If you’re going to Japan and plan on seeing the country, get a JR (Japan Rail) Tourist Shinkansen (Bullet train) pass BEFORE you go. You have to apply for this from your home country…can’t do it once you’ve reached Japan. This pass is an unbelievable deal, as it allows you to ride the bullet train as much as you want for periods of one or two weeks. Without exaggeration, this pass could save you thousands of dollars.
I’d also second spending the entire time seeing Japan, but if you’re eager for something different you might try Okinawa. Yes, Okinawa is “technically” Japan, but it has a distinct culture. The flight there from Tokyo might set you back 300-500 dollars, depending on the season, but once you’re in Okinawa the prices of everything are about 35% cheaper than mainland Japan.
Some selling points of Okinawa:
-If you don’t look like army the people are incredibly friendly
-The food is great
-I’ve traveled the world and the Okinawan beaches rival the best that Australia, New Caledonia or Tahiti have to offer. Jaw-droppingly gorgeous
-If you want nightlife Naha has some great clubs, but its easy to escape into a more rural setting.
Otherwise, you could try South-east Asia. In a country like Vietnam or Laos 3000-4000 dollars will go a long, LONG way. I’ve been to both and they’re incredible.
As far as the language goes, get started now. If you’re in a serious dojo the instructor isn’t going to make an effort to communicate with you in English. I recommend the Pimsleur series. There are three levels, each one with 30, 30 minute lessons. You do one a day, ie: it takes 3 months of finish the series. Get through these and you’ll be communicative by the time you get here.
I will be training at the Kodokan in Tokyo (beginner international students). I was thinking of learning the language when I am there as I will be immersed in it (would definitely be good to know some before hand though, maybe I should do a short introductory course here first).
Seen as its a two month holiday, I don’t mind training for 4-6 weeks, I would just like to spend a week or two at the end of the holiday relaxing, so somewhere warm with a beach, where everyone is having fun. Would Okinawa be warm in October?