Collecting advices for Japan trip!

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mekan
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Collecting advices for Japan trip!

Post by mekan » Sep 18th, '08, 07:39

I've decided to have a one week Japan trip on next August or September (2009) and currently collecting money for it (an expensive type of trip T_T).

So, I would like to ask you dear D-addicts community member - what would you suggest me to take, note, remember, be sure to check, visit, never forget before, during and after the trip?

ANY advices are welcome! I'm waiting for your opinion!

The collection of One-Year-Advice-For-One-Week-Japan-Trip is starting!

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babyxdorkii
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Post by babyxdorkii » Sep 18th, '08, 08:07

seriously bring alot of money if u plan to buy anything in japan, even travel is quite expensive. of course, not the subway!

learn some japanese, it will help u get around more easier, but yeah some japanese does understand english but some give us blank faces when we speak english too but yeah i felt japan knows more english than other countries.

check out the popular areas, shibuya, ginza, shinjuku, roppongi,etc.

oh and bring ur camera! hehe im sure u won't forget this one!

Hopefully i can go visit Japan again
:D

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Post by theuncontactable » Sep 18th, '08, 09:25

Definitely get a JR Pass

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Post by guo87 » Sep 18th, '08, 09:52

must go kyoto...the very beautifull place at japan....nice place

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Post by ACSK » Sep 18th, '08, 10:51

You absolutely must buy a JR Pass. If you plan on going anywhere in Japan it's going to save you insane amounts of money. The key thing to note with the railpass is you must buy it BEFORE you come to Japan. There are two types of rail passes; Standard and Green Car. I would recommend the cheaper (Standard Car) railpass.

I also hope you can speak and read Japanese to some degree. If you can't, you've got a year to learn! Start taking classes. A lot of people think Japanese know some English because they have to learn in school. Well... I live here, and I can say most Japanese people's English ability doesn't go past "Hello, my name is Ken", and "I am fine."

Lastly, pack light. I would highly recommend cramming everything into a single backpack, and bringing just that. You can bring the lightest clothes and be fine. No matter where you go it'll be nice and warm that time of year. All day, and all night.

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Lifo
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Post by Lifo » Sep 18th, '08, 11:14

I've been to Japan this July, so I probably can add some points.

1- LEARN Japanese: Few Japanese can speak English. The whole time I was there I spoke Japanese 90% of the time. The other 10% was in English, with the hotel staff ofcoarse. Learn phrases of "Where? Which direction?" & such things. If you already know Japanese, then I guess it won't be a problem.

2- Get an English subway map from the hotel: If you go to the Tokyo Central station for instance, you'll find a subway map in Japanese, not English. So better be prepared.

3- If you get lost ask people: In Japanese that is. They are very friendly & willing to help so don't be shy. You can always find foreigners too, so you can ask them as well.

Definitely go to Shibuya, Ginza, Akihabara, Asakusa, Ebisu, Harajuku, Tokyo Dome, Yokohama (In Tokyo). Don't miss Osaka & Kyoto as well!
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theuncontactable
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What are you interested in?

Post by theuncontactable » Sep 18th, '08, 12:52

Mekan:

You haven't told us what you're interested in because there's no point in going to some of these places if you aren't interested in say shopping in Shibuya or otaku culture in Akiba (Akihabara). A lot of these places specialises in certain things. You could just spend a week in the Kansai region itself. If you go to all these places mentioned, you'll just end up up looking out of a train window for a week.

For a week, I would personally just stay somewhere in the Kansai region say Osaka as a base and from there you could make day trips to: Kyoto, Nara, Kobe (although there's not much there for tourist), Himeji and Hiroshima and Miyajima is a bullet train trip away which you can use the JR Pass for. There are also shopping districts in Osaka as well like DenDen Town for Otaku culture and Umeda (JR Osaka Stn).

My favourite places are:
1. Hiroshima & Miyajima (When visiting Hiroshima you should go to the Peace Museum first to have a good cry and also get a bearing of the city. A 10 minute JR Ferry from Hiroshima (use your JR Pass) is Miyajima which has the floating Torri amongst other things is the most photograph tourist attraction in Japan) [You could spend 1.5-2 days here]
2. Nara (Deers and big indoor Buddha)
3. Kyoto (most of the touristy spots are pretty well spread out in Kyoto)
4. Osaka (Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi) for the night life, Den Den Town, Osakajokoen (Osaka Castle Park) of course there's Osaka Castle but on Sunday afternoons there's usually indy bands doing streetlive at the JR station end of the park if you like music.
5. Kobe (not much there) but HImeji along that train line is the mother of all castles.

There's also Osaka Aquarium and Universal Studio Theme park but I never went there.

Most depressing place would have to be Osaka Zoo.

Tokyo just never appealed to me so I don't remember much of it.

... and if you ever get lost just go to the nearest JR station and use your JR Pass to find your way home.

I'll write about the public transport system and your get out of Jail Free Card (JR Pass) later...if no one else does.

merou2
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Post by merou2 » Sep 19th, '08, 02:53

I know these are weird tips but hell i know, i used to live there! Never buy anything your not gonna want to carry around, e.g. a bag of chips, sure you might enjoy them, but seriously wtf!?! where are all the trashbins, they are kinda hard to find, hahahah.So if you buy something know that you will have to carry it around. Also wear some really really comfy shoes, you walk so much, I knew a friend who lived in Japan, he walked so much(probably all the healthy food too), that he lost around 35kg! No joking around. if you need to withdraw money, i recommend you do so in advance, like at a local bank, but don't worry if you don't get to do that. Exchange your money at the aiport, its not that hard to find in Narita, its as soon as you exit you will see it on your right side. :) Or ask at the help desk, they speak english there. If you need some quick cash also, you can withdraw money from the atms at post offices, but be wary of the hours, they close early on weekends, most atms will work, but I took my chances with one random atm, and man, i totally lost my card, oh! oh! Call your debit/credit card company :D and tell them not to go crazy if they see the card being spent in Tokyo, hahaha, they might freeze your account. Wouldnt be very fun to be broke in Japan( you can always sleep on a bench, hahaha, did that once, missed the last train). Will add more, eventually. Some people are suggesting buying a JR pass, yeah, good idea if your gonna stay in Tokyo, buy a one day pass! Save a few bucks here and there, also don't! don't! eat western foods, hahaha.

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Post by theuncontactable » Sep 19th, '08, 08:05

I think the reason why there aren't any trashbins are because Japanese people tend to take their food home to eat or they sit down somewhere to eat rather than eat on the go. Trashbins can be found outside the ubiquitous convenient stores (conbi) like "Lawsons", "7/11" and "Family Mart".

7/11 will also accept atm cash withdrawals from international credit cards. Although the fees may be higher than the post-office (JP). The main reason that people suggested bringing lots of cash is because credit cards are not accepted in most places.

As I find travelling stressful, I prefer the JR Pass which pretty much takes care of your domestic travelling worries and you have to weigh up the convenience of having one over the cost of having one, especially if it is your first time in the country. You could also look at a regional JR Pass if you are only staying in one region such as JR West Pass for the Kansai Area (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara area), JR East Pass for the Kantou Area (Tokyo, Yokohama, etc.). Note that you can't use the JR Pass for the non-JR train lines.

Crocs are the best for Japan as they are comfortable, not stinky and you will have to frequently take your shoes off and on. You can buy them in Japan as well. The other item of clothing that I find useful is a Buff or similarly Kathmandu Head Tube. You could use it as a bandana, scarf, beanie, wrist band, but in Japan I normally use it as a mask against tobacco smoke.

mekan
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Post by mekan » Sep 19th, '08, 08:32

wow! so many replies already! ARIGATO MINNA-SAN!
I'm already getting excited just by reading your posts! And they are so nicely detailed! SO HAPPY! :thumright: I already feel like with your advices this trip will be from head to toe an excellent-planned one))

babyxdorkii
yes, I will surely bring lots of money because besides spending on myself I have to buy lots of souvenirs ^^; . I've already started to make the list. Thank you!

theuncontactable
JR pass added to list! Thanks ^-^

guo87
Kyoto, the old capital! Added to "must go visit" :) Thank you!

ACSK
thank you for so much detail on JR! I will definetly get one (hmm...shoud I ask the embassy or just at Narita airport arrival?). Though I'm a little scared with the Tokyo Subway sceneries I've seen on News haha))) (how they stuff people to fit into the train) but I guess that is just on the rush hours.
As for the light backpack...my usual work bag is heavy as tons))) Seems like I will have to sacrifice some items))))

Lifo
English subway map and visiting places! All added to list)) Thank you!

theuncontactable
At the moment I'm interested in EVERYTHING! It's my first visit so it's very hard to pick a destination. The only thing I know for sure is that I'm gonna taste all that food they show us in doramas :D like those octopus dish in Gokusen or simple things like onigiri :D And peach bun :D Haha...see where my head or should I say stomach goes?
Actually I'm planning to spend one day for visit of such places like Shibuya and Akiba.
And thanks for Kansai tip! :) I guess at the moment I will stick to that idea. But I really badly want to see Tokyo too))

I'm a trash-bin-holic myself, so I always carry a little trash-bag in my purse in case there are no trash bins around (actually first I search the whole perimeter for those, haha). great tips on JR and clothing! added to "must remember".

merou2
your tips were not a little bit weird! so helpful! I like walking a lot (a habit I caughted in England), I will surely wear comfy shoes ^-^. And that info on weight loss)) haha)) COOL)) . Thanks for the money exchange and all money related tips a lot! And yes - definetly NO WESTERN FOOD ..my little sushies are waiting for me >.<


As it was a common advice I will write the reply to need-to-know-Japanese comment without any quotation:
Thank you for your most kind advice! I've already started learning Japanes, it's been well..6 months))) I hope in a year time I will reach a bearable degree for the Japan trip))


The collecting continues!

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Post by theuncontactable » Sep 19th, '08, 10:01

If you like food, you should watch the JDorama "Osen" and the anime "Yakitatte Japan!" available as torrent downloads. You'll understand what I mean about regional specialty after watching "Yakitatte Japan!"

Here's a video of Kappa Shushi a shushi chain in Japan. This one is in Kyoto. I went to the one in Saitama. NIce and cheap! You can buy shushi from the Supa as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVsjzQMKUJ8

Generally speaking, meat and fruit and vegetables in Japan are expensive and you'll only get small portion for the money, while seafood and Ramen is cheap and you'll get large portion for the price.

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Post by dima » Sep 19th, '08, 11:48

based on my experiences in another asian country: try to either find some japanese friends beforehands so that they can show you around, or try to make some japanese friends there so that they can show you around! :mrgreen:

here's the baddest advice of all:

keep posting here and fill us with envy! :goggle:

mekan
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Post by mekan » Sep 22nd, '08, 09:19

theuncontactable
waaaa! thanks! I feel like this Kappa Sushi is going to be my fav during the trip :D
It's bad that everything is so expensive there. How do people, both residents and non-residents manage to survive there actually ? :scratch:
And thanks for dorama and anime hints :)

dima
haha! that's quite an advice :lol yes, it's true that better to make friends who live in the place you are going to visit. I have some ppl there I used to work with, but all of them are VERY busy people :D I guess I will have to find some new "victims" :D

the collecting continues...
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Post by core2quadcore » Sep 22nd, '08, 09:46

if you have enough time and money, try to visit beppu it has a lot of onsen where you could relax and/or hang out with your friends/familiy/special some one ^_^
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Post by aimlesswanderer » Oct 6th, '08, 13:56

If you are only going to be there for a week, you may want to concentrate on a region (either the Kansai around Kyoto or Kanto around Tokyo), or you could try and cram as much as possible in, hopping all over the place. It depends on what kind of holiday you want.

To figure out train costs/time these sites are fantastic, giving you very detailed trip info. Extremely useful for planning how long train journeys will take, and how much they will cost. If the total cost of the long distance trips you are taking (how much can you do in only a week?) is a fair bit less than the 1 week JR pass you might consider buying individual tickets. You get JR passes through local travel agents, and you get something to exchange for the actual pass once you are in Japan. You can't get them once you are there.

http://www.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperWeb.cgi
http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norika ... keyin.html

If you do get a JR pass make sure that you reserve tickets for your future long distance train trips (free for JR pass holders), just go to the JR ticketing office in the stations and you can make sure that you can reserve a seat. A great idea so you don't have to worry about getting a seat, and don't have to line up or possibly stand up. Also while you are at the JR office, get a copy of the full national long distance train schedule. Most useful.

I would suggest staying at a ryokan for at least 1 night, just to experience it. Some are horrendously expensive, but there are reasonably priced ones out there. A visit to a hot spring so you can get boiled alive is also a good idea, just be prepared ot get nekkid. Check for hotels which have them. Also a visit to a big, well preserved castle is an idea.

Your trip does not have to be expensive, my brother and I managed to average about US$60 each a night accomodation costs (staying in decent places), and ate noodles and such, with daily food costs about US$25 each. If you are only staying in places a day or 2, consider making sure that hotels are very close to the main JR stations, as you don't want to be ages away trying to rush to the early morning train to the next city!

The JNTO has lots and lots of info. I would also suggest that you might want to get a freebie Goodwill Guide for at least a few days. You can normally see whatever you want to see, and they can translate and help you get around. Not to mention that you can talk to a real live local for hours at a time. They are usually uni students, housewives or retired persons. If you do arrange one, buy a small gift (we got small koala soft toys) for them and they will love ya! Check for festivals on while you are there.

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/index.html
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/essen ... #volunteer

My japanese was very minimal, but we got around fine. If they can't understand you, try writing it down instead. Worked for us when needed. People are normally very helpful.

In Kyoto, I would suggest Kiyomizudera and the area around it (many traditional shops). Nearby Nara is also a good palce to visit for a rushed daytrip.

In Tokyo, the Meiji Shrine, and, if you like fish, the Tsukiji markets. Also, the big JR stations are architecturally very impressive, Kyoto eki is massive.

Watch out for talking toilets, and beware ones which spray water on your behind. If there are more than 10 buttons and you can't figure out how to flush it, stand tot he side and press all of them. Warm dunny seats are fantastic in winter!

Take heaps of photos (and storage), the more the better. Take a tiny tripod. Take photos of the mangled ingrish and post them here after.

Keep a lookout for the cafes that only sell dessert! Lots of walking means you can eat sweets any time of the day!

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Post by leprasia » Oct 23rd, '09, 07:53

And, if you ever get lost, try asking for help from their police box. Their policemen are very, very friendly and helpful. And they will definitely have a detailed map of the area they are in. You can't take it with you but at least you can copy down the roads for your own reference.

As for learning Japanese, you could either bring a phrasebook along or just poke around the internet and print out your own little handy booklet. But I am not sure how much help that would be because even if you could ask them in Japanese, you can't understand their answer.

By the way, what exactly are you thinking of accomplishing in Japan? Since it's only a week, there must be something you want to do there, right? That will help to narrow your research and planning.

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