So often in comments left on my deviations I get comments stating, whining, dreaming, whatever you want to call it about actually visiting Japan. As in the commenter would like to also visit the places I have photographed. Whenever I receive one of these comments, I usually ask why don't they just up and go? Only very rarely do I receive a reply is absolutely a legitimate reason why they cannot just visit Japan. And NO, having no Money is NOT one of those reasons....
I've decided to resurrect my 'The Real Japan' title for news posts I used to submit here to try and shed some light on how to travel on the bone cheap.
I've visited Japan on three separate occasions now, soon to be a forth in April this year, for a combined total of 2 years, 5 months. And I've had to pay, without any help from sources inside Japan for a grand total of 2 days. I'm going to try and outline methods by which you also can visit Japan, and many other countries these opportunities exist for. Unfortunately with the vast majority of the population of DA being North American, my information may be a little off, but I'm sure this will help you in any travelling endeavour you may wish to embark on.Live and work in Japan.
This is what I did for the most part, I worked for a company named 'interac' [link]
who happen to be a English teacher distribution company who recruit western people from all over the globe to teach English in Elementary through to University lessons. I was recruited in my home country via interview, and I ended up travelling right around the Japanese country side on company funding to teach in all sorts of wonderful locations. There are dozens of companies to choose from if this idea interests you, some better than others, and I'm sure Interac wouldn't be the first choice to recommend for many people out there due to some dubious work place policies, but I personally had no problem with them, and I really enjoyed my time with them. Other companies include James English school [link]
, Berlitz Japan [link]
, Gaba [link]
infact these companies are always advertising on [link]
They are always recruiting and all you need for some of them is schooling in English, and for others a bachelor degree in any discipline. You do not need to know Japanese, in fact it's often frowned upon.
From my experience teaching English in Elementary schools over there, I have now moved back to Australia, and did a masters in Teaching second languages, and teach Japanese now in Australian schools. So it's certainly a positive experience from my perspective, gets you to Japan, and you get paid to do it. Only cons are that you are away from your home country for expended periods, and the pay isn't overly amazing, but it's pretty good for an individual.
Plenty of IT jobs going too.Go on exchange
If you're still in school, look into your school's exchange program, and if they don't have one hound them to implement one, or go through an organisation like the Lions Club International [link]
who sponsor young bright students on international exchanges like this. You will stay with a Japanese family if you choose to goto Japan, and your family back home will host a Japanese student. You will take their place in their life and live like a Japanese student. Often there is an upfront cost to this however, but the great thing about this option is that many people around you are often willing to support you. You can hold fund raisers with your school, your sporting team, ask local businesses to support your bold adventure, and blog about it making sure you mention their business. Whatever! You'll be surprised how many people would be willing to throw money at you for this sort of thing.
Occasionally your workplace may even offer something similar to gain valuable international insight on business practises overseas. Ask your boss if such an opportunity exists, and if it doesn't state very sternly the benefits you can see arising from just such a program. Don't forget to nominate yourself as a guinea pig Gain a government grant
Being on a site like DA, you don't have to go far to find artists worthy of earning themselves grants for their work. The Australian government offer such grants and funding for a variety of reasons, mainly through State-based initiatives designed to broaden horizons and experiences of local Australian Artists. You can find more info here: [link]
or here if you're from SA [link]
There are grants ranging from a few hundred dollars to develop a small project you're working on that may involve travel, to full blown artist-in-residence positions overseas. A quick google for equivalent United States initiatives yielded quite a few similar opportunities, so look into it. Just remember no one is going to give you tonnes of money for doing nothing, you do have to work for it a bit.Professional development
My trip coming up in April this year will be a tax write off due to my professional position as an educator in the field of Japanese language. It will be considered professional development, and it's something you should ask your tax man about if you can think of any reason why visiting Japan may be beneficial for your professional position. Other than that though, often unions, or professional societies give fellowships in the form of overseas training. I spent a month in Japan due to one such fellowship, where all I had to do was write a 2 page essay stating how it would benefit my personal development. These things are also offered to students in the field, so just apply and see how you go, they have to be awarded to someone, so why not you?If you're just going on holiday, don't think it's overly expensive
Japan isn't an expensive place to visit. I'm an acting tour guide for a few friends when I return to Japan in April, and for a 20 day visit, we've budgeted AU$3500 per person including airfares. Would be cheaper than that if we didn't decide to splurge on expensive accommodation every now and again, but who can say no to ryokans?
Backpacker hotels are more than I expected the first time I stayed in one, and I was really impressed, and now I've stayed in dozens around the country, haven't had a bad experience yet. Food is cheap if you eat like a local, ie not eating steak all the time and getting around is easy as most places are bilingual on the signs and information personnel.
"The only thing you can buy that will make you richer is travel"The main thing you need is determination
The strength of your resolve to just commit to anything, not just travelling to another country will inevitably be the only thing standing in your way. The main reason I see that people cannot travel that I agree with is if they are married and have family commitments beyond themselves. So if you have no kids, or other such burdens, I'd do it as much as I can until I do, and I have, and I love it.
As always at the end of 'The Real Japan, a selection of top photography of Japan I've discovered on my travels around DA.