Japan beta

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Messages 21 - 40 of total 86 in this topic << First  |  < Previous  |  Show All  |  Next >  |  Last >>
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 24, 2013 - 02:46am PT
My Japanese buddies visted Appalachia a couple of years ago, now I gotta get over to visit them in Japan.

Japanese kayakers in Appalachia [Gauley River]
Japanese kayakers in Appalachia [Gauley River]
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat

Japanese kayakers in Appalachia
Japanese kayakers in Appalachia
Credit: Sierra Ledge Rat
John Duffield

Mountain climber
New York
Jan 24, 2013 - 06:45am PT
Sounds like a Japan Railway pass is a requirement...what is the best way to obtain one? Got a good source?

Google Japan Rail. We used a rail pass during one period, but they're only cost efficient on a period where you're going long distances every day.

You can reach two big tourist areas, Kamakura and Nikko, with ordinary commuter rail from Tokyo.

For ten days, I'd do Tokyo, Kamakura, Nikko and a bullet train shot to Kyoto. Maybe loop in Nara if you're moving fast.

Thorn Tree - the Lonely Planet Forum is much better for Travel Related issues

Kyoto - The Golden Pavilion
Kyoto - The Golden Pavilion
Credit: John Duffield
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 24, 2013 - 07:15am PT
Good advice. I'd forgotten the part about long distance travel being where you save.
I did Tokyo, Fuji, Kyoto, Sendai and Hokkaido all in one month.
Japan rail is also good on the ferries in Japan which was nice going to Hokkaido.
Borut

Mountain climber
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Jan 24, 2013 - 07:55am PT
Here is a Mt. Fuji TR :
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1008443&msg=1008443#msg1008443
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 24, 2013 - 08:21am PT
Here's the official Japan Tourist site with a lot of good photos.

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/
jnaftzger

Social climber
Berkeley
Jan 24, 2013 - 09:11am PT
I recomended avoiding the east coast, stick to the west coast. Trains are slower but theres more old stuff. East coast looks like Hayward.
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 24, 2013 - 09:22am PT
Yes, after going all the way to Hokkaido up the east coast, that would be my recommendation also if you have the time. Otherwise stick to Tokyo and points south. If you go up the main rail line on the east now days you're getting into the Fukushima and tsunami zone as well.
darkmagus

Mountain climber
San Diego, CA
Jan 24, 2013 - 11:11am PT
Lots of cool suggestions here... I lived in Japan for a bit and I want to suggest that you visit the city of Hirosaki in Aomori prefecture. Home of the fuji apple, hirosaki castle, absolutely epic cherry blossoms in spring, and magical rural Japan a few minutes drive (rent a car, you gotta).

Amazing place. Super friendly people. Close to Hokkaido. Guaranteed to be a unique and cool place, very non touristy. Did I mention fuji apples!!! And an amazing sake producing region as well!!!
SeanYang

Mountain climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 24, 2013 - 01:43pm PT
I second a visit to Kyoto. Highlights include Geisha performance near downtown, and many Zen temples where you can enjoy the medieval Buddhist buildings and landscape.

If you are interested in doing a bit of climbing and alpine tour, go to Kamikochi, which is the Japan's version of Zermatt. Beautiful forests, serene ponds, and relaxing hot springs dot the narrow alpine valley. The second highest mountain (Mt. Hodaka) in Japan sits about 8 miles away, heading a horseshoe glacial basin surrounded by many 3000m peaks. A beautiful Karasawa hut (where you find as many foreigners as locals) is located right at the glacier terminal moraine.

On the way to Kamikochi, you will have a stopover at Matsumoto, where you can visit the famous castle located at a walking distance from the train station.

The only hangup is access. The opening of Kamikochi valley is April 22 this year. Before that, there is no public transportation in and out of the area.
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Reply - Jan 24, 2013 - 10:44pm PT
This is great beta. It's helping me a lot.

Climbing isn't going to happen on this trip...it'll be more of a cultural exploration. The northern areas sound amazing, though, and are much closer to the kind of experience I'd like to have in Japan.

The challenge is time...we'll only have about 10 days (including travel), and I'd rather have a shorter, quality experience in a few places than run around all over the place.

Sounds like the Tokyo-Kyoto areas will fit this best...suggestions on other places in & around here would be useful.

Since we'd only be visiting a few places, a full-ride national rail ticket seems overkill (& overly expensive). Are there more local or limited alternatives?

Housing suggestions that won't break the bank?
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
Jan 24, 2013 - 11:42pm PT
Great info, thanks

I assume cabs are easy to get in the big cities, much like in the USA?
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Jan 25, 2013 - 12:11am PT
Cabs are everywhere.

And if you're going to stick with the Tokyo-Kyoto area, try for side trips to Nikko and Nara if you have time. You will have seen the full range of craftsman style artisanship from very simple beauty to very ornate.

Nara is the most doable as it's only an hour down the rail line from Kyoto.

Also inn Kyoto, try to visit the moss garden. It is truly unique and will really train your eye to see subtle differences.
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Feb 15, 2013 - 07:01pm PT
I know Fuji is pretty much just a hike, but what experience have you had on it?

What climbing locations would you recommend around Tokyo?

going in May, psyched!!!!
Sewellymon

climber
.....in a single wide......
Feb 15, 2013 - 07:31pm PT
apogee

my bride and i am going 4/3- 4/13

can PM you some 411

#1 focus is visiting hot springs/ onsens .. 1st along the coast, then inland in the mtns

i hired a trip advisor to help set it all up. can share that info w u
Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 15, 2013 - 09:47pm PT
Fuji is the ultimate choss pile. Beautiful from a distance, but a pile of cinders up close, plus it's covered in garbage - millions of shoes, bento boxes, walking sticks and pieces of clothing thrown away. They had bulldozers on the lower slopes trying to clear it the day I climbed.

If you want a nice hike, go to the Alps instead. Or since you're pressed for time, go to Nara and hike up the ancient stone steps through the thousands of orange Torii gates to the Fushimi Inari shinto shrine at the top of the mountain where there is a nice view (turn the sound off while viewing as the music ruins the mood).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wt8NC_EF78.

Or hike on Mt. Hiei above Kyoto.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Wt8NC_EF78
S.Leeper

Social climber
somewhere that doesnt have anything over 90'
Feb 15, 2013 - 09:56pm PT
Ok Jan, thanks for the suggestions!
apogee

climber
Technically expert, safe belayer, can lead if easy
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 16, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
The plan is becoming clearer...but I'm still struggling a bit with lodging.

Since it's our first time, and our timeframe is relatively limited, I'm focussing on fewer cities, less travel. Tokyo for a few days, Kamakura for a day or two, Kyoto for 2-3 days, then back to Tokyo.

I'm inclined to pick a relatively western-style hotel while in Tokyo (Rappongi Hills area, probably), but would also like to experience something more traditional and eastern while in Kamakura &/or Kyoto. Suggestions?

Sewelly, I'd be very interested in any beta you've found thusfar. I think our itinerary will have us there sometime after you leave, though...
Guangzhou

Trad climber
Asia, Indonesia, East Java
Feb 16, 2013 - 09:58pm PT
Kyoto for sure.

Depending on where and what you want to see, you won't need a car. Some places, a rental car might make your life easier.

I didn't find the transition to the other side of the road all that hard. Most of the time, you have someone in front of you so the process is easy. For sure you'll turn your wipers on instead of your signals more than once, but that's really minor and easy to adjust to.

I found the driving on the Mainland of Japan much friendlier than the driving on Okinawa. I think the drivers in Okinawa are to influence by young American drivers.

When you're not driving, remember to check both ways when crossing the road. Your reflex will be to long the wrong direction when stepping off the curb. I found getting used to crossing the road on foot was harder than driving. Even shifting left handed is pretty straight forward.

Eman


Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 16, 2013 - 10:18pm PT
The cheapest hotels if you're not clautrophobic and maybe fun to try once just for the photos are the capsule hotels. If you check into love motels after 11 pm they are cheaper too. Also the youth hostels are cheap (you must have a card issued in America), and then places near the railway stations. The most expensive are the quaint little inns that don't want to take foreigners often because they don't want soapsuds in the bath etc. Get a guide book that will give you a range of places to stay and then look based on that.

Jan

Mountain climber
Okinawa, Japan
Feb 16, 2013 - 10:22pm PT
As for driving, in cities where everything goes bumper to bumper at 5 mph you probably can do ok following the car in front of you. On the open road it is much more problematic. And it's true that mainland Japanese are better drivers and complain as tourists that the thing they like least about Okinawa is the driving.

I don't think it is the American driving influence however. Rather, it is the congestion in a place laid out after the war in which the Americans ripped up the rail system but didn't put in a well designed road system either, as they figured the Okinawans would never be rich enough to have cars. We set up four competing bus systems (free enterprise and all that) which charge so much, that it's as cheap to drive, so everyone does. The main problem is older and inexperienced drivers with slow reflexes and no sense of timing, and the congestion including the fact that there are no shoulders on the road so not much room to get out of someone's way, and people's driveways back out onto three lane freeways.

Okinawans often do incredibly dangerous things without even realizing they are dangerous. My favorite is when they're in an outside lane and signal they're going to turn off the multi-lane highway and then at the last minute, change their mind and go across three lanes of traffic to exit off the opposite side. I've also seen them backing up on the freeway when they missed an exit. etc.etc.

The all time scariest was when a motor cycle gang went flying by me on either side between myself and the other cars as I was the center lane of a three lane highway.That happens fairly frequently, so I thought nothing of it until they spotted a speed trap a half mile up the road and then did u-turns and came flying southbound as three lanes of traffic were going at high speed northbound. We all drove as straight as we could and they flew in the opposite direction between three lanes of traffic- and escaped the police.
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