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apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 30, 2012 - 02:33am PT
Never been there

A wild-ass whim has my curiosity piqued

The possibility to travel with my 17 y/o nephew is part of the whim

About a week or 10 days...early April-ish

More interested in local culture than urban tourist cush-ness

Beta, please?
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Dec 30, 2012 - 02:56am PT
In 50 words or less?
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 30, 2012 - 02:58am PT
Not necessarily
Prod

Trad climber
Dec 30, 2012 - 02:59am PT
If Jan does not respond to this you should look her up.

Prod.
Mark Sensenbach

climber
CA
Dec 30, 2012 - 03:32am PT
Check out the ceramic kiln sites.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 30, 2012 - 05:40am PT
I'll get back to you but the first thing to do is get two youth hostel cards and two Japan rail passes. That alone will save you bundless. The hostels accept older people particularly in early spring and if they're accompanying someone younger. Lights out and dead quiet at 10 pm although you can read behind the heavy curtain around your bunk. Music awakes you in the morning. Each hostel has a Japanese bath and they are located in the most beautiful tourist places.The next cheapest alternative is rent a room in a love motel after 11 pm. Trains go everywhere.

There are many national parks in Japan, especially on the west coast. It's a very beautiful country outside of the cities and the cities are also interesting though stressful because you become illiterate in the world's most crowded and complex society. It's neat to spend a few days in one however, just to see how safe and clean they are and how well they work.

Most Japanese read English and Roman letters but are shy to speak English. If you write something down, they can figure it out or find someone who can. Many carry bilingual electronic dictionaries (not a bad idea for the tourist too).

Learn to use chopsticks if you don't already know how. Cheap food is easy to find as cheap restaurants all have plastic food models in the window - you just lead the waiter to the window and point. Vending machines and the equivalent of 7/11's everywhere.

More later.......... or email me with questions.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Reply - Dec 30, 2012 - 11:41am PT
My nephew has been studying Japanese for years now- he's not quite fluent, but can understand most of what he hears quite well. That would be a tremendous asset, all in itself.
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Dec 30, 2012 - 11:58am PT
There are old Teahouses that don't have internet. Maybe limited electricity. They are very traditional and a good place to start. They have hot volcanic baths and the like. Those are the best.

Breakfast
Breakfast
Credit: John Duffield
Gunkie

Trad climber
East Coast US
Dec 30, 2012 - 12:34pm PT
I go a few times/year on business. I've stayed in sin-Yokohama and Suitengumae. Have had very little time to explore the cultural aspects of the place, aside from Roppongi.

I think, for a westerner, it's difficult to grasp the cultural depth of Japan in a few days. I've probably spent a total of 110 days in and around Tokyo and while I am beginning to appreciate more of the culture, I can tell I'm about four light-years away from attaining any meaningful connections to the place.

My recommendations (limited as they are):

1. Mt Fuji (never been there, but have been told it is a very unique place)
2. Roppongi (if interested in some very interesting nightlife)
3. Take some train rides and have basic Japanese to help guide you back

 be able to pronounce the place where you are staying (let's say Roppongi)

To help guide you back or to a place (I'll do this a phonetically as possible)

    Roppongi wah-dok-a-des-ka ('where is Roppongi?'... 'ka' at the end makes this a question)

    kan-sen Roppongi ee-kud-a-des-ka (very roughly, 'how much will the train cost to get my ass back to Roppongi?'... 'shin' means 'new'. 'shin-kan-sen' means 'new train' which is the bullet train)

Those two phrases will go a long way to allowing you to get around or at least help you get severely lost.

other good phrases

    ohio-go-zymous (good morning)
    ko-nich-ee-wah (good evening)
    wah-tishi-no-namae-wah-APOGEE-des (my name is APOGEE)
    arrigato-go-zymous (thank you very much)
    doh-ee-tosh-ee-mash-tay (you are welcome)
    sa-me-ma-sen (pardon/excuse me)
    ku-des-sigh (please, example 'cohee ku-des-sigh'... 'coffee please')

Get a phrase book and look it over. If you have the means, get a decent audio phrase book or language course. At least in my experience, it helps a TON if you make a reasonable attempt at speaking Japanese. It's not like France where a crude attempt at French will only get you even more lost. The Japanese people will genuinely go out of their way to help if you show proper respect by making the effort.

I'm sure Jan will heavily critique this mini-tutorial, deservedly so. Enjoy your time on the ground in Japan. It's a unique place.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Dec 30, 2012 - 01:09pm PT
I agree that those are all the phrases you really need to get around.

As for getting around Tokyo, one thing that took me ages to figure out was that the color coded subway map wasn't just different lines but different levels of trains on the same lines.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
Dec 30, 2012 - 01:12pm PT
Thanks for your input Jan and everyone else. There are others out there (like myself) that are curious also.
mathew

Sport climber
topanga, ca
Dec 30, 2012 - 04:30pm PT
Hey Apogee,


you looking to climb?

Ogowayama in the alps east of Kyoto is like grit, but with bolts. Sporting, not sport. Spider Line and Excellent Power stand out as proud lines. I was there a while back, but the campsite was great - it had a steam bath.

Jogasaki on the coast near Yokohama (day trip from Tokyo) is this super compact rock that looked really good fun to get on, but it was too wet while I was there - so I took a pass.

There were a ton of other places, but I was hitching around and I can't remember where they were :( Sorry.


have a great time - later
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 21, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
Bump for beta...

Still entertaining this idea, though I'm completely in the blind as to creating an itinerary.

I have a great love of Arts & Crafts architecture and Japanese home & garden design, so visiting places like this is of great interest. I'm also very intrigued by the various Parks in Japan, and would like to visit some of them. This said, I'd also like to see Tokyo and just get my mind blown by the urban experience.

We're thinking about early April, and would have about 10 days. I'm more psyched on an itinerary that emphasizes quality experience over quantity of places visited…we'd probably fly into Tokyo. I have absolutely no idea of how to create an interesting itinerary, and do it in a reasonably cost-efficient way….help!
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Jan 21, 2013 - 10:57pm PT
going there in may, god or buddha or whoever willing
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Jan 21, 2013 - 10:58pm PT
See the various castles.

Kyoto is beautiful.

Imperial palace is pretty cool, too. When I was there, they told me the real estate value of the Imperial palace was more than that of the entire state of California. Who knows if that was true, but with Tokyo prices back then I wouldn't be surprised.

I was 14 / 15 when I saw these places, and I liked them...

Wander around & eat food from hole-in-the-wall joints. Go off the beaten path and every school kid in site will run up to you and say "Hallow! Hallow!"

Like Jan said, knowing some language basics will help -- even if it's just a good English-Japanese dictionary where you can point to the word in English and have them read the Japanese translation. From my memory, Tokyo is a little more English-friendly.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 22, 2013 - 05:54am PT
If you like Japanese arts and crafts, go to Kyoto, a short ride on the bullet train from Tokyo. It has a very concentrated collection of temples done in traditional architecture, most with fitted wood and no nails or screws, each unique. Each garden surrounding the temples is unique as well. Same thing in Nara about an hour's train ride away. It's neat to walk under 1,000 Shinto gates to get to a temple at the top of a hill. There are other temples in Kyoto itself that involve hiking. Kyoto is also the center of traditional arts and crafts in wood and bamboo, paper etc.

Always remember that Japanese people will never take initiative to help you unless you ask, and then they will concentrate on the task as they do on everything else in life.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 24, 2013 - 01:03am PT
Sounds like a Japan Railway pass is a requirement...what is the best way to obtain one? Got a good source?
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:44am PT
Prepare to choke on the dust of hordes of scrawny, white-haired old people who will leave you in the dust on the steepest of trails.

They're all decked out in the lastest outdoor fashion with trekking poles and fancy boots.

I'm going to Japan in October for a whitewater kayaking comp near Tokyo. Then I gotta get over to Osaka. I'm worried about getting around the country. I don't do well driving on the left in heavy traffic.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 24, 2013 - 02:20am PT
No one drives in Japan, they all take the train. And knowing how hard it was for me to get used to driving on the right side of the road in uncongested Wyoming, the summer the U.S. military decided I had to fly back to the States to get a U.S. driver's license, I would really advise against the reverse.

One of the big problems is the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car and the lights, windshield wipers and turn signals are reversed. Everytime you need to signal a lane change, you turn on the windshield wipers instead.

Then there is the matter of Japanese drivers going by different rules than even their own laws state. They frequently run red lights in part, because the yellow light is half the length of ours or less. Yellow means hit the accelerator, and the most common accident here involving Americans is for the American to stop at a red light and be rear ended by 3-4 cars that have accelerated. Conversely, people get creamed by venturing out on a green light without looking both ways twice for who is running the red lights.

Take the train!
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 24, 2013 - 02:21am PT
Apogee-

Call the nearest Japanese consulate and ask them for travel information including how to get a Japan rail pass.
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