The other night we went to a press conference/party at the Japan Consulate hosted by Ambassador Motoatsu Sakurai. Japan wants to double its international tourism by 2010, and we think it just might succeed, thanks to its new "Affordable Japan" initiative. Finally, it seems there's an organized effort to make a notoriously expensive destination more accessible to all. The Japan National Tourism Office has pulled together all kinds of budget-travel info on its vastly improved website: helpful sample itineraries, Japan Rail Pass details, a grab bag of air-hotel packages under $1,000 per person, and accommodations listings that actually include less expensive ryokans (traditional country inns) and guest houses.
The website even includes insider hints from English-speaking expats on how to save money while visiting the Land of the Rising Sun. Who knew that Japan's beer gardens have some of the country's best-priced all-you-can-eat and -drink specials? The real stunner is its "Japan for Free" .pdf pamphlet, which lists attractions around from Tokyo to Osaka that don't cost anything. For more info: JapanTravelInfo.com