Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

very last minute trip to Japan: questions/need help

Notices

very last minute trip to Japan: questions/need help

Old Jun 20th, 2008, 12:36 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
very last minute trip to Japan: questions/need help

Hello ever-helpful fellow Fodorites-

I normally get annoyed when people post questions without doing a lot of research on their own...but here I am about to do that. I just booked a very last minute trip to HK and Japan with a friend so have not had time to obsessively research like I like to.

Hoping you can help with a few, random questions about Tokyo/Kyoto:

- Can you recommend any interesting, fun tours (walking?) in Tokyo that I can do on my own while my friend is working?
Maybe a tour with a cultural or culinary focus?

- I noticed the website for these culture/cooking classes in Kyoto:
http://www.wakjapan.com/en/lesson/index.html
Do you know of something similiar for Tokyo?

- Would you do 2 nights in Kyoto, or 1 night Kyoto/1 night Hakone Hyatt?

-We're heading straight back to Narita from Kyoto. Can you help me with the train logistics for this?

THANK YOU!
cruisinred is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2008, 01:31 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,151
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would definitely not do 1 night Kyoto and 1 night Hakone. 2 nights at either one, unless you really enjoy spending time riding trains, packing, and checking in/out.

From Kyoto to Narita is pretty simple: Shinkansen from Kyoto to either Shinagawa or Tokyo, then Narita Express to the airport. Change at Shinagawa if possible, as that station is far easier to navigate than Tokyo. Check train schedules at www.hyperdia.com/cgi-english/hyperWeb.cgi
DonTopaz is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2008, 02:29 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You might find these links useful.

Tokyo
http://www.suijobus.co.jp/english/index.html
http://www.skybus.jp/English/index.html
http://www.hatobus.com/en/index.html
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3012.html
http://www.hatobus.com/en/course/walking.html
http://www.tourism.metro.tokyo.jp/en...ice/index.html
http://mroka.homestead.com/index.html

Kyoto
http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/people/h-s-love/
http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/...ltural/crafts/
http://www.kyotohandicraftcenter.com...index.html#sou
http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/...katsura_dolls/
http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/...ts/m_takemata/
http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/...n/gion_corner/
http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/...e/others/ukai/
http://www.city.kyoto.lg.jp/kotsu/cm...i_en200801.pdf
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3912.html
http://www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/eng/index.htm
http://www.raak.jp/netshop/netshop.html
http://www.inuishikki.com/makie-english.htm
http://www.kyotouzuki.com/contact.html

I had looked at the WAK offerings in Kyoto and though their offerings sound good, their prices are disproportionately high imo.

I would spend two nights in Kyoto rather than go to Hakone as there is much to see and do in Kyoto and one night just is not enough there.

From KIX to Kyoto is a straight shot on the Limited Express Haruka train...no changes at all. There are also limousine buses that go to many hotels as well as Kyoto Station. And there is MK Taxi service.
http://www.kansai-airport.or.jp/en/a...bus/index.html
http://www.mk-group.co.jp/english/shuttle/index.html

For train schedules and prices, use www.hyperdia.com.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2008, 04:02 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,345
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I can tell KimJapan is going to travel to these two cities shortly, lucky for you

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2008, 09:32 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 54
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with you, KimJapan, that the WAK prices are really expensive. But they have something they call "Casual Course" which seems more reasonable. It may not be a private class though, and is held at WAK's room, not in a private home. And it's 50 minutes instead of 2 hours.

Here are two more websites for Tokyo, cruisinred:

http://hisexperience.jp/

http://www.tokyofreeguide.com/

The latter is a free volunteer who takes you where you want to go. I haven't gone on my Japan trip yet but a friend recently went and had contacted a guide through this service.

My friend and her sister met up with a very nice couple who took them to Asakusa, where there was a festival going on. The wife-guide then invited my friends to her hometown of Kamakura during the weekend, and they received another wonderful tour there.
totorofan is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2008, 10:07 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,255
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We were in Tokyo and Kyoto in 2006.

In Kyoto, we enjoyed WAK's cooking course (in a lady's home) very much.

We also took a short calligraphy course at the WAK office, which was fun (we are a family with children aged 11 and 13 at that time).

Another thing we really liked was a walking tour of Kyoto with Johnny Hillwalker. You just meet outside the train station, pay a small fee and he takes you around Kyoto, stopping here and there to speak.

Here is the portion of my trip report on Johnny:
At 10:00 am, we go outside to meet up with Johnnie Hillwalker (also known as Hajime Hirooka). He leads a walking tour of Kyoto. I heard about him on Fodor’s and we also picked up a brochure at WAK Japan. The tour is 5+ hours long and costs 2000 yen for the adults, 1000 yen for DS1 (13 years old) and is free for DS2 (11 years old).

I highly recommend this tour. It is given Mon, Wed and Fri, March through November. No reservation is required. The website is: http://web.kyoto-inet.or.jp/people/h-s-love/

Johnny takes us to the Higashi-Honganji Temple, a large Buddhist center. We sit on tatami mats while he tells us about Buddhism. As we leave, a group of people dressed in black enter for a funeral. We move on to the Sho-Seien Garden, where he tells us a bit of history. We see a couple of Shinto shrines along the way and learn about the Shinto religion. We pass a Geisha area, and actually see a Geisha.

We also stop and look into several peoples’ home workshops: prayer beads, tatami mats, pottery, etc. We make a stop at a fan shop and see the workers in the back room painstakingly assembling the fans. Some people on the tour purchase fans, but there is absolutely no pressure to buy. Along the way, we have a brief stop at a teahouse for tea and a pastry. We taste a piece of vegetarian inari sushi (it’s good). I am very surprised when DS2 has a second piece of inari sushi. We do not stop for lunch. The tour ends at 3:30 pm. Amazingly, all 30 or so people continue for the entire tour – no one drops out.

The tour is very enjoyable. We all think Johnnie is cute. He has picked places to speak to us where he is easily visible and easily heard, even with 30 people along. The walking pace is slow and there are often places to sit and rest at the various stops. He has an engaging and humorous way of telling stories.

He tells us that the Buddha to which the Japanese people pray is the one who will take the dead to paradise. Therefore, Buddhism in Japan is focused on death. Shinto-ism is the religion for the living. That is why many Japanese are both Buddhist and Shinto.

He explains that many of the large religious places that tourists visit are maintained by the Japanese government for tourism. No people actually belong to the large tourist sites. The places he is taking us are actively supported by the people who belong to that religion. He takes us to his Shinto shrine. We also go to a cemetery, which is very interesting, but full of mosquitoes. DS2 and I get at least a dozen bites on the ankles.

The handicraft stops were interesting. People were very diligently working on very precise crafts, often while sitting on the floor all day. Johnnie said that most of the young people do not want to continue this lifestyle and are moving away from Kyoto.

Here is the portion of my trip report on our cooking class through WAK in Kyoto:
At exactly 5 pm, Yoshiko comes for us. We go to the huge lobby and have trouble finding her, making us late (very, very bad in Japan). She has 2 taxis waiting for us, as each taxi can only take 4 people. We arrive at the instructor’s house. Both ladies seem very pleased to receive the gifts and are delighted with the chocolates. We spend the next 2 hours cooking miso soup, sushi, tempura and sautéed spinach. It is a lot of fun. The instructor is delightful. She shows us an area which has been set up to ceremoniously display traditional gifts for her daughter, who is engaged and will be married next month. Each gift represents something and she explains everything to us. We are fascinated by the tradition. Her daughter comes home and we all eat dinner together. It is wonderful to be invited to share and learn about such a different culture.
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2008, 10:15 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
travelgirl2...did you pay ¥15,000 per person for that, ¥60,000 for the four of you?
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 01:34 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 465
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
KimJapan, the WAK website shows a reduction to ¥8,500 per person for a group of four (=¥34,000). Still sounds expensive to me.
WillJame is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 02:36 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, that is very expensive, even discounted. For cooking, this woman is much more reasonable, and will put together nice menus that are more interesting than what WAK offers. http://www.kyotouzuki.com/classes.html
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 06:04 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 54
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi KimJapan -

I'll be leaving for Japan next week (already!) and I just heard from Emi Hirayama of kyotouzuki! We'll be taking a cooking class with her and my daughter is looking forward to it very much. I'll let you and everyone know how it goes.

Thanks for the recommendation.

totorofan
totorofan is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:22 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'll be looking forward to your feedback about her. I have heard good things about her, but haven't met her myself, though we might in September.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 07:47 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,255
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
KimJapan - Hi. Your suggestions were so helpful when planning our trip to Japan. Thank you for all that you add to this board!

I don't remember what the WAK fee for the cooking class was. We enjoyed it very much, though, and thought the lady teaching was lovely and very sincere. It felt as if we were friends, helping out in the kitchen. She was very nice to the kids, showing them how to fan the rice, roll the sushi, etc. We aren't too familiar with Japanese food, so the basics she showed us how to make were perfect for us. Then, we relaxed together and ate the meal at her table, while she gave insights into Japanese life. It was a highlight of our trip. We rarely are offered such a behind-the-scenes look into such a different culture.
travelgirl2 is offline  
Old Jun 23rd, 2008, 10:50 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for your replies everyone.

Unfortunately, it looks like the type of walking tours or cultural classes I am looking for are more in Kyoto, while I will have the most time on my own in Tokyo.

So, I might do a short group tour in Tokyo even though that's not really my style....or just grab the guidebook and go out and wander and eat!

Arigato gozaimasu
cruisinred is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
LakesideChick
Asia
9
Sep 4th, 2016 10:38 PM
alana2201
Asia
4
Aug 12th, 2014 09:32 AM
michmich11
Asia
20
Apr 15th, 2013 05:09 PM
xephalon
Asia
9
Sep 1st, 2008 05:31 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO