Mini trip report

May 14th, 2014, 03:48 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 54
Mini trip report

Thanks so much to all the Fodorites for your input and suggestion on my 1st trip to Japan. It is a mini report because unfortunately, the day before I flew out, I injured my back (not realizing how seriously). So much planning and time had gone into this trip that I went ahead and traveled, saw less of Japan than I wished, but will relay as much information as I can for those 1st time traveler's to Japan. I used multiple resources such as Japanguide, JNTO, a few guidebook's (fodor's included) as well as a website inside I bought a Japanrail pass and paid a bit extra for the green car and was glad I did. It was comfortable and not very crowded which was a concern because I was traveling through the beginning of Golden week. I came with Yen in pocket since the exchange rate at home was slightly better than the Tokyo airport rate at time of purchase. I purchased medical insurance through Globalnomads, and rented a Mifi through Advanced Global Communications for my IPad. In retrospect I was sorry I did not rent an IPhone since mine did not work as planned.
I flew United from Honolulu to Narita with an early afternoon arrival. IAfter arriving I bought a one way Keisei skyliner ticket and subway card and was soon in Ginza where I would be staying for the next three nights. I had downloaded and printed a map of airport so knew exactly where to go. Traveling from the airport was not an issue, signage is in English and was easy to follow directions. Coming out of the subway I got turned around so hailed a cab. Since I did not follow directions of fellow traveler's I hoped into a taxi and asked him to take me to my hotel. After a bit of confusion, I asked a passerby for help which she did, and was soon on my way. Tip- write name and address in Japanese on a card. I stayed three nights at the Hotel Monterey Ginza and while it was clean, I would probably spend a little more and stay elsewhere nexttime, although I loved the area. The Main Street was closed off on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, so was a nice people watching area. There were plenty of coffee shops (very important to me) and restaurants nearby, and a subway station across the street from the hotel. With limited mobility during this trip, Tokyo consisted of Senso-ji temple, a walk around Asakusa, and a short visit to Shibuya crossing for a photo op. The remainder of my must see's as well as my day trip to Kamakura will have to wait till next time.
Monday morning took the train to kyoto for a six night stay. The original plan was a day trip to Hiroshima and possibly Nara, but those plans were nixed for reasons mentioned above. I remained in Kyoto and stayed at the Citidines in central Kyoto. There was a grocery store just down the street as well as a subway station vey close to the hotel. I ended up taking several taxi rides for ease, but the transportation system seemed efficient. I was able to visit Ginkaku-ji (my fav), Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo-Jo, Fushimi-inari for a quick look, and a Kinkaku-ji. I did realize towards the end of the trip that I would not make the plane home without help from a physician. The hotel called around and found someone willing to see me. The DR. did not speak English but had a nurse that spoke a bit and were kind enough to give me enough medicine to get me home the following day. I will be forever grateful to him and his staff for their assistance. I had one misstep on my last day. I was planning on taking N'ex to the airport at 2:03, and at 2:01 a train pulled up, I got on, only to realize that it was not 2:03, nor was it an airport train. I quickly got off on the next stop, explained my blunder, and was directed to hop back on and go back to my point of origin. I explained my dilemma to the JR rep and was on the 2:33 train to the airport. Amazing!!
Overall I thought Japan was fabulous, it is clean, has a super efficient infrastructure, the food was delicious an I found the people I encountered warm, willing to talk ( can't tell you how many times I was asked about my home) and hopefully be returning, soon. Ready to start planning Thanks again.
hnl is offline  
May 14th, 2014, 03:55 AM
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 532

Hope you are feeling better. Back problems can be tricky as I know from my husband's experience.

For a first time traveler to Japan from reading your report it sounds like you really knew what you were doing. Thanks for all the helpful info. Japan is a place I would like to visit and reading trip reports, even "mini" ones is enjoyable as well as informative.
chris45ny is offline  
May 14th, 2014, 04:22 AM
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 464
Japan is very clean and safe. Nice temples, ok food.

I tried hard to like it but found it a bit bland. Japanese people just arent as warm as say Thai people. Because everything is so organised I found it lacked some of that fun chaotic factor you get in SEA.

Hotel rooms are also very small with tiny bathrooms.

Overall its ok but Ive never wanted to go back.
Prachuap is offline  
May 15th, 2014, 11:48 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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chris45ny- I
I hope you get there soon!
hnl is offline  
May 15th, 2014, 12:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,997
Thanks for the report, hnl -- bad luck with the physical problems, but glad you were able to enjoy at least some of your time in Japan.

How did you like the Citadines in Kyoto?
DonTopaz is offline  
May 16th, 2014, 02:40 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2014
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The Citidines was very clean and comfortable and the rooms were very quiet. My room had two double beds, a small sofa, microwave, stovetop burner, and a small refrigerator. There was shared laundry in the basement as well as an affordable breakfast, although did not eat there myself. A very decent sized grocery store about a block and a half away and subway very close by. It is located one subway stop from the train station in the one direction and one stop from the Nishiki market in the other direction (just to give you an idea of where it's situated. Bikes are everywhere in the area so be careful! Any other time I would have hoped on one myself.
hnl is offline  
May 16th, 2014, 03:37 AM
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PS would like to add that was so inspired by the fresh ginger ale that was served in several places, that I went home and made my very own brown-sugar syrup ginger ale. Not quite as good as their's but am working on it.
hnl is offline  
May 16th, 2014, 11:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
So sorry to hear about your back injury, travelling when in pain is tough, I know well, and the plain journey in particular can be difficult because of sitting in same position for so long.

Glad you got to enjoy what you could and hope you'll be healed soon and able to go back for more too!
Kavey is offline  

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