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kevin03
05-19-2010, 05:59 PM
Hey everyone. I hope everyone is having a great day or night. I have a problem. I'm planning to go to Tokyo Disney next February. It will be my first time out of the USA. But I have no experience outside my Country. But I want to visit the "Rising Sun" lol. I plan to be there for a week. Is that too long? How does American money differ from Japaneese money and how do I trade it in? How long is the flight (I'm from NJ)? And my most important question: is the language to hard to understand and is english somewhat used in the parks.

If someone could set me on the right path, I would be most grateful. Thanks sooo much.
:goofy::mickeyjum

ChrisFL
05-19-2010, 08:12 PM
Hey everyone. I hope everyone is having a great day or night. I have a problem. I'm planning to go to Tokyo Disney next February. It will be my first time out of the USA. But I have no experience outside my Country. But I want to visit the "Rising Sun" lol. I plan to be there for a week. Is that too long? How does American money differ from Japaneese money and how do I trade it in? How long is the flight (I'm from NJ)? And my most important question: is the language to hard to understand and is english somewhat used in the parks.

If someone could set me on the right path, I would be most grateful. Thanks sooo much.
:goofy::mickeyjum

Ok, let me see if I can answer some questions for you.

I went to Tokyo by myself last February actually, and besides having one evening where I met a friend, I was by myself......and I had a great time! This is with only knowing about 5 words of Japanese (The basics).

A week isn't long enough! It really depends on how many things you want to see! Are you planning to stay near Tokyo, or go out to other places? Tokyo Disney takes 2-3 days alone. Sadly, I was rushed for time and only really spent 1 full day in the city, so I tried to make the most of it by seeing a lot of things quickly.

Currency can be converted when you arrive in Japan, the Yen is usually easy to convert because it's typically close to 100 to 1...so the easy way I do it is just put a decimal point where you'd expect one, and you'll only be slightly off for smaller priced items. It really helps to make that less scary.

I took a flight from Tampa to Dallas, then Tokyo...the way over it was 13 hours from Dallas to Tokyo and 11 hours on the way back...that's after about 2 hours from Tampa to Dallas. So plan for being on a plane for about 15 hours total....bring lots of things to keep you occupied ;)

Japanese is completely different than english. There are some people who can speak english, especially in the western hotels and in the parks, but be warned, even those who can speak english can be difficult to understand.

The good news is that I know, and have heard from most other trip reports, that the Japanese are VERY friendly and accomodating to help you out if you get lost, even if you don't speak the same language, have a map at all times, preferably one with english and japanese on it...that helped me out on a taxi ride!

voleball
05-19-2010, 11:03 PM
It looks like Newark Liberty airport has a non stop direct flight to Narita and it takes about 15 hours (12.5 hours back.) Most flights are from/to JFK in NY. Feb is one of the lowest price season so you should be able to find a pretty good deal on tickets.

Here is the website for the Currenty Exchange (http://www.narita-airport.jp/en/guide/service/list/svc_11.html)inside the Narita Airport. It looks like at least one bank is open until 11:00pm.

GrtWtNorth
05-20-2010, 07:53 PM
Japan is a large, diverse country. You could easily spend a lot of time there. If you're going for only a week, you might want to stay entirely in the Tokyo area. (A week isn't very long considering how much time you're going to be spending travelling to and from Japan.) If you're going for at least 10 days, I recommend venturing out to Kyoto and other cities. There's downhill skiing in the Japanese Alps and the north, but Okinawa is like Hawaii -- you can pick your weather! Tokyo is unique and very dense. Comparing Tokyo to other Japanese cities is like comparing Manhattan to any other american city.

Tokyo Disney Resort
The parks are easily accessible by train. If staying at a Disney Resort or a Good Neighbour Hotel is prohibitively expensive, don't hesitate to stay in a less expensive hotel and take the train to and from the parks. (Allow 30-60 minutes travel time, depending on where you stay.)
I recommend spending 4 days in the parks, if possible. You can do it in 3 days, but it may be rushed.

English-only tourism?
No problem, especially in the cities, and theme parks. Cast members are especially helpful, and if they can't explain something, they will either lend you a written card with English instructions ("How to ride Dumbo") or lead you to where you need to go (child swap "switchy" on Big Thunder Mountain - Japanese speakers were given instructions to talk to a cast member at the ride exit, English speakers were told "this way please" and personally escorted through the cast-member only corridors and directly onto the loading platform).

Food language barriers
The only challenge may be with the food. Food service providers may not speak English, but almost every restaurant has a display of plastic food, and you can order just by pointing. Many places will have signage written in Japanese and English pronounciation, but not necessarily the English translation. For example, many restaurants will have a Japanese label, followed by "Tonkatsu", but you'll need a phrase book to see that means deep fried pork cutlet (like schnitzel, only better).

Phrase books?
Get one, but not a bulky one. I like the ones published by Frommers (http://www.amazon.com/Frommers-Japanese-PhraseFinder-Dictionary-Phrase/dp/047017837X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274398094&sr=8-1) or Lonely Planet (http://www.amazon.com/Japanese-Lonely-Planet-Phrasebooks-Yoshi/dp/1741042313/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274398021&sr=8-1). These are extremely useful for understanding everyday situations involving food and transportation, as well as unique situations where a translation tool is essential, like a hospital emergency room.

Isn't it hard to speak Japanese?
It's hard to read Japanese, especially since most words have a unique character (there are 1000s of characters). However, all Japanese words can also be written in katakana script, which is a way to pronounce each spoken syllable. There are only 46 katakana characters. These sounds are often written in English, and they are not very hard for an English-speaking tourist to pronounce. Virtually sounds all end in a vowel. "Mickey" is easy for Japanese, but other Disney character names are slightly modified, like "Stitche" and "Donaldo". Many Japanese words were adopted into English, like karaoke, sushi, tsunami, teriaki, tempura. Similarly, many Japanese words have English origins, like milke, baby-ka (stroller), baby-seato (high chair).

Some common phrases are pretty easy. Like "______ wa do-ku des ka?" Which literally translates to "________: Where is it?" Examples: Toyre (toilet) wa doku des ka? Mickey wa doku des ka? Sushi wa doku des ka?

Money, money, money...
The exchange rates are always changing, but a general rule-of-thum is 100 = $1 US. And yes, you can find 100 stores full of knick-knacks in most Japanese cities. Cheap gifts for friends and family back home -- it will be our little secret. ;)

Corbisblue
05-22-2010, 05:08 PM
Since your trip isn't until Feb I would highly recommend trying to learn some basic Japanese before you go. It will make things a bit more enjoyable and you'll have some peace of mind knowing you know a little.


Learning Japanese

If you have an iPod or iPhone or PC I would highly recommend "Human Japanese" and use it wherever you are. It will walk you through the basic two alphabets (Hiragana and Katakana) and pronunciation. There is also Kanji which is the chinese characters and there are 1000s of them, but you can survive without knowing these and you'll naturally start recognizing some. It then will take you through the grammar of the language, and it's not very hard to learn. Once you know that learning words will be much easier.

Or you could go with Rosetta Stone which is another great way to learn Japanese. It will work on the Mac or PC. It is a little pricey but well worth it.

I personally don't find phrase books to be overly helpful but everyone is different. These are just some of my suggestions :)

Currency

Before you go I would recommend you find somewhere in your hometown where you can exchange your money for yen. You will more than likely not get charged as many fees as you would in the airport. I would convert a couple hundred to get you through the first couple of days.

Some banks allow you to use your debit/credit card to withdrawal money from ATMs overseas. Check with your bank if you are able to do so. If you can then you can visit ANY 7-11 or Post Office (yes it's very weird) in Japan and be able to withdrawal money right from your bank account. Then you do not have to carry a lot of cash on hand.

Length of Stay

I think that a week isn't long enough to truly enjoy your stay. Again this is my own opinion and everyone is different :) Like mentioned in another post you will be spending a lot of time in the park then that will only leave you a few days to go around Tokyo and area.

If you can stay 10-14 days then you will have more than enough time for the parks and be able to see parts of Japan.

If you are worried about paying a lot of a hotel you could after you are done with the parks (if you are staying at a resort) you could stay at a hostel which will run you about $40 a night. They will be more traditional where you sleep on a futon. If you are interested I can give you a list of a couple.

If you wanted to head over to Kyoto/Osaka to check out you could get there very cheap. For about $40 one way you can take an over night bus.

I hope this helps :)