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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello - Konnichi wa :)
I am JiJa and in your Izakaya I promised you a picture story about my visit to your country. Normally I just start off and post pictures in form of some kind of travel diary, as ypu can see here in my linklist to other picture stories around the world.
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=1860710

But in this case I want to start with a little introduction for other travellers, who visit Japan for the first time. My goal is to prevent them from doing some shit they regret later and which messed up some party of my journey. That sounds negative, but don't worry. If I had to rate this trip and Japan as travel destination on a scale from 1 Star(for total sh*t) .- 5 Stars(for total awesome sh*t),
Japan would get the full 5 Stars
So I did not loose a finger in a yakuza bar, did not got ripped off trying Pachinko and I did not made myself wet in a toilet. The toilet stories are not true horror stories. You must be a total idiot to misunderstand the selfexplaining buttons and make yourself wet.

What I want to talk about is some kind of more common and realistic stuff which many first timers will ask themselves before they start their trip.
  • "Which Airline shall I take?"
  • "Presents for locals and Souveniers for home"
  • "Shall I buy the Japan Rail Pass?"
  • "Getting around as a Vegan/Vegetarian"
  • "What can you expect from Japanese Hostals?"

And in all cases I will be frank to you with no bullsh*t oppnions. I start with presents souveniers, because this way I can introduce myself better.
  • "Presents for locals and Souveniers for home"
If you look around the web, several blogs and vlogs of "Japan Insiders" suggest, that you bring some presents for locals (if you know some and you meet them). And there are lists of stuff which is said to be awesome and not so awesome. For Germans it is suggested to bring white wine and not gummy bears. And so on. Here is my oppionon. Screw those blogs and vlogs. Don't think about what Japanese people in genral would like, think about the person you meet and don't care if he/she lives in Japan or Namibia. Thanks to the vlogs and blogs I brought some sunscreen for someone who does not use sunscreen at all. And thanks to the blogs and vlogs of those experts I was put in an arkward situation, since the experts recommendet to hand your presents over at the first moment you meet. But when I handed them over at a train station in the middle of Tokyo to my friend, I realized how impolite it would be to let her carry the stuff for all the day. So I wanted to took it back and store it in my backpack for the rest of the day.
"Here are your presents, and now give them back to me to give them back to you later":nuts:
Really. Do it like you think it is right. And if you embrass yourself it may be so. "Experts" will not save you from embrassing yourself. ;)

And what are you taking home from Japan?
SAKE!
A good expensive bottle?
NOOOO!
Why?
- First of all. You can order most Sake at Amazon anyway and spare your luggage storage. And you may know as much about Sake as me: Nothing. You don't know if a Sake is a good one or not. You will not really taste the criterias of quality. You should by that Sake, you will connect most of your memories later. So I brought a 300ml 7Eleven one Cup ceap bum sake. :D Because at home you can talk about a situation/event/day where you drank it and you have your story and your memories. If you buy a random expensive bottle, you have an expensive high quality Sake Bottle at home and you will your friends
"This is Sake. Someone told me it would be a good one. And eeeh... This is Sake"

Secondly you need a shirt from Harakuja
Thridly a mask.

At home you try your shirt with different cloth to figure out how you appear on your first work day. This me doing so. ;)


After the imo must haves go for any stuff you want

  • "Which Airline shall I take?"
If you go from Europe and want to spare Money, you probably end up choosing Air China. If you do here are some information you have to consider. Don't take Shanghai as stop! Take Bejing. In Shanghai the passenger transfer is sh*t, even if you arrive and fly from the same terminal. You have to leave the transfer-area. Apply for a 24h visa. Go to the check in area. Check in again. Line up at the security check. And barely get your connection flight if transfertime is less then 4h! Not so in Bejing. In Bejing it took me 30 Minutes to change.

You have already booked your flight and your stop is Shanghai? SH*TT! Transfer time is only 3,5 h.
Don't worry. Here are some hints to speed your transfer up
1: Ask for a place as forward in the plane as possible when you check in.
2: Don't go to an airport toilet before you transfered sucessfully. People from other planes will probably overtake and line up before you
3: There is a counter saying "Visa on Arrvival" in Front of the normal Customs. THIS IS NOT YOUR COUNTER! There will be a lot of people lining up who wants to transfer and are as clueless as you may be. Don't line up behind them. Overtake them happy about them beeing clueless
4: Your counter is called "transfer". Its on the left hand side of the regular customs
5: The transfer counter has a special arrival card. You will not get it in the plane. In the plane and at the regular customs area you will get a yellow arrival card. Don't waste time filling this out. The Transfer-Custom will send you back. You need that blue arrival card. Got it? Blue not yellow. Many people will fill out the wrong card and will be send back. Some more time saving overtakes for you.
6: After getting your passport and flight ticket stamped several times (Chinese seem to love stamping) you leave the security area. Don't wait in the luggage claim area, if your luggage may not passe through Japan, because this Visa-procedure cought you by surprise. You luggage will be transferred. Go straight to the escalators. Depature area is above the arrival area.
7: Once again your passport and flight ticket will get stamped by some customs
8. You made it

And another hint. The airports of Tokyo and Osaka a far away from the city center. If you prefer to stay in hostals like me, you must consider, that they will not provide a check in after midnight. So make sure you will arrive at Tokyo Narita before 8 p.m. I arrived at 9pm and I barely made it in time to my hostals last check in. And when I did, I was sweating like shit.

  • "Shall I buy the Japan Rail Pass?"

Somehow you will got notice of the possibility to buy a Japan Rail Pass. And you may ask yourself, if you should buy one. With the Japan Rail you can travel as much as you want with JR-Lines (and some other stuff). It sounds promising but the reality looks a bit different. My honest no bullsh*t answer to this question is:
No.
It will pay off, when your calculations will exceed the price of the pass by far. If them meet them, or are only slightly above them, the Pass is useless.
-If you want to use it for some day trips and the weather is shit, so you skip the trips it will already not pay off.
- You will not use it as often as you think in Tokyo or Osaka. It is more convenient to use the subway which is not covered by the pass.
- You don't gain flexibility. For example if you want to go from Tokyo to Hakone there is a direkt line leaving from Shinjuku. You cannot take it. Its private. You have to leave from Tokyo Station and change in Odawara, which is even more incovenient. You will face a lot of such scenarios since there plenty of private railways in Japan.
- You will not spare time entering trains or stations. First of all you want to make the most of your Pass and reserve seats. So you line up at the ticket counter anyway. And you line up there anyway, because you want to make sure not to take a wrong train. You have no clue if the not covered "Super-Shinkansen" is the same like the "Super-Express-Shinkansen" (which is covered).

So why do so many people recommand to buy one? Because there are people out there for whom the Pass did pay off, so they tell. Everyone of us wants to be among this travelling-master-race, for whom everthing works out and we don't want to be that dude who made a travel-noob-mistake and embrass ourself. So even if it did not pay off - you just tell id it did and how great your 250 € investment was. ;)

So here is the stuff you should by instead:
Some of those

What is that?
Those are tap in cards for the subway, busses and some regional trains, making travelling in Japans cities very convenient. It does not really matter, which one you buy, They work as good as everywhere. I went for the Suica Card because it has a smiling penguin with shoes on it. :D


Wow, that was a lot of introduction so far. So I will deal with
  • "Getting around as a Vegan/Vegetarian"
  • "What can you expect from Japanese Hostals?"
in the upcomming picture story. Stay tuned. Tomorrow we will start the trip.

Sincerly Jija
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Konnici wa
- 2018 edition by SheJot - Tokyo
___________________________________________________​

So let's go! :) In Shanghai my planes loads on my veggi-Food. Luckily it missed the timetable and startet half an hour later as planned. So my Transfer-Change-Trouble have not been turned out that bad.


But it caused troubles for my Arrival in Tokyo. I stayed at the Juyoh Hotel in the Taitō district.
https://www.google.com/maps?client=...ved=0ahUKEwjqj7Oi9PbaAhWLyaYKHWc1DgkQ_AUICigB
I mention it, like I will mention all other Hotels and Hostels, because all have been very good and I can and want to recommend them (just in case you are looking for one). But with the late arrival, a very long period at the customs (the found a wine bottle - one of my guest presents - and I had to empty my whole Backpack while having troubles to explain what is in the other already wrapped presents (what on f*cking earth is "Götterspeise" or "Ahoi-Brause" in Englisch :D - a rather long train raid from the airport and a run through Taitō with my Backpack on, I arrived at the Hotel sweating like sh*t 5 Minutes before last check in. So by a raction of an inch I would had to spend my first night in Tokyo on the streets.

But anyway. Next day I met my very best Friend Chris, who had arrived one day earlier, and we went out for a walk through Taitō down to Asakusa, where the famous Shrine is located


There are plenty of Shrines in Japan. The first you see you spend a lot of time walking around and explore everything. In the south of the Shrine there are some busy streets, where you ca buy food like sweet cakes and everything the modern Samurai needs as a souvenier. But if you one of those and bring them to Germany our Customs will have some closer looks on your Backpach as well, I guess.


Not far away from the Shrine is the Skytree, the highest structure in Asia and the new Landmark of Tokyo. We wanted to go there that day, but the weather was kinda foggy, as you can see in the picture. So we decied to visit it another day, when we would be able to see more.


Instead we took from the Asuka Ferry Terminal a boat southwards to the Hamrirkyu Gardens. You can pay both with your Suica Card, which I did, or PASMO, what Chis did. The view from the boat is dominated by infratructure scenery. Highways, Bidges, some industry, some skyscrapers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Konnici wa
- 2018 edition by SheJot - Tokyo
___________________________________________________​

We admired the last gasps of Sakura in the Park. Sakura was this year a bit early - badluck. Someone told us because of global warming. Some other told us s*it happens from time to time


After that we were looking for a good lunch in the quarter of Higashinashi and realized, that we had a total wrong expectation about Restaurants and Food in General in Japan. I did not expect that much Pork on the Menus - no matter if national, regional or international cuisine. And all those Soba and Ramen Restaurants had very rarely a vegetarian offer. Japanese cooks are that honest, that they mention "Sakana" by themselves without further asking. If you go on your trip that bad prepared you will be a bit lost and tend to go to Indian restaurants, if you want to eat guaranteed vegetarian, or you spend a shitload of money in "organic" Restaurant just like at home in Germany. Or you cook for yourself.

Luckily we found a Ramen Restaurant where you have to choose from a vending mashine, prepay and get a ticket. At least we think it was Vegetarian.

Oh, btw. Streetscenes from Higashinbashi




Not far away that quarter is the Tokyo Tower lokated. That famous buildig, which was stomped by Goodzilla in so many movies. Despite the foggy view that day we spontaniously decided to go up there
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We brought the Tour-Ticket to the Top. And the End we got very lucky by the bad weather and decided to ge here more or less by accident instead to the skytree. Everything here is lovely. You get a little info-show about the history of this tower and you enjoy a free Tea on Top. Here we waited to the sun going down and get some night shots.










My advise is, not to skip a visit to this tower due there is the higher skytree now. This tower has something the skytree has not. It would be unfair to call it "the breath of history" due the Tree is new. But you feel some kind of vibration here while the Skytee feels rather cold. But we will come to this later. In the picture you see a towe in Roppongi Hills, which also offers a skydeck. We did not go there, but maybe it is an alternative for you, if you don't like towers and prefer buildings.

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3031_hills.html

So there first night falls in Japan. Time to look for someone who serves Sake in the backstreets near the tower




And later on let's have a beer and a Dragonball Z Episode with the other hostek guests in our community area
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Good Morning! The view outside the window of my hostel room


Last day we walked a lot and had hurting feets. So this morning we took the Subway to Shibuya. Outside the Station there is the monument auf the Famous dog Hachiko. I think I don't need to tell you the story of this dog. I guess evere Japanese knows him


and of course there is the street crossing of which so many videos and pictures are uploaded to the internet and which symbolised the busy life of this city. People filming themselves wakling on it and above the right hand side you see the Starbucks ...


... from where it is said a tourist gets the most easy view on it. And in fact many tourists don't drink coffee here. They look outside the window instead, waiting for the traffic light to change so the show starts.


And now it is walking time again. We are moving nort to Harajuku to buy some shirts. We took the sideways and finally I found my first bin in Tokyo next to one of those vending machines, which are everywhere. The bins have been removed after 1995 terror attacks abused them as vehicle.


Before we went shopping we had a bubble tea. The first in my life. We had a hype about this stuff in Germany and suddenly bubble tea shops had opened at every corner in Hamburg, Munich and Berlin. But than some medical study said this stuff would cause cancer and they closed as fast as they came up and got mostly replaced by the next hype - High class Burger Restaurantes
 

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"Before we went shopping we had a bubble tea. The first in my life. We had a hype about this stuff in Germany and suddenly bubble tea shops had opened at every corner in Hamburg, Munich and Berlin. But than some medical study said this stuff would cause cancer and they closed as fast as they came up and got mostly replaced by the next hype - High class Burger Restaurantes"

- - -

Don't believe them. These are the same guys that said "Green Tea" is unhealthy, Soy products will cause cancer also and that the human body cannot tolerate speeds more that 45MPH! Quacks can say whatever they want but the human body is a miracle of function. Longevity of the asian culture proves that while obesity runs rampant in America. I live in Hawaii and I see visitors from the mainland USA who can not rent sedans because they are too fat!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I know. There studies Red Wine causes cancer or Red Wine protects from it as well. Depends who made the study ;)

Let's continue our way to Harajuku. Time for a snack in a small side street. I told you already about my unexpected problems of finding veggi food. And here I must say the cooks of little Restaurants are very helpful and prepare some food not on the Menu, if they don't have a vegetarian meal. Here the communication was made with the smartphone of the cook. I don't speak Japanese and he not English. An App had to translate. And of course we had some Sake :D


The Main Street of Harajuku is crowded. I braught my Sushi-Cat Shirt here. But if you are going for the upcomming fashion desgin stars you have to check out the side streets. We were told, most of the cheaper youngstars would have their shop in streets east to the main area. Of course as an outsider I don't know if this information is valid.


After our shopping tour we went further to Shinjuku. You probably realize, that we like to walk instead of using trains or busses. By walking you take longer, but you see more in our oppinions


The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (in the background) is located in Shinjuku and offers a free observation deck. But the queue was way to long and again the weather conditions have not been really good.


5 or 6 people had a demonstration in front of this building. Despide so few people they had been very loud with drums and megaphones. I don't know what they wanted. Even after reading the sign of one demonstrant - he wanted to take me a picture of the sign with the building in the background - I was still confused what they are going for.


After leaving Shinjuku - this time by subway - it turned dark again. We got off at Akihabara, where I wante dto visit the Anime Center to buy a Manga (One Piece) for one of my best friends in Germany. He is a total fan of this story and it will be his birthday present. He does not know yet and will be super happy. Further a lot of maid-cafes are located here ... if you like
https://hubjapan.io/articles/5-best-maid-cafe-in-akihabara-in-tokyo-you-should-visit

... I not really do, so we did not visit one. Still there are many opportunities to get drunk, and because I was my pictures of this vibrant quarter are all rather sh*t. So I had to use Photoshop to make at least one look interesting
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
So, today we gonna meet Yuki - a friend who lived in the same flat sharing project in Sydney together with me. We handed over our guest presents and went to the emperors palace park. Locals had some picnic below the last cherry trees. Yuki told me a special name for this, but I forgot.


Finding something for lunch and diner was a lot of easier, that day. Since some of us coeld read the menus wthouth a translation app. ... So we went to the city near the train station for Lunch


... and later on for some drinks. First we went to some kind of british pup around the station...


... but of course we are not in Tokyo to try European Beers. Its called: Think global - drinks local. So this Izakaya will serve some Sake for us for sure. Lets go downstairs.


Later on some other western tourists found this bar and let their private guide translate the menu for them. We for ourself tried all Sake on the menu, and Yuki wanted to braid my hair despite it was sprayed a lot (I hate it when they fly too much in the wind). She said she likes my blond hair. I like her black hair :D


And after tons of Sake once again the lights and sounds of this metroplis melted together to a coctail of colors and impressions ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well. Since Japan is sourrounded by Oceans we should visit a beach. So we met Yuki again at the train station, activated my Rail Pass (took nearly 1 hour in queue - so much for "quick and easy") and took a train to Kamakura ...


Here you can visit a lot of shrines and temples. But I would recommand the Kenchō-ji Temple Next to the usual temple stuff ...


... you can walk up a path and some stairs to a view point. The lower one, if you are tired, offers this view.


And from the higher one you can see the city and the beach ... or destination for today.


But the clouds might already tell you it was not the best weather for a swin. It was really stormy, espacially on the hill :D
 

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So lets go trhough the city to the beach. First you pass a touristical main street with restaurants and shops. But the closer you get to the beach, there more thos shops dissapear. Gas stations, Police offices and Firefighter departments dominate the scene.


Our first try to go swinning in the Ocean went wrong. It was just to stormy and dangerous. The wind blew sand into our faces, which actually hurt. It was difficult to watch the see without sunglasses that day.


The sand blow was so hard and bad, that people took cover behind a little wall of the promenade. Despite us and 2 other people it was totally empty due to the storm.


Its getting dark again, so after refreshing at a Lawson next to the beach, we went towards the train station. On the way we viseted different souvenier shops, because I wanted to buy postcards and send them home. But thats not quite easy in Japan. Its not like Europe, where every Souveniershop offers tons of (mostly boring) cards. At a Totoro-Shop I finally found some. And I pretended them as so cute, that I just sent a few home and kept the Rest as Souvenier for myself :)


Another night in Tokyo is on its way. See you tomorrwow
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Next day we woke up a bit late and had to skip our planned Nikko-Daytrip. Also the weather was not that great. So we had a Plan B. First walking some Kilometers southwards through our Hood towards the Ueno park


Where you can find the Tokyo National Museum. The Travel-Guide said, you shall not miss it. But on our way we had been less and more less convinced. I think a lot of its exponations are not Japan related, like Dinosaur skeltons. So we skipped that to and moved to the Ueno Station


... we visted the Edo-Museum instead and that was a very good decision. The Edo-Museum is great. A lot of Models picture the history of Tokyo from the Edo-Perdiod to today and I simply love Museums like that. I can easily spend a whole day in there


A model showing Ginza during its time as "Brick-city". Sure an often photographed scence of this model


And after the museum oficilly closed, the main hall kept open for a live concert
 

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The last morning in Tokyo. After tweo rainy and stromy days this one was quite good, again. So it is finally Skytree-Time


Like the Tokyo Tower this one got two Decks - a lower and a higher - and also two ways up. Fast and expensive, slower and cheaper. We took the fast VIP way, but only to the lower deck.


First we wanted to check out the view.


And we decided to to go higher. Firstly it was sadly not possible to see to Mount Fuji, and a lot of structures in the distance got lost in blue fog...


... and for second roghly more than a quarter (yet bearly a third) of the view was blocked by cafés, souveniershops and installations, that made no other sense, than blocking the view. We did not know if it would be the same case a deck higher


Overall I consider the Tokyo Tower more pleasing. The atmosphere and the setting of the skytree is rather cold. You don't get this lovely little show and your welcome drink with the expensive tickets. I don't say, the Skytree is bad. It is great as well. But maybe it is just me and I like to go with the underdogs :D
 

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Next stop is Hakone, where we will stay for 3 nights. The Hostel is a small walk from the town-center and has its own real onsen. We took a Shinkansen in the afternoon to Odawara where a regular Bus leaves to Hakone.


After dark we checked in and since there is nothing much left to do that day, we went to the towncenter for dinner.


Around Hakone and the Lake Ashi you find some Hiking Trails. That' what we are here for. On the first day we made it easy. By bus we went to Hatajuku, from where hiked over the Moun Byobu to the southern shore of the Lake and from there further on the esat shore to the north shore. With taking lunch at the lake this walk will take you from the morning to the late afternoon.
When you start in Htajuku you have to cross a Pass-street severel time

...
but later at a teahouse you leave the street end enter the nature


unfortunately you don't have a view from the mountain, because its top is covered th threes. The path up and down is party rather steep, but nothing dramatic.
 

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Southshore of Lake Ashi from View Point. Mount Fuji was still covered by clouds ...


... but after we reached the Harbour Area of Hakone-en, the Landmark of Japen slowly got visible :banana:


We go on alwys next to the lake until we arrive at the late afternoon at Hakone Kankosen. The last passage is a small road which is - I think - property of a Golf-Club. There are so many "Hakone"-Town around, that you cannot ask a bus driver, if his line goes to Hakone. He will ask you back, which Hakone you mean. And talking about busses. No JR-Busses around, so no JR-Pass. The Suica-Cards rules again. ;) If you use the bus exessive, you can buy some kind of Hakone-Pass. But it would not pay of for us, since we walked the most time.


Darkness. And a vending mashine in the middle of nowhere. They are everywhere! I bet there is also one on the Top of Mount Fuji :D
 

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The next day is sunny and clear. Best weather to climb Mount Kintoki, from where you can get a nice view on the Fuji.
We had a little discussion, if we should start our hike in Gora and climb the Myongatake first, before we reward ourselfs with the view on the Fuji. or if we start at Sengokuhara, which is at the bottom of the Kintoki and from where most Hikers start and return. The normal route will take you 2-2,5 hous, if you start and end in Sengokuhara. If you do a long hike with the Myongatake (and some othe Passes and summits in between) it can take you easlily up to 6,5 or even up to 8 hours. It depends on you.

We decided to do the Kintoki first. The air is hot and I am sweating like the at the first day, when I arrived in Tokyo. But as clever as I am, I always have an extra shirt with me, when I go hiking. So after arriving at the summit I layed the wet one into the sun to dry. And I enjoy the View. Unfortunately my small digicam does not have the power to catch it proper.


View to Lake Ashi, where we was hiking, yesterday.


Like in the European Alps, where every moderate major tourist summit offers a restaurant, you find one here as well. You can have an Udon here or small snacks.


After leaving Kintoki we left the common trail towards the Myongatake. The path we had to take is pretty obvious to figure out :D


View back from a Pass towards Mt. Kintoki. I forgot the Name of the Pass.


At Noon we finally arrived at Myongatake, after leaving one more Pass and Summit behind us. It is getting cold and windy now, so Chris takes on his jacket.


The decent is way more steep than the climb on the Kintoki. It is technically still not very challenging, but if start here and climb this Mountain first it would be by far more exhausting. What a luck we decided to do it the opposite way. At least we entered Gora and the sun went went down just at that moment. A bus will take us back to Hakone and our well deserved Onsen.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
A Superexpress Shinkansen is rushing through the Station of Odawara. And plenty of Tourists (like me) filmed or took pictures of it. Or next stop is Kanazawa. First we took a Shinkansen to Maibara and from there the Thunderbird. This is the only day, where we travelled for a longer time and the weather god decided, to make this the only very rainy day. Thanks a lot. Just imagine how shitty or yesterdays hike would have been in rain ;D


A bus took us to the HATCHi Hostel.


I would not mention the name of this Hostel if I could not recommand it again. Feel free to book here. Since we did every way of Hostel Traveling (In Tokyo a single room each, in Hakone a dorm and now a double room, again dorms and double rooms later) I want to loose some words about Hostels in Japan in general. They have upsides and downsides.
- The upsides are the nice and helpful staff. There was no hostal on this trip where I could say any bad word about the people working there. That was not always the case on my world trips.
- Further the quality of the furniture is mostly outstanding. In every dorm we stayed you don't have those rusty and ratteling bunk beds, like you find them for example in 80% of Australian hostals. You have some kind of (wooden) cabin like in a capsule hotel - which feels like you own little room. This offers you a private sphere in a dorm how I never experienced it anywhere else.
- The risk of sharing a room with (often drunk and unpolite) european party tourists is basically not existent. So going for a dorm to spare some money is absolutly fine in Japan without the downsides you get in other countries.

The downsides are the lack of hostel culture. Most hostals did a significant thing wrong in the design of their common rooms. If there is something you should never place in a hostals public areas like kitchens, lounges or shared rooms it is seat bags. They are an absolute athmosphere killer. Travellers tend to sit down there (claiming one for themselves), take out their smartphone or tablet and startung doing stuff on it they could do better in their dorm bed. For other travellers it feels like a "leave me alone" behavoiur. The dorms and rooms already offer enough privacy (wich is great, but freezes communication between the people), so that the common areas in hostels should be used for getting known each other.
Plenty of hostels also tend to place their sockets in their lounge rooms in front of a large window or wall and place a long shelf in front of it. So if you don't made the seat bag-error, here is your next fault. The travellers using the sockets for their laptops and smartphones will sit with their back to the other people and again it is like "Leave me alone".

So shy and maybe unexpirenced hostel-travellers will have huge difficulties to get in touch with other guests - negating the main reason to choose a hostel over a hotel. It is not a hostel anthomsphere like in Canada or Australia or Thailand, where you walk into the lounge, finding a room design where people have to face each other, sit down next to them and ask "Whats up folks?". And voilá, you going out together. This did not work in Japan that easy for me and you have to invest more and try a bit harder to find friends here, despite the charackter of the travellers might be the same like elswere.

The reason I write this here is, because the HATCHi did most things right and here it was reasonably easy to get in conversation with others. In fact we had large groups at the evening, had dinner together, went out together and we talked a lot.
Here some (obviously italian) dude is talking about coffee cans in Japan in the Kitchen of the HATCHi



So keep in mind when you book hostels in Japan, that you can go for the dorms even if you are afraid of sharing a room with plenty of people. They will surprise you. But keep also in mind, that it will be harder to meet people here, if you are a bit shy. You will have to do the most steps on your own.
At least this is my honest experience.
 

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Nice trip so far! Ive been to Kamakura a couple of times but never experienced a sandstorm. x) Next time you are in Tokyo you should check out Skytree a little bit before sunset. Tokyo Tower is nicer, sure, but the view from Skytree is breath taking. I was a little bit late there, it was dark already when I got up there. But like I said: breathtaking! Like flying above the stars itself. ^.^ And you like hiking? Next time you visit Nihon you should aim for Fuji-san! And Takao-san is also cute! Well … alot to do in Nihon! ;D
 
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