Travel Japan

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I'm sure some of the BF community has visited Japan in their travels.

We're looking at spending a whirlwind 8 nights there in October as a part of our honeymoon as it's a destination we've always wanted to experience.

Definitely want to spend some time in Tokyo & possibly one more destination but are struggling to find a suitable spot that we'd enjoy.

We love our food and alcohol, shopping/markets, and the hustle & bustle of a big city so Tokyo is locked in for at least 4 nights but not sure on the rest. We're not sure on the Osaka/Kyoto/Hiroshima area as they seem to have oodles of temples/museums that dont really float our boat and not sure what else.

A friend suggested maybe Nikko or Hakone that are close to Tokyo and give us a more relaxed couple of days..

Any suggestions from personal experience of the best that Japan has to offer? Or even things we can do in Tokyo? Should we just stay the 8 nights in Tokyo & venture out on the trains for a couple of day trips?

We are flying in from Malaysia and can fly into Osaka or Tokyo & will then leave from Tokyo after the 8 nights.
 

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J_Moore

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#2
You can easily do 8 days in Tokyo. It is an incredible city.

But it's a beautiful country, too, and you won't see a great deal of that side of things in Tokyo. It's a lot of things, but pretty ain't one of them.

Didn't do Hakone because a mate who lives over there recommended against it (bit touristy and artificial, apparently). He was more of a fan of the area around Nagano for your mountain needs. Still only a short trip from Tokyo by shinkansen, I think.

But Hakone might be a good option if you're travelling by yourself, because English isn't that widely spoken off the tourist path.

Kyoto seemed "slower", I guess, but there was still a lot happening at night by Australian standards. And the temples are actually incredible and worth seeing even for a day.

Osaka is another massive, modern city with plenty happening.


Adding to the language point from earlier, if you're there for more than a couple of days, I found it worth learning some really basic Japanese. Apparently people with a bit of English can be reluctant to use it. Just the words for this/these/those, the basic counting system up to five (different from their numbers), and standard excuse me/please/thank you material I found useful.


Tokyo District Highlights
-----------------------------

Shimokitazawa - Sort of the Newtown/Fitzroy type area of Tokyo, I guess, but considerably less annoying. Cheap food, gigs, that sort of thing. Bit out of town, but a cool place.

Akihabara - The electronics/video game district of the city. Even if you're not into that sort of stuff (I'm not, particularly) it needs to be seen to be believed. The centre of Japan's geek culture. Pop by a rabbit cafe and, if you've got the time, see an AKB48 show at Don Quixote. 'Cause, ah, why not?


Asakusa - Older, slightly more working class district. A lot's changed, apparently, but I still a nice place to wander round. It's up in the vague direction of the sumo stables and fish market, I think, if you're going there.

Akasaka - This is sort of a CBD sort of area. Doesn't get a lot of play in tourist write ups that Ive seen, but I've stayed in the area a couple of times and quite liked it. Enough Japanese work late, eat out and get drunk most night that this place seemed buzzing every week night til the early hours, but in a more low key way than, say, Shinjuku, Was dead on weekends, though.


i wasn't massively into Shibuya/Shinjuku/Roppongi.

I'd do a karaoke night just because.
 

Ron

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#3
Spent four weeks there last year and i loved it.

Tokyo is an amazing city, but i fell in love with Osaka even more. Kyoto is great for the historical side of Japan, the golden temple, and the temple in Nara and amazing to see.

When in Tokyo make sure you go up to the top viewing area of the Tokyo sky tree, it's quite a view.
 

J_Moore

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When in Tokyo make sure you go up to the top viewing area of the Tokyo sky tree, it's quite a view.
We were there just after Sky Tree opened (day of, I think). Holy shit was the city obsessed with it. Couldn't actually get up the top because it had sold out weeks in advance, apparently. I did pick up some Tokyo Sky Tree pigeon cakes on the way out at Narita, though, to remember the occasion.

You can also get a pretty good view of the city (plus a beer & a view of a giant turd) for a bit cheaper at the Asahi Beer Headquarters.
 

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Went there with friends in 2011. Hakone was a bit touristy, but hey, I was a tourist! (And c'mon, where else are you going to ride on a pirate galleon in Japan?)

Hiroshima was also great - we stayed on Miyajima Island (gorgeous in its own right) and were just a quick ferry and train away from the city and surrounds.
 

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Skiied in Nagano a few years ago. Spent a couple of days in Tokyo at the end, loved it. Definitely want to go back and spend some serious time there, and also get to Kyoto which everyone reckons is phenomenal even if you're not particularly into temples.
 

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Thanks for the suggestions guys. You've bombarded me all at the same time with possible options & confused me probably even more :confused: Ideally we would really like to get out of Tokyo if we can find the right place that we think'll suit us, but dont mind spending 8 days there either. Thanks J_Moore for the Tokyo breakdown, this kind of thing is what I enjoy researching about a place.

If you were to have 3 or 4 days down in the Osaka region would you spend them at Osaka or Kyoto (or somewhere else).. ?We love a place that looks takes us completely away from what we're used to so I'd imagine Kyoto would be like that, I'm just unsure what else there is to do there? The deers in Nara? Anything else? Good food and drink options there?

Also in general, on a sporting side of things, anyone been to a sporting event in Japan? Baseball I think will be in its post season, so we might get lucky there. Horse racing will be heating up at that stage. Sumo wrestling? Not sure if we're there at the right time of the year? Soccer. Anything else?

It is our honeymoon, but this part we're kind of expecting to be full on, and have 10 days on the beach afterwards.
 

Caesar

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Also in general, on a sporting side of things, anyone been to a sporting event in Japan? Baseball I think will be in its post season, so we might get lucky there. Horse racing will be heating up at that stage. Sumo wrestling? Not sure if we're there at the right time of the year? Soccer. Anything else?
I've always thought it would be really cool to see professional keirin racing.

 

J_Moore

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The most interesting off-the-beaten track thing we did was a weekend on an active volcano island 6-hours (overnight ferry) off the coast of Tokyo. Stayed in a B&B/Ryokan type thing overlooking the ocean, toured the island checking out the damage a 2000 eruption did to the place (completely destroyed the side of the island the old village was on, burying it in about 6 foot of lava), listened to the hourly loudspeaker announcements that inform the few thousand residents of the current sulphur levels in the air (seriously seemed like Homer Simpson's "everything's ok" alarm, and ran 24 hours a day), hit up a natural onsen/mineral spa and nuded up with the local middle aged men.

The best bit was snorkelling with wild dolphins off the side of a neighbouring island. Pretty amazing experience all up.

If you're in to that sort of thing, I'd definitely recommend it. Was very cool. Not cheap, though, and I'm not sure how we would've gone if we didn't have a mate that speaks Japanese with us. But details are here: http://www.dolphin-club-miyakejima.com/eindex.html
 

placebo

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Get to Osaka for sure. Preferred it to Tokyo (which I also very much enjoyed) and Kyoto as well. Although Kyoto is great for the historical sites. If you end up in Tokyo, I'd recommend visiting the bar from Lost In Translation, 50 odd floors up, great view and live jazz music.
Otherwise, I've heard the war memorial in Hiroshima is an incredible experience.

If it was Tokyo and one other, then I'd choose Osaka.
 

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Was in Tokyo in January and went to one of the Sumo tournaments. Went very early after going to the Fish markets (another must do) so there were very few people there and no atmosphere at all. It was cool to go and see but the fights only go for a few seconds and it got boring pretty quickly. I'm sure when the place is packed it'd be amazing though.

Another thing I'll suggest if you want something is Ueno Zoo, cheap as anything to get into, surrounded by museums and shrines so you can make a day of it. One of the best zoo's I've been to.

And with the language barrier, I spend two weeks skiing in Hakuba and a Week in Tokyo, so admittedly very touristy parts and although learning some Japanese may be handy is by no means necessary and getting around the subway is a breeze all the signs and maps are in english
 

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I was over there when one of the six(?) major sumo tournaments of the year was on, and it made for surprisingly addictive TV to watch the best of them in action after a day of sightseeing.
 

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i've been once, for a couple of weeks. i was lucky enough for part of it to stay with a friend and his family, so got plenty of help with getting around. but the things i would suggest are.

go to some temples. if you are going to go to a country, surely you want to see the historic side of it too. (especially when it's so different to our own culture)

Eat as much japanese food as you can. especially go to a place that does Yakiniku and one that does Okonomiyaki. thats the shit right there!

If you plan on touring outside of Tokyo get a Shinkansen pass. But purchase it in australia via your agent rather than when you get there. those trains are incredible, but crazy expensive to buy tickets for in Japan. this pass also gets you free use on one particular train line (kind of a loop i think, cant remember what it's called). actually i'd take some time if you can to research the rail system. it's critical to getting anywhere fast and cheap. all rail travel has a voiceover in english that tells you what stop you are at so that was pretty useful.

i made it a priority to go to Hiroshima and it's memorial/museum. It's the place of one of the most significant moments in our earths history (certainly recent times) and was really worthwhile IMO.

If you're a sports fan, go to Baseball. The Tokyo Dome is the new indoor stadium and it's pretty cool. the cultural experience at everything is so different. I went to Sumo also (it's quite sporadic when it's on though i think) and agree with the earlier post that there's no point in going early in the day. nobody goes for the lightweights in the morning.

finally. if you're tall, shrink. if you're fat, lose some weight before you go. you wont fit in any seats otherwise.

It's pretty awesome though. you'll love it. i plan to go back one day.
 

Aussie Assault

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Cheers agains guys.

It makes me more confident that we can fly into Osaka, spend some time in that area, and then head up to Tokyo. As I've already said I was a little concerned with how we'd fill our time.

BigLefty, we certainly dont mind the architecture of such buildings around the world, and often make a good setting for our photography, but just havent found much interest inside these place whether it be a mosque, famous artistic type museums, churches, temples etc. Memorials we do like to visit wherever we are though, gives us a bit of a sense of what has happened in their country's past and how lucky Australia has had it in recent times.

There's some metro government building in Tokyo that has free views of the city that apparently is well worth it.. Anyone know the one? We've also got the fish markets locked in at the top of our list, and plenty of different eateries. For whatever reason the food that we eat on our travels tends to stick in our minds more than anything else, and love thinking back about what we ate here or there as it takes us back. So yeah, we're excited about the food side of things!

I personally dont think anything will happen but we are keeping one eye on North Korea and their threats. We flew into South Korea a couple of year back just after they shelled each other on their disputed islands when tensions were high. Kind of worrying sitting in an airport that is less than 100kms from the border just thinking about 'what ifs'.
 

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Rod Stroker

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The Imperial Palace in the guts of Tokyo is worth a look. When I was living there I used to run around it every week (one lap is around 5kms) and it was always a cool experience just jogging past centuries of history.

The Tsukiji fish market is an amazing experience, although they've changed the rules in recent years because there were too many tourists getting in the way of the the merchants and buyers trying to do business. I think now you have to get there by 5am and they only let in the first 100 people.

Another cool place is the Toyota factory out at Odaiba, where you could test drive their cars on purpose built tracks. Not sure if they still do that.

I was going to suggest that if you were going during the footy season and you wanted to watch AFL games, then I could hook you up with the Tokyo Goannas, the Aussie rules team there. Great bunch of blokes. The best GF I've ever watched (besides being at the game) was in Tokyo with the Goannas in 2006.
 
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Disgraceful suggestion. If he was going to see a team play he'd have to check out the best.
Www.osakadingoes.com
That said, there is a fair bit of football in Japan during October.

As far as what to see in Kansai, it's hard to say without knowing what you're into. The possibilities are endless.

Can help you fill an itinerary for both Tokyo and Osaka if you'd like. Lived in Hiroshima and Kansai for four years now.
 

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In October you will have to travel to Fukuoka to see the Sumo.

If you are smart you will have the Japan Rail Pass, so the travel won't bother you.

Food in Japan is very regional and seasonal. It is the main highlight. Don't travel with a vegetarian or anyone who thinks Japanese food in Australia is "divine."

Go to a good sushi place in Tokyo. I can recommend one if you like.
 

J_Moore

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#23
Food in Japan is very regional and seasonal. It is the main highlight. Don't travel with a vegetarian or anyone who thinks Japanese food in Australia is "divine.".
I didn't find the food to be dramatically better or different than some of the decent quality stuff you can get here. I mean, it was really good, but I've had pretty good Japanese in Australia, too. But I was pretty much just in Tokyo and Kyoto, for the most part
 

basashi

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I didn't find the food to be dramatically better or different than some of the decent quality stuff you can get here. I mean, it was really good, but I've had pretty good Japanese in Australia, too. But I was pretty much just in Tokyo and Kyoto, for the most part

and do not travel in Japan with J_Moore
 

J_Moore

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#25
and do not travel in Japan with J_Moore
I don't understand your point. Are you saying there is no such thing as a good Japanese restaurant in Australia? Are you saying there is no such thing as good food in Tokyo?

I ate at some well regarded places in Tokyo and Kyoto, as well as some hole-in-the-wall street food, and while the food was generally a very high standard, I wouldn't say it bore absolutely no relation to Japanese food I've had here.

I also stayed at a B&B on a small island, and, other than a vegetable that only grows on that island, the food wasn't particularly unfamiliar.

I'm just curious why someone enjoying Japanese in Australia might preclude them from enjoying the food in Japan?
 
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