Japan



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Heading to Japan in the fall for 1 week. Never been, don't know much. Flying in/out of Tokyo, need some advice on what to do in between. Interested in a mountain town, waterside town. Huge foodie, so wherever I can get the goods, show me the way!
 
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1 week: scalito long way to fly RT with bare amt of time to enjoy self. Tokyo's on water, Mt Fuji's hard to miss; train to historical capital Kyoto for few days; hop on return flight. High quality food focus from around the world makes Japan one of favorite nations to enjoy. Depending on when you plan to travel, be aware of Rugby World Cup dates (9/20-11/2) which may impact hotel availability/rates.
 

junglehusky

Molotov Cocktail of Ugliness
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Kyoto is an absolute must, with another ancient city of Nara and the largest wooden Buddha as a side trip if you're staying in Kyoto a few days. Or, take the shinkansen to Kanazawa and see the famous garden (and contrast its more modern feel to the gardens in Kyoto), spend a day taking the Tateyama-Kurobe alpine route (when I went it was mostly foggy, but fall might have better visibility), and a night in Nagoya (edit - Nagano. Though Nagoya might be nice too - I haven't been). You can find a nice onsen (hot spring resort) outside most cities if you enjoy a good soak.

Japan-Guide is a great resource for English speakers travelling to Japan.
 
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Oh! I am jealous, I was not able to make my way to Japan when I lived in China. One of my wifes best friends is from Japan. If you get back to me I can see if she can get in touch with him, see what advice he might be able to offer as a local.

Enjoy!
 

tdrink

Pessimistic idealist
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I lived in Japan for three years near Kyoto.

Tokyo has a crazy, electric energy to it that I have never seen anywhere else. That said I didn’t think there were many specific places to go other than walking various neighborhoodslike Harajuku which is the fashion district. Or the big park where people gather to do their “club” activities (especially on Sundays). I think the park is Yoyogi. I happened onto a group of Elvis impersonators practicing their moves together.

I would highly recommend taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. I got lucky and had a perfectly clear view of Mt Fuji from the train. (I would not recommend going to Fuji, it is incredibly crowded). The train is an experience.

Kyoto is chock full of destinations. Ryoanji, Kinkakuji, Kyomizudera are all postcards come to life. My favorite shrine was always Fushimi-inari which translates roughly to “the Fox shrine”. It consists of several paths up a mountain that are all under a series of red painted gates. Very hard to describe the energy that the place evokes. Lots of walking there though, so it's not for everyone.

The food is awesome. I would trade the Japanese diet for America,s in a heartbeat. If you know what to get that’s filling it can be fairly reasonable cost wise as well. As a tourist you will have no idea so be prepared to pay through the nose. Make sure to eat at least one dinner at an Izakaya (basically a pub.) They serve what they call Sumo food, because there are lots of small but calorie rich dishes. You order a few at a time with another round of drinks. By the end of night you are full, drunk and broke. Also do not miss Okinomiyaki (Japanese pizza but more like a frittata.) That is eaten on a heated table.

Now I want to back just for the food. But then I remember how long it took to adjust to the concept of always having my personal space impinged. Be prepared for a lot humanity packed into a relatively small area.
 
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Japan is probably my most wanted travel destination. I can only dream of visiting someday though, the wife can’t handle air travel. I am jealous LIuconn and I’m enjoying living vicariously through the rest of you.
 

Drumguy

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In Tokyo I'd add to go to the food stalls under the bridge in Ginza; treat yourself to amazing mixed drinks at Gen Yamamoto English Craftheads is a great beer bar in Tokyo.
Go to Shibuya Crossing to see the hordes of people crossing the streets. Go to the Tsukiji fish market, even though its in a new setting its still pretty cool. Wander around the palace and visit some of the shrines. Kapabashi street is pretty cool for kitchen knives and rubber realistic food. Kyubey for sushi is about as good as it gets. The shrines in Tokyo are interesting but rebuilt for the most part. Even the harajuku area is interesting. We picked up some fancy chopsticks in Shibuya.

We took a train to Nakamora to see the Giant Gotama Buddha statue and go inside of it.

We had fun staying at an Onsen near Mt. Fuji, while we didn't climb Mt Fuji there are pirate ships on a lake, black eggs in sulfer springs, some neat hiking around the area and a cool train that zig zags up the mountain.

Kyoto is amazing. Hit the bamboo forest, the shrines like the Fushimi Inari-taisha with thousands of Toris is amazing. These are really old and were not bombed in WW2.

We also did a train trip out of kyoto to Yamazuki for whiskey tastings.


Amazing country.
 
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Japan is probably my most wanted travel destination. I can only dream of visiting someday though, the wife can’t handle air travel. I am jealous LIuconn and I’m enjoying living vicariously through the rest of you.
Hah, with enough time off you could book yourselves on a ship or even a freighter. I jest a bit, but don't be too jealous. Poor LIUConn's purposefully subjecting himself to a Pacific RT in only about a week's time. Glutton for punishment he ...
 

Drumguy

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In Tokyo I'd add to go to the food stalls under the bridge in Ginza; treat yourself to amazing mixed drinks at Gen Yamamoto English Craftheads is a great beer bar in Tokyo.
Go to Shibuya Crossing to see the hordes of people crossing the streets. Go to the Tsukiji fish market, even though its in a new setting its still pretty cool. Wander around the palace and visit some of the shrines. Kapabashi street is pretty cool for kitchen knives and rubber realistic food. Kyubey for sushi is about as good as it gets. The shrines in Tokyo are interesting but rebuilt for the most part. Even the harajuku area is interesting. We picked up some fancy chopsticks in Shibuya.

We took a train to Nakamora to see the Giant Gotama Buddha statue and go inside of it.

We had fun staying at an Onsen near Mt. Fuji, while we didn't climb Mt Fuji there are pirate ships on a lake, black eggs in sulfer springs, some neat hiking around the area and a cool train that zig zags up the mountain.

Kyoto is amazing. Hit the bamboo forest, the shrines like the Fushimi Inari-taisha with thousands of Toris is amazing. These are really old and were not bombed in WW2.

We also did a train trip out of kyoto to Yamazuki for whiskey tastings.


Amazing country.
One last tidbit - get the business card of the place you are staying or going. Addresses are pretty funky in Japan, Tokyo for sure - you want to hand them the address card otherwise you will definitely have trouble communicating - some addresses are not really addresses and many doors have no signage. There was significantly less english spoken than I thought.
 

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