We hope you've got a good pair of walking shoes and painkillers because Japan is a journey like no other.  If walking is not for you, then please enjoy the rest of this report!  haha  For the interested travel enthusiast, you can fly Japan Air Lines, ANA, United, or American Airlines on big jumbo jets with prices that range from $500 (spring and fall) to $1300 (summer) depending on the travel season.  Prices can change for the better if you buy tickets at group rate (example: $1300 for a single, yet $850 for each individual if you buy for group).  Like all foreign nations, you MUST have a U.S. or equivalent foreign passport to gain entry into Japan or you will be sent back.  Passports can be made at many post offices with a passport photo service available and cost around $75, good for 11 years.  For spending money, we suggest going in with US cash and exchanging into Japan yen at the airport.  You also have the option of using the international ATM at the airport, but it may be hard to find or just not working (doh!).  Most ATMs are Japanese bank cards only (double doh!).  Once inside Japan, from Narita airport to Toyko you have the option of taking transit by rail, taxi, or bus, all of which have very different rates.  We suggest the cheapest and surest ways: rail lines from 1200 yen for small company rail lines to 3000 yen for express rail line.  Going by taxi/shuttle or charter bus may cost more.  Inside Tokyo, the most popular excursions between Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Akihabara cost about 120 yen to 140 yen each way and you can purchase a rail card or little paper magnetic strips as you would when traveling on the subways or light rails in America.  Don't forget the money exchange rate to watch your spending: $1 US = 112 Yen as of 8/12/2005, so try to plan your trips in advance accordingly as costs for food and shopping can skyrocket.  Rental celphones (Docomo) and phone cards are also available at many train stations for those parties who want to split up and stay in touch.  Hotel rates will vary but we'll try to give you the best rates here: capsule hotels (literally one bed and nothing else) = 2500 yen/night, small traditional hotel (single or double and shared restroom) = 5000-7000 yen/night, small or medium westernized business hotel (single or double with your own restroom) = 8000-14000 yen/night, large luxury hotel (single or double and generally located in the heart of popular cities) = 16000-25000 yen/night.  Many hotels take VISA or Mastercard (they may vary), and they will charge the total on the first night instead of upon checkout like they do in America.  For this trip, we stayed at the Shibuya City Hotel (3 person, western-style, own restroom, clean and located 3 blocks away from the Shibuya train station behind the 109 Shibuya block) and costed 14000 yen/night.  Rates will vary, but we highly recommend this excellent hotel for future US travelers because it was located right across the street from a handy post office and international ATM (yep, they take American ATM cards, yay!).  Now that's what we call great vacation planning!

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