Agencies Help Fight High Cost Of Japan Tours

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Agencies Help Fight High Cost Of Japan Tours

Japan's notoriously high prices usually put that country off-limits for budget travelers.

But a new online club may make such a trip a little more affordable. Jakostay, which helps arrange home stays, can reduce some of the economic burden of traveling in Japan, and the Japan Tour Center, a travel agency specializing in tour programs to Japan also offers inexpensive tour packages.

Jakostay, created jointly by Korean and Japanese information technology companies, the Win Information Network and Tocom, opened last month. The Web site offers information on home stays in Japan and Korea and its members can find suitable accommodation with families.

To get information, first join up. Select the area in Japan which you want to visit and fill in an application for a home stay. You will be then linked to members in the area of your choice offering a place to stay.

The application form provides detailed accommodation information, such as the hosts' reasons for offering home stay, the cost, the available household utensils and whether beds are provided, to help members find a good match. Members can then exchange additional information via e-mail to make sure their requirements are satisfied. Jakostay also provides a free translation service.

The site offers a special exemption from its annual fee of 50,000 won ($40) until March 15. At present the Web site is only available in Korean and Japanese, but an English service will be available later in the year.

During March, Japan Tour Center is promoting inexpensive ferry tours to Japan. A six-day, five-night round trip between Pusan and Shimonoseki, including a night's stay at a hotel in Kyoto and breakfast at the hotel, costs 299,000 won. An eight-day, seven-night ferry trip that includes trips to Tokyo and Yokohama among other stops, four nights' sleeping on a train, and again, a night's stay and breakfast in Kyoto, costs 349,000 won.

The tour agency provides detailed information such as tour routes, expenses, schedules, guide maps and more on its Web site at (Korean service only). Those who do not speak Korean can call the agency at 02-774-4114 for further information.

by Kim Sae-joon

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