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Anyone here live in Japan? Tokyo to be specific.

Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
edited January 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
The wife and I are starting the planning of our trip to Tokyo next year for around late March or April and we are looking for some inside sources that live over there to ask a few questions about things like off the beaten path restaurants or cool nightclubs that we should check out while there. We are going to stay for about two weeks and would love to see some local sights or go out to dinner with a native (or moved in native) at some place we never would have thought to go.

Thanks to anyone who responds, or can put me in contact with someone I could talk to.

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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Sharp in the Tabletop forum lives in Japan, because he sent me some Tyranids for Secrat Santa.

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    Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I lived there for a little over five years. I left in '05.

    All I got to say is... watch out for the Nigerians, the Israelis and the Chinese hookers.

    Richard_Dastardly on
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    Jake!Jake! Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    You could always try finding some natives to show you around on couchsurfing.com

    Jake! on
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    TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    wait, where are the Chinese hookers?

    >grabs notepad<

    TokyoRaver on
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    MidshipmanMidshipman Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    TokyoRaver wrote: »
    wait, where are the Chinese hookers?

    >grabs notepad<

    If they are anything like the ones in Guam they are all 40+ and caked with makeup and cheap perfume.

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    MooblyMoobly Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I've been in Tokyo for about 6 months now. I haven't spent much time in downtown tokyo, as my job keeps me locked away during normal hours of Japanese life, but maybe I can help you out. Drop me a pm with any specific questions.

    And you have to be sure not to confuse your hooker's ethnicity. Not that there's much difference in the end result, but nobody likes a racist "John".

    Moobly on
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    Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    TokyoRaver wrote: »
    wait, where are the Chinese hookers?

    >grabs notepad<

    Don't worry, they'll find you.

    Anyway, here's a list of things you should do:
    * Buy a kabob from a Turkish guy in a van. They're delicious (the kabobs). Get lamb.
    * Find a Buddhist person, preferably one in a strict Buddhist cult, to take you to an honest to gog shrine. Not the ones for tourists. Wear clean socks.
    * There's a place that sells shrooms and peyote in Shibuya... if you ever go there and are interested, it's the building with the mushroom on the sign. Like the fifth floor or something. I have no idea how to get there... I'd always just wander around for an hour or two until I got there. No sense of direction here...
    * Are you renting a car? Drive towards the mountains. You won't regret it. The roads and the towns and everything there... it's fantastic. Plus, you'll find out-of-the-way resturaunts and vegetable stands and stuff there.
    * Get lost several times on the trains. That's how you find the good stuff that no one else knows about.
    * Make sure you go to one of those parades where big groups of guys in cloth diapers lug around huge wooden floats. I can't remember what they're called. I'd ask my wife, but she's mad at me right now.
    * Avoid tour groups
    * If it's past 8pm and you're in a big prefecture, never look a Nigerian in the eye. I know this sounds racist, but they will follow you the rest of the night trying to get you to go to their bar. Never, ever, under any circumstances go to their bar. Remember the scene in Pulp Fiction with the gimp? It's nothing like that. But, just don't do it.
    * Never look a hooker in the eye. Same reason as the Nigerians. They don't care if you're with your wife. The Chinese ones will grab you and forcefully drag you inside. The Philipino ones will just yell stuff. The Russians will pretend they don't want your stinking money, so you don't have to worry about them. On a side note, prostitutes will take most major credit cards.
    * If you meet the son of the mayor of Moscow, tell him that I still don't know what I said to those girls to make them go home.
    * There's this huge park in Harajuku. It's right by the train station. It's fucking beautiful. It's near where all the freaky people hang out, which is a sight in itself.
    * Oh yeah, and go to a Chinese Resturaunt.
    * Oh yeah, and eat Takoyaki at least once. They're balls of dough filled with some sort of creamy stuff and a small chunk of octopus, smothered in mayonaise, fish flakes and other toppings. You can usually pick them up from a street vendor.

    Richard_Dastardly on
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    TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    By "Park" I assume you mean Meiji Shrine?

    I mean, there's the long park that stretches from Shibuya to Harajuku, which is where the real freaks hang out (and the homeless) but that one's not particularly pretty

    TokyoRaver on
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    r3probater3probate Registered User new member
    edited August 2008
    If you're in Shibuya, go to the GAS PANIC! bar down the main drag through there. It's deliciously trashy, filled with african pimps, filipino whores, and drunk women. Stay away from Roppongi, it's way way too aimed at foreigners and drunken U.S. servicemen, and probably the only place I felt remotely threatened as a 6'0 white guy.

    r3probate on
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    TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I thought Gas Panic was in Roppongi? And it's funny to hear someone recommend GP and advise to stay away from Roppongi at the same time...

    That said Roppongi has changed a LOT in recent times, it's been the target of massive redevelopment and is now home to some of the ritziest addresses in Tokyo

    TokyoRaver on
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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    ben0207 wrote: »
    Sharp in the Tabletop forum lives in Japan, because he sent me some Tyranids for Secrat Santa.
    *cough* That was me, actually. :P Sharp, IIRC, lives in Canada, which is like Japan, except colder, and with fewer Japanese. I however, an far away from Tokyo, and have only been there a couple of times and so can't help much. The information people working at the info offices at the various train stations can be a big help in this regard, especially since Tokyo has quite a few that speak English (IIRC). Maybe not so much for nightclubs, but they should be helpful with the other stuff.

    As for restaurants, I don't know how easy they are to find in general around Tokyo, but independent, or family owned ramen and noodle shops have generally had some of the best food I've had. Generally, if it looks interesting it's not going to hurt you to go in and try it out.

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    TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    If you're looking for clubs, I'm your man.

    Womb in Shibuya is A+

    Ageha is fucking far away from everything but it's pretty massive

    You unfortunately missed Yellow, which is really too bad

    Liquid Room is still around but it's in Ebisu now

    TokyoRaver on
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    TokyoRaverTokyoRaver Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Oh and go to ShimoKitazawa and Kichijoji

    Everyone loves Kichijoji but a lot of tourists skip it

    Such a cool place, want to live there very badly

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    Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Man so much!

    I will have to process all of this info and slowly figure it all out. Maybe I will just PM everyone asking things.

    Thanks.

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    Idx86Idx86 Long days and pleasant nights.Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I lived in Tokyo for a while and I love when these threads pop up because there's so much cool shit to do.

    Gas Panic was a fun bar, although I only went once. There's a bar in Shibuya called the 5 Coins kind of by Outback Steakhouse which is sweet. Drinks were cheap (relative to Tokyo) so that's not so bad, but it was a small joint.

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    ben0207ben0207 Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    ben0207 wrote: »
    Sharp in the Tabletop forum lives in Japan, because he sent me some Tyranids for Secrat Santa.
    *cough* That was me, actually. :P Sharp, IIRC, lives in Canada, which is like Japan, except colder, and with fewer Japanese. I however, an far away from Tokyo, and have only been there a couple of times and so can't help much. The information people working at the info offices at the various train stations can be a big help in this regard, especially since Tokyo has quite a few that speak English (IIRC). Maybe not so much for nightclubs, but they should be helpful with the other stuff.

    As for restaurants, I don't know how easy they are to find in general around Tokyo, but independent, or family owned ramen and noodle shops have generally had some of the best food I've had. Generally, if it looks interesting it's not going to hurt you to go in and try it out.
    I know, I've been meaning to edit it for days now. Oops.

    ben0207 on
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    Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Are the bars like Gas Panic and others friendly to white people? I have read stuff on how some places in Japan are very xenophobic (the whole nation is I think) and foreigners are not treated well at some locations.

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    Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Lord Jezo wrote: »
    Are the bars like Gas Panic and others friendly to white people? I have read stuff on how some places in Japan are very xenophobic (the whole nation is I think) and foreigners are not treated well at some locations.

    They pretty much cater to Westerners. If you decide to get adventurous, though, you will run into bars and clubs that won't let you in cuz you're a foreigner.

    Richard_Dastardly on
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    descoladadescolada Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Generally speaking, if you're sticking to the Tokyo area, you shouldn't encounter much extreme racism, if any at all. It is a major city with the highest concentration of foreigners in the country, after all.

    descolada on
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    acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Institutionalized Safe in jail.Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I'm actually planning a similar trip for a few weeks in and around May. I don't mean to hijack but I've got a few questions. . . Most of (if not all) the people I'm planning on traveling with are major otaku (so much that they actually use that word in every day conversation), and I hear there's some big comic-con or something in that time of year. Do those things go into late night or are they like, mid-day kind of things?

    I'm not as big into that stuff so I'd probably end up wandering around alone. As a 5'11" at (if I maintain my current health/fitness plan) 220 pounds am I likely to run into trouble? I'm hoping to check out the rock music scene, can you recommend some popular clubs/venues?

    Since I'll be in (even remotely near) the pacific I want to check out the beaches and maybe even get some surf on. I was considering heading to Okinawa for a weekend too. Flying is fairly expensive so I'm wondering if there's any cheaper way to make it there?

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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Okinawa is a fair distance away from Japan, so it's either fly, or take a boat. I have no idea what kind of waterborne transportation there might be, but given that you'd have to get from Tokyo to southern Japan just to be able to take that hypothetical boat (and spend at least three days traveling round trip) your best bet is to just fly.
    As a 5'11" at (if I maintain my current health/fitness plan) 220 pounds am I likely to run into trouble?
    Essentially, you'll have to specifically go looking for trouble in order to get into any.

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    LukinLukin Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    What the hell does your body size have to do with enjoying checking out the local music scene?

    Lukin on
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    acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Institutionalized Safe in jail.Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    well first, in every large city I've been in there are guys who want to mess with you just for being about, in their turf, "give me your money and I won't beat you up and take it" type things. Combine that with the whole, "you're a visibly obvious foreigner" mentality. Finally combine both of those with the whole culture little man syndrome. I don't want to sound prejudiced or anything, but they're just generally shorter people and they're also highly competitive. But they're also very polite, so I don't really know which mentality is most prevalent.

    I was just trying to figure out if my body size would make me more or less susceptible to conflict. I was trying to figure out if the ruffians would be more like: "You're a big guy, I can take you!" or "You're a big guy, I'll wait and hassle someone smaller. . . "

    Of course, I was thinking specifically like, walking around late at night in some of the seedier districts.

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    beavotronbeavotron Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    i was there for 3 weeks in 06
    hit up ninja, it's an amazing restaurant
    for the life of me, i can't remember what part of the town it's in
    but it's a hole in the wall that you go into, it's all dark, the waiters are dressed as ninjas and there are grappling hooks hanging from the ceiling.

    also, go to shinjuku station at 5pm on a weekday
    just to see it
    it's the busiest station in the world
    at the busiest time of day
    a wall of people hits you pretty damn hard.

    beavotron on
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    Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Bumping this thread since the guy I was talking to dropped off the face of the internet. Stopped responding to emails and hasn't logged onto PA in a couple months.

    Anyone else live there who I could talk to?

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    Unearthly StewUnearthly Stew Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    My advice is to go to Osaka instead. Tokyo is fun for one or two days, but the city is really foreigner oriented. I never really got a friendly vibe from anyone in Tokyo. I love finding hole-in-the-wall places when I travel, and there were a couple times when I just wasn't allowed inside. I went to a few places in Roppongi, including Gas Panic, I didn't think it was anything overly spectacular, fun for a few hours at best. If you go out be prepared to party all night since the subways shut down at midnight (if I recall correctly, could be 1:00). and start up around 7:00. Taxis are really expensive. The Tokyo tower has a decent view, especially at night. The sony building wasn't particularly interesting - it's pretty much just cameras and TV's.

    Did you have any particular questions?

    Unearthly Stew on
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    LBLB Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I lived in Tokyo for a year, but that was awhile ago, so maybe some of my advice is outdated. I would actually say to avoid Gas Panic -- the times I went there, the bouncers followed me around harassing me to finish my drink and order more, which was a pain. There are tons of clubs in Shibuya and Shinjuku that you can visit without all the hassle.

    Definitely go to an izakaya. There are the huge chains which are everywhere, and then there are little bars that are also very nice. You can get good food and a lot of alcohol; it's not like American restaurants where they might look down on you for getting wasted while at dinner.

    Do karaoke. It doesn't matter if you're the worst singer in the world. It is so much fun, and you can get your own private room, so you don't have to worry about singing in front of strangers. They often serve food and will definitely have drinks. It's usually around $15 or so per person per hour, but can be more pricey, especially if they have an all-you-can-drink deal.

    Asakusa is a great area with an enormous shrine called Senso-ji. There's a long road full of vendors selling Japanese treats, little trinkets, yukata, and all that good stuff.

    Also make a point of getting up at 4 some morning (or staying up all night) to go to Tsukiji, the fish market. You can eat some early morning sushi, fresh from the auction, watch the auction of the enormous tuna, and just take in the sights. It's really cool.

    For restaurants, just walk around and go into little places. At cheaper places, they usually have a window with plastic representations of the food that they serve, so you can see if it looks appetizing to you, and you don't have to be able to read the Japanese menu.

    LB on
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    ArminasArminas Student of Life SF, CARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I went to Japan last summer and visited all over the country by purchasing the 3-week pass for the JR (Japan Railway) which covered all of the bullet trains and most of the trains I'd be using also.

    After reading this thread, had I not already visited Tokyo, I'd be intimidated. I think all the talk of hookers and annoying peddlers put me off. While the majority of my time was not spent in any one city in my 3-week stint of Japan, I did spent 4 or 5 days in Tokyo.

    I was under the impression that the Tsukiji Fish market had been moved since my last visit because one of the guys I talked to said that I was lucky to be visiting "now" (last summer) because the market would be gone from this location. I had assumed he meant it was closed to the public or it was simply shutting down. I'd verify hours and location before I would try dropping by there. If you google it, you can find their homepage and that they appear to still be open. I also recommend it, but when you do go be aware of your surroundings. It's like walking through a tiny busy city street; motorized vehicles are moving up and down the lanes, people are running everywhere trying to run their errands, there's plenty of open-air butchering happening, etc. Oh, and if you have a weak stomach for blood or different sea-going animals it might not be the best place for you.

    If you and your wife are into the whole geekery (and at least accepting of anime/manga culture), I'd recommend checking out Akihabara. While you might not necessarily land the coolest deals on gadgets or toys, there's so much to look at and see that just walking through and perusing is a treat.

    I support the votes for going to Asakusa, I found it a little touristy but nothing really awful. That enormous temple is the place to go. I mean, people from the area visit the temple too so it's not going to be aimed at only foreigners. However, I would avoid buying many of the crafts there. Maybe it was my personal taste, but I found it sort of pricey for goods. Food was at a decent price though.

    If y'all are up for hiking, I highly recommend hiking up Mt. Fuji. There are a number of paths up Mt. Fuji based on time and expertise (shorter usually means harder). While it isn't a short hike, I'd have to say it's been one of the more rewarding experiences in my life. The sunrise atop Mt. Fuji is something to behold. (really freaking cold though)

    Capsule hotels are overrated and claustrophobic for some.
    If you're looking for a pretty good guide, I really liked Lonely Planet's guide to Japan. It had recommendations for restaurants and other locations worth taking a look at. Not necessarily the one and only piece of guidance you should use but definitely a handy resource.

    Lastly, if you can afford to change your plans now, I would consider looking at other parts of Japan. Out of all of the places we traveled, I think I liked Tokyo the least. This isn't to say I disliked Tokyo, but it really didn't seem to different than traveling to another metropolis. Maybe it's that I had been in Japan for 2 weeks already, or my goals of my trip were different than most, but Tokyo felt like any other large urban city I've been to. Only more Japanese. But! take my words with a grain of salt as I haven't lived there and I really didn't visit all of Tokyo's districts. But this also meant I didn't run into the hookers.

    If I had to recommend an alternative, I really liked some of the smaller cities I visited better. Among my favorites are Akita in the Akita prefecture just because one of their festivals is about carrying these hundred foot poles adorned with lanterns. (Kanto Festival) We came during the off season and instead were treated to a set of private Taiko and lantern carrying lessons by their cultural center. Not sure if they do it for everyone or if they were just having a slow day. Akita also has a really tasty hot-pot like regional specialty that our hostess prepared right in front of us. Also Nara was a lot of fun, mostly because of the deer. Well, the temples were nice too but man; so much deer poop. I also liked Sapporo a lot, while also a major city, it had less of the overwhelming hustle & bustle. Oh, and their beer factory tour (while they no longer manufacture their beer in Sapporo, the factory is around for historic purposes) was nice. We opted out of a guided tour and just perused it on our own. Kyoto is also a great place, albeit touristy. It had some pretty good shopping and a large number of temples in the area full of tours. I didn't run into any ridiculous tour groups or anything that bothered me much, but you should be looking at the scenery instead of the tourists anyways.

    EDIT:
    One more thing I just have to say. Despite Japan being reknown for its sense of beauty and ties with nature, Tokyo was hideous. I never saw its coastline but I did have a room pretty high up in the hostels we were staying in. (We were in both the Asakusa hostel and the main Tokyo one) Tokyo was dirty and noisy, the architecture for the majority of the buildings in Tokyo was pretty awful. I'm not an architect nor do I even have an art related degree, but man was it ugly.

    Arminas on
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    GarickGarick Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Yeah, I've lived here in Tokyo for a couple years, but I am not sure how much I can help you... not really a nightclub sort of person. (nor expensive food, ramen I could prolly hook you up :P)

    When I first came here, I too got a rail pass that let me travel all over Japan, and that was prolly the most fun I had from just adventuring.

    I guess it really depends on what you are looking to see/do when you get here... march/april is usually right when the cherry blossoms bloom, so I can recommend a few places that are nice to watch them.

    Garick on
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    EndomaticEndomatic Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    What do you need to live there? An education of some kind right?

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    Gabriel_PittGabriel_Pitt (effective against Russian warships) Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    A job. If you're talking about getting citizenship, that's a lot harder.

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    metaghostmetaghost An intriguing odor A delicate touchRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    A job. If you're talking about getting citizenship, that's a lot harder.

    Yeah. Expect to wield an Alien Registration card for life.

    metaghost on
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    poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Endomatic wrote: »
    What do you need to live there? An education of some kind right?

    You need a college degree to get an English Teaching ('Specialist in Humanities') visa.

    poshniallo on
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    IloveslimesIloveslimes Everett, WARegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    A nice day trip from Tokyo is Kamakura. It's a former capital of Japan and has a nice assortment of temples and shrines. The beach is nice there too, as I remember. It's famous to Japanese people, but not many foreigners seem to go there. The train ride to there is about an hour, so you can have a full day seeing the sights.

    Iloveslimes on
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    poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    A nice day trip from Tokyo is Kamakura. It's a former capital of Japan and has a nice assortment of temples and shrines. The beach is nice there too, as I remember. It's famous to Japanese people, but not many foreigners seem to go there. The train ride to there is about an hour, so you can have a full day seeing the sights.

    I can vouch for Kamakura, because I live there. :P

    In Kamakura, I recommend Enkaku-ji, the famous Hachiman-gu, Houkoku-ji (nice bamboo grove) and walking down Komachi-dori. There are lots of other cool places but those are the biggies.

    Hakone is another nice day-trip from Tokyo, as is Nikko (though I've never been to Nikko myself).

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    metaghostmetaghost An intriguing odor A delicate touchRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    poshniallo wrote: »
    A nice day trip from Tokyo is Kamakura. It's a former capital of Japan and has a nice assortment of temples and shrines. The beach is nice there too, as I remember. It's famous to Japanese people, but not many foreigners seem to go there. The train ride to there is about an hour, so you can have a full day seeing the sights.

    I can vouch for Kamakura, because I live there. :P

    In Kamakura, I recommend Enkaku-ji, the famous Hachiman-gu, Houkoku-ji (nice bamboo grove) and walking down Komachi-dori. There are lots of other cool places but those are the biggies.

    Hakone is another nice day-trip from Tokyo, as is Nikko (though I've never been to Nikko myself).


    Is Nikko really famous for its claywork? Because I think I've been there. It's a little northwest of Nara maybe?
    If it's the town I'm thinking of, very pretty and quaint, but not quite OMG tripworthy.

    I definitely have a soft spot for Nara though. Wandering through the Primeval Forest is awesome.

    And yes, it's called the motherfucking Primeval Forest.

    metaghost on
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    Idx86Idx86 Long days and pleasant nights.Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Nikko is awesome. They have the Nemuri Neko which is a pretty famous Japanese symbol. Also the final resting place of one of the last Tokugawa's (Samurai folk).

    Make sure you are in at least decent shape for a Fuji trip. That hike is tough.

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    MooblyMoobly Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Yah I'm the guy that dropped off the earth. Sorry about that, got caught up with work and life. I'll be back around again.
    Lord Jezo wrote: »
    Bumping this thread since the guy I was talking to dropped off the face of the internet. Stopped responding to emails and hasn't logged onto PA in a couple months.

    Anyone else live there who I could talk to?

    Moobly on
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    SheepmanSheepman Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    * Make sure you go to one of those parades where big groups of guys in cloth diapers lug around huge wooden floats. I can't remember what they're called. I'd ask my wife, but she's mad at me right now.




    hahahahah

    so weird to read that, because i used to do that in japan when i lived there

    those things are heavy

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    Lord JezoLord Jezo Registered User regular
    edited January 2009
    Lots of information from everyone. Thanks.

    We have so many things that we want to do and only about 12 days to do it all.

    This is going to be one hell of a whirlwind tour. By the looks of it we'd need months to see everything we want to see but we'll do our best.

    Less than three months to go. Should be awesome.

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