Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

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JzN
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Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by JzN » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:46 pm

I've been doing some research on Japan and planning to go in early April 2014 and leave before golden week.

That is approximately 3-4 weeks in Japan.

There is just so many things to see and do in Japan which the 3-4 weeks will not be enough to explore. I'm interested if any INDYDDRers can recommend any "must" do activities or things they've heard or even perhaps on things i should watch out for. I’m finding it hard to find specific things to do but most notably I’ll be visiting:

Akihabara (mmmm elite gaming, maid cafes, cosplay, violent brothel sex)
Harajuku (Crazy Japanese fashion)
Shibuya (shopping district)
Tokyo (tbh i don't really know whats special here)
(and pretty much anywhere else in Japan if you recommend)

I'll probably try out the ryokans (traditional Japanese inn), bath houses, onsens (hot springs).
I’ll try to avoid Mt Fuji and skiing since i suck at skiing and i go to the snow every year.

I see that Brian Ho has been on trips to Japan. i'd be very keen to see his itinerary or advice for a first time traveller. I'm bringing around $8000 Spending cash (accom + airfare excl). i think it's reasonable but have scope to bring more.

I did Korea last year and it was the best. Dare i say it's nearly on par with China in terms of being inexpensive but the quality of items is unrivaled. I'd say Korea (south) is must go to place on the cheap.

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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:26 pm

Gat damn this dude stacks paper!

I know for sure LikeABelRoDent, MonMotha, and Ho have all been to glorious Nippon. I've never been, but I'll tell you what I'd like to do if I go.

- J-core show. Japanese hardcore. If you know the week you're going, I can look up what shows are happening.
- Arcades.
- Pachinko. Note that with your bankroll, my guess is you can shoot balls til your heart's content. It seems unique enough to warrant doing.
- Karaoke in some form.
- Food and eating. This is a big one. I can't suggest anything specific, but I'd research some interesting dishes beyond just curry, sushi, and ramen.
- Visit old architecture and stuff in Kyoto. Probably some decent hiking in the area.
- Go to Costco. This is not a joke. Do they have Costco where you live?
- Onsen. Don't be a punk. Get naked with dudes.

Please post pictures and tell stories. I will never grace the land that giveth me my phat beats and video games. It is important that I live vicariously through you, and your joy fill the the deepest and most hollow fragments of my soul eternal.
Music is a special thing because everyone is wrong on everything but it all works out in the end and we all get high as shit.
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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by JzN » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:15 pm

I was put off pachinko machines as apparently it's illegal to gamble in Japan and the way they get around do it is that you only win "tokens" in which you have to redeem outside of the parlour. I'm not too sure if i can find the redemption places although they should literally be next door (unrelated, watch AKAGI (anime) about a ledgendary gambler, there is a pachinko story arc).

What is J-Core? i googled it and it came up with "JCORE Accelerared Body Transformation system".

We have a costco here in Melbourne, Australia although im guessing it doesn't compare to the ones in the US. You guys sure do love buying big. although im a member, i've never had the need to buy 1kg nutella and peanut butter or a pizza that doesn't fit in my oven...

Kareoke would be fun (i heard there is one each corner), especially if there are people around and hear you sing fluent english (could proabaly pay the girls to keep you company too).

I must see what the taito arcades/stations look like.

Mind you that my trip will most likely be in April 2014 before i can entertain your request for pictures.

Thanks for the comment, i'll be compiling an intinerary list in coming months which will be derived from this forum and further research.

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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:24 am

I was put off pachinko machines as apparently it's illegal to gamble in Japan and the way they get around do it is that you only win "tokens" in which you have to redeem outside of the parlour. I'm not too sure if i can find the redemption places although they should literally be next door (unrelated, watch AKAGI (anime) about a ledgendary gambler, there is a pachinko story arc).
I'm sure it isn't hard to figure out. You should go for it.
What is J-Core? i googled it and it came up with "JCORE Accelerared Body Transformation system".
Japanese Hardcore. A subgenre of the Hardcore genre of electronic music. It's like $30 to see a top-tier lineup.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0jcdgn9RVY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wnmuqPODzs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmb9uO8eAj0
We have a costco here in Melbourne, Australia although im guessing it doesn't compare to the ones in the US. You guys sure do love buying big. although im a member, i've never had the need to buy 1kg nutella and peanut butter or a pizza that doesn't fit in my oven...
We do love buying big. My last trip to Costco included a few pounds of refried beans, microwave burritos, and tortellini. With around 2% inflation, Costco is a pretty solid investment in the things you love.

I'll turn it over to the people that actually know something/anything about Japan, but let me give you some advice that Dr Dre gave to so many on their respective trips to Japan.

"Put mo' black on 'em."
Music is a special thing because everyone is wrong on everything but it all works out in the end and we all get high as shit.
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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by Ho » Tue Jul 30, 2013 10:27 am

I actually just got back from a trip to Japan and Korea. That makes 3 times in Japan and 2 times in Korea for me. Honestly, I like Korea more for mostly the reasons you cited. Your money tends to go a lot farther in Korea. Transportation, in particular, is A LOT cheaper, so you can go more places and longer distances for less money. However, on this most recent trip (just got back last week), Japan seemed lower-priced than I remember it from my trips in 2009 and 2010. Also, the exchange rate is a lot more favorable than it was back then (not sure if that will apply to you in Australia).

On your short list, items 1-3 are all pretty much in Tokyo, so I'm not sure what you're referring to by "Tokyo" unless you just mean right outside Tokyo station. As far as what to do--especially if you're going to be there that long--it really depends on what kinds of things you're interested in. You can pretty much just pick a major subway stop, go there, and explore around to see what's there. It's pretty much sure to have something that you wouldn't see/do at home. I think the biggest attraction for me in both Japan and Korea is eating food, and there always seem to be plenty of restaurants nearby to find new and interesting things to eat. It helps that I'm not a very picky eater and I like most things.

The Mt. Fuji area has some amusement parks if you're into that kind of thing. I enjoy Fuji-Q Highland which is located there. It has some pretty nice roller coasters and a huge haunted hospital attraction (Japanese horror style) that takes a good 30-40 minutes to walk through. If that's of interest to you, I can give you some tips to make the most of your experience as lines can be long and frustrating there.

A couple tips I'd pass along for you on Japan, check into airbnb.com. You can rent rooms or even whole apartments or houses from people at very reasonable rates. And since you're renting from an individual, you essentially have a host that you can contact if you have any questions or need some help. Check the reviews to see what other people who have stayed with the various people have said to find one that fits you well. Since they're all individuals, each one is going to do things a little bit differently. But on this last trip to Japan we were able to have a whole apartment with a couple small bedrooms, bathroom, full kitchen, and eating area for around $90/night I think. And it was only a couple stops from Shinjuku station, the busiest transit station in the world, actually. You can get pretty much anywhere in Japan from there (well, maybe not Okinawa ;)) That's way better than you're going to do at hotels in the area. If it's just you, you can probably find smaller units for a little cheaper. But the few times I've gotten a regular hotel room in Tokyo, it was always > $100 for just a room.

Secondly, look into the Japan Rail Pass. For a flat rate, you can get unlimited travel on JR lines. They have a few different varieties that either cover certain regions or even the whole country. You can even use these passes on the shinkansen (bullet trains) to go to other cities if you want to get out of Tokyo.
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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by JzN » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:47 pm

I knew it was a good idea to post in here! Thanks Brian for the airbnb.com(.au) site.

Apparently you are revered here as a GOD and i would like to indulge in your words of wisdom.

I've already flagged a place for $81(aud), entire apartment. I think my partner will enjoy the amusement parks around the base of Mt Fuji, Fuji-Q Highland (with a quick wiki of the place). Yes i am very iterested in hearing your tips to make my life and limited Japanese easier. With the JRPASS it's $300AUD (lets just say US and AUD are 1-1) per 7 days. Is it really worth it or only if you travel to other regions?

We have something in common being foodies! i'll eat anything and everything and enjoy the specialties of international foods, mainly asian though. Did anything (or everything) exceed your expectations that you would recommend? I heard Tokyo acquired 150 1star michelin ratings, which by any standard IS FREAKING AWESOME!!! I'm going to try fugu and hope not to die!

Did you travel outside of Tokyo? i have an interest in visiting TOHOKU for some scenery and Sendai (although it maybe dangerous due to the eathquakes) and KANSAI to see the former powerhouse of the edo period, Kyoto and Universal studios. Was there any festivals (Matsuri Japan (DDR song^^)) that you recommend or been to?

I'm ABC, Aussie Born Chinese (HK parents) (as opposed to A[merican]BC) and have frequently been to HK, China and Korea. I agree, Korea is still the best place to go, Seoul, Busan and Jeju are a must. With our exchange rates so good $1 to 1100won, it cost us $25 for meals fit for a king. Most memorable meals in korea was this BBQ house (yes typical) but they had 21 different banchans (sidedishes) and each plate of meat was only $5. I bet you can't get beef in Japan for that price! I had this claypot (wok sized) full of mixed clams for $12 and i swear it had every known spieceis to man in there. For the novelty, i ate live octopus and it got stuck to my throat trying to climb back out! ahhh fun times...

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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by Ho » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:38 am

Since it's in caps, I'm going to assume GOD is an acronym for something. Maybe "Good Old Dude"?

I really have to credit my girlfriend for airbnb. She found out about it and setup our accommodations in Japan and Korea on this last trip. It turned out to not only save money but also be a positive experience as it afforded us amenities and contacts that we simply wouldn't have had from a normal hotel. We'll be using it again soon, too. We're heading to Los Angeles next month for KCON, a US-based Hallyu convention (as if we didn't get enough Korean culture having just been there last week? ;))

Fuji-Q's english content is pretty lacking. Their newest attraction isn't even on the english map they provide at the park nor on the english version of their website. The thing that I learned on this trip is that they have a priority pass system. It's sort of hinted at on the english map, but there are no instructions on how it works. Without the priority pass, be prepared for long wait times. We were there from about 9:30am until about 4:30pm and only rode 2 rides. The next day we arrived at 9am and left at about 1pm having ridden 4 rides AND gone through the haunted hospital.

The priority passes are sold per ride at a booth near the carousel in the center of the park. You choose the ride(s) you want and a one hour block of time and buy a priority pass for it. They only sell a limited number for each ride and time period. Using that pass, you show up at the ride during that hour block you chose and enter through the exit (or a marked priority line). That means you skip whatever normal queue is waiting and only maybe have to wait for other people who have priority passes. In our case, we showed up at the beginning of all our time blocks and were able to ride the very next train.

The passes cost $10 for each of the major rides, so this can get expensive. But since they're only open 9-5, there is a good chance you won't get to do much except wait in line if you don't go this route. Also, you can pay $13 just to enter the park and then pay for each ride (the major rides are $10, smaller rides are less...the priority pass does not include this price, so you'd pay $20 to ride priority on a major ride). You can also pay $50 for an unlimited day pass that allows you to ride anything that day (you'd still pay for the priority passes if you want them). Basically, if you think you want to ride 4 or more rides, the day pass makes sense.

The haunted hospital opens at 10, an hour after the park. We found that there was no line if you showed up before that. It gets busy during the day and they tend to close the line early (between 3-4) so they can get through everyone in line before the park closes at 5.

I guess my bottom line assessment is that it's a fun park if you're into that kind of thing as long as you're willing to spend $75-100 on it. Also, getting there from Tokyo will probably cost you around $40 roundtrip. The rail pass can cover part of that (half of it is not JR) and there are some other deals available that bundle a bus with admission for a discount.

This brings me to the JR pass. Personally, I've only ever had the JR East pass. It's a little less money, but it only covers the eastern part of the country. If you're flying into Narita airport, that's actually about an hour train ride into Tokyo and costs $20-30 each way. So that's something that the pass would cover right from the start.

The pass will cover all of your intra-city train travel on JR lines. If you're spending much time in Tokyo, that's quite a lot. Most trips will start at under $2 and go up to maybe around $10 if you're going pretty far within the metro area or places like Yokohama.

If you want to go farther than that, expect to pay $20-30 for short-distance reserved seat trains to nearby cities (like the trip to Mt. Fuji--actually, Otski is the farthest out on JR for that and then you transfer on to another rail company that's not JR).

If you want to go even farther (to more distant cities) the rail pass also covers shinkansens. Those trips usually start at $50-60 and can go into the 100s if you are going cross country. For instance, we went to Ueda (one stop short of Nagano) from Tokyo and that would have been about $60.

Mind you, all of those prices I just quoted are one-way. If you're planning on getting out of Tokyo, the rail pass becomes an excellent value in a hurry. If you're just sticking to one city, there are probably smaller, cheaper options that might be better for you.

In my 3 trips to Japan, I have mostly been in the Tokyo area. I did go to Okinawa and Tsubame on my first trip, but that's because I knew people there. I wasn't really going to see anything specific. On this trip I went to Ueda (as I mentioned above) to go to an onsen. It was a nice change of pace to get out to the countryside and away from the big city for a day.

Food, food, food. I haven't generally bothered to seek out any particular restaurants in Korea or Japan. I just eat at places I come across or get recommendations from friends or people we meet. Anything is different and most things are good, so that's worked well. On this most recent trip a friend took us to Sushiro (or Sushi-do depending on how you want to romanize it). It's a conveyor belt style sushi restaurant and all the plates are 105 yen except some of the specials which were only 189. Food quality was excellent and we may have eaten some species extinct. The four of us spent < $80 total for the privilege. Two big thumbs up for that experience.

Strangely enough, the best Korean BBQ I've had was in Japan on this trip. There's something about Japanese pork that seems juicier and more delicious than any other I've had, so it makes fantastic samgyupsal. And then we had galbi made with wagyu beef...oh.my.god. But yeah, Korean food is my favorite food and is pretty much reason #1 why my girlfriend and I go to Korea. It just turned out we had better K-BBQ in Japan...but we ate lots of things other than BBQ while we were in Korea.

I guess I'm an ABC. I've never really heard it termed that way, but cool. I have not been to China though. I've also never been to Australia. However, both of my parents were also born in America, so I have very little connection to Chinese culture. That being said, I think I'm more interested in seeing Australia than China...but I hear everything can kill you there. ;)
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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by JzN » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:14 pm

Thanks for the tips. I'll be printing this out for future reference.

It appears that the JR pass would defintely be the smart choice although i am still iffy about the language barrier and non JR lines.

I doubt i have time to visit Okinawa (although Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid said he was there, my childhood fav movie), but Ueda seems reasonable to visit especially if it's easily accessed with the JR line.

I'm not too sure how it is in the US but those prices quoted for the amusement park seems very reasonable to me.

I will tell you right now that Australia is fairly expensive, comparable to Japan pricing. Our minumum wages are set to accomdate this, so it does not bother us. As for overseas travellers, in recent times, AUD vs USD shared 1-1 value. Some examples of pricing here would be:

McDonalds large meal (there is no supersize here) = $8-$9
Pizza: Large 14" - Commercial ($8) and private ($15-30)
Meat prices: beef $15 - $30 kg, Chicken $6 - $10 kg
Rent: average $370pw, innercity $500+ pw
petrol/gas: $1.80 per litre (1 gal = 3.78 litres) = $6.80 per Gal.
Movie tickets: $17 adult
Hotel: min $100 per night
Inn/motel: (very sub-standard) $60 per night

Our quality and freshness of food and living standards are very high though. We have lots of natural scenes to visit and boast some nice cafes and internationally recognized restaurants.

I'm going to make a new topic about the misconceptions of Australia in the US to address "how everything can kill you there".

If your income allows you to come over, i'd be more than happy to show you around Victoria and Melbourne one day.

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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by Fluffyumpkins » Thu Aug 01, 2013 8:21 am

To be fair, the Discovery channel had a mini-series called Nature's Deadliest. Episode 1 of 4 was on Australia. I'd really like to start an Au thread about gold and Australia.
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Re: Recommendations on must see/do things in JAPAN (+gen info)

Post by Ho » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:24 am

Some of the prices that you quote do seem a little high compared to here, but "here" is also a pretty broad term given that America is such a large country. I think the prices you quote that seem a little bit high to me would probably be more comparable to a bigger city here like a New York or Los Angeles. Indianapolis is definitely a "middle market" in the United States, pretty average pricing on most things with a reasonable cost of living. I've seen both higher and lower in my travels around the country.

My expectation for a US amusement park is $40-50 all-inclusive admission. The big difference between that and Fuji-Q, in particular, is that I would expect a park here to be open from 9 or 10am until 10pm or even midnight during the peak season. In that time, I'd expect to be able to ride most, if not all, of the major attractions at the park without having to pay extra for a priority pass (though they are available at many parks). So, only having enough time to ride 2 rides in a day without priority passes or alternatively spending an extra $30-50 to guarantee that I could ride more makes Fuji-Q seem expensive to me.

Okinawa is an island that you have to fly to (maybe there are boats?), so you can't get to it by train. I would liken Okinawa in Japan to Hawaii in the US. Both are quite remote from the main part of their country and both have some significant cultural differences due to that distance. Actually, in both cases, there was already an established culture on the island when it was acquired by the country--native Okinawans/Hawaiians. So visiting there you see an interesting mix of the native culture with the acquiring country's culture. This may be somewhat similar to your aboriginal population/regions?

Since it sounds like you're going to be in-country for an extended period of time, I think the JR pass is definitely a good option for you. It's just a matter of which one to get and for what length of time. I know the JR East pass is pretty flexible in that it is for 5 days within a 14 day period...so you don't have to use the 5 days consecutively. You might end up getting a combination of passes to get the most value for your money.

I'm assuming you don't know much Korean (though I may be wrong). If you got along ok in Korea, I think you'll be fine in Japan not knowing much Japanese. Tokyo, in particular, I think is easier to get around in without knowing the native language than Seoul. That's just my opinion and I haven't had any serious problems in either locale.
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