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emmagus Feb 13th, 2018 05:56 PM

4 days Kyoto teens uh oh
We are leaving for Japan end of March. We hit a snag. My teen son was in the ICU last with a new diagnosis of T1 Diabetes. The doctor says to go ahead and travel (seems a bit scary but OK we will). So we have been to Kyoto before but looking for some ideas besides Temples and Kimono fashion shows for teens.... :) And of course, anyone with Diabetes traveling in Japan, happy for any tips. This is all new for us.

kja Feb 13th, 2018 06:21 PM

I wish your son -- and the rest of you! -- well as you adjust to this new reality.

I'm not sure how it will change your trip, though, except perhaps for your approach to meals -- and I'm sorry, but I don't know how to help with that.

I trust you know about Gion Corner? Touristy, but worth the time IMO:

And Nijo-jo's floor "alarms" and water fountains might hold some interest....

Mara Feb 13th, 2018 07:08 PM - Toei Usumasa Eigamura - Kyoto Studio Park....
Toei Kyoto Studio Park?Toei Kyoto Studio Park is the only theme park in Japan where you can observe the filming of period dramas (jidaigeki films).

Haven't been myself - last year two Japanese friends suggested it but we couldn't get our schedule together...sounds like fun for the whole family...

Adastra2200 Feb 14th, 2018 02:49 PM

Kyoto is mainly known for its temples and shrines, although there is always more to break up the monotony.It depends on your interests of course but there should be something there that all of you will like.
Aside from the Toei Eigamura which was mentioned, you also might consider someplace like the Kyoto Railway Museum, giving a look at trains from a century ago to the new bullet trains - and if you like, you can also take a ride on a steam locomotive there. Speaking of which, there is also the Sagano Railway in Arashiyama you can ride with its picturesque riverside views, and you can come back on the Hozugawa River cruise. Also in Arashiyama is the Sagano Bamboo Forest - rather surreal although you'll be through it in less than half an hour.

Kyoto also has one of the better places in the country to see the macaques, at the Iwatayama Monkey Park, although it entails a fairly stiff 20 minute climb up a hill to get to. There are also several imperial related sites, such as the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the Katsura Villa, the Shugakuin Villa, and the former shogun's home there at Nijo Castle.
You could also consider the Kyoto Botanical Garden, Kyoto Aquarium, and one of the most beautiful gardens in the city is Murin-an, the former home and garden of a late 19th century prime minister. For food and drinks, there is also the Nishiki Market, called the "kitchen of Kyoto", as well as the Fushimi Sake District and Yamasaki Whiskey Distillery, if interested.

Plus you can walk down the old streets of Higashiyama (Ninenzaka, Sannenzaka), Gion, Pontocho, and in the evening, Kyoto Station is actually a pretty nice place to go through - there are the light and water shows, and nearby if you want more, there is the Kyoto Tower.

If you have not planned for it otherwise, you should definitely make some time available to see Nara as well - especially the Todaiji Great Buddha and feeding the headstrong deer is quite an experience.

Most likely you are choosing the end of March to catch the cherry blossoms. You can see the latest forecasts here, but check it from time to time to get more accurate predictions. Hate to say it but while they are so beautiful you will hardly be alone - often there is a flood of people who will be with you. Consider going to some of the lesser known places to not just see them but truly enjoy them. The Haradani Garden just above Kinkakuji (the Golden Pavilion) is one lesser known place, but if your timing is good and you really want to see them without the hordes of people, I'll give you one little secret place. Outside the city in Yawata City there is the Sewaridutsumi Cherry Blossom Lane about 1 km long and about a 10" walk from Yawatashi Stn.

Most likely you are going to need to bring insulin with you, and while the airlines do allow you to take needles with you in the cabin, most require you to declare your bringing them for medical reasons. Be sure to call your airline and notify them before your flight. I don't know your insurance but you might check also what you need to do if you need to take your son to a Japanese hospital in an emergency. Or get some good travel insurance before your departure.

emmagus Feb 14th, 2018 04:11 PM

Good idea about calling our insurance company. I will do that tomorrow for sure.
we were there 4 years ago for Cherry Blossom season and rented a house in Higashiyama. We went to most of the temples which turned out to be too much for the kids. I am going to a couple temples but this time, I want to mix it up a bit more. We picked up food every night at the Nishiki Market for dinner. But the Yamasaki Whiskey Distillery is definitely something my husband would love. thank you.

The kids are interested in the macaques and will have to see how that climb will impact his sugar. Luckily my husband is fluent in Japanese so if we have an emergency, it will be something we can negotiate. The Sagano Railway and bamboo forest could be a good morning or afternoon. Good idea.

Thank you regarding Yawata.... that sounds like something my husband will love.

Mara Feb 14th, 2018 06:15 PM

Adastra2200, thanks for the information about Yawata - will definitely put that on my day trip to-do list for my spring visit to Kyoto!

BigRuss Feb 15th, 2018 08:24 AM

" Iwatayama Monkey Park, although it entails a fairly stiff 20 minute climb up a hill to get to"

Sheeyoot, that's better than the 2+ mile hike through the forest to get to the "Snow Monky Park" outside Nagano. The monkeys are all over the bloody place at Kyoto.

Osaka has a ton of touristy things and a lot of high-end electronics stores that all the kids (the ones you made and the one you married) may like.

As for junior's diabetes: first, you have enormous resources available on the interwebs because insulin-dependent diabetes has been controllable for decades and the techniques to test are less invasive now and more accurate than when my high school classmate would bounce off to the bathroom, prick his finger and try to read the colors on the testing strip to see if he needed to pop a sugar pill or go the other way more than 30 years ago. You're vigilant and your son will need to be, so that's the hardest part. Second, Japan is as modern a country as you'll find so there should be innumerable resources for you. Because hubs speaks the language, junior will have no problems receiving any medical attention or assistance. Just be vigilant and you'll be fine. If these folks could be elite athletes with T1 diabetes, your son can handle the trip without fail.

Kyoto's great.


mrwunrfl Feb 15th, 2018 09:12 AM

Before you go, it would be good for the kids to learn what Japanese teens are like, how they act, what they do, how they live, their interests, etc. They will learn that there are similarities and differences. Hopefully, they have or can develop an openness to the differences. There is a type of tourist that goes to a foreign country and says "we don't do it like that where I come from" with a negative connotation. I am guessing that teens today still tend to not want to be seen as different, so they wear the same fashion and listen to the same music as their peers. I am hoping that your teens are open to the differences in manners and customs, etc.

One time, I was asked what I liked most about my visits to Japan. I shocked myself by having an instantaneous answer to that question: the Japanese people. That thought just jumped out in front of visiting shrines and castles, sports, arts, and other tourist stuff. Learning the Japanese way and seeing it in action - to experience the Japanese being Japanese - is a lot of fun to me. I will admit that there is a bit of "human zoo" about this, but I do try to understand, appreciate, and engage with it. I hope you get the gist of what I am trying to say.

I've been to the Golden Pavillion in Kyoto, at least twice. There were teenagers at/near the entrance engaging the foreign tourists. I think they were on a school assignment, maybe to practice their English, and the one time they were working from a checklist. They were having fun and it was infectious. I don't know if there is a better day of the week for this or if is affected by spring break, or even if they still do this. I recommend that you take your kids there and linger a bit, at least long enough to say konnichiwa.

Baseball season will be under way when you are there. You want to sit in right field. The March grand sumo tournament ends on the 25th. It is in Osaka.

Adastra2200 Feb 15th, 2018 12:34 PM

that's better than the 2+ mile hike through the forest to get to the "Snow Monky Park" outside Nagano.

Far as I can see, they aren't going there - which makes it a moot point. I only mention it because fatigue is a common symptom of the ailment. Hopefully under control it won't be an issue.
And the macaques are not "all over the bloody place at Kyoto" either - if you see one outside the park, consider yourself lucky. In the park they pretty much cluster around the hut where they can be fed.

On another note, you can see the list of the best cherry blossom spots in Japan here. Actually, many of the best are not even in the big cities where the tourist crowds go.

emd3 Feb 15th, 2018 08:49 PM

The best day I spent with my son while staying in Kyoto was actually a day we took the train to Osaka (25 min) and went to a baseball game at Osaka Dome (sit in the "fan" section, its crazy, your kids will love it and you will too) and then we went to the sumo tournament in Osaka. It was a very memorable day. My son was 17 and loved it, as did I. We both still recall almost everything about that day, that is how big an impression both events made on us. The baseball game was familiar, being baseball, but it is also distinctly Japanese with the customs in the fan section. And the sumo tournament was about as Japanese as you can get. Fun and lots of culture and lots to learn watching a sumo tournament.

mrwunrfl Feb 15th, 2018 08:55 PM

hi e, good to see you back

emd3 Feb 15th, 2018 09:08 PM

Also, fyi, I took my teen daughter on a separate trip that included Kyoto. i took her to the Monkey place at Arishiyama. It was a bit of a climb up, but more concerning for us was that the monkeys are out in the open, you walk right by them as you enter the area, and they can be quite aggressive. There is a research hut you can retreat into, and there we got to see how aggressive they can be as they were swinging from the wire windows, screaching, and banging a lot. As visitors we were llowed to walk around the yard with the monkeys but told not to have direct eye contact with them. All of this was pretty intimidating to my daughter, and to me frankly. Afterwards, we couldn't believe we had done it.

the Sagano bamboo forest is nearby the monkey park. We walked across the bridge to it, short distance and also in Arishiyama. Hearing the bamboo knocking together was quite mystical and lovely. It is a great memory for me that I got to share that with my daughter, who died last year.

i went to the movie production place that is mentioned above with my son also, Pretty interesting, mostly outdoors so only go in good weather. Not a "do not miss" imo though.

there are some temples and other places in Kyoto that have class activities scheduled that I did with both my son and daughter. One was a temple where my daughter and I did a 2 hr class teaching us how to make traditional Japanese sweets. That was great. And there is a fabric museum and art place that focuses on how the intricate materials are made for kimonos. I think it is called Nishiki something. My son and I took a 1 hr class in silkscreen fabric making there and we got to make our own silkscreen fabrics that we still have. That class sparked an interest in my son, who started making silkscreen tee shirts for his friends when we got back from our trip.

emd3 Feb 15th, 2018 09:16 PM

Hi Bill, I have not signed onto fodors in many months, since the changes to the forums. We are in the process of a big move, out of the home we have been in for 17 yrs, into a smaller townhome with an elevator as I can't do stairs anymore w the weird muscle degeneration myositis disease I have developed. Lots of feelings about moving out of the house where Celine grew up, and died. I am not traveling so much anymore, but did just get a small 3 wheeled lightwt 32 lb lithium battery TravelScoot scooter. Took it on a Jazz cruise out of Fl with my son recently, it really helps get me around. Hope all is well with you, Mara, HawaiiTraveler, Ken, and the rest of the gang.

kja Feb 15th, 2018 09:26 PM

@ emd3: It saddens me to hear of your loss and of the other stressful issues with which you are dealing. Best wishes, and thank you for sharing the memory of hearing the bamboo with your daughter.

emd3 Feb 16th, 2018 07:30 AM

Thank you kja. She had graduated from college in 2016, in spite of having had mental health issues, and she became bipolar and very manic in her last semester. 4 hospitalizations that semester and we finally got the mania under control. But then she was diagnosed w Hashimotos disease, basically no working thyroid, and it caused severe unrelenting depression and other awful symptoms like severe wt gain and terrible acne over most of her body. She was being treated but the thyroid substitute meds were going to take 4 months to provide any relief.. She started self medicating more than usual, and tried heroin once, which was much cheaper than her usual xanax. The heroin she was sold was not heroin, it was almost 100% fentanyl. One whiff of it killed her. I found her here at home. I am sorry to report this, but folks, the opioid crisis, esp the substitution of fentanyl for heroin where we live in VA, is very real. If she had gotten heroin, she still be alive and we could deal with it.

i have wonderful memories, esp of our trip to Japan together, our cruise to the Caribbean, our travels through Mexico together, and our time at our condo in Playa del Carmen MX. I will see her again, I am sure of that, in spirit. My muscle disease pales to losing her. I can adapt to losing muscles. Losing her has left a huge deep hole in our lives.

Sorry to hijack your thread, but this post brought uo so many memories of our trip to Japan, and I got so much help on this board w both my Japan trips. And there are people here like mrwunrfl and Mara who met my daughter Celine while we were traveling. This is a good community.

Kathie Feb 16th, 2018 11:18 AM

emd, what a tragic story! I am so sorry for your loss.

kja Feb 16th, 2018 06:58 PM

@ emd3: How tragic! The hole you feel must be huge indeed, given the love you obviously felt for her. I hope that as time passes, that hole fills with all the wonderful memories you shared and with reminders of joyous moments rather than the pain of loss. Too, I hope that you are able to draw strength from that love, and from the rest of your family, as you fight your own health battles and adjust to a new home. Again, thank you for sharing your memories.

Mara Feb 16th, 2018 07:26 PM

emd....good to see you back here! I still remember meeting you and your daughter for dinner here in sure are going through a tough time....but you do have lots of good memories....I am getting ready for my 13th, I think, trip to Japan in about five weeks! I'm glad you were well enough to take a trip with your son....I guess your old Japan trip reports are here somewhere....but I think you had a different screen name back then...maybe you can find and top them - I'm sure they would be helpful to many! My thoughts are with you!

mrwunrfl Feb 17th, 2018 08:32 AM

sad to hear of the myositis. yay for the scooter. ht comes by once in a while. haven't heard from kuranosuke for a long time. I finally got to Japan at sakura time last year. Shinjuku Gyoen was wonderful. I didn't go to Mikyako Odori because it was at a different venue last year, not the Gion Kaburenjo. I got to go to Hanshin Race Course which has a lot of cherry trees but they weren't in bloom yet. I think of you when I see a horse shipping down from Seattle to try the big time here in SoCal. The racing form abbreviation for Emerald Downs is Emd.

trailandtide Feb 18th, 2018 10:06 PM

The manga museum is pretty cool--- there are sections detailing the history of manga (tracing back to earlier Japanese art ), how it's made, a full library of manga that you can actually peruse (lots of comfy chairs), art by current manga artists, and artists on site who will draw you as a manga character for a small fee---my bf and I went last year (I am 30, bf is 40) and we absolutely loved it. It's a very local feeling experience and despite our complete ignorance of manga before going in --- we absolutely loved it--its a nice respite from the temples and shrines

there are pug cafes, cat cafes, and even owl cafes...basically you pay a small fee for a drink and to interact with a room full of cute critters �� the animals don't appear stressed (they are given time away from guests when they arent showing interest )and seem to be well cared for. Also a very local feeling experience --- i think I was the only foreigner every time I went in.

shop/eat/explore teramachi dori--- it's a riot for the senses---lots of quirky shops (need jeans with chickens embroidered on them ? Lol), arcades, snacks (spanning from hyper traditional and fine cuisine to tonkatsu and ramen chains....and even the occasional burger joint), plus the odd tucked away shrine (quite the sight to see an active shrine next to an arcade)

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