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Where in Japan worth visiting?

Hey all
Well, i've been building up my itinerary for my Japan trip, but would love some help.

OK, i have 16 days at first, 20th Nov-6th December. Arriving & Departing from Tokyo Narita. Hence this time i would like to stay around Tokyo. I was thinking overnight trip to Nikko. Day trip to Kamakura. The rest of the time do the Tokyo club/pub/explore type thing.

Then i goto USA for a month.

Arrive back Tokyo Narita 4th Jan. 5 Days in Tokyo with Family. Then travel to Kyoto. 5 days in Kyoto/Nara. My family then depart Osaka.

Now i have an open ended ticket from this point onwards. I am considering maybe spending a night or two in Osaka, but not sure if that is worth while?
I was also considering heading down to Mt Koya, and stay a night or two with the monks for a very interesting experience.
I was also considering going skiing for a week or so, probs in Niigata or Nagano.

So does anyone have any specific comments (mainly regarding after my family leaves from Osaka) on what i should get upto on my finishing school holidays??

Cheers
 

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anywhere in Japan because its exceptionally beautiful country except the war shrine. peace.

demanjo said:
Hey all
Well, i've been building up my itinerary for my Japan trip, but would love some help.

OK, i have 16 days at first, 20th Nov-6th December. Arriving & Departing from Tokyo Narita. Hence this time i would like to stay around Tokyo. I was thinking overnight trip to Nikko. Day trip to Kamakura. The rest of the time do the Tokyo club/pub/explore type thing.

Then i goto USA for a month.

Arrive back Tokyo Narita 4th Jan. 5 Days in Tokyo with Family. Then travel to Kyoto. 5 days in Kyoto/Nara. My family then depart Osaka.

Now i have an open ended ticket from this point onwards. I am considering maybe spending a night or two in Osaka, but not sure if that is worth while?
I was also considering heading down to Mt Koya, and stay a night or two with the monks for a very interesting experience.
I was also considering going skiing for a week or so, probs in Niigata or Nagano.

So does anyone have any specific comments (mainly regarding after my family leaves from Osaka) on what i should get upto on my finishing school holidays??

Cheers
 

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@demanjo, I must agree with christerdom that anywhere in Japan is worth travelling.
Now, I do not know your specific interest, but yeah almost all the places you mentioned are the ones I will recommend.

When you go to kyoto/nara, you can pass by Hiroshima or Kobe. You can ask some travel agency in Tokyo about Kansai Trip that will cover almost those places.

When you are in Tokyo, you can visit nearby places like Asakusa, kamakura, Yokohama, Ueno and Akihabara.

Autumn is the best time to go to Nikko with the beautiful foliage covering the area.
But you are coming in late Nov. so autumn is almost over then but it is still worth the visit esp. Toshogu shrine and try some hot spring or onsen.

Yes, Niigata and Nagano are known for its skiing resorts.
But How about Hokkaido? You can go skiing and you get to see Snow festival in the first week of february.

Except for Niigata and Nagano, I have been to these places.
 

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You're asking the right guy.

If you are going by train.

From Tokyo.

Day trips.

1.Nikko(temples)
2.Kamakrua(old city)
3.Izu(nature)
4.Fuji and the lakes and caves around it(post card Japan)
5.Tokyo and the bright lights at night and the shopping during the day of Shinjiku,Shibuya,Harajiku(weeeeird) and The Ginza.Avoid Roppongi!! and the Gas Panic 300 yen drinks.

A possible long trip around the country


1.Head straight to Takayama in Gifu first.Its a classic little kyoto up in the alps.

2.From there take the train to Kanazawa.A beautiful city,famous for its Gardens and the county's best preseved geisha district.

3.From Kanazawa take the thunderbird train to Kyoto.Spend a good 3 days there with a side trip to Kobe and Osaka(the Namba area).

4.Hiroshima.Well worth a visit.2 days including a day in Miyajima island.Magic!!!!

5.Head straight to Nagasaki in kyushu.The best city in Japan from my opinion.Great local food,moutains surronding a harbour city.Also the A-Bomb museum is class.Better than the one in Hiroshima.

6.Get the Komome(I think thats the name) to Hakatta.Take the shinkansen to Tokyo.The joureny will take about 8 hours from Nagasaki.

7.From Tokyo head north young man.Head straight to Sendi.Eat beef tounge.You'll love it.Sendi only at night.During the day goto Matsushima.A very nice collection of islands about 30 mins from the city.

8.Next stop.The achient temple area of Hiraizumi in Iwate prefecture.Hundreds of Temples.A gold budda thrown in to make things interesting.

9.Hakkadote via the longest tunnel in the world(soon to be beaten by Switzerland).When you get to Hakkadote,visit the old Russian churches and European enlcave district.Make sure you eat plenty of crab.The night view from the mountain is not to be missed.

10.Sapporo.Great city.Even better during the ice festival in Jan.Plenty of nightlife and snowboarding 10mins from its very North American looking downtown.

11.I havent been to northern Hokkaido.But maybe you should check it out???


There you go.And that is just the tip of the iceburg.
 

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Building on Nick's recommendations:

I did a trip a few years ago between Dec 11 and Jan 6. Intense, fast-pace, as much of Japan as I had the energy to enjoy (culture, food, old and new, etc.).

Just remember it will be cold in Japan -- expect to snow in the mountains like the Japanese Alp towns like Takayama and Matsumoto, cold drizzle in Kanazawa and any of the San-yin (Sea of Japan -- western Honshu) coastal towns. It will be worse if you go North towards Hokkaido (that's why I didn't -- but you will get to see the snow monkeys relaxing in the hot springs).

And the first week of January pretty much everything is closed -- people go back home to see their family in the villages, and don't even think about going to the museums until Jan 8 / 9. Interesting to note that this is just like the Chinese New Year -- in fact, you will see them put the Kanji symbol of "Spring". Basically treat that period as the Chinese New Year -- it is the same thing, only the Japanese moved it to the Western calendar in their westernization drive many moons ago.

Some of my favourites:

1. Miyajima (near Hiroshima) -- that temple on the island, and the whole island itself, is really cool -- remember to see the cave that has a thousand candle lights inside, as well as the buddhist statues along side

2. Shinkansen (Bullet Train) Ride -- Use that rail pass. There is nothing quite like flying by the urban landscape at 300 km / h and passing oncoming trains at 600 km / h (though expect lots of tunnels). Tokyo - Osaka is pretty good, and at that time of the year, the skies will likely be clear, so you will get a clear shot of Mount Fuji on your right.

3. Takayama (up the creek from Nagoya to Kanazawa). Very well preserved historical village. Try the various local sakes (like the ultra premium smooth Daiginjo for about US$5 per pop), as well as the beef (Hida beef) with all the fat marbled inside it -- you can get it for about US$20.

4. Kanazawa -- even though it is a provincial town these days, you can just tell from the culture that it used to be an ancient capital (textiles, local food -- try walking on the back alleys -- forgot intersection name, but hotel will give you -- it is downtown) that it used to be an ancient capital and find some Kaga-style foods (Kaga Ryori), or go for the restaurant in the big garden (Ken-Roku-En) for a US$20 lunch (best value) -- in a little hut surround by a lake and a waterfall. If you are going to splurge on the crab (in season), expect to fork out big bucks (US$100) -- though I find it's good, I can think of better ways to spend the money.

5. Kyoto -- you just have to pace yourself there. Lots of temples and gardens -- it is classic Japan that you see in the pictures -- but you can get templed out. The train station itself is cool modern architecture, though as the guidebook warns you, be prepared to be disappointed on the first impression since it is ugly concrete urban Japan that you first see as you walk out of the train station. I found a youth hostel just 1 km south of the train station on the Internet for US$20 per night for bed in dorm (you might well be the only one there) and I stayed there for a whole week since with the rail pass, I can just hop on to see all the sites in the Kansai area (which is basically the Kyoto / Osaka region) from there.

6. Nara -- great temple town. Even more historic than Kyoto. 1 hour by slow train from Kyoto station. Just walk around, gawk at the huge temples and buddhist statues, and feed the sacred deer running around the joint.

7. Osaka -- if you are staying in a cheap place in Kyoto or if you just have extra time, then it is worth it to walk around "downtown" (Suidobashi) and enjoy the crowds, nightlife, and munching on the octupus snacks (takoyaki) from the street vendors. Lots of neon that puts Times Square to shame. Otherwise, frankly, I haven't been anywhere else in Osaka, and I am not sure there are that many sights. But night streetlife is really great -- I think it is even better than Tokyo because it seems more concentrated there than in Shinjuku in Tokyo.

8. Himeji -- must see. The castle you see in one of the James Bond movies. 60 km west of Osaka. Again, you can get there in less than 1 hour from Kyoto by bullet train. There will be free private English speaking interpreters.

9. Adachi Museum, 20 km east of Matsue -- quite out of the way on the Sanyin coast. Place is unexpected -- the modern Japanese art in that museum is awesome. All in the middle of a rice paddie in a very hick part of Japan (Honshu), but stunningly beautiful modern art. And the only place of this sort in the world -- foreigners get a 50% discount!!!

10. Tsuwano -- nestled in the hills, beneath an extent volcano, really beautiful valley. Supposed to have lots of carp (koi) running around the town (there is a long loving historical lore to that), and a beautiful Shinto temple with thousands of Torii (gates) as you climb up to the stairway to heaven. You can even stay at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) -- Meigetsu is the name -- US$100 including an excellent dinner and breakfast, and a soak in a huge cedar tub. Full-scale classic Japanese experience. And the only time I've ever been stopped by the police in any country (I've been to 35 of them, including communist ones and repressive middle eastern ones) shortly after I left the train station because I was carrying 2 backpacks and seemed too hippy-like -- he asked me (in perfect English, I might add) if I had enough money to stay in a hotel and seemed incredulous that I knew about the place (and had money).

11. Tokyo -- I was luck enough to be there during New Years, so New Year's eve, I went to the big temple (Meiji Jingu) where hundreds of thousands of Japanese (mostly young) worship and wish for good luck for next year. Quite a sight -- everyone was throwing coins towards a temple guarded by a line of shielded expressionless policemen -- of course I aimed directly at them just for fun. And the next day, I went inside the Imperial Palace to see the emperor -- one of only two days the public grounds are open, and the Emperor and the family does come out to greet the behind bullet proof glass. Unlike Meiji Jingu, these are mostly old people -- and there are the fascist gangsters outside the palace with their obnoxious loudspeakers driving around cars with flags that encourage the "Righteous Use of Power" (I am Chinese-Canadian so I can read the Kanji).

If you want to party it up with other foreigners / US Marines / etc., go to Roppongi district -- your usual staple of Pizza Huts, English Pubs and everything you will find "at home" (or in any other city in the world these days).

And see the weird hi-tech buildings -- like the man-made island in Odaiba (you got to take an expensive monorail ride US$7) to see the Fuji TV building (it does look like a surreal Mecano set), or the Philip Starck's Golden Turd Asahi Beer Hall in a lower-middle-class Asakusa (and you can visit the temple complex with the Raimon gate -- quite a sight during New Years). The Tokyo International Forum is also quite cool a modern building.

Hope this helps.
 

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TO_Joe said:
10. Tsuwano -- nestled in the hills, beneath an extent volcano, really beautiful valley. Supposed to have lots of carp (koi) running around the town (there is a long loving historical lore to that), and a beautiful Shinto temple with thousands of Torii (gates) as you climb up to the stairway to heaven. You can even stay at a Ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) -- Meigetsu is the name -- US$100 including an excellent dinner and breakfast, and a soak in a huge cedar tub. Full-scale classic Japanese experience. And the only time I've ever been stopped by the police in any country (I've been to 35 of them, including communist ones and repressive middle eastern ones) shortly after I left the train station because I was carrying 2 backpacks and seemed too hippy-like -- he asked me (in perfect English, I might add) if I had enough money to stay in a hotel and seemed incredulous that I knew about the place (and had money).


Hope this helps.
Oooooh yes.

Tsuwano.Excellent suggestion

And Hagi for that matter as well.Only a quick 40min train ride away.Hagi is famous for its well preserved pottery,the second best samurai district in Japan(the best is the village of Chiran near Kagaoshima).And Hagi's wonderful histroical district complete with an excellent museum
 

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I see I'm not needed here :) everyone has already listed what I was going to say and then some.

Out of all the really tourist-y spots...I like Asakusa the most. Or maybe Shibuya, but I didn't spend as much time there.
 

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I took the following on my trip.

Let's start with two ugly industrial ones as requested by the last guy:

Yamaguchi


Tokuyama


Even Mount Fuji is not immune -- pulp and paper industry clearly visible here


I haven't been to the big huge smoke-belching industrial complexes in Japan. They aren't all that visible from the train paths, unlike in, say China (particularly the rust belt North East towns of Anshan, Benxi) or the huge petrochemical complexes I have seen in Mexico City or Cubatao Brazil (outside Sao Paulo), or in the US in New Jersey, Philadelphia, south Chicago or Louisana, or European ports like Rotterdam or outside Venice.
 

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The Traditional:


Himeji Castle


Note that this is the only attraction in Himeji. Otherwise it is a decaying steel town that is pretty dumpy and has a bleak future.


Nara - Todaiji



Tsuwano

Stairway to Heaven


Shinto Shrine


Dinner at Meigetsu Ryokan



Kanazawa - Lunch in Kenrokuen



Miyajima

God of Wealth


Torii on Water -- you see this in all the travel brochures -- it's hard to imagine today that a nuclear bomb exploded about 20 km to the right of this picture over 50 years ago



Kyoto

Zen Stone Garden in a Temple Complex


Temples




Garden in Winter


Street Scene


Gion


Ugly Modern City Below


Statue
 

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And I would be remiss if I didn't show the kitsch that is so much a part of modern Japan.

2 Storey Hello Kitty (the left arm actually waves) - Takayama


Bowing Figurine - Kanazawa


Public Toilet - Kanazawa -- check out some of the symbols


Colonel Sanders Is Here - Kyoto


Selling Takoyaki Snacks - Kamakura


The Ubiqutous Vending Machines
Matsue

On the historical Nakasendo route in a restored Kiso Valley town disguised


Don't Drown In the Sewer - Hagi


Beware Drivers: Children Will Dart Out into The Alley - Hagi


Don't Run Through The Doors - Tokyo Subway


Grope Me And It's 6 months to 7 Years in the Slammer -- Tokyo Subway


Need A Urologist In the Neighbourhood? -- Ad in Kamakura Station


Variety Store Chain Logo - Shinjuku - Tokyo


Icons of Shidome Complex - Tokyo


Pachinko Parlour - Kyoto


Asakusa Tourist Bureau - Tokyo - It sings on the hour


I-Robot Building - Kyoto


Christmas Lights - Nagoya Station


Japanese Garage - Miyajima


No Wonder They Have To Drive These Micro Cars - Kyoto


Of Course Your Car Must Be Blessed By The Shinto Priest - Tsuwano


Bless Our Love Till We Are Old - Miyajima


For Your Blood Type, This Is How This Year Will Stack Up - Miyajima


Be A Peasant For A Day - Near Adachi Museum


Sex Sells Even For The Communist Party Campaign Poster - Kyoto


Get Candy From This Cute Girl -- Kawaii - Asakusa Temple - Tokyo


Or Hello Kitties - Asakusa Temple - Tokyo


Or Ninja Weapons - Kamakura
 

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Imperial Japan - Tokyo

Heading Toward The Palace With Marunochi and Tokyo Station In the Background


Crossing The Moat


Inside The Palace - Public Grounds -- you only get to see this 2x per year


Secret Imperial Guards (they all had ear pieces) -- Security Was Tight with helicopters hovering overhead, zodiacs around the moat, and these watchful guards particularly as you crossed each gate


Crowd Waiting for the Emperor


Sea of Japanese Flags Fluttering As the Imperial Family Appeared. Revered hush. Then some sort of imperial guard in the front yells "Banzai" from below and all you hear are the waving flags. The Emperor makes a humble speech wishing you all good luck for the year.


The Imperial Family


Then Everyone Leaves For the Souvenir Stalls Outside
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
WOW guys.This is such a treat for me to have all your input.

"beef (Hida beef) with all the fat marbled inside it -- you can get it for about US$20"
One of the places they produce this is about 20 mins away from me in Australia. Why would i need to goto Japan to eat it! :p Thanks for the input tho. hehe

Hmmm
Well im very interested in going skiing after the 15th Jan after my parents leave. I spose my options are Niigata, Nagano, or waht ive told to goto, Hokkaido. Hokkaido i thought would be out of reach, but it appears that an early bird airfare from Tokyo will only cost me 10'000 yen or so! If this is the case, i might be able to cruise up and check it out.

I really like alot of your suggestions and definately will be doing some more reading on them all.

Thanks again guys.
 

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Well put Vapour.

All three places are definitley non-tourist industrial paridises.

Yokaiichi is probably has the the heavist industry in Japan.It looks like a giant overgrown Saudia Arabia oil refinery.

Another place worth noting for that kind of stuff is the city of Hammamatsu.Heavy baby HEEEEEEAVY hard core industry there
 

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When it gets mild I'll go to Kawasaki port area for a very un-touristic visit :D These days all I want to do is drinking アサヒ :drool:
 
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