I start the year 2011 off with some exciting news! Plane tickets to Japan: Bought!
It's been a trying few months, and for a while it didn't look like Japan was going to happen (the biggest issues being John's start in the PA program, and my dog's very expensive surgery), but thankfully I was able to pull it off. On December 31st, 2010, 3 tickets to Japan were bought.
Now, a few things were changed around from when I posted last, but that's what you get for planning a trip so early. First of all, we were originally limited on dates that we could visit. Because John would start his PA program in the middle of Summer (July) and my boss and his family take at least two separate vacations in the summer, we decided on late May, which actually, after doing some research, is a great time to visit, since it's right after Golden Week, but before the rainy season, and way before the heat wave generally hits Japan.
John, because of the financial obligations to the PA program, opted out of the trip. And while it makes me a little sad (I was REALLY looking forward to taking the trip with him), it's also something he had to do (and I admit, it doesn't dull the excitement that I'm going (sorry baby)). And two friends have decided to join me, so I'll still have a killer time with some good friends. :D
Another thing that changed from my last post is that ticket prices went up. Instead of paying $900 for a ticket, we each shelled out $1,070 for the tickets. Not TOO bad of a jump, and still manageable. We booked our tickets through Vayama.com on Air Canada airlines. We'll be leaving on Wednesday, May 11th and returning Friday, May 27th. Which I'm way excited about because I'll be getting a few extra days in Japan! 16 days instead of 14! So exciting! (And many thanks to my awesome boss for okaying the extra days!) This means I can do a bit more research and figure out where else I get to go (I was thinking of Okinawa, but it might be a little out of my price range - I'm squeezing by as it is)! If anyone has any suggestions I'd love to hear them!
I've also spent some time on a basic itinerary (although it will be changing with the extra days! Yay!), and what we're doing is heading straight to Kyoto first. From Kyoto being or home base, we'll see Hiroshima and Osaka, and maybe stay for four days or so in that area before spending the rest of our time in Tokyo. This way all of our heavy traveling will be done right off the bat - and we can relax and take all of Tokyo in for the rest of the trip (which means shopping! I can't wait to buy some great gothloli clothes and accessories)!
Because plans are set and tickets are bought, I've gotten back on track with trying to learn more of the language. I've taken classes before, but the only thing that really stuck was personal introductions. After that, I'm lost. I happened to stumble upon a site via youtube that has been REALLY helpful with learning basic stuff. Richard Graham has a site called GenkiJapan.net, with really awesome tips for learning the language fast. He's created tons of little elementary-style sing-a-long songs to video to get some of the basics down, and they've really started clicking (I watch every one once a day). I already have down prices, times, counting (which I remembered most of from before), weather and months, and I've only been watching them for a few days! He also strongly suggested a Japanese language program called Michel Thomas, which I ordered REALLY cheap on Amazon.com. I'm determined to be able to order food and understand directions once I get there. :) Check out his site, it's very helpful.
I can't even begin to explain how excited I am that I finally have tickets to Japan. This has been my dream for years and years, and I can't wait to finally get there and see it all in person.
I'll be back with more plans and preparations.