Planning Tools for Japan Travel

Japan may be my highest cost per day vacation so I’m digging into the details of where, when, why, and how to get there more than usual

Japan travel sites, both public and private, have the best ‘When’ info I’ve found since leaving the US. Operating hours, days open, access maps and instructions, it’s all there. One site keeps up to date info on what tourist destinations are under renovation or construction.

Plenty of ‘Where’ info on the net. What the author said about things I know something about and how old is the info help me decide credibility. New this time is searching on place names and the terms ‘overrated’ and ‘tourist trap’. Found sites like this.

‘Why’ info is personal, harder to find via search. I usually stumble across it. In too many ‘Where’ pages the Why is implicit or generic. But when someone makes a personal statement how this place was a trip highlight, that’s gold, even if I don’t want to go there.

‘Substitute X for Y’ info has helped me to avoid crowds, have a more enjoyable experience and keep from doing long out and back deviations from the primary route on prior trips. Was tempted by a waterfront town in Japan with a mostly intact Edo era neighborhood. Downside was it would take most of a day. Travel forums said there is comparable area, sans waterfront, 45 min from Central Tokyo by rail. Case closed.

‘Is it worth it?’. The flip side to ‘Why’ info. Have never spent much time on this because there are so many answers about a single place or event. But it produces leads about substitutes so I’m doing it more this time. Google Earth is a huge help for evaluating potential photo ops because the photos are location specific.

Google images helps but there are many duplicates, shots taken when the place was closed, and too many irrelevant results. It was a big help for one decision. A monthly religious parade is a 1/2 day trip from the planned route. Three things made that a no go. One was the crowd density matched the written descriptions. Second were the images showing how far apart were the parade vehicles. That’s the best way to make a small parade look bigger and much more boring. Third was a single image: A 19th century human drawn vehicle with ornate religious architecture carrying passengers that included monks and 4 Ronald McDonalds.

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