Visiting Japan Page 4

  • Mola_Ram 14 Apr 2015 13:45:27 20,715 posts
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    Shibuya is where all the crazy fashion people hang out. When I was in Tokyo a few years ago, I spent whole mornings at a cafe there just people-watching.

    And no, Japan is not disabled-friendly at all. It's a pretty big problem, actually.
  • Not-a-reviewer 14 Apr 2015 13:52:00 5,762 posts
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    A lot of places won't sell you anything if you have tattoos or piercings, they seem to hate them.
  • Mola_Ram 14 Apr 2015 13:53:25 20,715 posts
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    I think the tattoo thing is in part because they're associated with yakuza.
  • Coughthulu 14 Apr 2015 13:54:31 223 posts
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    For Kyoto, you want to do Nishka Market, which has a massive array of streetfood. We spent three hours having an extended lunch wandering around and nibbling all sorts of treats.

    Kyoto also has the International Manga Museum which I could have spent an entire day at, until I was dragged away. They also host a hell of a lot of Cosplay events.
  • RyanDS 17 Apr 2015 13:47:48 12,800 posts
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    So, nearly a week and further thoughts...

    Tokyo is nice, but honestly it was London / New York / Berlin / Johanesburg / Paris etc. Big cities all tend to be the same I find. Areas of their own style, but at the core the same. That's not to say I don't like Tokyo, I did, but it didn't blow me away. I also always felt I could have done with a guide. Just finding a bar at times was problematic as I have no idea of the Kanji and ended up playing safe and drinking in tourist places.

    Tokyo is insanely big. Honestly it is Megacity One. We did the Skytree (highest viewing platform in the world) and in every direction Tokyo sprawled as far as the eye can see. I can't be arsed to look at maps, but if you said it was 100km in every direction I would believe you. TO the horizon on all sides just grey building after building with rare spots of green. Saying that it was amazing and after the sun set it is stunning.

    Kamakura is lovely, and standing inside a 750 year old giant Bhudda statue was fun.

    Left Tokyo and did Takayama. Spent a whole day just eating street food and trying 100 types of Sake. Loved every second.

    Now in Kyoto, and I am in love! Don't know what it is, but fuck me, I love this town. Only been here 6 hours and something about the vibe just appeals. Seems more approachable and personable than Tokyo, while not being as artificially twee and Takayama.

    Other notes:

    I find it harder to wander into a restaurant here to see what they serve and prices and then wander out than in the rest of the world. As you walk in you are ushered to seats, hot towels thrown at you, tea and water served before you even have a chance to ask for the menu. Worked out nicely tonight though, was looking for a cheap place and stumbled into a place where I balked at the priced but too late... Had a bar with a small BBQ every few feet, and they just gave me raw meat that I had to cook myself. Was great and worth the money.

    Most of the time I just point at things I don't know and eat them. Had some shockers, but also some amazing experiences. For instance I pointed at some random Kanji and next thing I know I have a guy dropping raw octopus on a grill, and dropping a 10 tonne weight on it! In 10 seconds raw octopus turns into a 1mm thick crispy sheet of paper that I lost half of in some strong wind! Was tasty though.

    Yet to see a Vita / 3DS / manga comic on the train though. Everyone is obsessed with their mobile phones. London tubes are more talkative!
  • senso-ji 17 Apr 2015 13:53:55 9,673 posts
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    People don't generally talk on the tube in Japan and Korea. I think it's considered bad manners to talk on your phone on the train in those countries.

    Yeah, Kyoto was the highlight of my Japan trip several years ago. Great place with plenty of fantastic places to visit.
  • RyanDS 17 Apr 2015 14:30:09 12,800 posts
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    Oh, two further points:

    1) Every meal is served in 4 or 5 dishes. Even a simple 400 yen breakfast (2.50) will have tea, water, coffee, small bowl of pickles, bowl of rice, bowl of fruit, bowl of meat / fish. It's enough to make a french dishwasher go on strike!

    2) Everywhere there are 750 year old shrines or temples in immaculate condition. They give the impression that for a thousand years they have always been looked after. My cynical side wants to see if that is true, or if they were left for hundreds of years and restored though.
  • Deleted user 17 April 2015 15:19:59
    Given that they seem to venerate wars graves of the British as well as their war criminals, I'd guess it's a long-standing cultural thing.

    Wonder if it's something to do with Shinto, of which I know nothing.
  • FWB 17 Apr 2015 16:58:09 56,105 posts
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    convz wrote:
    FWB wrote:
    Fantastic place to visit. Great place to live for a bit. Suicidal to settle down.
    Why's that?

    Also, some very interesting posts in this thread - we're hoping to go there next year so it's been very useful, thanks all, and hope you have a great time Ryan!
    Like all places, visiting them barely scratches the surface. I do like Japan, a lot, but underneath there's some real unpleasantness and a foreigner will always struggle to integrate. Guess I'm spoiled coming from somewhere like London.
  • Armoured_Bear 17 Apr 2015 17:03:59 27,166 posts
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    RyanDS wrote:
    So, nearly a week and further thoughts...

    Tokyo is nice, but honestly it was London / New York / Berlin / Johanesburg / Paris etc. Big cities all tend to be the same I find. Areas of their own style, but at the core the same. That's not to say I don't like Tokyo, I did, but it didn't blow me away. I also always felt I could have done with a guide. Just finding a bar at times was problematic as I have no idea of the Kanji and ended up playing safe and drinking in tourist places.

    Tokyo is insanely big. Honestly it is Megacity One. We did the Skytree (highest viewing platform in the world) and in every direction Tokyo sprawled as far as the eye can see. I can't be arsed to look at maps, but if you said it was 100km in every direction I would believe you. TO the horizon on all sides just grey building after building with rare spots of green. Saying that it was amazing and after the sun set it is stunning.

    Kamakura is lovely, and standing inside a 750 year old giant Bhudda statue was fun.

    Left Tokyo and did Takayama. Spent a whole day just eating street food and trying 100 types of Sake. Loved every second.

    Now in Kyoto, and I am in love! Don't know what it is, but fuck me, I love this town. Only been here 6 hours and something about the vibe just appeals. Seems more approachable and personable than Tokyo, while not being as artificially twee and Takayama.

    Other notes:

    I find it harder to wander into a restaurant here to see what they serve and prices and then wander out than in the rest of the world. As you walk in you are ushered to seats, hot towels thrown at you, tea and water served before you even have a chance to ask for the menu. Worked out nicely tonight though, was looking for a cheap place and stumbled into a place where I balked at the priced but too late... Had a bar with a small BBQ every few feet, and they just gave me raw meat that I had to cook myself. Was great and worth the money.

    Most of the time I just point at things I don't know and eat them. Had some shockers, but also some amazing experiences. For instance I pointed at some random Kanji and next thing I know I have a guy dropping raw octopus on a grill, and dropping a 10 tonne weight on it! In 10 seconds raw octopus turns into a 1mm thick crispy sheet of paper that I lost half of in some strong wind! Was tasty though.

    Yet to see a Vita / 3DS / manga comic on the train though. Everyone is obsessed with their mobile phones. London tubes are more talkative!
    I'm desperate to visit, that post did not help!
  • ProfessorLesser 17 Apr 2015 17:29:30 19,693 posts
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    ProfessorLesser wrote:
    Honestly I would get out of Tokyo ASAP...

    Kyoto itself is my favourite place on the goddamn earth, I literally can't express how beautiful and interesting it is.
    Told you so :) Glad you also fell in love!

    My turn a week from now! Is the sakura already gone? You haven't mentioned it at all...
  • FWB 17 Apr 2015 17:41:30 56,105 posts
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    Three years I lived in Kyoto. It's nice, but I really don't see how it can be considered so stunning. Each to their own.
  • mrharvest 18 Apr 2015 00:08:41 5,591 posts
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    FWB, you're just a miserable git. ;)

    It's the same thing when I tell people who've been to East Africa on a safari holiday why we moved out. It's just such a different experience visiting and living somewhere. Most tourists will never encounter majority of the negatives so maybe we don't even need to drag them up in a thread about visiting the country for a week or two.
  • FWB 18 Apr 2015 00:22:34 56,105 posts
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    That I be. That I be.

    Still don't think it's that special tho, as lovely as it was in places. :)
  • Mola_Ram 18 Apr 2015 01:29:29 20,715 posts
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    Kyoto is great, but I never lived there. I lived in a couple of towns an hour to a couple of hours away. So maybe you'd get sick of it if you lived there.
  • RyanDS 18 Apr 2015 01:59:52 12,800 posts
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    ProfessorLesser wrote:
    ProfessorLesser wrote:
    Honestly I would get out of Tokyo ASAP...

    Kyoto itself is my favourite place on the goddamn earth, I literally can't express how beautiful and interesting it is.
    Told you so :) Glad you also fell in love!

    My turn a week from now! Is the sakura already gone? You haven't mentioned it at all...
    Mostly gone. What is left is stunning and I have been trying to capture odd trees against pagodas etc. But no sweeping landscaoes of it. :-(
  • Technoishmatt 18 Apr 2015 02:21:13 3,471 posts
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    Kyoto is really nice, very romantic. I'd also recommend nearby Osaka, I stayed there as hotels in Kyoto were full and it had a nice city vibe but not like Tokyo. Country side is of course gorgeous.

    If it's on try to get in some sumo, great experience! If you are back in Tokyo, and if it's still there, Womb was a really great club when I lived out there.

    My experience was that loads of restaurants had picture menus, has that changed? Also, I agree finding anything is impossible - especially as stuff could be on any one of 8 floors, not just ground floor like we generally see here!
  • RyanDS 21 Apr 2015 10:57:00 12,800 posts
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    Armoured_Bear wrote:


    I'm desperate to visit, that post did not help!
    Just do it. Flights here were only 400!

    Anyway, leaving Kyoto tomorrow and gutted. Frankly I think it is the best place I have ever been to. I've done half of Africa, North and South America, sailed the Carribean for a year, backpacked across all of Eastern and Western Europe, but no place has ever captivated me like this.

    Ginkakuji Temple especially stands out as the most beautiful place I have ever visited. Not sure what exactly made it, but somehow it balanced art /nature / civilisation to perfection. Every colour on every tree was perfect, with cherry blossoms drifting onto ponds, light filtering through bamboo groves, and the skyline of Kyoto just visible through the trees. Followed up with a walk along the philosophers path made a magical day. And I don't think I have ever called anything magical before as I am not a teen girl.

    Another massive highlight was Kinjakuji Temple, where there were loads of kimonos. Trying to say this without sounding pervy, but I'm sure I will fail... Seeing all the teen girls in Kimonos was amazing and lovely. They all were so happy, smiling and incredibly beautiful, from the number of selfies and groups of girls asking me to take their photos I gather that wearing the kimono is like wearing a prom dress. You couldn't help but smile at just how proud and joyful they were and be happy at the atmosphere.

    And the litter and graffiti! I actually have spent two days trying to find some so I can take a picture and make a joke about how dirty the place is. And I have failed. Not one bit of litter, vandalism or graffiti in nearly 2 weeks. Well I lie, I have seen maybe 2 cigarette butts, but that is all.

    Definitely when i return in 4 years for the rugby world cup I will base myself in Kyoto. Honestly, if I was offered a job here I would move tomorrow. I know tourism =/= living in a place, but I have never felt so happy in a place as I have here.
  • RyanDS 21 Apr 2015 11:06:35 12,800 posts
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    Technoishmatt wrote:
    Kyoto is really nice, very romantic. I'd also recommend nearby Osaka, I stayed there as hotels in Kyoto were full and it had a nice city vibe but not like Tokyo. Country side is of course gorgeous.

    If it's on try to get in some sumo, great experience! If you are back in Tokyo, and if it's still there, Womb was a really great club when I lived out there.

    My experience was that loads of restaurants had picture menus, has that changed? Also, I agree finding anything is impossible - especially as stuff could be on any one of 8 floors, not just ground floor like we generally see here!
    Any recomendations for Osaka? We get there tomorrow for 48 hours before heading to Hiroshima / Miyajima. Guide book seems quite sparse on recomendations.


    Oh, one final digression. I figured no trip to Japan would be complete without schoolgirl panties, I have tried to find the tackiest statue I can find as a joke (in the vein of this http://homemedia4u.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=7744) but it turns out shops are not full of panty flashing models, and apart from one shop which had these (all sold out!) http://myfigurecollection.net/item/11668 I have been out of luck. Turns out rather than public sex on tubes, old men reading porn on the subway, used panty vending machines and child semi porn being everywhere, in fact the public face at least of Japan is pretty much the opposite.

    Edited by RyanDS at 11:07:34 21-04-2015
  • mrharvest 21 Apr 2015 11:11:17 5,591 posts
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    RyanDS, you can definitely find dodgy stuff there. You were probably just looking in the wrong places. But it sounds like you had a blast, so hurrah!
  • RyanDS 21 Apr 2015 11:19:33 12,800 posts
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    Oh, I am sure the underside of Japan is filthy! Incredibly so to compensate for such an uptight veneer. But I am travelling with my wife, so digressions of that nature are very limited.

    I did manage to sneak into a casino for an hour, what a farce! Only gambled 2,000 yen, but won 4.5k and wanted to cash out. Turns out gambling is illegal, so I didn't win 4k, instead I won gold and silver bars that happen to be worth the equivalent of 4k. I can then take the gold I won, and it just happens that the shop next door buys gold bars, and coincidentally they happened to buy mine for 4.5k.

    That was quite a good example of where the surface is pure (Japanese do not gamble) but is just a polite fiction that everyone pretends is true. There are slot / pachinko gambling places on every block.
  • FWB 21 Apr 2015 11:24:17 56,105 posts
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    That's pretty timid. It is far far filthier than that. :)

    Ginkakuji was one of my locals.

    Edited by FWB at 11:26:35 21-04-2015
  • RyanDS 21 Apr 2015 11:28:27 12,800 posts
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    FWB wrote:
    That's pretty timid. It is far far filthier than that. :)

    Ginkakuji was one of my locals.
    Next time I will be coming (ooh er!) with mates for the rugby, as opposed to my incredibly innocent wife. I am sure it will be an entirely different experience.
  • ProfessorLesser 21 Apr 2015 18:16:54 19,693 posts
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    RyanDS wrote:
    Another massive highlight was Kinjakuji Temple, where there were loads of kimonos. Trying to say this without sounding pervy, but I'm sure I will fail... Seeing all the teen girls in Kimonos was amazing and lovely. They all were so happy, smiling and incredibly beautiful, from the number of selfies and groups of girls asking me to take their photos I gather that wearing the kimono is like wearing a prom dress. You couldn't help but smile at just how proud and joyful they were and be happy at the atmosphere.
    I felt a similar way about kimono in Japan. It's a sort of surprisingly innocent delight, isn't it? It just brightens your life. Like if "enjoying the view" really just meant enjoying what is, factually, a really great view. Technically, I suppose, yes - you are 'staring' at a woman, but the woman is wearing a work of art, so... I mean... come on. It's like seeing a rainbow.


    When I was there alone for 6 weeks, I got pretty detached and down in the dumps some days, and would just be wandering around town, and then some petite little woman in a kimono would be there, with excellent posture, just going about her business, maybe getting on the tube, and I'd immediately feel better. It's so uplifting and refreshing... not just to see it, but I guess also to know you're among people who value that sort of tradition.
  • RyanDS 25 Apr 2015 14:08:03 12,800 posts
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    And tomorrow I leave.

    I can honestly say this is the best trip of my life, I fucking love Japan. Well splitting up with my wife mid trip obviously is putting a damper, but that aside, the actual place is currently tied with South Africa for my enthusiasm, and it doesn't have the benefit of nostalgia and memories!

    Honestly, if I was offered a job in southern japan (Kyoto / Osaka / Hiroshima) today I would drop everything and move. I don't quite get what it is that appeals, it just feels so civilised and grown up and makes me rather ashamed when I think of the way we live in the UK when it comes to litter, civic pride, the environment and general pride in what we do. And yes, I am aware this is holiday love, but I've done (proper backpacking trips) to the US (east and west coast) most of southern africa, all of europe, south america and sailed the carribean and have never quite been this blown away.

    Anyway, final notes:

    Fuck me, I wish I had a guide. Spent 3 hours in Tokyo today trying to find a bar. I failed. Outside of tourist areas everything is in kanji, and bars are I assume one of the floors in a building. When a building has 11 floors, and signs are only in Kanji I can only guess at what each one is. I managed to find 4 karakoe bars that would not serve me drinks without getting a booth, and one bar that I assume was locals only as they shooed me away. Rest of the places were restaurants that I gathered you needed to eat. Pity, my last night in Japan is some sake and beers in my hotel room while my wife and I pretend we are each alone.

    A further point, no one ever fucking recomends anything. I assume it is because they don't want to give the wrong advice. The entire trip something as simple as sake on a menu says "served hot or cold" so I order and they ask how I want it. I say "however the regulars have it" or similar and they just smile and nod and say "hot or cold." At first I thought it might be language barriers, but as time went on I came to realise there is a genuine refusal to stick their neck out. Same with asking people about places to eat. I have stopped people to ask for restarants / bars etc, and they are always happy to point out 10 local places, but will never actually say one is the best we should go to.

    Anyway, those two points are just advice for anyone looking to visit. Personally there is no way in hell I will not be visiting again. Japan is alien, but in a good way, and often in an inspring way.

    Just Studio Ghibli tomorrow, then back to the UK and real life.

    To summarise my impressions:

    Tokyo: Nice to visit, but just another big city. Worth a couple of days then get out.
    Takayama: Lovely for a day trip, no more. Equivalent of visiting a little yorkshire village, quaint and lovely, but twee and a bit fake.
    Kamakura: Awesome day trip from Tokyo, do the giant Bhuddha.
    Kyoto: Best place on earth. I wish I had spent 2 weeks there and skipped Tokyo.
    Osaka: Nice, but a bit pointless I found, rather spend extra time in Kyoto.
    Miyajima: DO THIS! Amazing rural island just off Hiroshima. Couple of days max, but the trails, the deer and the scenery are amazing.

    And apologies that this has turned into a blog, but I find I can't stop enthusing about this trip and cannot stress how worthwhile it is.

    And I managed to pick up my sleazy doll. DEFINITELY NSFW but I wanted a cheesy manga panty flashing doll for the lols and found this on sale:

    Again NSFW:
    http://myfigurecollection.net/item/183921
  • oldskooldeano 26 Apr 2015 02:17:08 2,954 posts
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    I think we've all enjoyed your posts RyanDS. Full of enthusiasm and happiness, except for the wife thing, which I hoped you were joking about but it didn't seem so.

    Also the 'sleazy doll'? Tame. :) You could have done much better (worse) ;-)
  • Phattso 26 Apr 2015 03:45:04 24,795 posts
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    Sorry to hear the wife situation there. I guess if it was coming it was coming. :(

    Tokyo can be a _lot_ better than you're making it sound - but for sure you need a bit of planning and knowledge. People that say it's "just another big city" make me sad. You're not going to find its secrets out in the open and I found it quite distinct. Taipei is the same way actually, many people dismiss it but if you know what you're looking for it's amazing.

    You're gonna be blown away by the serene, beautiful, compact simplicity of the Ghibli Museum - nice way to end the trip. I DARE you not to buy a small fortune of merch on the way out. In fact, call it a double dare. ;)

    I'm shipping out of China in a couple of months, but on the way I'll be spending ten days in Japan split between Kyoto and some of the Southern Islands. Counting the seconds already.
  • RyanDS 26 Apr 2015 06:51:24 12,800 posts
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    riz23 wrote:
    I think we've all enjoyed your posts RyanDS. Full of enthusiasm and happiness, except for the wife thing, which I hoped you were joking about but it didn't seem so.

    Also the 'sleazy doll'? Tame. :) You could have done much better (worse) ;-)
    Not joking unfortunately. Just seems we have drifted apart and we agreed mid holiday to just enjoy the trip and sort it out when we get back.

    Ghibli was amazing. It made me feel like a kid. So full of wonder, joy and just innocent fun. I could have spent hours just trying out the various animation machines and trying to figure out how they work. The fact it is so interactive and you can flip through story boards and play around with the various doodads is great. Weird how it manages to be both a kids place and fun for adults without having hidden jokes and innuendo like pixar etc do.

    Oh well. Eighteen hours of flying ahead of me. With four years before the world cup and my next visit unless I manage to save up beforehand.
  • FWB 26 Apr 2015 08:12:10 56,105 posts
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    Was a piece of piss getting a job there for me, though that was in 2004.

    http://www.all-about-teaching-english-in-japan.com/

    Edited by FWB at 08:12:48 26-04-2015
  • monkman76 26 Apr 2015 08:19:16 14,832 posts
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    I much preferred Tokyo to Kyoto. Horses for courses eh.
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