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Back to Japan -- ideas for different places to visit.

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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:04 AM
  #1
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Back to Japan -- ideas for different places to visit.

So, as I dropped into the conversation on ShelleyK's Tokyo thread, yesterday my husband and I agreed for definite that we're going to prioritise a return trip to Japan.

We're already sorted for a trip for this spring so we're considering either a second autumn trip (our first trip to Japan was last October) later this year or a spring trip next year. (If we go for spring 2014, I'll plan something else for this autumn, no idea what yet).

Last year our itinerary included overnights in Tokyo, Takayama (for the festival), Nara, Kyoto, Koyasan, Osaka and Miyajima (with a short daytime visit to Hiroshima).

We know we definitely want to return to Kyoto, probably for 5-7 nights. We'll definitely include Tokyo again too, though as before, less time spent there than in Kyoto.

I'm RIGHT at the beginning of thinking about the trip, but would love some ideas on where we might consider outside of the previous itinerary.

We loved using the trains but are more than happy to drive for a different perspective / to tour areas better served by road.

We (read I) probably still won't have the confidence to strip in front of others to use the single sex onsens, so whilst I'd love to do that, I can't see it happening really. Likewise, we do have a need for en suite accommodations, so a few experiences such as overnighting in the traditional houses in Shirakawa-gō are probably not ideal for us either. And we're not big walkers (by which I mean hiking... of course we walk around to view the sights).

We love food and drink producers and visiting specialists of any kind in this area, so would be happy to learn of your experiences visiting tea, sake, whisky, rice or any other producers.

And just generally, ideas.

Of course, I'll be doing loads of reading and planning, I'll find lots of ideas myself as I start. But I know from reading the many many many Japan threads at the moment that there are people here who've been to Japan many times, and who've strayed off the beaten track, or at least, the first-time visitors' circuit and who can give me some initial ideas.

Many thanks in advance,
Kavey
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:10 AM
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Kyushu!
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:20 AM
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For November: Fukuoka to include the sumo tournament, Nagasaki, Kumamoto fall colors at the castle and garden, Takachiho gorge and kagura performance at the shrine. Onsen towns. Maybe Saga or Shimabara. Kagoshima and Ibusuki.

While waiting for hawaiiantraveler to reply you might find his trip report, I think he did one, for his driving tour in Kyushu.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:05 AM
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I've been reading lots and lots of back catalogue of trip reports. Will do more. Kyushu does appeal!

Thanks, Mr Wunrfl, you're wunrfl!
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:13 AM
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Kyushu would be very nice - I did it in the spring by public transport including trains, bus and ferry - but the fall would work also - I didn't see as many places as mrwunrfl listed - I did the northern half - Usuki->Yufuin->Kumamoto with a stop at Asosan, then Nagasaki->Fukuoka...about 9 days in all....
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:33 AM
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I echo mrwunfl and Mara's thoughts on Kyushu and trip reports.
Many thanks to HT and others for those detailed reports which have been invaluable in my Japan planning.

One thought I use in planning a trip is to study a theme or special interest and build an itinerary around that interest.

I'm planning my own return to Kyushu this spring and am looking into the history of ceramics in the Arita area . Also outside of Kagoshima is a enclave of former 16th century Korean captives who helped transform the porcelain industry.
Take a subject that interests you, such as green tea, specialty cuisine, Will Adams or Zen temples and find out the key landmarks or establishments in an area that represent that history and interest.

Living in Hawaii it always amazes me how uninformed some visitors are about the basic geography, history and culture of the islands that would come be simply reading over a few National Geographics. It just seems that they miss out a lot by not doing just a little homework to make the trip more interesting.

So to take a special interest and sake, onsen and kaiseki dinners is a noble pursuit.... ;-)
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:59 AM
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I love the idea of Kyushu. Please read my tr to get some ideas.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-fall-2011.cfm

You do know that you can rent a ryokan room with your own private onsen bath right? We did here at Sanga Ryokan in Kyushu explained in the tr above.

http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/kurokawa/sanga.htm

If you are planning another fall trip may I also suggest going to Hokkaido with Northern Tohoku and the Oriase Valley thrown in? Probably the best place I have been to during the fall season were the colors of the Oriase stream and Lake Towada, kirei!

http://www.japan-guide.com/blog/koyo12/121031.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3775.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3776.html

you can also peruse my tr on that area a few years back also with travel to Kakunodate and Lake Tazawa. Nyuto Onsen is in the area which really should not be missed but understand your reluctance.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...japan-2009.cfm

If going during the spring and cherry blossom season you may gleen a few ideas from these reports

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...fm#dest-header

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...y-blossoms.cfm

That you give your planning a start,lol.

Aloha!
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 11:00 AM
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>That should give your planning a start
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 01:06 PM
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Fantastic, thank you so much! Lots of great reading, can't wait!

We did book a number of ryokan with en suite cypress wood baths but none happened to be onsen / natural mineral waters this time. But yeah, I have some bookmarked which have private rotenburo, which look really wonderful.

Definitely going to look at focusing in on areas of interest - tea, rice, whisky and craft beer are definites, and we're keen beginners in the sake sphere but want to know more.

I know there are many other specialities I need to find out about, perhaps sakura blossom products or areas that are known for specific fruit, vegetables and other products?

We loved some of the local pickles in Takayama for example, and of course, elsewhere too.
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Feb 24th, 2013, 09:33 AM
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Kavey, I have to say that going nude among other nude people who do so on a regular basis is no big deal at all, even in countries where people aren't as polite and modest as in Japan.

You might want to check out the Special Interests section here: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/index.html

The Japan In-Depth link at the top of that page lists some Exotic Experiences.

kalihiwai2, I hope that you will post a trip report on your visit to Saga. The three pottery towns in that prefecture and Shimabara are on my list of places to visit in Japan.

I've visited Kyushu five times:
1&2) Fukuoka, for the grand sumo tournament & visit friends
3) flew to Kagoshima, visited Ibusuki, Kumamoto, and Fukuoka. I took the long way from Kumamoto to Fukuoka by going via Beppu. Pretty country scenery between Kumamoto and Beppu. Saw the jigoku of Beppu and hand a soak before going on to Fukuoka.
4) flew to Nagasaki, visited Nagasaki and Fukuoka
5) flew to Kagoshima, visited Kirishima Onsen and shrine, Yamazaki with a day trip to Obi, wonderful Takachiho, Aso, and a night in Kumamoto before flying back to Tokyo from there. I want to go back to the Aso-san area and ought to go to Kagoshima & Sakurajima some day.
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Feb 25th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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MrWunrfl, I'm not a particularly shy person, I've gone skinny dipping with friends and been to nude spas/ saunas here in the UK. But given that I am of, shall we say, generous proportions, I don't feel comfortable with doing so in Japan where people are commonly much smaller.
I think whilst the Japanese are generally very polite indeed, that's not to say that their reaction to my size when unhidden by clothes would be completely disguised and I'd rather not go there...
I wouldn't bat an eyelid going nude in some parts of the world. Odd, perhaps!


Thanks for extra information too, have a lot of reading to do.

Am working on our May 2013 trip at moment too so need to stop myself focusing on this for little bit and finalise some details of that one, then come back to this!!!
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Feb 25th, 2013, 01:59 PM
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ok, kavey, you and i can team up and have our own spa experience for the larger set...
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Feb 26th, 2013, 01:13 PM
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Mar 14th, 2013, 07:41 AM
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Kavey..just a suggestion while in Kyoto-Nara area. I have touted the Miho Museum which is an I.M. Pei design and exceptionally unique in its setting. From Kyoto's main JR station it's a ten-minute local train ride to Ishiyama, and outside the Ishiyama station there is a Teisan Bus Line with regular schedudle. We caught the 10:10 for a forty minute ride to the museum thorugh the countryside. Have lunch at the beautiful cafe' within the Miho. The museum and lunch is about a two hour visit. Here are the pics.

stu (by the way, I visited Kyoto twice, 61 years apart...the first time literally without one single tourist in town, guaranteed)

https://picasaweb.google.com/stuartt...hoMuseumIMPei#
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Mar 14th, 2013, 07:51 AM
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Stu,

We have been to Kyoto many times and on recent trips I always remember you touting the Miho Museum and had wanted to give it a try but something always came up. I think we will try (if all are willing) to make the trek there this fall. Love the pictures and of course your expertise.

61 years apart.....wow. Was anything or one site the same or recognizable when you returned to Kyoto? The temples must have been there but wondering how much change in the neighborhoods.

Aloha!
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Mar 14th, 2013, 10:03 AM
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Tower, Miho museum was actually firmly on my itinerary for our October trip last year but we lost a day and a half in Kyoto as I had such a severe headache I ended up having a CAT Scan in a Kyoto hospital. (I was fine, but took it easy for another day after that).

I really want to go this year, it's exactly the kind of place I think I'll love. Thank you!
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Mar 15th, 2013, 02:42 PM
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HT...there was a covert agreement between the USA and Japan, DURING the war, that Kyoto would not be bombed and indeed it was not. We were just a bunch of gung-ho armed teenagers in uniform and Kyoto was ours to explore in 1946. Pleased to report, that US troops respected the beauty, culture and history of the city, and quietly (if you can believe that) went about our exploring.

I can safely say that I covered most every historic structure in and slightly out of town...by foot. Cherry blossoms (sakura season) everywhere in town, the Philosophers Walk was in bloom. We had come to town from all over Japan and Korea, mostly traveling by US army-run trains. The occasion was the Passover Seder, while most other troops in the command region were given three day pases for Easter weekend.

The former Japanese Military School was our headquarters for our stay, and it's gymnasium was where the Seder(banquet) was held. Food was brought in from nearby bases in Osaka and Kobe. I was fortunate enough to meet up with several of my high school friends from Massachusetts. Some unforgettable reunion. On my visit in '07 I couldn't find the old school and was told it was torn down in the 60's. Read my "trip report" (not quite a report) of the '07 visit if you wish.

See the new dramatic movie "Emperor" to understand something about the sensitive early days of the occupation.
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Mar 15th, 2013, 03:09 PM
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HT...for that "so-called" trip report:

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...e-in-beppu.cfm

check on photos.

Stu
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Mar 15th, 2013, 08:02 PM
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If you do get out to the Miho Museum if possible swing through Shigaraki, especially if you have any interest in ceramics. The town is famous for its Tennuki statue production as several larger than life statues attest. Some great modern day artists here as well as historical sites of the ceramic variety.
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/r...shigaraki.html
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Mar 16th, 2013, 01:49 AM
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Ooh, thank you!
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