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Visiting Japan, advice

TaterskinTaterskin Registered User regular
edited September 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
I will be visiting Japan next month and am looking for advice for the trip. Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Tokyo will be the three cities I plan on visiting.

Any advice/tips on traveling between these cities? Any advice on lodging? I should have enough money to stay in hotels at these locations. Anyone who has visited (or lives) in these cities can recommend places to stay or things to see?

Taterskin on

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    GarickGarick Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Not sure what your interests are or how long you have, but you probably want to visit Miyajima while you are at Hiroshima, Nara is pretty close to Kyoto and it's quite nice. Honestly with such a general question, you can get a ton of good info with just a simple google search of "places to visit in japan."

    Garick on
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    baudattitudebaudattitude Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Every single one of your friends and co-workers will ask you, upon your return, whether you stayed in a capsule hotel, so I recommend staying in one for at least a night. Depending on your friends, they may also ask if you went to a maid cafe, so you may as well. Cafe Mai:lish in Akihabara has English menus, so while you may get some odd looks you'll at least be accommodated.

    Also, bring back lots of Y5 and Y50 coins, because they have holes in them and for some reason they're bloody fascinating.

    Get a JR pass before you go, it will save you a bunch on trains. Don't get the "reserved seating" JR pass because, while it lets you sit in the nicer cars on the Shinkansen, those cars are practically empty of everyone except other tourists and I don't expect you're going to Japan to see other tourists. You might not have time to get one if you're traveling next month, though.

    Once you get into Tokyo, buy a "Suica" at the station; this is a sort of train pass thing that you load up with money and then use for all kinds of local trains. Wikipedia has an article on it.

    I like the Shiba Park Hotel in minato-ku, which is sort of the business district of Tokyo and enormously convenient for trains and tourist attractions, but it's in a neighborhood that's very quiet at night. If you're looking for nightlife, stay somewhere else. It's also a little pricey, probably $110 a night. You can stay in "business hotels" for about $50-$60 a night, they're clustered around train stations, but I've only done those in Osaka and Kochi so I have no recommendations otherwise.

    From Shiba Park, you can get to Zojoji Temple and Tokyo Tower in about 10 minutes on foot, or to the Tokyo Pokemon Center in about the same time if your tastes run that way or if you have kids to buy presents for. Another 5 minutes past the Pokemon center gets you to the Yurikamome monorail which you can take to Odaiba, where there's lots of stuff of interest.

    Also be sure to see Asakusa, it's a massive temple complex / unapologetic tourist trap. Take a cruise of the Sumida river from there, the tour isn't in English but it's still a nice angle on Tokyo.

    baudattitude on
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    garroad_rangarroad_ran Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Go to a hot spring. Shell out money for a really nice resort. Spend at least a day there, preferably two.
    Here is the one that I went to. It was literally the most relaxing thing I've ever done in my entire life, and my traveling buddy was almost in tears from how good the food was.

    garroad_ran on
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    VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    How long is the trip and how long in each city?

    VisionOfClarity on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    How you gonna move from city to city? If you haven't decided, the Shinkansen is a really cool way to get around. You could buy a ticket at the counter (aprox $150), or you could get a JR Rail Pass, like badattitude said. It's like $300 for a weeks worth of unlimited rides on all JR trains and subways. You have to preorder the Rail Pass several weeks in advance from their web page, it will be mailed to your home adddress.

    I used my JR pass to run from Tokyo all the way down to Fukuoka stopping at many points in between.

    MagicToaster on
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    LautermilchLautermilch Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I'd consider getting this book - http://www.amazon.com/Culture-Shock-Japan-Customs-Etiquette/dp/9812328920/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252779434&sr=1-3

    The 'Culture Shock' books are very good at 'inside' information as they are written by people native to the country that have lived in the US for at least a decade.

    Lautermilch on
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    ruzkinruzkin Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Trains stop running at 3am in Tokyo, so if you're out clubbing in town, you either have to keep partying till the trains start at 6 or shell out for a super-expensive taxi. Or stay in a love hotel, which I did, which is an experience in itself.

    ruzkin on
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    i n c u b u si n c u b u s Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Since your going to tokyo I'd suggest seeing the life size Gundam if it's still up. Even if your not into the show its def worth a visit. I'd kill to go see it myself.

    i n c u b u s on
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    EgosEgos Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Business hotels actually aren't that bad to stay at..surprisingly. They are around $100 a night (the ones I stayed at in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto) or a little less .

    They aren't bad though..

    Egos on
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    GarickGarick Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Since your going to tokyo I'd suggest seeing the life size Gundam if it's still up. Even if your not into the show its def worth a visit. I'd kill to go see it myself.

    It's not up anymore, it was only until the last day of august.

    Garick on
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    NPNP Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    ruzkin wrote: »
    Trains stop running at 3am in Tokyo, so if you're out clubbing in town, you either have to keep partying till the trains start at 6 or shell out for a super-expensive taxi. Or stay in a love hotel, which I did, which is an experience in itself.

    I think it's more like 12am, which is a major bummer for an otherwise awesome city.

    NP on
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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Also, bring back lots of Y5 and Y50 coins, because they have holes in them and for some reason they're bloody fascinating.

    5 Yen coins are considered "lucky" in the same fashion as American pennies, so they make good, cheap gifts for people back home.

    Takterskin:

    In Hiroshima, I'm assuming you're already planning on going to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and related areas.

    As far as Kyoto goes, there's a bajillion shrines you can go and visit, but my personal favorite was Ryoanji. It's most famous for its Zen rock garden, but I found the rest of the grounds to be just as entrancing.

    DarkPrimus on
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    strebaliciousstrebalicious Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    As an American living in Japan, my advice is to learn the etiquette of Japan. Learn the basic phrases like "Sumimasen" ("excuse me", as in getting someone's attention), "Gomen Nasai" ("sorry"), "Wakarimasen" ("I'm a dumb American and don't understand"), and those things. Learning the basics is just fine, but don't just grab a language book and stare into it as you talk to someone because it's rude. Most Japanese know at least some English, so all that, along with some good old fashion hand flailing, you should be able to figure it out.

    Hotels? Capsule hotels are probably going to be the cheapest, as long as you don't mind sleeping in bays a la The Fifth Element. And capsule hotels also have a traditional bath house type thing. Do you have tattoos? If you do, lots of bath houses, hot spas, water parks, etc, turn away people (even foreigners) with tattoos because tattoos are still closely associated with the Yakuza.

    Kyoto/Hiroshima? I have no idea. Tokyo area? Well I live in Atsugi which isn't too far. You got a time frame of when you are going to be around? You can do the obvious touristy areas, Akihabara, Harajuku, Yokohama, etc. Roppongi is a party area, but it's been getting a bad rep with some bars drugging foreigners and charging their credit cards up thousands of dollars. I can also give you a few ideas on some smaller touristy stuff like shrines and the fish market.

    Night life. Yeah, trains stop running at midnight to 1am. Kinda sucky considering a lot of places don't get busy until late. Of course, a lot of places will stay open as long as their are people drinking.

    That's my little bit of advice for now. More if I can think of it.

    strebalicious on
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    CokebotleCokebotle 穴掘りの 電車内Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Just so you know, if you get a JR Pass, you shouldn't need to buy a train ticket at all in Japan. Unless you take a subway somewhere, or ride on a private line. It's hugely convenient for a traveller.

    In Kyoto, take a day and check out Nara. They have a huge park with deer that free roam, and you can feed them, if you buy biscuits there. The big buddha statue is also in the temple there, called Todaiji. There's a few other shrines and things there, as well as a museum, but the rest of the city I don't know very well.

    For Kyoto itself, be sure to see Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji (the Gold and Silver pavilions). VERY pretty. Kiyomizudera is also a well known temple to see there, and nice. Ryoanji is in a place called Arashiyama, which has a lot of small temples and shrines all in one area. I think you can take a train down there, but I don't remember.

    I don't know Hiroshima, sorry.

    Tokyo has a ton of stuff to see and do. Depends on what you want to do and see, honestly.

    If you have any specific questions, feel free to PM me and I'll do my best to answer (live about 2 hours from Tokyo, and have been there a fair number of times, as well as studied abroad down near Kyoto and Osaka, but that was 2 years ago and my memory is a little shaky).

    Cokebotle on
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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Oh man I forgot about Nara.

    DarkPrimus on
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    KillgrimageKillgrimage Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I'll be going to Kyoto as well for Oct. 2-8. One thing I'm looking forward to is sleeping in a temple for a night! Basically you can sleep in the temple and "do" monk life for like a day.

    Another thing is Geisha! I don't think I'll be able to fork over enough cash to be at a geisha party bash, but there are tons of geisha in Kyoto Gion district and they do performances for the city.

    Since I'm going to be in Kyoto mostly, I'm going to try to not buy a train pass if I can help it (may 1 day passes or something) because I'd rather walk everywhere and find hidden nooks and crannies around the city.

    Learning key phrases is a must. Memorize some simple stuff like hello and goodbye and directions, but also important safety stuff including help! (Tasukete!) and I am sick (Watashi wa byoki desu). Calling 911 in Japan means calling 119.

    Also, remember to grab some kind of packet of tissues because the bathrooms mostly don't have toilet paper from what I've heard D:

    Killgrimage on
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    strebaliciousstrebalicious Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    The problem is not that they don't have toilet paper, it's that they don't have toilets. Well, the western style sit down toilets, at least. A lot of toilets, at least the ones in the less touristy areas, are going to be the squat style bidet kinda deals. If you can find a sit down toilet, it will probably have toilet paper in it. But pretty much none of them will have hand towels, though.

    Lots of places have advertisements in the form of a small pack of tissues with a flyer in it that people will hand out in the street. Good luck getting them sometimes though because some Japanese are picky about giving them to foreigners.

    strebalicious on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I call them 'Adventure Toilets'

    MagicToaster on
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    darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    If you are in Tokyo I say stay at the Sakura hotel/hostel chains. They are affordable, clean and a great spot to meet up with other travelers.

    get a JR pass for sure

    if you are a anime/manga nerd check out a Jump store (there is one by the tokyo dome)

    Go to a Yodabashi Camera store and walk through the games/toys sections

    There is a store in Akibahara. (and another area) called Mandarake that I suggest checking out if you collect toys/manga/video games etc even if you dont buy anything you will nerdgasm.

    make sure to eat at a Mochicream as well.

    darkmayo on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I stayed at the Sakura Hostel in Asakusa. It was really good, cheap and you could buy breakfast for like 150 yen. I highly recommend it!

    MagicToaster on
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    darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I stayed at the Sakura Hostel in Asakusa. It was really good, cheap and you could buy breakfast for like 150 yen. I highly recommend it!

    I stayed at Ikebukuro and Jimbocho (both were awesome, Jimbocho was a bit off the beaten path but Ikebukuro was right in the thick of it, cafe with great international beer selection in the Annex across from the main building, cute staff as well)

    http://www.sakura-hostel.co.jp/ - Asakusa

    http://www.sakura-hotel-ikebukuro.com/ -ikebukuro (obviously)

    http://www.sakura-hotel.co.jp/ - Jimbocho

    darkmayo on
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    nuclearalchemistnuclearalchemist Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Try to make it to Kurama Onsen north of Kyoto if you get a chance. I lived in Japan for a while, and Kyoto was my favoritest city evar. You can ride the Keihan line to its terminus and then get to the hot springs; they're really quite nice and there is an awesome hike up to a temple there as well.

    Other than that, Kyoto is fun, Hiroshima is fun. In Hiroshima, I think somebody said it, but aside from hitting up the peace park, hit up Miyajima. I had a rather unforuante incident while I was there hiking to the top, but hopefully that is just a once in a lifetime thing (a guy had a heart attack near the top). Make sure to eat the oysters!

    Tokyo I went to for a week, and just sorta lounged around. Almost got stuck at the Nikko shrine 2 hours north of tokyo because I didn't pay attention to when trains were.

    In Kyoto, spend lots of time near Kiyomizudera shrine, its a fantastic place! And if you make it to the Fushimi-Inari shrine south of town you can see lots and lots of Torii (gates). Also, that area is great for Sake brewery tours, so I suggest looking inot that as well!

    I have to leave work, but I'll make more suggestions later!

    nuclearalchemist on
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    Niceguy MyeyeNiceguy Myeye Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    I advise you to bring me back some of fancy sort of boozahol.

    I hear there's some sweet potato liquor called shochu?
    Or saki is fine.

    I expect fancy gifts!

    I'll talk to my Brother and see if there's some place you should visit. He goes there every month for work. I'll post back here when I find out.

    Niceguy Myeye on
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    TaterskinTaterskin Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Tattoos? Are you some sort of ...... tough guy?

    Thank you for all the suggestions.

    I will only be spending two days in Tokyo (and one of those will probably be spent recovering from the time change). Two or three days in Kyoto, one in Hiroshima, and two I haven't figured out yet.

    I'm not an anime nerd, but I am a history nerd. Too bad about the Gundam, I woulda checked that out.

    Looking into the JRail pass now.

    Niceguy, all I'm bringing back for you is Smoked Snake.

    Taterskin on
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Bring him back crispy dried squid. It's like a cracker, except it's an entire squid.

    Gabriel_Pitt on
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    poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    My favourite places in Kyoto, some famous, some not so:

    Sanjusangendo (1001 life-size golden statues of Buddha, which is meaningless until you walk in and see them stretching away from you)

    Fushimi-Inari (A shrine dedicated to the god of wealth. Companies donate money to have a torii red gate erected there for good luck. Nowadays there are thousands and thousands of them forming a red-limned path through the hills)

    Otogi Nembutsu-ji (in the northern part of Kyoto, Arashiyama, this is a temple full of little grotesque statues of Buddha, all different, all by different stonemasons. Some are screaming, some are sleeping. All are interesting)

    Nijo-jo (Old palace, people call it castle but it is very different to a real solid castle like Himeji-jo. Nightingale floors, gold-leaf screens. The most famous of my Kyoto picks, but it's worth a visit definitely).

    Actually, Himeji castle is in Hyogo-ken, on the way from Kyoto to Hiroshima. You can day-trip it from Kyoto as well. It was built in 1340-something and is wonderful. Check it out, for a history geek it's perfect.

    poshniallo on
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    darkmayodarkmayo Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    poshniallo wrote: »
    My favourite places in Kyoto, some famous, some not so:

    Sanjusangendo (1001 life-size golden statues of Buddha, which is meaningless until you walk in and see them stretching away from you)

    Fushimi-Inari (A shrine dedicated to the god of wealth. Companies donate money to have a torii red gate erected there for good luck. Nowadays there are thousands and thousands of them forming a red-limned path through the hills)

    Otogi Nembutsu-ji (in the northern part of Kyoto, Arashiyama, this is a temple full of little grotesque statues of Buddha, all different, all by different stonemasons. Some are screaming, some are sleeping. All are interesting)

    Nijo-jo (Old palace, people call it castle but it is very different to a real solid castle like Himeji-jo. Nightingale floors, gold-leaf screens. The most famous of my Kyoto picks, but it's worth a visit definitely).

    Actually, Himeji castle is in Hyogo-ken, on the way from Kyoto to Hiroshima. You can day-trip it from Kyoto as well. It was built in 1340-something and is wonderful. Check it out, for a history geek it's perfect.

    Yes, Himeji is awesome, great view as well

    darkmayo on
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    KillgrimageKillgrimage Registered User regular
    edited September 2009
    Another thing I just remembered. In case there is an emergency, having the number for the US embassy is a good idea. The emergency after hours number is 03-3224-5000.

    Killgrimage on
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