A tough decision!

Well, fellow travelers, I am planning a trip for my birthday this fall and have fallen into a huge quandary. I had my mind set on visiting Amsterdam (never been), then traveling by train to Paris (have visited) to possibly meet up with some friends, then on to Frankfurt to see another friend (not visited yet), followed by a few days in my favorite city Berlin for some cheap shopping and live music. Wouldn't you know, on a lark, I entered a round-trip fare from O'Hare to Tokyo Narita (never been, always wanted to!) just to see the damage, and it's totally doable. I mean, like only $100-$150 more than to Europe. The flight is negligibly longer at about 13 hours instead of maybe 9 1/2. As far as lodging goes, there are some pretty reasonable spots in the Prefecture (it should be, seeing as it makes Paris hotel rooms seem like a mansion!) I'm pretty sure I'm headed to Tokyo, but does anyone have any opinions one way or another? I'd like to see my friends, but they haven't gotten back to me and who knows how long decent airfare and hotel/apartment prices might last in Tokyo?
A little nudge might be all I need. Anyone?

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6235 posts

When in the fall? I had a look at September and Chicago to Narita is around $1200, which is a great price. Flying into Osaka is even less. I spent two weeks in Japan a few years back and would love to return. Did not get to Tokyo, but we did spend time in Kyoto and Nara, both of which were beautiful. It sounds like you just need a nudge to choose Japan and I will give that. Fly into Narita and out of Osaka. Also be sure to visit Hiroshima. We did not have time, but a colleague at work went and said it is amazing to experience.

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Japan without a doubt. I make about three European trips a year but only a couple of Asian ones since I can generally only get away for a month at a whack and the longer flights kick my butt. If you can get out of the prefecture head north instead of south. Tokyo can empty you wallet if you aren't careful, but don't be afraid of eating in the small joints, markets, stalls, and street food - - there's nothing bad. Here's the real problem: you're going to get hooked on Asia. Japan's easy, so is China, then there's the whole Indo-China peninsula. It doesn't stop. Once you start catching on, you'll think Europe is one, bland, homogeneous culture in comparison. My wife and one her buddies went on an unescorted, unguided, girls-only trip that started in Saigon, worked up through Hanoi, and somehow ended up in Bangkok. She said the logistic weren't much worse than getting from Paris to London. I speak both Mandarin and Japaneese, she speaks neither and certainly not Vietnamese - - still no problem. The Tokyo subway might rattle your cage the first couple of times, but my kids had it locked before they hit their teens and that was before most of the signage was also in English. The people ain't that shabby either. Ask, and you'll get more help than you can shake a stick at. Screw your friends unless you figure they're going to croak in the next couple of years. If my preference isn't quite clear, yell, and I'll try to restate it a bit more strongly.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6235 posts

Yes, $1200! Dang ipad. . . I changed it. That United flight for $1191 is the same one I saw. If you enter Osaka instead of Narita,mKayakmwillmshow a flight on JAL for even lesss, but it is not non-stop. Japan is a bit more challenging than Europe because the signs, etc. are so hard to read. But the people are very kind and will helpmyounfind what you need. And the food is wonderful, including the amazing self-serve bakeries.

Posted by Dick
Olympia, WA, USA
1320 posts

Listen to Ed, he's usually right. You didn't say, but I assume you've been to Europe beyond Paris before, maybe multiple times, and your friends will hopefully be there for awhile to come. So go for Japan if it calls you and the price is right! Just one caveat, 13 hours in flight isn't "negligibly" longer than 9.5, it's a third longer. Three and a half hours more in a coach seat is not to be sneezed at (but don't sneeze on your seatmate!).

Posted by Dan
Morgantown, WV, USA
16 posts

Maybe your European friends could join you in Japan?

Posted by Emily
399 posts

Thanks everyone.
I'll be headed to Japan this fall. I'm very much looking forward to it! Dick-when you've ridden coach 9 hours with a leg in a plaster cast on an American airline, an extra 3 with two good legs on an Asian airline IS negligible!