Going to Japan in March!

Makalakumu

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Well, it looks like my wife and I will be taking a trip to Japan in March for our 10th anniversary. Any tips? Where would you suggest that we go? Neither of us speak Japanese very well, however we have both traveled in countries where this was an issue. Has anyone ever done this? What did you experience?
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Japan is great and if you are in Tokyo it is pretty easy to get around as everything is in English now. (katakanji) Mt. Fuji would be on my list as well as Tokyo, Roppongi, Asakusa, Shrine of the 47 Ronin (in Tokyo), Emperor's Palace (I missed that :( ) Oh I think you would want to stay in an old fashioned off the beaten path Ryokan if you get a chance. Tsukiji (fish market and yet I know I mispelled it :) ) Visit the Katari Shinto Ryu Shrine, etc. Seriously there are so many, many things to do you will not have enough time.
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David43515

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I live in Hokkaido (the Minnesota of Japan) it`s beautiful but not especially "Japanese". There aren`t any of the old temples or castles here because it was settled later.

You might enjoy Tokyo, but the cities of Osaka, Nara, Nagoya, and Kyoto are great too. When Japanese people think about "the old fashioned Japan" they think of Kyoto. It`s full of beautiful temples, parks, and gardens. Nara was the capital before Tokyo, so it`s also got lots of history. Osaka has the most famous and beautiful castle, but the city is very earthy and fast-paced. Kinda like Chicago. Tokyo is the New York city of Japan, also fast-paced, but it takes itself very seriously.

Goto the library or a bookstore and look over the guidebooks with your wife. See what looks fun. Consider a JR (Japan Rail) pass if you`re going to travel much from city to city. And YOU`VE GOT TO TRY A HOTSPRING.

If you have any specific questions, I`d be happy to try and help.
 

Carol

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I went to Sendai for a little while on travel and stayed in Tokyo for the night before I left. Unfortunately I didn't see as much of the country as I wanted to. I had more free time than I expceted, so I spent a good bit of time walking around the city, which I enjoyed very much.

I speak some Japanese so getting around was OK. However, I don't speak it well and my former husband didn't speak it at all. During my visit, any of the people in the areas thag get international travelers (for tourism or business) speak some rudimentary English. Those that didn't speak English were often very gracious about trying to work around the language barriers with impromptu sign language or other gestures. There was a lady that worked at a convenience store near my hotel that spoke no English, when I went in there to get a salad for lunch, she was prepared to point to the coins that I needed in order to pay for my lunch. (When I responded to her in Japanese, she nearly shrieked...LOL). If you don't speak the language, buying one of those Berlitz phrase books can help, so you can show the proper characters if you need. I got one for my husband so he could have a little more autonomy during the trip, he said it helped, and the people that he was interacting with were very patient.

Around Sendai and Tokyo, people wore business-type clothing 7 days a week when they are out in public. The day I arrived, which was the day before my first meeting, I started wandering around Sendai in jeans and a NASA T-shirt and felt like a total dork. :lol:
 

jks9199

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What do you want to do when you go to Japan? Schedule a layover in my area, and acquire a rather oversized suitcase! :D

Never had a chance to go myself... So the only advice I have is to have a great trip!
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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Right now, we are aren't planning on spending much time in Tokyo. We're looking to visit Nagano for some mountain adventure and then go down to Kyoto to experience old Japan. I'd like to stay at a Ryokan and visit an Onsen and I'd like to have some good sushi. We don't have a lot of time, only eight days, so we're a bit limited.

I'd love to go up to Hokkaido. I appreciate the Minnesota's of all countries as that is the place where I grew up...the real Minnesota. I heard the powder skiing is absolutely amazing up there.
 

David43515

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Right now, we are aren't planning on spending much time in Tokyo. We're looking to visit Nagano for some mountain adventure and then go down to Kyoto to experience old Japan. I'd like to stay at a Ryokan and visit an Onsen and I'd like to have some good sushi. We don't have a lot of time, only eight days, so we're a bit limited.

I'd love to go up to Hokkaido. I appreciate the Minnesota's of all countries as that is the place where I grew up...the real Minnesota. I heard the powder skiing is absolutely amazing up there.

You heard right. My wife and daughters live in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. I live and work two hours south of there in a ski resort town called Rusutsu. Rusutsu (and the whole area around Mt. Yotei) get some of the best snow in Asia. We have several great ski resorts and onsen in the area, and a chef I know here makes great sushi. March is still the tail end of the ski season. If you`d like to come up this way (Hokkaido), let me know. I`ve got friends who run a small lodge and I can try to get you a cheap place to stay. I`d be happy to help you find your way around.
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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You heard right. My wife and daughters live in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. I live and work two hours south of there in a ski resort town called Rusutsu. Rusutsu (and the whole area around Mt. Yotei) get some of the best snow in Asia. We have several great ski resorts and onsen in the area, and a chef I know here makes great sushi. March is still the tail end of the ski season. If you`d like to come up this way (Hokkaido), let me know. I`ve got friends who run a small lodge and I can try to get you a cheap place to stay. I`d be happy to help you find your way around.

Cheap is exactly what we are looking for. Would it be possible to blast out of Tokyo and see Kyoto for a few days then jump on the shinkansen and get up to Hokkaido for some skiing? We only have eight days...
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Cheap and Japan are in general not to things that I put together.
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Still if you are careful or can make some contacts you can drastically reduce the prices. The Japan Rail Pass (JR) is some thing that could really help to reduce costs. Food is expensive and in general hotel/etc. can be expensive but again if you are careful you can find a deal here or there. A lot of things in Tokyo are in Romanji (English) and I imagine most big cities will be similar but I will defer to our resident Japanese MartialTalk members to answer that. Once out in the country though my experience was that the signs in Romanji (ie. Romaji) automatically disappeared and that made traveling a little more challenging because the locals English skills dramatically reduced as well. However no matter what you are in for the treat of a life time! Japan is beautiful, exotic and bewildering on many levels!
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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I'll admit, it's intimidating to go to a different country where you don't speak the language and one is definitely NOT going to fit in anywhere. We've done it in Europe and managed to get by and I know people go to Japan all of the time and they don't know jack. The good news is that we have friends who live over that that we are trying to contact. In particular, we had a foreign exchange student that we are trying to reconnect with. That would make things much easier. She lives in the Kyoto area.
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Well that is excellent! That would indeed make for a memorable time! :)
I think you will find your experience great and it is amazing how you can get around well without the benefit of speaking the language. I think you and your family will have a great adventure!
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JohnASE

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Sounds like you're going to be doing a lot of rushing around. That's what we did on our trip. Got to see a lot of things, but didn't absorb things as well as we might have.

We did a bus tour in Tokyo. That gets a lot of ground covered in a little time. I'd recommend it if you're not going to be there long. They drove us by a few things and stopped at the Palace, a Buddhist Temple, a Shinto Shrine, and a shopping area, all in less than a day. We were in Tokyo when the Sakura (cherry) were blooming! You might be lucky enough to catch some of it in March.

We got around okay with public transportation (train and subway). Some stuff was in English, especially at the major stations. Being able to read the name of your destinations in Japanese could be helpful though.

Oh, and in Tokyo we stayed at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. It was recommended by locals as a reasonably priced place to stay. I don't remember it being exactly cheap though. I see you're from Hawaii. Coincidentally, while we were there, we ran into Sensei Chuzo Kotaka from Honolulu. He was staying at the same hotel we were!

Other than Tokyo, we spent all our time in Kumamoto, which is pretty far off your track. The Onsen we went to there was awesome, but we didn't stay long enough. Got there in the afternoon and had to leave before breakfast the next day. It was really expensive but worth it. Dinner was incredible! Didn't know what hardly anything was, but was all either really good or really weird or both. Also stayed near Kumamoto Castle a couple nights. It looked great lit up at night! Touring the grounds was very touristy, but cool.

Have a great trip!
 

David43515

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Cheap is exactly what we are looking for. Would it be possible to blast out of Tokyo and see Kyoto for a few days then jump on the shinkansen and get up to Hokkaido for some skiing? We only have eight days...

I`ll have to check if there`s a rail connection between Hokkaido and Honshu (the main island). Most people either fly into Hokkaido`s main airport, Chitose, or take a ferry into Hakodate. But yeah it`s deffinately doable.

I`ll try to PM you my friend`s hotel info. She`s a russian who speaks great English and she helps people plan thier holidays all the time so she knows all the ins and outs of the travel situation.
 

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For a reasonable hotel, check out the Toyoko Inn. When I was in Japan for work last year, was able to stay for about 6500 yen a night. Most are located near train stations.

They are a decent chain that is nation wide. Their website has english and you can make reservations.

Ken
 

David43515

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For a reasonable hotel, check out the Toyoko Inn. When I was in Japan for work last year, was able to stay for about 6500 yen a night. Most are located near train stations.

They are a decent chain that is nation wide. Their website has english and you can make reservations.

Ken

I didn`t realize it was a chain, but he`s right, the one I stayed in the last time I went south was reasonably priced and very nicely furnished.
 
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