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El Zen
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With foreign holidays out of the question two years in a row, we’re quitely starting to plan for a big one in 2022. With the six year old massively into Super Mario and Nintendo, Japan has emerged as a frontrunner. We’d fly to Tokyo, and a trip with the Shinkansen to Osaka and Super Mario Land would be obligatory. The wife would demand a week at a beach resort, and the history buff (me) would like to see Hiroshima. 

Anyone done any travel in Japan? 

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Did 2 weeks there about 5 years back, best place I've ever been to with kyoto my favourite city 

I did Tokyo, kyoto, hiroshima, osaka, Tokyo, bought the 7 day train ticket, its all about when you activate it 

You can do it fairly "cheap" definitely cheaper than 2 weeks in the states imo, theres so much choice there that if you research it you can spread the costs about, stayed at the awesome century southern Tower for a few nights in Tokyo but then stayed in like a £25 a night place in kyoto, food is the same, you can eat a £200 piece of sushi or a £2 full meal 

Advice would be split Tokyo up, its a proper **** huge place, bookending the trip there meant that I could stay in different hotels in different parts of the city 

Hiroshima you'll do comfortably in 36 hours including a boat trip to the shrine which is worth it

Go to Nara 

Eat everything, the food is incredible, in between eating everything hit the 7/11s hard and eat everything there too

The kill bill restaurant was good

Disney world was OK 

Osaka to me personally was Tokyo lite, was happy with my 24 hours there but wouldn't have liked longer, probably why I like kyoto so much, ridiculous amount of history there and a change of pace 

You can try and add okinawa if you want the beach, I've not done it but looked at it for the inevitable 2nd trip 

Edited by villa4europe
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Same here @El Zen. My son's been in Tokyo for two years now, and we're planning to go there in Oct 2022 before he graduates and possibly moves elsewhere.

I've been in Japan 3 times earlier, "business seminars", Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. We'll probably stay in Tokyo for the most part, but a Shinkansen trip for a couple days in the old capital Kyoto is on the cards. Tokyo and Osaka are westernized, but Kyoto is still "different" in a good way. Kyoto may not be so interesting for the six year old though. Don't go in the summer, it's too hot.

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I was thinking maybe Tokyo-Osaka-Hiroshima-Beach resort-Kyoto-Tokyo. Combination of Shinkansen and car rental. 

Your posts have given me some additional ideas, though. Thanks. 

@AVTuco when you say it’s too hot in summer, what does «too hot» mean? We all went to Florida in July 2019 and managed just fine. We really don’t mind warm weather. Still reckon it would be too hot? Summer holidays is really the only option for me and the wife, as we’re both teachers. 

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1 hour ago, El Zen said:

I was thinking maybe Tokyo-Osaka-Hiroshima-Beach resort-Kyoto-Tokyo. Combination of Shinkansen and car rental. 

Your posts have given me some additional ideas, though. Thanks. 

@AVTuco when you say it’s too hot in summer, what does «too hot» mean? We all went to Florida in July 2019 and managed just fine. We really don’t mind warm weather. Still reckon it would be too hot? Summer holidays is really the only option for me and the wife, as we’re both teachers. 

If that's the case that you can only go in the summer, then just make the best of it! I haven't been there, or in Florida, in the summer so I don't know. Just be prepared for some heat and humidity. Air conditioning is everywhere , so I imagine you'll be alright. Hotel booking for next summer starts soon, so I wouldn't take too long to make reservations. Don't know your budget, but instead of typical hotels a family might like places like Mimaru apartment hotels, just as a thought. And rather than in the "center" of Tokyo, I'd stay elsewhere, like in Shinjuku or Shibuya, much more lively there.

https://mimaruhotels.com/en/shinjuku-west/

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The problem will be the shinkansen tickets through Jr Pass are 7 days, 14 days or 21 days, unlimited travel for that time, you buy it before you go but then activate it when you are there 

So if you do 4 days in Tokyo and then activate the Pass you have 7 days to get to hiroshima and back, if you do the beach resort you're not using the pass so you need to think about how to do it 

And definitely agree about the "center" of Tokyo, I stayed in shinjuku at the start and then in asakusa on the return visit so that I could do the big temple and the sky tree, asakusa was noticeably harder to get around than shinjuku 

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16 hours ago, El Zen said:

With foreign holidays out of the question two years in a row, we’re quitely starting to plan for a big one in 2022. With the six year old massively into Super Mario and Nintendo, Japan has emerged as a frontrunner. We’d fly to Tokyo, and a trip with the Shinkansen to Osaka and Super Mario Land would be obligatory. The wife would demand a week at a beach resort, and the history buff (me) would like to see Hiroshima. 

Anyone done any travel in Japan? 

I have been to Japan six times now from the past 8 years, the last time being March 2020. 

It all comes down to what you want out of it. If you like history, there is plenty to see. In Hiroshima, the impact site of the bomb is reasonably preserved, with some of the damage preserved as monuments. You walk along the river, and you can see the damage it has done. There are many, whatchamacallit, " information signs" which describes what you are viewing. Walking along the river is like an open air museum in itself. Not too far away, there is an open museum park, which is worth a visit. They are not too hard to find, as there are signs everywhere directing you there. Take the tram and you won't miss it. It is also worthwhile catching the ferry to Miyajima, an island that has some history, but it can be a bit " tourist trappy". I loved Hiroshima, it is a beautiful place which has moved on from its history into a more modern city, while preserving its history at the same time. The people there are incredibly friendly there too.

I have only been to Kyoto once, but it was good for history. Take a visit to the big temple in the hills, and you will get to see the rows of tori gates. I recommend walking there, as you will pass through some narrow streets which are filled with hundreds of souvenir shops, which are full of some pretty cool stuff. It is uphill on the way, so you might get jack of it. After the temple, if you below it, there is a nice walking trail with some interesting stuff. 

I honestly don't know many beaches in Japan, I only know of one in Tokyo, and we found it by chance. It is on the river, and it has quite a youngish crowd there. Where it is exactly, I am sorry, I can't remember. We instead enjoyed the baths, which is always a good day out, regardless of the weather. 

If by chance you go there during the winter, I would recommend Nagano, and taking a trip by bus to the national park there and checking out the snow monkeys. That was an awesome time, and I would recommend it to anyone going to Japan.

Personally, my favourite place is Osaka. I just love the food there. Also the Osakans there are not as uptight as Tokyoions. People in Tokyo are a little uptight during business hours, but become more relaxed on the weekends. Osakans tend to be more casual 24/7. Regardless, wherever you go, the people are generally very friendly.

I hope this helps.

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* That beach I mentioned, it is in Odaiba near Fuji TV, underneath a shopping mall there. You just catch the monorail to get there.

Disclaimer: Not a real beach though.

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9 hours ago, villa4europe said:

The problem will be the shinkansen tickets through Jr Pass are 7 days, 14 days or 21 days, unlimited travel for that time, you buy it before you go but then activate it when you are there 

So if you do 4 days in Tokyo and then activate the Pass you have 7 days to get to hiroshima and back, if you do the beach resort you're not using the pass so you need to think about how to do it 

And definitely agree about the "center" of Tokyo, I stayed in shinjuku at the start and then in asakusa on the return visit so that I could do the big temple and the sky tree, asakusa was noticeably harder to get around than shinjuku 

The JR pass is actually quite helpful. You can use it for the Tokyo city circle, which is effectively the major places you want to get to in Tokyo. You just cant use it for privatised train services which take you to the fringes of Tokyo.

If you are staying for say, like 10 days, the trick is to activate the JR pass as close to your first shinkansen trip. If you are staying in Tokyo for a couple of days first, it is cheap and easy enough to just buy one trip tickets, which are about 120 to 180 yen. 

As for staying in Japan, we usually stay in Ikebukuro. It is central, pretty much has everything you need, good nightlife, and not as touristy.

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2 hours ago, AJ said:

The JR pass is actually quite helpful. You can use it for the Tokyo city circle, which is effectively the major places you want to get to in Tokyo. You just cant use it for privatised train services which take you to the fringes of Tokyo.

If you are staying for say, like 10 days, the trick is to activate the JR pass as close to your first shinkansen trip. If you are staying in Tokyo for a couple of days first, it is cheap and easy enough to just buy one trip tickets, which are about 120 to 180 yen. 

As for staying in Japan, we usually stay in Ikebukuro. It is central, pretty much has everything you need, good nightlife, and not as touristy.

If you only do one trip, like in our case Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo, am I right in thinking that it's not worthwhile buying the JR pass? Shinkansen tickets are quite expensive, like 200 pounds for return tickets, from what I've seen.

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1 minute ago, AVTuco said:

If you only do one trip, like in our case Tokyo-Kyoto-Tokyo, am I right in thinking that it's not worthwhile buying the JR pass? Shinkansen tickets are quite expensive, like 200 pounds for return tickets, from what I've seen.

You are right, shinkansen tickets are expensive. It depends on how long you are staying to get the best value out of it. 

@villa4europe recommended Nara, and I do too. It is on the way to Kyoto.

The cool thing about Nara is they have hundreds of wild deer just roaming the streets. They are wild, but you can feed and pet them. *

In Tokyo, if you have the JR pass, it makes things easier. To get on a train, you just flash your pass at the gate and on you go. It saves buying tickets. 

Whether to get a JR pass, you just have to do the math. Kyoto is only about 2 hours away, so if that was the only trip, it probably wont be worth it. 

 

* When I was in Nara, I saw a dickhead tourist put his hat on one of the deer for a photo op. The hat slipped over the deer's eyes, and the poor thing panicked (the deer, not the tourist, f### him) , and ran away through the crowd without being able to see. Some people some distance away managed to grab the deer and take the hat off it. I just hope the experience made that guy feel like a dickhead, because in fact he was a dickhead.

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3 minutes ago, AJ said:

You are right, shinkansen tickets are expensive. It depends on how long you are staying to get the best value out of it. 

@villa4europe recommended Nara, and I do too. It is on the way to Kyoto.

The cool thing about Nara is they have hundreds of wild deer just roaming the streets. They are wild, but you can feed and pet them. *

In Tokyo, if you have the JR pass, it makes things easier. To get on a train, you just flash your pass at the gate and on you go. It saves buying tickets. 

Whether to get a JR pass, you just have to do the math. Kyoto is only about 2 hours away, so if that was the only trip, it probably wont be worth it. 

 

* When I was in Nara, I saw a dickhead tourist put his hat on one of the deer for a photo op. The hat slipped over the deer's eyes, and the poor thing panicked (the deer, not the tourist, f### him) , and ran away through the crowd without being able to see. Some people some distance away managed to grab the deer and take the hat off it. I just hope the experience made that guy feel like a dickhead, because in fact he was a dickhead.

Thanks for your thoughts mate. Although, I have deer (or something like that) in my back yard eating my Thujas. I'd like to "pet" them on the head if it was legal :)

 

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1 minute ago, AVTuco said:

Thanks for your thoughts mate. Although, I have deer (or something like that) in my back yard eating my Thujas. I'd like to "pet" them on the head if it was legal :)

 

Mmmm.....venison.

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There's far less of them but they're at the itsukushima shrine in hiroshima too

If you go there then don't miss that shrine! Might not seem like it but its really famous for them and it's worth the short trip out 

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12 hours ago, villa4europe said:

There's far less of them but they're at the itsukushima shrine in hiroshima too

If you go there then don't miss that shrine! Might not seem like it but its really famous for them and it's worth the short trip out 

Miyajima. 👍

That place is well worth the trip. and you can use your JR pass for the ferry across. ( If you dont have one, tickets are cheap anyway)

An interesting thing my Japanese GF said. All the souvenir shops there are "owned" by the yakuza. She mentioned this post trip, so I didn't get a chance to ask any of them if this was true.

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I didn't take to Tokyo, too much of a good thing I guess. I recommend keeping your eyes peeled peeled hole in the wall ramen and sushi spots. Thw Whiskey District has some amazing snug sized bars. Probably not one for a 6 year old though. Akihibara (sic) is a bit of an eye opener, it's ground zero for anime and figurines.

If you're in Sengakuji there's an amazing temple with 36 dead Ronin. The Japanese civil war was bloody but wild. You'll never think of the word samurai the same way once you start learning about it.

We boosted out of Tokyo for Nagano as we were snowboarding for a week. The pace in Nagano and Hakuba is far more my style. 

It's an insanely safe and respectful country overall. Unattended items aren't stolen or **** about with. Food is totally reliable not to upset stomachs either.

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Me and my girlfriend were looking to go next year all things cleared. 
Thanks for some of the tips on here guys, and it’s interesting to read that it’s not as expensive as thought.

May need to pick some of your brains more when looking to book

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We've started to look again. Hotels are almost fully booked well in advance. Even if travelling to Japan is banned, they travel within the country a lot. 

We're waiting for hotels to open booking for October 2022 soon.

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