visiting Japan


Mar 24th, 2008, 06:52 AM
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visiting Japan

Iím going to Japan to see my daughter. She teaches English in Utsunomiya.

Iím landing in Narita about 3 Sunday afternoon. I told her to meet me when I come out of Customs. If she doesnít meet me there, I told her to go to baggage claim. She has a cell phone so I can call her if needed. Will this plan work to meet her?

That night we have a hotel reserved in Tokyo. Iím relying on her to get us there. Sheís been to Tokyo several times. I find the subway map really intimidating.

Itís funny. My daughter has a friend in Tokyo. She told her that I was coming to visit. The friend said ďOh, we can take her to TGI Fridays.Ē LOL, I wonít eat at TGI Fridays here in the US let alone in Japan.

The next morning we plan on getting a fast train to Kyoto. We want to get there by noon. I thought I read that rail passes arenít good on the bullet trains. My daughter thinks they are. Does anyone know if bullet trains can be used with the pass? Unfortunately, my daughter cannot use a rail pass because she lives in Japan. To save money she wanted to take night buses, but Iím not willing to do that. Is there a way to cut transportation costs for her?

We have a hotel reserved in Kyoto that night. We can do more sight seeing the next morning. That afternoon we then want to go to Utsunomiya, probably by train.

I know this isnít enough time in Kyoto. Iím only in Japan for six nights. My daughter hasnít been to Kyoto and really wants to go. I want to see where she lives. Also by going to where she lives it will cut hotel costs.

From Utsunomiya we will take a couple of day trips (one to Nikko). She has gone to these places before and should know how to get to them.

My final night I have a hotel in Tokyo.

My daughter has a car. Iím dreading riding in it with her. Here in the US I am always convinced sheís going to get us killed when Iím riding with her. There sheíll be sitting on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road (to me anyway). Iíll think Iíll sit in the back seat with my hands covering my eyes.

I am really excited about this trip. Iíve never been to Asia. I miss my daughter so much and cannot wait to see her. I recently moved to DC, so Iím going to get to see the cherry blossoms blooming in Japan and here.

Any suggestions for our plan?

BoniseA is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2008, 07:06 AM
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relax and have a fun trip...rely on your daughter...stay for more tha 8 days
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Mar 24th, 2008, 08:55 AM
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Unless you both have Japanese cell phones, I don't think you can call her in the airport unless you use a pay phone. You will get your baggage just as you come out of customs, but I can't recall if that area is restricted to passengers or not- it may be.

What airline are you arriving on? There are maps of Narita airport available online.

What hotel are you staying at in Tokyo?

Your JR pass is good on the fast shinkansen trains, but not on the nozomi (super-fast) shinkansen. You can get a hikari shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto; the hikari do not stop very often. Do not get a Kodama train, they stop at many stops.

But I am not sure you even need a JR pass if all you are doing is going Tokyo to Kyoto RT and then to Utsunomiya. You need to calculate the cost of the individual trains and see if the pass is worth it against price of individual tickets. The people at the U.S. Japan Rail offices are extremely helpful, you can call them and ask about this. I usually call the New York office, great people there.


Here's the timetable and fare page:

Will your daughter be driving you back to Narita to depart? If not, Wikitravel says that the Marronnier Bus makes 10 runs from Narita Airport to Utsunomiya between 8:10 am and 8:50 pm. The price is about ¥4000 for adults.

If your travel plans aren't set, it would make much more sense to fly into Kansai, meet your daughter in Kyoto (that way she can take the night bus and save money getting to Kyoto), and then fly out of Narita. Your daughter's place of residence, Utsunomiya, is only an hr. from Tokyo.

I don't think there is a way to get reduced train fare for daughter since she resides in Japan. Since you only have a few days, I'd splurge on the shinkansen if it was me.

What hotel in Kyoto? I'd try to stay close to the station since you only have one night and are leaving the next afternoon. It would be great for you both to spend an extra night in Kyoto, esp. considering the expense and time of getting there- plus you are not figuring in your own potential for jet lag. I'd opt to do that and drop one of the day trips from Utsunomiya. You can get an inexpensive hotel in Kyoto (and we can help you w/suggestiosn for that) if you can afford the time for an extra night.

Since you live in the D.C. area (as I do), try to get to the nice Sakura Matsuri Japanese street festival downtown on 4/12. It coincides w/the Cherry Blossom festival. It's wonderful, great dance, music, food.

What are the dates of your trip to Japan? Your going to have a blast w/your daughter.
emd is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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Baggage claim is always before the custom so your daughter cannot meet you there. You collect your baggage then clear the custom. After that, you will go out to the area people are waiting to meet the arriving travellers. Your daughter must wait there to meet you.
kappa is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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About TGI, yes, it's rather a silly thing to say (unless she was being humorous.)
kappa is offline  
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Mar 24th, 2008, 03:09 PM
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What I am noting in your message is that you seem very anxious about this trip and about your daughter. She has been on her own and will, very likely, be able to take care of you.If she has been driving already in Japan, there should be no problem. You have 2 tasks:relax and enjoy this wonderful adventure and enjoy the time with your daughter.
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Mar 24th, 2008, 03:41 PM
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At Narita, she will be able to meet you at the meeting area just outside the secure area. You will deplane, go through immigration, collect your baggage, clear customs, and then exit to where you can meet her.

Be sure your phone will work in Japan...many do not...and that you have roaming activated.

Many of the better hotels have limousine bus service directly to the hotels, which makes it very easy. There are also trains, but unless your hotel is right at the station, you will need to transfer to another train or taxi or walk. If you have a lot of baggage, train stations are not particularly easy, as they have stairs and crowds. If your hotel is on the limo bus route, then I recommend that route rather than train for your arrival.

Rail passes are good on shinkansens, except for the Nozomi. Ticket houses sell slightly discounted tickets...maybe save ¥500 on a trip to Kyoto.

Relax and enjoy your trip. Everything will work out fine.
KimJapan is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2008, 12:28 AM
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A 7-day JR Pass would be the right thing for that itinerary.

Basically, it is going to cost you a bit more than 20,000 yen to get to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. It will cost your daughter about 25,000 yen for the same trip, just getting there and back.
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Mar 25th, 2008, 05:45 AM
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Thank you everyone!

I think I better buy a rail pass. That was the main thing I couldnít decide whether I should do or not. I think with this short of time itís worth the money to get places quickly.

Iím going to be there this Sunday, 3/30.

I found hotels in Tokyo on Expedia. The first night in Tokyo weíre staying at Hotel Rose Garden Shinjuku for about 120$. My last night in Tokyo weíre staying at Green Hotel Ochanomizu for also about 120$. I think these prices must be ok because I tried and tried bidding on Priceline. I couldnít get anything by bidding on Priceline up to 140$.

The night weíre in Kyoto weíre staying at The Palace Side Hotel for about 75$. I found this hotel by reading trip reports right here on Fodorís. Thank you Fodorites! Nothing would come up for less than 300$ on Expedia or Travelocity for Kyoto.

My daughterís friend that wants to take me to TGI Fridayís is Japanese. She probably thinks that it would be a treat. If she ever comes here to visit, Iíll have to take her to the local mall food court to eat Japanese food. Actually, she sounds like a really nice and thoughtful person.

I went to the mall here in DC last weekend. The cherry trees have big buds but arenít in full bloom quite yet. The festival is the weekend Iím leaving. I hope theyíre still in bloom when I come back. My parents are coming to visit us in DC in two weeks. Hopefully, there will still be some blossoming.
BoniseA is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2008, 05:55 AM
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I just remembered what else I meant to ask. My daughter has a Japanese cell phone. If I need to call her from a pay phone, how do I do it?

The number I dial from the US is like 011 81 80 9999 9999.

What do I leave off? Do I need to add anything on?

Do the pay phones take coins?
BoniseA is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2008, 07:53 AM
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> Actually, she sounds like a really nice and thoughtful person.

She must be a nice person but wanting to take you to TGI is considering the context, rather unthoughtful idea, it seems to me at least. No offence, I am a Japanese myself. I still hope she was joking.

kappa is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2008, 08:25 AM
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read this page then check the links at the bottom to find out all about phones in Japan

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Mar 25th, 2008, 09:51 AM
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The Sakura Matsuri Japanese street festival in D.C. is 4/12, so you can still go to that when you get back. It will be a lot of fun since you will have just returned from your trip.

You got a good deal at the Palace Side hotel in Kyoto for this time of year. This is high season w/cherry blossoms coming up and many hotels are filled.

Buy your rail pass NOW, TODAY. You must have possession of it before you leave the U.S. I have mine sent Fed ex from the NY office of JTB, but there are other places to buy it from, check the Japan Rail website. Figure in time for having it processed and sent Fed Ex to you- you need it by Friday if you are leaving on Sat.

Your Tokyo hotel looks pretty nice; the room will be small (unless you got a suite) but you'll get to expereince the busiest subway station in the world at Shikjuku. And your 2nd Tokyo hotel is in a very different area, Akihabara, also fun in its own way.

I've been to Tokyo and Kyoto twice at the same time you are going, early April. It can still be chilly, esp. at night and early morning. I take a shell jacket that I can layer over a long sleeve shirt, and some light sweater-ish tops. But it can also be warm if it is sunny day, so I take one of those backpacks w/the string straps so I can remove the jacket and have somewhere to stuff it.

Have a great trip. You are leaving on my birthday...wish I was going.
emd is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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BoniseA we have stayed at Palaceside in Kyoto - its fine, nothing fancy, but clean & comfortable enough. Staff on the front desk are very helpful.
janev is offline  
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Mar 25th, 2008, 10:07 AM
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To call the phone number in Japan, drop 011.81 bit and add 0 at the beginning.

Hence, 011 81 80 9999 9999 becomes 080.9999.9999

You'll find payphone at the airport arrival areas. Usually gery colour, rarely green. In most cases, there would be a telephone card vending machines that takes JPY1000 bill.
However, I noticed most public phone says "for domestic calls only", and I had to get a different type of calling cards (I got KDDI calling cards) at convenience stores to make int'l call from public phones.

You should be able to meet your daughter as soon as you clear luggage claim/customs. If you still have problem finding her, you can always have the airport information desk to page her.

Shame you and your daughter has only one night in Kyoto. If I were you, I would cut back on daytrips out of Utsunomiya and spend an extra night there. If you really cannot stay longer, you should plan your day carefully, as I found many sites to be spread across in different directions.

If it's just tokyo-kyoto route, you may want to check the regular fare (which allows you to take Nozomi).
JR Tokai seems to have a special promo on round-trip bullet train (which allows Nozomi) plus one-day Kyoto free bus/subway pass (worth JPY1200) for JPY27100.
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Mar 25th, 2008, 12:28 PM
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The IACE office in DC has been very helpful with planning my Japan trip.

1001 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Suite 535,
Washington D.C. 20036
Phone: 202-223-9400
Fax: 202-223-1160
E-mail: [email protected]
Office Hours: M - F 9AM - 7PM
Sa 10AM - 2PM

They can help with the rail pass.
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Mar 25th, 2008, 01:14 PM
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I think the girl was serious about TGIF - it is probably a place that they go to and have good food, drinks, and a lot of fun. She wants to take you to her/their favorite place - sounds like a good idea to me. Might meet some of their friends there. It would be a Japanese TGIF, so I'd expect some differences from back home! Anyway ...

I agree with W9London about that iw would be much better to stay another night in Kyoto. Could be not worth it depending on whether spending 45,000 yen and 5 hours of train travel time (an entertaining 5 hours for me) is worth it.

I don't know how convenient the Kyoto hotel choice is, but the Granvia or something like it would be a good idea. At or very near the station so that you can drop luggage and get going. Figure on taking taxis if you want to maximize your time.

W9London, I considered suggesting a JTB 1-night shinkansen/hotel package for Kyoto. But the problem with that was that the train times were specific, something like depart Tokyo between 1:15PM and 2:15PM and return departing at that time next day. Do you have a link for the JR Tokai package?
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Mar 25th, 2008, 03:25 PM
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My son and I ate at a hamburger restaurant w/a baseball theme right outside Tokyo Dome, in the little complex that has the amusement park, fan store, a few restaurants, etc. It looked like a TGIF, the guys who worked there had striped shirts on and black pants like umpires and the girls had these funky cute baseball outfits on. We had a burger and fries. Not what you think of re Japanese food experience, but it was fun to see the differences (esp. when I asked for hot sauce) and the whole thing seemed kind of silly and fun to us. You don't have to have every meal at a Japanese restaurant to enjoy it.

ALso, the cocktails should be different at a Japanese TGIF, w/different names and concotions, and that would be enough to get me to sit down and have a drink and some fun. What the heck, one meal at a TGIF won't break the trip if that is where the friend takes you.

I'm really getting nostalgic just thinking about all of this.

Thanks for the tip on the D.C. IACE office, jmsvvs.
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Mar 25th, 2008, 03:33 PM
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Bonise, are you and your daughter going to try to go to Miyako Odori (the incredible geisha dance performance that occurs in April, 4/1 thru 4/30 this year) the evening you are there? I highly recommend it. A few years ago I took my daughter and met up w/mrwunrfl from this board and we went to the Miyako Odori. One of the most colorful and moving performances of my life, just lovely. I was able to get tickets for all 3 of us through my hotel concierge before arriving.

Maybe Palace Side can help you get tickets? Also, check the link below as it has phone number you can call to reserve tickets, maybe someone speaks English. And there is a fax number to get tickets also. I would not miss it. Kyoto is quiet at night- the Miyako Odori would be a great thing to take in that one evening.

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Mar 25th, 2008, 03:36 PM
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Actually, the performance woudl be afternoon (there's one at noon, 2 pm, 3:30 and 4:50 pm). Might be a good way to start your Kyoto short stay, drop off your luggage, see a bit, and head to Gion for the performance, then sightsee more next day.
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