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  1. #1
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    WWMD: Two Weeks in Japan/ Tokyo

    I'll be spending about two weeks in Japan, leaving on July 8th. Will be with my wife, son and brother in law (we get along just fine). My family will be on our way home from Singapore, after living there for 10 months, and after a several weeks long trip through Thailand and Cambodia. We will be traveling light.

    What should we do? Where should we stay?

    Thinking of maybe about a weeks time combined in Tokyo, a little bit on both ends, and about a week's time elsewhere? Where should that be?

    Figure I'd put this out there for suggestions, and that will help me focus and refine our search. First time in Japan.

    What should we know? Apps to download? Do we need cash, or is it a more of a credit society?

    Stoked to be planning a trip to Japan, as its always been on my list of places to visit. And this might just get me back for a trip in winter some time.

  2. #2
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    First off, brush up on some basic Japanese. Even if you know just a few words, it goes a LONG way. True for most any country of course, but the Japanese were particularly helpful and friendly when I'd try my best.

    Now, with limited time in Tokyo, I'd of course go visit Tokyo Tower for a great bird's eye view of the city. Also of course go check out the Imperial Palace. Open to the public and they have tours in English. Go visit Shinjuku at night and just have fun enjoying the scene there. SO much to do there, it's impossible to pack it in to a thread. Mostly, just go explore!

    Fun thing about Tokyo and Japan at large is their wonderful train system. You can hop around the megacity with relative efficiency. If you really want to experience "true" Japan, you can get around all of Honshu pretty fast with their bullet trains. Funny thing about Japan is once you get outside of Tokyo, it gets rural REALLY fast. Go visit some random, quaint villages. Some of my most tranquil, peaceful moments in my entire life have been walking down some quiet, country road in Japan, or at the oceanside. Now, it's not Honshu, but I've enjoyed the heck out of swimming and snorkeling around Okinawa. It's interesting how you'll see the cultures and food change as you go from Hokkaido in the North to Okinawa in the South. It's all super enjoyable and enlightening. Have fun!!!

  3. #3
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    I went in 2009, so some of this might not be current.

    Kyoto is pretty freaking amazing, and it's much, much older than Tokyo. Would recommend hopping a train and heading down there for a bit as well. 2x on Shinjuku at night for peoplewatching and being in the scene. Public transit (buses and trains) are top notch.

    If anyone asks if they can practice their English with you, take the opportunity to have a conversation about literally anything. They want to practice using what they know so they don't lose it, and often speak better English than Americans. It can also quickly turn your plans a totally different direction as you can find out what's actually cool and what's tourist stuff. Ask about what Japanese Whiskey or Sake they like, if they have a favorite restaurant near wherever you are staying, or how to get tickets to baseball or sumo wrestling, or a concert.

    Nobody will directly say 'no' for any reason whatsoever, it is incredibly rude. Soft deflections and non-commitments is a no, don't push it.

    Restaurants will likely have picture menus. Don't be afraid to ask. That said, don't be a bitch and eat everything. I still wish I could find an okonomiyaki place within 100 miles of me.

    Back in 2009, it was a cash country. Not sure if that's still the case, but have a plan on how to get cash, as credit wasn't widely accepted back then even in the heart of Tokyo and Kyoto. Not sure if this is still the case or not. 7-11's worked for us, and they're everywhere.
    Wait, how can we trust this guy^^^ He's clearly not DJSapp

  4. #4
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    Auto factories / museums. Sumo. Food. Arcades. Go bukakke on your shit.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mazderati View Post
    Auto factories / museums. Sumo. Food. Arcades.
    I have always wanted to go see a sumo match!!! Definitely on my bucket list. I want to return someday so much. Of all my travels around the world, Japan is still top 3 for me.

    And hopefully the arcades are still as rad as they used to be. Sega used to have a siiiiiiiiick multi-level ginormous arcade at Akihabara in Chiyoda. Also, the consumer electronics department stores were to die for. I wonder if the 100 yen stores are still as great as they used to be since global inflation and all.

  6. #6
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    Two chicks at the same time.

  7. #7
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    Shinjuku motherfucker?
    "fuck off you asshat gaper shit for brains fucktard wanker." - Jesus Christ
    "She was tossing her bean salad with the vigor of a Drunken Pop princess so I walked out of the corner and said.... "need a hand?"" - Odin
    "I'd eat a bag of Dicks and wash it down with a Coke any day." - iceman

  8. #8
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    It's been a few years since I've been but I'd move there in a heartbeat. Ski buddy of mine from growing up is Japanese and lives in the city and was a totally invaluable resource before going.

    Figure out where you want to be generally then, outside a handful of "must-sees" for you, have fun getting lost and exploring. Your iPhone is all you really need as it does everything you want from navigating by rail (we did do a 3rd party app as it was super easy to use underground when cell service/wifi wasn't available or weak) to figuring stuff out.

    We did a week in the city and a week doing Kyoto and travels there. It's easy to do many weeks in Tokyo and a few days in Kyoto we decided.

    Eat as much as you possibly can and without pretense. Eating/dining was our primary goal along with exploring and you'd be amazed at how amazing food can be everywhere from a 7-11 to world class restaurants and everything in-between. My wife, through a series of international phone calls to maître-d's and slight fibs, got us into Le Chateau Joel Robuchon for New Years Eve dinner where it was every bit of three Michelin stars and a mortgage payment but it is also a dinner that I will remember forever. Higashi-Yama in Meguro https://higashiyama-tokyo.jp/ was incredible omakase Japanese in an intimate setting. Eat at the bar as they prepare everything in front of you.

    Stop by the old market surrounding Tsukiji Fish Market that is still going (do fresh sushi breakfast there) even though the auction market itself moved to the new Toyosu Fish Market which I believe you can still view (from designated viewing area above) the tuna auctions.

    Grab a cocktail at the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt at night and take in the lights. Actually, get anywhere up high at night and marvel at how fucking vast the city is. (and how clean it is)

    Everyone is kind to a fault, so we found sumimasen to be our most used word in case we were offending anyone unintentionally or thanking them.

    Train-walk-explore, repeat.

    Very jealous, I can't wait to get back.
    I still call it The Jake.

  9. #9
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    Get a SIM card that works locally (maybe yours from Singapore already does) - Google Maps' navigation feature was immensely helpful for taking trains / metro when we went to Japan.

    Hope you like Japanese food. There was surprisingly little for non-Japanese restaurant options, once away from large cities.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by BmillsSkier View Post
    Figure out where you want to be generally then, outside a handful of "must-sees" for you, have fun getting lost and exploring. Your iPhone is all you really need as it does everything you want from navigating by rail (we did do a 3rd party app as it was super easy to use underground when cell service/wifi wasn't available or weak) to figuring stuff out.

    We did a week in the city and a week doing Kyoto and travels there. It's easy to do many weeks in Tokyo and a few days in Kyoto we decided.

    Eat as much as you possibly can and without pretense. Eating/dining was our primary goal along with exploring and you'd be amazed at how amazing food can be everywhere from a 7-11 to world class restaurants and everything in-between. My wife, through a series of international phone calls to maître-d's and slight fibs, got us into Le Chateau Joel Robuchon for New Years Eve dinner where it was every bit of three Michelin stars and a mortgage payment but it is also a dinner that I will remember forever. Higashi-Yama in Meguro https://higashiyama-tokyo.jp/ was incredible omakase Japanese in an intimate setting. Eat at the bar as they prepare everything in front of you.

    Stop by the old market surrounding Tsukiji Fish Market that is still going (do fresh sushi breakfast there) even though the auction market itself moved to the new Toyosu Fish Market which I believe you can still view (from designated viewing area above) the tuna auctions.

    Grab a cocktail at the New York Bar at the Park Hyatt at night and take in the lights. Actually, get anywhere up high at night and marvel at how fucking vast the city is. (and how clean it is)

    Everyone is kind to a fault, so we found sumimasen to be our most used word in case we were offending anyone unintentionally or thanking them.

    Train-walk-explore, repeat.

    Very jealous, I can't wait to get back.
    Solid post. Agreed on all fronts!

    Quote Originally Posted by El Chupacabra View Post
    Hope you like Japanese food. There was surprisingly little for non-Japanese restaurant options, once away from large cities.
    You say that like it's a bad thing!

    You're not wrong, though. Haha. Good thing however is that spending enough time in Japan had permanently shifted how I think about eating. Fish and rice for breakfast? Of course! Now I'm basically repulsed by typical fast food and grossed out by American eating habits. I miss how even at a 7-11 (which are everywhere there) you can actually have healthy options. Oh, and speaking of which, don't be THAT guy eating on the subway or train. Very much frowned upon. It's an ultra-clean place, so help keep it that way. Kick your shoes off as soon as you get in your hotel room and enjoy the warm embrace of the Toto washlet bidet. Americans are so gross with our shoes inside the house habits and distinct lack of automated ass washers. Haha.

  11. #11
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    I don't like Japanese food. That was a long two weeks... Zero salads. Way too much salt. Terrible beer. Hard to find coffee.

    Japan is not somewhere I ever need to return. YMMV, certainly.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  12. #12
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  13. #13
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    If you like art and architecture, this place is pretty amazing: https://benesse-artsite.jp/en/

    Pretty long train ride from Tokyo station though.

  14. #14
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    I have only been in winter. I would agree with Bmills on Tokyo. I think I would target some World Heritage sites to visit. I made it to a few and glad I did. I think it would also be interesting to check out some of the Jomon Ruins. I always try and stay in small ryokan. You get your meals so no need to try and order in restaurant. In restaurants I just let them bring me a meal. The Michelin place gave us our own menu as we were the only non japanese speakers there
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    for the ryokan we stayed at several listed here https://kunisaki.jp/english/hitou.html however it seems like the main web site is down. Have fun great place to visit, clean , safe and always something interesting wherever you go.
    off your knees Louie

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontuckyFried View Post
    heh. Playing Russian roulette with the buttons is an experience.

    If your hotel has Japanese baths, do that. Sit on the stool and shower first, then go soak. Embrace better cleanliness.
    Wait, how can we trust this guy^^^ He's clearly not DJSapp

  16. #16
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    Feb 2008
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    You have a good chance of hitting rainy season in Japan at that time of year. Won't rain every day, but it might rain all day long for some of the days you're there, and it's a monsoon-type rain that might limit your outside activities. Those crappy 300 yen convenience store umbrellas will be your friend.

    In Tokyo, I like the Japan Folk Crafts Museum a lot: https://mingeikan.or.jp/collections/?lang=en. Also, video arcades in Akihabara will be fun if it's raining. You need to play head to head with others in your party, otherwise some Japanese kid will eat your lunch.

    Kyoto is great, and I would spend at least half my time there. Kinkakuji (temple of the golden pavilion) is crowded, kind of like seeing the Mona Lisa in Paris, but I think worth it. Try to get there right when they open; at the end of the day might be worth a shot too as far as crowds.

    This restaurant near Kinkakuji only serves oyako donburi (chicken/egg rice bowls) at lunch. It's in an old Kyoto house, totally great. They probably don't speak English at all, but there's only one thing on the lunch menu, so hard to go wrong.

    Night time temple illumination at Kodaiji is cool if you're in town at the right time: https://www.japan-experience.com/all...-illuminations

    My personal favorite temple in Kyoto is Shisendo. It's a small house and garden built by a member of the nobility who had fuck you money and decided to renounce his worldly life to become a priest, but do it in style. The garden is maybe only about 1/2 an acre, but it's great and if you get there when they open, you may be the only people there.

    Personally I think Ryoanji is a drag. "Sit here and look at rocks while a steady stream of middle school students walks around you."

    Fucking try to get in to Saihoji aka Kokedera aka "Moss Temple." I've never managed it and would be jealous AF if you swing it: http://saihoji-kokedera.com/en/top.html. They require a postcard mailed from inside Japan to request a reservation, but there are a number of services online that will do it for you. It's a lottery, so a crap shoot.

    If you're pinned down due to rain and need to do something indoors, the Osaka Aquarium is great. Something like a 60-90 minute train ride from Kyoto, so you need to plan ahead.

    Check out Montbell stores in Tokyo and Kyoto for quality outdoor clothes / gear at very good prices. They're comparable to Patagonia, but cost like 2/3 as much. They used to have an outlet store in Tokyo, but I think they closed it.

  17. #17
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    Eat as many weird flavored Kit Kats as you can.
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    Well maybe I'm the faggot America
    I'm not a part of a redneck agenda

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan_pdx View Post
    Check out Montbell stores in Tokyo and Kyoto
    I enjoyed perusing the Montbell store in Tokyo. Where else are you going to get your onsie farm outfit?

    https://en.montbell.jp/products/good...uct_id=1132202

    Also the Snowpeak store in Tokyo

  19. #19
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    Apr 2007
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    I'm big into Montbell products.

    A few of my favorite places around the country--

    I've only been to Kyoto for work, but this restaurant/temple was amazing. We chose it for invitation-only guests from our 1000person medical conference. less than 100 VIPs were chosen. https://www.thesodoh.com/en/restaurant/
    Tons of other temples to walk through around Kyoto. 1-2 days is generally enough.

    Tokyo--
    Asakusa is the tourist haven, for a reason. The shrines, shopping, etcetera are all awesome.
    Yoyogi Koen is a huge park, the Central Park of Tokyo. Great for a day's walk.
    Shinjuku is fun as hell for night life... or just experiencing the most ridiculous train station in the world. The engineering is absurd.
    Ueno has some rad science museums.
    Tokyo is a city with another city below it. Its intimidating, but I love it.

    Up north in my prefecture, Yamagata, if you want to get rural and/or rustic. (3hr bullet train from tokyo) Tons of hot springs around here.
    Yamadera is a huge temple with 1000 stairs.
    Ginzan Onsen is an awesome ryokan village that can't get more aesthetically pleasing.

    Hakuba/Nagano is closer to Tokyo, and has just as many rad hot springs. Even if you're not skiing, Hakuba is a rad mountain culture.

  20. #20
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    Dec 2005
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    I wasn't as into coffee when I went there 10 years ago - but I thought I read since then that the Japanese, much like they do with other things they find enjoyable (steak, whiskey, cake etc), are driven to perfection with coffee. Perhaps it requires research to find the good places to go for that?

    Also I found Tokyo to be like New York in that you can plan to check out some touristy places that interest you - but in addition to that you can just walk around wherever and you'll see (and hear and taste) interesting things - for example I remember stumbling across a restaurant that served many different types of whale (we did not partake)

  21. #21
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    Awesome start. Thanks mags - gives me a bunch of stuff to research.

    We love Japanese food, and have been eating primarily an Asian diet now for six months. So no issues there. My kid had Pho Bo for breakfast for 14 days while traveling Viet Nam, as someone told them it was breakfast food there. Raw fish sounds even better.

    SG culture is to leave your shoes at the door, so we are fully accustomed to that - and will be bringing that practice back home with us. We were before a semi shoeless house, but after living in a place where the appliance guy leaves their shoes at the door, we are 100% in on that custom.

    Won't be the guy eating on the train - you get fined here, starting at $1000. No durians on the train either. Fear the cane.

    And we like the clean city thing.

    Already been researching which apps to download for train fare. Here we are lucky ad can just swipe your credit card at the gate or use Apple Pay. So easy.

    Rain? Hahahahahahahahahahhaha. It rains here nearly every fucking day. Been not stop for the last 6, except one day where as luck would have it, it was dry when we decided to stroll Little India and Chinatown. Rain juts means you might get a little wet, but love the heads up. We will likely be packing our umbrellas and shells.

    Keep it coming. We are toked on this opportunity. Always wanted to visit Japan, and now it is just a stop on the way home. Flight booked from Tokyo to San Jose. Just need to set our arrival.

  22. #22
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    Oct 2003
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    Not to be a downer but 2 weeks is a very long time in Tokyo during rainy season, which you'll be right in the middle of. Most people are trying to leave Japan if they can during this time period. On the other hand, I suppose if anything can prepare you for heat, humidity, and rain then Singapore is a good start.

    Recommend about 4 days tops in Tokyo and skipping the tower view areas (Skytree / Tokyo Tower) since your chance of seeing things will be low. Those are best during the winter when you have high pressure and can see all across the Kanto Plain. The Yoyogi park recommendation is good, combine w/ Harajuku and the shrine for several hours of fun. Grab some dango and taiyaki as you walk around.

    If the weather does look favorable in Tokyo then it's worth jumping on the train for an hour and visiting Mt. Takao for a day. You'll see a bit of the peaceful mountains of Tokyo but your son will enjoy feeding the monkeys (they're captive) and there's plenty of food to snack on as you hike around. If you're super motivated Mt. Mitake is better but logistically it's probably not worth traveling that far on trains and buses. Takao is simple and checks all the boxes, plus you'll see how the Japanese approach hiking, which is an interesting contrast to most places. Don't worry about the bears, though you'll see signs up everywhere warning you about one that was seen in this very location 2 years ago.

    If your goal is eating then plan to eat your big meals for lunch and have a light dinner. Most restaurants offer set meals at lunch that are about 1/3 the price of the same meal at dinner. This holds true for the neighborhood ramen shop or a Michelin restaurant. Lunches in Tokyo are amazing. The earlier comment about the lack of salads is really weird, it's standard to get one for most meals, including breakfast. Maybe I missed the sarcasm.

    Recommend Kyoto for 3-4 days minimum, that's my favorite city in Japan. Some people love Osaka but I find it to be an inferior version of Tokyo, spend the time instead in Kyoto and Nara. Your kid will love the deer in Nara.

    I'd strongly consider leaving Honshu for a week and either going north to Hokkaido or south to Okinawa. The rainy season isn't as much of a thing in those locations, you'll be near the water in Okinawa and should find it drier up in Hokkaido. The food is great (sushi in Oki, everything in Hokkaido) and there's a lot of things to explore. One caveat is that both of those locations are best seen by car, which is unnecessary in any of the major regions on Honshu.
    God created skis and surfboards to keep the truly gifted from ruling the world.

  23. #23
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    Meiji Shrine and Harajuku were fun with my daughter. Also, check out whatever installation that TeamLab has for digital art. We saw Borderless and it was fantastic.

    If you like Studio Ghibli there is a museum as well. I’d like to go back and check out more of Tokyo when my kid is older.
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  24. #24
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    I’m not sure if it’s been mentioned, but July will probably be very muggy. I don’t deal with humidity well, and June was bad enough for me.
    I speak essentially zero Japanese, but lucky for me, nobody expected me to. Apparently I look like a gaijin. Japanese words that I found helpful to know:
    Curryrice
    Biru, nama(and then pretend you are showing them how tall the trophy you won in high school is with your hands)

    DO NOT TRY NATTO. JUST DONT.


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  25. #25
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    Natto is like the best gelato compared to shirokara. But skip them both for sure!

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