My first trip to Japan
  • Hello, I'm going with a friend on a shorter trip of 15 days to Japan this summer! It's from 15 of July to August 1 and we will stay in Nagoya. Those things are already decided.

    So what are your tips to make my trip the greatest?

    I've been looking on rail pass, and it costs about 3000 SEK for 14 days for all over Japan. Is this the best/cheapest way to travel around in Japan? (We have living payed for all nights in Nagoya, but if I get som good tips, maybe we can cancel some of those nights, what do you think?)

    Which places do I need to go to? Kyoto Osaka Tokyo Nara (I really have no clue)? Any festival? 海の日?
    Since I haven't gotten any camera, I'm planning to buy me one as soon as I get there, probably a Nikon or a Canon. Where is the best palce to buy electronics? :)

    My friend wants to buy a sharp word. Is there something he needs to remember when buying a sword?
  • Out of all the places I went in Japan during my year over there, I can easily list my 3 favorite places. Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, these are IMO the places you NEED to go if you go to Japan, I would probably spend 8 days in Tokyo and 7 days in Kyoto/Osaka if I had 15 days. Personally, I wouldn't waste my time with Nara. The park with the deers is cool and all, but that's really all that appealed to me in Nara, Osaka and Kyoto were a LOT more fun. There's so much to see in japan, you won't be able to see it all in 15 days, so one idea is to decide that you'll go again sometime and limit how much you aim to see. Be sure to plan way ahead of time what places you want to go. What temples in Kyoto? What parts of Osaka? Buy a travelguide, it will help a lot.

    Best place to buy electronics is no doubt Akiba, but if you're not planning to go to Tokyo, there's a similar place in Osaka though I do not remember the name.

    3000SEK is cheap for 14 days all over Japan, but does that really include Shinkansen tickets? If it doesn't, I'd call it a waste, if it does, I'd be impressed.

    Buying a sword isn't hard (just very expensive if he wants a "real" one). You simply go to a store selling swords, pick one, pay for it, go home. On the airport, you get special handling for it (I do not know if that costs money, I suppose it does).
  • Akiba being short for Akihabara, by the way. Also, make sure your electronics include European powerplugs. Japanese tend to be different.

    Be careful with swords, in the Netherlands I would get into trouble for possessing one I think. Make sure your friend is fully aware of local law surrounding them.

    I found Nagoya to be boring compared to other cities. The castle is ok (even though it's a reconstruction). Make sure you try to eat the local eel, it's apparently a specialty dish, I found it to taste nice.

    If you go to Kyoto you probably want to see Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji. Personally I loved Nara, especially the daibutsu and the gigantic park, but being with friends made that much more interesting.

    8 days in Tokyo sounds dreadful to me. After 3 days or so I am always happy to escape Tokyo. So it really all depends on you. I much prefer to be in Osaka, Kyoto or Hiroshima.
  • Well, everyone's different, but I really liked Kyoto, and I'd highly recommend it. Before Kyoto, I'd spent a while in Asia and thought I was fed up with temples, never really liked them, but the ones in Kyoto changed my mind.

    If you go to Tokyo, and you're interested in seeing old things (that weren't fire-bombed during WWII) I'd say it's best to go on trips to Kamakura and Nikko (might see some wild monkeys in Nikko too).
  • Sure, Nikko's great, although I prefer it more in Autumn.

    If you really want to see wild monkeys then Miyajima is even better (near Hiroshima). Do note that Nikko is in Tochigi-ken, takes a few hours to get there.
  • If you like onsen, you could go to Beppu on Kyushu or Gifu on Honshu. For something less traditional but very enjoyable, there's Spa World in Osaka. It has a men's floor, a women's floor, and a mixed top floor (bathing suits compulsory in the mixed area) with water slides, rooftop pools and a rollercoaster. This may also fit in better with the rest of your itinerary.

    http://www.osakacityguide.com/health-and-beauty/spa-world.html

    I've been to all 3 places, and would recommend them all.
  • Posted By: roro
    [p]If you like onsen, you could go to Beppu on Kyushu or Gifu on Honshu. For something less traditional but very enjoyable, there's Spa World in Osaka. It has a men's floor, a women's floor, and a mixed top floor (bathing suits compulsory in the mixed area) with water slides, rooftop pools and a rollercoaster. This may also fit in better with the rest of your itinerary.[/p][p]http://www.osakacityguide.com/health-and-beauty/spa-world.html[/p][p]I've been to all 3 places, and would recommend them all.[/p]


    Let's not forget "Hawaiians" in the Fukushima prefecture (It's probably most similar to Spa World in Osaka, it's a big bathing resort with several "parts", a traditional spa (extremely beautiful), a "jungle" based one etc. Very good place to go with some friends, cheap to stay over night, cheap to go by bus from Tokyo.

    Also, obviously, Hakone.

    Not relevant since you're probably not going that far, but Noboribetsu (hokkaidou) is a REALLY nice place. I haven't been to their spas personally, but the mountainous area around the spa etc is lovely.
  • I didn't know about Hawaiians before, but it looks good - although I would be a bit freaked out if I saw that family ;)
    http://www.hawaiians.co.jp/english/index3.html

    If you're planning to get around by train (and trains in Japan are much more reliable than in many Western countries), you might find these sites useful:
    http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/sightseeing/index.html
    http://www.westjr.co.jp/english/global.html
  • As I thought Kyoto is a must. I think Nagoya is pretty close to Kyoto so I don't think we need a place to stay in Kyoto (we can as well just commute :P). If we wanted to go on a longer trip from Nagoya, Hokkaidou or Kyushu, which would you guys recommend? And maybe some japanese style inn, as compared to the hotel we are staying at in Nagoya (I think it will be very western-style).

    I'm probably going to Japan again in about two years I hope, so it's not like the world's biggest loss if I miss out on some place this time. But on the other hand, I don't know about my friend planning any other trips...

    Posted By: asmodai
    [p]Akiba being short for Akihabara, by the way. Also, make sure your electronics include European powerplugs. Japanese tend to be different.[/p]
    Ah thet's right! If I want to recharge my Nintendo DS (or PDA, whiever I bring), will I be able to do it with my normal power cable?

    If I want to buy a Nintendo Wii, (I'm not sure, is it even cheaper in Japan?) is japanese Wiis region-free or may I only play Japanese games on them? (Is Akihabara the place for this as well? :]) Okay when I'm in Tokyo, is there some reason to visit Shinjuku or Shibuya? What's the book district called? (It's mentioned in R.O.D. :P)

    Posted By: asmodai
    [p]If you go to Kyoto you probably want to see Kinkakuji and Ginkakuji.[/p]
    What is Kinkakuji and Giinkakuji?

    Posted By: asmodai
    [p]I found Nagoya to be boring compared to other cities. The castle is ok (even though it's a reconstruction).[/p]
    Yeah I've heard Nagoya castle is okay, is there some other nice things to do in Nagoya?

    Posted By: asmodai
    [p]Make sure you try to eat the local eel, it's apparently a specialty dish, I found it to taste nice.[/p]
    Oh okay local eel you say. I'm gonna try it. Iäm not versed in Japanese food, I have never eaten sushi in my life, actually. Is there some typical food I need to try, like sushi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, ramen (only eaten twice (instant + rice noodles)) .. ? (something healthy :P (?))

    Posted By: Tobberoth
    [p]3000SEK is cheap for 14 days all over Japan, but does that really include Shinkansen tickets? If it doesn't, I'd call it a waste, if it does, I'd be impressed.[/p]
    I'm not sure about the railpasses, I think that shinkansen was not included. Is shinkansen much more expensive than regular trainrides? - much faster? (what's the time difference?)

    I have no idea if I like onsen, since I have never been to Japan =P Are Gifu and Beppu indoors or indoors? Are there any nice outdoor onsen? Spa world sounds like disneyworld, or in other words: something that I can do in any other country as well...

    What type of weather may I look forward to? ^^;

    Posted By: Tobberoth
    [p]Also, obviously, Hakone.[/p]
    What about Hakone? Is Fuji something to climb or just watch at, or neither?

    Okay, so Kamakura and Nokki is good to see old Tokyo, hmm...

    Is there some special place/district or shop where I can buy cheap clothes?
    Posted By: roro
    [p]I didn't know about Hawaiians before, but it looks good - although I would be a bit freaked out if I saw that family ;)
    That family IS scary!
  • Oh about the railpass and the shinkansen I was wrong. It does include shinkansen and it costs 2 840:-, it's 2nd class. There is also 1st class, it costs 3 840:-.
  • Posted By: Moberg
    As I thought Kyoto is a must. I think Nagoya is pretty close to Kyoto so I don't think we need a place to stay in Kyoto (we can as well just commute :P). If we wanted to go on a longer trip from Nagoya, Hokkaidou or Kyushu, which would you guys recommend? And maybe some japanese style inn, as compared to the hotel we are staying at in Nagoya (I think it will be very western-style).


    Nagoya is about as close to Kyoto as Kyoto is to Osaka, I think you can commute but it won't be a good idea, Kyoto has insane amounts of stuff to see, the city itself is so beautiful. Personally I stayed at a Ryoukan (Japanese style inn) in a very central spot, close to a big river which runs through the city. I really recommend staying there at least one night. I think you should stick to honshu if you're just going for such a short while, you can go to Hokkaido or Kyushu some other time. Unless you go by airplane, it's very far.

    Ah thet's right! If I want to recharge my Nintendo DS (or PDA, whiever I bring), will I be able to do it with my normal power cable? If I want to buy a Nintendo Wii, (I'm not sure, is it even cheaper in Japan?) is japanese Wiis region-free or may I only play Japanese games on them? (Is Akihabara the place for this as well? :]) Okay when I'm in Tokyo, is there some reason to visit Shinjuku or Shibuya? What's the book district called? (It's mentioned in R.O.D. :P)


    It depends on the electronics in question wether they will work or not, Japan uses 100volts instead of 230volts like we do in Sweden. Most swedish electronics will not work with the japanese power input. You can check your DS power adaptor, if it says 100-230, you're good to go. Wii's are not region-free, you would have to modchip it to play european games. They ARE a lot cheaper in Japan though and yes, Akihabara is the place to buy games... and anime.. and manga. Etc.. If you're in Tokyo, you HAVE to go to Shinjuku and Shibuya, missing those places would be a total waste. I do not know of any book district though... When I lived in Japan, we always bought our books in Shinjuku though.

    What is Kinkakuji and Giinkakuji?


    Extremely beautiful temples in Tokyo, very famous. Especially Kinkakuji is amazing, it's a temple "made" of gold. Here's wikipedia links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinkaku-ji and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkakuji

    Oh okay local eel you say. I'm gonna try it. Iäm not versed in Japanese food, I have never eaten sushi in my life, actually. Is there some typical food I need to try, like sushi, okonomiyaki, yakitori, ramen (only eaten twice (instant + rice noodles)) .. ? (something healthy :P (?))


    There's a LOT of food you have to eat in Japan. Sushi of course, Okonomiyaki (which is a speciality in Osaka, you have to eat it there. It's amazing), ramen of course (ramen in Japan and "ramen" in the west are two very different things. Ramen is a speciality in Kyouto so eat at some traditional place there.). Personally I did not find yakitori anything special. It's something you should try, but just as snacks, not as dinner. Other stuff worth eating: Sukiyaki, Shabu Shabu, Yakiniku... If you're old enough, try a course with nomihoudai at warawara (famous and cheap izakaya). Oh yeah, you need to eat tonkatsu.

    I'm not sure about the railpasses, I think that shinkansen wasnotincluded. Is shinkansen much more expensive than regular trainrides? - much faster? (what's the time difference?)


    Shinkansen is the speed bullet train, it's MUCH faster than normal train. Going from Osaka to Tokyo with normal train takes at least a day, it takes like 2-3 hours with Shinkansen.

    What type of weather may I look forward to? ^^;


    Hmmm you're going in late July, so the weather should be good I think. The problem in Japan is not pure heat (It was 46 degrees at one point when i lived in Tokyo though) but the insane humidity. It feels like you're in an ocean of sweat at all times. I think the end of July is when it's starting to wear off though.

    What about Hakone? Is Fuji something to climb or just watch at, or neither? Okay, so Kamakura and Nokki is good to see old Tokyo, hmm... Is there some special place/district or shop where I can buy cheap clothes?

    By Hakone, I was refering to the famous onsen :) During the time I lived in Japan, I did not climb Fuji. My friend did however and he said it was a huge let-down. It was cold, took ages to get to the top, the view was meh and it was kinda dirty up their. Watching fuji from a distance however, is amazing. I went by car from Tokyo to Nikko and we saw Fuji in the distance some of the way... amazing. You can buy cheap clothes at Uniclo, but they aren't exactly stylish.... If you want good looking clothes, check out Shibuya or Harajuku in Tokyo.
  • There is a famous used bookstore district in Kanda, Tokyo: http://jimbou.info/access/index.html
  • Posted By: Tobberoth
    [p]Extremely beautiful temples in Tokyo, very famous. Especially Kinkakuji is amazing, it's a temple "made" of gold. Here's wikipedia links:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinkaku-jiandhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkakuji[/p]


    Kyoto of course.
  • Traveling between larger cities by normal train instead of shinkansen just is not worth it, if you're able to get proper connections at all.

    My ex-gf and me dug into it at one point, hey typical European backpack style for me, and we found out that the price is often much more expensive than a shinkansen ticket plus you might not even have proper connections and it might also takes days instead of hours.
  • Posted By: asmodai
    [p]Traveling between larger cities by normal train instead of shinkansen just is not worth it, if you're able to get proper connections at all.[/p][p]My ex-gf and me dug into it at one point, hey typical European backpack style for me, and we found out that the price is often much more expensive than a shinkansen ticket plus you might not even have proper connections and it might also takes days instead of hours.[/p][span class=CommentSignature]Yes, I am a bluntly honest type.[/span]


    You can get lucky however.

    A couple of friends of mine bought some form of ticket-set, giving them 6 tickets each to any normal train for a certain price. They then used those tickets for all the trains from Tokyo to Kyoto. The price was something like... 1/4th of the shinkansen price for the same distance. Problem? It took them a whole day, and they said it wasn't worth it. Safe to say, they bought Shinkansen tickets for the ride home.

    Personally, I actually went to Kyoto and Osaka over new years from Tokyo, by car. Cheaper than Shinkansen and allowed me and my girlfriend to use the car to get around Kyoto and Osaka... but man, that is NOT a fun drive.
  • Okey, I dont think we will get a car =P

    I'm thinking if it's good to buy it... What does a shinkansen ticket between tokyo, kyoto, osaka and nagoya cost?
  • Posted By: Moberg
    [p]Okey, I dont think we will get a car =P[/p][p]I'm thinking if it's good to buy it... What does a shinkansen ticket between tokyo, kyoto, osaka and nagoya cost?[/p]


    I'm pretty sure a one way ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto costs about 20 000 yen. That's 1200 SEK.
  • Nozomi shinkansen for the Tokaido line is 13.520 yen (for adult passengers).

    See: http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/charge/index.asp

    You could use Hikari or Kodama, but they're only 300 yen cheaper (13.220 yen (for adult passengers)).

    Nozomi is the fastest, then Hikari, and then Kodama. Interesting tidbit: the Hikari is the fastest train service on the Tōkaidō and Sanyō Shinkansen that is covered in the Japan Rail Pass.
  • Posted By: asmodai
    [p]the Hikari is the fastest train service on the Tōkaidō and Sanyō Shinkansen that is covered in the Japan Rail Pass.[/p][span class=CommentSignature]Yes, I am a bluntly honest type.[/span]
    How do you know which are covered in the rail pass?

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