Traveling to Japan for the main purpose of attending Hello! Project events is actually quite different than regular tourists planning sightseeing trips. When you go sightseeing, the tourist attractions will always be stationary, waiting for you to come. Attending events and concerts is the completely opposite. The venues will remain stationary, but you’re not there to see the venue, you’re there to see the idols AT the venue. But before we get into details on traveling within Japan, let’s find out what it takes to get to Japan first.

Brainstorming, setting a goal

Despite of my hatred of the phrase “I hope I can go to Japan one day”, you really have to first set your mind to thinking about what you want to accomplish for your trip. Thinking alone gets you no where, but diving into a big adventure without planning is even worst. First, think about why you do want to go to Japan for your idol. Are you trying to experience what it’s like to attend one of their concerts? Do you want to be on a fan club tour? Do you just want to meet your idols close up and personal at a handshake event? So on and so on~ Once you have a clear target set, we can proceed.

For the purpose of this guide, let’s pretend we’re a 25 year old Caucasian male named Justin, living in Austin, Texas, USA , who wants to attend Berryz Koubou Budokan concert 2013 on Friday, November 29th.

Selecting your travel dates

Based on your set target, plan your travel dates around the events you plan to attend. Remember to leave extra room for flying time between your location and Japan. Take note of time zone differences between the two countries. I always set my schedule empty for the first day I land in Japan to allow myself rest from all the flying and train riding, and it also allows me to settle into my hotel. Also, the day I fly out of Japan is always spent doing last minute shopping instead of anything idol related. Most idol events happen in the afternoon or evening time anyway, so there’s no point to rush on your last day, might as well leave the country on the day after.

In the case of Justin, he is only allowed a one week vacation from his work place and have decided to leave for Japan on Monday, November 25th and returning home Monday, December 2nd. By arriving in Japan a few days before the concert and leaving a few days after, it gives him extra time to attend other events which might be announced as the date draws closer, and leaves him with enough room for unexpected delays to his travel.

Calculating a budget

One major mistake made by many first timer is that they only think about the cost of airfare and accommodation. What about food and the cost of travel within Japan, those cost money too! Expect to spend roughly 1000yen on average per meal, as you’ll likely want to try everything you land your eyes on.. You will also be relying on public transportation a lot, namely the train system. Train travel cost from 130yen and up for local trains, all the way to 10,000yen and up for high speed train such as the Shinkansen (Bullet train). I will go in depth about traveling within Japan in another article.

Justin has been saving up his salary ever since Berryz Koubou’s Budokan concert was announced. Here’s a list of his projected expenses calculated in USD:

$1400 – Round trip flight fare between Austin, Texas and Tokyo (Narita), Japan
$300 – 6 nights accommodation at a budget business hotel in Tokyo
$180 – Cost of food at $30/day
$250 – Cost of travel within Japan
$100 – Second hand concert ticket from a ticket reseller shop
$100 – Budget for buying concert goods
$200 – Extra cash just in case

$2430 – Total

Working toward your goal

So as you can see in our example, going to Japan involves vast amount of consideration and funds. To stay in Tokyo moderately comfortable for a week cost roughly $2500. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. I understand many of us are not made of money and this seems like an impossible feat. The reality is that your dream is attainable or not depends on how much you are willing to do and what you are willing to sacrifice in your daily life. Set realistic goals of going to Japan and work toward it. Don’t say you want to go see C-ute on C-ute no hi (September 10th) when you don’t even have a job and have no idea what anything cost, then whine about it on forums one week before the concert that you wish you could go, but your mom won’t give you money and that everyone who can go are “SO LUCKY!” If you really want to go, there is always a way. Go get a job or two, put your wages away in the bank. Eat out less or stop eating out all together. Stop buying things you don’t need, such as toys. Set a realistic goal on when you want to go to Japan. As in, plan to go once you know you will be able to afford the trip, not suddenly decide you want to go next month when you know you can’t afford it. My last trip to Japan was for Reina’s graduation. I understand that as a member of Morning Musume, one day, Reina would graduate from the group and I would not miss seeing her final show for the world. When Kamei Eri graduated, I figured that it wouldn’t be long until another 6ki member were to leave. It was back then that I began to set aside money little by little in anticipation of the inevitable. When January 2013 rolled around with the announcement of Reina’s graduation date and location, I continued to put away even more money. Knowing I have until May to save up for the trip, I completely stop eating out and only focused on saving up my salary to afford everything. Doing all this allowed me to have a worry free week in Japan, accomplishing what I have set out to do.

After reading this, what are you waiting? Start planning your own Hello! Project Japan trip now!