Peter Graumann and Penni Gladstone's article on Japan Jan. 11, recommending travel throughout the country by train to stay at minshuku, made me exhausted just reading about it. Having spent over two weeks in Japan several months ago, where we sampled a variety of accommodations throughout the country, I think this article minimized the difficulties and sacrifices one would have to make to travel as cheaply as the authors did.
Although it's true that the families who run the minshuku are very friendly, it's also true that the rooms tend to be plain to the point of dreariness, not at all "delightful" in our experience, based on several highly recommended minshuku we stayed in. Also, while minshuku tend to be in residential areas, which seems very charming, this also means they are often a mile or more from the train station. Tourists arriving by train have to carry their luggage or rent a taxi, and are then often a distance from the entertainment areas.
We were glad we rented a car throughout our trip, which is admittedly more expensive, but saved us from dragging our luggage around. Traveling the way the article recommends reminds me of my student days. For those who want more comfort, be forewarned.
JUDITH J. SZARKA