Trip Planning: Japan

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Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Candiru » Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:33 am

So my current job finishes at the end of July, and I don't have another one lined up yet so I was thinking I should take the opportunity to do something exciting. I've never been to Japan before, so I've decided that a trip there would be good fun!

With the obvious "avoid the nuclear contamination" advice aside, does anyone have any tips on interesting places to visit, ways to get around, things that would be useful for travellers not familiar with Japan etc. (Eg, do you tip people in restaurants, do cash machines function with foreign cards, random laws which you might break by mistake such as jaywalking in the USA.)
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Masumi » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:31 am

you should be fine, as long as you don't look japanese they let you get away with small mistakes because they figure you are a tourist. I got yelled at by the guard at the gate of my cousin's school and was about to cry because my japanese sucked. my cousin ran into the booth were the guard had me and explained I was from the U.S. and didn't know I was not suppost to be near the school gates during school hours. the guard apologised and told my cousin to mark me to let others know I was an american japanese >.> back then though I was pathedic though.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby fudomyou » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:36 am

Ways to get around: Learn how to use the subway and the overland rail system!

If you're going to be there for 2-3 weeks and want to hop from city to city, it's very, very convenient to get a JR Pass, which will let you take most trains without having to bother with individual fares. http://japanrailpass.net/eng/en001.html

It takes about 4 trips on the bullet train to make it worth the cost, so you'll want at least 3 cities on your trip if you get a JR pass.

What kind of trip are you looking for? Japanese culture tour, Japanese history tour, nerd tour, architectural tour, beach, etc.?
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Masumi » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:47 am

i am at work and don't know if I am allowed to post on forums so I will post more when i get home lol but you should be alright. most of the rules of walk ways and stuff most japanese police will look the other way or inform you if you are a tourist and look like one.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Candiru » Fri Jun 10, 2011 8:18 am

Ah, that Jrail pass looks like a good plan. I was thinking of doing a mixture of visiting cultural sights (temples etc), landscape (mountains etc), Tokyo for a bit of nerd exploration and anything else Japanese (Traditional baths etc.)

Probably be there for around a month. Be nice to just be able to hop on a train, go somewhere where the fancy takes me and explore. How easy is it to find accommodation in a hostel or such like at short notice, or do you need to book in advance?
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Sabindeus » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:04 am

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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby fudomyou » Fri Jun 10, 2011 9:55 am

As long as you're not traveling during a major holiday, you should be fine. If you want to find the best deal or best view you'll need to do some checking in advance, but Japan is a society that lives around its train stations - step out of one and you'll find at least 2 open hotels within spitting distance.

Oh yeah, and for your other questions:

do you tip people in restaurants


No. If you try, they'll often think you forgot your change and run after you trying to give you your money back.

do cash machines function with foreign cards


Yes, and Citibank's are the best. Make sure your PIN is 4 digits, since longer ones aren't universally accepted. Try not to get destroyed too hard by the exchange rate for a freakishly strong Yen, and exchange as much cash as you can at the Japanese airport (they tend to give better rates than most other exchanges). Japan has also finally gotten the hang of credit cards, so you can often use those at department stores (though, once again, be aware of your card's Foreign Currency policy).

random laws which you might break by mistake such as jaywalking in the USA.


Uh. Obey common sense, and be very polite to other people on the train? There isn't a 'random law' I can think of.

Meanwhile, here are a few destinations along the train line I'd recommend. Unfortunately, a couple of the places I like got swallowed by the tsunami :/

The must-sees:

Kyoto - gorgeous architecture, it's basically a museum city with a ton of temples and shrines, and a couple of castles. I really like the gardens there.
Osaka - it's like Tokyo but the people are way more honest. Go see a baseball game to see how crazy they can get when they let loose. Nerd stops are the shrine behind Koushien stadium, Koushien itself, and Den Den Town.
Tokyo - I recommend the Ueno park museums, the shrine to Meiji, and hopefully you can make it to Asakusa during a festival. Nerd stops are Akihabara of course, and the Ghibli museum. Non-nerd stops are... everything, really. Tokyo is the center of Japan in every possible way. Shopping, clubbing, concerts, shows, you can do everything there as long as you know how to get around.

The nice-to-sees:

Hiroshima - a solemn stop if there ever was one. The Peace Park is beautiful and eerily silent.
Sapporo - Gorgeous in the summer, gorgeous in the winter. Get to Hakodate for a miniature version of it that requires about an hour less travel by train.
Yokohama - A personal favorite for its bustling Chinatown and the Ramen Museum (accept no substitutes!)
Matsushima in Miyagi - largely untouched by the earthquake, and one of the great vistas of Japan.

The if-you-have-times:

Climbing Mount Fuji - amazingly dirty up close, dammit :/
Izumo+Nara - in the middle of nowhere, but magnificent scenery with the great temples and the surrounding mountains.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Lightbeard » Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:49 pm

Envy, I'm experiencing it :(

Japan is the one country I've always wanted to visit.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Masumi » Sat Jun 11, 2011 12:39 am

Lightbeard wrote:Envy, I'm experiencing it :(

Japan is the one country I've always wanted to visit.



after a month or so you would stop seeing all the excitement and start looking at your wallet.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Lightbeard » Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:38 pm

Masumi wrote:
Lightbeard wrote:Envy, I'm experiencing it :(

Japan is the one country I've always wanted to visit.



after a month or so you would stop seeing all the excitement and start looking at your wallet.


I'm extremely conservative when it comes to spending my own money so that won't be a problem.

Getting to tour in Japan someday is definitely a goal of mine as well as go for vacation.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Fivelives » Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:14 pm

It doesn't matter how conservative you are, Japan is fucking expensive to visit.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby fudomyou » Mon Jun 13, 2011 5:04 pm

It does matter how conservative you are. There are hostels and even certain net cafes that will let you stay for a very modest fee per night, and eating can be about USD 8-10 if you go to the right places.

It helps me that I know a lot of people who'll let me crash at their place in Japan, though...
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Masumi » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:00 pm

fudomyou wrote:It does matter how conservative you are. There are hostels and even certain net cafes that will let you stay for a very modest fee per night, and eating can be about USD 8-10 if you go to the right places.

It helps me that I know a lot of people who'll let me crash at their place in Japan, though...

I am a light eater, salad and tea type of girl. I stayed at my aunts house but I do tend to spend money on dumb things as my father said as he sent me more money after a month.

I didn't know much Japanese when I went there so father insisted that I go and head to my cousin's school so she would take me to my aunt's house, he never mentioned that standing by school gate was bad and ended up getting taken into the small office on the side of the gate. I think he thought I was retarded or something since I was too dignified to bring out the translation dictionary and tried to talk with out it. yea a Japanese with a translation dictionary. after a few seconds of trying to explained I started to cry, father probably told my cousin I would be outside of school because she just ran into the booth and talked to the guard. he apologized and told her to mark me as an american Japanese which I still think it was rude.
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Lightbeard » Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:15 pm

Masumi wrote:
fudomyou wrote:It does matter how conservative you are. There are hostels and even certain net cafes that will let you stay for a very modest fee per night, and eating can be about USD 8-10 if you go to the right places.

It helps me that I know a lot of people who'll let me crash at their place in Japan, though...

I am a light eater, salad and tea type of girl. I stayed at my aunts house but I do tend to spend money on dumb things as my father said as he sent me more money after a month.

I didn't know much Japanese when I went there so father insisted that I go and head to my cousin's school so she would take me to my aunt's house, he never mentioned that standing by school gate was bad and ended up getting taken into the small office on the side of the gate. I think he thought I was retarded or something since I was too dignified to bring out the translation dictionary and tried to talk with out it. yea a Japanese with a translation dictionary. after a few seconds of trying to explained I started to cry, father probably told my cousin I would be outside of school because she just ran into the booth and talked to the guard. he apologized and told her to mark me as an american Japanese which I still think it was rude.


So a japanese guard yelled at you.

and you began crying. And your cousin came to save you.

Am I understanding this right?
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Re: Trip Planning: Japan

Postby Masumi » Mon Jun 13, 2011 11:04 pm

Lightbeard wrote:
Masumi wrote:
fudomyou wrote:It does matter how conservative you are. There are hostels and even certain net cafes that will let you stay for a very modest fee per night, and eating can be about USD 8-10 if you go to the right places.

It helps me that I know a lot of people who'll let me crash at their place in Japan, though...

I am a light eater, salad and tea type of girl. I stayed at my aunts house but I do tend to spend money on dumb things as my father said as he sent me more money after a month.

I didn't know much Japanese when I went there so father insisted that I go and head to my cousin's school so she would take me to my aunt's house, he never mentioned that standing by school gate was bad and ended up getting taken into the small office on the side of the gate. I think he thought I was retarded or something since I was too dignified to bring out the translation dictionary and tried to talk with out it. yea a Japanese with a translation dictionary. after a few seconds of trying to explained I started to cry, father probably told my cousin I would be outside of school because she just ran into the booth and talked to the guard. he apologized and told her to mark me as an american Japanese which I still think it was rude.


So a japanese guard yelled at you.

and you began crying. And your cousin came to save you.

Am I understanding this right?

guard didn't yell just kept asking questions I couldn't translate. that is the short answer, so he might want to stay away from front of school gates lol
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