"It's the trip of a lifetime!" is an understatement. You must actually see Japan for yourself. The people, the culture, the food, the technology. It really must be seen with ones own eyes to even begin to fathom your experiences.
This section of the site is here to help those who want to take the trip, all the things you'll need before you go. Okay, so first on the list: the passport.
01. A PASSPORT
Without this government-issued document, you won't be able to get through the immagration, both coming AND going. Check your local post offices, as most have passport services. Most times, prices for a passport are in the $40 and up range.
NOTE: Get this done ASAP. You will need time to have the passport sent, and even more time if there's a snag in the information you gave. Try to make your trip plans 4-5 months in advance to avoid possible dificulties.
Now, you're going to need a travel agent. And, I've got just the one. IACE Travel
02. IACE TRAVEL
There are travel agents, and then there's IACE. Your gateway to Asia. Based in Japan, and with branches all over the US, you'll be able to get your questions answered in no time flat. Right. Next up, a hotel. But not just any old hotel... Stay at the Akasaka in downtown Tokyo!
03. THE AKASAKA EXCEL HOTEL TOKYU
Now, before you say "I can't afford that!", believe me, you can. They have rooms at all different prices, and with all different ammenities, so you practically find a room to your liking. Besides, it's only a 10 minute walk to the Imperial Palace (heading North), 20 minute walk to Honda's Worldwide Headquarters (heading South), the Akasakamitsuke Train Statoin is across the street that will take you to Shinjuku, Akihabara, Harajuku, Ueno, and more! Oh, did I mention, it's a 4-Star hotel? Trust me, you'll love it. Have the fine folks over at IACE book you a room there.
Now, you're going to need to know some Japanese, so you can get around, and blend in better. You need to visit JapanesePod101.com, and/or iTunes on your Mac or PC.
This is one of the best websites I've used, and it helped SO much when I was actually there in Japan too! There are countless others, like Pimsleur, Fluenz, that will help you learn. But the JapanesePod101.com series is just amazing. Here's what the website looks like (below).
The lessons will prepare you for what you'll hear while roaming around. I was fortunate to meet it's creator, Peter Galante. (see: Blog: Day 5) Books are helpful, but actually hearing what you'll use in the street will be a bit different than what you'll read in a book sometimes.
05. RECORD/BLOG YOUR TRIP
You're going to want to show everyone what you saw when you come home, so the best thing you can do is take a camera, or a camcorder, or a phone that'll let you take photos and record video. For an example, check out the Blog section of the site. Below, are the two cameras I took with me.
Now, I'm not expecting anyone to go out and buy a DSLR, but if you have one, make sure you check to see if your camera shoots in RAW format. Your images will be much better if it does.
I used this camcorder to shoot all the footage for the film (which is being worked on). This is a tape based camcorder. I recommend either tape-based or SD Card-based, as you can remove the tapes or the cards from the camcorder. On this model, the SD Card held photos taken with the camcorder, and the video is recorded right on to MiniDV tapes.
A NOTE ON USING HARD DISK-BASED or Mini-DVD CAMCORDERS:
Please, do NOT use a HD (hard disk) or mini-DVD (2.5-inch DVDs) to record your trips. Here's why:
01. HD-based camcorders take a WHILE to empty once filled, and require a computer to empty.
02. Mini-DVDs DON'T fit into slot-loaded CD/DVD drives, and can jam the drive if inserted.