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    Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.

    I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).

    I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.

    Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.

    General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.

    I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).

    I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.

    Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.

    General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!
    Through work, I've made many trips to Japan and Asia. So, my opinions. Far too much too see in a single trip. Tokyo and Osaka have their good tourist must-see's the guide books can talk you through, but for me they feel like big, cosmopolitan cities.

    Kyoto is good for a weekend day, but after about three temples I've seen enough. If you're taking the bullet south, you might want to make that a weekend with Kyoto and then Hiroshima, if that's not too emotional for you.

    I found northern Japan to be more quaint and beautiful. Certainly not as westernized as Tokyo and south. It feels more like what old Japan must have been like, but that is another trip.

    Have fun as a westerner learning how the other side lives. Nothing like having the conductors shoving walls of people in on you on a commuter train. Their society's efficiency is amazing.

    Have a good trip.



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.

    I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).

    I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.

    Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.

    General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!
    Watch out for the high tech toilets!

    Funny story..... On layover in Tokyo, the airline put us up in a very nice highrise hotel(great view of Fuji). I was getting checking out the amenities and was in the bathroom, and noticed the toilet had a keypad. I thought O.K. this was strange. I started pushing butons(of course all labels were in Japanese). Wow the seats are heated....... wow the toilet ..... wait whats happening..... a little probe looking thing slowly emerges from the back bowl, angles upward slightly, and just as I realize what it is....... it starts spraying water..... I dodge out of the way(ala matrix style).... it sprays water all over my bath towels hanging on the opposite wall of the bathroom.
    Needles to say this is the symbol for bidet in Japanese..
    (mine didn't have the handy English word below it)



    Happy travels!


    Last edited by cdnlngld; 05-25-2012 at 02:41 PM.

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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    do not forget your geiger counter.


    “The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened.”
    – Norman Thomas, American socialist and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America

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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Ray I think you should schedule another day or two in Tokyo. It'll be a good change of pace from the more laid back activities it sounds like you'll be doing the other part of the trip. If it ever gets too crowded or too much just duck into an izakaya or restaurant and hang out, or head to a temple!

    Fun Tokyo fact: I celebrated St. Patrick's day a few years back at an Irish bar in Tokyo with a buddy and my brother, a Philipino man playing a ukulele with three strings, an American Vietnam vet, and five or six Japanese people. My brother went home early, passed out and locked me out of our hotel room/closet, forcing me to sleep on the floor in my buddy's room/closet. Good times in Tokyo!



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!
    Don't let any volcanos blow up while you are there. Especially the ones in your flight path. It sucks.

    Also remember that Japanese people are well acquainted with loud and obnoxious public behavior. They will appreciate you more if you act like a total jerk.

    Everyone in the world knows how to speak English. If they say they don't understand, it just means you need to yell and be firm.

    Be sure to drink plenty of alcohol. It will calm your nerves and allow you to cope with the massive crowds that would normally enrage you.

    I have never been to Japan. That is all.



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by cycloneted View Post
    Ray I think you should schedule another day or two in Tokyo. It'll be a good change of pace from the more laid back activities it sounds like you'll be doing the other part of the trip. If it ever gets too crowded or too much just duck into an izakaya or restaurant and hang out, or head to a temple! Fun Tokyo fact: I celebrated St. Patrick's day a few years back at an Irish bar in Tokyo with a buddy and my brother, a Philipino man playing a ukulele with three strings, an American Vietnam vet, and five or six Japanese people. My brother went home early, passed out and locked me out of our hotel room/closet, forcing me to sleep on the floor in my buddy's room/closet. Good times in Tokyo!
    Lol. I can't believe your brother would pass out early!



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Storkenheimer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!
    Don't let any volcanos blow up while you are there. Especially the ones in your flight path. It sucks.Also remember that Japanese people are well acquainted with loud and obnoxious public behavior. They will appreciate you more if you act like a total jerk.Everyone in the world knows how to speak English. If they say they don't understand, it just means you need to yell and be firm.Be sure to drink plenty of alcohol. It will calm your nerves and allow you to cope with the massive crowds that would normally enrage you.I have never been to Japan. That is all.
    The wife said you have to stand on the toilet while you crap.

    Also, be sure to shake the correct hand of the people you meet (the other one is used for *** wiping).

    Good luck!



  9. #9
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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.

    I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).

    I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.

    Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.

    General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!
    I can def help you out since I grew up in Japan. I actually am going there in July as well (typically goes home twice a year to see my fam).

    Staying in ryokan is a great idea. If you want to have a privacy and enjoy hot springs just with your wife ( and not others in community setting), I suggest you to look at ryokan with your private outdoor hot springs bath tub. I can help you search for cheaper one if you tell me where you are headed or planning to stay.

    If you are thinking about fuji five lakes area and like hiking, you should consider hiking around mt.fuji.

    JR railpass can be tricky. If you want to experience super fast bullet train that doesn't stop too many times between Tokyo-kyoto, JR passes are useless. It's good if you want to enjoy slower travel.

    We can chat more about your options. You can PM me with any questions.



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    I know there are a few well traveled CFers out there so just looking for some advice on a trip to Japan coming up in July.

    I'll be in Otsu (15 mins east of Kyoto) on business for one week and then have an extra week for vacation with the wife. We are flying in and out of Tokyo, but only actually staying there the final night (staying at a hotel near Haneda airport).

    I'm down for whatever, but my wife isn't too excited about the craziness of Tokyo or to a lesser extent Osaka. We're thinking of looking to stay at a ryokan for a couple nights (just for the experience) and probably business style hotels the rest of the time to save some money. Places I'm thinking of staying right now are Kyoto, Nara, or possibly the Fuji Five Lakes area. I think we are looking for a more relaxing trip staying put in mostly one area, rather than bouncing all over the country.

    Last question, anyone have experience with the JA-Railpass? Is it worth the ~$500. We will be taking at least one shinkasen from Tokyo to Kyoto upon arrival and probably another for the return trip to Tokyo. I think that'll probably run around 300-400$ alone.

    General advice on what not to miss in the Kyoto area and even recommendations for hotels or ryokan would be great. Thanks in advance!


    Ryokans are great. The hot springs are so relaxing. Nothing like a naked hot bath with other people! However, take note that you are expected to scrub yourself extremely clean for 10-15 minutes before you get in the water. The Japanese are so incredibly clean people, especially at a ryokan.

    Make sure to have a full Japanese meal at the ryokan. 30 dishes, 50 different items.

    Bullet trains are great. It is amazing how quickly you can move. And with almost no hassles like you get at the airport. I love the way that Japanese line up at the Tokyo train station. Everyone for the next train gets in one line. Everyone for the second train gets in another line. When the first ones board, then the second line moves over. Amazingly efficient because of their commitment to reasonable systems. Same as on domestic flights. Few bring big carry on luggage, so boarding takes no time at all.



  11. #11
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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    I'm actually gonna be in Tokyo on June 23rd. It's my layover on my way to Manila. On my last trip to the Philippines I went through Beijing which, although nice, was still quite an experience. But I'm really looking forward to making a stop in Japan on this round. My return flight will layover in Guam before heading out to Hawaii. Anybody ever been to Guam?


    Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Thanks for the advice all!

    Ted, I also find that story about CEO very unbelievable!!

    Thanks for the advice greatshu, I'll sen you a pm.

    I compromised with the wife and we are staying 8 nights in Otsu (near Kyoto), 4 nights in Osaka, and 1 night in 1 Tokyo. Finally found a decent deal on a place to stay in Osaka.


    Last edited by RayShimley; 05-26-2012 at 11:00 AM.

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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Also, have only a few plans on things to visit in Osaka, so any advice on that would be good. So far we are going to the aquarium and touring one of the Asahi breweries (probably the one in Suita.



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by RayShimley View Post
    Also, have only a few plans on things to visit in Osaka, so any advice on that would be good. So far we are going to the aquarium and touring one of the Asahi breweries (probably the one in Suita.
    Some things to check out in Osaka:
    Osaka Castle: If you want to learn Osaka history, def you want to check out Osaka Jo (Castle).
    Osaka Castle - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Osaka has some great food. You should def try some Takoyaki.
    Takoyaki - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia



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    Re: Japan (Kyoto) Travel Advice

    If you are staying at Otsu by Yokosuka (there is a shin-Otsu about 10 minutes away), call me and I can give you a AM or PM tour of the US Naval Base here, if you want. Not sure if the your wife is into history, but it might be cool. The USS George Washington is not in but some other things to see that your tax dollars (mostly Japanese tax dollars) pay for. Yokosuka Naval Base has about 15,000 active duty members and probably the same in Japanese workers. PM me and I will shoot you my cell phone number.


    Scott L., Yokosuka, Japan

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