Tours en l'air organizes ballet-themed escorted holidays to see the best companies perform great ballets in beautiful places. You can join a trip from anywhere. A highly knowledgeable balletomane who has enjoyed 100s of performances in over 20 cities around the world,I speak English, French, and German, and am a Travel Industry Council of Ontario certified Travel Counsellor. I also teach ballet appreciation courses.
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Tours en l'air Ballet Holidays are offered in partnership with CWT Victor Travel, 101 - 8800 Dufferin Street, Concord, ON L4K 0C5, 416-736-6010, TICO # 1892647


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Friday, July 13, 2012

Travel tips for ballet lovers: Japan

If you're going to a performance at the New National Theatre (home of the National Ballet of Japan), a great place to stay that won't break your budget is the Hotel Rose Garden in Shinjuku, about 25 minutes walk from the theatre, only 8 minutes walk from the Shinjuku train station from which you can go almost anywhere, and right beside the Nishi-Shinjuku subway station. I recently stayed there for 4 nights for just over $400 Cdn (it would have been less if I had chosen a room with a single bed instead of a double bed). Internet access is free but bring your own cable. A generous buffet breakfast was only 1000 yen (approx $13 Cdn) extra. There is a very modestly priced Italian restaurant on the second floor, or if you're really minding your budget, you can buy a meal for under 500 yen at the Family Mart convenience store next door.

Another perfectly adequate affordable hotel which is even closer to the New National Theatre is Sun Members Shinjuku. You may want to book this over a hotel booking site as the hotel's own website reservation page is in Japanese only. It is across the street from the Washington Shinjuku hotel, where the airport bus from Narita has a dropoff and pickup point. The breakfast here is more expensive and not that appetizing, so you can save money by buying food at a bakery or convenience store. All Japanese hotels provide kettles to boil water for tea or coffee. Sun Members also has a good and reasonable Italian restaurant, and there's a great noodle shop just across the street.

The New National Theatre also has an Italian restaurant of its own which offers tasty and good value three-course prix fixe meals. Surprisingly though, their menu is in Japanese only, but they may be able to provide an obliging waitress who can translate for you.

If your Tokyo ballet performance is at the Bunka Kaikan in Ueno park, a convenient place to stay is Asakusa, just a few stops along the Ginza subway line. It is also a convenient place to stop if you are coming in from Narita Airport on the N'ex airport express train (you have to change to a local train at Ushida). Asakusa has a great, if touristy, market. I stayed at the Toyoko Inn, a chain that has many hotels throughout Japan with very affordable prices (starting at 5980 yen, or about $80 Cdn a night) for nice rooms, and a free Japanese breakfast (miso soup and cold rice) included. There is also a Toyoko Inn near the theatre in Yokohama.

If you love ballet, please check out my season of outstanding ballet trips in 2012-13 by clicking here.


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