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  1. #1
    Pigs In Space GreatPig's Avatar
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    Jul 2004

    Default Japan Holiday Photos

    For anyone interested, there's a write-up of our recent Japan holiday with photos here. My wife appears in a lot of them, but hey... it's cheaper than paying for a model.

    The write-up covers five pages, and there are something like 250 photos in total which all come from ImageShack, so you might need to allow a bit of time for each page to load. Dial-up could be difficult.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Hello GP,

    Thanks for your post re: Japan holiday.

    I happen to be planning a trip there with my wife for 2 weeks in June and have so far found your tips most useful, particularly the Google maps and Hyperdia websites.

    I have planned a pretty rough itinerary so far and am up to the point of now looking for places to book accommodation wise, so when I jumped onto ASF today at lunch I must have had perfect timing when I saw your post!

    I've had a quick look at the photos, and write up but will also have a look at the write-ups from your previous trips as well.

    Cheers for the info.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos


    If you've never been before, and are only going for two weeks, the places covered in the 2006 trip are the more famous and popular ones. Be aware though that June is mid-summer, and could be quite busy.

    For accommodation, the two main considerations are cost and location. If you do like we did, and base yourself in just a few places then use rail passes to do day trips, you want to be close to the main railway stations. Decent accommodation near the stations can be somewhat expensive though, depending on your budget, especially in popular cities like Kyoto.

    You also need to decide if you want western-style hotels or Japanese ryokans or minshuku. It's good to try the latter at least once, but quality varies at the bottom end of the scale. I highly recommend the Matsunoki Ryokan in Okayama though - good quality for a relatively cheap price and very handy to Okayama station - and Okayama is an excellent base for day trips to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji, Takahashi, places in Shikoku, Osaka, and Kyoto (if you wanted to spend a few days in Kyoto though, you might prefer to stay there). In Tokyo, the Kimi Ryokan is quite good too, but a bit of a walk from Ikebukuro station. Plus you have to ring them to book (they speak English okay though).


  4. #4

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Nice pic's GP

  5. #5
    Administrator Joe Blow's Avatar
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    May 2004
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    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Great photos and commentary GP... thanks for sharing them!

  6. #6

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Thanks, guys.

    I think playing round with photos after the trip is taking longer than the trip itself.

    Just been doing a slide-show DVD, and still have the actual album of prints to do yet.


  7. #7
    hoarding tinned food kennas's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
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    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Self portrait GP?
    Attached Images  

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2007

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    I too would highly recommend anyone considering going to Japan for more than a few days consider the rail passes.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by kennas View Post
    Self portrait GP?
    Well I certainly feel like that sometimes, a dumb animal being led around by the nose.


  10. #10

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Hello GP,

    Thanks again for the tips. I have been to Japan once before however it was at the tender age of 15 on a school exchange over 18 years ago. I was also fluent in Japanese back then as well, but have forgotten most of it, so I have started taking up lessons again recently. Hopefully by the time we go I'll have remembered enough to converse reasonably well in 'pigeon Nihongo'!

    I've just finished reading the latest Lonely Planet (Oct 07) so I am hoping the prices and details in it are reasonably accurate and have planned an itinerary as follows. I have read through your 2006 trip write up and checked out all the amazing photos, most of which are places that I had planned to check out, which was really helpful, so here goes:-

    Arrive - 2 nights in Osaka, 3 nights in Tokyo, 3 nights Kyoto, 2 nights undecided ( Shiraham and Koya San are in the running), 2 nights Okayama and 1 night Osaka/Kyoto before flying out.

    I've been using the Lonely Planet and a few websites I've found by Googling, to help with acccommodation and get an idea on prices. Thanks for the advice re the Ryokans in Okayama and Tokyo, will definately check them out.

    So GP any thoughts on the above itinerary would be appreciated??

    I've also planned most of the days as well to try and check out the following things while there:-

    Himeji Castle, Mt Fuji, Kibune/Kurama, Kyoto Market (on 21st and 21th of month) to keep the wife happy!, Koraku-en Garden in Okayama (supposedly in top 3 gardens in Japan), and maybe Nikko - not sure if its worth going there?

    And finally I am going to attempt to find my long lost exchange pal who I lost contact with about 15 years ago! I know he lives in Okayama and works at the post office ( sounds like a challenge!).

    Cheers GP.


  11. #11

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos


    I don't know all those places you mention, or exactly where you intend to go from each place, but a few general comments:

    Osaka doesn't really have much to see. An evening down Dotombori is probably enough unless you particularly like big cities (I mainly spent a couple of days there for the wife to do some shopping). If you've got a whole day there, I'd suggest visiting Nara instead.

    Koraku-en garden only needs a couple of hours or so (excluding getting there), maybe 3 or 4 if you want to see the castle as well (it's a modern reconstruction though, so since you plan to see Himeji, there's no real need to see Okayama castle as well). On our 2006 trip, we took the train from Tokyo to Okayama and saw the garden the same afternoon.

    Nikko is definitely worth a look and can be done as a day trip from Tokyo. Again, unless you're a fan of big cities, I'd say Nikko over spending more time in Tokyo. It's a very popular place though, so could be quite crowded.

    I gather your three nights in Kyoto are set by the market dates, but are your departure and return dates fixed? One thing that strikes me is that with a bit of rearrangement, you could stay in less places, and thus avoid having to carry around your luggage so much. If your departure date is flexible (and you haven't already booked it), could you perhaps do something like this, arriving just before the Kyoto market:

    - Fly to Osaka. Train to Kyoto.
    - Two market days (3 nights in Kyoto).
    - 3 nights in Tokyo.
    - Okayama.
    - Elsewhere possibly for other places.
    - Osaka to fly out.

    Are you flying Jetstar, and can you arrive in the morning (or at least not too late in the afternoon) and leave at night? If so, then you wouldn't need to stay in Osaka at all. You could go to Nara from Kyoto if you wanted to (adding another night in Kyoto), and visit Osaka from either Kyoto or Okayama (this is assuming you have rail passes). One possibility for a day trip from Okayama (or Kyoto) would be Himeji in the morning then Osaka in the afternoon and evening, although if you want to stay there late, you'll need to check what time you need to be back at your accommodation, and the train timetable for the last train. Business hotels are okay, but ryokans have a tendency to lock their doors at a certain hour.

    Are the two days in Kyoto going to be entirely for the market, or are you planning on seeing a temple or three as well?

    No mention of Hiroshima or Miyajima. Perhaps you've been there before, but I think the A-bomb museum is definitely worth seeing at least once. I'm not normally a museum type person myself, but Hiroshima and Nagasaki are unique (and let's hope they stay that way!). Miyajima is a scenic day trip too. The floating torii is supposedly the most-photographed object in Japan.

    Regarding accommodation, be quick getting something in Kyoto. That's likely to be the hardest place to find somewhere decent for a reasonable price (although I don't know all those other places you mentioned). Cheaper accommodation can be booked out early by school excursions. If you get stuck, you could potentially day-trip there from Osaka or even Okayama. It doesn't take long on the shinkansen. The first time I was there, I day tripped to both Tokyo and Kyoto from Shizuoka, which is roughly half way between them (I had a friend living there).

    Finally, a comment about luggage. Take a couple of smaller suitcases rather than one large one, preferably the type with wheels and an extending handle that lets you wheel it like a hand trolley. Large suitcases are hard to handle, don't fit in trains, buses or hotel rooms very well (hotel rooms can be quite tight), and may not fit in lockers. Try and travel light anyway. You normally have to check out of your accommodation by 10am, so if you're planning on a day trip and then going to your next accommodation that night, you'll need to leave your bags somewhere. Most accommodation will let you leave it there, but sometimes it's more convenient to leave it in lockers at a railway station, especially if the accommodation is not close to the station (although lockers cost a few hundred yen, depending on the size).


  12. #12

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Thanks GP.

    My wife (who's also nihongin) and I are traveling there again in May for a wedding reception that my wife's father wants to put on for us. We thought it was only fair we travelled there again as her family came out for our wedding in October.

    I casually asked my parents if they were interested in coming as they had never been to Asia before. They called back a couple of hours later and told us the whole family is coming!! Think Mum and Dad (60's) Aunty and Uncle (late 50's) Grandfather (84) and Cousin (30's)!! My aunty has never been OS before (or even on a plane!) and none of them have ever been to Asia. Can you imagine all of us at Ginza or Shinjuku Station at 8am on a weekday morning!!! lol

    Wish me luck buddy....

  13. #13

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos


    Awesome info there, thanks mate. You are a wealth of knowledge, I might have to start paying you a travel agent's commission seeing as you've given me more useful info in 3 posts than she has in the last couple of months.

    Will definately go to Nara instead of 2 days in Osaka, and cheers for advice re: Nikko, will go there too. Will also look at possibly changing the order of cities as well, especially if it means less travel and lugging around suitcases. yeah was wondering about the size of luggage etc, good advice.

    Flights are already booked with Malaysian Airlines as we're stopping into Penanag for 5 nights on the way back, but we arrive at 7am in the morning in Kansai Airport there and leave at lunch time coming back, not too bad I suppose.

    Yes looked at Hiroshima and Miyajima but wasn't too keen on them actually, a few people have actually recommended Hiroshima so perhaps a day trip is warranted. Thanks again.

    Mmmm bit concerning about accommodation in Kyoto, looks like I'd better finalise my itinerary and start booking soon! My best mates little brother is currently living in kyoto teaching English so if I have any troubles at least I can get him to physically go and check out / book somewhere.

    Much appreciated.


  14. #14

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos


    Hiroshima is quite a nice city as far as cities go, but its main attraction for tourists is the A-bomb museum and Peace Park. As I say, worth seeing the museum at least once just to be aware of the devastation the bomb caused. And to think that was only a 12 kiloton bomb (13-16 according to Wikipedia), compared to the multi-megaton ones they have now! In the end though, it depends on what you're really interested in seeing. Remember it's your holiday, not ours. Don't go if you would really prefer to go somewhere else. There's probably nothing there you won't be able to look up on the Internet, but there is something about being there...

    Miyajima is scenic, but like most scenic outdoor places, it's 100 times better on a nice day. Nara is also fine-day material, as you spend most of the day outdoors and it wouldn't be terribly pleasant in the rain. Ditto Nikko.

    You could potentially visit Hiroshima and Miyajima on the same day, if you made it a long one and didn't waste any time, but it would be much more comfortable as two days. I think you could do Himeji and Hiroshima as half a day each though, if all you wanted to do in Hiroshima was see the museum and Peace Park. Likewise Himeji and Koraku-en garden. Depends a bit though on how mobile you are (ie. do you mind a fair bit of walking and early starts, or do you prefer to sleep in and just dawdle).

    Regarding accommodation, I gather Kyoto has quite a lot of it, but you want something conveniently located. If you're only there for the market and perhaps a temple or two, then you could stay somewhere near those places, but if you intend to use it as a base for other places as well, then you might prefer to be near the station.

    However, as I mentioned, you could day-trip there from somewhere else. Don't under-estimate how far you can travel on the shinkansen for a day trip (with a rail pass). According to Hyperdia, Okayama to Kyoto is less than 1.5 hours, so even a day trip from Okayama is feasible. We travelled up to 2.5 hours each way for some day trips.

    Another advantage of staying in less places and day tripping is that you can be more flexible with where you go each day, and even change plans completely. Since some places are much better on fine days, head to say Nara and Miyajima on fine days, then if it rains, you can go to Hiroshima, Osaka, or Himeji (Himeji would be better on a fine day too of course, but if I had to choose, I'd pick Himeji for a wet day over Nara or Miyajima).

    Finally, with regard to taking the shinkansen, if you have a rail pass you cannot use the Nozomi trains. Of the other two, the Hikari and Kodama, the Hikari are the express trains, and the ones you want for trips of any length. From the 2006 trip, I remember the Hikari's often only ran once an hour along that line, so get a timetable and be aware of what time those trains run if you want to avoid wasting time. Carry the timetable with you on days when you need to get the train back again. Try to turn up 10-15 minutes early and find the right queue for a non-reserved non-smoking carriage (a bit tricky until you get the hang of it). If you arrive right on time for a busy train, you might have to stand for some, or possibly even all, of the trip. Those trains can be very long too, and a "quick dash" to the other end might take a lot longer than you think. You might be able to get a timetable from JNTO here, but ask for the latest one (in English) from the information office at one of the major railway stations.

    Good luck!


  15. #15

    Smile Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Gday GP,

    Not sure if you're still checking this thread but just a quick question. I am about to book all of our accommodation. Some of it through our travel agent, but most of I have found using a website called www.japanican.com. I know I read in one of your posts that you'd done most of your own booking as far as accommodation was concerned. Could you tell me which website you were using. The reason I'm asking is because the prices buying direct through various websites has been considerably cheaper than going through an agent, but my only concern with using a website/s that I'm not too familiar with is the risk of rocking up on the day to find that my booking has disappeared and my credit card wiped out!

    Cheers GP.


  16. #16
    white swans need love too Timmy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Between the lines

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Wow GP - just had a very quick look and will be back tomorrow for more - thanks a lot for putting up the pics and comments. Really interesting (never been to Japan).
    The contents of this post were tested, ruthlessly, on small, cute, furry animals. Most of them were fatally harmed. Hence, if this post causes irritation, please discontinue reading immediately.

  17. #17

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by JKT View Post
    Could you tell me which website you were using.
    I didn't use any accommodation website, although did get some info from a couple (ie. they came up in web searches and provided contact details or whatever). I had the same question as you regarding the security and reliability of such sites.

    Ultimately I ended up booking all my accommodation directly with the places themselves, via their online booking systems when they had one. On this last trip I had to book one place via fax, and on the 2006 trip I had to phone one place, otherwise managed to book all online directly.

    For each place you've chosen, see if you can find a website for them and try and book directly. From memory, only one place we stayed on those last two trips actually asked for a credit card number in advance, which did surprise me a little since some of them also indicated a fee for last-minute cancellations. Some of the smaller places only accepted cash too.

    Good luck.


  18. #18

    Talking Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Thanks GP, started booking last night using the hotel's own websites. Received back confirmation bookings by email no problems. So far so good, and as you say, don't have to pay up-front as well.

    Only snag so far seems to be check-in times, most of them are about 2pm, I asked about early check-in at the Granvia in Osaka but they wanted to slog me an extra 13,500 Yen on top of the room rate, so i said forget about it, we'll go sightseeing for 4 hours after we arrive, even if we're still tired from the flight. Still not complaining, booking directly has so far saved me a bucket load of money compared to if I'd done it through an agent!

    Cheers mate.


  19. #19

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos


    I've only been back in OZ for 3 weeks but seeing those pics made me miss the place.. (especially the "on tap" sashimi!)

  20. #20

    Default Re: Japan Holiday Photos

    Quote Originally Posted by JKT View Post
    Only snag so far seems to be check-in times, most of them are about 2pm
    They should be able to hold your main luggage for you though. The Granvia in Osaka certainly did for us on the day we checked out. We did the same thing at a few other places as well, and none ever refused.

    even if we're still tired from the flight
    What can I say... don't be a wimp!

    The first time I went to Japan I arrived in Tokyo at something like 6am, got a train to Ueno and Shinjuku, then a bus to Kawaguchi-ko near Mt Fuji, arriving there at something like 1-2pm. Then I had to book accommodation (youth hostel), checked in, and spent the rest of the day sightseeing - not that Kawaguchi-ko was a very big place and it had been raining all morning.

    Just do as in that Bon Jovi song: "Gonna live while I'm alive, I'll sleep when I'm dead"

    Even though it's an overnight flight, there's no real jet lag as the time difference is only an hour.


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