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Japan (March 2023)


Ghost of LL

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So I don't see a thread on here about Japan, so I figure I'll start one.

Mrs.LL and I are heading over to Japan next March.  The country is finally back open after Covid, and it's been a place I've long wanted to go.  But I know nothing about it.

We have a week over there, and I'm figuring four days in Tokyo and three in Kyoto.  Does that sound about right?

And what the hell do I do while there?  I mean, other than eat a lot of sushi and drink a bunch of sake.

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Typically not a shopper but it has great shopping which lots of unique products be it art/cultural items or esoteric domestic goods. 
 

on the way to kyoto for viewing mt fuji is hakone. Nice resorts there like hyatt regency.  Some odd stuff you can do is eat eggs or other stuff cooked in volcanic soil. 
 

other must do experience is staying in traditional ryokan hotels with kaiseki meal service. 
 

and dont forget to get anally raped with octopus tentacles. 

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I used to spend at least two weeks or more there a year. A week is a short time in such a cool place. I’m less enamored with Tokyo than the rest of the country. You’ll want to go to the imperial palace. I always like exploring Tokyo retail for electronics in the Akihabara. You’ll see high end audio like is very rare now in the states. I like Osaka; to me it’s Chicago to Tokyo being New York.

We used to stay at a ryokan outside Hamamatsu visiting Yamaha. It is an experience unlike any lodging you’ve done. So relaxing but very different than a western spa. Agree with previous ; find one and don’t miss it.

Check out Hakone. Lake Ashi, hot springs, mt Fuji views. Never got to stay there but for many I know it’s maybe their favorite place.

The bullet trains and regular rail are remarkable. Hopefully ours will be as cool and simple to use if they ever happen.

Kyoto is very cool as the cultural heart of Japan. I spent much time there as Mitsubishi is based there. Lots of temple, a InO castle, shrines and other stuff. 2-3 days there is good if you like that kind of stuff.

As for food, it’s more than sushi. Lots of places serve live food which can be unsettling. Lots of teppan-Yaki places will serve “dancing shrimp”. I’ve had hacked up live fish on a plate or lobsters that you’re to eat while they expire. Some of the best high end French and Italian food I’ve had was in Tokyo and Osaka. I would save for a steakhouse meal of high end beef like from Matsuyama. Great Korean and Chinese food and I enjoy sukiyaki joints.

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Go to Robot Restaurant.   It's the goofiest fucking thing I've ever witnessed.  And I've seen "midnight yell" on youtube. 

It's a spectacle.   

https://www.neverendingvoyage.com/robot-restaurant-tokyo-review/

Also, plan on having a smaller hotel room than you've ever been in before.  I was able to upgrade us to 1st class on the 777 on AA, and our combined seats were larger than our Shinjuku hotel room.  

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Oh, eat at a 7-11.  The fuckers are EVERYWHERE, and the prepared foods are surprisingly good.    We spent a lot of time walking the streets of Shinjuku and Ginza, and just grabbing something at a 7-11 (or Lawson, a competitor) was really handy and tasty, and relatively affordable.  

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3 hours ago, Ghost of LL said:

So I don't see a thread on here about Japan, so I figure I'll start one.

Mrs.LL and I are heading over to Japan next March.  The country is finally back open after Covid, and it's been a place I've long wanted to go.  But I know nothing about it.

We have a week over there, and I'm figuring four days in Tokyo and three in Kyoto.  Does that sound about right?

And what the hell do I do while there?  I mean, other than eat a lot of sushi and drink a bunch of sake.


Too late for powder, but the cherry blossoms are late March to mid April.  It’s weird for someone to go for a week and not have to boxes to check.  
 

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Tokyo is the absolute best if you love eating, drinking and seeing wild shit. Wife and I were in Japan 15 days a few years ago. Planned to do 6 days in Tokyo, 7 in Kansai using Kyoto as a base (Nara and Osaka day trips), and 2 in Hakone at an Onson. 

Unless you are REALLY interested in Japanese history/temples and similar touristy sites, Kyoto is a snooze after a few days. We left a few days early and went back to Tokyo. I had a friend in Tokyo give me a bunch of restaurant recs, will see if I can dig them up.

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12 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

one more thing @Ghost of LL

If you don't already have a bidet in your home, you'll be installing one upon your return from Japan. 

They sell them at NRT, and I saw a handful of people carrying them on the plane. 

Waaaay ahead of you--we've had Japanese bidets in the house for ten years.

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15 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

Oh, eat at a 7-11.  The fuckers are EVERYWHERE, and the prepared foods are surprisingly good.    We spent a lot of time walking the streets of Shinjuku and Ginza, and just grabbing something at a 7-11 (or Lawson, a competitor) was really handy and tasty, and relatively affordable.  

The absolute one thing Asia kicks our ass in.  Holy fuck the 7-11 food is so good. 

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49 minutes ago, Ghost of LL said:

Waaaay ahead of you--we've had Japanese bidets in the house for ten years.

one more toilet thing:  they have two types; the ones that we are used to, and ones that are essentially a hole in the floor, with grab bars on the stall.  NRT has both, and there's a symbol on the door to let you know what type it is. 

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18 hours ago, Ghost of LL said:

So I don't see a thread on here about Japan, so I figure I'll start one.

Mrs.LL and I are heading over to Japan next March.  The country is finally back open after Covid, and it's been a place I've long wanted to go.  But I know nothing about it.

We have a week over there, and I'm figuring four days in Tokyo and three in Kyoto.  Does that sound about right?

And what the hell do I do while there?  I mean, other than eat a lot of sushi and drink a bunch of sake.

As other folks have said, you have a shot at cherry blossom season, and you need to fucking go. Particularly in Kyoto. Start tracking when they think it will peak in which areas of the country and plan accordingly.

I did a week in Japan probably 8 years ago, and I think I split mine more 5 days and 2 days in Tokyo and Kyoto respectively. I can't say this enough, if you can be in Kyoto for the cherry blossom festivals, it is one of the most beautiful and special things in the world. The whole country basically shuts down. 

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Kyoto:

If you go to Kyoto, you're going to want/need to do three things: 
1. Fushimi Inari Shrine - You've seen this, it's endless orange gates up the side of a mountain. It's famous and been in movies. I'm sure you know what makes Kyoto special, so just enjoy it.

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2.) Take the train 30 or so minutes from Kyoto to Nara. It's the home of the biggest Temple in Japan, and was rebuilt after being razed to just 2/3 the original size. It's massive. You'll also get to feed the tame (violent) deer. Yes, I said deer. They are aggressive there are hundreds of them, but it is still pretty cool. They're in the park where the temple is, if memory serves:
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3.) The Bamboo Forest. I think it's Sagano Bamboo Forest? Anyone, you've also seen this in movies. It's a whole huge park to explore, and it's maintained in meticulous old school manner. The janitors even use brooms made of straw. It's ancient and wonderful and you can wander all day, but the forest path itself is the real gem. Just achingly haunting and beautiful. Zen and Rock Gardens and of course:

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Tokyo:
I mean, not sure how you can go wrong. I did the Tsukiii Fish market, largest in the world. Went at like 3-4 am, watched the spectacle, walked around, had the freshest sushi in the stalls around the fish market afterwards. Had dinner at a place called Andy's, run by a British expat that is literally housed under a freeway, easily one of the best meals of my life. I didn't do the Kirin Brewery, but it looks fun. We visited the Olympic Park, which was cool. I never went to the Golden Gai alley of small bars, and I regret not doing that. The Golden Temple in Tokyo is very cool. Stop at all the random shrines, and any open air malls or markets, they're all fucking over. You'll stumble on 4 shrines trying to find a bathroom. Drink the beer from the vending machines, also everywhere. There was a big park not too far from the fish market that was an old Shogun's old compound, complete with defenses and the docks where they brought in supplies and a moat, was cool. Hell, you can spend half a day marveling at the weird shit at a Seibu mall. They have a kit kat store with about 900 flavors. 

Anyone, if you're curious about anything else, you can PM me. Im hardly an expert, this is just shit from m 7 days. But most of what I've highlighted I'd place as "can't miss."

Also, if memory serves from the one time I believe I met you, you're a pretty tall guy like me. Enjoy the stares. 

 

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We did Osaka-->Kyoto (+Nara day trip)-->Tokyo. All 3 were great, but Osaka was my favorite. Often referred to as Japan's Kitchen, the food is accessible and incredible.

I'd shorten Tokyo and Kyoto to give you a couple days in Osaka.

Regardless, you'll have some of the best steak, fish, and fruit (was surprised by this) of your life.

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Correct, "old Tsukiji" is gone, cleaned up and made into a sanitized version of a seafood market. Still a place to go for tourists to eat good seafood, and many of the retail-oriented vendors did stay, but the feeling is much different as it is no longer the wholesale hub with people actually doing their seafood business (vs catering to tourists and visitors). The new market is at Toyosu and is also sanitized and much more commercial feeling - enclosed instead of open-air, much larger regimented spaces, etc. Doesn't mean don't go, it's still an incredible experience for anyone who hasn't done it.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/akikokatayama/2019/02/25/the-world-biggest-fish-market-tsukiji-moved-to-toyosu-how-is-the-new-market-doing/?

 

Bentagay [sic], cherry blossoms, Tokyo, April

1784861325_bentagaycherryblossoms.thumb.jpg.4a0575e2b6456d98287ed397481c56f6.jpg

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There is too much to do in a week, but some things I didn't see mentioned yet:

Harajuku on Sunday

Hiroshima 

^^^ Try Okonomiyaki.  I prefer Hiroshima style, but Osaka style is good, too

Baseball - schedule won't be announced for another month or two, but baseball in Japan is an experience

 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/24/2022 at 9:48 AM, grazinhorn said:

Baseball - schedule won't be announced for another month or two, but baseball in Japan is an experience

 

Big "hell yes" to this one. I went to a game in Tokyo that was the team that doesn't play in the Tokyo Dome.  Was an outdoor stadium the size of a minor league park, which is to say there wasn't a bad seat in the house. And the stadium food was insanely good.

 

Went to a craft beer place afterwards for beer and snacks, which in Tokyo is like having a 5 star food experience.

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  • 3 months later...

Leaving Friday from LAX.  This is a trip that's entirely paid for with miles/points, so shoutout to @Spankytoes on that.  We're on Singapore Airlines to Narita.

We decided on four days in Tokyo, staying in Shiodome.  Probably not my first pick of neighborhoods to stay at, but again--this one is on Hilton points.  Anyway, it's reasonably convenient to a bunch of transit, so that's nice.

I say four days in Tokyo, but that's misleading as one of those days is going to be at Tokyo Disneyland (at Mrs.LL's insistence).  I was initially interested in going out early one morning to the Toyosu fish market, but that now seems very sterile and kind of boring.  Perhaps we'll go over to Tsujiki--it's fairly close to the hotel--but I think I'm a lot more excited about the department stores and the basement food courts.

Then we have the Shinkansen down to Kyoto.  I have to say--that's something I'm super-excited about.  Picking up a bento box at Tokyo Station to eat on the goddamned bullet train.  Oh--and a beer or five.  

I have three days in Kyoto.  Mrs.LL wants to take a day trip down to Hiroshima and Miyajima.  We'll see about that.  

Still wondering about these places that serve sushi while it's still flapping.  Haven't really seen that from any of the restaurants I've looked at.  And I might be down, but I think Mrs.LL would probably puke.

 

 

And first thing's first when we arrive--tamago sando at 7-11!

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5 hours ago, Ghost of LL said:

Leaving Friday from LAX.  This is a trip that's entirely paid for with miles/points, so shoutout to @Spankytoes on that.  We're on Singapore Airlines to Narita.

We decided on four days in Tokyo, staying in Shiodome.  Probably not my first pick of neighborhoods to stay at, but again--this one is on Hilton points.  Anyway, it's reasonably convenient to a bunch of transit, so that's nice.

I say four days in Tokyo, but that's misleading as one of those days is going to be at Tokyo Disneyland (at Mrs.LL's insistence).  I was initially interested in going out early one morning to the Toyosu fish market, but that now seems very sterile and kind of boring.  Perhaps we'll go over to Tsujiki--it's fairly close to the hotel--but I think I'm a lot more excited about the department stores and the basement food courts.

Then we have the Shinkansen down to Kyoto.  I have to say--that's something I'm super-excited about.  Picking up a bento box at Tokyo Station to eat on the goddamned bullet train.  Oh--and a beer or five.  

I have three days in Kyoto.  Mrs.LL wants to take a day trip down to Hiroshima and Miyajima.  We'll see about that.  

Still wondering about these places that serve sushi while it's still flapping.  Haven't really seen that from any of the restaurants I've looked at.  And I might be down, but I think Mrs.LL would probably puke.

 

 

And first thing's first when we arrive--tamago sando at 7-11!

1) The market may be a sterile experience, but dovetailing with your comment about sushi that's still flapping, if you just mean fresh, there are tons of food and sushi stalls outside the Tsujiki fish market. Wander and eat my man. Additionally, I mentioned this before, but there is a public park that used to be a shogun's palace a few blocks from the fish market, that is worth spending an hour or so wandering and reading about. It's pretty cool. 

2.) The department stores and basement food courts are also awesome. If you hit the mall, look for the Kit Kat store. Pretty fun, although you'll see all the weird Kit Kat flavors all over the place. Don't be deterred by "bean paste flavor."

3.) The bullet train is awesome. YOu can enjoy your bento box, but they serve food and beer on the train. We drank a looooooooooot of sapporo on that train. 

Also, marvel how their subways and trains are literally NEVER more than a minute off time. It's a fucking miracle. 

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53 minutes ago, SydneyCarton said:

1) The market may be a sterile experience, but dovetailing with your comment about sushi that's still flapping, if you just mean fresh, there are tons of food and sushi stalls outside the Tsujiki fish market. Wander and eat my man. Additionally, I mentioned this before, but there is a public park that used to be a shogun's palace a few blocks from the fish market, that is worth spending an hour or so wandering and reading about. It's pretty cool. 

2.) The department stores and basement food courts are also awesome. If you hit the mall, look for the Kit Kat store. Pretty fun, although you'll see all the weird Kit Kat flavors all over the place. Don't be deterred by "bean paste flavor."

3.) The bullet train is awesome. YOu can enjoy your bento box, but they serve food and beer on the train. We drank a looooooooooot of sapporo on that train. 

Also, marvel how their subways and trains are literally NEVER more than a minute off time. It's a fucking miracle. 

Yeah--that garden is across the street from our hotel, so I imagine we'll definitely walk over.

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5 hours ago, Ghost of LL said:

It's pizza.  Why would I spend one of my few meals in Japan eating pizza when I'm going to Italy later this year?

Short answer, because it's simply better. Long answer, the Japanese have taken the Neapolitan style and refined it. Michelin guide the second year they opened. Nice article on the evolution of Japanese pizza and the role PST has in it:

https://www.eater.com/2017/2/21/14670944/best-pizza-tokyo-guide

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11 hours ago, Ghost of LL said:

Leaving Friday from LAX.  This is a trip that's entirely paid for with miles/points, so shoutout to @Spankytoes on that.  We're on Singapore Airlines to Narita.

We decided on four days in Tokyo, staying in Shiodome.  Probably not my first pick of neighborhoods to stay at, but again--this one is on Hilton points.  Anyway, it's reasonably convenient to a bunch of transit, so that's nice.

I say four days in Tokyo, but that's misleading as one of those days is going to be at Tokyo Disneyland (at Mrs.LL's insistence).  I was initially interested in going out early one morning to the Toyosu fish market, but that now seems very sterile and kind of boring.  Perhaps we'll go over to Tsujiki--it's fairly close to the hotel--but I think I'm a lot more excited about the department stores and the basement food courts.

Then we have the Shinkansen down to Kyoto.  I have to say--that's something I'm super-excited about.  Picking up a bento box at Tokyo Station to eat on the goddamned bullet train.  Oh--and a beer or five.  

I have three days in Kyoto.  Mrs.LL wants to take a day trip down to Hiroshima and Miyajima.  We'll see about that.  

Still wondering about these places that serve sushi while it's still flapping.  Haven't really seen that from any of the restaurants I've looked at.  And I might be down, but I think Mrs.LL would probably puke.

 

 

And first thing's first when we arrive--tamago sando at 7-11!

hit Robot Restaurant.  It's the goofiest motherfucking thing I've ever seen. 

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You have three full days in Kyoto excluding travel, or you are traveling on some of those days? I ask because Hiroshima (and especially Miyajima) is a trek of a day trip. Certainly doable if you are committed, just depends on how much you want want to do in Kyoto. Shit is really spread out, so like Arashiyama is almost a full day (but can be paired with golden temple early am), fushi inari takes up a bunch of time, etc. 

Tokyo is so fucking awesome, I’m jealous. 

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11 hours ago, Gil Bang said:

hit Robot Restaurant.  It's the goofiest motherfucking thing I've ever seen. 

Can't.  Covid killed it.

55 minutes ago, Reynolds Woodcock said:

You have three full days in Kyoto excluding travel, or you are traveling on some of those days? I ask because Hiroshima (and especially Miyajima) is a trek of a day trip. Certainly doable if you are committed, just depends on how much you want want to do in Kyoto. Shit is really spread out, so like Arashiyama is almost a full day (but can be paired with golden temple early am), fushi inari takes up a bunch of time, etc. 

Tokyo is so fucking awesome, I’m jealous. 

So yeah--it would be three full days in Kyoto.  Or two days in Kyoto and one in Hiroshima/Miyajima.  And I think it's going to be a gametime decision.

I could really see us being pretty templed out after a couple days in Kyoto.  I mean, yeah--I get that they're all different.  And they're all very interesting and beautiful.  But it's kind of like churches in Rome.  At some point, they do all blend together and you just want to stop at a place and get a beer.

Then again--I've never been churched out in Rome.  

Anyway, we're playing that very much by ear.  If we decide to go, I'll just hop on the JR website the day before and get a couple of seat reservations on the Shinkansen down to Hiroshima.  And if not, we won't.

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