Osaka to Nara

Jun 7th, 2005, 05:15 AM
  #1  
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Osaka to Nara

Which is the best way to get from Osaka to Nara? Is Nara worth a day trip?
CMA05 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:04 AM
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Bonjour CMA,

Nara is IMO definitely worth a daytrip. It is quite a change from Osaka, lots of greenery (beware the deers - they'll munch on your belongings if they think they are edible), some of the most spectacular temples, a small town full of traditional architecture and good shops, a great history and art museum. You can walk almost everywhere.

From Osaka station, take the JR Yamatoji line. It goes directly to JR Nara in less than 1 h.

From Shin Osaka, you'll have to change at Tennoji for the JR Yamatoji line, or at Namba to take the Kintetsu line to Nara.

Both Kintetsu and JR stations have information desks with free maps in English and other languages, both are within walking distance of the main attractions (Kintetsu is marginally more central).

According to Hyperdia, cost is around Yen 800.

http://grace.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperd01.cgi

Florence is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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Yes, it is definitely worth a day trip. You should also consider a stop at Horyuji which is on the JR Yamatoji line.
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Jun 7th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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Thanks for the information. I'm thinking of staying at the Toyoko-inn in Namba, I've heard that this chain offers clean rooms at a reasonable rate, is it a good choice?
I will be going to the Tempozan Pier on board the Princess for my cruise, can you tell me the best way to the pier from Namba?
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Jun 7th, 2005, 12:41 PM
  #5  
cwn
 
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cma, We are just back form a wonderful Princess cruise from Osaka. We stayed in Kyoto though. The board gave us lots of help and ideas.

You can use subway/train connections to the Pier I'm sure. But I would check with your hotel about a taxi, it is so much easier. We took a taxi from Kyoto to Tempozan Pier.

We went to Nara, it was OK- hot, crowded and dusty, but not nearly as impressive or interesting as some other places! If that is the only side trip you are taking, there are many other places that my husband and I found more interesting. A day trip to Kyoto would head that list. Pick two or three sites there. It is very easy to get around and is a wonderful city! Also Himeji would be on the list. My husband liked that more than Nara.

Have a get cruise-if you want more info just ask!
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Jun 7th, 2005, 01:08 PM
  #6  
emd
 
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cwn: I was just thinking of you as someone in last few days (over the weekend)had questions on getting to the cruise terminal in Osaka. I'm sure they would appreciate your input.

Welcome home! how did the luggage go?
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Jun 7th, 2005, 01:11 PM
  #7  
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oh, I see now that it was this same poster, CMA05, who asked....
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Jun 7th, 2005, 03:29 PM
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cwn, as you have suggested, if I go to Kyoto as a day trip, will that be too much of a rush? Which are the places that I should visit? As I only have one day, I don't want to waste much time going from one spot to another, so they should be close together. Also which is the most convenient way to get to Kyoto from Osaka?
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Jun 8th, 2005, 09:43 AM
  #9  
cwn
 
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emd, I have been trying to get time for a report to the board-we had a great time and learned so much. But real life has kept me very busy since we returned home! The luggage almost caused an end to our marriage four weeks shy of our 40th aniv!-the whole reason for the great trip in the first place!

Four hours before the flight my husband descided the 2 carry ons and 1 checked piece was more than he could handle-so I madly repacked it into 2 more carry ons! We got to Honolulu for the first part of the trip and agreed we should have just used the 1 large piece. So we went to a K Mart and bought another large piece and just put 2 carry ons in it! What a joke! But it was for the best as we filled all bags on the trip! I loved the Toji market-found three wonderfull Obis for a total of $80s. That was just the tip of the iceburg!

When we got to Kansai and got our luggage we found the luggage shiping place, handed the large piece(with the 2 small bags inside)over, gave the girl who didnot speak English the Kyoto hotel info, about $25, checked a blank on the form we couldn't read and signed our name where she pointed and hoped for the best! We then got tickets for the next Limitd Express Harika to Kyoto. Hour and half later we were checking into the Okura. Our luggage was delivered to our room about 2 the next afternoon! When we left for the Pier 5 days later, the taxi driver had to tie the trunk closed! But the hotel staff and the driver were most gracious about the whole scene. I know they must have rolled their eyes after we left-do Japanese do that?

I followed many of your and the board's suggestions except on the amount of luggage! I think we both agree it was the best trip we have ever taken. Thanks!
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Jun 8th, 2005, 10:26 AM
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emd
 
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cwn, I am laughing out loud now, and I had tears of laughter reading your post! Every time I thought of you on that trip I saw you each wheeling a little red wagon behind you spilling over w/all this luggage. I am glad you went for it w/abandon and signed it over to the luggage service. And the visual of the taxi w/the trunk tied down just completely cracks me up.
So glad you liked Toji market. It is on my list for next April 21 w/my daughter- but it is the Fri before our Sunday departure (Again from Tokyo) and I wonder if I will be shopping for more luggage to bring home the market goods at that point!
Now I think CMA05 has some more questions for you...
CMA05- if I had only one day in Kyoto independently (and was not going to do an organized tour which would get me around from one area to another), I'd probably concentrate on the Higashiyama area- there are several good temples and great shopping streets w/Kyoto handicrafts, food items, etc. there, adn it is just a lovely area. If you are big walkers, you could also make your way to the Path of Philosophy area from there on foot. But a stop at several of the temples and shopping in Higashiyama is a pretty full day IMO. It took us from 10 a.m. til 6 p.m., stopping at Kiyomizudera (give yourself time there) and two other temples, along w/shopping and stopping to rest in the park, and lunch.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 10:31 AM
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cwn
 
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cma, glad you are thinking about Kyoto. You will not be sorry if you deside to go there.

To get there search for the HYPERDIA-timetable on the internet. Fill in the Osaka-Kyoto day and time info and it will give you a time table for trains. The faster, the more costly, we always picked the fastest and reserved seats, though most times there were seats in the unreserved cars except for a local in Hiroshima. It is maybe 30 minutes from the main Osaka station to Kyoto station, but check and make a note of the trains you want-give this to the station ticket person-very easy and they do speak some English. Don't mess with the ticket machines, this is much easier! I don't know where you are staying in Osaka, we were always going through Sin-Osaka. Osaka is well connected with public transport so you should be able to get a Kyoto bound train with out too much trouble. Some of the other board members gave me help in this area. You should be able to get to Kyoto by say 9am and stay through dinner if you want!

Kyoto in a day-I will tell you about some of our days, I broke them into Morning and Afternoon sites plus some of the surroudng streets. I had a plan of what we wanted to do for each day. But now I can tell you about what we actually did! Each area has at least several sites of impotantance plus many more things that are of local color and interesting. You need to deside what major site appeals to you most and go for that area. All the "most sees" are great and any one plus the area around it will give you a taste of how beautiful Japan is! We found that it was easy to walk to the different sites in a given section and every interesting-we saw lots of local color and were able to get off the tourist path by walking.

Getting aroung-there several buses that do a loop around the major sights from the train station, but the taxis are not really expensive and were worth the saving of time and language problems to get to a major site. From the train station we found $10-$12 would get you to Nijo Castle or the Gion area. From there you can walk and explore many more interesting places. From the train station you can also take the subway to these areas-cheap and fast. We did this too, but found the taxi the easiest.

I have touble with long post, so I will do another with the site information
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Jun 8th, 2005, 12:54 PM
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cwn
 
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cma, OK by days here is what we did.

Day 1, AM- We walked (took about 20mins) from our Hotel to our 10am tour at the Imperial Palace in English.)There is a subway from the train station to the Imperial Palace Gardens.) We enjoyed this site and our guide was good. You don't go into the Palace, but some doors are open and you can see inside. It is mainly the gardens and the building stlye that are so beautiful. The Imperial Palace grounds are nice too. There were no crowds of tourist! The cherry trees were still in bloom while we were there, so that was extra special. This took about 1 1/2 hours to see.

From the Palace entrance we walked zigzaging through the small alleyway like streets toward Horikawa-dori and Nijo Castle. We saw small gardens and shops and many interesting homes. We came out on Horikawa about half way to Nijo. We found a small "Pastry" shop and bought some wonderful fresh rolls with meat filling and some pastries and had a mini picnic on the Castle grounds. The walk took about an hour with stops.

Nijo Castle is very interesting and definitely worth seeing, you tour on your oun most of the inside and many rooms have models in the dress of the period set up. This helps with the understanding of the function of each room as there is no English. There were more tourist here -especially older school children. The gardens are most impressive and were especially colorful with all the cherry blooms draping over the garden walks. This took us about another hour.

It started to rain as we left the Castle about 1:30, so we took a cab back to the Hotel on Oike-dori at the river- min charge of ~$5.50. But there is a subway stop in front of Nijo that will take you to Kamaramichi Station(basicly where our hotel was). This stop is a great place to start an afternoon exploring Kyoto's great shopping district including the Taramachi Shopping Arcade.

If you are not into shopping, just walk over to Pontocho Alley(an interesting alley like street next to the river lined with old buildings that are bars and small resturants on the river side and a tree lined canal on the other) and walk down to Shijo-dori. If you walk across the river here, you are on the edge of the Gion Disrict. You can spend the rest of the afternoon walking the narrow streets on either side of Shijo-dori up to Yasaka Shrine. I really liked this shrine and the area. We came to this area almost every evening exploring different streets up to the Shrine on our way to a dinner spot. There are great places to eat down the back alleys. The back streets really give you a feel for old Japan, especially when you see a lady in a beautiful kimono!

Day 1, PM It stopped raining about 3:30, so we took a taxi from the hotel to Ginkakuji(~$8). For some reason the temple was closed for the afternoon, so we didn't see it.

From there we walked down the Philosopher's Path. This is an interesting walk and there are several nice temples along the way. From Konchi-in Temple we worked our way along the canal to the large orange Tori in front of Heinan Shrine and continued along the canal to Higashioji. This walk took us about a hour, more if you go in any of the temples. I would do it again in a heart beat-there are lots of Temples and interesting local life along the way! We ate at the Garlic Restaurant above the Gion Kaikan Theater across from the Yasaka Shrine. This was very good and fun too. There were lots of young Japanese couples there- it seemed popular-Japanese dishes-chop sticks only!, no tourist. From there we walked back Shijo-dori across the river and up Ponotcho Alley to the Hotel.(From our Hotel it was a $10 taxi ride to the Train Station or we could just the two subways.)

Be fore i continue, I would suggest you go to the Japan National Tourist Organization website and print out their Kyoto Walks. There are two that we used and were the most helpful in walking -"Along the Old Canal" and "Higashiyama Area".

You could take a taxi to Ginkakuji from the Station (probably ~$20)- see it and maybe another temple and walk back to the Yasaka Shrine in a morning. Have lunch around the Shrine and walk over to Kiyomizu Temple in the afternoon and take a taxi to the station. Sounds lie a lot of walking, but we didn't find it so. It could be done in a day. Plus there is so much to see in this area-more than just tourist traps.

Day 2 to follow-

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Jun 8th, 2005, 02:11 PM
  #13  
cwn
 
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cma,

Day 2,AM Since it was the 21st of the month, we took the E-W Subway in front of our hotel and changed to N-S subway to the train station. From there we walked to the Toji Temple Market. Wow what a treat! Hundreds of booths of neat stuff-clothes, antiques, household goods, food, plants and things I have no idea what they were! I shopped and looked till my husband couldn't stand it anymore! But as I said I did find three beautiful silk obis. One is a lotus flower and bird pattern with gold threads, the other two are ivory tone on tone patterns, one birds and the other flowers. All are in great shape. My husband tried some of the stall food, but I didn't because of my soy allergy! We walked over to the Garden area and wonder around for a while. This is really a nice garden and Pagoda. The temple is massive and really interesting too. We walked back to the station and found a storage locker for our "finds".

PM - We bought tickets on the Kintetsu Limited for Nara. As I said I was disappointed in Nara. First it is a big city! When you get off the Train and walk up to the street, it looks just like Kyoto, so for me the first impression was a real turn off. I expected more of a village setting for some reason! We found a food take out place and bought some more of the sandwich like rolls that we found so fresh and good. We walked up the street past Kofuku-ji. These grounds aren't nearly as nice as Toji to me. We walked on the the Park, found a place(tree stump) to sit and had lunch. Fortunally the deer did not find us, but we could see them and since it was hot we could smell them too! We then walked on to the Todaiji Temple grounds. It was a hot sunny day more so since Kyoto had been so cool and cloudy the last two days. The Nandai and Daibutsu are massive and interesting but were crowded with school children. I did not think the park very nice-lots tourist stands around the sites, not too much grass, no flowers, but lots of sand. From there we walked up the hill to Kasuga-taisha. That must be neat when all the lanterns are lighted. At this point, my husband was bored with temples and I was hot so we walked back to the train station bought tickets back to Kyoto.

Agsin we walked over to the Gion District from the Hotel for dinner. It was dark and Yasaka Shrine was lighted up so we walked around a bit. I got some of the most interesting pictures of the trip!

On to Day 3 - Cma you might even find this a day trip from Osaka you might enjoy-we found it an easy one from Kyoto and you would be 30 mins closer!
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Jun 8th, 2005, 03:14 PM
  #14  
cwn
 
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cma,

Day 3 We took a taxi to the train station for the 7:44am Shinkansen Hikari to Himeji.I bought all our tickets the day before based on my HPERDIA research. We arrived at 8:31 and walked up to the Castle. This took about 20mins. We could see the Castle the whole way so no chance to get lost! We got to the entrance gate about 5 mins before it openned. Like all things Japanese there were two men standing there, one by the gate and another by a bell with a watch. At exactely 9, one hit the bell several times as the other openned the gate! There were only two other people there so we had it all to ourselves. It is a beautiful Castle, well maintained, one of only a few that haven't been destroyed. Plus there were still some cherry blooms-I was so surprised! It took about an 1 1/2 hours to see at our own pace with an English guide booklet we got with our tickets. The Castle is huge and six stories up, but worth the climb! We walked back to the station and stopped at a covered shopping area where we got a lunch to go- there are great little places on every street almost!

We caught the 11:41 Shinkansen Nozomi for Hiroshima and ate lunch along the way. At 12:45 we walked out of Hiroshima station and caught the tram in front of the main entrance for the "A" Dome and Peace Park. It took about 20 mins to get to the park. All my husband wanted to see was the Dome. Since we had already spent time at the memorial museum in Nagasaki, we just walked around a bit. At a board member's suggestion went to the Hall of Rememberance. This Hall was worth the trip! It is an under ground building displaying the stories and pictures from people who lived through the experience.

From there we went back to the tram stop boarded it and rode to the end of the line which was the Miyajima Ferry dock (another 40 mins). We took the 10 min ferry across to the Island. Is is a very scenic island noted for its floating Torii. The Tide was just coming in at about 3:30, so we got to see the people clamming around. We wandered around the shops and then on out to the Itsukushima Shrine. We walked back across the inlet by the Torri(it is huge) and found a Okonomamiyaki shop back in the village. By this time all the day trippers were gone! This is a neat pancake like dish that the cook made right in front of us! It was great to watch and eat! We walked back to the park and Torii for me to get some pictures as the sun set over the bay behind the Torii. This was a beautiful setting and I got great pictures. The Island is peaceful this time of day and we really enjoyed it. There are other neat things to see on the Island, but my husband was tired of the Temples and much preferred the park area.

We caught the ferry back to the mainland and bought tickets on the next local train to Hiroshima Station. This all took maybe an hour. We had tickets for the 8:33 Shinkansen Nozomi, but it was only 7:15 when we got to the Station so I changed the tickets for the next Nozomi at 7:30. It was about 9 when we got back to Kyoto. It was a great day. I am glad we did the trip. It was one of our most fun days!

You could do this in less time from Osaka, but you maybe going to Nagasaki on the ship. I think Kyoto would give you more of a feel for old Japan. It is different from Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagsaki.

We had one more day before we went back to the Pier. We spent this day seeing the things we missed that we felt we really wanted to see.
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Jun 8th, 2005, 03:42 PM
  #15  
emd
 
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cwn: =D> =D> =D>
Love the report! I have printed it out for our trip next April!
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Jun 8th, 2005, 04:58 PM
  #16  
cwn
 
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emd, you are right about the Higashiyama area. That is really what I am trying to say too. The Kyoto Walks by the JNTO were the biggest help to us. The little street like map is very detailed about things to look for. You can spend a whole day wondering from Kiyomizu Temple to Ginkakuji. Some of the best sites are there and so much of it has that wonderful feel of what Japan must have been like before modern buildings.

cma,
Our last day was spent seeing things in a very disorganized way, but I think it was because we side tracked ourselves some.

AM- I wanted to see the Kiyomizu Temple at sunrise, but well! We took a taxi there about 7:30 ($10). The first of many later groups of older schoolchildern had just arrived and were having their picture made in front of the Gate. This a beautiful Temple complex, and if it is a clear day like ours, the view of the city below is very nice. It is really worth seeing and is a good staring or ending point for a day tour in that part of the city. From there we worked our way down to Higashioji through the interesting narrow streets.

We caught a taxi (`$24) to Kinkaku-ji(Gold Pavilion). I really wanted to see this temple because of its history and I was not disappointed. It and its grounds a really beautiful. If we had seen Ginkakuji earlier, we probably would not have made the effort as it is some distance from other sites.

From there we took a taxi back to the Nijo Castle area($8). There was a sword shop my husband wanted to see. We also went to a kimono shop in the same area. That was most interesting as it turned out to be a store front on an old home. The kimono area was in the back in the rooms of the home. I was treated like a queen as I was still looking for an antique obi for me-the others were for my girls. Finally picked a 1920's style with rich colors and gold threads in a large flower design. It was a wonderful hour for me and kimono clad young women entertained my husband in front with tea!

From there we took the E-W subway to the hotel stop(last one I think) We wanted to have a traditional tempura meal. There is a great little restaurant -Takasebure in the alleyway off Sanjo-dori near the river. Well I thought there was a bar we could eat at and there was, but they insisted we eat in one of the special rooms. It was a wonderful experience and the food was out of this world. But again I am sure there was alot of eye rolling behind the screens-no shoes, no chairs, foot high tables, beautiful presentations, but no clue as to what to do with some of the food items!! Finally after much hand waving when the second course was served, my husband handed his chop sticks to the server(an older woman in a kimono on her knees at the head of the table) to show us what she wanted us to do- ie- put the lovely pile of noodles on top of the tempura in the bowl of soup! Then she smiled and bowed herself out of the screen enclosed room and pulled the sceen closed!! It was another wonderful hour or so and the food was the best!

Then we walked backover the bridge to some of the antique shops in the Gion area we had seen on the night walks. After that my husband walked back to the hotel and I walked over to the Shopping Arcade and spent some time before walking back to the hotel.

We left in the taxi for the pier about 3:30. It took a little over a hour. You pull up right in front of the entrance. There are porters to take your luggage to the ship right there and it took about 15mins to go through the check in and get on the ship. There was no line, but we told there had been when all the buses arrived earilier. The ship's Kyoto bus had arrived around lunch time. That transfer would have cost us $190, the taxi was $110. Well worht the cost especially since we got to leave Kyoto when we wanted to and had a very confortable ride.

The Pier is really neat. Be sure and get out and explore after you get settled on the Ship. We didn't sail till midnight so had plently of time to explore after we got there. Which Princess are you on? Where are you going? We were on the Sapphire and went to Nagasaki, Pusan, Vladivostok, Muroran, across to Dutch Harbor, Seward, College Fjord, Glacier Bay, Juneau and off at Seattle after 19 days. If you are going to any of those ports I can tell you what we did also,

cwn is offline  
Jun 9th, 2005, 04:04 AM
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cwn, I am interested in hearing about your experience in Nagasaki. What did you end up doing in Muroran & Hokkaido?
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Jun 9th, 2005, 11:56 AM
  #18  
cwn
 
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mrwunffl,

More than happy to talk about those Stops!

Nagasaki-when we stopped there in Nov on the Royal Princess, we did all the tourist type things. We took a taxi($10) from the pier to the Peace Park area, walked all though it and on down to the Museum. Spent a good bit of time in the Museum. I think my husband really injoyed it. He is a big WWII buff, which was why we did the trek to Hiroshima. Personally, I think the Nagasaki site area is much perttier(if that is the right word) than the Hiroshima site area.

We then took a taxi ($8) to the shopping arcade wandered around there then back out on the streets behind and up hill from the arcade. That is a very interesting collection of streets with small shops, homes schools and temples. I really liked Kofukuji and Sofukuji Temples, we were the only ones there. I find the local temples and cemeteries in Nagasaki most interesting.

We had lunch at some little cafe type and found a tram stop near Sofukuji. Took the trams to the end over by Glover Gardens. Wandered through the back streets till we found a series of elevators that took us up to the top entrance to the Gardens. There were neat veiws of cliff hugging houses all the way up. Lots of locals use these elevators to get to their homes.

Glover Gardens was nice. I really liked the park. The homes were well restored and the rose gardens were in full bloom in Nov. Plus a young couple was having their wedding in one of the homes. That was an interesting sight -traditional Japanese wedding dress and Victorian home and garden!

From there we walked down to the Oura Church. Again there is an interesting cemetery in that area. An interesting contrast between Japanese and Western beliefs. Then we walked back to the dock. We used taxis at first because Nagasaki is hilly and I have trouble walking any distance up hill. You can get all over Nagasaki on the tram system for about $4 a day.

This time we walked back up by the Oura Church and explored that area again in more detail. We then spent time in China Town and walked over to the Meganebashi Bridge area. There is alot of construction in that area right now-they are working on the canal.

There are acouple other sites, like Confucian Shire that we didn't get to. We really like Nagasaki. It is a beautiful city with a village feeling, very easy to get around in. It is, of course mostly post war construction, but has retained the feel of being older. One of my favorite memories is that of the tiny, toy-lookig trucks serving the narrow little streets over by Glover Gardens!!

Hokkaido and LOVE go together!! That is some of the most beautiful country that we have ever seen!! It is every thing beautiful in Japan and Alaska rolled into one area!!! We will go back there and stay a while.

The ship docked at the commerical docks in Muroran. Muroran reminds me of most industrial cities in the US, just smaller scale and in an absolutely beautiful settting.

I arranged for a car and driver with a tour operater in Sapporro. There are no English drivers in Hokkiado. So we worked the trip stops out over the internet and both the driver and I had a copy that we could compare and point to. We were met at 8am with a big black confortable car and nice driver. Plus the tour director met us at the dock also and gave us his personal phone # in case we had a problem plus some lat minute ideas! The driver had a cell phone.

We drove along the coast road up to Data to see the oldest Temple on Hokkaido. A week later and the Cherry trees would have been it full bloom. Then we drove over to Lake Toya area, saw the lake and resort area plus the area destroyed by the volcano erruption. The Lake with snow capped Mt Toya in the back ground was beautiful. This would be a nice vacation spot also.

From there we went to the Mt Usu Ropeway. The ride and the climb to the top is worth it!! The view of the whole area is breath taking!!!

From there we drove inland and over one of the Passes(can't remember the name-it has a web cam sight-I had been watching-interesting) along a ridge line. The area was high and still snow packed with views to die for. We passed several ski areas. They build glass enclosed snow tunnels, guess to keep the roads protected in drift areas. We ended up in Noboribertsu Onsen area. That is a nice resort area, would be nice to stay a while. The driver took us to some interesting sites-Valley of Hell and the Lake.

From there we took the toll road to Shiraoi and saw the Ainu Village. There is a nice Museum connected to the village about the culture, but there is also the usual tourist trap too.

We drove back along the coast to Muroran and saw some of the coastal sites in Muroran and headed back to the Ship.

It was a wonderful day. Almost no English is spoken or understood by the locals and only the major road signs were in English. We got along fine with the driver-lots of hand signs etc! We saw a great deal and the people were very friendly. But most of all was the outstanding countryside.

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Jun 11th, 2005, 06:43 AM
  #19  
 
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Excellent reports and stories! Correct me if I'm wrong, somewhere around the Tempozan Pier (right on the water), there is a huge ferris wheel. I was told the largest in the world. Excellent view of Osaka, I went at night, it was right next to my ship.
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Jun 11th, 2005, 08:41 AM
  #20  
cwn
 
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jimdrew,

Thanks, the trip was our 40th aniv. present to us! It was the best we have ever done. Japan is a different whole to us! I thought the 3 1/3 weeks on the Royal-Beijing to Bangkok in Nov '04 plus time in both cities would be hard to beat, but Japan and the time on the Sapphire back to Seattle was out of this world.

You are right about the ferris wheel. It was right beside ship. We got some great pictures. The wheel is beautiful at night! You can see it for miles!

Where did you go from Osaka?
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