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Old 01-04-2013, 11:49 PM
 
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Hi guys, I’ll be landing at Tokyo this year on 23 March. I’ll be staying there for 5 weeks. Can anyone suggest some good places in the city that I could visit during this period??? How far is Kyoto from the capital city? What is the best time to go there? Any advice for staying options???
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Old 01-05-2013, 02:37 AM
 
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In Tokyo, I would recommend seeing:

- Shinjuku (one of the main business districts, lots of restaurants, shops, and hotels)
- Harajuku and Meiji Shrine
- Shibuya (the big crossing seen in most movies about Tokyo)
- Tokyo Tower
- Imperial Palace
- Ginza
- Odaiba
- Ikebukuro
- Tsukiji Fish Market

and in the suburban areas:

- Yokohama (Japan's 2nd largest city a short train ride from Tokyo, has many sites of its own including Landmark Tower and Minatomirai, Yama****a Park, Marine Tower, Chinatown, Bay Bridge)
- Kamakura (lots of temples and shrines and a Big Buddha statue, sort of like a mini-Kyoto)
- Enoshima (beach town near Kamakura)
- Odawara Castle
- The Tanzawa Mountains
- Hakone (mountainous scenery with hot springs)
- Izu Peninsula
- Mount Fuji (of course)
- Mount Tsukuba (smaller mountain north of Tokyo)
- Mount Takao (also a small mountain, west of Tokyo)
- Nikko (if you have time, its worth it. Another area of mountainous scenery and hot springs, and temples)

Now Kyoto, any time to visit is good, but I think the best would be either fall during the leaves changing or spring during the cherry blossoms. Sites there I would recommend seeing the most are Kiyomizu and Kinkakuji (Golden) Temples. It's about a 2 hour bullet train ride from Tokyo, and I would recommend staying at a traditional Japanese Inn (I found mine through Wikitravel, and got a good deal). If you're going to Kyoto, why not go to Osaka as well? Its only about another 45 minutes on that same bullet train line.
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Old 01-05-2013, 09:09 AM
 
Location: Shaw.
2,226 posts, read 3,157,076 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by adakistkrazia View Post
Hi guys, I’ll be landing at Tokyo this year on 23 March. I’ll be staying there for 5 weeks. Can anyone suggest some good places in the city that I could visit during this period??? How far is Kyoto from the capital city? What is the best time to go there? Any advice for staying options???
You'll probably be in Japan during the cherry blossom (Sakura) season. You might want to take some time to check that out. Here's a quick guide for that.

Kyoto is about four hours by bullet train from Tokyo. A plane ride will take you about 90 minutes. If you plan on taking the bullet train, look for some deals before you go. There are passes and different tickets you can only buy as a foreigner from your home country.

Honestly, you could spend five weeks in Tokyo and not begin to explore it, but it's a good idea to do both (if you're going to be in Japan that long). Some things to keep in mind about Tokyo before going:
(1) It's huge. Even if you limit it to just the 23 special wards, it's about the size of Chicago with the population of NYC.
(2) You're going to be riding the trains a lot. It can be pretty confusing as there are several train lines (a mix of above-ground, and subway systems). Start with the Yamanote line (which goes in a ring around the city) and gradually try the other lines as you need to go somewhere. On that note, get a train map.
(3) The address system is incredibly obtuse. Japanese people can't figure it out and they're useless in terms of actually finding places. Most streets don't have names. If you have an address, you can usually find a police box and ask for directions. But when trying to go to some place that's not next to the train station, plan on getting lost.
(4) If there's something you want to do in Tokyo, you almost certainly will be able to find it. Tokyo is home to more restaurants than any other city in the world and there's a pretty good variety. I wouldn't suggest you go looking for a Jewish deli, but if you want some Thai or Indian food for a change of pace, it's there. The Chinese food is not that great, though, as it's been adapted for Japanese tastes (Thai and Indian places have yet to fully compromise their food).

As for places to go, it depends on your tastes. If you're there for 5 weeks, take some time to chill in a park. The Imperial Garden is an obvious choice (especially in cherry blossom season), but Hibiya Park often has free concerts and Yoyogi Park is a must-go on Sundays. I'd recommend going to Harajuku station on a Sunday, check out all the people dressed up in costumes (or dancing), and visit the Meiji Shrine.

If you want to go for Japanese food, check out Tsukiji Fish Market and the nearby sushi shops of Daiwa and Sushi Dai (you'll be able to tell which ones they are because of the long lines). It's not cheap, but it's worth it. The Tsukiji Market is the largest fish market in the world and not designed for tourists. It's worth seeing before they move it (even if you don't buy any fish yourself). Also, go to Memory Lane next to the Shinjuku station for Yakitori (grilled, skewered chicken). There are lots of places to find it, but that area is the best preserved for the feel of post-war Tokyo. Try to find some good Tokyo Ramen (I like Harukiya, but it's out of the way). If that fails, go to Ramen Jiro. It's a massive, garlicy bowl of deliciousness.

If drinking is your thing, Shinjuku and Shibuya are the best areas. Shinjuku has Kabukicho, which is known as the red light district, but is safe, and Golden Gai, which is a tiny area packed with dive bars. Also, find a cheap all-you-can-drink (nomihodai) deal.

If shopping is your thing, go to Ginza (for upscale) and Akihabara (for video games and electronics). If you're more of a hipster, check out Shimokitazawa for vintage clothes, retro toys, and other interesting things. Also, Shibuya is great for shopping (depending on your age). For a general rule, the areas around Shinjuku are for young people and the areas around the palace are more upscale. If you like to cook, check out the kitchen district (Kappabashi).

If you plan on getting out of Tokyo, but staying in Kansai, I recommend Kamakura and Yokohama. Yokohama's Chinatown is pretty touristy and overrated, but you might like seeing it. Kamakura is incredible (it's packed with temples). It'll be too cold for the beach, but that's a reason a lot of people go too. SEAandATL suggested Hakone. It's famous for its hot springs. It also has a great view of Mt. Fuji. There's also a great amusement park there. I think Mt. Fuji will be closed in March, unfortunately, but check anyway. The climb is very hit or miss. Some people find it awful. Others have epiphanies. Remember that you're going to be climbing at night because the point is to see the sunrise.

Kyoto is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. It does have a good night life, but not on the same level of Tokyo (or Osaka, for that matter). I'm much less familiar with Kyoto (which will be obvious when you read my descriptions). You're definitely going to go for the temples and historic sites. In no particular order:
Fushimi Inari-taisha - Huge red gates. Pretty impressive.
Kiyo-mizu-dera - The pure water temple. It's just gorgeous. Give yourself at least half a day to walk around the grounds.
Kin-kaku-ji - The golden pavilion. Famous landmark.
Gin-kaku-ji - The silver pavilion. I haven't been, but I hear this one is better than the gold one.
Ni-jo - the castle. Notice the floors, which have been designed to squeak as you walk to alert guards of a would-be assassin.
Gion - The best place to see medieval Japan. Get some tea and see a Geisha.

Other places to see in Kansai (all are within an hour trip by train):

Osaka - Definitely the 2nd best night life in Japan (and many will say it's the best). People in Osaka are much friendlier and louder than in Tokyo. Check out the Dotonbori bridge. Make sure you grab some Takoyaki (grilled octopus dumplings) from a street vendor. You can get it in Tokyo, but it'll be smaller and crappier. Also get some Okonomiyaki (a delicious, savory, meat and vegetable pancake). Osaka and Hiroshima are the two cities most famous for this dish (but it's available everywhere).

Kobe - Kobe is a gorgeous city with a nice downtown. It's not a must-see, but I really like that city. If you can find a Korean bbq place that has Kobe beef, it may be the only time you'll be able to buy it at affordable prices.

Nara - The temples in Nara are second only to Kyoto. It's also famous for the domestic deer. Go very early in the morning when it's just opening up and the deer are sleepy. One day is enough, but you set aside most of the day.

Himeji - I think the castle is done being renovated, but check. The Himeji castle is one of the world's great sites. There's a festival in the summer at the foot of the castle.

That's more than enough stuff to fill five weeks. I'd try to split my time roughly 50/50 between Kanto (Tokyo) and Kansai (Kyoto), but that's only because you should see Osaka and Nara if you can.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:45 AM
 
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Oh, I forgot to include Ueno Park in Tokyo, speaking of cherry blossoms. That area I think is the best place in Tokyo to see cherry blossoms, because there are so many trees, but it can be crowded. Not far from Ueno is Asakusa, the historical part of Tokyo that has a temple, and is ideal for buying traditional Japanese souvenirs. Across the river from Asakusa is Sumida, which has a brewery, a sumo ring, and also the newly built Tokyo Sky Tree.
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Old 01-06-2013, 01:49 AM
 
Location: Macao
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I wonder if the OP will ever come back to read the responses. It's doubtful.

It would probably be easier for them to buy a Lonely Planet guide, or check out an actual travel forum instead, than to find their way back to city-data.com again.
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:04 AM
 
3,701 posts, read 8,875,827 times
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Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
I wonder if the OP will ever come back to read the responses. It's doubtful.

It would probably be easier for them to buy a Lonely Planet guide, or check out an actual travel forum instead, than to find their way back to city-data.com again.
Wikitravel is good, to give me the basic idea of what a city has to offer, but I get better details from a guide book once I arrive.
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Old 01-06-2013, 08:41 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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I would second Hakone and go to Yunnessun, which is an internationally reknowned spa that has many different types of hot baths ... from wine, tea, mud, mineral baths, a Turkish bath, a Dead Sea bath, and others. I went once and I look forward to going again. If you prefer smaller baths they're littered over the place there.

Hakone is also a place where you see all sorts of hashiriya (street racers) on motorcycles and cars. You'll see everything there. I once saw three Ferraris, two Lambos, multiple German cars, and Japanese cars (more Skylines than I could count). If you're a car nut, or just someone who wants to see the scene, this will be great. Only go if the passes are clear though, as they will not race / be out if it's slick.

While you're in Hakone, you can go over the pass to Lake Ashinoko. If the weather is clear (CHECK BEFORE YOU GO!) you can see some pretty spectacular views there too. The name escapes me but you can make it out to a natural geyser and sulfuruous bath that they cook iron duck eggs (they're black) in the hot water. If the weather is crappy though, don't bother going and check out something else in Tokyo instead.

Near Hakone is Odawara castle. It's convenient because Odawara is a major terminal for the Shinkansen and other rail lines, so if you have a layover may as well go check it out.

Atami has an ecchi-museum (erotic museum, LOL, even better if you go with a female friend!). Also has a museum of art dedicated by a whack-job religious nut. Pretty interesting building. Oddly enough the MOA has a website you can see some of their artwork at ... in english!

Tokyo has so many things to offer it boggles the mind. My advice is to get lost on any number of tourist websites and find stuff you find interesting. I'd recommend going to Akihabara and geek out to go to a maid cafe. Can't say I totally dug it myself, but my wife liked it. We won't go back but it's just one of those quirks of modern Japanese life. While you're there you can check out their famous electronics stores. The strong yen means you likely won't find many good deals, but always worth a shot. After that do go to Harajuku station and see the fashion street. Do ask folks to pose for pictures, most of them want the attention. But do avoid going to any of the shops unless you really wanted something ... usually the prices are inflated, or run by a racket of Nigerians. If you feel homesick, expats go to Roppongi and Roppongi Hills (latter is more upscale), at least they used to.

The other suggestions about Tokyo are good too.

For Kyoto, basically skip the modern part of town and do explore the older parts. You will find many maps and guides while there, so just get a map and walk around. It should be getting warmer when you're there. Might be a little early for cherry blossoms but should be nicer than dead of winter (when I'll be going ).
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Columbus, Ohio
1,413 posts, read 3,886,024 times
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Originally Posted by Tiger Beer View Post
I wonder if the OP will ever come back to read the responses. It's doubtful.

It would probably be easier for them to buy a Lonely Planet guide, or check out an actual travel forum instead, than to find their way back to city-data.com again.

I wonder what kind of person books a trip to Tokyo and Kyoto, but has no clue on what they want to do.

Perhaps if this is for business, but it does not seem like it.
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