I'm on the calendar. My work has just approved my vacation. I'll be going to Japan for 3 weeks, leaving the day after Christmas. I can start buying plane tickets, and renting rooms, but should I?
As for the flights. I've done a lot of shopping around. The cheapest I'm finding tickets is $1,025 round trip. I see cheaper flights in the next couple of months. It makes me think I can get a better deal if I wait until it gets closer. It all comes down to how much I want to gamble on it.
As for the rental place. My cousin will be staying west of the city; about an hour by train from Tokyo station. My cheap option is Funabashi, which is about a half hour east of Tokyo station. I might want to split the difference, and stay around Shikoku, which is about 20 minutes west of Tokyo station, and 45 minutes from my cousin. That's actually in Tokyo, and more of a touristy area. It would be twice as much, but it's still quite reasonable.
As for learning some basic Japanese. It continues to be slow going. I need to sell that book. It's not that great, and I'm preferring the apps and online resources. Specifically, there is a youtube channel called Japanese Ammo. I've been watching it, and taking notes with my fancy new tablet and stylus.
Another resource I've seen recommended is called Anki. It uses some newer memory science to challenge you at the right time. It turns out bombarding you with stuff to memorize is inefficient and sometimes counter productive. Your brain doesn't "need" to remember something it sees everyday. It seems good so far. I'll stick with it, and report back.
I do need to get back into Rosetta Stone. I did buy it, and it's clearly good. I had not been using it as intended. I was taking notes, and studying those notes. It's meant to just quickly practice, and worm its way into your head. Language is the kind of thing you can use intuitively without carefully dissecting it. I think multiple approaches are worth trying.