Simplifying Your Trip to Japan

Traveling to a new country is always exciting and often comes with some challenges. There are ways that made navigating the land of the rising sun a bit easier. This post will cover a few new things I incorporated into a recent visit to Japan that made this trip different from my last journey nearly twenty years ago.

I recommend using the Japan Rail pass. This simplified my travel expenses and the time it took to go from station to station without having to figure the cost of each leg of the trip. It is useful for traveling long distances. On my recent trip, I used the JR Pass to get from Tokyo to Nagoya, Nagoya to Kyoto, and then to get back to the Narita Airport. The pass is only for people who do not live in Japan. You receive a JR Pass form in the mail. When you arrive in Japan, you show this and your passport to get the actual pass. Instead of feeding a ticket into the machines each time to enter the train stations to catch your next train, look to the edges of the ticket areas and you will usually see a JR booth where you show your pass to the employees. The employees are helpful when you ask where your next train is. You may purchase a Japan Rail Pass (also known as a JR Pass) in advance on this website, the Japan Experience. https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/

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If you are traveling across the country, you have the option of reserving your seat. During late July, when it was extremely hot in Japan, this was unnecessary as there were plenty of seats available. If you want to view Mt. Fuji from your train, keep in mind which direction you will be traveling to plan which side of the train you would like to find a seat.

At times, I found myself wanting to go places where the JR Pass could not take me. For that, I used the subway system. I have created a short video to help guide you on how to use their automated ticket machines. If you need additional help, there is actually someone who works behind the machines who can do just that.

 

While you are on the Japan Experience site, you may want to rent and reserve a pocket Wi-Fi. I picked mine up at the Narita Airport after reserving it online. It comes with instructions in English, a charger, a carrying case, and a return envelope. The pocket Wi-Fi enabled me to use the text feature on my iPhone and also use FaceTime. Some people may opt to use a SIM card instead.

 This is what you get when you rent a pocket Wi-Fi. It comes with a carrying case, a charger, and a prepaid return envelope.

This is what you get when you rent a pocket Wi-Fi. It comes with a carrying case, a charger, and a prepaid return envelope.

 Remember to return your pocket Wi-Fi before you leave Japan. The pocket Wi-Fi comes with a prepaid return envelope. There is a postal box inside the Narita Airport.

Remember to return your pocket Wi-Fi before you leave Japan. The pocket Wi-Fi comes with a prepaid return envelope. There is a postal box inside the Narita Airport.

Reduce the weight you carry with you by avoiding carrying a lot of coins. Buy a PASMO card. With the swipe of your PASMO card, you can buy drinks from a vending machine without having to dig through your change or even having to carry it to begin with. The downside to this is that you may not end up using any remaining credit on your card. I am still trying to figure out whether I want to bother with this or just give my PASMO card to someone else who may be traveling to Japan. I charged mine with $20 worth of credit and only used about $5.00 worth on a three-day trip traveling solo. The Suica card works similarly.

The ultimate in minimalist travel in Japan is to try out one of the capsule hotels. First Cabin is a chain that provides three sizes of cabins/capsules. The smallest, least expensive one has very low ceilings and runs about 4500 yen. Although I am not tall, I wanted something I could stand up in if I wanted to. I chose the midsize one for about 5500 yen. The largest size has a bedside table and a narrow strip of carpet along the side of the mattress, just wide enough for the table. As of July 2018, those cost about 6500 yen.

Although the screen door to the cabin does not close all the way in accordance with Japanese laws, it was very safe. Two floors are reserved for women only and two for men. To enter your floor, you must carry your badge with you to swipe the doors open. (Remember to bring your card with you in the middle of the night if you have to go to the restroom. It comes on a lanyard, which makes carrying it with you easy.)

 After a long day of walking, I was excited to arrive at my capsule hotel. Simply comfortable.

After a long day of walking, I was excited to arrive at my capsule hotel. Simply comfortable.

 This was in my capsule when I arrived.

This was in my capsule when I arrived.

The capsule has a lock box that is big enough for a briefcase or purse, but not large enough for a backpack or suitcase. The key for it comes on a plastic bracelet you can wear on your wrist when you go to sleep.

 The capsule comes with a television. To listen to it, you must use earphones to help maintain a quiet environment for all guests.

The capsule comes with a television. To listen to it, you must use earphones to help maintain a quiet environment for all guests.

The amenities included air conditioning, TV with earphones (you have to ask for the earphones at the front desk), vending machines that serve a wide variety of beverages, hot food, a breakfast lounge, and free Wi-Fi. There are restrooms on each floor and a spa/public bath for women on a separate floor. (There is likely a public bath for men, too.) Again, remember to bring your key card to operate the elevator to get to your floor or to the spa.

 In order to maintain a quiet environment, the hotel has equipped each capsule with an earphone jack to listen to the television without disturbing others.

In order to maintain a quiet environment, the hotel has equipped each capsule with an earphone jack to listen to the television without disturbing others.

 I wonder what formal frozen food looks like.

I wonder what formal frozen food looks like.

 There was a variety of drinks in this vending machine.

There was a variety of drinks in this vending machine.

 This vending machine sells beer.

This vending machine sells beer.

 The cabin was very quiet. The only sounds you might hear are those of neighbors pulling down their screens at night or opening them in the morning.

The cabin was very quiet. The only sounds you might hear are those of neighbors pulling down their screens at night or opening them in the morning.

Although it's possible to navigate the train system with a wheeled suitcase, it is simply much easier to carry a backpack as there are lots of stairs in the train stations. On this overseas trip, I first went to Guam for ten days. I emptied half of the contents of my backpack by sending it home via the U.S. Postal Service and did some laundry before heading to Japan. This enabled me to travel light and purchase a few new items to take home with me. In the summer time in Japan, be sure to stay hydrated (especially while doing cardio workouts with a backpack) and bring your Pasmo card with you!

Asian Fest

It was a beautiful, lively, day at the Indiana State Museum yesterday. There were three ethnic festivals happening simultaneously. We at Midwest Language Services, LLC enjoyed talking with many visitors and were mesmerized by the buzz of activity and of the costumes and giant dragon that we saw in the building.

Thank you, Jane Gehlhausen, for inviting us to be a part of this event. It was very well organized and a great success. We enjoyed meeting everyone and learned so much!

Here are some snippets of the day's events!

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Follow-up to Learning Phrasal Verbs with Student-created Illustrations

A week has passed. Everyone remembered the meaning of each phrasal verb that they drew pictures for the previous week. In the follow-up lesson, students were grouped into pairs. Each student had to create a sentence using the phrasal verb together. Their partner had to rephrase the sentence that their partner had spoken and they had to separate the phrasal verbs with the object.

The class moved on to other topics, but I think that the lesson with phrasal verbs was a successful one and will be repeated as homework for future groups of phrasal verbs by having students first illustrate the meaning and then creating sentences two different ways, assuming that they are studying separable phrasal verbs. I would recommend introducing no more than about eight phrasal verbs per week, but it may depend on the level of your students.

ESL Class at the International Marketplace Welcome Center - Introduction to Basic English

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Register for one of our newest English classes. It will meet at the International Welcome Center at 3685 Commercial Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46222. Visit our Eventbrite link to register.

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en el International Marketplace

Precio: $149
Martes y miércoles de 15:30 a 17:00 hrs
26 de junio - 1 de agosto de 2018
info@midwestlanguageservices.com
(317) 296-7997

ESL Introduction to Basic English (Beginner-A1):
Students will learn the basics of English. This will include simple grammar and build vocabulary to describe daily life. They will learn to speak in the present tense, form questions and talk about daily routines.
Some topics to be covered are:

  • Introductions and Greetings
  • Numbers and Time
  • Family and Occupations
  • Around the City
  • Daily Routines
  • Adjectives (descriptive words)

Cost $149
Tuesday and Wednesday 3:30-5:00 PM June 26-August 1, 2018
The class will meet at the International Marketplace:
3685 Commercial Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46222
The class will meet two days every week for six weeks. Each lesson will be 90 minutes.
Please send an e-mail to info@midwestlanguageservices.com call (317) 296-7997 if you have questions.

 

Introduction to Spanish

Introduction to Spanish

Spanish Intro to the Basics - Beginner Level

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Classes Begin June 26

Students will learn the basics of Spanish including grammar, vocabulary, and navigating daily life.

Each class will meet two times per week for 1 hour and 30 minutes. The total course is 18 hours.

Introductions and Greetings

Numbers and Time

Family and Occupations

Around the City

Daily Routines

Adjectives (descriptive words)

Location: 3685 Commercial Dr, Indianapolis, IN 46222

Cost: $149

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Please fill out this survey.

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