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goin to japan nnnnnnnnnnnn, yaaaa EDIT: more q's see last post

Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
edited March 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
EDIT: Please see my bottom post for updates, I have new questions









Hello forums!

My brother is studying abroad in Kyoto in the spring, and my friend is in Tokyo (well, Yokohama).

I wanna go visit them.

Well, a few things:
- While both my friend and my brother are semi-fluent in the language, I don't speak Japanese. I'll try and learn some phrases and whatnot to get by, I have a few months. I have no travel buddies other than the people I'm visiting at the moment... but I might be able to get people to come with me.

- I've read this: http://forums.penny-arcade.com/discussion/31731/trip-to-japan-anyone-did-it-before/p1

- I actually already bought plane tickets, flying into KIX and out of NRT in early/mid April for total of 11 nights in Japan.

- So, thing is, my friend in Tokyo has break for 2 weeks, ending March 25th... he said if I go then then he'd be able to do touristy things with me because he wouldn't have class. I would've booked a flight for then, but I had a work project... which I just found out today got cancelled by the client. So for a change fee of not too too much, I could go in March instead! (Very annoying, I just bought my tickets 2 days ago, but what can ya do?)



Okay, so:
- Is the weather in March significantly worse than the weather in April? Like, ignoring the cost of the change fee, is there anything negative about me moving my flights back to March from April so I can have more friend time (with someone who actually knows Japanese and knows Japan)?

- Is 11 nights a good number? It seemed like a good balance between too much and not enough, but if I'm changing my flights I could alter that.

- Should I do like, 1-2 nights in Osaka, a bunch in Kyoto, and a bunch in Tokyo, or would you suggest anything else?

- Umm, anything else important? Right now I want to figure out this flight/am I going in March/April question, and then I'll come back and resurrect this thread with more questions I will almost certainly have.

poo
Shazkar Shadowstorm on

Posts

  • ED!ED! Registered User regular
    In order of "interest" it would be Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto. Kyoto is fine, but for my money its more for the "old Japan" crowd who are interested in the temples and what not. Tokyo obviously tops the other two, with Osaka "dirty" Tokyo (figuratively and literally). 11 days is more than enough time, though you could easily spend 11 days in Tokyo.

    End of March beginning of April is Cherry Blossom season (if you're into that). Weather wise I'd say April is a bit better; however it is not "significantly" better (and certainly not worse - depending on where you are from of course).

    "Get the hell out of me" - [ex]girlfriend
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I guess this is assuming that the change fees are not preposterous, I'm on the phone now and waiting to find out. On hold forever....

    EDIT: Well, $250 change fee, but the prices went up since this morning, so right now that's not worth it. If the prices go back down I'll pay the fee and change it, otherwise, eh, I will survive with April.

    SO, time to figure out an itinerary regardless, because whether it's March or April, I'll still fly into and out of the same places.

    Shazkar Shadowstorm on
    poo
  • garroad_rangarroad_ran Registered User regular
    It really depends on what you want to do. When I visited Tokyo and Kansai I split it as follows:

    4 nights in Tokyo
    2 nights in Kyoto
    1 night at a hot spring resort between Kyoto and Osaka
    3 nights in Osaka

    As you can see, I spent more or less the same amount of time that you will be spending there, although I didn't have anyone to show me around. I definitely ended up feeling like I could have spent more time in Tokyo, but by the same token I could probably live there for a month and still not get to see most of the city, so I didn't feel so bad about having that part of the trip be shorter than I would've liked.

    Kyoto was beautiful, but as ED! said, it's highly geared toward the "old Japan" crowd, and in that regard it was very touristy. I stayed there for two days, which I felt was perfect, and then on the third day I left early to go see Nara and Aasakusa, two towns in the Kansai region. If you want non-touristy "old Japan" you're better off finding a ryokan in a mountain inaka village somewhere. Although I must say I liked the guided tour of the old imperial castle quite a bit.

    The biggest disappointment of the trip for me was Osaka, but that might just be an aberration, because we had nothing planned for those days, and I think by that time my travel buddy and I were a little tired of each other's company. In hindsight, we should've taken one or two of those days and planned more activities (ie. climb mount fuji, or go to a festival).

    The best part of the trip for me was the hot spring. If you've never been to one I can't recommend it enough.

    I don't know what the weather is like around those regions during that time, so I can't comment. I believe April is cherry blossom time though, so if you're into that maybe you'll like April.

  • AlthusserAlthusser Registered User
    Cherry blossoms in Kyoto man, nothing like it. You can do all of the touristy stuff in 2-3 days (including a trip to Nara to see the deer and the big Buddha), and there's this sweet spot by the river and nightlife area in Kyoto where all the young people gather to drink at night. It's crazy! Osaka is supposed to be "cooler" than Tokyo, kind of like Melbourne:Sydney, or San Fran:LA, and the people are supposed to be "more laid back". I'm not sure about that, but they definitely have the coolest love hotels. Stay in a love hotel!

    You will be fine in all of these places with basically no Japanese unless you go to a scummy-looking backalley izakaya, which I recommend wholeheartedly.

  • astronautcowboy3astronautcowboy3 Registered User regular
    You can save yourself a lot of money and hassle by packing light and staying at capsule hotels or net cafes. You can then use all that money you save on cheap lodging (its only 2000-3000 yen a night at some places) to stay a night at an onsen or temple. Since your brother is in Kyoto, I recommend you two take a detour to Mount Koya in Wakayama and stay at a temple there. It's around 10000 yen a night but worth it for the awesome food and experience. And the train ride there is gorgeous.

    You can see a lot of the country in 11 days, especially since you don't have to backtrack for the return flight. You can spend a week in Kyoto, or you can spend 1-2 days and then go around to tons of other prefectures and eating all kinds of great local cuisine.

    The best castle in Japan, Himeji Castle, is currently in a box. Don't bother heading that far into Hyogo, you won't see anything worthwhile. (I don't know if you were going to, but yeah, don't bother either way.)

    Japan is a country of little pleasures, so you if go around a bit, you'll get a lot more out of your trip than seeing 10 famous places in both Kyoto and Tokyo.

    See if you or your brother can get Ghibli Museum tickets too. Book those early, or else (there won't be any).

    Nara is a good daytrip too, from Osaka/Kyoto.

    The JRPG Club: Video game reviews, vocabulary lists and other resources for Japanese learners.
    PSN: astronautcowboy 3DS: 5343-8146-1833
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  • T-boltT-bolt Registered User regular
    I just got back last week from a 2 week trip to Japan. My Japanese is TERRIBLE, but I was able to get by with very basic vocabulary, a phrasebook, and gestures and pointing.

    I for one really enjoyed my time in Kyoto (4 days) and Tokyo (7), didn't care for Osaka personally so I decided to hop on a local train back to Kyoto so I could have an extra day to check out some of the stuff I missed.

    I didn't think my 2 weeks were too short (also went to Hiroshima & Nagoya), but then again I travelled on my own and wasn't visiting friends.

    I'd suggest not going to the capsule hotels (well maybe 1 night if you're curious, but I regretted the one night I was in one). Just go to hostels instead if you want to save money, there are a few good ones in Kyoto. Most places I spent around 2500 yen a night.

  • NotYouNotYou Registered User regular
    I was just there.

    It's easy to get by without knowing any japanese. Most people don't speak particularly good english, but you'll get your point across. Or you'll talk to someone else, nbd.

    Weather: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2273.html

    Find hostel sites. Great places to stay on the cheap. Capsule hotels are more of a novelty these days. They generally aren't cheaper than a hostel.

    Trains between cities are not cheap. You're looking at 150 bucks (US) to take a bullet train from tokyo to kyoto. Factor that in. Look up prices online, they change throughout the year. They'll probably be most expensive during the cherry blossom viewing season.

    Rent a bike! It's an amazing way to travel around a city. I rented from here in tokyo: http://tokyorentabike.com/
    American guy who rented to us, very chill, very cheap.

  • garroad_rangarroad_ran Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    NotYou wrote:
    Trains between cities are not cheap. You're looking at 150 bucks (US) to take a bullet train from tokyo to kyoto.

    I did that trip on an overnight bus and it cost about a third of that. You might want to use the following sites:

    http://willerexpress.com/bus/pc/3/top/ (for overnight buses to and fro)
    http://www.hyperdia.com (for all sorts of travel information from anywhere to anywhere by almost any means of transportation)

    EDIT: Also, you'll typically find some transportation deals that you can take advantage of as a foreigner. For example, I used the Kansai Thru Pass to cover all my transportation expenses for three days while I was in the Kansai region. There might also be some deals if you want to travel by plane (I know there's a really good deal for air travel around the Okinawan islands, but since I'm currently a resident I can't use it :( boooooorns)

    garroad_ran on
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    I live near Yokohama, in the countryside. The advice above is good, but I'd like to add that Kyoto is great if you do other stuff instead of temples.

    Nijo-jo (palace with nightingale floors), Sanjusangendo (1000 life-size golden statues of the bodisattva Kannon), Fushimi-inari (thousands upon thousands of torii gates creating hiking paths through the hills), Otagi Nembutsu-ji (hundreds of rough stone macabre gargoyle-like statues of Buddha)...

    The temples are alright but they're samey. The other stuff is better.

    My favourite hidden gem of the Kanto (Greater Tokyo) area is Sankei-en, a huge, beautiful, surprisingly unvisited garden in Yokohama with old buildings, a pagoda, a lake full of terrapins and koi carp.

    Hot springs - I can recommend Hakone generally. It's a hot-spring resort about an hour from Tokyo. I was there at Yunessan, a bizarre water-park full of baths, including a coffee bath and wine bath, last weekend. As a tourist, you might prefer something more traditional but I loved it.

    Osaka is a concrete jungle good for drinking and eating. The people are awesome, but the city is not. Tourists tend to love or hate it - there isn't much to do in the day, but at night it's great.

    poshniallo on
    I figure I could take a bear.
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    Oh boy, lots of good advice. I'll take some time to sort through this. Looks like it's gonna cost too much to change my flights anyway, so oh well, I won't have a constant companion in Tokyo as my friend will have homework and classes, but I'll still have a weekend / evenings with him, and can do stuff on my own. My brother said his courseload probably won't be bad at his program so that'll be good.

    I'll read through everything and come back with some more questions.

    I had been thinking about springing for a JR rail pass... a 7 day one I figure since its 7 or 14 days? Where can I find out more info about that, and would that be a good idea?

    poo
  • wonderpugwonderpug Registered User regular
    As far as cheap accommodations, aside from hostels you can also look for businessman hotels (I forget what they call them there). They're super no-frills affairs with tiny rooms and shared bathrooms, but they're (relatively) reasonably priced and not as weird as capsule motels.

    There are also great tourist booths at almost every city with people who can help you find places to stay and even make the calls for you.

  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    I'm probably going to look at hostels for a lot of nights, since I'm travelling solo and I've had good experiences meeting up with random travelers in other countries I've done this...(I assume that these hostels are still filled with young international tourists in Japan also, right?) though I'll keep in mind the businessman hotels for when I'm visiting my brother. I might be able to crash on my friend's floor in Yokohama for a small bit, he said, as he has his own (tiny) place.

    poo
  • garroad_rangarroad_ran Registered User regular
    I had been thinking about springing for a JR rail pass... a 7 day one I figure since its 7 or 14 days? Where can I find out more info about that, and would that be a good idea?

    This seems as good a place as any.
    And yeah, I used that one too when I went in 08. No complaints. Just make sure you plan to travel enough to justify the cost, or at least so that you get close enough to the justifying the cost so that having the convenience and flexibility of the pass makes up for it.

  • astronautcowboy3astronautcowboy3 Registered User regular
    If you are going one way from Kansai (Kyoto area) to Kanto (Tokyo area) it might work out that it's cheaper to buy your tickets individually. If you had a Kyoto-Tokyo round trip in there, that would basically cover the pass alone, but depending on how much travel you do it may or may not be worthwhile.

    What was said about Osaka is pretty accurate - one night there clubbing, getting drunk and seeing the pretty lights by the river is all you need. The other tourist attractions are nothing special. They do have a capsule hotel for 2700-2800 yen a night though.

    And trust me, capsules are awesome. If your bags are big it could be complicated, and it won't be as friendly an atmosphere as a hostel. You should stay in one at least one time for the experience. http://www.asahiplaza.co.jp/capcel/english.html Free porn in each room!

    The JRPG Club: Video game reviews, vocabulary lists and other resources for Japanese learners.
    PSN: astronautcowboy 3DS: 5343-8146-1833
    I have Sega, Nintendo and Xbox games and systems for sale. Please help me buy diapers.
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited March 2012
    i made do for 4 weeks in spain with a backpack that i could fit on carry on if needed, so i should be able to bring a small bag...

    Shazkar Shadowstorm on
    poo
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    I really made this thread in November huh?

    And now it's March 11th, and I leave on April 4th, and guess what, I've planned nothing! Nor have I taught myself any basic Japanese like I planned to! And I had so much time....


    Anyway, I'm trying to lock down an itinerary at least this week so I can figure out the rest.

    The main thing that's up in the air right now is whether or not I should take a day trip / overnight to Hiroshima area.

    Recall, I have 11 nights. Also, I have my brother in Kyoto who I can stay with for free, as well as my friend in Yokohama (both of whom speak Japanese and who I want to spend time with).


    Here are some kind of plans I was thinking of for itineraries: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjltPLG6GK1wdHJCWkZUaG5OUmhDR3c3SHhKN1VjNXc

    Totally open to suggestions though, nothing set in stone at all. I just want to figure this stuff out by the end of the week, because after that it'll be cutting it close.

    poo
  • TraceofToxinTraceofToxin King Nothing Registered User regular
    I really made this thread in November huh?

    And now it's March 11th, and I leave on April 4th, and guess what, I've planned nothing! Nor have I taught myself any basic Japanese like I planned to! And I had so much time....


    Anyway, I'm trying to lock down an itinerary at least this week so I can figure out the rest.

    The main thing that's up in the air right now is whether or not I should take a day trip / overnight to Hiroshima area.

    Recall, I have 11 nights. Also, I have my brother in Kyoto who I can stay with for free, as well as my friend in Yokohama (both of whom speak Japanese and who I want to spend time with).


    Here are some kind of plans I was thinking of for itineraries: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjltPLG6GK1wdHJCWkZUaG5OUmhDR3c3SHhKN1VjNXc

    Totally open to suggestions though, nothing set in stone at all. I just want to figure this stuff out by the end of the week, because after that it'll be cutting it close.

    I think you were following my thread some, but there's a ton of suggestions in there. Tons of helpful information.

    Lots of people say the Hiroshima peace museum is fantastic, and there are tours you can take. Kyoto has a lot of the touristy attractions, if that's what you're looking for.

    For the Japanese, you can learn enough in the next month to help make a positive impression when talking with people. In my experience people love when you take the time to try to learn their language, and it really makes a good first impression.

    Small things like;

    Arigato gozaimasu - Thank you very much

    Gomenasai - Sorry

    Hajimemashite - How do you do?

    Boku no nihongo wa totemo warui desu - My Japanese is very bad

    All helped me communicate, and if you keep a smile on your face people are usually inclined to help out.

    Good luck on your trip and let us know how it goes!

    Everyday I wake up is the worst day of my life.
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    Thanks man. Yeah, the value of knowing some phrases is immensely helpful. Travelling in Spain knowing Spanish was great, so I wish I spent more time, but yeah, 3 weeks and a 14 hour plane ride should be enough to pick up a few phrases.

    I've been reading your thread, definitely helpful.

    I guess figuring out the Hiroshima bit is important, because if I do do that then I'll need a rail pass, if not, then I won't.

    poo
  • TraceofToxinTraceofToxin King Nothing Registered User regular
    You can pick up phrasebooks for like 5-10 bucks. Or if you want to take a month and actually study, you can learn how to form basic sentences then just get a dictionary and plug and play. Obviously that limits your ability to convey anything beyond subject-object-verb, but is a lot better than just pointing and saying one word. The basic sentence structure and a dictionary will cover the majority of basic conversational needs.

    Everyday I wake up is the worst day of my life.
  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    Yeah I picked up a cheap phrasebook. It'll be sufficient. Also have some audio tapes. Anywho, gotta figure out this Hiroshima business... it'll help when my brother gets back from his vacation, since he went to Hiroshima area and can tell me some stuff.

    poo
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