I’ve earmarked Japan for the CNY trip next year…I’ve got friends to visit in Osaka, and I’d like to visit the Honda motorcycle factory in Hamamatsu but otherwise I’m very much in the planning phase of what to see and where to go…
So which Forumosans have been to Japan then?..Anyone got any must sees or suggestions to offer?..
Tokyo is great for a few days, as well I spent two days/one night in the Hakone national park which is easily reached from Tokyo. Get a Hakone pass including train ticket and free transportation within the park (cable car, boat etc.) and discounts to certain places.
Hakone park has lot’s of sights and beautiful scenery, the trip alone is already worth it IMO. There are also hot springs (onsen) if you fancy those. A return ticket is included in the pass but alternatively you may take the bus to Atami and hop on the Shinkansen from there (around NT1000 I think) to get back to Tokyo.
In Tokyo I would recommend Roppongi (evening, food & entertainment), Akhirabara (electronics/computers), Shinjuku (shopping and free access to the observation platforms of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government office) as well as Harajuku on the weekend (Goth girls and visit to Meiji shrine). The area around the palast is also nice (can’t get in though) and you could walk over to Ginza to visit the Sony showroom where they display the latest and soon-to-come gadgets.
Oh, and did I mention the Asakusa temple compound and the Tusjiki fishmarket? Freshest Sushi/Sashimi you will ever get - but you gotta wake up early. Very early.
Hokkaido always has a big snow festival in February. In Sapporo. I never ever made it up there but it’s always pretty crowded. In Tokyo, I always hit Disneyland and the Tokyo Tower. I hear there’s a new Universal Studios park, I think it’s in Osaka or Sendai, I forget.
How long are you going to be there? You might want to look into getting a J-Rail pass. You can only get them outside Japan though as they are specifically for tourists and bloody good value.
Follow Rascals advice for Tokyo. Harajuku at the weekend is one of my favourite places in the world cause it is just so bizarre. (turn right from out of the station and walk across the bridge for the goth girls. If you keep going into the park the you see all sorts of weirdness as people perform/let thir hair down for the weekend.)
I didn’t think much of the Sony Building but I’m not really a techno freak. However I did go to the stock exchange (but got there after the fun had finished!) They did have lots of info and I reackon it might be quite interesting whilst the action was going.
A little further out I thought Hiroshima was bloody good. The museam etc is really well done.
I did stay at the Hakone Elegance Hotel in Moto-Hakone with a great view on lake Ashi. Not cheap but nice and including it’s own onsen. Bring winter clothes including gloves, Hakone is colder than Tokyo and it may still snow up there during CNY.
Having lived in Japan for several years, I recommend staying around the Osaka area for your trip (since you have friends there anyway). Tokyo is big and messy and freezing in winter. Osaka’s Namba station at night equals Roppongi AND Tokyo doesn’t have their famous Haagen Das toilets. That is a must visit when in Osaka. Plus it’s a great central destination to ancient Kyoto – temples, mountains, great food, flea markets, geishas and modern Kobe – funky architecture, shipping ports, steak and bagels. 30mins east/west for both cities and the local train tickets are cheap. You can also go south to Wakayama (Koyasan) and Nara. In between Osaka and Kyoto, there’s a little museum called Miho contructed by I.M. Pei which is amazing but you have to check ahead to see if it’s open in the winter (due to heavy snow). I also recommend going to an open bathhouse as that is a truly relaxing experience. If you must go to Tokyo, then the Shinkansen is about 3hrs trip (this is the fastest and easiest way) and you can catch it in Kyoto or Osaka.
Personally, I find Kansai airport far better than Narita. I can easily spend a day at Kansai as it’s a town in itself. I haven’t met anyone that’s used a Jpass before (heard it’s rather restrictive and expensive) but if it works then go for it.
Harajuku on Sunday - 60s bands in the park, way out trendoid teen fashion and roto-sushi
Roppongi - lots of tourists spewing on Saturday night
Asakusa - Kannon temple (Sensoji) etc., lots of lowlife because this is defintley down town
Kappabashi - plastic food models
Shibuya - department stores and young things
Shinjuku - Town Hall
Mita - Tokyo Tower
Imperial palace - can’t get in…
Ginza ! $15 coffee
Ebisu - old beer brewery and shopping centre
Ometesando/Meijingu the best mix of old shinto Japan and modern boutique consumerism
Meguro - great tonkatsu
Shinagawa - 47 Samurai temple, Sengakuji
Ueno - Sunshine City (a serial murder’s idea of urban development)
Tsukiji - tuna auctions at 5.30am
I recommend basing in Tokyo. Osaka is a fairly depressing city for the most part, save the Namba area.
If you can arrange it, try to fly to Tokyo, and back to Taiwan from Osaka.
After a few days in Tokyo, make your way to Osaka via Hakone (I second Rascal - this is a gorgeous area. Also, there is a guest house you can stay at at very affordable rates. I believe they’re called the Hakone Fuji Guest House or something similar. They have free hot springs. Oh, but I think the area will be COLD in winter). Don’t miss the Open Air Museum!
…and after Hakone you will definitely want to visit Kyoto and then Nara (doable as a day trip from Kyoto).
If you get the chance, spend a day in Kobe. A real gem of a place but not so hot on the tourist track. (kind of like Slovenia in Europe!) Kobe can be visited as a day trip from Osaka.
Maybe spend a day in Osaka (nice castle) and fly out.
By the way, Tokyo is a bit like Paris. It’s a place to wander around and soak in the atmosphere of the different districts. Shibuya and Shinjuku and fun (though be prepared for chaotic subway stations!). I also like Shimokitazawa. Great cozy area to wander the streets and check out the cool little shops. Plus of course there are gorgeous parks, including one in Ueno.
There are also several nice day trips from Tokyo, such as Yokohama.
Anyway, that’s what I’d do with my first 10 days in Japan (if I had them over again, knowing what I know now. )
Well I’ve been to the airport of Tokyo and Osaka, but I’m also a fan of reading Japanese travel books (I know… whatta weird hobby). I was originally planning on studying in Japan, but gotta stay here to graduate!
Off the top of my head, this is a small group of placed/things I’d visit:
Hokkaido: Visit anything Ainu. Their culture is so interesting!! The indigenous people of Japan.
Of course, I’d visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, anything Tokyo, any hot springs (onsen), and The Japan Peace Museum (peace-museum.org).
I’m so jealous!! I want to go to Japan too! Haha, maybe in a few years.
Can anyone help me figure out how to budget a one week trip to Japan? Looking to take 4 people(including myself) in July. I know I can get packages from Taiwan, so no problem there. It’s figuring out the spending money. The people I will be travelling with will like to shop for those at home and have a nice sushi dinner or so.
So, if you can give me any hints of how much to suggest in USD. I would really really appreciate it.
Japan is a fairly big country with different cities being more expensive than others. Where are you planning on going in Japan? Tokyo can be very expensive, while some of the smaller cities are more reasonably priced. If you are planning on travelling around, the Shinkansen is quite expensive as well.
I offered them the choice of Osaka and Toyko. Told them Osaka would probably be better because we can do Osaka Kobe and Kyoto. I think would be doing mostly walking, sightseeing, and some shopping. At night, definitely drinking(althought the duty free can help with that ). I’m just trying to make a range that we can work in. Thanks again.