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gigatoaster

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 22, 2018
1,326
2,401
France
Hello there

I just bought my flights for Japan, I am very excited to go there because it will be my first time! I'll go from the 20th of September until the 7th of October.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations of things to see, experience and not to be missed. As we don't have a lot of time, we will focus on Tokyo, Osaka and a day trip to Hiroshima (is it doable from Osaka?) because I really really want to see it.

In Tokyo & Osaka, any recommendations? How many days there?

Some other city I shouldn't miss?

What books to learn about the culture and a bit of the language would you recommend?
 

KaliYoni

macrumors 68000
Feb 19, 2016
1,536
3,423
Hello there

I just bought my flights for Japan, I am very excited to go there because it will be my first time! I'll go from the 20th of September until the 7th of October.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations of things to see, experience and not to be missed. As we don't have a lot of time, we will focus on Tokyo, Osaka and a day trip to Hiroshima (is it doable from Osaka?) because I really really want to see it.

In Tokyo & Osaka, any recommendations? How many days there?

Some other city I shouldn't miss?

What books to learn about the culture and a bit of the language would you recommend?

A quick recommendation, if you like watching videos. NHK World has many good shows about culture, language, food, travel, and more:

As for in-country recommendations, you probably will get better tailored responses if you let us know your interests and the activities you enjoyed the most on past trips. For example, if you don’t eat fish, you probably don’t want people recommending sushi restaurants.

—————
ETA
I greatly enjoyed this book:

ETA 2
If you like seeing temples and traditional culture when you travel, you should either make time or extend your trip to visit Kyoto.

ETA 3
If you live near a branch of the Urasenke Foundation, it provides a great, authentic way to learn about the Way Of Tea. I attended sessions in the USA; based on my experience, I recommend its programs highly.
 
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smoking monkey

macrumors 68020
Mar 5, 2008
2,323
1,446
I HUNGER
Hello there

I just bought my flights for Japan, I am very excited to go there because it will be my first time! I'll go from the 20th of September until the 7th of October.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations of things to see, experience and not to be missed. As we don't have a lot of time, we will focus on Tokyo, Osaka and a day trip to Hiroshima (is it doable from Osaka?) because I really really want to see it.

In Tokyo & Osaka, any recommendations? How many days there?

Some other city I shouldn't miss?

What books to learn about the culture and a bit of the language would you recommend?
The 9th wave of covid should be finishing by the time you get there so that will be good timing. At the moment it's exploding due to all the tourists flooding the country as Japan relaxed their rules around testing.

I'd recommend not doing the things in the guidebooks if that helps. Everybody sees the same things and has the same experiences and you'll be doing it with thousands of other people. Best to have smaller experiences in places with fewer people. If you want to do those things you can find them on the web on any site about traveling in Japan. But some things you might want to try could be...
1. buy lunch/dinner from the food floor of a department store. The choice is dazzling... along with the prices! But the food is pretty fantastic.
2. If you're going to famous foods (and you should try ramen, okonomiyaki, takoyaki etc.) don't get it from the shops with the lines of tourists, there will be better local places you can come across. Although with ramen I do recommend Kamukura.

3. Definitely try yakiniku, tempura and kushikatsu. yakiniku at a chain is fine, but don't go to Korean Town for it, the Japanese do it better in my book. More variety and more fun. Tempura you can find just about anywhere, no need for one that tourists go to, but kushikatsu def should be had in Shinsekai in Osaka. You can go to the top of Tsutenkaku tower and enjoy the history of the area in a gloriously cheesy 80s presentation. Any of the shops that do Kushikatsu in the area are fine. Just don't double dip!

4. Oh and go to rotary sushi if you like that. It's quite fun and one of the chains you get to play a little game for every 10 plates you finish and can win little trinkets.

5. traveling from Osaka to Hiroshima for the day you'll need to take the Shinkansen, it's a little exxy. I'd recommend doing an overnight stay and seeing Miyajima if you want to see other things in Hiroshima. I personally don't recommend the peace museum as I find it somewhat tacky, but that's just me. I preferred the museum in Nagasaki even though some facts are rather interesting. The Dome in Hiroshima is a decent landmark and worth some photos if a nice day. But if you could only do one thing in Hiroshima it's Miyajima. There is a temple behind the shrine on the island that many don't know about and that is worth walking around. They actually take care of the shrine. You do need to catch a ferry across to the island. An overnight stay in hiroshima is recommended as it makes it easier.

6. Osaka, just walking the sides streets in interesting enough. I don't recommend the main shopping arcade in Namba/Shinsaibashi as it's purely for tourists. You will want to see Hikakebashi (pick up bridge, aka doutonbori) even though the running man is now LED lights and not as interesting as he used to be. That has to be seen at night.

7. You may just miss the Kishiwada Danjiri. Not sure, but if you can get to see that, I'd recommend it.

8. And also Tobita Shinchi (red light district) is rather interesting. It's not the old school place it once was, but far more commercialised now. No longer will the chase away foreigners, but instead welcome the Chinese tourists. It's both tragic and fascinating at the same time.

Anyway, hope that gives you some food for thought... And here's a little quiz I found on Japanese culture for you to try!

 
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gigatoaster

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 22, 2018
1,326
2,401
France
Thanks for the recommendations, @smoking monkey. I am taking good notes of them. Yes, we may do an overnight in Hiroshima. I’m interested also by the touristic stuff, yes I waited 4 hours to take a picture at Pura Lempuyang Luhur last month in Bali, but that’s my maximum I know I can tolerate, now.

Thanks for your message @KaliYoni. So to answer your question, I really love traveling, I started at 12 and visited around 35 countries, so far. I like to meet locals, understand the culture (I have friends from all over the world) and see the nature. I like to experience crazy nightlife (Bangkok, Melbourne but these are blurry haha), visit temples and diving. I can eat everything, I already tried insects, game meat in South Africa & bear in Canada. What I love the most is sunset & sunrise, volcanoes and the unforgivable moments of places I visited in my memory are NZ (absolutely everything in the South Island), Cape Town, diving in Vanuatu, Palawan & Taal volcano, Moraine Lake in Alberta, Tasmania, Yogyakarta in Indonesia, Monument Valley in the States…
 

smoking monkey

macrumors 68020
Mar 5, 2008
2,323
1,446
I HUNGER
ETA 2
If you like seeing temples and traditional culture when you travel, you should either make time or extend your trip to visit Kyoto.

ETA 3
If you live near a branch of the Urasenke Foundation, it provides a great, authentic way to learn about the Way Of Tea. I attended sessions in the USA; based on my experience, I recommend its programs highly.
That's a good recomm. But hope you don't mind, but I'm going to recommend another mob.

If OP does go to Kyoto, I'd def recommend Camellia Tea House. It's run by an awesome Japanese lass and if she doesn't do the ceremony then one of her incredible staff will. She and her staff speak fantastic English and you can ask any question in English and they can answer.


They were the number 1 tea house for foreign visitors in kyoto before covid hit. She had to close for several years though but is back up and running again. And she owns and runs it. Not owned by a corporation. So you can imagine she was doing it tough for those years.
 
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Burningtime

macrumors member
Jan 2, 2015
35
84
BOSTON, MA.
Golden Gai in Shinjuku area is a cool spot to check out. Tons of tiny little bars lined up on a few small streets. Very specific themes (Death Metal music / Wrestling bar, English Punk, etc.)

Yoyogi Park in Shibuya. Large park in the middle of of the Shibuya district. Really cool area. That whole area actually is fun to walk around.
 

Shadar

macrumors member
Nov 2, 2015
43
117
I've traveled extensively, including in Asia, where I wound up living for many years, and my advice is always to bow to the Goddess Serendipity. In other words, don't over plan, don't do what other tourists do, wander as far and as freely as you can, and just soak things up and have unexpected and unplanned little adventures that will be unique to you.

You can see all the tourist attractions in YouTube videos. No need to go personally.

All my best memories of decades of travel were the result of serendipitous off-the-beaten-path encounters, many of which were wonderful.
 

Burningtime

macrumors member
Jan 2, 2015
35
84
BOSTON, MA.
...don't over plan, don't do what other tourists do, wander as far and as freely as you can, and just soak things up and have unexpected and unplanned little adventures that will be unique to you.

All my best memories of decades of travel were the result of serendipitous off-the-beaten-path encounters, many of which were wonderful.

Great advice.
 

KaliYoni

macrumors 68000
Feb 19, 2016
1,536
3,423
don't over plan, don't do what other tourists do, wander as far and as freely as you can, and just soak things up and have unexpected and unplanned little adventures that will be unique to you.
Great advice.

Not a new sentiment, eh...

The clever lady then said that she was going to spend a long morning in Santa Croce, and if Lucy would come too, she would be delighted.

“I will take you by a dear dirty back way, Miss Honeychurch, and if you bring me luck, we shall have an adventure.”

Lucy said that this was most kind, and at once opened the Baedeker, to see where Santa Croce was.

“Tut, tut! Miss Lucy! I hope we shall soon emancipate you from Baedeker. He does but touch the surface of things. As to the true Italy—he does not even dream of it. The true Italy is only to be found by patient observation.”

In Santa Croce with No Baedeker

(Warning: following this counsel when travelling may lead to significant life changes)

----------
Seriously, though, I'd say the wandering-around-with-no-planning style of travel isn't always the best. It depends on the personality and interests of the traveler, as well as on the location.
 

Mitthrawnuruodo

Moderator emeritus
Mar 10, 2004
14,373
963
Bergen, Norway
I'd definitively take a couple of days in Kyoto, which is a very short way from Osaka.

I recommend a visit to the Golden Pagoda (Kinkakuji Temple) and the Fox temple (Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine), both places are gorgeous and worth a visit. Fushimi Inari is situated by a small mountain with very nice walking paths, with lots of smaller shrines, and lots of rows of torii. Highly recommended. There's also a small cafe halfway up the montain where you can get something to drink. (It was quite hot and humid the day we "climbed" the mountain and that 0.6L cold beer I got up there, on the way down, is (relatively speaking) the best beer I've ever had.)

Also in Kyoto I'll reccomend a small restaurant, which we accidentally stumbled across and had lunch in after a walk along the Kyoto river. It was the restaurant at the Yadoya-Dejavu hotel, and they served all kinds of beef, mostly in poke balls, and we had the kobe beef, at a relatively reasonable price, and it was just sublime. I've had waygu a couple of times but this was even better.

In Tokyo there's a lot to do, but I'll strongly recommend a small sushi restaurant, just by Shinjuku Station: Himawari Sushi (note that the sign outside is in Japanese only, with just a small sign on the door in English, so it's easy to miss). They had a conveyor belt but when we were there the chef just made everything as we ordered. The duck nigiri and the yellow snapper nigiri were just amazing. They also had like a tray with 3 different sakes to taste, and we ended up (at another place near by) with a full bottle of one of those sakes later that evening. Good times!
 

gigatoaster

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 22, 2018
1,326
2,401
France
I’ve been busy with work, but just finished booking all our hotels and one ryokan!

I have a nice draft planning but as @Shadar suggested, I’ll keep some days free to get lost…

I bought some books also and I’ll add your recommendations. So far and not in particular order, we have:

- Omoide Yokocho
- Onsen: maybe in Kyoto, instead of Tokyo?
- Neko cafe
- Mount Takao
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Kawaguchi Lake

And the classic/touristy stuff already on the planning.

So far, our planning looks like that:

Image 21-07-2023 à 00.31.jpeg


I’ll keep reading the books I bought to see for other recommendations.
 

mtbdudex

macrumors 68020
Aug 28, 2007
2,148
1,932
SE Michigan
I’ve worked for Nissan since 1989, been to Japan .. so many-many times.

Recently was there January 2023, I’ll share thoughts in another post.

See your itinerary, will give places suitable based on that.
 
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rhett7660

macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
13,968
3,957
Sunny, Southern California
I’ve been busy with work, but just finished booking all our hotels and one ryokan!

I have a nice draft planning but as @Shadar suggested, I’ll keep some days free to get lost…

I bought some books also and I’ll add your recommendations. So far and not in particular order, we have:

- Omoide Yokocho
- Onsen: maybe in Kyoto, instead of Tokyo?
- Neko cafe
- Mount Takao
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Kawaguchi Lake

And the classic/touristy stuff already on the planning.

So far, our planning looks like that:

View attachment 2235218

I’ll keep reading the books I bought to see for other recommendations.
That is awesome... I love seeing how others plan out trips. I use something very similar within Excel..
 
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Huntn

macrumors Core
May 5, 2008
22,865
26,046
The Misty Mountains
Hello there

I just bought my flights for Japan, I am very excited to go there because it will be my first time! I'll go from the 20th of September until the 7th of October.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations of things to see, experience and not to be missed. As we don't have a lot of time, we will focus on Tokyo, Osaka and a day trip to Hiroshima (is it doable from Osaka?) because I really really want to see it.

In Tokyo & Osaka, any recommendations? How many days there?

Some other city I shouldn't miss?

What books to learn about the culture and a bit of the language would you recommend?
There is a lot to do in Tokyo and Osaka. Kyoto is a historic city with temples, much history and many sights. About an hour away from Kyoto by train is Nara another cool city, but it might be a bit much in addition to the Tokyo Osaka metroplex for the time you’re there.. :)
 
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gigatoaster

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 22, 2018
1,326
2,401
France
Thank you for your message, @mtbdudex , I’ll check it out. What a lovely set of pictures, you look very happy!

Well, my trip is coming soon, 10 days & I’ll be landing already!

This morning, I was checking some Apple gadgets prices, it’s very interesting for Europeans!

Capture d’écran 2023-09-12 à 20.45.48.png


EDIT: updated with 2023 new products, price decrease in France and no change / increase in Japan, making the discount less appealing but still okay.
 
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sofila

macrumors 65816
Jan 19, 2006
1,144
1,325
Ramtop Mountains
I’ve been busy with work, but just finished booking all our hotels and one ryokan!

I have a nice draft planning but as @Shadar suggested, I’ll keep some days free to get lost…

I bought some books also and I’ll add your recommendations. So far and not in particular order, we have:

- Omoide Yokocho
- Onsen: maybe in Kyoto, instead of Tokyo?
- Neko cafe
- Mount Takao
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Kawaguchi Lake

And the classic/touristy stuff already on the planning.

So far, our planning looks like that:

View attachment 2235218

I’ll keep reading the books I bought to see for other recommendations.
Ah ah, I've just found this thread just putting "Tokyo" in the search bar. I'm going too, along with wife and some friends, arriving in Tokyo from sept 23 and leaving oct 9.
One week in Tokyo, one week in Kyoto and in the middle one night in Kanazawa (Kenroku-en garden is a must, in my opinion) And I have my Japan Rail Pass vouchers ready too. Can't wait. I just can give you this advice: there's so many things to see, do, eat in Japan, whatever you do you'll enjoy yourself. Even the most touristic spots are interesting (there must be a reason)
When in Tokyo, an alternative to Tokyo Tower or Sky Tree, (although it undoubtedly is so high...) can be the Shibuya Sky. That rooftop, especially if you get on at sunset, is amazing.
 

Gadger Snr

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2011
127
42
Had a week in Japan, pre cruise in 2016 in October. Best country I’ve been to and I’ve been to a few. Most important thing you have the Green Pass for the bullet trains. This got us to Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka plus more. I could have stay in “electric city” Tokyo for a week with all those gadgets heaven for me lol.

On a Sunday in Tokyo is equivalent of Oxford Street, they close of the street and it’s lovely that you can just walk down the Main Street and they place out coffee tables in the middle.


IMG_1264.jpeg


You will have a great time. If you could bring back a Honda N Box custom car back would be appreciated. Fell in love with the Kei cars. Looked into importing one, worked out too expensive sadly.

End up with my Smart Brabus fun car instead.

Enjoy your holiday 👍👍👍

IMG_1255.jpeg
 
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