Japan Holiday - anyone been?

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smange

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Wife and I have for years spoken about going to Japan for a holiday and wondered if any of you good forummers have ever been?

We are hoping to plan a trip for 2022 assuming we are allowed to travel there by then!

Would love a 2 or 3 centre trip offering different sides to the country, experiencing both city life and of course something a bit more rural and relaxing!

So anyone been? What are your recommendations on places to go to and anyone know a good travel agent that would specialise in Japan?
 

SocketRocket

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Went there often on business. I didn't like it, the cities are very big and highly populated, I don't like the food and the countryside is flat and fairly uninteresting other than the interior which is mountainous and fairly impenetrable.

Good points were the trains and it always seems very safe. There are some interesting cultural sites to visit but some of the religious ones seemed quite bizarre.

I've only been there on business with the odd trip out so not the best person to give advice on holidays.
 
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Wife and I have for years spoken about going to Japan for a holiday and wondered if any of you good forummers have ever been?

We are hoping to plan a trip for 2022 assuming we are allowed to travel there by then!

Would love a 2 or 3 centre trip offering different sides to the country, experiencing both city life and of course something a bit more rural and relaxing!

So anyone been? What are your recommendations on places to go to and anyone know a good travel agent that would specialise in Japan?

Have been more than 30 times, and lived there for 2.5 years including a few months in Kyoto and a couple of years in Tokyo. I tend to book direct rather than package deals, but it depends on your comfort zone being abroad and not speaking the lingo. Many more Japanese speak English now, many happy to help visitors, and spotting a westerner is not quite the experience it was when I started visiting back in 1995. The JNTO is a good place to start for ideas (https://www.japan.travel/en/uk/), these sites are also useful ( \https://www.japan-guide.com/ and https://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-culture/japan-london-resources).

Finnair is one of the best airlines to travel with, the transfer in Finland is good as it's en-route, rather than flying south to Paris or Rome and then back north over Finland anyways. BA direct is a great option if the prices are good. Keep an eye out around September time, you can usually pick up some good price deals. I very often use this company for cheap flight deals (https://www.his-euro.co.uk/index_jp.htm) but I also go direct to the airline or use skyscanner etc. whichever gets me the best deal. Direct flights are usually more comfortable, and shorter, but can cost a lot more if there are no deals.

Japan Rail pass is a must if you are travelling around, gives unlimited travel on all JR trains, boats and buses, this includes the bullet trains, with the exception of a couple of the newer ones. Note that's all JR trains, not all trains and buses - there are many different train and bus companies. You can also buy an ICOCA card, which is a prepaid card for travelling on other buses and trains, and can be used on most of them instead of queueing for tickets every time - some of the ICOCA cards are region specific, some can be used all over (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_003.html).

With regards to places to visit. Kyoto is a must, you can spend a good few days there as there are literally hundreds of temples. It can get to a point where one temple looks just like another, but there are some that are more famous than others, and well worth visiting. Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Ryoanji, Sanjusangendo, Fushimi Inari Jinja and Kiyomizudera to name are just some in Kyoto to visit. Arashiyama is also a fabulous place to visit on the western edge of Kyoto- lived there for 3months in 1996. Worth staying in a traditional Japanese Ryokan for a at least one night, air BNB can be quite good these days too. One of my boys went with a couple of his school mates the other year, they used airbnb in Okinawa and Tokyo and were happy with their accomodations.


The Dai Butsu (Great Buddha) in Nara is worth a visit - the tallest indoor statue of Budhha in the tallest wooden building in the world. Himeji Castle is worth a visit, as is a trip to Hiroshima to see the Genpaku Dome, peace museum and a trip over to Miyajima. Depending how long you go for and how much travel you want to do, there are many more places. Have a look at the sites above and then you can get a rough idea of places that you'd like to visit.

I tend to spend most of my time around the Kansai area (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto) as that's where my in-laws live. I'm happy to answer any questions as best I can
 

brendy

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Went there often on business. I didn't like it, the cities are very big and highly populated, I don't like the food and the countryside is flat and fairly uninteresting other than the interior which is mountainous and fairly impenetrable.

Good points were the trains and it always seems very safe. There are some interesting cultural sites to visit but some of the religious ones seemed quite bizarre.

I've only been there on business with the odd trip out so not the best person to give advice on holidays.
Well thats me sold! :D
Ive heard the locals aren't overly welcoming in some areas but still wouldn't mind going at some point to check out their golf courses and cherry blossom season. China is the closest I've been so far and it was awesome but bonkers and slightly scary at the same time.
 
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smange

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Have been more than 30 times, and lived there for 2.5 years including a few months in Kyoto and a couple of years in Tokyo. I tend to book direct rather than package deals, but it depends on your comfort zone being abroad and not speaking the lingo. Many more Japanese speak English now, many happy to help visitors, and spotting a westerner is not quite the experience it was when I started visiting back in 1995. The JNTO is a good place to start for ideas (https://www.japan.travel/en/uk/), these sites are also useful ( \https://www.japan-guide.com/ and https://www.japanvisitor.com/japanese-culture/japan-london-resources).

Finnair is one of the best airlines to travel with, the transfer in Finland is good as it's en-route, rather than flying south to Paris or Rome and then back north over Finland anyways. BA direct is a great option if the prices are good. Keep an eye out around September time, you can usually pick up some good price deals. I very often use this company for cheap flight deals (https://www.his-euro.co.uk/index_jp.htm) but I also go direct to the airline or use skyscanner etc. whichever gets me the best deal. Direct flights are usually more comfortable, and shorter, but can cost a lot more if there are no deals.

Japan Rail pass is a must if you are travelling around, gives unlimited travel on all JR trains, boats and buses, this includes the bullet trains, with the exception of a couple of the newer ones. Note that's all JR trains, not all trains and buses - there are many different train and bus companies. You can also buy an ICOCA card, which is a prepaid card for travelling on other buses and trains, and can be used on most of them instead of queueing for tickets every time - some of the ICOCA cards are region specific, some can be used all over (https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_003.html).

With regards to places to visit. Kyoto is a must, you can spend a good few days there as there are literally hundreds of temples. It can get to a point where one temple looks just like another, but there are some that are more famous than others, and well worth visiting. Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Ryoanji, Sanjusangendo, Fushimi Inari Jinja and Kiyomizudera to name are just some in Kyoto to visit. Arashiyama is also a fabulous place to visit on the western edge of Kyoto- lived there for 3months in 1996. Worth staying in a traditional Japanese Ryokan for a at least one night, air BNB can be quite good these days too. One of my boys went with a couple of his school mates the other year, they used airbnb in Okinawa and Tokyo and were happy with their accomodations.


The Dai Butsu (Great Buddha) in Nara is worth a visit - the tallest indoor statue of Budhha in the tallest wooden building in the world. Himeji Castle is worth a visit, as is a trip to Hiroshima to see the Genpaku Dome, peace museum and a trip over to Miyajima. Depending how long you go for and how much travel you want to do, there are many more places. Have a look at the sites above and then you can get a rough idea of places that you'd like to visit.

I tend to spend most of my time around the Kansai area (Kobe, Osaka, Kyoto) as that's where my in-laws live. I'm happy to answer any questions as best I can
Brilliant mate, loads of info there to get me started! Will get a good look at the links you posted and hopefully come up with some sort of an idea of what we would like to do and where we might end up going!

Much appreciated and I might take you up on that offer of asking any questions once I’ve an idea of some sort of plan.

Thanks again
 

SocketRocket

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Well thats me sold! :D
Ive heard the locals aren't overly welcoming in some areas but still wouldn't mind going at some point to check out their golf courses and cherry blossom season. China is the closest I've been so far and it was awesome but bonkers and slightly scary at the same time.
If you want to play golf then take lots of money, golf courses are very exclusive. Plenty of driving ranges over car parks though.
 
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Well thats me sold! :D
Ive heard the locals aren't overly welcoming in some areas but still wouldn't mind going at some point to check out their golf courses and cherry blossom season
Never had a problem with locals, most are very nice people. Of course there are a few nationalistic persons, not unlike our own countries, but never had any problems.

Going in cherry blossom season is quite stunning, but can be very busy, and ironically, full of Chinese tourists.

Golf is fun, and not nearly as expensive or exclusive as it used to be. Your unlikely to get into Hirono, but there are plenty of other courses available. The experience is very different to here, buggies usually provided, service all in, break for an hour after 9 holes for lunch and beer, and then all together in the hot bath after. Great experience though, and most courses are in the mountains with some stunning views. Depending on the exchange rate, I've paid anything between £100 - £150 for the day.
 
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Went there often on business. I didn't like it, the cities are very big and highly populated, I don't like the food and the countryside is flat and fairly uninteresting other than the interior which is mountainous and fairly impenetrable.
For food you can get just about anything you fancy. Of course sashimi and sushi are plentiful, but so is grilled chicken (Yakitori) or fried pork cutlet (ton Katsu) or grilled beef (yakiniku). Plenty of Chinese, Indian and Korean restaurants. Lots of noodle bars too, and if all else fails, there's always McDonalds or the absolutely fabulous Kua'Aina Burger- their avocado hamburger is awesome.

Moving around the larger cities can be crowded, especially during peak hours, you may want to stay away from the local trains at those times (bullet trains are not as bad).
 

SocketRocket

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For food you can get just about anything you fancy. Of course sashimi and sushi are plentiful, but so is grilled chicken (Yakitori) or fried pork cutlet (ton Katsu) or grilled beef (yakiniku). Plenty of Chinese, Indian and Korean restaurants. Lots of noodle bars too, and if all else fails, there's always McDonalds or the absolutely fabulous Kua'Aina Burger- their avocado hamburger is awesome.

Moving around the larger cities can be crowded, especially during peak hours, you may want to stay away from the local trains at those times (bullet trains are not as bad).
We tended to be taken out for meals but often it consisted of some form of raw fish and chop sticks were the norm which need a bit of getting used to, I quite liked Tempura and Teriyaki though. I was taken to play Pachinko, that's a couple of hours I'll never get back 🙂
 
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We tended to be taken out for meals but often it consisted of some form of raw fish and chop sticks were the norm which need a bit of getting used to, I quite liked Tempura and Teriyaki though. I was taken to play Pachinko, that's a couple of hours I'll never get back 🙂
When the Japanese business men take out the western visitor, they often take them to places with "unusual" cuisine, it's a bit of a game and a laugh for them.

Sashimi (raw fish) is an acquired taste. Once you've got it though it's hard to beat. Of course there are some I'm never eating (uni and shirako for example) but tuna, salmon, octopus, sea bass and squid are lovely, I need no pushing to savour them.

Japanese chopsticks are easier to use than the Chinese ones we have here. They're shorter and lighter, but if you're not used to them it can take a bit of time to pick up, literally.

I only went to pachinko once. The noise and smoke were horrendous, lost my money in about 2 minutes and walked out. Never been back.
 

Sats

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Lovely place - went in my early teens and twenties after seeing family in HK.

Food is awesome.

Just a few cultural tips from me- NB - I haven't been to Japan for about 16 years now so if these have changed please forgive me.

1. Take off your shoes! When entering houses, temples and even some restaurants.
2. Follow the rules. It's not England where people loosely follow rules and are generally idiots, this is Japan where harmony is place upon social etiquette and manners. Keep to the left, don't smoke in places not designated, don't litter, don't cross a road unless the green man light comes on. Follow the rules or you'll have annoyed Clerks/Police/Service personnel and the general public pointing out the rules to you. There are signs everywhere to guide you so look and follow them.
3. There are next to no bins so you are expected to carry your rubbish with you.
4. Be polite and mindful of other people. There are places to let your hair down and be loud, just not on public transport/at a temple etc.
5. Don't tip. It'll be refused and it's not something Japanese do.
6. If you are eating on the move. Don't. It's considered rude so if you do have a cheeseburger (with Japan's food why would you!) stand outside still and eat then walk on when you are done.
7. Don't play around with your chopsticks. You wouldn't lick your fork or randomly point your knife at things so don't do it with chopsticks either they are for eating with.
Do not pass food to another with your chopsticks either or stick them into the bowl sticking up - it resembles rituals used at funerals.

Enjoy Japan it's by far a nicer, safer place than England. Wish, I could convince the wife to move.
 
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