How to spend the Golden Week in Japan
April 18, 2017 6:11 AM   Subscribe

I'm currently studying in Japan, and my husband has to go on a business trip for the whole Golden Week (series of national holidays in late April/early May.) I don't want to spend the whole week alone at home, but I don't have a lot of money to travel around. What can I do?

I was thinking of volunteering someone for a week, but my university volunteer center and Google don't really helped me so far. (Or maybe my Googling skills are rusty...)
I have a friend in Aomori I could visit, and friends in Gifu, but I've been to both places before and they're not interesting enough to justify spending train fares again. (I cannot sleep on the night bus and don't want the lack of sleep make me feel less rested after Golden Week.)

My in-laws offered me to stay with them if I got lonely with no classes and no husband, but I'd prefer to go somewhere and do something other than brood over my research. I need a refresher.

Is there anything I can do in Japan that would take me anywhere with people and cost under 50.000 Yen in total?
I'm not opposed to travelling solo as well, I just hate the thought of wasting the week away at home and would prefer to do something useful or learn something new.

Thanks in advance!
posted by LoonyLovegood to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not sure about your location, but check out low-cost carriers like Peach, Jetstar or Vanilla. It's possible to get reasonably-priced tickets during Golden "Week" if you choose not to travel on the peak-mega-rush days. You'll have to be flexible though. Another alternative to the night buses would be taking a plain old local train or one of the surprisingly affordable limited expresses.

As for where the people are, I'd recommend picking a few different places and checking what the local festivals are during GW. Hiroshima has a flower festival for example. Of course, these things are usually free and there are often a whole bunch of activities on offer there, as well as displays, performances and cultural goodies.

The accommodation part might be tough, depending on where you go. I've had some luck with reserving hostels a few weeks before GW, but again, depends on the location. Feel free to memail me for more specific advice!
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 8:37 AM on April 18, 2017

Would you consider spending a week working on a Japanese farm in exchange for room and board? Here's a positive review of WWOOF Japan and here's a negative review (with a few suggestions on how to hopefully avoid a similar negative experience). I haven't done it myself, but it's on my list of things to try.
posted by mattamatic at 10:37 AM on April 18, 2017

Where are you located?
posted by My Dad at 1:29 PM on April 18, 2017

I am totally considering physical labour as a change from grad school, but I have a few ailments that mean I am not 100% physically strong all the time.
My location is Tokyo, by the way, and my Japanese is fluent.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 7:21 PM on April 18, 2017

You could try to volunteer at Second Harvest Japan or an org like Animal Refuge Kansas. Ask ?s or look at previous posts on the Foreign Volunteers Japan FB page?
Nerd Nite Tokyo looks interesting. Maybe try going to the April 21 event and see if they've got something going on during GW?
posted by sacchan at 8:36 PM on April 18, 2017

If you're interested in volunteering with Ark, let me know. I know one of the board members.

You could also see if One Life Japan has any tours scheduled for Golden Week. They do cycle tours and farmstays all over Japan, and generally are based in northern Nagano.

If you have a foreign passport you may be eligible for a JR Pass. AFAIK you can now buy the JR Pass from within Japan. I can't remember if spousal visa holders (I'm assuming you have a spousal visa, or are a permanent resident) can buy them or not.

The fare for the round trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa on the "new" Hokuriku shinkansen is well within your budget. Kanazawa is a very beautiful (wasn't flattened during the war) and walkable castle town with plenty to see, do and eat (you will not get better seafood anywhere in Japan).

It might be tough to get accommodation in the downtown core (Korinbo and Katamachi), although you could always see if there is something in a suburb such as Uchinada, Nonoichi or Matto. All of them have tram lines that go into the city.
posted by My Dad at 8:44 AM on April 19, 2017

I'm a student visa holder (and vegetarian, so no sea food for me)! The JR website says that only temporary visitors can buy the Rail Pass.

Cycling is outside my physical capabilities, but I'd be interested to learn more about Ark.
posted by LoonyLovegood at 4:46 PM on April 19, 2017

MeFi Meetup?
Yakitori, but I bet you can get some veggie items.

Volunteering during GW will likely be tough because GW. Everything is shutdown.
posted by Gotanda at 6:09 AM on April 24, 2017

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