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  #1  
Old 05-03-2012, 03:55 PM
tzimmerman tzimmerman is offline
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Japanese travel

Hey, I am planning on going to Japan in the fall for 2 weeks, and I'd like some travel advice from you thoughtful people. It's the trip of a lifetime and any advice will help. thanks.
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  #2  
Old 05-03-2012, 04:52 PM
cckerberos cckerberos is offline
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A few questions that might lead to better answers:

1. Are you travelling alone or on a tight budget?
2. Have you traveled elsewhere in Asia?
3. Any particular interests (nature, history, fashion, otaku-stuff)?
4. Has any of the trip been planned out already?

Generally speaking, I'd recommend that someone coming for two weeks spend about a week in Tokyo and its environs, then come out west to Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto, Nara) for the second week.
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  #3  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:46 PM
Scacarius Scacarius is offline
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I spent a week in the Tokyo area last summer, and especially enjoyed visiting the Meiji Shrine and Kamakura, site of the Great Buddha. Sampling food from street vendors can be very rewarding, too.
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  #4  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:53 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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You can skip Osaka, but spend some time in Kyoto and Nara. You can take the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo. Most people working in the hotels will speak English and you can usually find someone in the big train stations who speaks English, too. Don't expect taxi drivers to speak English, except maybe at the airport.

The weather is pretty much like the the mid-Atlantic region on the east coast in the US.

Japan is also noted for it's fall color if you can get to some forested areas.

It's best if you know locals, obviously. Learn a little Kanji and it'll make your trip easier. Plus it's fun. Also, learn katakana-- that's the syllabary used when spelling out foreign words-- there are lots of those, and they're mainly English.

Have some business cards to hand out. That's part of the normal greeting process when you meet someone.
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  #5  
Old 05-03-2012, 09:13 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Advice is best suited to IMHO.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
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  #6  
Old 05-03-2012, 09:25 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Please ask more specific questions.

My most general advice would be: try to allow some time to get away from the big cities. There's more to Japan than Tokyo and Kyoto.

I know it's a minority view, but I find Kyoto an exhausting, crowded and generally unpleasant place to be. It has some fabulous, world-class sites that are worth seeing, but they are studded around a big noisy ugly modern city. Nara is smaller, greener, and more manageable, and also has some wonderful things to see.

Really, the big cities are hectic and exciting and full of noise and bustle, and that's the Japan that lots of people want to experience. It's not all like that though.
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  #7  
Old 05-03-2012, 09:42 PM
zoid zoid is offline
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I agree with Jihn Mace - Kyoto is not to be missed if you can fit it into your plans.
Do you have an idea of what where you'll be going or are we starting from scratch here?

Couple random Ideas...

Tokyo
Disneyland: skip it, you can do that here (obvoius, I know).
Edo Castle is one thing you really need to see.
Ginza is cool to take a walk around at night but after a while it gets boring.
Some people will say you have to go to Tokyo Tower - again I'd skip it, it's cool for like 10 minutes and then you'll want to leave.
Try to hit a club, the nightclubs are a trip!

Kyoto
Kiyomizu-dera is spectacular. If you only visit one temple in Kyoto make it this one.
The Kyoto Handicraft Center will honestly blow your mind.
Go to Sanjūsangen-dō and make sure to see ther 1001 Buddhas (note: picture taking inside the hall is STRICTLY forbidden by guests, they'll get very upset if you try, some guy tried it last time we were there).
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  #8  
Old 05-04-2012, 01:14 AM
jovan jovan is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid View Post
I agree with Jihn Mace - Kyoto is not to be missed if you can fit it into your plans.
Nara also. It's not nearly as well known as Kyoto, but it's absolutely not to be missed. If the schedule is very tight, I might even recommend skipping Kyoto, and doing only Nara. The sights are mostly concentrated in and around Nara park, within walking distance of each other. In Kyoto, you'll spend much more time in transit, especially if you try to see the most famous spots.
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Old 05-04-2012, 01:16 AM
jovan jovan is offline
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Originally Posted by zoid View Post
Tokyo Tower - again I'd skip it, it's cool for like 10 minutes and then you'll want to leave.
Sorry, missed this. Tokyo tower is sooo last century. Tokyo Sky Tree's the thing now.
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  #10  
Old 05-04-2012, 05:07 AM
glenarma glenarma is offline
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If you intend to travel around the country (say Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima etc.) then invest in a Japan Rail Pass - they're cheap compared to buying singles, and can be used on any train (including the bullet trains): www.japanrailpass.net
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  #11  
Old 05-04-2012, 08:38 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jovan View Post
Nara also. It's not nearly as well known as Kyoto, but it's absolutely not to be missed. If the schedule is very tight, I might even recommend skipping Kyoto, and doing only Nara. The sights are mostly concentrated in and around Nara park, within walking distance of each other. In Kyoto, you'll spend much more time in transit, especially if you try to see the most famous spots.
Agreed. Nara first, then Kyoto if time permits. Also, agree that you shoudl try and get out of the cities for a bit. Stay in a ryokan-- Japanese style inn.

Don't be surprised if hotel rooms are tiny. I mean, like no closet, just a few hooks for clothes. You might be able to touch opposing walls at the same time.
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  #12  
Old 05-05-2012, 02:05 AM
Autolycus Autolycus is offline
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When in the fall? If your definition of Fall somehow includes August, consider coming up my way to Aomori for the Nebuta Festival. Link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aomori_Nebuta_Matsuri

Other than that, you gotta do Nara.
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  #13  
Old 05-05-2012, 08:19 AM
DSeid DSeid is online now
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I'm in Japan now visiting my son. Of course the point of my trip was to see him rather than to visit but he did tour me some. I skipped Tokyo completely. Of my week I'd say that Kyoto was a can't skip. But rent bikes and ride around. Kobe meh but it is nice to know what real Kobe steaks and the the Kobe steakhouse experience really is. Osaka was our first base albeit mainly just to sleep at. How can you not like a city whose motto is "Eat yourself to ruin." though! Hiroshima Peace Park/Museum is worth seeing but tie it in with a much time as possible at Miyajima. Even with Otorii Gate under renovation it was wonderful. With my son the focus was making sure I tasted the food each city was known for, and got to the places he felt had the best. Not a bad way to organize a trip, I must say! (And of course seeing his haunts, current and past, meeting his friends ...)

And do a traditional onsen!
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  #14  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:25 AM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glenarma View Post
If you intend to travel around the country (say Tokyo to Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima etc.) then invest in a Japan Rail Pass - they're cheap compared to buying singles, and can be used on any train (including the bullet trains): www.japanrailpass.net
That is really excellent advice. Definitely buy a JR pass - not only will you save money but you'll probably visit more places - you can decide on a whim to go somewhere for the day and it won't cost you anything!
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  #15  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:49 AM
Machine Elf Machine Elf is offline
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Tokyo: check out Tsukiji fish market. Tokyo Tower was OK, but as said upthread, Tokyo Skytree sounds like the latest and greatest viewing point. Asakusa Kanon/Nakamise Dori are also pretty cool. Ginza is nice, day or night; On Saturdays, Chuo Dori (a main street) is turned into a pedestrian mall.

If you're near Kyoto/Osaka, check out Expo Park, a massive complex with a lot of different landscapes and features, including this peculiar statue.

Osaka: check out Osaka castle, Umeda Sky Building, Dotonbori, the HEP-5 ferris wheel.

Nara is pretty cool. Check out Todaiji temple, site of an enormous Buddha statue; also enjoy the large herd of completely tame deer that pretty much have the run of the town. Street vendors sell "deer biscuits" that you can feed to the deer; just make sure they don't chew on your shirt when you're not looking.

Kyoto: first thing you'll see is Kyoto Station, which is an impressively immense building. Get up to the obersvation decks and catwalks to check the whole place out. Outside of that, check out Kiyomizu and Kinkakuji at least. Shopping? Teremachi arcade. Make sure to also visit Iwatayama monkey park, where you can wander freely among a large troupe of Japanese macaques and even feed them (although for feeding, YOU are inside a fenced area and you pass food through the fence to the monkeys). Nice views of the city of Kyoto from the mountainside where this park sits. If you're looking for a nice walk, the Sagano bamboo forest walk is near here too.
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  #16  
Old 05-08-2012, 10:26 AM
amaguri amaguri is offline
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If you're an animation nerd, check out the Ghibli Museum. It's not that big, but I found it to be an absolutely magical experience.
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