My Japan Trip

Oct 25th, 2004, 12:53 AM
  #1  
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My Japan Trip

Hi everyone,
I just returned from my trip to Japan and here is my take on it.

1. Everyone there are very frienly (at least they were to me... I guess it is because I may not look intimidating ). For example, I was just going across the street durring a very light drizzle and this woman walks up and puts her umbrella over me. Also, my tour company forgot to give me all my vouchers, but the hotels just made copies of my itinerary and there was no problems.
2. The Bullet Train is so fast yet quiet and smooth.
3. The subways do not run 24 hours so, my staying out was not really there. But, people are willing to help, and if in Tokyo, the JR lines have monitors that will tell you important information, like how far your stop is.
4. I had great food at a small sushi restaurants in Kyoto.
5. If you are in Kyoto and want to try a tea ceremony, you must go to Tondaya. The people there are wonderful and friendly. You can also have lunch there before the tea ceremony (but the tea ceremony is not in a group). I had the lunch and tea ceremony by myself. If you are looking for a more group experience, you may want to try somewhere else. Also, you get to wear a kimono at Tondaya. If you go to Tondaya, then tell them I say "Hi"
6. My sightseeing was cut short due to the Typhoons hitting 10/19 - 10/20... That is why I want to go back.

If you have any specific questions about my trip, you can email me at [email protected].

Amit
AGoela is offline  
Oct 25th, 2004, 05:11 AM
  #2  
emd
 
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Amit: I will email you if I do not hear back from you or get an answer here, but how long should one allow for the tea ceremony in Kyoto? How far ahead did you reserve it?
Also, for those who have done this, will you please comment on the group vs. individual tea ceremony? I am considering this w/my teen son. Any other recommendations for where to do this if we decide to do a group one?
Your umbrella story is nice. We have heard from another traveler recently that he and his wife were also very impressed w/the friendliness of the Japanese. This makes me feel even better about independent travel there.
Finally, I am sorry your trip was affected by the typhoons. On another board I keep hearing from people who live in Japan that they felt almost no effects at all from the typhoons (and some of them live in the areas that were hit). Maybe the difference is that they were not travelers in the country at the time. When your plane or train is cancelled and you lose one or two days of your plans, that can be significant for a planned 10 day to 2 wk trip, or for any trip for that matter.
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Oct 26th, 2004, 11:05 AM
  #3  
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When I went, from start to finish, it took about an hour, but then I was by myself. More people, will mean more time. I had mine booked a few months in advance, but that was because I had known that I wanted to do it and so instead of waiting, I just did it. I would recommend as soon as you know where and when, just book it. I had mine at Tondaya (<a href="http://www.tondaya.co.jp"> http://www.tondaya.co.jp </a>) I did the lunch and tea ceremony there, even though the website says that it is 10,000 Y for lunch and tea, I payed 10,500 Y (they may not have updated the price on the english site). But I still think it was well worth it. One thing is that they can dress you up in a traditional kimono. If you want a group tea ceremony, you can talk with JTB, they have tea ceremony tour in which you will be with other people. They even have one for Tondaya, but it does not include lunch. I hope this information helps.

Amit
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Oct 26th, 2004, 11:20 AM
  #4  
emd
 
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Thanks amit. I agree, for me it is never too soon to book something you know you want to do. My son and I both love tea and he likes special rituals. He is the one who always wants to get out my English teapot and brew the loose tea, when I want to be quick and use the tea bags and coffee mugs. I think this might be a nice break in one of our days in Kyoto. We are planning soem of these types of more personal experiences to mix in w/the more traditional tourism things.

One last thing: Where is Tondaya, what part of Kyoto, what is it close to? If I know that then I can know what day to plan for this, in relation to other places we will be going.
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Oct 26th, 2004, 02:32 PM
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If you are interested in tea kaiseki (the meal that sometimes precedes the tea) and tea ceremony, you might enjoy the book "Untangling My Chopsticks" - forget the author right now, sorry. It might be good to read this book and study a bit about tea kaiseki and tea rituals before tryinng them...it will add a great deal to your experience.
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Oct 26th, 2004, 02:34 PM
  #6  
emd
 
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Thanks KimJapan! Any other recommendations for individual tea ceremonies?
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Oct 26th, 2004, 03:33 PM
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You could do a search for chakaiseki or cha kaiseki to find info in English. Many places offer simple tea ceremonies without food...in Kanazawa off the top of my head I know that the tea house in Kenrokuen and a samurai house "museum" and the gold leaf museum all offer simpified tea ceremonies. Once we participated in a slightly more formal tea ceremony in the lobby of the Nagoya Hilton. School festivals almost always have a tea ceremony room where you can experience tea ceremony with the students who are in the tea ceremony club. Newspaper cultural centers also offer tea ceremony class, as do department store culture centers. Once you arrive in Japan, the tourist info center should be able to help you find something suitable for you in terms of timing and formality level.
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Oct 26th, 2004, 04:14 PM
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I saw mention of tea ceremony at the following site.
http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.com
Just put "tea ceremony" in the Search NCBF and Go. One of the search results is for Nakamura Gakuen University and there is a contact number in D.C. that you might call for advice.

Maybe better is "The Urasenke Tradition of Tea" webpage which has contact info for the group here in McLean.

http://www.nationalcherryblossomfest...dex.php?id=561

Maybe one of those people could give you some advice.
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Oct 26th, 2004, 05:52 PM
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Where Tondaya is relative to other placed I don't know. I took a cab to and from the place because of the typhoon and I was having a hard time finding the cross street. You can go to their website to get more information (http://www.tondaya.co.jp/english)
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Oct 27th, 2004, 05:01 AM
  #10  
emd
 
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From the site, Tondaya looks very authentic and like they really are proud of their history, and I love the idea of wearing a kimono for the tea ceremony. Was the cab really expensive? We are staying at the Westin Miyako- I don't know where you went there from though.

mrwunrfl: Thank you for the local advice. I think I will cal lthem to see if they know more about the location of Tondaya and are familiar w/them. It is so great that there are such resources in the D.C. area. When I tried to find Japanese classes for my son last year I called everywhere I could think of and could find no one who would teach Japanese to a then-13 yr old.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 06:24 AM
  #11  
 
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emd, from the map on Todaya site, I see it is located by Imadegawa district and near Nishijin Ori Kaikan (Nishijin Textile Center). On a map of Kyoto, I see Nishijin Ori Kaikan a bit less than 10 kilometers north of Kyoto Station. Also about 1 kilometer north of Nijo-jo Castle and half a kilometer west of the northern end of Kyoto Imperial Palace. Nishijin Ori Center site says they are 10 minutes by taxi and 25 minutes by city bus from Kyoto railway station. Hope this will give you some idea that you are looking for.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 06:50 AM
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And the nearest subway station Karasuma-Imadegawa & the bus stop Horikawa-Imadegawa.
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Oct 27th, 2004, 07:42 AM
  #13  
emd
 
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kappa, you made my day. Thanks very very much. Always so glad to see you here and on the other board too.
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Oct 28th, 2004, 05:42 AM
  #14  
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I stayed in at the New Miyako Hotel right across from the Kyoto station and I payed rouphly $25 US. (round trip) so it was not terribly expensive by Japan standards. They really are very proud. The owner was very sweet and kind, she has dog, but pretty much keeps him away so that it does not bother the guests. The hostesses love to talk and learn things about you. You will have a great treat if you get Yuko, her English was top notch and very easy to follow.

It was an adventure sitting on the tatami mat wearing a kimono and eating lunch. I was sitting the correct way as the Japanese would sit and at the end of lunch, my legs were so tired, they dragged as I tried to get up. lol.... Durring the tea ceremony though I sat on a stool, I didn't think my legs could take another 5 min. in that position. But then, she took a pic. of me sitting the correct way with the tea cup in my hands. I hope you have a good time there. As you can tell, they definately made an impression on me.

Amit
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Oct 28th, 2004, 12:53 PM
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emd, you are very welcome.
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