Travel Tips for Japan
When to Go: We went Minikami Area May 23-June 6 in a high water year. Flows were a little low. There are other regions with other timing... Gifu is all rain, not sure when that is. Darin, Cody and folks went a few weeks earlier in 2011 and found water high throughout the snowmelt regions.
Entry into Japan: Passport is of course required... but no Visa for folks coming from the US.
Getting to Japan: We flew into Narita which is on the south side of Tokyo. This is the major international airport in Tokyo. From there, Yoshi picked us up. Some folks flew with United, others with Malaysia, and us with Singapore. United was consistent with their cost for the boats ($200), Malaysia wasnít supposed to take boats but took it for $37. Singapore charged $168 on the way there... and almost $700 on the way back, we argued it down to $268. We all still have complaints waiting to be answered with the airlines.
Driving: You need an international driving license or risk fines, jail, or even deportation. None of us had it... but we should have. Google it to find out how to get it from AAA.
Water: OK to drink from faucets etc.
Vaccinations: No extra needed.
Money: We came with money that we converted in the states. Though we all ended up taking more out at the ATM's at the 7-Elevens.
Food: Sushi was excellent. We ate a lot of 7-eleven meals (they are everywhere and the food isnít bad). We also went grocery shopping for our largest stints of camping. When we could, we went and got Udon (noodles) and Sushi in towns. Everything is good, though sometimes it could be stressful due to have no idea what exactly you were eating...most menu's had pictures so we would stick to those choices!
Boats: Bring your own... creek boats are not common in Japan. There are zero in country for big boys like myself.
Accomodation: Near Narita, about an hour south is hostel Free-Wave, we stayed there on the first and last night since it was less than an hour from the airport. Other than that, we camped in community parks and next to dirt roads.
Weather: We were at a range of altitude. At the Zako, it was chilly. Nights especially so. However, at the lower altitudes it was warm. A few days I was happy I had shorts... but pants were by far the more important thing to have (also for the sand flies). Other than that, I never wore more than a t-shirt and a down jacket. It also rained every night on us... so a rain jacket was key.
Random Thing to do: Go to the Hot Springs. They are all over the place. Costs were 300-500 Yen in the country side (some were free but less developed). In the city, they cost more... like 750. Be aware, close are not optional... you must be in the buck. You also must rinse off before you get in the baths... showers are always accompanying the baths (bring a towel, they don't provide them).
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