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Travel, Teach, Live in Japan

Holidays and Everyday Life in Japan
By:Jay Tillotson

Few countries could be more different to our way of life than Japan. The distinctive language, interesting food and instantly recognizable décor gives westerners on holiday to Japan an experience which cannot be rivaled.

It's said that the best time to visit Japan is either April or November, as this is when the cherry blossoms for which Japan is famous are in full bloom. Times to be avoided if possible are the Japanese holidays at the beginning of January, 29 April - 5 May (Golden Week), and Obon week; usually celebrated mid-august, although some regions celebrate it in mid-July. Obon week is also in the middle of the Japanese summer holidays when the children are off school, and, as in this country, cheap holidays are difficult to come by.

For the rest of the year, Japan is a lovely place to be. After the New Year celebrations are over, the remainder of January and February are generally quiet, which makes for an ideal time to go sight-seeing. Additionally, holidays at this time are usually cheaper, and the weather is sunny and dry. Northern Japan gets good snowfall around this time, so it's especially good if you like winter sports.

The rainy season hits Japan around the beginning of May and carries on till mid July, and while it doesn't always rain every day, it will be gloomy and overcast. The exception is Hokkaido, which doesn't tend to be affected by the rains, so this is a popular destination for summer holidays. September is a warm and humid month, but cheap holidays are easier to get during this time as the summer crowds thin out. October and November remain warm, but the humidity level drops, making it more comfortable for tourists during this time. Airfares and hotels remain cheap up until the middle of December.

There are many different types of holiday accommodation in Japan. The cheapest are the hostels and dormitories, averaging between 2000 and 4000 Yen (£9 - £20) per person. They are very similar to the western equivalent and are popular with backpackers or people on short holidays. Capsule hotels, commonly used by businessmen and comprising of little more than a bed, television and shared bathroom, are very similar to the Formule One hotels in the rest of Europe. These average at 3000 - 4000 Yen (£14 - £20) per person.

For a real taste of Japan, a stay at a Ryokan or Minshuku is a must. These are like the western inn or bed and breakfast, but with a traditional Japanese style. You'll sleep on a futon, kneel while eating sushi and other Japanese fare, and use a Japanese-style bathroom. The prices range from 4000 to 30,000 Yen (£14 - £140). Prices are usually quoted as per person per night instead of per room.

If you wish to stay for a longer period, such as a month or more, Japan has Gaijin houses (guest houses) apartments and shared houses which you pay for on a monthly basis. These cost anything upwards of 40,000 Yen (£200) per month, and can give the tourist an idea of life in Japan without having to go to the expense of furnishing a place.

Time for your holidays? Find cheap holidays online. Enjoy your holidays without spending too much money. http://www.travelsupermarket.com/c/holidays/

J Tillotson is a UK-based travel writer

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