Planning – 2013 冬の北陸旅行記

Planning for 2013 冬の北陸旅行記 (Winter in West-Central Japan) commenced way earlier than expected, a little more than 7 months ahead. It may even appear to be needlessly excessive (as it did initially, to me) considering these aren’t even very popular tourist destinations in Japan like Tokyo or Hokkaido. But putting things in perspective, we are after all trying to confirm board at Shirakawa-go (白川郷) (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) during 1 of the 7 precious winter nights in a year when the whole village will be lit up.

It all started one sleepless night in mid-Jun when I was online reading up for the trip and realising that the announcement for 2013 Shirakawa-go Light Up was a little later than usual this year (it was announced in early Jun 2011 for 2012’s). Logical inference told me that the announcement would probably be made the coming weekend, and following that would be a worldwide frenzy for board in the small mountainous village during those nights. I needed little incentive to prompt me into action – I immediately put down reservations with one of the Minshukus (民宿) I wanted us to put up at. That was on a Friday night.

I was right. The Light Up dates were indeed announced that weekend. Come Monday morning, I received an email reply informing me that the Minshuku I wanted was fully booked for the days I indicated. I was shell-shocked, to say the least, when I discovered I had started planning too late! That left me little room for manoeuvre because the mister is at a job where taking leave from work anytime he likes is a luxury he does not enjoy. He suggested that we postponed this trip till 2014, and even joked that perhaps we should make our booking for 2014 now.

If there’s anything good about me, it’s my stubborn streak. I call it by a much nicer name – tenacity. There is no way I am giving up; not without a fight. I emailed Shirakawa-go Tourist Association (白川郷観光協会) in my halting Japanese instead, indicating my preferred Minshukus. None of them were available, but the staff at the Tourist Association did finally manage to find us board for a night. I couldn’t be more grateful.

Since the wheels have been set in motion, I decided to confirm try confirming the accommodation for the 5 cities/villages we would be putting up at.

DESTINATION DAYS/NIGHTS ACCOMMODATION (¥) 
Nagoya 名古屋 2D/1N 13,000¥/night
Hida Takayama 飛騨高山 3D/2N 17,600¥/night*
Shirakawa-go 白川郷 2D/1N 17,600¥/night*
Gokayama 五箇山 3D/2N 16,800¥/night*
Kanazawa 金沢市 3D/2N 7,000¥/night
Nagoya 名古屋 3D/2N 15,000¥/night
Total 143,400¥

* half-board (breakfast and dinner provided)

Our accommodation budget is on the high side because travelling in winter means that we have to contribute to the heating expenses. Furthermore, 3 of the 5 provide half-board accommodation. Expensive they may be, but it is a deliberate decision to look for half-board in some of the places we are visiting because being more remote/less popular, I’m actually not sure how easy it is to settle meals on our own.

DESCRIPTION BUDGET (S$) FOR 2 PAX
Air Tickets S$1,600
Accommodation S$2,300
Transport S$600
Other Expenses S$1,500
Total S$6,000

For a 11 day/10 night trip to Japan, this is a reasonable all-inclusive budget for a travel-in-semi-style trip. However, we are notorious for not keeping to our budget, frequently going overboard with buying souvenirs (お土産). Let’s see how well we could keep to the budget this time.

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