Visiting Japan Page 2

  • Phattso 23 Feb 2015 02:42:13 24,738 posts
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    ProfessorLesser wrote:
    Tiny ryokan in Hokkaido and you can't tell Japanese from Chinese? You're gonna have a bad time.
    I think "bad time" might be overstating it. Harder time, certainly.

    My experience has been that most people are very patient and accommodating. If you just accept that sometimes in a restaurant you're going to be pointing at a dish without knowing what it is you'll be fine. That said, learning the symbols for meat, chicken, pork, etc. will help you a lot. If it worries you, learn the character for intestines too. :) My limited written Chinese experience has helped me avoid things I would prefer not to eat, just by process of elimination.

    When out and about, daily interactions with the locals will be less - it's a shame, but a reality of the language barrier. If you're buying something, there'll be a till or calculator on which you can see the total.

    One serious recommendation, only possible now we're in Space Year 2015, is to get one of those 3G/4G dongles at the airport and connect your phones/tablets to it. That solves the one final headache: navigation.

    Even in the middle of nowhere, both in China and Japan, having access to data has dug me out of holes. :)
  • Phattso 23 Feb 2015 02:47:45 24,738 posts
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    Oh, and on a side note, do some reading on your destinations in Japan. Some places, and I'm thinking Okinawa mainly here, have a strong US presence due to air bases. As a result, certainly in Okinawa, the rule of thumb is "if you don't see English words on signs outside a venue, it's locals only" which is good to know to avoid any awkwardness.
  • Mola_Ram 23 Feb 2015 02:52:35 20,395 posts
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    Eh, he should be fine with most of the places he's going to. Though you might want to be careful about which bar in Kabuki-cho you wander into - those black-suited men with sunglasses are not businessmen. :/
  • Phattso 23 Feb 2015 02:57:42 24,738 posts
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    Oh for sure. And if one happens to wander into a locals only bar, the worst that's going to happen is you'll be asked to leave. :)
  • Mola_Ram 23 Feb 2015 03:05:46 20,395 posts
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    And don't ever go to a snack bar. They're not what you think they are.
  • Mola_Ram 23 Feb 2015 03:16:24 20,395 posts
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    There are some helpful pointers on etiquette in this series of videos



    Definitely give them a look before you go.
  • twelveways 23 Feb 2015 06:52:55 7,131 posts
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    @Phattso
    What are the places like compared to China for eating and sleeping and travelling? Looking for somewhere for our next trip and have pretty much exhausted our options in SE Asia...

    thanks
  • Phattso 23 Feb 2015 06:59:31 24,738 posts
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    @twelveways if we're talking Japan specifically, then expect the quality to be markedly higher across the board. Tough to find anywhere to stay as cheaply as you'd find across China though. Food also is a step up in price, but generally with quality to match.

    Traveling has the same problems as inside China (not much English spoken outside Tier 1 city main stations) but generally friendlier people so figuring stuff out isn't as hard. Trains in China are actually a little better, since they're almost all brand new, but there's some wonderful variety in Japan. Sometimes you'll get on a rickety old throwback of a train and it's wonderful. :)

    Without wanting to be controversial, because China is a nation in transition a great many of the cities are identikit. All that changes is the scenery, so you have to travel a lot to see something different. Not so Japan. Each major city has a completely independent vibe, which is really nice to experience.

    Not sure if you've seen much of Taiwan yet, but I'd thoroughly recommend doing a lap around the island. Start in Taipei and work your way clockwise around the place. Train across to the mountains, stay up there for a couple of days and see the sights, then rental car down the East coast for warm beachy type places, trains back West to Kaoxiang for the night markets and island trips, then back up to Taipei.
  • twelveways 23 Feb 2015 07:43:51 7,131 posts
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    Cheers.

    Have thought about Taiwan but isn't it just China-lite?

    Totally agree with you about Chinese cities, the few times I have travelled within China I have felt a little disappointed with the cities I visited.
  • Phattso 23 Feb 2015 07:50:01 24,738 posts
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    Taiwan, well Taipei mainly, has a slight Japan vibe going owing to the occupation. Also remember that there are aboriginal tribes there as well so, culturally, depending where you are it feels unlike anything you'd find in China (outside of perhaps the XinJiang region or the Western borders).

    It's not so much as China-lite as China-clean-and-nice-and-lovely. Cars that slow down and stop when you cross the road, food that isn't trying to murder you, etc. etc.

    Plus they took a fucktonne of the relics and rich stuff from the mainland when the KuoMinTang fucked off in 1949 so the museums are interesting. :)

    I'm a fan, anyways. My order of preference probably goes Japan->Hong Kong->Taiwan->Cambodia et al.

    The benefit of Taiwan over the rest is price. It's China prices with fewer of the drawbacks. And it's absolutely beautiful.
  • RyanDS 23 Feb 2015 11:35:01 12,768 posts
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    I just got my confirmation back of the studio ghibli tour booking.   I thought i would just reiterate to anyone else who is looking to go that it sells out fast so book way on advance.   7 weeks to go and it was sold out on every day apart from the day before we leave for us

    Oh and while i remember.  Anyone here asthmatic and taken their steroids etc with them.  The Internet makes it sound like i will need full doctors notes etc justifying what is normally just day to day medication.
  • Dizzy 23 Feb 2015 11:55:21 3,709 posts
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    @Phattso You can easily go to Japan from Taiwan... boat to the amazing Ishigaki island :) Highly recommended. From there you can make your way to the mainland or to Okinawa.

    Edited by Dizzy at 11:55:46 23-02-2015
  • Phattso 23 Feb 2015 12:28:37 24,738 posts
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    Dizzy wrote:
    @Phattso You can easily go to Japan from Taiwan... boat to the amazing Ishigaki island :) Highly recommended. From there you can make your way to the mainland or to Okinawa.
    Nice, good to know. I've done boat from the mainland to Macau and thence to Hobg Kong. I do tend to just fly in and Rock one country though. No need to travel between, just do em another time.

    Planning I leave China this year and I have to say, the thought of no more weekend trips to Tokyo/HK et al is really depressing me.
  • ProfessorLesser 23 Feb 2015 12:35:25 19,692 posts
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    RyanDS wrote:
    Oh and while i remember.  Anyone here asthmatic and taken their steroids etc with them.  The Internet makes it sound like i will need full doctors notes etc justifying what is normally just day to day medication.
    I'm not sure about that... I'd be surprised, but if you've heard otherwise then there it is. Buying medications in Japan is a nightmare as well. If it's going to be a problem, I'm sure your GP will be more than happy to print you off an official list of your current repeats... should do the trick.
  • DarmokJalad 23 Feb 2015 12:48:35 63,699 posts
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    @mrharvest Hey dude! Nothing concrete yet, early spring or late summer. I'll let you know.
  • Dante_Cubit 23 Feb 2015 14:17:49 1,996 posts
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    Oh and go to 'Gas Panic' obviously. Jesus Christ...
  • RyanDS 20 Mar 2015 22:50:32 12,768 posts
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    3 weeks to go and I am starting to look at amending my plans.

    I have decided there is too much rushing around and I want a couple of chilled days. One is between Kyoto and Osaka I was going to do a night in a Bhuddist Temple on mount Koya. 4 times now I have tried to book a temple and failed, so I may as well just give up and have an extra night in Kyoto or Osaka. Or would people really recomend the temple overnight experience?

    Second decision is Takayama, is it worth the 6 hour travel diversion?

    Plan at the moment is:

    Tokyo 5 days - (two of those day trips to Kamakura and Nikko)
    Takayama - (Although a long diversion...)
    5 days Kyoto - (One Mount Koya if I can find a Temple?)
    3 Days Osaka
    Hiroshima
    Miyajama
    Back to Tokyo for Studio Ghibli before an evening flight back.

    Anyone done similar and has strong thoughts about Takayama or Mount Koya?
  • Mola_Ram 20 Mar 2015 22:57:47 20,395 posts
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    I've been to Koya-san once, and it was stunning. Definitely worth going.
  • RyanDS 20 Mar 2015 23:00:26 12,768 posts
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    STOP SAYING THAT!!! EVERY ONE I EMAIL IS BOOKED UP!!!!

    Jokes aside, that was always a cornerstone of the trip, but booking is a fucking pain.
  • Mola_Ram 20 Mar 2015 23:09:06 20,395 posts
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    :p

    It's possible as a day trip from Osaka. It's an hour and a half to 2-hour trip, so best get up early. But even if you only get half a day in Koya-san, it's worth it.
  • RyanDS 20 Mar 2015 23:14:24 12,768 posts
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    So day trip is worth it then? It was supposed to be afternoon there, stay the night in a temple then head on next day. But if it is worth a day trip that actually works out quite well.

    Fuck! 21 days and I am stoked! I have never ever done this much prep. 40+ countries to date and I have always just turned up and played by ear, but with my wife, and being the first true "exotic" country where language and culture is new (as opposed to Africa / Carribean /Europe / Americas) it is so much fun just to plan!
  • ilmaestro 20 Mar 2015 23:54:44 32,929 posts
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    Razz wrote:
    @mrharvest Hey dude! Nothing concrete yet, early spring or late summer. I'll let you know.
    EG meet in Japan!
  • Zomoniac 21 Mar 2015 00:26:50 10,021 posts
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    One recommendation is if you're getting the train along the south coast then make a few hours to stop off in Himeji. It's between Kyoto and Hiroshima on that line. The castle there is well worth a look.
  • oldskooldeano 21 Mar 2015 00:56:07 2,948 posts
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    @RyanDS I've been to Takayama. To the folk village in Hida. It is quite a journey compared to elsewhere you're visiting but it is different. The old town is very nice and quite an attraction. It's full of japanese tourists buying sake and knick-knacks. The folk village is pretty cool, very quiet when I went, and a little run-down. The old (recreated) buildings are very atmospheric.
    The six hour journey will fly by for you after the bustle of Tokyo. You'll see Japan get steadily more rural, see the glory of Mt.Fuji in the distance and end up in an older sort of japan that you wont see again until you get to Kyoto. there are some great natural hot onsen around in takayama, do try to get into one. There is a big public one like a swimming pool. There are even ones by the side of the road where you can dip your feet.
    Are you going to be there around the 14th April? Big spring festival there then. Should be great. I imagine Takayama would be beautiful in the winter, covered in snow..

    5 days in Kyoto is long in my view. You can see a lot in 2-3 days there. Go to Nara of course for a day. Enjoy!

    Edited by riz23 at 01:00:34 21-03-2015
  • CrispyXUKTurbo 21 Mar 2015 01:19:26 1,922 posts
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    the best arcades are on normal streets and usually underground. Take a 3ds or vita with as people like to battle each other in cafes.

    Visit the free arcade in super potatoe, sit in the NES throne and visit every park they have, it's a beautiful country
  • FWB 21 Mar 2015 03:23:55 55,969 posts
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    Once you've seen one temple, you've seen them all.
  • mrharvest 21 Mar 2015 04:16:29 5,591 posts
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    @ilmaestro I'm up for that.
  • Mola_Ram 21 Mar 2015 05:30:38 20,395 posts
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    FWB wrote:
    Once you've seen one temple, you've seen them all.
    I disagree, but know a few people who think that. I've seen dozens, and have never once gotten tired of them.
  • Dizzy 21 Mar 2015 07:55:47 3,709 posts
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    @RyanDS Koya-san is pretty impressive. I loved it to bits.
  • Phattso 21 Mar 2015 08:27:59 24,738 posts
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    Mola_Ram wrote:
    FWB wrote:
    Once you've seen one temple, you've seen them all.
    I disagree, but know a few people who think that. I've seen dozens, and have never once gotten tired of them.
    I'm a fan, but if I see too many in one trip it gets a little samey. Same as driving through "big country" in the US or somewhere. After five hours driving through mountains it's like: "oh, another unimaginably beautiful vista. YAWN!"

    Ridiculous, but that's what happens to me after a while. I get blind to the wonder of it through over-exposure. :)
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