Part 4: Japan Trip Report (August 17-19, 2014)

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This is Part 4 of my Japan Trip report. For more details, please refer to the preceding sections of the trip report:

Part 1: Japan Trip Report (August 08-10)

Part 2: Japan Trip Report (August 11-13)

Part 3: Japan Trip Report (August 14-16)

Day 10: August 17

Up to this point in the trip report, I haven’t really yet touched on how expensive everything is in Tokyo. Sadly, those rumors are true, and the cost of living in Tokyo is pretty high. I wouldn’t say Tokyo is INSANELY expensive, but everything around here is priced comparably to what you would find in the Bay Area, or New York City. If I had to venture a guess, I would actually say that I think Tokyo is slightly more affordable than the Bay Area… but I’ve heard otherwise from other people.

In any case, since I was able to save a fortune on flights and hotels (thanks to travel hacking!), I did allow myself more of a buffer to spend freely during my first week in town.

By this point, however, I can tell you that spending $$$ on the daily was starting to get a little old. In other words, my mentality was now starting to shift back from having excessive, care-free fun, to being a responsible financial independence fighter again.

Frugality is somewhat of an art form. It’s something you develop over the course of the FI journey, and it eventually becomes a part of you… Second nature, if you will. So, even when I want to turn off the brain and live life with reckless abandon, I ultimately find myself unable to break away completely from steady state — being frugal, frugal frugal…

I woke up this morning and decided that I had tried enough of the local cuisine. Amazing as it was, I knew that eating out at nice restaurants for every meal wasn’t sustainable.

My solution? Well, since my hotel room wasn’t equipped with a kitchen, I walked right on over to the local supermarket, and stocked up on some cheap, but filling food.

Here’s what I picked up today:

Loaf of bread: ~$2.00
Fresh pineapple: ~$1.60
2 liters of water: ~$1.00
Gyoza: ~$3.62
Rice plate with chicken and egg: ~$4.58
Milk Tea: ~$1.00

Total: ~$13.80

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Delicious and cheap super market food!

Nothing fancy going on here. But I was able to get 2 meals out of this! Yes, it’s true that it’s not customary to tip in Japan… but spending under $7.00 on a meal (with drink) is no small feat.

The little victories do add up, so I’ll take it!

I took things easy during the morning. I knew that I had plans later in the evening, so I didn’t want to venture too far away from the hotel. I exercised, attended to some e-mails, and took a lot of naps…

Finally, it was time to head out. Today, I had dinner plans in Ebisu.

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Walking through the streets of Ebisu

I walked around for awhile before finally deciding to try a tempura shop. Nope, no ramen for me tonight (for once!). Let’s try something new!

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Tempura combo with udon

Ordering is made a lot easier when you have a nice local willing to help you out. Get used to posing with the peace sign, it’s ubiquitous in photos here. 😉

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After dinner, I decided to check out Yokohama, which is about 30 minutes south of Tokyo by subway, and the capital city of Kanagawa Prefecture. I was very excited to check out Yokohama, as it’s a name you always here from afar…

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Beautiful view at night

Just like Tokyo, Yokohama is alive and bustling at night. Japan is particularly warm at this time of year, so it was great that I could walk around at any time of day and not have to be concerned with bringing a jacket along. In fact, wearing just shorts, a t-shirt and sandals is probably ideal for this type of weather.

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I stopped by this neat little restaurant on the top floor called Beer Next. Just a nice, casual place you can sit down and enjoy good food, drinks, and company. Even on a Sunday night, the place was full and alive with people.

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Cheers!

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After dinner and drinks, we stopped by this ultra-cool looking ferris wheel. You immediately notice it from afar in the previous skyline picture I took above. I love bright lights and they seem to be prevalent everywhere I go, whether in Tokyo, or Yokohama. Pretty cool!

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Day 11: August 18

Monday was a day in which I didn’t want to do ANYTHING! Maybe all the going out and staying up late was starting to catch up to me… I just really had no motivation or incentive to get out of bed on this cold and rainy day…

I think I must have slept in until 2:00 PM… Even then, I still didn’t want to get up. Isn’t life wonderful when you’re on vacation? Or in my case, giving the early FI life a test run? 😉

Actually, when it comes down to it, I’m really not embarrassed or ashamed about “wasting” a day in Tokyo. I think a common struggle a lot of people have with vacationing is that they overexert themselves by trying to pack in too many activities. That, or they try too hard to photograph every single last thing they’ve seen so that they can have “stories” to share with friends and family back home.

In my case, I wasn’t in Japan trying to re-create the typical tourist vacation. I didn’t want fast-pace… I didn’t want a schedule… I didn’t want too many plans… Most of all, I didn’t want any stress! So, today, I basically decided to throw in the towel and do NOTHING.

Early FI is all about having the freedom to come and go as you please. My first 10 days of the journey were absolutely amazing. I was having the time of my life. Today, I felt tired and wanted to slow things down.

So, I did…

Day 12: August 19

At this point, I should share with readers that my original plan on this round-the-world excursion was to check out of Tokyo today. I wanted to spend about a week in Bangkok, prior to departure for Rome.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), my plans changed and I was forced to alter my plans a bit…

You see, while I was on vacation in Tokyo, I was contacted by a recruiter letting me know that I had a formal job offer on August 13! I had interviewed at the company the day before I left San Jose. They informed me that a physical offer letter would need to be signed by me. The company also made clear that the formal letter would be finalized and sent out from their corporate headquarters on August 18…

Since I didn’t want to be stuck in limbo (or have the job offer fall apart!), I decided to stay put in Tokyo to minimize risks. I didn’t want to direct the package to an address (hotel) in Bangkok that I wasn’t even currently staying at…

Since the shipment needed another day to arrive, and I needed some time to ship it back, I decided to extend my Tokyo trip through to Friday morning, August 22.

The new itinerary bought me a few extra days in Tokyo! The bad news was my Bangkok vacation would be condensed to just 1 day! Yup, I would now fly into Bangkok on the evening of August 22, and depart for Rome the following night on August 23.

Luckily, I was traveling alone and my plans were most flexible…

Because I went ahead and extended my stay in Tokyo, I used today as an opportunity to have some more fun! That, and I wanted to celebrate the good news.

I went clubbing with a friend in Roppongi. More specifically, we went to Feria:

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Still early…

The party scene in Roppongi is supposed to be pretty ELECTRIC on Friday and Saturday nights. Since we were arriving on a Tuesday night, the scene was a lot more subdued. There were still a number of folks who showed up around midnight, but overall, it was quiet enough in the club to be able to carry on an audible conversation.

I was celebrating some good news with a friend, so it was nice to be able to actually hear her talk. 🙂

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Empty before midnight

The subway in Tokyo shuts down around midnight on the weekdays… The trains don’t resume service until around 5:00 AM. We left the club around 3:00 AM, and needed to find something to do to pass the time.

We went to one of those 24/7 udon restaurants nearby:

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This was the earliest hour I’ve ever eaten udon in my life before. It actually turned out to be pretty good!

We left the restaurant just before 5:00 AM, and I was super eager to get into bed… Nope, I’m not 21 anymore, and the days of staying up all night and going out are well behind me. But I was in the mood to celebrate some good news, so tonight was an exception. All in all, a fun night out in Roppongi!

With the extension in place, my journey in Japan continued…

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Preparing For the Future: Indulging In WanderlustNo Nonsense LandlordDoneByFortywriting2realityWill @firstqfinance Recent comment authors
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Mike
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Mike

Thanks for all the updates…makes me want to go back 🙁 Those milk tea’s are awesome! Hot or cold, they hit the spot. Convenience stores in Japan are amazing too. They have such a wide variety of delicious food. Don’t forget to try the various Kit Kat flavors (green tea’s the best).

Congrats on the job!

Will @firstqfinance
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I love snooping around local grocery stores. Living like a local, yo.

writing2reality
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Nothing exemplifies the FI lifestyle than being able to change plans on the fly. Looking forward to the rest of your updates.

DoneByForty
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Such cool photos! I love the grocery store trick: it makes travel way less expensive, and oddly, I just like shopping in foreign grocers. It makes me feel like a local…until the ask me “Paper or Plastic” and I have no idea…then I feel like an American.

No Nonsense Landlord
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The food stories are great. When are you going to get to the Geisha girls? Do they still have them?

I am really not sure what they do, but the rumors are great.

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