mrw Goes to Japan #8 (needs ideas)

Sep 30th, 2011, 08:13 PM
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mrw Goes to Japan #8 (needs ideas)

I have a ticket to Osaka, arriving the 18th and returning from Toyama on the 29th, first class on OZ via ICN.

I had planned to spend a couple of nights in Osaka and then Okayama, Kyoto, Takayama, the train ride from Takayama to Toyama,, and then the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, but a few things have made me change my mind:

- I think it might be too cold for the T-K Route at the end of November
- cant get the 25th on Hyatt points (I think I waited too long) because of the holiday, I suppose. I am still interested in visiting Kyoto on this trip - to have dinner with friends.
- ANA is selling seats on intra-Japan flights on their new Boeing 787 (see my post on the Air Travel forum for info).

What I've got so far is spending the first two or three nights (Nov 18 weekend) at the Westin Osaka on points. I definitely want to visit Osaka castle and I am guessing that the park will have fall colors. Will have to find out where Osaka-jin might go for 7-5-3 that weekend. I need a recco for a great sushi place. Am not sure about going to Spa World.

After that I figured that I would spend 4 or 5 days and visit Arima Onsen, Okayama, and Kurashiki, maybe Miyajima. Might base in Hiroshima at the Sheraton which is next to the station.

I have a 787 flight booked on the 25th from Okayama to Tokyo (HND). I hadn't planned on visiting Tokyo, but now that I HAVE TO fly there on the 787, I might spend the night. What is attracting me to Tokyo is the prospect of spending the night at the Westin (with the great cigar store) and going to a sushi place that the concierge reccommended the last time I was there and which I loved (it is near Ebisu station, but I forget the name).

kuranosuke, if you read this, I want you to know that over the last several years I have come to understand that sushi for breakfast is a great idea. So a visit to Tsukui might be on order. In other words, i am considering spending a night in Tokyo in order to eat fish and smoke a Cuban cigar or two.

At some point I have to get to Toyama to spend the night on the 28th. I have read that the Takayama- Toyama train ride is very scenic and this has been on my Japan bucket list for a long time. Also would like to go to Unazuki. But I think that the region would be better at another time of year.

There is an Edo-type parade in Tsumago on the 23rd that might be fun.

I am literally all over the map here, at least the part in a triangle from Hiroshima to Tokyo to Toyama, so comments on any of the above would be appreciated as they might help me nail this down (or decide to wing it). Thanks for reading.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Sep 30th, 2011, 10:34 PM
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Bill, Wow, my two Japan mentors KimJapan and you actually asking for Japan advice at the same time but am feeling quite inadequate so with my apologies here it goes.....

Around Namba in Osaka there are sushi restaurants open for breakfast in Kuromon Ichiba (Kuromon Marketplace)iirc. The Dotombori area in Osaka has numerous sushi places and other restaurants and shops that make Kyoto's shopping and eating streets look like a child's imitation.....

Sumeyoshi Taisha would be a good place in Osaka to observe the shichi go san or Shintennoji Temple or the nearest Shinto shrine but you already knew that. We will be in Kumamoto at that time and plan the day of touring their Shinto shrines.

I know Arima Onsen is unique but have you been to Kinosaki Onsen yet? Kani sashimi is King here in all shapes and forms and definitely for dinner or breakfast. Much more intimate than Arima imho and you can spend the day touring and bathing in the other onsen in town with their discount pass which lets you into all the other onsen in town.

Our final itinerary has changed a bit and will be in Kyoto 11-21 to 11-24 and over night in Hyatt Hakone(Gora)for one night(Thanksgiving) 11/24 then off to Tokyo for four nights before heading home. Don't know if you have been yet but the Hyatt(Hakone)in Gora is outstanding and the hot spring baths they have there are fantastic. Worth the points for an overnight.

There is a Comfort Inn in Toyama ekimai that is clean, comfortable, cheap and includes breakfast with free bikes to tour the city which for the most part is flat.

Yes the Tatayama/Kurobe would be uncomfortable at that time of year and the kouyou(koyo) will be long gone at that altitude......probably just snow.

If our paths cross would love to see you again.

Just spent the weekend with the kuranosuke's and Simpsonc512 and had a blast in Kona. You are right, Ken would eat sashimi for breakfast, lunch, dinner or anytime it is served. When we parted he was making a mileage run to ORD and back......gotta love you 1Ker's.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 30th, 2011, 11:50 PM
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Well....the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route closes for the season on November 30. I would think it would be a bit grim in terms of scenery as the color will be gone and many leaves dropped, leaving a lot of gray. In its favor, though, it will not be crowded and there is a great onsen that would be wonderful in the cold weather.

If you have interest in architecture or art, send me an e-mail...I'll have a proposition for you, no money involved!
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 01:58 AM
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aloha bill, sounds like you got another great japan trip planned. and you get to ride the dreamliner!

ah so, nothing like a sushi breakfast to start your day. don't forget to show your metro pass at sushi zanmai and get your free 8" anago sushi(400Y value). there should be alot of oishii sakana during nov.

if you ever go to the sushi place in ebisu, post it here, as i am always looking for new sushi horizons.

ht, chicago was abit wet and cold for me. but did have a chance to have lunch at bergoffs. had the veal cutlet ala holstein. ono!!

stayed at the hyatt regency ohare. excellent property.

btw bill, don't forget to clean your shoes so you don't track the fishy smell back to the hotel as you trek by my room. lol.
(isn't the yen vs dollar a killer?)
kuranosuke is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 09:13 AM
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ht, I knew I could count on your Osaka tips. I will look into Kinosaki Onsen. I like crab. Looks like we will be in Tokyo at the same time, unless I change my skimpy plan.

The only bad thing about using miles on the 787 is that it doesn't lock me in like a non-refundable fare would - it keeps my options open and there are too many options for visiting Japan.

KimJapan, you have hotmail. I am interested in architecture and Japanese art. The T-K Route is definitely off the plan, once and for all. Probably won't go to Takayama this time and visit when it is green there and in S-go and T-K.

Could you take a look at the Granvia Japanese website to see if there are any good deals for Okayama that I don't see on the English site? Double or larger. One page I saw showed rates for single, twin, double, and no mention of king. When I checked rates for a date (Nov 21, I think) I saw 16,000 for a king bed. The jrhotels website shows a JR Pass discount rate for single rooms only, IIRC. I might see what kind of rates H.I.S. Travel, here in the OC, can get. Or maybe just wait until I get to Japan.

Ken, I didn't try sushi until my 3rd or 4th trip to Japan and only because it was part of my meal in F on JAL. This was after my trip that included Otaru. I know now that I made a big mistake.

You are right about the exchange rate being a killer. This is a good time/place to use hotel points. Too bad that the Kobe Sheraton is not on top of Shin Kobe station. That would be ideal. It is even a good time to use miles instead of a JR Pass. Did I mention that the OKJ-NRT flight is only 6000 FF miles?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 01:26 PM
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hno more hotmail. Same address but @Mac.com.
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Granvia Okayama - November 21 - 1 guest - 1 night

- standard single A ¥7200 room only (20m2) ¥9500 with bfast
- standard twin A ¥14,000 room only (34m2) ¥16,000 with bfast

10 days advance booking rate
- Economy single ¥6400 room only (17m2)
- standard single B ¥7900 room only (20m2)
- Renewal semi double ¥9400 room only (20m2)
- high floor executive single ¥9400 room only (20m2)

30 days advance booking breakfast included - same room types a 10 day.
- ¥8400
- ¥9900
- ¥11,400
- ¥11,400
There are a few other plans and bigger rooms for more money... But these I posted should give you an idea.
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 02:03 PM
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Standard double ¥16,000 bed 180 cm wide
Renewal semi- double 140 cm
Semi double 120 cm
Sinle 120 cm
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 03:04 PM
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Thanks for all the details. 2000 JPY for breakfast! Guess it will be pastries from Lawson's for breakfast.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 05:11 PM
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The English page has:
Standard single 7400 + 1147 tax = 8547, floors 8-15
Executive single 9000 + 1395 tax= 10395, floors 16-18
Both are 20 sqm, 122cm

This is from the booking engine linked from the granvia-oka website.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 05:14 PM
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It is not at all uncommon for the English language version to offer fewer plans and higher prices.
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 1st, 2011, 06:27 PM
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Just curious - how does one get the prices from the Japanese page if one can't fill out the Japanese form? Do you have to pay in advance for the best rate? I see on the Japanese page they want the payment method.....
Mara is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:30 AM
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We had wanted to stay at the Westin Osaka(You've stayed there before right) when we were in Osaka last November but opted again to stay at the Hyatt(needed stay to qualify for Diamond). Wouldn't stay again at that Hyatt again unless for the same reason. Bad location and terrible service in Regency Club lounge. Interested in your review of the Westin, nice location in Umeda, close to the JR station.

While we were there last fall we visited among other places Mino Park which is located a short train ride explained on the link below north of Osaka in the hills. Excellent place for viewing the fall colors and eating momiji leaves if you are interested. It is at least a half day commitment in time though. The hike from the station through the trail into the valley is about two miles long and crowded with mainly Japanese tourists.

When you get off the train just follow the flow of people and it will eventually take you to the waterfall......beautiful scenery if you have good timing.....your timing this year is perfect imho.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4019.html

Namba Namba Namba,we love that area of Osaka to eat, shop, be entertained then eat again.

I find the use of your JR pass for transport limits tourists to the sights and sounds around "the loop" and that's it. So much more to see if you can get off the loop and snoop around.

Osaka-jo had some nice coloring but not what I had anticipated having been there before in Sakura.

Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park(again off the loop) in the northeastern section of the city shown in the map on the link below had many gardens and beautiful color but we were a little late they said at this site as many leaves had already fallen.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4018.html

We might use Osaka as a base in future trips as HA has started a r/t HNL/KIX and wanted to try next yeat as UA is now making Premier members a useless thing. Also as a base for planned future Okinawa expeditions.

Any plans on the evening of the 25th? The HT's and Mara have a loosely planned Tokyo(Shinjuku)GTG that evening(venue yet to be determined)and would love to reconnect if you are free.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Mara, KimJapan once mentioned that there were lower rates on the Japanese site for Rihga Royal Hotel in Hiroshima. So, I went to the Japanese site for the hotel and copied the URL into babelfish.altavista.com which partly translated the page (hit F6 to hilite the URL and CTRL-C to copy, then CTRL-V to paste into babelfish).

The translation by babelfish of the pages wasn't great - it had the wrong words in some places - but I could figure out the meaning. Also, if you put your cursor over a Japanese language link then you can see the URL in the status bar at the bottom of your browser (View- Toolbars- Status Bar in IE to turn it on). For example, you might see the word "reservations" in the URL in the status bar. Click that and then you figure out how to enter the info for the reservation form and submit it. The confirmation e-mail that comes back will be in Japanese, but you should be able to recognize the details (dates, rate, name). You could copy/paste parts or all of it into an online translator (babelfish or other), unless you can find someone to translate.

I was a bit nervous at check-in thinking that this was too good to be true and there might be some hitch, but everything was cool and groovy. I got a great rate and a nice room at that very good hotel by doing this.

I might do it again but I don't really want to pay those JPY rates at the current exchange rates.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 09:14 AM
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ht, thanks for the comment about the Hyatt Osaka. I have been considering it but thought it might be a bit remote, being a the port. I have not been to the West Osaka. The only time I have been in Osaka was to stop at the Hard Rock Cafe for a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner and a t-shirt. I apreciate your tips.

Do you know anything about the Sheraton in Kobe? I took a look at hyperdia and, IIRC, it was 30 min just to get from the hotel to Shin-Kobe, so not ideal.

Also, there is the Sheraton resort at Awaji Island. I am considering this, but not seriously because I don't land at KIX until 9PM or so. I don't really want to take the boat at night (even if it was still running that late) and then bus to hotel.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 12:00 PM
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Thanks, mrwunrfl - I use rikaichan with Mozilla Firefox - it does a pretty good job of translating - but it seems some of the forms you need to fill out want a Japanese type zipcode and telephone number - also I am under the impression that you cannot use Rakuten's Japanese site which often has better listings than the English one.....not a big issue, thanks though!
Mara is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2011, 04:15 PM
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It was raining when we arrived In Kobe so I took the first taxi I saw to the Kobe Sheraton on Rokko Island which was my first mistake as they have shuttle buses from the station. Have a tr on it in the April 15th entry

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ossom-tour.cfm

Nice place but wouldn't stay there unless on points. On points it is more than adequate.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 5th, 2011, 08:22 PM
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I booked the Tokyo Hilton on points for Saturday, the 26th. Finally, I can put those HH points to good use.

Friday, the 25th, I could stay at the Hyatt and on Saturday morning walk down the street to drop of my luggage at the Hilton before I go out for the day. Choice is $177 advance purchase and I have platinum status, or 12,000 pts for a king, or 15,000 pts for club king.

ht, what do you think of those options? Do you happen to know if the club room would be open and have breakfast on Saturday morning?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 6th, 2011, 07:09 AM
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The Regency Club room opens for breakfast everyday from 6 or 6:30 till 10. They serve usually one egg dish(boiled, quiche, scrambled) along with cereals, fruits, salads, bacon, sausages, several different breads and cheeses,etc. All soft drinks, juices, water are in the self serve fridge. They have one of those coffee/latte machines and all types of tea. In the evening from 6-8 they have an full open self serve bar along with quite a few hot and cold hors d'oeuvres always with a raw seafood of some type and one or two dessert items. We usually have a drink with a few tidbits and enjoy the view before we head down to Le Coup Chou which is a ten minute walk down the street. The club stays open from 8-10 pm with just tea, coffee, the open fridge items and cookies and these amazing candies wrapped in a blue wrapper whose name eludes me at this early in the morning but are truly addicting. Linda has found where they sell them in Tokyo along with other places in Japan so every time we go there we pick up a few bags to take home.

The Club is located on the 9th floor with a concierge desk outside in the foyer. If you go for the club you can bypass check in downstairs and go straight to the 9th floor and check in there. Ask for a Fujisan view room. On a clear winter morning Fujisan is a sight to behold from Tokyo. You can also catch her at sunset if you are lucky. If you don't get a view room you can see her from the Regency Club.

The Hilton is across the street from the Hyatt.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 6th, 2011, 07:18 AM
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With Platinum status you should get the upgraded rooms at check in either way.

If you are going to utilize the club room and club room perks then I would go for the 15K points and the club room.

If you need a stay for qualifying for something then $177.00 for the night is not bad either at a Hyatt in Tokyo......

BTW this hotel also has a Gold Passport Member free continental breakfast room on the 6th floor where they have a free few pastries with coffee and tea.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  

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