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To include Tokyo or to exclude Tokyo, that is the question

To include Tokyo or to exclude Tokyo, that is the question

Old Feb 21st, 2013, 01:02 PM
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To include Tokyo or to exclude Tokyo, that is the question

Could you please tell me why you enjoyed or did not enjoy your time spent in Tokyo. I am trying to figure out if we should skip it in favor of spending our time some other place. This is our first trip to Japan and we will be there 17 nights, including visiting Takayama, Kanazawa, Hiroshima and Kyoto (with a day trip to Nara). I enjoy interesting architecture, museums, produce markets and gardens. I do not enjoy shopping except to briefly see what unusual things are on offer.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 01:47 PM
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We just did our first trip to Japan in October, we had 17 nights in total and we spent 6 of them in Tokyo, though one was after arriving on a late afternoon flight and one was before departing on an early morning flight. And we split them two at the start and 4 at the end.

Whilst we didn't love Tokyo as much as Kyoto, in absolute terms, or some of the other destinations we visited, I am definitely glad we included it in our itinerary and gave it some time. There's a huge amount to see and do in Tokyo, we barely scratched the surface, and just like Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and other cities, it's different to all the other places.

For sure, on a return trip, I'll spend less time in Tokyo and more elsewhere, but I don't regret including it for our first trip at all.

PS We're not big shoppers either. Not including browsing food markets (which I love), we spent perhaps two or three short sessions on shopping, one to find some baby gifts for a Japanophile friend expecting a baby soon after our trip, one to find me a hat and a couple of 5 minute stops to look for different flavour kit kats.
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 04:57 PM
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Tokyo is one of my favorite cities in the world - almost like entering another dimension. The food is amazing, the design is cutting edge, and the ancient coexists effortlessly with science fiction modern. Try to set up a business meeting with someone in your field for added insight.

This piece by Pico Iyer captures Tokyo's spirit perfectly:

http://mg.co.za/article/2010-10-22-f...guide-to-tokyo
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 06:33 PM
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Tokyo was not my favorite destination in Japan, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world! I thought it fascinating, and such a contrast to the other places I had seen! (I concentrated on more "traditional' sites during my time in Japan, and even while in Tokyo, I skewed my time toward the traditional.) It has some remarkable modern architecture, some great museums, and some lovely gardens, so you should be able to find things that you enjoy.

It's obviously your choice, but I think your trip to Japan would be incomplete without a few days in Tokyo. And you DO have the time for it. (Even though you can't see everything on any trip, no matter how long.)
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 07:32 PM
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My first trip to Japan was just Tokyo with a day trip to Kamakura - it has many wonderful museums and that is what I did mostly - there are still old-fashioned parts of it such as the area I stayed - Yanaka - plus just so much to see - I really couldn't imagine not stopping there on your first trip....
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Old Feb 21st, 2013, 07:58 PM
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I didn't care for Tokyo. Of course, wrestling with the metro system didn't help, but I'm not a shopper either. I much preferred the other places I visited in Japan, which I hope to revisit. For more see http://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com/.../trying-tokyo/
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 12:08 AM
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ShelleyK, just for an idea, my itinerary was as follows:
2 nights Tokyo, 2 nights Takayama (for festival), 1 night Nara, 5 nights Kyoto, 1 night Koyasan, 1 night Osaka, 1 night Miyajima, 4 nights Tokyo.
I could easily have spent another few days in and near Kyoto...
I'm currently posting reviews of the trip, though many more to come. To see them listed together, visit http://www.kaveyeats.com/tag/japan
(The first post I made is a more detailed itinerary, with a long list of the top web resources I used to plan the trip).
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 05:08 AM
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Tokyo is a superb place to enjoy Japanese food, experience daily urban life in Japan, marvel at Japanese technology and transportation, enjoy numerous parks and gardens, and much more. Tokyo is surely one of the world's great cities. Still, it is a city, and someone who doesn't much enjoy cities would likely not enjoy Tokyo all that much.

Given Shelley's summary of her likes and dislikes, I can certainly imagine her enjoying many aspects of Tokyo. She could easily spend a couple of days exploring the various gardens/parks alone -- the one in Shinjuku, the one by Shiodome, the one near Tokyo Dome, for example. I think she'd enjoy the outdoor Ameyoko market (which includes produce, fish, and hard goods), and possibly areas like the kitchen goods/knives shopping area near Asakusa. (Sorry, I can't speak much to the museum aspect.)

Maybe I'd ask Shelley to imagine that she had never been to the U.S., and that she was about to take her first trip here. Would she want to spend a few days in New York City, or would she want to spend her full trip in park-like places? While the analogy is far from perfect, I believe that the answer would go a long way to informing her decision.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 05:30 AM
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Not a bad analogy. I don't much care for New York either, although I like Washington, Chicago, San Francisco. And London.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 06:49 AM
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I spent my first 19 years living in one of the NYC boroughs and I spend quite a lot of time in Manhattan. so it's hard to know how I would view it as a visitor. I loved it for the shows and museums, but other than that I had no strong feelings one way or the other. I agree with thursdaysd about liking the cities she mentioned better than NYC, but maybe that is because I spent only about a week in each, visiting the best those cities had to offer.

Thank you all for your input. I'm still deliberating.

Kavey-I took a look at your blog and thought the photos were wonderful. It gives me something to look forward, especially the photos of the food and markets.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:08 AM
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Our first trip to Japan was for three nights in Tokyo on the end of a 4 week SE Asia trip. I was hooked. Skipping one of the most vibrant cities in the world is beyond my scope of thinking. It would be like visiting France but skipping Paris. Like visiting Italy and skipping Roma, visiting Egypt and skipping Cairo(not a bad idea to skip both right now) but you get the idea. In Tokyo you will see the engine that drives Japan. The ultra modern and sheik blend in with the ancient heritage and culture. I could blindfold you and take you to a park in Tokyo that when you uncover your eyes you would think someone had placed you back in time a couple of centuries to the days of old Japan only to turn the corner and see the massive and very modern Tokyo Dome right at the edge of the park.

The Japanese pride themselves in striving for the best...."ichiban".....number one. That is what every business and motivated person in Japan strives for and in Tokyo, everyone wants to be ichiban. The best and freshest fish, the best steak, the best view with the best fish and steak. The most authentic fish and steak and so on and on.

Lovely parks, fantastic landscaped gardens, sprawling metropolis, a foodies favorite dream, electronics heaven, a cosplayers capitol and a historians playground are a few words I think of when thinking of one of my favorite cities in the world, Tokyo.

Aloha!

P.S. The Tokyo Metro system is really a great system and should be learned before arriving in Tokyo. You can get a lot of great information on the Japan Guide dot com site and from here:

http://www.tokyometro.jp/en/
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:56 AM
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Hi Shelley, as you know I'm following your posts as we are planning our trip. Interestingly, as you are deciding whether to reduce or cut Tokyo, we have opted to add a day. So we will start our trip with 4 nights in Tokyo.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 09:40 AM
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As things stand with us right now, we have 5 nights in Tokyo, including 3 full days in the city and one day trip to Nikko. Based on the above comments, I think i will leave it that way. From what part of your trip did you take the extra night in Tokyo
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 10:23 AM
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We have decided not to stay in Nara, but do it as a day trip from Kyoto. So we eliminated the two nights in Nara and added one night to Tokyo and one to Kyoto.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 01:41 PM
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shelleyk,

If you are interested in museums I think these are a few of the lesser known ones in Tokyo we enjoyed on our last visit.

Meiji University Museum
The crime & punishment part of this museum is a real eye opener, follow second link to get a good preview slideshow

http://www.meiji.ac.jp/cip/english/i...te/museum.html

http://www.meiji.ac.jp/museum/crimin.../index_en.html

Amuse Museum - Asakusa , adjacent to Senso -Ji Temple.
Great exhibit of "Boro" with displays you can touch and wear
The rooftop is a great view as well

http://www.amusemuseum.com/english/


Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
We saw a great exhibit of the art of Katagami and Japonisme in this beautifully done brick building near the center of Tokyo

http://mimt.jp/english/

We also did the art walk in Roppongi that includes the National Art Center, the Mori Museum and the Suntory Museum. The buildings themselves are amazing architecturally.

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/attraction..._roppongi.html

In the past we've caught a Alphonse Mucha Exhibition in Ueno and a Vermeer exhibition in Osaka
Being major cities, they get some major worldwide exhibits.

Don't know your dates but check "Time Out " Tokyo for current listings

http://www.timeout.jp/en/tokyo

And for the many obscure museums this old web site gives an idea, check for current conditions,

http://web.archive.org/web/200612291...v/museums.html

I have to get back to visit the Button Museum, always leave something for next time
Have Fun !
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 06:46 PM
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HT, you are quite the ambassador! But you're right, Tokyo is truly the epicenter of Japan providing context to everywhere else.

kali, Excellent list of museums - Amuse is a must-do. Will have to go back to check out the others.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 06:54 PM
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If a visitor to the USA Northeast was arriving in NYC, would you advise them to skip it?

After three full days in Tokyo I would be ready to leave (and come back again some day for another dose). Absolutely would spend the night in Nikko and go to Takayama from there.
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Old Feb 22nd, 2013, 07:11 PM
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mrwunrfl - I was looking to see how to get to Takayama from Nikko - it doesn't look easy - do you have a good idea? I was going to suggest it until I looked at hyperdia and got a dizzy spell....lol....
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Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 12:51 AM
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Shelley, that's very kind of you to say. I found the food markets thrilling -- my favourite was probably the Takayama morning market but also enjoyed Nishiki in Kyoto and the outer market area at Tsukiji in Tokyo.
At the moment I'm posting a series of 6 posts about temples and shrines, but will go back to some food reviews following that.

My husband and I went to a Japanese yakitori restaurant in London last night (and I went to a ramen place with a girl friend the night before). I'm still so obsessed with Japan.

And we've agreed over last couple of days that we're going to return, either this autumn or next spring.

Happy days!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2013, 09:01 AM
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Mara it would be mostly the same route but simpler: Nikko- Utsunomiya- Tokyo- Nagoya- Takayama. Simpler because it eliminates the backtracking to Shinjuku-ku. It would save at least an hour (including 30 minutes travel time and 30 minutes extra transfer time).

Day trip: 4 hours on day 1, 5 hours day 2
Overnite: 2 hours on day 1, 6.5 hours day 2
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