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woman traveling along during cherry blossom time--where to go?

woman traveling along during cherry blossom time--where to go?

Mar 3rd, 2005, 09:22 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 7
woman traveling along during cherry blossom time--where to go?

I'm traveling to China on a study trip with my law school in March, and arranged to have a 3 day stopover at Tokyo Narita from Mar. 26-29. I am considering ditching my colleagues and setting off on my own for a few days, and want to know if that's feasible. I'm a 26 year old female and only speak English.

I would prefer to experience some of the more cultural sights and pick up some traditional crafts or art. Because I'm lucky enough to be in Japan during the height of cherry blossom season, I've considered staying someplace more in the country, or toward Mt. Fuji, or taking the bullet train to Kyoto, but to be honest I have no idea what areas to even start looking in.

I would like to keep my hotel expenses budget, and don't mind small or simple rooms so long as they are very clean and very secure. I have very expensive luggage and would be uneasy otherwise.

I would really appreciate advice on whether I should stick to Tokyo; if so, where I might look (I am considering Toyoko Inn in Akasuka); whether I should investigate Mt. Fuji, and if so, where I should stay; or whether I should travel up to Kyoto and try a hotel up there. Basically, I have three days to make the most of, and after the hurdy-gurdy of Shanghai, want a chance to see and buy truly beautiful things in Japan.

Thanks in advance for your advice!
elvedon is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2005, 11:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 574
Bonjour Kate,

With only 3 days, you'll be better off staying in Tokyo alone. You'll do alright with English only.

There are many places for cherry blossom viewing inside of Tokyo (Shinjuku gardens, Palace gardens, Ueno park, the park along the Sumida river in Asakusa, etc.).

Hotels in Japan are usually clean and safe, even the inexpensive ones. Theft is not much of a concern.

Just a word of advice: book your room as soon as possible, since hotels will be full on weekends during "Hana-Mi" (cherry blossom viewing).

Florence is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 06:52 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 7
Thanks for your help, Florence!

I think I'll stick to Tokyo, in Asakusa. I noted an old post of yours where you suggesed the New Gyominza hotel might be more convenient than either Toyoko Inn in Asakusa, but said you were not particularly familiar with those hotels and prefer to stay in a ryokan.

Would you recommend trying a ryokan in Asakusa? Is it a problem to leave my luggage there in the day? I don't mind the idea of a curfew, but what I have read about ryokans suggests that the experience can vary quite widely, and I am overwhelmed trying to figure out what to expect at any given place.

Thanks again!
elvedon is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 09:02 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 262
You wrote:
and after the hurdy-gurdy of Shanghai, want a chance to see and buy truly beautiful things in Japan.
Hi Kate,
I know you didn't mean to, but this comment comes off sounding a little insulting to China. There are A LOT of beautiful things you can buy in China. There are also ALOT of beauitiful things to buy in Japan too. I've been to China three times and Japan twice. In fact I'm going to Japan this Spring!

However, for shopping for gifts I find China better. You get beautiful products at a reasonable price. Japan products are good but can costs a lot.

kittycatangel is offline  
Mar 4th, 2005, 09:29 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 7
kittycat, I'm sorry if what I said was offensive. I am going to be insanely busy in Shanghai, rushing all over, interviewing people, going out drinking with my contacts, and doing only very frenzied tourist things with very little time to investigate the beautiful and historical things I would prefer to see. I meant only to say that when I finally get my stopover in Tokyo, I want my only real opportunity to go off on my own after that to be somewhat peaceful--not the busy shopping/clubbing that my colleagues plan to continue.

My prospects for really experiencing any of Chinese culture, or even getting to explore some good shops, seems dim. can't even convince anyone to go to the Beijing Opera or Propaganda Poster Art Center with me. Other than Xi'an and a stop at the Great Wall, my time is going to be spent rushing from interview to interview and being dragged around to bars.

I have been told that there is a difference in quality between shops catering to westerners and those carrying things the Chinese (or Japanese, for that matter) buy themselves. Since I will have little opportunity to search out any truly good shops, I think I may be stuck waiting until Tokyo and paying higher prices.

I am going to be in Beijing, Xi'an, Chengdu, and Shanghai, and would very much appreciate any advice you have about where to shop that won't be too far afield from the main touristy areas. I would particularly love to pick up some wonderful teas and teaware, porcelain, or artwork. I'm a student, so my budget is not enormous, but I can afford to splurge for something worth it.

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I should be more careful with my words.
elvedon is offline  
Mar 7th, 2005, 01:06 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 574
Bonjour Kate,

In Asakusa, I usually stay either at the Shigetsu or at the Mikawaya Honten. Mikawaya is cheaper (about Yen 5000/person), family-run, they hardly speak any English at all but you will easily be understood anyway, they're used to foreign tourists and are very friendly, it's clean and perfectly safe, even for expensive luggage full of my mother's jewelry (she would rather be seen dead than without at least 5 pounds of rings, chains, and various trinkets) ;-)

Ask for a room with bathroom, they've been renovated last year (ours was brand new).

Welcome Inns (reasonnable accomodations) in Tokyo http://www.itcj.or.jp/search/pref/tokyo.html

Mikawaya Honten: http://www.itcj.or.jp/facility/3/facil/313129.html

Otherwise, I've stayed (and been satisfied with) Katsutaro and annex, Sawanoya, and Suzuki, all in Ueno park/Yanaka area, a nice traditional zone, although the latter is a bit noisy, being just above Nippori station.

I've never heard of a tourist being a victim of theft in any of those hotels.

As for shopping, there is no difference in price or quality between the Japanese and foreigners, except maybe at the few places catering mostly to us like Oriental Bazar in Harajuku, although you can find really good stuff there.
Florence is offline  

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