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Fez

Recommendations for two weeks in Japan

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Heya board. I'm gonna be in Japan for two weeks in early September, and its my first time visiting anywhere in Asia (unless Israel counts). I'm pretty stoked, but there's actually so many possibilities for things to do that I'm little overwhelmed and was hoping to get some advice/recommendations. I know I want to spend some time in Tokyo and some time in Kyoto, but what are the best other cities/areas to check out? And how long should I spend in Tokyo and Kyoto versus going to other places? I'm going to have one of those tourist-only rail passes, so getting around should be pretty easy.

Also, maybe a dumb question, but; I have 3 tattoos. They aren't anything like yakuza tattoos, but are they things I'm going to have to cover up or are people used to seeing westerners with tattoos?

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I learned today that Japan has the tomb of Jesus Christ. You should see it!

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19 minutes ago, Filippa Eilhart said:

I learned today that Japan has the tomb of Jesus Christ. You should see it!

Does this in any way connect to the Native Americans being the 10 lost tribes of Israel?

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Posted (edited)

It's been a while since I was in Japan, but personally I enjoyed Kyoto and the Imperial Palace. Though I was a bit fortunate in the sense, that I was visiting a friend for a full month who spent a semester abroad during his Japanese studies, and who also had family there. So I had a pretty decent guide and was basically just tagging along.

Word of advice, don't expect all the Japanese to speak English. And Japanese beer is awful (sorry to say that).

Edited by Notone

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1 hour ago, Fez said:

I know I want to spend some time in Tokyo and some time in Kyoto, but what are the best other cities/areas to check out?

Hiroshima isn't exactly fun, but it's certainly worth visiting. I'd also recommend Takayama - don't miss the Hida Folk Village. If you're a fan of anime, definitely go to the Ghibli museum - tickets need to be purchased well in advance.

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Stay away from the area north of Tokyo, because while Fukushima is 150 miles from Tokyo, there's been a lot of dishonesty about radioactivity levels. Not joking here.

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Spent a month and a half in Japan this fall. Loved Kyoto, favourite stop on a 5 month Asia swing (Siem Reap 2nd). But then I'm a history guy. 

Tokyo was very cool, crazy place on Halloween. Get out into the country somewhere, though...lots of choices. Around Kamakura's nice, or up near Fuji...and try and do a Ryokan. Hiroshima, Fukushima, Osaka all cool. People are unbelievably friendly, though less English than anywhere else in Asia I saw. One warning; if, like me, you rely on asking strangers for help/directions, be careful.

Because soooo many women I asked would be unable to communicate in words (my non-Japanese and their better but not sufficient English) and would instead just walk me all the way where I was going, often blocks and blocks and then be very concerned I found the exact right spot before resuming their own lives. I would not be able to beg off once underway, could not get across that it wasn't worth their time, but I think it's a cultural thing where if you ask for help they kinda assume total responsibility for you. I'm so used to playing Scarlet O'Hara that I'd do it without thinking and then be like 'oh, fuck!' when it would start again. Soooo nice, but you kinda feel like a dick.

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3 hours ago, Notone said:

It's been a while since I was in Japan, but personally I enjoyed Kyoto and the Imperial Palace. Though I was a bit fortunate in the sense, that I was visiting a friend for a full month who spent a semester abroad during his Japanese studies, and who also had family there. So I had a pretty decent guide and was basically just tagging along.

Word of advice, don't expect all the Japanese to speak English. And Japanese beer is awful (sorry to say that).

Yeah, definitely gonna check out the palace. I have had Japanese beer a couple times before, so I know what to expect. I'm not much of a beer drinker anyway though. Probably gonna stick with Sake and Japanese whiskey.

2 hours ago, felice said:

Hiroshima isn't exactly fun, but it's certainly worth visiting. I'd also recommend Takayama - don't miss the Hida Folk Village. If you're a fan of anime, definitely go to the Ghibli museum - tickets need to be purchased well in advance.

Hiroshima seems like quite a trip from Kyoto (although with the rail system there, I actually don't know how far it really is), but I would like to get there. It'd be best if I could package it up with something else in that part of the country.

I've heard of the Ghibli museum, what exactly is it though? Art designs from the movies they've done? 

1 hour ago, Fragile Bird said:

Stay away from the area north of Tokyo, because while Fukushima is 150 miles from Tokyo, there's been a lot of dishonesty about radioactivity levels. Not joking here.

Whoa. I wasn't planning on heading north of Tokyo anyway, but, good to know.

1 hour ago, James Arryn said:

Spent a month and a half in Japan this fall. Loved Kyoto, favourite stop on a 5 month Asia swing (Siem Reap 2nd). But then I'm a history guy. 

Tokyo was very cool, crazy place on Halloween. Get out into the country somewhere, though...lots of choices. Around Kamakura's nice, or up near Fuji...and try and do a Ryokan. Hiroshima, Fukushima, Osaka all cool. People are unbelievably friendly, though less English than anywhere else in Asia I saw. One warning; if, like me, you rely on asking strangers for help/directions, be careful.

Because soooo many women I asked would be unable to communicate in words (my non-Japanese and their better but not sufficient English) and would instead just walk me all the way where I was going, often blocks and blocks and then be very concerned I found the exact right spot before resuming their own lives. I would not be able to beg off once underway, could not get across that it wasn't worth their time, but I think it's a cultural thing where if you ask for help they kinda assume total responsibility for you. I'm so used to playing Scarlet O'Hara that I'd do it without thinking and then be like 'oh, fuck!' when it would start again. Soooo nice, but you kinda feel like a dick.

5 months?! Wow. 

I do sometimes rely on asking for directions, so I will bear that in mind.

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Fez, I've passed on a message to rocksniffer, who's been out of town, that someone was looking for advice about Japan. He knows the country very well, I'm sure he'll have some suggestions. :)

 

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4 hours ago, Fez said:

Hiroshima seems like quite a trip from Kyoto (although with the rail system there, I actually don't know how far it really is), but I would like to get there. It'd be best if I could package it up with something else in that part of the country.

It's only a couple of hours on the shinkansen, I think. If you've got the rail pass, you may as well use it!

4 hours ago, Fez said:

I've heard of the Ghibli museum, what exactly is it though? Art designs from the movies they've done?

Yes, and stuff on the history of animation in general and how it's made. The design of the place is fascinating, lots of little details. They also show a short film exclusive to the museum (there are several films, and which is showing changes from day to day, I think), and have a great gift shop.

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Hey! I'll be travelling there next month! So I'm very interested in any recommendation anyone can give ;) 

On 14/3/2017 at 9:15 PM, Fragile Bird said:

Fez, I've passed on a message to rocksniffer, who's been out of town, that someone was looking for advice about Japan. He knows the country very well, I'm sure he'll have some suggestions. :)

 

It would be great if @rocksniffer can give some advises. I bet he knows where to find cool places to drink and rock :D

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Update: I've got the broad strokes of the trip planned out. I'm gonna go Tokyo->Kyoto->Kanazawa->Toyko. With some daytrips heading from those cities, though I haven't nailed all of that down yet. I'm definitely going to take full advantage of that rail-pass while I'm there.

I've got a decent grasp of what I'll do during the days, especially when I'm staying in those cities; but I've got nothing set for evening/night other than "Wander [name] district/neighborhood find a place to eat and a place to drink." Maybe that's all I need, but I'd definitely be up for any suggestions. 

One thing that I am little concerned about, especially in Tokyo, is figuring out the relative seediness of bars and clubs; since its seems like everything is pretty much jumbled together and I'm not looking to end up anywhere too seedy or designed to extract as much cash as possible from me (like a hostess bar).

 

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I haven't been to Japan since I was about thirteen and thus remember very little of it.  However, I will offer a general travel tip.

If you're not going to be getting any kind of international plan for your phone, download CityMaps2Go.  It lets you download entire maps of cities onto your phone so that you can access them while in airplane mode.  Getting on wifi will sync your GPS to the app, which means you can actually use it to get around fairly easily and find the places you need to find.  I used this in various cities throughout Europe last summer and it was a fantastic resource.  You can also search for and mark places on the map.  I think you may need wifi to do the actual searching, but once you mark something you can see it in offline mode.

I also downloaded individual travel guides for each of the cities we went to, and those were great to look at when traveling between locations.  Those usually also include maps, and you can usually get around pretty easily using some combination of the two.

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Tokyo national museum is interesting, I spent 2 days there.

Also, if you're into Japanese history and weapons, the Japan Sword Museum is in Tokyo as well.  Opportunity to see many swords from famous makers, going back many centuries.

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Tattoos wont be a problem unless you are planning to join a gym. You might get looks at Onsen but I doubt anyone would say anything, especially on a foreigner.

Climb Fuji - you are there at the end of the season and it takes about 2 days from Shinjuku and back. I loved it.

Fujikyu highlands. If you like theme parks this is great and the only one you need to do in Japan.  Many great or even famous roller coasters. Best haunted house I've ever seen. 3 stories and 3 big wings you can go and get lost in and come out hoarse. I always thought haunted houses were lame until this.  It was a hospital last time I went which was over 10 years ago now but I know the change it up.  If you ever liked gundam or evangelion, they have rides for this that you may find interesting.

Yamanote line: If you are in Tokyo for any period, you should probably stay near to or on this train line. Its basically a circle around the middle of Tokyo and this is basically the middle of everything Kanto.

Near Shibuya and Shinjuku: Theres a shrine in the middle of Yoygi park which is good and they do markets there on a weekend from memory. Good place to go. I think you can probably walk from there through Harijuku to Omotesando. Lots of good food and interesting things to see and shopping of course. Good Honest Grub is a decent place for a western breakfast on the weekend and is in Shibuya and not far from Hatchiko square which you will have seen on tv. The square has a good story about the dog that used to wait for his master long after his master passed. There is a statue of Hatchiko (the dog) there usually surrounded by smoking teenagers. There are a few good museums in this area too.

Yokohama isn't far from Tokyo and has a beautiful harbor at night and landmark tower has a good view.

Kamakura was the medieval capital for a while and has a lot of the old buildings and a big Buddha. Worth a trip if you want to see more of the history. Shinto shrines are good here.

Okinawa was great. Great castle and lots of history from world war 2. 

Lots of castles all over Japan to see that are great.  The one near Nagano is good and you should see Himeji castle in Kansei too.  All beautiful to see in real life. The imperial gardens or whatever they are near actual Tokyo are good too.

Hope you enjoy it.

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On ‎14‎/‎03‎/‎2017 at 7:35 PM, Fez said:

Heya board. I'm gonna be in Japan for two weeks in early September, and its my first time visiting anywhere in Asia (unless Israel counts). I'm pretty stoked, but there's actually so many possibilities for things to do that I'm little overwhelmed and was hoping to get some advice/recommendations. I know I want to spend some time in Tokyo and some time in Kyoto, but what are the best other cities/areas to check out? And how long should I spend in Tokyo and Kyoto versus going to other places? I'm going to have one of those tourist-only rail passes, so getting around should be pretty easy.

Also, maybe a dumb question, but; I have 3 tattoos. They aren't anything like yakuza tattoos, but are they things I'm going to have to cover up or are people used to seeing westerners with tattoos?

I was there 12 years ago, during ten days, but I also recommend Osaka as a city (if you like cities). I think that there I visited a Japanese garden, but I don't remember correctly if it was there, but it was so beautiful. I was also in Hiroshima, the museum of the World War and the Monument are worth visiting.

In Kyoto there are temples and don't forget to go  see the tea Ceremony by the Geishas, it's very interesting.

Tokyo is amazing. There are many places there and it's so big! I personally loved Akihabara.

I spent one night in MiyaJima, it's a beautiful island.

In Japan the high speed trains are a good way to travel across the country.

Edited by Meera of Tarth

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