Post # 1
Hello ladies, have any of you been to Japan? My husband and I are currently planning a trip there in November for a late one year anniversary trip. Based off of my research it seems like spring and fall are great times to visit Japan. Obviously cherry blossoms won’t be in bloom when we go in November but the temperature sounds lovely. We’d have to wear layers but overall that doesn’t bug us much. Hubs usually is warmer than I am so fall works for him, lol. Neither of us wanted to go in summer months because it rains a lot, is super humid, and just hot. So, we’re open to Spring and Fall for traveling. Anyways, we’d love to hear about your experiences. Where did you go? What did you see? What did you eat? Etc. Any advice for international traveling would be great too. Hubs is used to traveling internationally for work so he knows the drill, but I’m interested in hearing suggestions still.
We haven’t booked anything yet, but we are planning to use airline miles which will save us tons of money. It looks like our flight will be free minus transfer fees paid to either China or South Korea airports. So for like $50ish total we’ll fly to Japan. SCORE! We would like to stay in a ryokan (B&B) for at least part of the trip so we could experience traditional living in Japan. Any lodging recommendations?
As far as where we’d like to stay…….I’m indecisive. My husband went on a business trip to Tokyo and enjoyed the city. I have always wanted to go to Tokyo so we’re pretty positive we’ll go there for sure. We’ve also been looking into Kyoto and Osaka. They both look like they have cultural and historical sites to visit which would be great. I want to experience the city atmosphere but also get a vibe of traditional Japanese life in a more rural environment. So, has anyone been to Osaka, Tokyo, or Kyoto? Pros/Cons?
I think we’re leaning towards November because our anniversary is in October. We have a friend who’s getting married in September (we’ll be traveling to Rhode Island for the wedding) so having a month in between the trips would be ideal. I think we are also looking to be there about 8 days (not including travel days). I’ve read about the bullet trains so I know it’s not unreasonable to think we could go from Tokyo to Osaka or Kyoto. Has anyone done this? Suggestions?
We were thinking about flying into the city and transitioning into the country. Any thoughts on that? Help! I’m trip adviser’s best friend right now but I need to hear about people’s experiences. Anyone go in the fall?
Thanks in advance for any info you can supply! We’re excited but planning a big trip like this is daunting in ways because I don’t speak the language. Sometimes reviews are in Japanese and I have to hit up google translations, lol. My husband took Japanese in college so he’s more familiar with it than I am. Anyways, help! Thanks <3
Post # 4
My BFF lived there for a year. I can ask for her list of must dos.
Post # 5
@SuperDuperBrit: This is the website I’ve been looking at for my planning of Japan (Spring of next year) it has sample itineraries and will break down the cost for you as well.
That has the sample itinerary starting in Tokyo and lasting for 8 days and 7 nights. You can play with the calculator to find out what you want. And you can click on the links at the top for sightseeing, accomodation etc.
The other site I use is:http://www.japan-cheap-travel.com/overview.html it shows some really interesting ideas of what to do.
My FI’s brother is a travel agent in California and his partner has taken a few trips to Japan for the purpose of informing. He can do long distance consulting/informing if you’re interested. despite the company they’re very Hetero-friendly, ask for Nathan, he’s the one who’s been to Japan, and let him know “Richard’s Fiance Judy” recommended you if that helps at all 😛 http://www.pride.travel/
They normally specalize in cruises but Nathan can give you a much better overview of Japan, they actually wanted to help plan our trip if we were going in the Fall 🙂
(I’m a bit of a control freak so I take their advice but also research on my own… hence why I have the above sites as well!)
Post # 6
I’ve been living just outside Tokyo for two years. There’s definitely a lot of fun things to do around here. What are you more into, high tech, anime, etc, or more traditional things?
Kyoto is definitely worth seeing, and Osaka has great food. If you’re traveling between cities a lot, I recommend you get a JR pass before you come to Japan. It’ll be way cheaper than paying for each bullet train.
Post # 7
I don’t have any Japan advice but we are going to Bali, Thailand and Singapore for our honeymoon trip. So if you guys change your mind and decide to go to any of those places, I have lots of advice from all the research and booking i did 🙂
Post # 8
I went last year with my son (18mth old), Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto. We travelled out to Yoshino (we were there in time to see the sakura, april) and it was phenomenal. Kyoto is a definite must see, it is such a contrast to Tokyo. Osaka I wasn’t blown away by but we stayed there the least amount of time. Rail travel is excellent, the people are very helpful and polite. There is a japan rail pass you can buy but I think you have to be outside the country, check it because it was great value for us and there were specific rules with how to get it.
It was just me and my son and I had people carrying my bags, hailing me taxis, speaking to me in english in the street. Definitely go!!
In Kyoto if you have time go to Gion Corner and see a show. And without a doubt go to the Fushimi Inari Shrine – there are tunnels of red torii gates, it’s beautiful and so well preserved.
In Tokyo definitely go to Meiji Jingu (Meiji Shrine), I saw a traditional wedding there, awesome.
A lot of the very traditional or smaller food places will have one english speaking person or none s be mindful of that. Get something with mushrooms. the mushrooms there are so good. Maybe Australia just doesn’t have such variety and I was floored haha.
Post # 9
Don’t forget, Fukushima happened very recently and there’s been all sorts of news about how things are not being properly cleaned up but rather covered up, and the Japanese mob is involved and all that.
Personally I won’t be visiting Japan for some time. I do donate to a charity that takes some kids from the most affected region to France for a recovery vacation.
Post # 10
Take advantage of Tokyo Free Guide http://tokyofreeguide.com, which is a volunteer service that pairs you with a local resident for free tour guide services. They are very flexible with the itineraries, and you can either tell the assigned guide a little about yourself and let them decide where to take you, or pick and choose the attractions you’d like to see and let them show you the way. Some attractions and events, like visits to the sumo stables (a must, if you can get a guide and get allowed in) and the Tokyo Beer Museum, do not cater to an English-speaking clientel, and having a native Japanese speaker to translate and guide your way makes a huge difference, plus your guide probably will know some great little izikayas where you can eat like kings for cheap, but you’d never dare to go on your own. No charge for the service but do book well in advance. No tips accepted but they do ask that you pay your guide’s expenses such as museum admissions, meals, and subway fares.
I would strongly recommend learning to speak at least a little basic Japanese; while written signs are in Japanese (both alphabets) and English in most places, many times you will run into people who do not or will not speak English, despite English being the official language. This is more common in the mom-and-pop restaurants and some of the smaller or more rural areas but even in Tokyo Fish Market, many vendors struggle with English. Most restaurants have picture menus and/or model food on display so you can eat without knowing the language, but being able to say a few basic phrases will go a long way. We were pretty surprised that the staff in a tempura house in a big department store next to Shinju-ku rail station did not speak English!
Post # 11
I went to Japan in November of…2009 maybe? The weather was great. It wasn’t super hot, but it certainly wasn’t cold. Tshirt and jeans weather.
I flew into Narita, alone. Got onto a bus and into Tokyo, ALONE. I was meeting a friend who was living there. It was surprisingly easy. My friend was working at Tokyo Disney, so I spent a lot of time around there. We spent a few days in Tokyo, shopping and sightseeing. We went to Tokyo Dome City, which was pretty fun. Lots of chain restaurants and rides.
We took a bullet train to Hiroshima. It was very interesting and VERY depressing. I’m really happy we went. We also went to an island there for a day, called Miyajima. There are monkeys and deer EVERYWHERE on the island. It was really cool. We hiked up the mountains and saw lots of shrines. It’s a holy island and no one’s allowed to die or give birth there, haha.
Almost every restaurant we went to had pictures of everything on the menu, so you had an idea of what you were getting. I ate a lot of curry. Some late night McDonalds, for sure, haha. We had okonomyaki (I think that’s how you spell it) in Hiroshima. It was really good. We went to this restaurant/someone’s house and had shabu shabu one night. It’s like fondue, with broth and meat and veggies. It was great. Shochu was one of my favourite drinks there. I actually didn’t have much japanese food. Lots of italian, mexican.
Hope you have a great trip! It’s one I will never forget!
Post # 12
@Elky: Wow, thank you for the sites! Spring was the other time we were considering going to Japan but I think we’re settled on fall now. I will check out those sites!! Thank you so much.
@Jabberwocky: Is a JR pass different from the bullet train or just a prepaid pass for the train for like a flat fee? =) I think my hubby and I are trying to limit things to two places. So we’re going to Tokyo for sure and then either Osaka or Kyoto but I’m making a list of sites to see for all three so we can make a final decision. Also, if we really wanted to see something it’d be nice to just do it. I dunno how long it will take for us to get back there. We want to have kids soon and I can’t see us making that trip again until they’re a bit older — it’s a super long flight for us lol
@Lulume: Thanks, have a blast! I’ve heard good things about Bali but never been to any of the places you’re going.
@sera_archie: Not a big fan of mushrooms but I’m so happy to hear someone weigh in on Osaka vs Kyoto. I’m struggling so badly with deciding which to choose. How long did you go on your trip for? Is it completely doable to go see all three within 8 days? I think I’ll have a better idea of what to do once I make my sight seeing lists, lol. I really want to experience the city AND country. I want that striking difference between basically old and new Japan. The historical and cultural elements are super important to me and my husband. He’s been to Tokyo so we have more of an idea of what to expect from that. He enjoyed it but we def want to see the countryside some and get that older world feeling with sites. Thank you for the suggestions. I will look them up!
@fishbone: WOW, I’m so excited to hear about the free guide program. I will be looking into that and discussing it with my hubby. That’s pretty cool. The nice thing is my hubby has a friend who lives in Tokyo that we may try and meet up with so he’ll be some help to us but for the most part I’d be lost. My husband took Japanese in college so he’s got a decent background in basic phrases and can read some in Japanese. He’s going to teach me some basic phrases before we go. We actually started practicing some in Hawaii when we were around so many lovely Japanese people. I don’t remember what he told me though, LOL sooooo I need to practice!! I’m excited about most menus having pictures because I’m scared about not being able to read menus. My husband went to Indonesia for a work trip and basically just would point to text on the menu and pray it was edible, LMAO. I don’t want to be QUITE that adventerous XD. I’m not as picky as he is so for the most part I’d be okay but still.
@mrs-evans: I’m sure we will be expierencing some late night McDonalds too hahaha. I’m really excited about diving into Japanese food and really experiencing everything but I know it’ll be comforting to eat food from home too. Excited you said they still have Italian and Mexican food. Good! Also so excited to heat the weather was comfortable. I figured we’d pack layers because it seems like it may get a little on the chilly side later in the day. We’re mainly trying to pack our stuff in a carry on. We’ll see how well that goes >_>…..I am not a light packer typically. I want to see Hiroshima too. =( It’s so hard to just pick a few places. I didn’t realize I’d want to see so much of Japan but it looks like a fascinating country. I took history courses on it but researching everything for this upcoming trip has me falling in love with the possibilities
Post # 13
@SuperDuperBrit: JR is the company that owns the bullet trains, and also several local lines. So a JR pass will let you use all of them. A lot of the trains in Tokyo are JR, so you’ll be able to get around to most of the big places with one. You may have to go a couple of stops on the Tokyo Metro, which you’d have to buy a different ticket for at the station.
If you want historical and cultural, and are torn between Kyoto and Osaka, pick Kyoto. You will not be disappointed. If you have time, a day trip to Nara to see the deer park and the giant Buddha might be fun too.
Post # 14
I am hoping that DH gets sent on a business trip soon, I have been doing the Pimslear conversational Japanese in my car on the way to work just in case! We have a friend in Kobe, and would want to visit Tokyo for sure, my grandfather was stationed at Okinawa, so if its do able I’d want to go there too. Tagging this thread so I can come back and see all the tips you get!
Post # 15
@Jabberwocky: I just read somewhere that Osaka and Kyoto are like 15-30 minutes away from eachother via bullet train. I may not have to choose if that’s true!!! Hahaha, we could stay in one place and do a day trip/half day trip over to the other and explore what we wanted to see there. Pretty pumped about reading that yesterday, lol. Hope it’s true — need to confirm still but I’ve read it in several spots now so it’s looking good. Thanks for the info regarding the JR! I need to look more into that. It’d be nice to just pay a flat fee if the train is pricey. We think we’re going to start off in the country and take things kinda slow…explore shrines, castles, and take in more old world Japan….in Kyoto/Osaka and then transition into Tokyo/fly out of Tokyo to come home. So, more than likely, we will fly into Osaka…and either stay there or in Kyoto. Then fly out of the airport in Tokyo that my husband left out of. Haneda? I dunno, he knows though lol. That way we’ll fly into the area we want to explore first and then fly out of Tokyo…so there won’t be any last minute rushing to get to an airport craziness. I’m interested in the Tokyo Metro too. My husband said it’s super clean which is great. The DC Metro is pretty clean too but it looks like Tokyo’s may be even nicer lol. Woot! Since we’re going to be going from one area to another..and quite possibly some small side trips if things are close it’d be good to get some sort of a discount on the JR.
@edgebee: Oh cool. I should look into getting some stuff to help me pick up basic Japanese too. I’m a lost cause so far. Nah, I shouldn’t say that lol. I think I’ll be okay if my hubby makes me some flash cards so I can practice.
Post # 16
I did a study abroad in Japan! It’s an amazing country. Where to go depends on your interests. I actually haven’t been to a bunch of places other than the small town where I lived, so I don’t have a ton of advice about locations.
Kyoto is very historical. Kind of like visiting Boston or Philadelphia in the US. If you like history I definately recommend this! And stay in a traditional Japanese guest house, if you want a real traditional experience.
Fujisan (Mt Fuji) is awesome. Eat a hundred year egg for good luck and go to one of the spas – an absolute must in Japan. Be warned, the gender segregated spas generally have naked people walking around. The Japanese are very modest between genders but not modest at all among the same gender.
I also really enjoyed Nara – they have a giant Budda and sacred deer that roam the city.
Some general recommendations:
- Learn some basic greatings and thank you in Japanese – people will appreciate the effort.
- A bow is used for many things – greeting, thank you, goodbye, etc. A bow and a smile will get you far.
- Take your shoes off when entering any home, temple, some restaurants, etc. Basically when you step inside any building, take a look around and see if people are wearing shoes or not. If not, look around and there will be a place to store your shoes and probably a bunch of slippers that you can wear. Also – if you’re in a home or traditional hotel they may have a separte set of slippers for use only in the bathroom. If you see slippers in the bathroom then you leave your slippers outside, wear the bathroom slippers in the bathroom and switch back when you exit.
- Traditional japanese toilets are the squat kind. Put your feet on either side, squat, and make sure your pants/skirt is pulled away. Many western toilets have a small sink over the tank of the toilet. Water automatically comes through this when you flush -it’s clean water and you are supposed to wash your hands with it. Western toilets also sometimes come with lots of buttons. The flush is often just a regular flush. Not the button with a drop of water on it – that’s the bidet.
- Unless you’re going out clubbing or to karoke (which you should totally do) try to dress fairly modestly. Temples may require your to cover shoulders and knees.
- Eat first, then ask what it is.
- The vast majority of Japan is incredibly safe. People are really friendly. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask. Even random people on the subway will likely help you. Never underestimate the power of charades.
- Take cheapo little souveniers from the US (mini flags, coins, state pins – you used to be able to get those for free, etc.) Give them to people who help you out and they will think you’re amazing!
- Don’t touch monks unless they touch you first.
- In general be careful about touching or sitting on things in temples. I have a friend who got tired and sat on what he thought was a stool and it turns out it was a sacred turtle statue and he got kicked out of the temple.
- Know your blood type – they ask about that like we would ask about zodiak signs.
- If someone offers you tea (not to buy), drink it. I hate green tea but I drank gallons of it while I was there because it’s impolite to turn people down.
There are a million things I’m forgetting, but if you have any questions – please feel free to PM me!
Read more: http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/we-decided-to-honeymoon-in-japan-any-advice-on-what-to-see-or-great-guides#ixzz2UsNFNCGk