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Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Coming to Japan? Learn about the hot spots, best restaurants, best places to see, where to go and where to stay. Whether sharing your experience or planning a trip, this is the place for discussion.

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bloritsch
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Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby bloritsch » August 17th, 2013 4:21 am

I'm taking my wife and my daughter for her sweet 16 to Japan, and our preferred style of vacation is very different than what you would get with the prepackaged tours. While I'm not trying to be cheap, cost is a big concern when taking 2 adults and one teenager from the Washington DC area to the other side of the world. Since I'm being my own travel agent (a dangerous thing for sure) I need some help:

  • What's the best time of year to go: both less expensive and still enjoyable
  • We are planning on visiting Tokyo and Kyoto, and possibly Fuji-san--the girls are not big outdoor types.
  • Our style of vacation is to pick 1 destination per day and enjoy it as much as possible.

A couple of the destinations we definitely want to do are:

  • Studio Gibli Museum
  • Tokyo Tower
  • Harajuku (shopping with my daughter)
  • Shibuya (window shopping)

I've heard that I really ought to hit Ueno Park on one of the days. We'd also like to take in a tea ceremony (for dummies), and get a mix of both modern and traditional Japan. Things I don't know are what Kyoto has other than the shrine's and temples (affects how long we would stay there).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Right now just air travel and lodging for a 2 week trip is going to run me about $7000-$8500 for all three of us. I definitely need to finalize the itinerary so I can get everything planned out. I also need some specific destinations that would be good to hit in Harajuku and Shibuya.

Any advice on finding good places to eat that are not in the hotel will also help save some valuable cash and make enjoying Japan that much better.

mmmason8967
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Re: Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby mmmason8967 » August 19th, 2013 2:21 am

I've never been to Japan, so I can only really say what I'd like to do if I was you, sticking with the itinerary you outlined.

Harajuku. I'd want to see UraHara, the back-streets, where all the small boutiques are. Number one on my list would be Sebastien Musada's 6%DOKIDOKI, which is by far the best-known kawaii fashion boutique. Next would be Cat Street, a long street full of small boutiques. Then I think I'd go for La Foret, a department store full of yet more boutiques. And behind the railway station there's Yoyogi Park and the Meiji Shrine. The bridge you cross to get into Yoyogi Park seems to be a favourite location for street fashion photography: I think about half the ones I've seen were taken there.

Shibuya. I absolutely have to see the statue of Hachiko at Shibuya railway station! The other must-see location would be Shibuya 109, another department store dedicated to street fashion.

Kyoto. My number one destination here would be the dry garden at Ryoan-ji, the Bhuddist temple. I've heard that it's a good idea to arrive there as the gates open, since it's also a favourite destination for school trips and can get pretty crowded later on. I'd like to visit Gion Corner, a theatre/hall which has regular shows for tourists featuring traditional entertainment, and, like you, I'd love to try the tea ceremony. If money was no problem, I 'd stay in this hotel: it's a genuine machiya (Kyoto townhouse) with a traditional garden, and there are just two suites. I think that would be one those cases where if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it...

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Re: Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby community.japanese » August 19th, 2013 6:50 pm

bloritsch-san, マイケルsan,
kon'nichiwa!

Great information, マイケルsan :D
Kyoto is definitely the strongly recommended city to visit.
Maybe it's the best place for tea ceremony to experience too. :wink:
If you're fan of over-crowded places, Shibuya must be fun :mrgreen:

bloritsch-san, as to "What's the best time of year to go: both less expensive and still enjoyable",
I assume you meant price changes according to the seasons such as room rate at a hotel, but
we don't usually have such changes in Japan. At least not all the hotels in Japan change their room charges
according to "travel season" and so on. There can be some difference depending on "what kind" of hotel, but
normally big holiday seasons such as Christmas and summer (especially around mid-August) are more
expensive, if they change rates. Online reservations can offer discount, from the webpages like "rakuten travel".

Are you interested in Japanese Fish market? Tsukiji fish market is now one of the most popular
spots to visit (for both Japanese and foreign travellers) and it's in Tokyo.

If you want to see the modern&weird part of Japan, Akihabara might also be an interesting opition.
You'll see many "typical" Japan and Japanese there and it's a mixture of "typical" features....
Akihabara originally grew as a centre of high-tech electric appliances, but now it's more like a city for geeks. :mrgreen:
It's still the number one for electric products too.

Natsuko(奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

bloritsch
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Re: Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby bloritsch » August 19th, 2013 9:58 pm

Thank you for the replies. I think the biggest variation in price will be for airplane tickets, but I think the way things will work out we will be traveling in October maybe starting the second week of the month.

We've been looking in to a lot of things over the weekend, and here is what we found:

  • Tsukiji Fish Market looks like something my wife would love to visit. I assume there's some really good seafood places nearby?
  • My daughter totally wants to go to Disney Tokyo (both parks). Last time she went to Disney World in Orlando, FL she was only 18 months old, so this will take up two days.
  • While we thought of Akihabara, that might be a bit too geeky for my wife and my daughter might be a bit overwhelmed there.
  • After much deliberation, we think that Osaka will be more enjoyable for us than Kyoto. For one, we can visit Ichiroya (nearby in Tondabayashi city, Osaka)--the shop where we purchased my daughter's yukata a couple years ago.

I think Fuji-san is out. Both the women in my life are not outdoors types and will be content to admire the mountain from a distance. It makes me a little sad, but there is a lot out there that we will have fun with.

Harajuku will be on a Sunday, so we can get the geek fix with the cosplay, and we will definitely keep those streets in mind mmmason8967. Instead of Tokyo Tower, some folks alerted me to Sky Tree and said it was a lot more fun. Shibuya 109 is definitely on the list as is the iconic Shibuya station.

For a place to stay, my wife has a colleague that is helping us with renting a house for the time we are there. That looks to be a better option than a hotel to keep the prices down.

I think we will be spending the majority of our time in Tokyo and only a couple days (tentatively 3) in Osaka.

bloritsch
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Re: Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby bloritsch » August 19th, 2013 11:23 pm

I drew up a tentative itinerary and it looks pretty full. There are some things that I'd like to fit in, but don't know where to start.

Week 1
  • Sunday: Depart for Japan!
  • Monday: Arrive and sleep
  • Tuesday: Sky Tree (something low key)
  • Wednesday: Tsukiji Fish Market
  • Thursday: Studio Ghibli / Shinjuku
  • Friday: Tokyo Disneyland
  • Saturday: Tokyo DisneySea

Week 2
  • Sunday: Harajuku
  • Monday: Shibuya
  • Tuesday: Shinkansen to Osaka, rest day
  • Wednesday: Osaka-Jou
  • Thursday: Day trip to Ichiroya
  • Friday: Undecided from many options (shrine? aquarium and and Ferris wheel?)
  • Sad-urday: Go back home

There's actually so much to do in all these places we'll only scratch the surface. Things we'll make sure we want to do and need to find the right place for it are:

  • Karaoke with a private room (these are not available in the U.S.)
  • Proper Takoyaki in Osaka

The advantage of our vacation style is that we can shuffle the days as we like depending on our mood for the day.

community.japanese
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Re: Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby community.japanese » August 20th, 2013 3:58 pm

bloritsch-san,
It seems your plan is pretty much perfect!! :D It seems to be great 2 weeks!

bloritsch wrote:We've been looking in to a lot of things over the weekend, and here is what we found:

  • Tsukiji Fish Market looks like something my wife would love to visit. I assume there's some really good seafood places nearby?
  • My daughter totally wants to go to Disney Tokyo (both parks). Last time she went to Disney World in Orlando, FL she was only 18 months old, so this will take up two days.
  • While we thought of Akihabara, that might be a bit too geeky for my wife and my daughter might be a bit overwhelmed there.
  • After much deliberation, we think that Osaka will be more enjoyable for us than Kyoto. For one, we can visit Ichiroya (nearby in Tondabayashi city, Osaka)--the shop where we purchased my daughter's yukata a couple years ago.

Harajuku will be on a Sunday, so we can get the geek fix with the cosplay, and we will definitely keep those streets in mind mmmason8967. Instead of Tokyo Tower, some folks alerted me to Sky Tree and said it was a lot more fun. Shibuya 109 is definitely on the list as is the iconic Shibuya station.

I think we will be spending the majority of our time in Tokyo and only a couple days (tentatively 3) in Osaka.


I thought of recommending Sky Tree, since it's a new sightseeing spot. I think that's a better choice!
As to Osaka, it's my favourite city :mrgreen:
Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe etc.) is, as far as I'm concerned, better area to visit than Kanto, since all those
cities have very different characteristics. Osaka is commercial, Kyoto is traditional and Kobe has taste of Western
cuture. All those characteristics have a lot to do with history they had.
If you know a good place to buy yukata and so on in Osaka, it might be more interesting and fun for your daughter.
If you want to know the place in Kyoto where you can enjoy shopping, it'd be "kawaramachi" and it's accessible
from Osaka with one train only (Hankyuu train).

What do you think you want to do more in 2nd week Friday? Osaka has another big theme park Universal Studio Japan,
but I'm not too sure if your daughter is into this one as well.
Street fashion and young casual shops can be found in the area of Shinsaibashi and Namba (in Osaka).
You might see the difference between Osaka and Tokyo as you're visiting Harajuku and Shibuya, which is
fashion centre in Tokyo.
As to Takoyaki and local food, you can look for information about "doutonbori" (in Namba).
It seems they have "association" of takoyaki in Doutonbori :lol:
It's only in Japanese, but I found a page with shop info:
http://dotakoren.com/tenpo/index.html
As takoyaki is typical food sold in food stall, some famous places don't have proper tables.
This page might help you (although all are in Japanese) to find a restaurant.
But the most famous place is this one:
http://honkeohtako.jp/

Hope it helps!

Natsuko(奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com

bloritsch
Been Around a Bit
Posts: 42
Joined: August 28th, 2007 11:23 am
Location: Washington, D.C. area
Contact:

Re: Very Early Planning for Trip Next Year

Postby bloritsch » August 20th, 2013 9:52 pm

community.japanese wrote:bloritsch-san,
It seems your plan is pretty much perfect!! :D It seems to be great 2 weeks!


Thank you! I really want this to be a great vacation.

community.japanese wrote:I thought of recommending Sky Tree, since it's a new sightseeing spot. I think that's a better choice!
As to Osaka, it's my favourite city :mrgreen:
Kansai area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe etc.) is, as far as I'm concerned, better area to visit than Kanto, since all those
cities have very different characteristics. Osaka is commercial, Kyoto is traditional and Kobe has taste of Western
cuture. All those characteristics have a lot to do with history they had.
If you know a good place to buy yukata and so on in Osaka, it might be more interesting and fun for your daughter.
If you want to know the place in Kyoto where you can enjoy shopping, it'd be "kawaramachi" and it's accessible
from Osaka with one train only (Hankyuu train).

What do you think you want to do more in 2nd week Friday? Osaka has another big theme park Universal Studio Japan,
but I'm not too sure if your daughter is into this one as well.
Street fashion and young casual shops can be found in the area of Shinsaibashi and Namba (in Osaka).
You might see the difference between Osaka and Tokyo as you're visiting Harajuku and Shibuya, which is
fashion centre in Tokyo.
As to Takoyaki and local food, you can look for information about "doutonbori" (in Namba).
It seems they have "association" of takoyaki in Doutonbori :lol:
It's only in Japanese, but I found a page with shop info:
http://dotakoren.com/tenpo/index.html
As takoyaki is typical food sold in food stall, some famous places don't have proper tables.
This page might help you (although all are in Japanese) to find a restaurant.
But the most famous place is this one:
http://honkeohtako.jp/

Hope it helps!

Natsuko(奈津子),
Team JapanesePod101.com


Thank you for the links. I think I'm going to ramp up the Japanese lessons again now that the trip is much closer. My only frustration with many Japanese web sites is that so much of the text is in pictures so I can't use Rikai-chan/kun or cheat with Google Translate.

After two days with a theme park, I will be theme parked out. I can only hope that the visitors in Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are not nearly as pushy and rude as the ones in Orlando Florida. I've been run down by so many strollers at the American theme park with the offenders looking at me like I'm wrong for being there. From everything I've heard about Japan, most people won't be that rude though.

Is "doutonbori" a suburb (ward, town) in Osaka? That might be a good way to wrap up on Friday. I'd really like to keep that day low key.

Again, thank you Natsuko(奈津子)-san. You've been a great help.


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