The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: TheAnonOne on January 14, 2017, 10:53:11 AM

Title: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 14, 2017, 10:53:11 AM
Hey Team,

I am going to Tokyo with my wife in early MAY for 8-9 days for no particular reason other than its a bucket list place. We have always wanted to go there and love the culture.

That being said, we have a few things that we know we MUST/WANT to do. (Mt. Fuji, Eat legit foods, visit the gaming district)

Though we have a lot of time to explore the city and surrounding areas. We are just coming up with our "road map" of things to do and when.

We would LOVE ideas on what to do. If you know the relative price of what your proposing we would love that as well. It doesn't have to be super cheap or anything, we just want a general idea of what it will cost. Be it, $500 for the week or $5,000


Thanks!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: EconDiva on January 14, 2017, 11:23:46 AM
Mori Tower sky/observation deck for viewing the city's skyline

I wasn't there for long but my most memorable experience was Robot Restaurant.  It was very bizarre and a bit touristy (I think with many Japanese tourists) but I loved it.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Del Griffith on January 14, 2017, 03:33:48 PM
I have gone twice and it's amazing. Lots to see and do, and that is a good time of year to go. Just a few suggestions: check out Tsukiji to see fish market action and have some awesome fresh sushi. Odaiba is a fun waterfront/beachy area with a big sort of boardwalk and indoor mall. We visited the Kill Bill restaurant which was pretty cool and had some interesting foods: http://thecitylane.com/tokyo-gonpachi-aka-kill-bill-restaurant/. Roppongi has some crazy night life if you're interested, the places we went to seemed to stay open all night (I was 20 at the time and could hang). There is so much to walk around and see in the city (restaurants, temples, markets, etc.).

If you are open to travel, Kyoto is an unbelievable city with tons of culture. The first time I went we stayed in Kyoto for five nights before making our way to Tokyo. So much to see. If you do go here, be sure to check out Nara park where you can feed and pet deer just roaming around. Also a solid two hour train ride from Tokyo, but we went to a restaurant called Kayabuki in Utsunomiya where you get to interact and watch monkeys (!!!). This was one of my favorite things, I got to hold a very young adorably feisty monkey and the town is known for their gyoza, so yum to that.

There is so much to check out, you guys will have a fantastic time. Depending on where you're flying out of, bring lots of airplane entertainment -- it's a long one!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: pancakes on January 14, 2017, 03:53:51 PM
I love Japan!

You can spend two weeks in Tokyo with no plan, never be bored and wish for more time.

If we weren't sure what to do we'd pick a neighbourhood and spend a day walking around, trying whatever food looked good and checking out the architecture.

I think early may might be a little too early but Sankeien gardens in Yokohama have a brilliant firefly evening. It is inexpensive (train + entry) and was my favourite experience on my last trip.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 14, 2017, 06:03:01 PM
I have gone twice and it's amazing. Lots to see and do, and that is a good time of year to go. Just a few suggestions: check out Tsukiji to see fish market action and have some awesome fresh sushi. Odaiba is a fun waterfront/beachy area with a big sort of boardwalk and indoor mall. We visited the Kill Bill restaurant which was pretty cool and had some interesting foods: http://thecitylane.com/tokyo-gonpachi-aka-kill-bill-restaurant/. Roppongi has some crazy night life if you're interested, the places we went to seemed to stay open all night (I was 20 at the time and could hang). There is so much to walk around and see in the city (restaurants, temples, markets, etc.).

If you are open to travel, Kyoto is an unbelievable city with tons of culture. The first time I went we stayed in Kyoto for five nights before making our way to Tokyo. So much to see. If you do go here, be sure to check out Nara park where you can feed and pet deer just roaming around. Also a solid two hour train ride from Tokyo, but we went to a restaurant called Kayabuki in Utsunomiya where you get to interact and watch monkeys (!!!). This was one of my favorite things, I got to hold a very young adorably feisty monkey and the town is known for their gyoza, so yum to that.

There is so much to check out, you guys will have a fantastic time. Depending on where you're flying out of, bring lots of airplane entertainment -- it's a long one!

We are staying in Odaiba! We got 9 nights free via points and free business class flights round trip.

A lot of these suggestion(s) (not only from post above) are awesome! Keep them coming!

What is the best way to get around? We looked at the train pass but it didn't seem economically worth it. It seemed like just a semi good plan and paying per trip was SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: pancakes on January 14, 2017, 06:28:24 PM
The rail pass is only worth it if you are planning to really use it and take advantage of the high speed trains and move around the country. If you are going to spend most of your tme in Tokyo just grab one of the prepaid suica cards.

Tokyo has a number of private rail companies so even with the JR pass you'll still need to buy some tickets separate. When getting around you can save a lot by not transferring between different companies where possible.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 14, 2017, 06:30:08 PM
The rail pass is only worth it if you are planning to really use it and take advantage of the high speed trains and move around the country. If you are going to spend most of your tme in Tokyo just grab one of the prepaid suica cards.

Tokyo has a number of private rail companies so even with the JR pass you'll still need to buy some tickets separate. When getting around you can save a lot by not transferring between different companies where possible.

Thanks! That puts my mind at ease for that one!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 14, 2017, 06:33:35 PM
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?
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: pancakes on January 14, 2017, 08:02:10 PM
I also found some great inexpensive food and ideas (the firefly viewing for example) on this website too https://tokyocheapo.com
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: lizzzi on January 14, 2017, 08:47:51 PM
It's been a while, but I'd recommend taking the bullet train to Kyoto, as was already mentioned. Also the historic Shinto shrines are memorable. Also Mt. Fuji, and just the Japanese countryside in general. And in Tokyo, it is fascinating just being there. I would just walk around and explore. Look for restaurants that are full of "normal" Japanese eating there after work or whatever...great fun to eat where and what the locals do. And while it's not Japanese per se, some of the best French pastries I've ever eaten were at the patisseries in Japan. Try to see some traditional Japanese theater. (Kabuki? I think it's called.) And you didn't say you were hauling kids, but the Tokyo Zoo and Tokyo Disneyland are fun.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: lhamo on January 14, 2017, 09:31:13 PM
Jealous!   I have changed planes in Narita countless times, but only stayed in Tokyo for a few days during a work trip, when I was unfortunately too busy to see much.   Please eat lots of ramen and sushi and those deep fried  octopus balls for me....

I was going to post that the fish market was being relocated, but apparently it has been postponed:

https://www.ft.com/content/f50e33c4-ad73-11e6-9cb3-bb8207902122

Would definitely put that on the list, as most likely it will move eventually. 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: chrisgermany on January 14, 2017, 10:49:00 PM
There is an onsen at Odaiba. You can spend many hours there and explore. Men and ladies take their bath seperate but can meet at the food and games court. All steps are explained in english and pictures. Busy but very enjoyable and relaxing.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g1066449-d532056-Reviews-Tokyo_Odaiba_Oedo_Onsen_Monogatari-Koto_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Del Griffith on January 15, 2017, 04:09:47 PM
What is the best way to get around? We looked at the train pass but it didn't seem economically worth it. It seemed like just a semi good plan and paying per trip was SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper!

We did pay per trip and that worked out well. At times we wanted to take our time and walk to a destination if it wasn't super far and take in the city, other times we just wanted to hop on the train. Their public transit system is amazing as I'm sure you have gathered. Other times after a day of tons of walking, we just needed a pass and would catch a cab (no tipping required). Also forgot to mention, make sure you make time for Harajuku, this area is cool and you'll see some fun crazy outfits. Kudos on planning the trip on points!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Tetsuya Hondo on January 15, 2017, 06:09:49 PM
Robot sex show in East Shinjuku!

Definitely spend a little time in Tokyo and just soak it in. The big, built up, neon explosion that is the Shinjuku and Shibuya (and the nutty teens around Harajuku) areas are interesting for people watching. Spend a little time in underground train stations. Really. They're worlds in themselves. But, I love wandering the quieter neighborhoods and back alleys.

If you're into cooking, the Kappabashi neighborhood is fun. It's endless blocks of kitchen/cooking/restaurant supply purveyors. Pop in the noodle bars. Be sure to look up or down, because many good things are not on street level. As for the fish market, I kinda felt like I was a dick for being there while people were just trying to work. It's very interesting, but be prepared to dodge forklifts and service trucks flying through.

But yes, Kyoto. That's the priority. Spend at least one night in a Ryokan. Especially after Tokyo, which at times can feel like any big city anywhere, a stay in a Kyoto ryokan will make you feel like you are truly in another place. It's worth the splurge. Just wander the east side of the city and hit the temples and hunt for geishas. Wander the market. Go to Arashiyama (far west side of Kyoto) and wander the bamboo forest. Eat somewhere along the river. I really enjoyed a sidetrip to Nara. From Kyoto you can also do a day trip to Osaka.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Carless on January 15, 2017, 07:36:59 PM
I was just there!  There's lots of great mustachian (free) entertainment;

For city views, go up the Tokyo Metropolitan government building.  It's completely free, though it can get a bit crowded at times. 
For green space Meji Jingu is open to the public, traditional and atmospheric, and free.  Don't just hang around the main temple (which is great for people watching, high chance of seeing a traditional wedding on nice days) there are some nice walking paths.

Next to this is Harjuku - on the right days there's cosplayers, on most other days there's the ota memorial museum of woodblock art (definitely not free but very nice, skip the gift shop).  And just outside this is omotesando street with some great stores and a very cheap and tasty gyoza place (but busy)
http://www.ukiyoe-ota-muse.jp/eng
https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Restaurant_Review-g1066456-d1686384-Reviews-Harajuku_Gyozaro-Shibuya_Tokyo_Tokyo_Prefecture_Kanto.html

Shibuya has a crazy-busy crossing and some great cheap eats.  Sit and people watch for a bit.  All of the above is a walkable route (6 km start to finish) and was one of my favourite ways to spend a day off when I lived there.  If you don't want to meander it's easy to take the train a couple stops instead.

For Hakone, there is a special ticket that includes the return trip, the ferry and the cable car.  Consider visiting the glass museum which I really liked
http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/freepass/hakone/
Hakone Glass no Mori

Other things to do free
I'm kind of fond of the museum of internal parasites if you like weird stuff (free)
http://www.kiseichu.org/Pages/english.aspx

Tsukiji is moving, so check the location.

Kappa bashi is wonderful and full of neat kitchen gadgets.  If you go there, don't miss nearby Senso-ji which is my favourite temple in Japan (free).

The Narita view hotel near the airport has amazing outside hotsprings which you can reach by free shuttle from the airport and pay to use.  Narita city itself (20 mins by train from the airport) is a surprisingly nice city for wandering, there's a large interesting temple and garden there.

I love to chat about Japan.  If you want some ideas for cheap places to stay, just ask.  My blog from years ago is http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/jhiscocks/1/tpod.html  but I just went back for the 4th time.  I love the country so much.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: cott0n on January 15, 2017, 10:31:58 PM
For transport, like mentioned, just buy and load up a Suica card. Can buy them from a machine at stations. It will work on Subway, Trains, Buses etc. You tap into and out of the system, and it just charges you accordingly. We'd spend maybe $10 between two people per day using the subway a fair bit.

The subway system is amazing. I'm from Adelaide, Australia so it doesn't take much to impress me with public transport though. There are about 12 lines, and with a Tokyo Subway app, or just google, it's really easy to get around.

Rail pass is worth it if you're going to head down to Kyoto and around a bit. We planned it so we only needed the 7 day pass for our trip down to Kyoto, Nara, Hiroshima, Miyajima and back.

Some of these mentioned already, but some of the things we did:

Shinjuku (we stayed nearby) has great eating, nightlife, shopping. Shibuya has the famous busiest pedestrian crossing in the world, lots of shopping. Tokyo/Ginza as well, with the Imperial Palace. I'd highly recommend at least walking into a Pachinko Parlor!!! Be prepared for the sight and sound, it's intense! Yoyogi Park and Meiji Shrine. Fish Markets (go early to see it all in action - we went too late in the morning - did have great Sushi - be prepared for a long wait though). We loved going to the Sumo wrestling. (check if there is a tournament on - only 3 in Tokyo per year - otherwise there might be an exhibition tournament on).

I loved Asakusa - a bit older style Japan, and then the Koppabashi kitchen district. If you need a nice kitchen knife, there is a cluster of several stores selling Japanese knives.

All the food! Yakitori skewers of all types, Teppanyaki, Okonominyaki, Ramen, Rice Bowls, Gyozas, Izakaya, Sushi, Sashimi, Saki, Yakisoba.

We went to the Robot Restaurant... it was an experience... still not sure if it was a good one or not! ;)








Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Metric Mouse on January 15, 2017, 10:49:54 PM
This sounds like a fantastic trip. I'm sure you'll enjoy.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle on January 16, 2017, 06:21:17 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?

My typical advice to anyone planning a Tokyo trip is to go to Kyoto instead.   :lol 

Fuji summit is only open in ~July and August.  You can circumvent that, but unless you are a very experienced climber, you'd be an absolute fool to do so.  I think you can still hike (up the the 5th station, maybe?), but to be honest, I'd fine other hiking.  if you aren't going to the summit, you can do other hikes with gorgeous views and it seems like there's little point in trekking out to Fuji just to hike for a bit around the base. 

Hakone is lovely.  There's a loop involving a cable car, sky tram, boat, and hike/bus.  That's also where you get the famous black eggs (which I think has been reopened after a closure due to volcanic activity).  It's a full day.  You can hit Odawara castle on your way in or out, but if you are only doing one day in Hakone, that might be tight.  Odawara isn't the best castle, but it's convenient if you are headed to Hakone anyway.  If you decide to stay overnight in Hakone, there are many lovely Ryoken up there, including some with private or in-room onsens (so you can enjoy them with a co-ed partner).  They can be pricey though.

You can eat for very cheap if you look for the small (tiny!) places tucked in little nooks off the beaten path (up a few floors and/or over a few streets).  7-11 here has surprisingly good food (the egg salad is amazing!) and can be a very cheap lunch or dinner. 

As was mentioned, skip the rail pass if you are mostly staying local.  Many lines aren't even included in the pass.  Get a Pasmo/Suica card instead.  (You can do this at most train stations.)  It makes things so much easier.  It doesn't save you money, but it saves you a ton of time.  No buying tickets and having to figure out the correct fare before each leg of a journey.  Just swipe in and out of each gate.  You can also use them at many vending machines and even in convenience stores. 

I like Asakusa.  I don't think you need a whole day there (a few hours if probably fine) and you can then head to other districts.  Midtown has some good museums (depending on your interests).  The Shibuya crossing is impressive and people seem to want to see it.  Really, it's just a super busy pedestrian crossing, but it's sort of on the tourist checklist.  There's are a few places overlooking the crossing where you can get a view, including a Starbucks.  (You buy the coffee on the first floor then go up to the second to get the view, and you can get up there without buying a drink, but I wouldn't stay overly long in that case.) 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: gatortator on January 16, 2017, 10:37:15 AM
Japanese Baseball!

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20130624-baseball-and-sub-par-beer-in-japan

We went to a game last year when we were in Osaka, and it was a blast!  We bought tickets for midweek game at a Lawsons convenience store as described here

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g298566-i2803-k7232267-Buying_hanshin_tigers_tickets-Osaka_Osaka_Prefecture_Kinki.html  (see response #7)

also

Onsen (Japanese hot springs)

http://wanderlust-japan.com/tokyo-area-onsen/

for a treat after hiking.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy on January 25, 2017, 06:30:12 PM
Following! 

Great ideas everyone!

We'll be going to Japan in April, probably 1-2 weeks in Osaka, 1-2 weeks in Kyoto, and 2-3 days in Tokyo.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 25, 2017, 06:54:51 PM
Following! 

Great ideas everyone!

We'll be going to Japan in April, probably 1-2 weeks in Osaka, 1-2 weeks in Kyoto, and 2-3 days in Tokyo.

Ha! We aren't FIRE'd yet so I still have that pesky work thing. 3 years or so to bare bones (3k a month) 4 to 6 years to 4-5 k monthly spending but, we're only 24 and 26 so very early 30s and we should be sitting pretty!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: gatortator on January 26, 2017, 11:15:20 AM
We only stayed in the general Osaka area last year, so no advice on Kyoto(yup, everyone in Japan thought we were odd to visit Japan but not go to Kyoto) or Tokyo, but here are some links I found when planning our trip.

http://64map.hostel64.com/  Hostel 64's maps are a great starting point for what to do around Osaka.

http://www.friendsinramen.com  Osaka area ramen review.  One of the few I found for this city (most are for Tokyo).

http://world.jorudan.co.jp/norikae/cgi-bin/engkeyin.cgi.  Useful English version of Japanese train schedules.

https://www.okujapan.com/  inspiration and daydreaming starting point for traveling off-the-beaten path in Japan ( I am not associated with the company but did end up booking a self guided tour with them)
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Secretly Saving on January 26, 2017, 11:22:23 AM
Just a heads up.  You mentioned early May... The first week will be Golden Week.  If you avoid this week, it would be really, really, really better for you.  Everyone and I mean basically everyone is off of work and traveling.  All transportation - trains, roads etc will be packed as will tourist destinations. 

We love Hakone.  It's a great place.  We particularly love the Open Air Museum there. 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 26, 2017, 11:43:51 AM
Just a heads up.  You mentioned early May... The first week will be Golden Week.  If you avoid this week, it would be really, really, really better for you.  Everyone and I mean basically everyone is off of work and traveling.  All transportation - trains, roads etc will be packed as will tourist destinations. 

We love Hakone.  It's a great place.  We particularly love the Open Air Museum there.

Well we get there on the 4th (golden week) and stay through the following week. So the first few days will be busy.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: thedigitalone on January 26, 2017, 12:05:54 PM
Following for ideas, because we booked airfare (SEA-NRT) last weekend for Aug 20th to Sep 3rd with no real plan in mind!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy on January 26, 2017, 02:46:18 PM
Just a heads up.  You mentioned early May... The first week will be Golden Week.  If you avoid this week, it would be really, really, really better for you.  Everyone and I mean basically everyone is off of work and traveling.  All transportation - trains, roads etc will be packed as will tourist destinations. 

Interesting.  We'll probably be leaving before this week anyways, but good to know if not.  :)
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Metric Mouse on January 27, 2017, 11:54:34 PM
We only stayed in the general Osaka area last year, so no advice on Kyoto(yup, everyone in Japan thought we were odd to visit Japan but not go to Kyoto) or Tokyo, but here are some links I found when planning our trip.

http://64map.hostel64.com/  Hostel 64's maps are a great starting point for what to do around Osaka.

http://www.friendsinramen.com  Osaka area ramen review.  One of the few I found for this city (most are for Tokyo).

http://world.jorudan.co.jp/norikae/cgi-bin/engkeyin.cgi.  Useful English version of Japanese train schedules.

https://www.okujapan.com/  inspiration and daydreaming starting point for traveling off-the-beaten path in Japan ( I am not associated with the company but did end up booking a self guided tour with them)

Wow. I'm saving this post, even though I have a local to guide me, I think this will be very helpful.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: westtoeast on January 28, 2017, 09:18:35 AM
Following b/c I might be going in August!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper on January 28, 2017, 09:25:01 AM
Posting to follow, have always been interested in visiting Japan (and nearly went there a couple of times but ended up elsewhere instead)! Some really great tips here.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: reddityeah on January 28, 2017, 05:31:46 PM
Just a heads up.  You mentioned early May... The first week will be Golden Week.  If you avoid this week, it would be really, really, really better for you.  Everyone and I mean basically everyone is off of work and traveling.  All transportation - trains, roads etc will be packed as will tourist destinations. 

We love Hakone.  It's a great place.  We particularly love the Open Air Museum there.

I actually went to japan over golden week last year (did not know about this until after I booked) and it wasnt as bad as i thought it would be
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Zikzin on January 28, 2017, 05:42:57 PM
Following
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Lski'stash on January 28, 2017, 06:16:52 PM
I just really want to follow this port, as my husband and I are going there this summer for the same reason!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle on January 28, 2017, 08:59:10 PM
Just a heads up.  You mentioned early May... The first week will be Golden Week.  If you avoid this week, it would be really, really, really better for you.  Everyone and I mean basically everyone is off of work and traveling.  All transportation - trains, roads etc will be packed as will tourist destinations. 

We love Hakone.  It's a great place.  We particularly love the Open Air Museum there.

I actually went to japan over golden week last year (did not know about this until after I booked) and it wasn't as bad as i thought it would be

Most of this is going to depend on how you travel and what you want to see.  I wouldn't get within a mile of Tokyo Disney or Disney Sea, for example.    Just wandering the streets of Tokyo?  Probably not a significant difference.   The temples of Kyoto?  Busier than usual, but possibly still tolerable.  Hakone?  Probably busy because it's a place locals (Japanese) tend to go, and Golden Week is about locals. 

If I could avoid it, I wouldn't travel to Japan at all in August.  Not only is it busier, but it's hot and humid.  (Further north the weather isn't going to be so much of an issue.)  Winter would be my preferred season.  Yes, it's cold.  But it's off season for most things, and I'm a big fan of off season travel. 

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Lski'stash on January 29, 2017, 06:06:34 PM
Highjacking this post a little- What do you all think is the best way to get around in Japan?
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Metric Mouse on January 29, 2017, 08:50:34 PM
Highjacking this post a little- What do you all think is the best way to get around in Japan?
Would depend on if you mean inter-city, intra-city or to some of the more far-flung (and awesome) areas?
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne on January 29, 2017, 08:52:48 PM
Highjacking this post a little- What do you all think is the best way to get around in Japan?
Would depend on if you mean inter-city, intra-city or to some of the more far-flung (and awesome) areas?

OP here-

Wouldn't mind knowing people's experiences getting over to Fuji and the 'Lake Hakone' area.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle on January 29, 2017, 09:48:57 PM


Highjacking this post a little- What do you all think is the best way to get around in Japan?

Trains. What kind of train depends on where you are going to and from, but the answer is pretty much always trains, unless you are trying to get to some pretty out-of-the-way places.




Wouldn't mind knowing people's experiences getting over to Fuji and the 'Lake Hakone' area.

You can take trains to Hakone, and once in Hakone, there is a well-established loop that includes a train, cable car, ropeway, boat, and bus.  That gets you the gorgeous views, the black eggs, and all the main natural sights of Hakone.  For everything else in the area (like the open air museum, and the cool old hotel whose name escapes me), you get use the trains.  We took trains there from our house (so had no car) and got to our Ryoken and everywhere we wanted to be with no problems.

Not sure about Fuji.  Most people I know have go for the climb by group tour bus, or have driven their personal cars.  This answer will also probably depend on what you plan to see around Fuji.  But in general, if there is a train anywhere nearby, that's always the best answer.  I use the regular ol' GoogleMaps app for train ing. 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Kevin S. on January 30, 2017, 10:37:34 AM
Great thread so far !

Tokyo sky tree - go for the wonderful views and atmosphere. A bit pricey if you go all the way up to the top but you don't have to. Long lines - may or may not be worth it to some ?

Since you are in Odaiba check out the mall area and if you in anyway shape or form interested in cars go to the Toyota auto museum there - it's free. Amusment park type area as well with a ferris wheel was cool during the one summer trip. Rainbow bridge at night, Full size gundam. Lots of cool stuff there to see and do ! It seemed like it was built as a tourist trap though...not the cheapest but it wasn't insanely expensive. 

Lots of talk about shibuya and Shinjuku but 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.

If you are a gear head check out Motegi twin ring - Honda museum with ASIMO greeting you when you walk in was awesome! I'm a huge car guy and huge Honda fan. Definitely worth the the trip ! Hard to get to by train. We walked from the train station to the race track but If I had to do it again we would either get a crazy expesnive taxi (they all are super pricey! at least from my experience) or rent a car for the day.

Next trip we will rent a car when we need to go farther out.

We stayed at a cool hotel in asakusa called chisun inn (since torn down) it had not been updated since the 90's. It was great ! 

Also it has been said here but the shinkansen (bullet trains) are worth it ! Kinda pricey but in my mind it's worth it even you just use it once during your trip just for the experience.

It has also been said but get the pass - http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/  its not as cheap as a day card - pasmo / ic card but if you are going to travel outside of Tokyo area I highly recommend it. I think we spent close to the rail pass in about a week worth of travel and we never made it out of Tokyo besides motegi and tsukuba 

Have a great time ! So much great/wonderful things to do and see. I plan to go with my wife next year (hopefully)

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Landlady on January 30, 2017, 11:29:32 AM
Have fun!
I really enjoyed the fish market. Go early.
We also loved wandering around the food markets and trying to guess whether something would be sweet or savory. We didn't always get it right!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Metric Mouse on February 01, 2017, 11:12:41 PM
Have fun!
I really enjoyed the fish market. Go early.
We also loved wandering around the food markets and trying to guess whether something would be sweet or savory. We didn't always get it right!
This sounds like an amazing travel game!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: AlexK on February 01, 2017, 11:27:00 PM
I used to work for Japanese company and went there about 10 times. Right before quitting to retire I took my wife on the last business trip and we spent two additional weeks there for fun.

I also recommend Odaiba island.

I regret not eating at the Robot Restaurant. It was so noisy and crazy outside that we didn't go in but we should have just for the experience.

Don't go to a cat cafe, we did and it was lame, the cats didn't even like us and they were fighting.

If you can, get a Japanese sim card so you can use Google Maps to get around using public transportation. There are many apps for the trains and subways but this is the only English one I know of and it works great. You just search where you want to go and it tells you all the ways to get there with travel times, total cost, etc. It is like having a guide and getting around is quite complicated since you will be leaving one subway station, walking a block to another subway station, etc.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: pudding on February 02, 2017, 12:14:46 AM
I'm following this one as I plan to go soon. Some great tips from people.

I went once before about 13 years ago and I tried to stay in a capsule hotel, however  you had to get changed into a robe, and when they saw I had tattoos they freaked out and told me that I had to leave because "no tattoos, you go! refund"  I guess they thought I was some yakuza gangster or something and I tried telling them that I'm a western guy and not a gangster, but they had non of it and the guy crossed his arms in a kind of defiant martial arts stance shouting "no erezuma" I think it means no tattoo.

So out on the street it was Saturday night and I asked this white guy what to as everywhere was full.

He said go to the subway and put your stuff in a locker, then go on the subway to Ropongi, there you can drink and party until early morning. Then when the bars shut he told me to go to this movie theatre where the movie starts at 4am to 6am. He said people just go there to sleep until everything starts again.

So I went to Ropongi and I was younger then and boy was it a good party...  I woke up in McDonalds about 7am, I never made it to the movie theatre.

The other days I stayed in a ryokan on the outskirts of Tokyo and caught the train in, was a lot cheaper on the outside of town. Nice too.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy on March 16, 2017, 03:34:17 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.  :)
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Metric Mouse on March 16, 2017, 03:47:45 AM
(1) The Park Hyatt Tokyo bar is on the 52nd floor and has an AMAZING night time view of Tokyo.

This! Great memories, and such a fantastic view.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Mr Mark on March 16, 2017, 03:51:44 AM
went to japan for 2 weeks last year - off the chart awesome. Use google translate and you can show people the characters for basic communication.

We took rail passes for a week in the middle and loved being able to bullet train. Pick up a box sushi lunch and some wine at the station and lunch on the train. But you can only get the tourist passes from outside japan before you go, couriered. You can't buy them once there.

Highlights:
- Instant noodle museum in Osaka (but you have to book weeks/months early for the 3 hr make your own instant noodle thing). A true shine to pastafarianism.
- Bunny island. Spooky juxtaposition of tens of 1000s of cute fluffy bunnies running wild everywhere and a dark history of chemical weapons manufacturing during the war. Get the fried oysters for lunch. Buy lots of bunny food at the ferry station before you go.
- Kobe. Super cool jazz bars, more english (not a lot tho), great Chinatown. Really enjoyed the city. Natural disaster museum empty, cheap, and great for kids.
- Great food. Some of the cheap noodle places near stations are killer value.

We went during Xmas/New Year. Trippy. Japanese love Xmas, but they're buddist, so it's like Xmas without the Jesus.

Safe, friendly, polite to the point of painfulness, but the big cities are crowded esp at rush hour. I now know what a blood corpusle (sp?) feels like.

Can't wait to go back. If you have Netflix, watch the Tokyo Diner series before you go.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: westtoeast on March 16, 2017, 05:03:25 AM
Glad to see this thread active again because I just booked tickets! Ticket was 900 and I used my Chase Sapphire and paid just 210. Going solo in late June and early July, trying to fit in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. I'm nervous and excited! Thanks for tip on Google Translate, now I need to figure out how to use it on my phone without data roaming.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy on March 16, 2017, 05:21:48 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle 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).
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: westtoeast 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy 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. :)

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne 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?

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Tetsuya Hondo 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne 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

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Heroes821 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper 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?
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne 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.

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle 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. 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Heroes821 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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: FLBiker 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!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Tetsuya Hondo 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

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: TheAnonOne 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

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

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)

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Tetsuya Hondo 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

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

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)

Sent from my SM-G935T using Tapatalk

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.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Metric Mouse 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.
+2
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper on November 23, 2017, 09:04:59 PM
Heyyyyyyyy everyone. I'm currently in Tokyo with my partner, and don't lynch me but everyone talks it up so much and I feel like maybe it's a bit overhyped, for me at least. I suspect partly because we've already been in Japan for a month so far (and was in Korea for a month before that) so I've already seen lots of cool stuff and eaten lots of delicious things. Sure, Tokyo may be bigger and brighter and busier... but... not quite extraordinary to me yet... I would love to have my mind changed, though!

We've so far been to:

Shinjuku - this is our base
Shibuya - hung around a bit, saw the Hachiko statue and famous crossing etc
Harajuku - might visit again on a weekend to see the young'uns dressed up
Ginza - enjoyed a big pedestrian area where the road was closed to vehicles (apparently that happens on weekends but we got it on a Thursday?)
Tsukiji - the main fish market was closed on the day we went, might go back another day, not sure if we'll bother waking up super early for the fish auctions though
Akihabara - pretty cool, visited a massive electronics shop and adult shop, might go back again and check out more of the games stuff
Ueno - popped by briefly at night, will probably go back during the day

Places that I'll probably visit over the next week or so: Asakusa, Shimokitazawa, Kichijoji. Also might do a day trip or two out of Tokyo somewhere nearby (possibly Yamanashi and/or Nikko)?

So with that in mind... anything really awesome or interesting or unusual or surprising I should see or do here that would totally stand out? That would make me go, "right, NOW I see what the fuss is about Tokyo"? The MariCar experience seems like it would be really really good and and be something different that I haven't already had a taste of elsewhere in Japan, but I don't drive. Hah.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle on November 23, 2017, 09:49:36 PM
I kind of agree with you.  I don't love Tokyo.

That said, this time of year is amazing.  You are probably too late for the fall foliage around Tokyo.  However, the Christmas illumination season has begun and many of them are pretty impressive.  If you are at a hotel, as them about any illuminations nearby. 

I think Hakone still has a lot of the foliage up, but that's probably too far for a day trip (but would be a fairly easy over night if you wanted to get a room). 

The Harajuku scene is not what is used to be.  I think it got kind of played out, so there are fewer kids now.  Check out Takeshita Street for the spectacle, including the Monster Cafe (outside; actually dining there is pricey).

For nightlife, consider Piss Alley and Golden Gai (both near Shinjuku).

If you want a fancier experience for an only semi-fancy price, the Park Hyatt (hotel from Lost in translation) has a happy hour at their Peak Bar (not the bar from the movie).  All you can drink and light appetizers for I think 4000 or 5000 yen.  (Yes, still quite spendy.) Get there a few minutes before it starts (or maybe 15-20 before is you go on a weekend night) as there is a limited number.  View is gorgeous. 

Asakusa has a nice temple and shrine and is fun to wander. 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy on November 24, 2017, 06:13:09 AM
Robot restaurant?
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper on November 24, 2017, 09:16:54 AM
I kind of agree with you.  I don't love Tokyo.

That said, this time of year is amazing.  You are probably too late for the fall foliage around Tokyo.  However, the Christmas illumination season has begun and many of them are pretty impressive.  If you are at a hotel, as them about any illuminations nearby. 

I think Hakone still has a lot of the foliage up, but that's probably too far for a day trip (but would be a fairly easy over night if you wanted to get a room). 

The Harajuku scene is not what is used to be.  I think it got kind of played out, so there are fewer kids now.  Check out Takeshita Street for the spectacle, including the Monster Cafe (outside; actually dining there is pricey).

For nightlife, consider Piss Alley and Golden Gai (both near Shinjuku).

If you want a fancier experience for an only semi-fancy price, the Park Hyatt (hotel from Lost in translation) has a happy hour at their Peak Bar (not the bar from the movie).  All you can drink and light appetizers for I think 4000 or 5000 yen.  (Yes, still quite spendy.) Get there a few minutes before it starts (or maybe 15-20 before is you go on a weekend night) as there is a limited number.  View is gorgeous. 

Asakusa has a nice temple and shrine and is fun to wander.

Thanks, Villanelle! I read upthread that you prefer Kyoto - so maybe I'm in that camp, too. Tokyo's fall foliage is supposed to peak late November to early December, so we're right on time - we went to Yoyogi Park the other day, and will likely check out more parks. We've seen bits and pieces of Christmas lights already but will look into where we can see more elaborate ones.

We took a walk down Omoide Yokocho our first night but didn't eat there, tonight we did at a yakitori place and it was great, and I think the delicious combination of grilled skewered things and plum wine cocktails helped me warm up more to Tokyo. ;)

The Park Hyatt experience sounds nice, we went to a free observatory already though so probably won't splurge on that (unless perhaps we have extra yen to use up towards the end)!

We have been to Takeshita Street but it was on a weekday, will try again maybe on Sunday. Asakusa is definitely on the list.

Robot restaurant?

We were half-considering it, but after seeing the ticket prices, we decided we weren't interested enough to fork out that much. Did you go and if so, was it worth it for you?
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: arebelspy on November 24, 2017, 09:20:04 AM
Robot restaurant?

We were half-considering it, but after seeing the ticket prices, we decided we weren't interested enough to fork out that much. Did you go and if so, was it worth it for you?

Yes, and yes.

But I also try to keep expectations low, so I will enjoy things instead of being disappointed. I inevitably find when people rave about a book/movie, I'm disappointed in it.

This sounds like what's happening to you and Tokyo, re:
I'm currently in Tokyo with my partner, and don't lynch me but everyone talks it up so much and I feel like maybe it's a bit overhyped, for me at least.

So you may not like it.

If you do go, don't pay retail, there's plenty of places to get discount tickets, including the Internet.

It's super weird. If you just want to laugh and have an experience and just go with the craziness, it's great.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: GuitarStv on November 24, 2017, 09:47:09 AM
Are you into martial arts at all?  I've always wanted to visit the Kodokan in Tokyo.  You're allowed to sleep there for very reasonable rates and can train Judo for cheap (I think it's about 5$ a day?).
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper on November 24, 2017, 11:13:24 AM
Thanks ARS. :)  I will continue to ponder it further. I actually don't have high expectations for Robot Restaurant, so I might be pleasantly surprised... but then the fact that I'm not that excited about it (i.e. only considering it because I'm a bit curious, on the off-chance that I could potentially find it awesome) means I probably shouldn't go unless the amount of money is little to me.

GuitarStv I am a little bit into martial arts, I used to train capoeira. I was thinking about checking out a sumo stable actually but it appears that it is currently a bad time for it in Tokyo as the wrestlers are away for a tournament elsewhere. So perhaps we will check out Kodokan instead!
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: JetBlast on November 24, 2017, 12:16:26 PM
Honestly, Tokyo isnít my favorite area of Japan either. Too busy and hectic for me. Itís a great city though to just pick a neighborhood and go wandering without any set plan. The weirdness just finds you.

If you want a slower pace and more of a traditional Japan feel then Kamakura might be worth a day trip. I know it was mentioned upthread. Itís only about an hour away by rail and has several beautiful temples and shrines. The giant Buddha is quite impressive.
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: Villanelle on November 24, 2017, 11:00:12 PM
If you want a cultural experience, you could consider going to one act of a kabuki performance.  You stand in line to get tickets, and you can get a translator device. 

The Monster Cafe seems to get better reviews than the Robot Restaurant, if you are looking to do something along those lines.

And a friend when to Shinjuku Gyoen to view the leaves yesterday and posted spectacular photos.  She said it's maybe a hair past prime, but the ginkos are still stunning.   

Sankeien Garden in Yokohama is gorgeous, though I don't know the state of the foliage.  Not the easiest to get to, but you can train and then walk maybe 10-15 minutes to get there, or busses will get you a bit closer, but still a walk. 
Title: Re: I am going to Tokyo! Ideas?
Post by: limeandpepper on December 07, 2017, 07:51:02 AM
Belated thanks to JetBlast and Villanelle! I considered doing a day trip out somewhere but we ended up being too lazy.

The update is, Tokyo did grow on me a bit after all! Though it didn't sweep me off my feet immediately (perhaps it would if I haven't already been to other big cities like Shanghai and Seoul), I found that I enjoyed gradually peeling off the layers and discovering different aspects to it, via visiting various neighbourhoods.