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A Severe Drop in the Value of the Japanese Currency Has Made That Country a Highly Desirable Low-Cost Destination for American Travelers

     Several weeks ago, when the value of the Japanese Yen plummeted to a rate of 100 to the U.S. dollar, people in the travel industry awoke to the emergence of a new destination for cost-conscious Americans.  Most of us had last visited Japan when we received far less than 90 Yen to the dollar, and the experience was a searing one:  Japan was a costly place to visit.  At a higher100 to the dollar, it became moderately-priced, on a level with most European nations.
     Then, more recently, when the Yen fell further to 110 to the dollar, travel professionals became giddy.  And many of them began planning major tour programs there, especially when some financial experts predicted that the rate would eventually reach a level of 125 Yen to the dollar.
     Well, would you believe that the Yen is now priced at 118 to the dollar (and sitill, apparently, growing weaker)?  When you combine that exchange with a general, decade-long deflation that has independently lowered the price of Japanese hotels, restaurants and theaters even further, and when a rate of 125 to the dollar no longer seems impossible, Japan becomes a low-cost "must-see" for all avid American travelers.
     Airfares, when bought from such companies as Kintetsu, Momondo, Kayak and others, will generally get you round-trip from Los Angeles to Tokyo for about $1,000 in most months. Round-trip rail fare from Tokyo to popular Kyoto on a modern "bullet train" ("shinkansen") bringing you there in two hours and twenty minutes, will add about $160.  And similar prices will bring you to the next most popular Japanese location among Americans, which amazingly enough is Hiroshima.
     While the atom-shattered-Hiroshima is perhaps an odd choice for many, Tokyo and Kyoto almost always satisfy.  The giant city of Tokyo is a center of remarkable playhouses, and most visitors will want to visit the Kabuki National Theater (where earphones with English translations are lent to tourists) and the Takarazuka All-Women's Theater, where giant musical productions are performed by an all women's cast (the exact opposite of the Kabuki's all-male presentations).   Playgoing is preceded by equally remarkable meals in superb Japanese restaurants, many of which are found on the second levels of buildings.  The predominant Japanese diet of fish and rice is sometimes given credit for the remarkable  longevity of the Japanese populations (84.5 years is the averge survival rate, highest in the world), although Japan's universal health care programs are cited for that phenomenon to almost the same extent. 
     Subways in Tokyo contain bi-lingual signs, making them easy to negotiate.  Subways service the awesome parks and gardens scattered through the city (one of the largest on earth) and also bring you to famous shopping areas where department store attendants at entrance and elevator doors bow to you respectfully when you approach to shop.  Residents are invariably polite to visitors, and those few who speak English go out of their way to help you.  When my wife and I were once directed to the wrong train by a Japanese businessman of whom we had asked instructions, and we were waiting for its departure, he came sprinting back a half hour later, all drenched in perspiration from the run from several blocks away, to apologize and re-direct us. 
     As for Kyoto, who could resist a city where geisha girls in white pancake make-up and exotic, colorful dress, are often found walking along the public sidewalks on their way to a party?  And where ancient buildings and Shinto gardens transport you to another age?  Kyoto is the well-preserved, former imperial capital of Japan, a place of temples and shrines by the many hundreds, and utterly enchanting.   
     You haven't known the world until you have traveled in Japan.  And now you can do so for an amazingly small cost.