Notices

3 week Japan Trip Report

Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 12:57 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
3 week Japan Trip Report

We had a great holiday in Japan mainly due to everyones help here on Fodors so a big thanks to all of you.

1st Day - Milan/Tokyo

Just as we were about to leave for the airport I decided to phone JAL to check if there were any delays with our flight & received the news that due to bad weather conditions in Tokyo our flight would now be arriving in Milan around 3 hours later than expected & therefore our flight to Tokyo would also be delayed & would now be leaving at Midnight. Not the best start to a holiday but at least we knew & wouldn't have to wait the extra time at the airport.

The flight left puctually at Midnight & we were served dinner almost immediately. Because the flight was delayed we were given vouchers for dinner at the airport so we weren't very hungry but decided to eat something anyway as it would be 10 hours before they served breakfast. There was a choice of Western or Japanese so we chose 1 of each. The Western was grilled Halibut with Dill sauce, Parma Ham & Salami with Eggplant, Salad & Peach Melba. Japanese was Braised Minced Chicken in Soy sauce with Rice, Mushroom & Onion Fishcake with Boiled Spinach, Japanese Noodles & Assorted Fruits. We didn't drink very much but drank 2 small bottles of Red Wine & 2 sake's between us. Just before arriving in Tokyo we were served Fruit cocktail, Yogurt, Cottage Cheese & Spinach Crepe with a piece of Grilled Pork Loin & Croissant.

Next - Arrivial in tokyo
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 01:25 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We arrived in Tokyo at around 7pm. & by the time we got our laggage & cleared customs it was 8pm. Originally I had planned to go straight to the JR office to activate our Rail passes but as it was quite late we decided to leave it until the next day. We headed straight to the Limousine Bus counter & reserved a seat on the 8.40pm. bus to the Akasaka Prince Hotel.

We arrived at the hotel at around 10.15pm. Check-In was very quick & we were shown to our room by a very nice & talkative Porter. In the room he immediatly switched on the TV & proudly showed us it had CNN. My husband said "We're Italian we don't want to see CNN we want the Italian RAI channel." He looked perplexed & switched the channel to BBC my husband said "No English, we want Italian, No Italian we can't stay here" The poor guy didn't know what to do & made for the phone, I stopped him & said that my husband was only kidding & when he saw us laughing he started laughing & said "Italian people very funny"

We had been told before we left that you don't tip in Japan but that wasn't the case with our porter as we realised he was hovering at the door. I told him to wait a minute & there was a moment of embarassment as my husband couldn't remember where he had put his Yen. I took 5 Euros from my purse & gave it to him & he left after saying Thank You & bowing at least 20 times.

We were very pleased with our room, it was a good size & had great views over Akasaka. We paid 1700y per night through Orbitz & thought it was a very good deal.

We went straight to bed, but were both wide awake at 2am. we tossed & turned until 6am & finally got up to organize our day.

Next Day 2

Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 02:11 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 2 - Tokyo

Breakfast wasn't included in the price for the room which suited us fine as we're used to having only coffee & a brioche in the morning. There was tea & coffee facilities in the room which was ideal.

We set off for the Metro station which was only a couple of minutes walk from the hotel. We bought 2 1000y tickets & as it was a Sunday we were heading for Harajuku to the Meiji-Jingu Shrine & Yoyogi Park. We were relieved to find that the Metro is extremely easy to use & had no problems geting to Harajuku.

Although it was only about 9am. there were quite a few teenagers all dressed up in those funny clothes on & around the bridge. A group of girls asked my husband to take a photo, we thought they wanted him to take their photo but they indicated they wanted a photo with us, we readily obliged & left them oohing & aahing over the photo. The walk to the shrine is lovely with overhanging trees on both sides. We stopped at a coffee shop for a coffee & pastry before walking on to the shrine. There were a lot of families & the little girls were all dressed up in Kimono's & their hair was all done up with little flowers & butterflies, absolutely lovely. We also saw a wedding where everyone was dressed in traditional clothes, it was quite impressive seeing more than 50 ladies all together in their beautiful Kimono's. The bride wa beautiful, her hair was done like a Geisha's & her Kimono was spectacular.

This was our 1st shrine in Japan & we were captivated, but then we hadn't been to Nikko yet. We spent about an hour taking photos then headed off to Meiji-Dori with all it's shops selling the strange clothes that the teenagers wear. We also came across a shop selling Kimono's for dogs & we had a laugh imagining what our 70kg. Newfoundlander dog would look like in one.

We got the Metro to Shinjuku & followed the signs for JR Rail. I wanted to activate our rail passes for Thursday when we planned to visit Nikko & also buy tickets for Kamakura. We were completely overwhelmed by Shinjuku we never imagined a place so enormous & it took us ages to find the JR Rail Pass office. We got our passes & decided to have lunch as it was 2.30pm. We found a tiny place with 4 tables & a few seats at the bar & ordered 2 bowls of soup with noodles & pork along with 2 small beers. 1600y

After lunch we looked for a JR ticket office to reserve our seats. We had planned to go to the Hakone office to buy the round trip pass but because we kept getting lost in the station we decided to just buy a return ticket along with the tickets for Kamakura & Nikko. This proved to be a big mistake which I'll explain later on.

Coming out of the station we saw directions for the Tokyo Met-Govt. Building & as it was a beautiful day we thought it would be the perfect time to go to the top to catch the views. We got the lift to the top & stepped ou to amazing views, it was so clear we could see Mt. Fuji. For people planning a trip to TokyoI would forget the Tokyo Tower the Met-Govt Building is much higher & is also free. After taking loads of photos we got the lift back down & took more photos of the building & the statues.

We got the Metro to Akasaka & before going to the hotel we had a walk along the street adjacent to the Metro Station to check out restaurants for dinner. We were surprised to find loads of Italian Restaurants, we had a coffee & walked to the hotel.

For dinner we walked along the same street, we were really tired because we had only had about 3 hours sleep in 48 hours so that's probably why we ended up in an awful place with awful service. The restaurant was called Brasserie & there was only Curry & Udon on the menu so as we had eaten Noodles at lunch we chose the Curry Rice with Sake. It was at least half an hour before the waitress took our order & when the food arrived we still didn't have our drinks. We asked for them again, she nodded but we finished our Curry & were still waiting. We got up to leave & she remembered the drinks & made a fuss about us sitting down again, she brought the Sake but we were so tired after a few sips we got up & paid the bill was 4500y.

Next Day 3
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 03:55 AM
  #4  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Clark:



and

=D> =D> =D> =D> =D>

Was this your first trip? If so, I like to think we helped prepared you very well for day 1 and 2!!

Comments:
I am SO glad you got to go to Meiji and Harajuku on a Sunday. What a gret way to start the trip - this is exactly what my daughter and I did on our first day in APril.

I can't beleive all you accomplished on day 2! Meiji, Harajuku, Shinjukju and rail pass/ticket issues, Tokyo Govt. Center, and exploring your htoel neighborhood and eating two meals out. Good planning. But of course, even w/best of plans like yours, things can go a bit awry, re the JR ticket issues.

Very funny on the Italian TV station deal. I am so surprised though at the porter and the tip. Have never encountered that. Also got a good chuckle out of the kimonos for dogs.

Geez, so you got to Nikko, Kamakura, and Hakone too? Wow. I can't wait to hear about Nikko. Unfortunately our day trip was rained out there and we scrapped it. I still want to go there.

I hope the great weather held up for you!

I am loving loving loving this report.
emd is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 04:35 AM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 3 - Kamakura

We got to Tokyo station at 8am & thankfully had no problem finding the platform for Kamakura. After arriving we changed to the Enoden Line which has little Disney-like trains to Hase. These trains are'nt covered by the Rail Pass so you have to pay an extra 250y each way.

From the station we walked about 10 minutes to visit the Gt. Buddha. It was an incredible site with all the trees in the background. For a small fee you can climb inside the Buddha, which of course we did. We then walked to the Hase Temple, it's situated in a lovely garden & there's a collection of Jizo statues which have clothes on them, this is to keep them warm & they're dressed by women who have lost children through miscarraige or abortion. After the statues you arrive at the temple with the Kannon statue. It's 9mt high & has 11 faces; 1 main face & 10 secondary faces this is to allow Kannon to see in every direction & give assistance to anyone in need. It was pretty impressive

Inside the grounds there was a kind of archery contest taking place, they were all dressed in traditional clothes & it was very colourful, we watched it for about 20 minutes taking lots of photos before heading back to the station to catch the train for Kamakura. We walked to the Tsurugaoka Hachinan-Gu Shrine. To reach the shrine you walk along a tree lined path with 3 massive Torii gates set at intervals, there's all kinds of shops on both sides of the road. At the shrine there's an enormous Ginko tree that's thought to be about 1000 years old & a lotus pond with a lovely little arched bridge.

After about an hour we walked back to the station stopping off for lunch on the way at a restaurant called "The Soba House" We had Noodle soup with boiled pork & Noodle soup with vegetables. We had to ring the bell o the side of the table & when the waitress came I took her outide & pointed to what we wanted. The noodles were great & the portions were huge. With 2 beers we paid 3800y.

We got to Tokyo at about 5pm. We really enjoyed our day in Kamakura.

For dinner we went to a Kushiage restaurant called Kushinobo, it's situated on the 3rd floor of the Tokyo Excel Plazza building across the street from the Metro station. Kushiage is breaded & deep fried mini skewers of meat, fish & vegetables that you dip into a sauce. We chose the all you can eat menu which cost 4800y each & Sake. The skewers just keep coming & they were wonderful, loads of different types; Prawns, Squid, Asparagus, chicken, Pork, Soya beans, Scallops, Fish fillet, Chestnuts, Potato, Baby Corn, Lotus fruit with chicken livers, Beef & other things that I can't think of at the moment. We told the chef to stop because we couldn't move but it didn't finish there as the waitress brought strawberry Jelly with cream. We were so full we could hardly move.
It was one of our favourite dinners in Japan & we decided we'd go back & eat there again on our last night before returning home. The bill with Sake was 12000y.

There's a pub on the 1st floor of the Plaza so we stopped off there for a glass of wine before returning to the hotel.

Next Day 4
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 05:16 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 4 - Tokyo

This was our day to visit the Fish market. We arrived at 7.45am & I think this is a good time to arrive. I know that some people go there earlier to witness the fish auction but what do you do afterwards? I don't think I could face eating Sushi at that time in the morning. Anyway, the market really is amazing with all those motorized little pick-ups zooming around the place & fish that you can only see here. Definitely not to be missed.

After an hour we walked to the Hama Rikyu Gardens, there's no point in going earlier because the gardens open at 9am, we had a leasurely stroll around & made our way to to the ferry port to catch a ferry on the Sumida river to Asakusa & the Senso-Ji Temple. The 1st ferry leaves at 10.40am so there's no need to rush the visit to the Gardens. On the way to the temple we stopped off for lunch at a small but very busy restaurant. We didn't realise that they had the bell system so we were sitting for at least 20 minutes before nice people at the next table pointed to the bell. We had Noodles with a pork cutlet & 2 small beers. 2750y.

The entrance to the temple is via Kaminarimon (Thunder gate) The gates protector gods are Fujin, the god of wind which is on the right & Raijin, the god of thunder on the left. A nice gentlemen took our photo in front of the gates.The road to the temple is filled with vendors selling fresh rice crackers & there's loads of cheap souvenir shops.

In front of the temple is a large incense cauldron where people catch the smoke & rub it on the parts of there bodies that need healing.
The temple itself has a golden image of Kannon which was said to have been fished out of the Sumida river in AD628 by 2 fishermen.

After the temple we got the metro to Akihabara to check out the Electronic shops. WOW are those shops huge. We went to the one at the JR station & could've spent all day there without seeing everything. It's a shame you can't use Japanese cell phones in Europe as I would've loved to have bought one; every time it rang it would've reminded me of our great holiday. There's restaurants on the 8th floor so we had an ice cream sundae before catching the metro home.

For dinner, I know this sounds strange but we ate at an Indian restaurant called Moti. The reason being that where we live in Italy there's no Indian restaurants & we love Indian food so whenever we're on holiday & we find a restaurant we always have a meal there. Anyway, we had a mixed starter, 2 curry's with Rice & Naan bread & 2 Kingfisher Beers. 6770y.

After dinner we went back to the pub at the Plaza for our usual glass of wine.

Next Day 5
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 06:14 AM
  #7  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Emd, this was our first trip to Japan & hopefully it won't be our last. I know you've been to Japan twice & am really sorry you didn't manage to see Nikko, you really have to see it even in bad weather, it's just incredible. I have to say we were really lucky though as we only had 1 day of drizzle in 3 weeks
I'm about to write the chapter on our Hakone disaster so you'll see why we never got there, well we did but we didn't.
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 06:44 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 5 - Hakone

This was the day we should've been going to Hakone & we did go to Hakone, only it was the wrong one. LOL

When I asked for the tickets at Shinjuku instead of asking for tickets to Hakone I should've asked for Odawara or rather we should've gone to the Hakone office for the pass as planned instead of taking the easy way out & just asking for the tickets.

Anyway, when we arrived at the station in the morning I showed the ticket to one of the staff & he directed us to the right platform, we had to change twice but finally arrived in Hakone. The station was very small & we couldn't see any tourist office. We went outside & I said to my husband "There's no sign of any tourists here that's a bit strange & people are looking at us." We immdeiatly realised we must be in the wrong Hakone. We went back to the station & asked the man at the ticket office with hands & feet language how to get to the right Hakone. He printed out the timetable & with dismay we saw it would take us 4 hours. We would have to go back to Tokyo & then start again from there. So that was it No open air museum, No Volcanic hot springs, No boiled eggs, No Ashino-Ko cruise & No view of Fuji-San.

It took us much longer to get back to Tokyo as we had to change trains 3 times so we only arrived at around 1pm. For lunch we bought sandwiches & water on the train.

So that the whole day wouldn't be wasted we went to the Imperial Palace Gardens. There's a nice Koi pond & a lovely waterfall that shouldn't be missed, we also took some photos of the outside of the palace. We then headed off to Ueno to visit the Tokyo National Museum. It was really worth it, I loved the Kimono's & woodblock prints. We stayed there until closing time & went for a coffee before returning to the hotel.

For dinner we found a nice Sukiyaki restaurant in Akasaka. First they served us some tuna sashimi, some small fried fish & tofu, then came the Sukiyaki which we enjoyed very much. Total bill with Sake. 12500y
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 07:43 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 6 - Nikko

This was probably our favourite day in Japan. We loved Nikko, the shrines are spectacular & shouldn't be missed.

When we arrived in Nikko we bought the Combo for the sites.
Our 1st stop was the Shin-Kyo bridge, it's a lovely bright red bridge over the river Daiya. We then walked on to Rinno-Ji, to see the 3 huge golden buddha's they are very impressive. Our next stop was Tosho-Gu, My Goodness this was really something.

There's a huge Torii stone Entrance & on the left is a 5 storeyed pagoda, then there's another entrance, protected on either side by Deva Kings. Once through this entrance there's a lot of different buildings, including the Nikko sleeping Cat , the hear no, speak no see no monkey carving & the sacred stable with a real white horse which proved to be a great hit with all the school kids or yellow caps as we called them.

Through another Torii & up some stairs to a drum tower & Belfry. To the left is Honji-do, a hall with a huge dragon painted on the ceiling. There's a monk there who bangs 2 wooden sticks together to demonstrate that the echo is the sound like the roar of a dragon. We didn't really think this was the case but then we've never heard a dragon roar.

Our next stop was the Yomei-mon gate. this is very elaborately decorated with gold leaf & red & blue lacquer work & is truly beautiful. It's said that the people that built it were worried that such perfection would arouse envy in the gods so they deliberately placed the final supporting pillar on the left hand side upside down.

We didn't know if there would be restaurants here so we bought Sandwiches at the station. We found a seat & happily ate lunch in the awesome surroundings.

After lunch we headed off to the Futarasan-Jinja Shrine which is dedicated to the mountain Nantai, the mountains cosort,Nyotai & their mountainous progeny, Taro.
We then went to Taiyuin, this is a little replica of Tosho-gu. It also has storehouses, drum tower & Chinese gate. Very beautiful.

We were really sorry to leave Nikko. It was a great day out & hopefully we'll come back again some day.
WE made our way back to the station & stopped again to admire the Shin-Kyo bridge.

For dinner we chose a steakhouse near the Tokyo Plaza. The steaks were very good but the glasses of red wine we ordered were terrible. for some reason in Japan they like to serve red wine chilled which we don't like but the worst part was that it was very cloudy & tasted like vinegar it had clearly been open for some time. We left it & ordered 2 beers. Total bill 12800y.
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 07:45 AM
  #10  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
oh my. That reminds me of the time my husband and I drove from our home in Alexandria, Virginia for hours to a small town in to go antique shopping (I think it was Winchester). Only we got to Winchester and there were no antique shops, and it took us forever to figure out that we had driven to that city in MARYLAND instead of VIRGINIA. Wrong state. Never have gotten to the right town in the right state to go antique shopping.

Sorry you missed Hakone, but I think Kamakura and Nikko were great day trips. Hakone is really a better place for overnight anyway, IMO. There is much to do there besides the circuit route, and it is great for a ryokan night (esp. if you are like me and only want one ryokan night, thank you). Save it for next time.

I hope you saw Fuji-san on the train to Kyoto...

The kushiage place sounds great. I'll have to try that type of cuisine. And you got to see the traditional archery, what a break if you didn't realize it was going on til you got there. Some people plan their entire trips Japan to see that in Kamakura in April. It only happens once or twice a yr.
emd is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 07:47 AM
  #11  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I really think I'll do an overnight in Nikko after reading your report. A lot to see, and it would be nice to have the next 1/2 day also...
emd is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 07:56 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,345
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Clark:

Great report and loving all the detail. Bummer about the Hakone fiasco. Thanks for letting us know about it.

Anxious to here about Nikko as we are planning a couple of nights there in April taking in the scenery and the onsens.

Aloha!

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 07:58 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,345
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
well, posted a little late as I now see Nikko!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 09:09 AM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
When we returned home I tried to find out where the other Hakone is situated but I couldn't find it anywhere. I think it must have been North of Tokyo bcoz we would've had to backtrack to Tokyo & go on from there.
One thing I didn't say was that on the way there after our 1st Train change we had to change the platform & were unsure where to go so we asked the ticket man & he said to go to platform 4. We did & as we were waiting for the train a man asked us where we were going & we said Hakone, he was also waiting for the train at platform 4. He started pushing buttons on his phone & told us that it was platform 5 for Hakone. The train then came in & he got on the train & as we were about to go to the other platform the train moved away & we saw him moving his arms around frantically, he had realised that he made a mistake & we should've gotten on his train at platform 4. We then had to wait another hour for the next one but it made us laugh coz we kept seeing him looking completely devastated waving those hands around with all the other passengers looking at him. Anyway, It just wasn't our day was it?

Tomorrow I'll post our Takayama - Kananzawa Segment.
Clark55 is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 09:59 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,188
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
note to self, read this TR
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 10:38 AM
  #16  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, you can't always take the train station man's word for the track numba either. When I was at JR Arishiyama station in April trying to go back to Kyoto, the train man said I had to cross over the track on the little bridge and go on the train on the other side of the tracks. This seemed wrong to me, like I'd be going in the wrong direction. But I figured he knew. Of course it was the wrong way. But as a result we got to cross over two of the most beautiful river gorges on tracks high above the gorge. It was a great "side trip."
emd is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 02:08 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 547
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I hate to even post anything at all because I feel so guilty for not having posted a trip report yet (sorry, sorry, sorry!!!), but just wanted to add that we got to ride on the Nozomi for free from Osaka to Tokyo because we were directed to it incorrectly by a train station employee. Like emd's experience, sometimes those mistakes turn out to be blessings in disguise.
jlaughs is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 02:23 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,188
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My first day ever in Japan was a Sunday in November and I too went to Meiji Jingu. The children were dressed up for shichi-go-san which is celebrated on Sundays in November.

I wonder where you went for Hakone. You said you got tickets at Shinjuku station. Was is the JR station or the Odakyu station? When you mentioned getting the tickets instead of the pass were you referring to a JR Pass or the Hakone Free Pass? or one of the ones that includes Kamakura and the Enoden line?

Am enjoying the report, thanks, got as far as Nikko with you.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 04:09 PM
  #19  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And I recall that that picture of the splendid little girl at Meiji was your favorite Japan picutre, mrw.

j, don't fret. Is this why you have been maybe lurking but not posting? Don't do that to yourself or to anyone else here. My comment on the other thread was innocent and just a fact, not a guilt trip- I never even thought twice about it as I thought you were gonzo. I am just glad someone is posting on that shrine as I have been waiting to hear about it.

If anyone can figure out the "other Hakone" and where it is, I think it will be mrw. Or maybe it is just some bizarre Twilight Zone type experience...
emd is offline  
Old Nov 22nd, 2006, 06:37 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,345
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hakonegasaki?
hakoneitabashi?
hakoneyumoto?
hawaiiantraveler is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information