Okay, the plans are more or less
fixed, and I decided, instead of tinkering with the old post, I'd write up the travel plans, in their more or less
fixed form. ^_^( Travelling and hotels )( Activities, planned and possible )
As I understand it, we will be kind of travelling with
the stream rather than against it during O-Bon, so that'll be interesting. The whole getting-to-Sapporo-in-time business turned out a little more exciting than I'd really wanted, and we were weighing our options of very giri giri trains, until I found some flights that were still affordable (everything showing up on the big search engines was €250 and up!) and then we were weighing very giri giri planes vs. a four am start, and in the end the four am start won. I am glad, though, that we're only doing the 12-hour train trek on one leg, not both.
But I am looking forward to Sapporo so much! For no specific reason, except I've always kind of wanted to go. (OK, and I have been jealous that for all the tours I've been tracking, the Sapporo tickets were always the cheapest.) Maybe it'll turn out totally lame, and I'll end up going 'OMG MORDOR!' but then at least we'll know for next time. And for now I'm just VERY VERY EXCITED.
Two potentially useful links for fellow Japan travellers: I've been doing a lot
of research on the ever-painful question of Japanese phones for tourists. (As some of you may be aware. ^_^) Stuff I've found out that may be relevant to others as well:A Softbank subsidiary
that explicitly lets you buy a Japanese pre-paid phone on a tourist visa. Unfortunately -- I emailed them -- they only have pricey upscale phones on offer for their pre-paid deal, not the three thousand yen keitai I wanted, so this is more than I want to spend, but if you have the cash to spare, this looks like a very hassle-light option to get that coveted Japanese phone. They have offices at Haneda and Narita.A company that lets you buy a sim-only at a reasonable price
, with apparently no need to recharge once a year. Actively catering to tourists as well. Their call rates are pricey even for domestic Japanese calls, though otoh their rates to Europe and the US are far lower than at least my roaming charges would be. It's not quite what I want, but I'm still considering my options here.