Traveling in and out of Japan
As a JET, you will be given the opportunity to get out and do some traveling. This guide is to help you get all the information that you will need to be knowledgeable and make the right decisions during your trip.
When to go
First, if you are leaving the country, you must give your school/BOE official notice. Look through 'Leaving the Country' carefully regarding your Travel Insurance. Consult your supervisor for next year's holidays and the best time to take your nenkyu (vacation days). The best times are during exams and school holidays. Beginning your second summer you are eligible for extra days off to be used during the summer vacation. Regular teachers receive 5 days, ALTs sometimes receive 3.
Junior High Calendar
- August: Summer vacation. Several students practice for the Junior High School Speech Contest. Beginning your second year as an ALT you may receive extra summer nenkyuu.
- September: School starts. New JETs usually start giving their self-introduction lesson. The speech contest is usually held.
- October: School festival. Get involved with the preparations! You don’t have to sit in the school office during this time.
- November: Chorus contest. Students often practice an hour or more for this contest, everyday.
- December: School continues, testing, etc. Winter vacation begins in late December.
- January: School begins again in mid-January.
- February: High level students take high school interview test.
- March: Third year students practice for graduation and take high school entrance examination. Some teachers will get switched to different schools every year. There are often times good-bye parties in March.
- April: After a short spring vacation the new school year begins with an opening ceremony. There are often times welcome parties during April.
- May-June: Students practice for their school's Sports Festival.
- July: Third grade students’ last chance at glory, the final big tournaments and competitions begin for club activities. Summer vacation begins late July.
High school calendar
- Late July-late August: Fall term starts.
- Mid December: Exams.
- Late December-early January: Winter vacation.
- Early March: Graduation.
- Mid March: Exams.
- Mid May: Exams.
- Mid July: Exams.
Junior high schools are roughly the same, though holidays may be shorter.
Peak travel times
High seasons to travel in Japan and abroad are during consecutive holidays which are O-Bon week (during this time Japanese people believe that relatives who have passed return to earth) around the second week of August. Next is New Year’s which is towards the end of December and the beginning of January. The last high season holiday is Golden week which is usually towards the end of April and into the first week of May. The rest of the year is much cheaper to travel.
How to go
If you're flying, read about what others have to say about Domestic Airports and International Airports. For a bit more adventure, ferries take more time, but are cheaper. It's rumored that the one from Akita to Kansai features taquitos. Buses can sometimes be a low cost way to go. Using a travel agent may cut costs.
- Masaru Otani, Galaxy Travel. Works in Osaka and is fluent in English. He handles international travel, has worked with many JETs in the past. He is super-fast with emails. Email at email@example.com ☎ 06-6252-2400
- HIS Travel International travel only. There are a couple of agents that speak English and are very friendly and helpful. Located in Akita City, first floor of the Atorion about three blocks north of Akita station. The phone number is (018)836-4831.
- JTB Travel Agency. There are many JTBs around Akita Prefecture.
- Lonely Planet Many JETs have Lonely Planet guidebooks so ask around before going and buying one, and check out their website.
- Yapta This website will track airline ticket prices and email you when prices drop. Good if you are planning in advance and to get an idea of what flights will cost.
- Kayak Easy to use website for booking flights abroad. Not recommended for domestic flights.
- Narita International Airport
- Akita Airport
- Sendai Airport
- Haneda Airport
- Odate-Noshiro Airport
- Kansai Airport
Where to go
To find out where to go in Akita, go to the main page and see what each area has to offer using the map. For other places, check out:
Ryokan: 6,000 to 30,000 yen per person Ryokan are traditional Japanese style inns with Japanese style rooms. A stay at a ryokan typically includes dinner and breakfast and is recommended to all travelers to Japan as it gives you the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese lifestyle.
Minshuku: 4,000 to 10,000 yen per person Minshuku are Japanese style "bed and breakfast" lodgings. They are usually family run, offer Japanese style rooms, and often include one or two meals in the price.
Japanese Apartments and Houses: 10,000 to 50,000 yen per apartment/house An increasingly popular, but still relatively rare type of accommodation (currently mainly available in Tokyo and Kyoto) are entire apartments or houses offered to foreign tourists for short term stays to experience a true everyday lifestyle. On offer are apartments with traditional or modern interior, as well as restored historic houses.
Western Style Hotels: 8,000 to 50,000 yen per room Western style hotels, including various international and Japanese hotel chains, can be found across Japan, especially in the larger cities.
Business Hotels: 5,000 to 10,000 yen per room Business hotels offer small, simple Western style rooms with snacks and drinks provided by vending machines. Some business hotel chains, such as Route Inn, APA Hotel, Super Hotel and Toyoko Inn, operate dozens of hotels across Japan.
Pensions: 6,000 to 12,000 yen per person Pensions are comparable to minshuku (see above), except that they offer rooms in Western style rather than in Japanese style. They are typically found in mountainous resort towns and in the countryside.
Capsule Hotels: 3,000 to 4,000 yen per person Mainly targeting a male clientele in need of nothing but a bed, capsule hotels accommodate their guests in small capsules. A television, a shared bathroom and coin lockers are usually provided.
Love Hotels: 6,000 to 12,000 yen per room and overnight stay Not meant as tourist lodgings, love hotels are visited by couples who wish to enjoy some undisturbed time together. Rooms at love hotels can be rented for 2-3 hours during the day or for an overnight stay.
Temple Lodgings: 3,000 to 10,000 yen per person It is possible for tourists to spend the night at some Buddhist temple lodgings (shukubo). A stay often includes two vegetarian meals and the opportunity to join the morning prayers. One of the best places to experience a night at a temple is Mount Koya.
Finding places to stay
Here are some websites for finding hotels and hostels.
- Rakuten Travel (Japanese).
- Rakuten Travel. Sometimes the English and Japanese version have different prices -- in this case perhaps the Japanese is more reliable.
- Tatami Timeshare. Organized by Hokkaido AJET (HAJET), has a map of JETS in Block 1 offering accommodations.