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Holiday Trip to Japan

Posted 17/06/2013 - 18:47 Link
I don't like holidays, and I'm a miserable tight fisted Scottish git, but I've had a shit couple of years, which I won't go in to, but I have decided to spent the kid's inheritance, and go to Japan for 3 weeks in September.

I will be back-packing most of the time, so will be travelling light, plan to just take the K7, 'fishy' and the Pentax 17-70, thought about my Samyang 85 - 1.4 or the Pentax 50 - 1.2 as I love them both, but they are extra weight on my back, any thoughts ?

Just thought, because this forum is so wide spread, someone could tell me of places I should not miss, or let me know of any places I should miss ?

Any ideas will be gratefully received.

Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:01 Link
John - The obvious shots should include Mount Fuji, and the memorials at Hiroshima and Nagasaki (if you are like me, you will get an eerie chill running down your spine, and your blood will run cold at Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima). If you can handle the nightmare that is Tokyo, which is chaotic during peak times (I'd recommend walking around, or use the underground), have a look around the Rappongi district, the Ginza District, and the Imperial Palace ay Chiyoda-ku. There's loads there to see in all of Japan (depends what you are looking for, of course!), so maybe you will fancy taking in Yokohama, or Kawasaki, which is a sub-district of Tokyo.

A word of caution about Rappongi (in my experience anyway) - the Japanese girls that you will see there are not neccessarily schoolgirls!!

You will encounter a courteous people, so don't take offence if they giggle at your english. Although they are a major player in the global economy, they are still a bit "insular" as far as communicating in English goes.

All in all - ENJOY!!
Edited by steven9761: 17/06/2013 - 19:02
Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:12 Link
Thanks Steven, I had planned to stay in Tokyo for the first 4 - 5 days, more if it seduces me, I want to take it all in !

I do want to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I feel I can't go to Japan and not visit there.

It seems you have visited there before ? I'm planning, as a Scotsman, to wear the kilt on my travels, but I'm not sure if that would go down well, any thoughts ?

Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:21 Link
Not sure about the kilt. If you are attending a social function as a guest, it might be okay. If you are meeting anyone there who has a "social status" (somebody such as a business exec), take along a copy of the official rules of golf, which I think you can still get at the R&A shop at St Andrews GC. I'd also suggest taking a nice malt whisky, but avoid the ones that you can freely buy in supermarkets here - maybe if you are in Glasgow, you could have a look in the Whisky Shop in the Buchanan Galleries (at the entrance next to the elevators, corner of Bath Street and Buchanan Street). General rule of thumb is: the Japanese tend to like all things Scottish, so a box of Walkers shortbread probably won't go amiss either!!
Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:28 Link
Ha Ha, you can't beat Scottish shortbread, or "The Water of Life"

Better not try taking a Haggis with me, I could be locked up going through customs !
Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:39 Link
I don't think haggis is any real problem, considering the foods the Japanese eat!! Remember that saki is usually served hot with food, by the way.

If you are planning a shopping spree, if memory serves me correctly the best places for electronic and photographic is in Chiba-ku. Pre-plan your shopping by drawing up a list of the things, and note the UK prices. Once you get there, a quick conversion of the currency will tell you if you're grabbing a bargain, or not.

Are you travelling via LHR, or are you taking the EK flight from GLA to NRT (Tokyo Narita) via DXB (Dubai)?

BTW: I found a link to the Japanese Consulate in Embra! Give them a call, and ask them about wearing a kilt, and if haggis is okay to import there. I know haggis isn't a problem in Hong Kong, since the the HK Police import McSweens haggis for their Burns Suppers. I should know - I had to hand-carry one over a couple of times!!
Edited by steven9761: 17/06/2013 - 19:50
Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:49 Link
I envy you. I've been to Japan 4 times between 2008 and 2010 as my daughter was studying at Tokyo University. You could easily spend 3 weeks in the various areas of Tokyo. As Steve says Rappongi, Ginza, the Imperial Palace as well as Akihabara ( the Electric City - where you can buy anything electrical or electronic) and the Japanese War Museum at Yasukuni Shrine - also in Chiyoda. Ueno Park is nice to people watch. Yokohama has an extremely large China town with food to die for. Further afield Kyoto is a beautiful city with many old wooden buildings and ancient temples - and the only way to get there is
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300Km per hour and extremely stable.
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I found the Japanese people warm, friendly, polite and interested in why I was there. Just a word of warning - at that time of the year the local bugs are at their peak.
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Outcome - and no I'm not wearing a pink blown up marigold.

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Outside the city centre be aware how little English is spoken - which is perfectly understandable.

Also watch out for the remote controlled all in one toilet and bum washer with heated seat.
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Apologies to anyone offended as these were all taken with an Olympus E-410.
Edited by jamieallan: 17/06/2013 - 19:53
Posted 17/06/2013 - 19:57 Link
Jamie - we both forgot to tell John about the Bullet Train, or rather its attention to sticking with the timetable! If the signs say that the train leaves the station at 14:00 - it leaves at 14:00, not 13:59:59 or 14:00:01!!

Your last picture reminded me of my first experience of the "jet-wash", Jamie! After using it, I half expected a Japanese girl to come and give me a wax and polish afterwards!!
Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:00 Link
I knew I would get fast and helpful responses here, thank you

Can't wait for the fancy 'dunny'

Us Scot's are used to the 'Midge', so bring on the beasties !!!

Cheers Jamie

Going via Edinburgh, Heathrow then Narita
Edited by Galoot: 17/06/2013 - 20:03
Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:09 Link
Galoot wrote:

Going via Edinburgh, Heathrow then Narita

If you are on BA all the way, you don't have to worry about changing terminals - all the BA flights go through T5. If you are travelling the LHR - NRT sector with either ANA (All Nippon Airways), or JAL (Japan Air Lines), you will need to get the courtesy bus to T3. Note that, provided the buses stay on the periphery of the airport (and not stray on to the Colnbrook Bypass / Bath Road, Harmondsworth), you can also take a red London bus, but DON'T take any of the buses going via Hatton Cross, as that's the long way for a shortcut! The Underground also runs between T5 and T1,2,3 if you don't mind paying for the privilege.
Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:17 Link
I may be a miserable Scottish git, but I don't like hassle, so BA from 'Auld Reekie' to Tokyo.

My preference would be 'beamed' from my local, to the nearest Irish Pub in Tokyo.

( There is always an Irish pub ? )
Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:18 Link
I was lucky as my daughter was on a scholarship there for 2 years and acted as my tour guide. We'd arrange in advance of my visit where we were going to sight see. By the time I came back each time I felt I needed a holiday! I think your kilt would go down well - and I agree with Steve they love Scottish items. We still send shortbread to people we met there. My daughter did smuggle haggis in but I wasn't for it as all foreigners get questioned at immigration and customs on arrival at Narita - and there was a lovely labrador sniffer wandering about.
Other places within relatively easy travelling distance of Tokyo are Kamakura (with its giant Buddha) and Enoshima Island. Hakone (black egg mountain) is another photogenic trip.
Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:19 Link
I'm off over there for a few weeks July into August; been many times before but not travelled around that extensively to be honest.

I'll second all the above and add Asakusa in Tokyo, try wandering some of the little streets around there as well as the main temple complex, some of them are quite quaint especially near the small amusement park. Tokyo Sky Tree opened last year and might be an experience, but I think you need to book tickets a day or two before you go up, at least you did last year. For a different eating experience try the Yurakucho area next to Tokyo station, lots of unusual eateries under the railways arches known as the 'gardoshita', worth seeing even if you don't plan to eat there.

Kyoto is a must see, but also check out Nara while you are down there, nice parklands with friendly deer.

I'll second the comments above about the bugs that time of year, take mozzy repellant, also it can still be quite hot even in late September but there can also be typhoons then so be prepared for a mixed bag of weather! For a rainy day in Toky head for the Tokyo museum of photography, sometimes have some excellent exhibitions on.
'The RAW is the score and the print is the performance' - Apologies to Ansel Adams

Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:29 Link
How are your tastebuds? For travelling there is nothing better than buying a Bento box at the train station and eating it en route. Here's a posh one
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Here's Okonomiyaki - which roughly translates according to my daughter as - anything goes.
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It's a delicious savoury pancake.
Oh I could just eat my way around Japan........
Posted 17/06/2013 - 20:35 Link
Also ask for a window seat - you've 12 hours to kill so keep you camera handy. It amazing what you can see from 11Km up.
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