Author Topic: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?  (Read 3366 times)

Villanelle

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #50 on: March 16, 2017, 05:22:38 AM »
These ideas were great, thanks everyone.

We're in Tokyo right now and loving it!

We saw the Hachiko statue today!  :D

(I used to read this story with my students--movie is meh. The end of Futurama's Jurassic Bark episode with Fry's dog Seymour was based on this story, and always makes me tear up.)

Bumping in case anyone else sees this while we're still here and chimes in with other ideas (or for future people visiting and reading the thread, even if it's after we've left).

my favorite was akihabara, if you are a giant nerd like me and like videogames, manga, collectible toys, this is the place for you ! I spent so much time here ( think it was 3 days total) and I still don't feel like I experienced half of it.

So this is where we're staying.  About a 5 minute walk from the Akihabara train station. 

But what exactly should we be looking for?  Like, I know this is the electronics district, or something, but aside from wandering in the area around the train station (lots of skyscrapers.. okay?), where do we go in/what do we look for?  Building names or addresses (if you can find on Google maps) you found cool would be appreciated.  :)

Depending on how long you are staying, you may well catch some decent sakura blossoms.  Hanami--basically a picnic adn celebration under the cherry blossoms--is sort of a cultural phenomenon.  If you are staying in a hotel, the desk may be able to point you toward some early blooms.  I was in Tokyo on Monday and saw some trees with blossoms, but they were lining streets rather than in parks..  I don't know if any are out yet in Yoyogi park or Ueno.  Even if you don't want to picnic and linger, if you can get a recommendation for a good spot, seeing the trees in full bloom can be pretty moving, especially if you read up a bit on the significance of the season (ephemeral beauty/life).

westtoeast

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #51 on: March 16, 2017, 05:51:27 AM »
Thanks for tip on Google Translate, now I need to figure out how to use it on my phone without data roaming.

Download Japanese within the options.  You can't do picture translate without data, but you can type stuff and have it translate to the Japanese characters to show someone on your phone.

Thank you!!

Also thanks for mentioning that Futurama dog episode... that episode was heartbreaking and I still think of it sometimes! Didn't know what it was based off before.

arebelspy

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #52 on: March 16, 2017, 07:00:03 AM »
These ideas were great, thanks everyone.

We're in Tokyo right now and loving it!

We saw the Hachiko statue today!  :D

(I used to read this story with my students--movie is meh. The end of Futurama's Jurassic Bark episode with Fry's dog Seymour was based on this story, and always makes me tear up.)

Bumping in case anyone else sees this while we're still here and chimes in with other ideas (or for future people visiting and reading the thread, even if it's after we've left).

my favorite was akihabara, if you are a giant nerd like me and like videogames, manga, collectible toys, this is the place for you ! I spent so much time here ( think it was 3 days total) and I still don't feel like I experienced half of it.

So this is where we're staying.  About a 5 minute walk from the Akihabara train station. 

But what exactly should we be looking for?  Like, I know this is the electronics district, or something, but aside from wandering in the area around the train station (lots of skyscrapers.. okay?), where do we go in/what do we look for?  Building names or addresses (if you can find on Google maps) you found cool would be appreciated.  :)

Depending on how long you are staying, you may well catch some decent sakura blossoms.  Hanami--basically a picnic adn celebration under the cherry blossoms--is sort of a cultural phenomenon.  If you are staying in a hotel, the desk may be able to point you toward some early blooms.  I was in Tokyo on Monday and saw some trees with blossoms, but they were lining streets rather than in parks..  I don't know if any are out yet in Yoyogi park or Ueno.  Even if you don't want to picnic and linger, if you can get a recommendation for a good spot, seeing the trees in full bloom can be pretty moving, especially if you read up a bit on the significance of the season (ephemeral beauty/life).
We'll be in Japan for a month, so we'll definitely see some cherry blossoms. :)

« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 07:02:49 AM by arebelspy »
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TheAnonOne

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #53 on: March 16, 2017, 08:15:43 AM »
Hey OP here,

We are down to 49 days away from our trip and are starting to actually peg things to do.

We are really iffy about going to kyoto and osaka.

Reasons:

Train ride is long, (not enough time to do anything there..)
Train ride is spendy (can't remember the cost but 300+ USD for sure)

Are we making a mistake? Is it worth a day trip over there?

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Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #54 on: March 16, 2017, 09:03:26 AM »
Hey OP here,

We are down to 49 days away from our trip and are starting to actually peg things to do.

We are really iffy about going to kyoto and osaka.

Reasons:

Train ride is long, (not enough time to do anything there..)
Train ride is spendy (can't remember the cost but 300+ USD for sure)

Are we making a mistake? Is it worth a day trip over there?

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

That depends, are you trying to do Kyoto in a day? If so, maybe not.

However, Kyoto would be #1 on my list of places to go in Japan. It's the heart of Japan and the origin of many elements that we now associate with Japanese culture, from tea ceremonies to haiku to kaiseki meals, etc. Stay in a ryokan if you can. It's worth the money.

The train ride is pretty quick from Tokyo (~2 hours on the Shinkansen bullet train). Pack a lunch to make it go quicker. Get an awesome bento box from the train station.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 09:05:35 AM by Tetsuya Hondo »

TheAnonOne

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #55 on: March 16, 2017, 09:06:05 AM »
Hey OP here,

We are down to 49 days away from our trip and are starting to actually peg things to do.

We are really iffy about going to kyoto and osaka.

Reasons:

Train ride is long, (not enough time to do anything there..)
Train ride is spendy (can't remember the cost but 300+ USD for sure)

Are we making a mistake? Is it worth a day trip over there?

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

That depends, are you trying to do Kyoto in a day? If so, maybe not.

However, Kyoto would be #1 on my list of places to go in Japan. It's the heart of Japan and the origin of many elements that we now associate with Japanese culture, from tea ceremonies to haiku to kaiseki meals, etc. Stay in a ryokan if you can. It's worth the money.

The train ride is pretty quick (~2 hours on the Shinkansen bullet train). Pack a lunch to make it go quicker. Get an awesome bento box from the train station.
Well, we have all 11 nights booked on points in Tokyo, so getting another room in kyoto might be a "waste". Something to ponder

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limeandpepper

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #56 on: March 16, 2017, 09:13:40 AM »
However, Kyoto would be #1 on my list of places to go in Japan.

+1  Can't imagine going to Japan and not going to Kyoto... unless you're planning to come back to Japan again to go there, or if all you want is the hustle and bustle and bright lights of Tokyo so you don't mind missing it.

Heroes821

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #57 on: March 16, 2017, 09:26:33 AM »
I didn't read all the replies yet but I wanted to add my experience.

First exchange for Japanese currency before you leave.  Unless making an expensive purchase ($500+) you can't use your cards. Cash is king. 

Second if you plan to travel anywhere order your japan rail pass while in the US.  the JRPass is for 90 day passport visitors and it will be very helpful if you are going to ride the trains. Unlimited train riding all over the country even on the bullet trains. This must arrive at your home address before the trip.

If you hold a US government ID card like a CAC you can stay at a hotel in downtown Tokyo called the New Sano (Sanno?) anyway they took debit cards spoke good English had the Air Force Network on TV. It was a nice breather, but I only stayed there two nights.

Akihabira was awesome.  I also went to the Square Enix HQ they have a store outside with some cool stuff for sale.  With the Train pass you can probably extend your travel range. See Kyoto, Hiroshima etc.  If you plan a whole day of moving about Tokyo make sure to buy the day pass for the subway, it's way cheaper than a bunch of short trip passes, but the train pass can probably get you everywhere inside Tokyo just a little bit slower than the subway.

Also all stores will have little trays to place your cash on, don't physically hand the money to them it's considered rude.  When I needed more cash ATMs worked fine with my USAA debit card, but USAA is used to out of country transactions so make sure your bank is good with this. 
 
I mostly stayed in Osaka which was amazing.  Kyoto I visited the nightingale floor castle which was cool and the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan.  I went into the mountains about 4 hour train ride north of Tokyo to the famous Fox Sanctuary, no one up there speaks English so it was an experience.  The Hiroshima Peace Museum was really cool and not overly guilt trippy, it definitely provided information that is not taught in American schools. 

I avoided places like Mt Fuji simply because I wanted to force myself to visit Japan a second time. Google Translate app was pretty good about 70% ish at translating signs at tourist attractions.
I was lucky enough to have two close friends who had lived in Japan for 5+ years each teaching English to be my guides often, but even when alone in Japan it was relatively easy to communicate. If I was lost and needed a Taxi or something I would type the English into google maps for where I wanted to go and show the results (in Japanese) to the driver and had no issues with that.

Oh also 100 Yen is roughly 1 USD so those 500 yen coins are 5 dollars don't shove them all in your pocket and only use bills to pay for things... took me a week to realize I was change hoarding like I do in the US. 

If you get a chance to see Sumo wrestling it was really cool, but I did it as a group activity with several of my friend's co-workers. 

Every restaurant I ate at had pictures of everything on the menu so it was easy to pick food without reading.  Good luck and have fun.   In regards to the train to Kyoto, I think it's about 3 hours on the super fast train, but the trains stop at midnight so if you started early and caught the last train back to Tokyo you could have a full day in Kyoto, which in my opinion was the second best part of my trip.  The best was the Fox village, but that's an even longer day of train riding.  I had to stay the night in Sendai because the tiny village of Shiroishi was out of rooms.

Edit: I think this is the site I used  https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/   I was in Japan for like 16 days so I bought the 14 day pass, but the 7 day pass is 250 per person which is cheaper than 1 round trip train pass to Kyoto and back and you can use it ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.  Seriously its made for tourists it was awesome.  Only caveat is if a bullet train (shinikansen?) is full of normal ticket paid people you can't use your pass, but I rode many bullet trains and never had them say a word to me.   Also the pass you get in the mail, I forgot was like a voucher and then in japan you go to the rail people office (should be many of these in Tokyo) stand in line for like 10 minutes and they give you the actual pass to get on the trains, this might of required your picture being taken, I forget.  It was a very simply process.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 09:35:38 AM by Heroes821 »

limeandpepper

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #58 on: March 16, 2017, 10:01:59 AM »
Hey people, looks like I'm going to Japan as well! Most likely from sometime around mid-October to mid-November. Question, how important is it to book accommodation in advance at this time of the year? Can we book at short notice or even do walk-ins, or will we have difficulty doing so? Are prices more likely to be higher or cheaper at the last minute?

TheAnonOne

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #59 on: March 16, 2017, 10:05:13 AM »
Hey people, looks like I'm going to Japan as well! Most likely from sometime around mid-October to mid-November. Question, how important is it to book accommodation in advance at this time of the year? Can we book at short notice or even do walk-ins, or will we have difficulty doing so? Are prices more likely to be higher or cheaper at the last minute?
We booked our rooms for May back in OCT 2016

We had points though, so bookings can be harder for award nights.

I wouldn't risk walk-ins for an international trip.

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Villanelle

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #60 on: March 16, 2017, 10:39:00 PM »
Hey OP here,

We are down to 49 days away from our trip and are starting to actually peg things to do.

We are really iffy about going to kyoto and osaka.

Reasons:

Train ride is long, (not enough time to do anything there..)
Train ride is spendy (can't remember the cost but 300+ USD for sure)

Are we making a mistake? Is it worth a day trip over there?

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

IMO, Kyoto is way, way better than tokyo, but I guess that depends on your interests and how you like to travel. 

Someone else advised exchanging cash ahead of time.  Terrible idea.  You'll get a much better rate from an ATM (found at almost any 7 11, as well as at the airport), especially if you have a card that waives the out-of-network fees.  More and more places are also taking credit cards.  I saw a difference even between when I lived her in 2010-2012, and now.  But many places are still cash only. 

Limeandpepper,
I am a worrier, so I can't really imagine any trip without bookings.  (I tell you that to give you context.)  But depending on where you are going, that could be fall foliage season, which in some areas is extremely popular, making it a mini-busy season.  Kyoto when the leaves are changing is absolutely spectacular, but that means everyone wants to be there, so hotels would be busy. 

limeandpepper

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #61 on: March 17, 2017, 02:27:59 AM »
We booked our rooms for May back in OCT 2016

We had points though, so bookings can be harder for award nights.

I wouldn't risk walk-ins for an international trip.

Limeandpepper,
I am a worrier, so I can't really imagine any trip without bookings.  (I tell you that to give you context.)  But depending on where you are going, that could be fall foliage season, which in some areas is extremely popular, making it a mini-busy season.  Kyoto when the leaves are changing is absolutely spectacular, but that means everyone wants to be there, so hotels would be busy.

Thank you both for the input!  We have done walk-ins and last-minute bookings before for international trips, but it does seem like it would be a bit too much of a gamble in Japan. The (firstworld)problem we have is that we'll be travelling through Korea beforehand and not quite sure yet how long we want to stay there before we move on to Japan, so the dates are still a bit fuzzy at this stage. It looks like many online booking sites have a generous free cancellation policy these days though, so maybe we'll just guesstimate the dates and go ahead with bookings.

arebelspy

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #62 on: March 17, 2017, 04:41:44 AM »
Ate fresh sushi at the famous Tokyo fish market today, right after the fish auction ended.

So good.
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Heroes821

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #63 on: March 17, 2017, 06:36:33 AM »
Hey OP here,

We are down to 49 days away from our trip and are starting to actually peg things to do.

We are really iffy about going to kyoto and osaka.

Reasons:

Train ride is long, (not enough time to do anything there..)
Train ride is spendy (can't remember the cost but 300+ USD for sure)

Are we making a mistake? Is it worth a day trip over there?

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

IMO, Kyoto is way, way better than tokyo, but I guess that depends on your interests and how you like to travel. 

Someone else advised exchanging cash ahead of time.  Terrible idea.  You'll get a much better rate from an ATM (found at almost any 7 11, as well as at the airport), especially if you have a card that waives the out-of-network fees.  More and more places are also taking credit cards.  I saw a difference even between when I lived her in 2010-2012, and now.  But many places are still cash only. 

Limeandpepper,
I am a worrier, so I can't really imagine any trip without bookings.  (I tell you that to give you context.)  But depending on where you are going, that could be fall foliage season, which in some areas is extremely popular, making it a mini-busy season.  Kyoto when the leaves are changing is absolutely spectacular, but that means everyone wants to be there, so hotels would be busy.

Weird, I was there in March 2015 and the money I got before leaving at a Chase bank in Denver was close enough to be the same exchange rate as when I used an ATM in Kyoto to pull out more money about a week later.

As far as cards go, I was able to use mine at a hotel in Sendai, a hotel and Tokyo, and a Callaway store in Tokyo and that was all I found to use my card.

FLBiker

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #64 on: March 17, 2017, 07:31:19 AM »
Big question.

We want to do Mt. Fuji (hike a bit probably not climb the whole thing, plus I think the summit is closed in MAY)

and we want to do "Lake Ashi"/"Mt. Hakone". Fuji and Ashi area are what it looks like, only an hour away. So far we are planning on making these two spots two separate days.

Does this make sense? Has anyone been to these areas? Should/could it be done in one day?

I did a Hakone trip with my dad (so I'm not sure how much it cost).  It was some sort of package ticket (though we were travelling solo, w/o a group) that included a bunch of different modes of transit.  If memory serves, we started out on a train or bus, then took a goofy boat (w/ a fake pirate on it), then took a "rope way" (which was cool, we could see Fuji).  We stopped at some sulphury springs and had boiled eggs and wasabi icecream.  It was pretty fun, although touristy.  There's a bunch of info here: http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/

Oh, and on the way home from Hakone (we were on the train) we stopped off at the outdoor sculpture park.  I love sculpture parks, and it was a very good one.

We also did the early AM fish market / sushi thing, which was great.  And I went to a sword museum that I found when wandering around.  It was small, but cheap and pretty cool.  We also went to Odaiba, which was very cool with futuristic buildings and a Sega arcade that had some great "huge" games -- like a skateboard sim that actually swung me around a little halfpipe.  It was really fun.  This was in 2003, though, so I can't speak to current day.  I also liked the Imperial Gardens.

And while I'm sure Kyoto and Osaka are great (and are definitely places I'd like to go), I personally don't like to worry about seeing every place when I plan a vacation.  I'd rather spend more time in one or two places than hit all the spots.  There are lots of great places in the world and you'll never see them all and that's totally fine.  This time, you're going to Tokyo.  Enjoy it!

Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #65 on: March 17, 2017, 08:11:47 AM »

Well, we have all 11 nights booked on points in Tokyo, so getting another room in kyoto might be a "waste". Something to ponder

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Surely, you can cancel a few nights, right? I would do it. Kyoto is worth it. If I had 11 nights there, I would spend at least at least half in Kyoto (hell, I'm ready to move there). I would also consider side trips to Osaka and Nara.

TheAnonOne

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #66 on: March 17, 2017, 08:13:58 AM »

Well, we have all 11 nights booked on points in Tokyo, so getting another room in kyoto might be a "waste". Something to ponder

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Surely, you can cancel a few nights, right? I would do it. Kyoto is worth it. If I had 11 nights there, I would spend at least at least half in Kyoto (hell, I'm ready to move there). I would also consider side trips to Osaka and Nara.
Hmm, making me think!

On a side note: we also plan on extended stays in japan after FIRE (few months maybe)

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Tetsuya Hondo

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #67 on: March 17, 2017, 09:29:34 AM »

Well, we have all 11 nights booked on points in Tokyo, so getting another room in kyoto might be a "waste". Something to ponder

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Surely, you can cancel a few nights, right? I would do it. Kyoto is worth it. If I had 11 nights there, I would spend at least at least half in Kyoto (hell, I'm ready to move there). I would also consider side trips to Osaka and Nara.
Hmm, making me think!

On a side note: we also plan on extended stays in japan after FIRE (few months maybe)

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Ok, if you're going to be back in the not too distant future, you can always go deep in Tokyo. There's so many neighborhoods and things to explore that you could burn 11 nights there. However, it would probably be nice to get out of town here and there. At a minimum, I would consider side trips to Kamakura (kind of a mini-Kyoto) and Mt. Fuji. Other side trip ideas: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3051.html

But then, if FIRE is a ways off I would still work in Kyoto.

Either way, I'm jealous of you.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2017, 09:31:18 AM by Tetsuya Hondo »

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Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
« Reply #68 on: March 20, 2017, 04:25:22 AM »
However, Kyoto would be #1 on my list of places to go in Japan.

+1  Can't imagine going to Japan and not going to Kyoto... unless you're planning to come back to Japan again to go there, or if all you want is the hustle and bustle and bright lights of Tokyo so you don't mind missing it.
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