Japan, again

Old Jul 13th, 2010, 08:45 PM
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Japan, again

My third trip in two years. I consider other options and then come back to Japan. Oh well.

This trip is late November/early December, about 2.5 weeks. I'm going to take advantage of JR East's 3 day flexible pass for 10,000 yen and visit Tohoku: two nights in Nyuto Onsen at Tsurunoyu, one night in Kakunodate, and one night at Haguru-san (the only one of the Dewa Sanzan that's accessible this late in the year). Snow possible but not certain.

I'll then go to Tokyo, where fall color should be near peak intensity. My last night will be in Nikko, from which I'll travel to NRT on my last day.

So, several questions, but I'll start with lodging in Nikko. Ideally said lodging would be easily accessible from the train and walking distance to enough cultural sites to keep me busy, feature lovely out onsen and Japanese style rooms, and feature excellent Japanese dinner and breakfast (which needn't be served in my room, but also shouldn't be a buffet. Money isn't really an issue, but I am travelling solo, and many upmarket places won't take singles (though I suppose I could pay for two and just show up alone).

Any suggestions? Or if you don't have a specific property in mind, which area would you choose and why
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 04:29 AM
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A couple of typos in my post above, so to summarize the query:

lodging in Nikko for single traveller, high quality food and onsen important, proximty to train and cultural sites also important, price less important.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 07:53 AM
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Wish I had some specific help for you, Therese, but unfortunately not.

One place that you might find interesting is Hoshinoya, in Karuizawa. I have stayed there as a solo: they are extremely accommodating, and the Japanese dinners were excellent (both food and presentation were high quality). The grounds are very pleasant for strolling or hiking -- a very pleasant place to relax for a few days. English web site: http://www.hoshinoya.com/en/. (Also a few pics and more info on my old blog -- http://travelwithtopaz.blogspot.com/, and click on 2008 under "Blog Archive".)
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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We might bump into you in Japan as we will be in Korea till 11/30 then in Japan till 12/13. We will be in the Kansai region for a week. Then visits to Kinosaki onsen and on to the Izu Peninsula and Tokyo. Hope to see some fall colors again.....

We have stayed in two ryokans in Nikko that would take singles. You can walk to both from the station but Senhime Monogatari will send a car(bus) for you if you call.

http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/db/nikko/konishi.htm

http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/db/nikko/senhime.htm

The lovely couple in the Senhime Monogatari Photos section is of Mr & Mrs HT,lol

We loved Senhime Monogatari. You can read my trip report for our impressions of the two ryokan and also our impressions of Tsurunoyu Onsen on the same trip.

http://tiny.cc/91md4

Let me know if you have any specific questions.

Aloha!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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I hope there's adequate room in the land of the Rising Sun.
I expect to be there from Nov 28-Dec 2. (Probably a couple of days in Tokyo, a couple more at Hyatt in Gora.)
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 01:01 PM
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There's room, but they'll know we've been there.

Should we try for a GTG? I'll be in Tokyo on Nov 21 and 22, and then back on Nov 27 until December 6. So pretty much sure to overlap with rizzuto, and possibly with HT et ux if they get to Tokyo earlier rather than later in their itinerary.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 04:28 PM
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re GTG: I can't make even a tentative commitment until my dates get firmer. If I'm in Tokyo for only 2 days, then the 29th would be the only day that I could make it.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 04:35 PM
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No worries, rizzuto, I rely on serendipity.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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Would love to meet but we are in Tokyo 12/10-12/13.

Aloha!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 07:21 PM
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Next time, HT.

Thanks very much for the link to your trip report. Great info about Tsurunoyu and some of the other destinations on this trip as well. Your description of Konishi's shortcomings coincides with what I'd gleaned on line. Senhime's web site specifically mentions booking for a minimum of two people (or at least that's what Engrish leads me to believe) and Japanican will not give a result for one person bookings. Japanese Guesthouses' listing for Senhime doesn't specify, so I may try and see if they can arrange it.

Another possibilty is Honke Bankyu, way up in Yunishigawa Onsen. I'd travel to Nikko from Tokyo early, check my bag (it's small, no hassle) at the station while I see a bit of Nikko, and then continue on to the onsen in the afternoon. It's a significant journey, and the big question is whether I can get to NRT in time for my flight home the next afternoon. Were this anywhere but Japan I would not consider this a reasonable enterprise, but in Japan it seems perfectly reasonable.

Any experience with Honke Bankyu
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 07:55 PM
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Senhime is a big ryokan so I would imagine they would take a single. Just send an email request to JGH, cost for info is free.

Sorry, no experience with Honke Bankyu but if you want to travel just a little farther out in the same area there is a absolute gem of a place called Omaru Onsen Ryokan which is just spectacular imho. Wrote a review on another trip report last fall if you are interested.
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...japan-2009.cfm
The food presentations here are pretty much some of the best I have seen yet and the rotenburos are out of sight.
http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/nasu/omaru.htm
The add says they won't take a single but it never hurts to ask. You could say you are a single willing to pay extra for the experience of this ryokan and see what they say. The rooms are just average for a ryokan of this level but the atmosphere in this place is just special.....

I know what you mean by you consider other options then come back to Japan. This winter will be our 7th trip in 5 yrs and I am working on plans for #'s 8 & 9 already,lol

Aloha!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 08:14 PM
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Honke Bankyu is supposed to be pretty darn amazing, and Nikko is on the way. It's bookable via Japanican (for two people, that is), but they've also got an email mechanism for booking, so I think I'll try that and plead my case for single-ness.

I've got a friend n Yokohama who'd definitely enjoy the trip, but she's a mom and housewife, so a night away during the school week might be difficult to swing.
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Old Jul 15th, 2010, 05:55 PM
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I will be heading to Nikko in just a few weeks. I will be staying at the Turtle Inn, a budget hotel which has been recommended on this board. I'll let you know what I think of it.

Meanwhile I'm going to check out HT's trip report too.
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 07:55 AM
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Good to know that I'm not the only train geek out there who will sit on an empty platform and watch nozomi roar by, HT (as per your trip report). I once passed a lovely couple of hours in Himeji doing precisely that while consuming a bento and a beer.

My last hotel room in Tokyo (Hotel Villa Fontaine Shiodome) featured a terrific view of trains of all sorts converging on the Shinbashi complex. There's no accounting for taste, is there?
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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Good news: I've gotten a response back from Honke Bankyu and not only will they accomodate a single traveller, but the price is less than it would have been if I'd booked at Japanican (and that's assuming that the price for two persons would have been split in half, which it typically isn't).

The timing of the first bus departure in the morning is a bit tight for getting to NRT in time for my flight, so I've asked about the possibility of a taxi so as to make an earlier train from Yunishigawa station. The new fast Keisei train from Ueno will also help---Hyperdia does not appear to have updated its schedule for those trains (which start running in just a couple of days).
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 10:01 AM
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Glad to hear your good news! I just looked at their website and the place looks very nice.

I was going to suggest you try booking direct through the hotel. I have only used Japanicam once for a res that I couldn't book myself. I usually fax the hotel or ryokan I want directly and they usually fax back in a few days after they have someone translate for them. If they never fax back and I really want to stay there then I use Japanicam or the like. I do use Japanese Guest Houses a lot but that's because I now know the staff and they cater to what I want.

You can find the new timetable for Keisei trains here:
http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetud...le_narita.html

Good to know I am not alone in my little nozomi fetish,lol. Mrs HT thinks I am nuts.

Where are you staying in Kakunodate? You can get a discount with your JR Pass at the Folkloro. Fax Akiyamasan at 0187/53-2118 for the price of a single with JR pass.

Aloha!
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 10:48 AM
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It doesn't seem to be uncommon for ryokans that require 2-person-minimum on Rakuten to allow single guests for a weekday.
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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I can certainly see the rationale for an upmarket place's requiring a two person minimum, and when meal service occurs in your room it seems a bit lonely if you're all alone. Honke Bankyu serves dinner in a large banquet hall with multiple irori. Maybe they'll seat me with other gaijin (if there are any of them about, and I gather there very well might not be).

I tend to use Japanican and Rakuten and Agoda and even Expedia for modern properties. You'd think they'd all have the same prices, but they often don't and by looking around I can get a good deal (as my pockets are nowhere near as deep as some people's, and yes, HT, I mean you).

I have used Japanese Guest Houses and they offer great service. This trip I've used them to book Tsurunoyo as well as a ryokan in Kakunodate, Ishikawa. Somewhere along the way I ready that the Folkloro discount was only for JR Pass, not JR East Pass (which doesn't really make sense to me, but I'm pretty sure I saw the info on a JR or JR East web site). Ishikawa looks to be a pretty traditional, old school sort of place, so I'm pleased with the choice.

In Tokyo I'm staying at two different places. Asakusa BlueWave Inn is right next to Senso-ji (some rooms have great views of the temple). Dormy Inn Hacchobori has its own onsen. Both locations are suited to my plans for the periods in question, and both were very good deals.

For Haguro-san I booked a place that's at the base of the path (well, the stairs) to the top via Japanican.
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 06:45 PM
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I'll be interested in your thoughts on the Blue Wave, Therese. I'd considered staying there, but am planning on the Lungwood instead, both for its value and its convenient location for the Skyliner. (I do hope that the hotel itself is more pleasant than the sound of its name.)

The Blue Wave is not at all far from the Maguro Bito kaiten zushi shop -- possible place for a GTG?
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Old Jul 16th, 2010, 08:31 PM
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The Lungwood really is the most repulsive name, isn't it? Ah, Engrish.

I'll have left the Blue Wave by the time you get to Japan, rizzuto, but kaiten zushi sounds like an excellent option in any case. I got a ridiculously good price on my room there, so it's entirely possible that I'm bunking in the lobby. We'll see.
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