned activity in my head, fretting about weather, and travel times and timetables, and whether I’d scheduled too much into every single day like I did back in December 2017. But on the flip side, booking so far in advance turned out to be beneficial when I discovered that the event I’m attending during my first weekend in Japan has reserved sitting areas, and tickets could only be reserved by calling the organisers on the phone on September 7th. So then I got to spend a few weeks fretting about having to hold a phone conversation in Japanese where I had to convey some fairly precise information, and receive other information back.

In the end, it went off without too much of a hitch (aside from one confusing moment when I thought the woman on the phone was asking for my e-mail address, but she was actually trying to give me theirs), and with the aid of an acquaintance in Japan to make the payment  for me, it’s all confirmed – I received my seating allocation last weekend. So now I can stop fretting about organising stuff, right? Right?

But in any case, before I head off for my next trip, I’d like to wrap up my last one with my usual list of stats and fun facts. I actually don’t know if anyone else finds this sort of thing interesting, but I’ve often consulted this data for my other trips whenever someone wants to know things like how much your typical visit to Japan costs, so it can be kinda useful to know. I’d like to include extra informative general tips and suggestions, but honestly nothing at all is coming to mind…

So, here goes:

  • Posts:
    • Total length: 48 A4 pages (without photos); 27,671 words; 154,474 characters. About three-quarters the length of the blog from 2017
    • Average per post: 3.2 pages; 1844.7 words; 10,298.3 characters
    • Longest post: Day 6, the day we went over the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route. 5.5 pages, 3253 words; 17,936 characters. Most of the rest of the posts were actually quite close to the average length.
  • Money:
    • Turns out the Qantas card only retains statements for the last twelve months – to get older statements, you need to call up and ask for them, and those statements represent the information a bit differently. So, I’m not sure how much I had loaded on the card when I started the trip, but in total, I spent 196,353 yen. A bit less than last time. Again, this includes hotels, spending money, non-JR Pass travel and so forth, but not airfares or the JR Pass.
    • Hotels account for almost precisely half that – 96,866 yen (by comparison, half of my total expenditure is 98,176.5 yen), for an average of 6926 yen per night. Well, ish. To be precise, this is what I spent on all of our Toyoko Inn stays for both of us – I did the booking and the payment, since I had a membership card. When it came to our ryokan in Kyoto, though, James paid for that, as they’d only take cash, and he happened to have a lot of it on hand. He also paid for our meal at Ninja Akasaka, the only meal where we didn’t pay separately, and when we added those figures up, it came out to be almost the same as what I spent for the Toyoko Inn stays – just 4000 yen (or about $50 Australian) separated the figures, so I gave him 2000 yen and we called it even. (The Kyoto ryokan, incidentally, cost 77,760 yen for two nights, which is more than our three most expensive Toyoko Inns added together, which collectively represent eight nights. But hey, it was pretty luxurious. If I’ve done my sums correctly, the Toyoko Inns cost on average 4036 yen per night for each of us, while the Kyoto ryokan was 19,400 yen per night.)
    • Spending money and souvenirs were the other half, or 99,487 yen, or 6632 yen per day – precisely 100 yen per day less than December 2017. That said, the Kobe beef dinner cost almost one-sixth of the total all on its own, and if you take that out, the average per day drops to 5591 yen.
  • Photos:
    • Total: 8558. About two-thirds of what I took last trip. I guess the fact that I’m not alone acts as a mitigating influence on my rampant photo-taking?
    • Average: 570.5 per day
    • Most photographic day: Day 9, with 899, when we visited Enryaku-ji on Mount Hiei, in Kyoto
  • Steps:
    • 238,326 steps, for 172.2 km, only about 12km less than last trip. 72.25 cm per step – one wonders how the Health app calculates it.
    • Average: 15,888.4, or 11.48 km, per day
    • Most steppish day: Day 12, when we strolled around half of Osaka, with 22,347 steps or 15.5 km
  • Goshuin:
    • Total: 26 – four fewer than last trip
    • Average: 1.73 per day
    • Most goshuinicious day: Day 9 (Enryaki-ji, again) by a fair margin.
  • Stamps:
    • Total: 56 – one fewer than last trip
    • Average: 3.73 stamps per day (one day fewer, see)
    • Most stampinominal day: Day 6 – Tateyame-Kurobe Alpine Route day – with 16
  • Manhole Cards:
    • Total: 3
    • Average: 0.2 per day
    • Most cardular day: Well… there’s a three-way tie, on the only three days I got cards, days 1, 4 and 15.

Welp. See you here again in ten days. I leave for my next trip on October 11th.

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