Japan Travel |OT| We have to go back

Kendrid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,373
Chicago, IL
minimize international transactions fees and ATM visits as much as possible.
When I last went I exchanged cash at my bank for yen before I left. I brought $500 USD equivalent and needed $100 more. Luckily my hotel had a machine with no fees and I had a few hundred USD. I would plan on a lot of cash.

I've been looking at some tours trying to determine what the benefit of doing the tours over just going to the things in the tours myself would be and it really feels like the Cons of tours outweigh the Pros namely due to the rigid nature of them.
I agree, after thinking about it more and seeing all that wasted time on a bus I am going to go solo. Like you I am using their itinerary as a starting point.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,516
Unless your bank has ridiculous fees, I'd say just go with cash. Suica is great, but unless I'm missing something, you have to charge it somehow, with cash or a credit card payment. I used mine strictly for convenience in traffic, but for anything else cash is easier. Suica also isn't available in many small shops.

I didn't exactly keep track, but I think I withdrew around 240,000 yen in batches, and each time was just something like $3 in fees (not counting a possible bad conversion rate from the bank).

Oh, and this time I kept my Suica card as it was mostly depleted anyway and I wanted it as a souvenir.
 

Zoe

Member
Oct 25, 2017
7,090
I think I took out 100,000 yen in cash last time, and then I found 80,000 yen just lying around when I was cleaning a few weeks ago, so I obviously didn't have much need for cash...
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
Unless your bank has ridiculous fees, I'd say just go with cash. Suica is great, but unless I'm missing something, you have to charge it somehow, with cash or a credit card payment. I used mine strictly for convenience in traffic, but for anything else cash is easier. Suica also isn't available in many small shops.

I didn't exactly keep track, but I think I withdrew around 240,000 yen in batches, and each time was just something like $3 in fees (not counting a possible bad conversion rate from the bank).

Oh, and this time I kept my Suica card as it was mostly depleted anyway and I wanted it as a souvenir.
So it was previously mentioned in this thread that on iPhones you can recharge Suica cards in the app via Apple Pay and I mentioned previously that I had a credit card with no international transaction fees so that’s my thought there. Also, I get that I won’t be eliminating ever having to stop at the ATM and transaction fees aren’t the end of the world but I would love to be able reduce trips to the ATM at least a little bit with the Suica card.
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
Has anyone stayed at 8hotel?
http://www.booking.com/Share-myN3Q6

Seems pretty nice and Fujisawa seems like cool area that is not TOO far from Tokyo. I’m doing 3 weeks in Japan and am trying to determine if I should stay at multiple places while I’m out there when I came across this place. It didn’t really solve my issue but I thought it looked like an interesting place.

EDIT: Added the word "not" in front of "TOO". I don't know why but I have a tendency to leave out critical words from sentences I write when I really don't mean to. lol
 
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earthsucks

Member
Oct 27, 2017
605
au
re: nakano broadway, it's a complete shell of what it was circa 2008 or so. lots more super sketchy stuff there too now.
 

JoelStinty

Member
Aug 15, 2019
201
I’m in the one month countdown now! Changed my itinerary around a little bit. Added Takamatsu and Matsyuma to my itinerary and took Nagoya out and took a day from Hiroshima. Couldn’t find suitable hostels on Naoshima so will do a day trip from Takamatsu instead. So I now be able to loop round.
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
Is there a good site for getting average train route times? I ask because Google seems to be wildly inconsistent with that. On my desktop browser and on my ipad browser I set up a route from Tokyo to Fujisawa. On my desktop browser I got a handful of routes all averaging out to about a 5 hour train ride but on my ipad I only received one route and it was an hour long so maybe I'm missing something but that seems weird.
 
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MikeHattsu

MikeHattsu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,710
Is there a good site for getting average train route times? I ask because Google seems to be wildly inconsistent with that. On my desktop browser and on my ipad browser I set up a route from Tokyo to Fujisawa. On my desktop browser I got a handful of routes all averaging out to about a 5 hour train ride but on my ipad I only received one route and it was an hour long so maybe I'm missing something but that seems weird.
Hyperdia as mentioned in the OP.

On Google, make sure you set a proper departure time so it doesn't give you overnight routes :P
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
The Android one is ok. Don't have any iDevices, so dunno about that one. Some people have mentioned it's paid and such on iDevices before. :P
So I don't believe I paid anything for it but I just went onto the Apple app store right now and noticed that the Hyperdia app has just over a 3 star average rating from 37 people which seems really low for an official app. Can anyone suggest some good iphone apps for train routes other than Google? I see two apps called Japan Travel (which is marked as having in app purchases) and Japan Direct which both look to be very highly reviewed.
 
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mere_immortal

Member
Oct 25, 2017
420
Is Yokohama worth an evenings wandering around? Basically I'm starting in Tokyo and heading to Hiroshima, beforte working my way back through Kyoto and Osaka. Although I could get a Shinkansen from Tokyo station, going from Yokohama means a direct train all the way through to Hiroshima. So thinking maybe spend a night there beforehand?
 

Kendrid

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,373
Chicago, IL
A place I have been meaning to mention here since this is a gaming forum is Game Bar A-Button in Akihabara. It is a tiny restaurant/bar that is themed with old consoles and games.
Map to location


The owners were super friendly and welcoming. The food was just okay to be honest but I would go for the theme, it seemed many customers just stop in for a drink or two. They have handheld games you can play while you hang out. When I was there I met someone from Austria who was there for work for six months. He said he speaks third grade level Japanese, he actually ordered my food for me. It was fun hanging out and talking old games with him.

I learned from my new friend that locals that work for SEGA and other companies hang out at this restaurant. In the image below in the lower right is the "main" table where the most senior/popular guest sits to eat. When I arrived a guy was there, my friend spoke to him and received his business card. He was an artist and animator for small projects. About 30 minutes later two guys from SEGA came in. The guy moved from the head table to a regular table and the SEGA guys took the head table.

When I pulled out my DSLR the owner got all excited and kept saying "Instagram! Instagram!". I don't really do Instagram so I figured I'd help them out by posting here. We are the target audience of their restaurant.

Game Bar A-Button https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceyandkevin/, on Flickr

Game Bar A-Button https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceyandkevin/, on Flickr

Mario hat https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceyandkevin/, on Flickr

Game Bar A-Button https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceyandkevin/, on Flickr

Nintendo Super Famicom - Family Computer Robot ROB https://www.flickr.com/photos/traceyandkevin/, on Flickr

Game Bar A-Button Kevin, on Flickr
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
Has anyone here gone to any wrestling shows in Japan? I might try to see if I can get tickets for any like NJPW, DDTPro, Dragon Gate or Stardom.
 
Oct 25, 2017
88
Has anyone here gone to any wrestling shows in Japan? I might try to see if I can get tickets for any like NJPW, DDTPro, Dragon Gate or Stardom.
I went to 3 when I was out there, Stardom, Gatoh Move and TJPW while I was in Sendai.

For Stardom and TJPW I just emailed one of the wrestlers to get tickets, although I think Stardom might be changing their system in the next few months.
 

Zojirushi

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,611
Oh boy, anyone else freaking about about their travel plans this year because of the virus? How bad is it in Japan at this point?
 

mantis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,248
Not at the moment. Plan to go again in May. So still some time left to see how this turns out.
 

Zojirushi

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,611
Yeah currently scheduled for May as well. Problem is mjority of the trip is pretty much booked, cancellation will be costly lol.
 

mantis

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,248
Wouldn't worry to much then. Planning to book my flight in the next few weeks. Just waiting for a friend to tell me if he will tag along.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,516
Has anyone stayed at 8hotel?
http://www.booking.com/Share-myN3Q6

Seems pretty nice and Fujisawa seems like cool area that is not TOO far from Tokyo. I’m doing 3 weeks in Japan and am trying to determine if I should stay at multiple places while I’m out there when I came across this place. It didn’t really solve my issue but I thought it looked like an interesting place.

EDIT: Added the word "not" in front of "TOO". I don't know why but I have a tendency to leave out critical words from sentences I write when I really don't mean to. lol
I wouldn't. "Not too far" is still a lot of time (an hour back and forth?) just travelling every day to get into Tokyo proper, not to mention train costs. If you are spending a bunch of time in Tokyo you probably should stay somewhere near the Yamanote so you can easily get to where you want to be each day. Unless there happens to be things you want to do in Fujisawa, of course.
 

ThatCrazyGuy

Member
Nov 27, 2017
1,375
I wouldn't. "Not too far" is still a lot of time (an hour back and forth?) just travelling every day to get into Tokyo proper, not to mention train costs. If you are spending a bunch of time in Tokyo you probably should stay somewhere near the Yamanote so you can easily get to where you want to be each day. Unless there happens to be things you want to do in Fujisawa, of course.
I tried staying in places outside the loop just to get a different vibe. By staying somewhere on the loop is so much more convenient, it's not even funny.
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
I wouldn't. "Not too far" is still a lot of time (an hour back and forth?) just travelling every day to get into Tokyo proper, not to mention train costs. If you are spending a bunch of time in Tokyo you probably should stay somewhere near the Yamanote so you can easily get to where you want to be each day. Unless there happens to be things you want to do in Fujisawa, of course.
I tried staying in places outside the loop just to get a different vibe. By staying somewhere on the loop is so much more convenient, it's not even funny.
thanks for the input! I ended up booking a room there but only because upfront payment wasn’t required and as long as I cancel by October 20th I won’t be charged anything so I guess in the event that I either can’t find another place I like or I end up finding a bunch of stuff to do in Fujisawa I have the place booked as a plan B. Having said that, I’ll keep looking. Based on my current itinerary I should mostly focus my search on Tokyo, to a lesser extent Kyoto and only book a place in Osaka if I can find one for a steal.

I like the concept of capsule hotels but I have some hang ups: are there ones with private bathrooms? How is the sound dampening in most of the pods? Are the mattresses generally comfortable? Will my size be a problem? (I’m 6’4” 300lbs).
 

Worthintendo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
732
thanks for the input! I ended up booking a room there but only because upfront payment wasn’t required and as long as I cancel by October 20th I won’t be charged anything so I guess in the event that I either can’t find another place I like or I end up finding a bunch of stuff to do in Fujisawa I have the place booked as a plan B. Having said that, I’ll keep looking. Based on my current itinerary I should mostly focus my search on Tokyo, to a lesser extent Kyoto and only book a place in Osaka if I can find one for a steal.

I like the concept of capsule hotels but I have some hang ups: are there ones with private bathrooms? How is the sound dampening in most of the pods? Are the mattresses generally comfortable? Will my size be a problem? (I’m 6’4” 300lbs).
I'm 6'4" myself and have been told to avoid, you'll be mega cramped.
 

ninnanuam

Member
Nov 24, 2017
784
Thinking about going in March.

Nothing locked in yet, and kinda late notice but I have three weeks off work between March 10 to 28th and no plans.

I'd probably go for 9 or 10 days or so and maybe grab a 7 day JR pass and just go wherever. With a few days in Tokyo (or Osaka) on either side.

Anyone aware of anything cool happening in Japan during that time?
 

ClayStatue

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5
Thinking of heading to Hokkaido in late June before JR Passing my way down and eventually around to Kyushu. Anyone have experience with Hokkaido public transport in regards to frequency/range? Trying to weigh up my options as to whether I should use a rental car while I'm in Hokkaido or put the funds towards a longer JR Pass. Looking at flying into Asahikawa to begin and stop at Daisetsuzan park, Unkai Terrace, Sapporo and Lake Toya before getting to Hatodake (plus anything else that might be worth a visit).
 
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MikeHattsu

MikeHattsu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,710
Anyone aware of anything cool happening in Japan during that time?
AnimeJapan 2020 :P


Trying to weigh up my options as to whether I should use a rental car while I'm in Hokkaido or put the funds towards a longer JR Pass. Looking at flying into Asahikawa to begin and stop at Daisetsuzan park, Unkai Terrace, Sapporo and Lake Toya before getting to Hatodake (plus anything else that might be worth a visit).
You should get a car if you're checking out Daisetsuzan Park. For Unkai Terrace you'll have to stay at a hotel in the area anyway to get there early enough, so no need to rent a car. Lake Toya is easy enough to get to without a car. In Sapporo it's better to not have a car because of traffic, and it's better to just take the subway (and sometimes the trams).
 

mere_immortal

Member
Oct 25, 2017
420
For those who have been to both, is it worth making time for Teamlab Borderless and Planets?

I have my Planets ticket booked already, but wondering if it's worth making time for Borderless too.
 

ClayStatue

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5
You should get a car if you're checking out Daisetsuzan Park. For Unkai Terrace you'll have to stay at a hotel in the area anyway to get there early enough, so no need to rent a car. Lake Toya is easy enough to get to without a car. In Sapporo it's better to not have a car because of traffic, and it's better to just take the subway (and sometimes the trams).
Thanks Mike, was looking at some initial train fares that were about the same as a daily car hire before realising they were JR lines. Okay I will just rent a car for the Asahikawa region, was originally going to head south to unkai in the car but I will do Sapporo first, both are about same transit to toya in any case.

Any recommendations for places on the way to kyushu? Did 12 days tokyo and kyoto a few years ago so was gonna try and stay somewhere different. Have Nikko on the map at the moment.
 

Lapsed

Member
Oct 31, 2017
5,462
For those who have been to both, is it worth making time for Teamlab Borderless and Planets?

I have my Planets ticket booked already, but wondering if it's worth making time for Borderless too.
I went to Borderless. The lantern room was cool but there was a 90 minute wait to get in.

I would say it is worth checking out if you are going on a date or something. It has a kind of Tetris Effect vibe and sentiment I appreciate a lot and it is nice. But a lot of it is just dark rooms with projectors on the walls. You kind of get out of it what you put into it I think. I was a bit disappointed, to be honest, but if the time and feeling is right it could be really cool.

There is a bunch of pretty cool stuff surrounding it though that could make the trip out there worth it.

Also, for people staying around Shinjuku, go check out bar Mama Panic. Awesome place to hang out!
 

thepenguin55

Member
Oct 28, 2017
3,283
Would there be a tangible benefit for me to have both a JR Rail Pass and a Suica card? I’ll be in Japan for 20 days so I could get the 14 day pass and then use the Suica card to cover whatever travel I want to do outside of those 14 days AND to cover whatever scenarios I would encounter where the rail pass isn’t accepted. Based on prior conversations it sounds like the Suica card is the way to go but I guess I just want to make sure.

i guess my next (and related) question is should I book multiple places to stay at or have just 1 home base?

  • Option 1. Stay in multiple places. While it’s true (and unsurprising) that the bulk of what I want to do is in Tokyo I would say that I could knock out the bulk of what I want to do there (at least on this trip) in 10 days which then leaves 10 days for everything else that I want to do which would largely be on the Kyoto/Osaka side of the country. Basically, I would stay in Tokyo for 10 days, then do a overnight stay at the floating shrine (I would have to imagine renovations will be done by October), and then I would stay in either Kyoto or Osaka for another 9 days. Obviously I would still have the flexibility to just hop on a train and do whatever whenever but in the 10 days I’m in Tokyo I would mostly focus on doing stuff in and around Tokyo and in the 9 days I’m in Osaka/Kyoto I would mostly focus on doing things in and around Osaka/Kyoto. I think I would get just the Suica card in this instance.
Or
  • Option 2. Do I take the approach that comes more natural to me in that I just plan certain days around certain events that are happening and the rest of what I do will just be whatever I’m feeling that day? I think with this being such big and expensive trip that I’ve wanted to do for so long I feel like I need to plan it out despite that being atypical of how I operate. In this scenario Tokyo would be my home base (except for an overnight stay at the floating shrine) and I would pick up the 14 day JR rail pass along with a Suica card. I would almost certainly find myself doing more frequent and longer train rides this way but I really see myself enjoying my time on the trains so I think I might be fine with this.

    The burdens that come with being indecisive. Lol
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,516
Would there be a tangible benefit for me to have both a JR Rail Pass and a Suica card? I’ll be in Japan for 20 days so I could get the 14 day pass and then use the Suica card to cover whatever travel I want to do outside of those 14 days AND to cover whatever scenarios I would encounter where the rail pass isn’t accepted. Based on prior conversations it sounds like the Suica card is the way to go but I guess I just want to make sure.

i guess my next (and related) question is should I book multiple places to stay at or have just 1 home base?

  • Option 1. Stay in multiple places. While it’s true (and unsurprising) that the bulk of what I want to do is in Tokyo I would say that I could knock out the bulk of what I want to do there (at least on this trip) in 10 days which then leaves 10 days for everything else that I want to do which would largely be on the Kyoto/Osaka side of the country. Basically, I would stay in Tokyo for 10 days, then do a overnight stay at the floating shrine (I would have to imagine renovations will be done by October), and then I would stay in either Kyoto or Osaka for another 9 days. Obviously I would still have the flexibility to just hop on a train and do whatever whenever but in the 10 days I’m in Tokyo I would mostly focus on doing stuff in and around Tokyo and in the 9 days I’m in Osaka/Kyoto I would mostly focus on doing things in and around Osaka/Kyoto. I think I would get just the Suica card in this instance.
Or
  • Option 2. Do I take the approach that comes more natural to me in that I just plan certain days around certain events that are happening and the rest of what I do will just be whatever I’m feeling that day? I think with this being such big and expensive trip that I’ve wanted to do for so long I feel like I need to plan it out despite that being atypical of how I operate. In this scenario Tokyo would be my home base (except for an overnight stay at the floating shrine) and I would pick up the 14 day JR rail pass along with a Suica card. I would almost certainly find myself doing more frequent and longer train rides this way but I really see myself enjoying my time on the trains so I think I might be fine with this.

    The burdens that come with being indecisive. Lol
If you are just doing one trip Tokyo-Hiroshima, Hiroshima-Osaka and then Osaka-Tokyo, I don't think the JR pass will be worth it. Check the calculator on the site. If you travel around a lot, it certainly will be. Just a tip: just travelling around without any specific plan will cut down on the time you actually get to do things and you're not in Japan to sit in a Shinkansen seat (pleasant as it may be). If you want to visit a place, find out WHAT you want to visit and, importantly, when it's available. A friend travelled at the same time as me last October and from what I could tell, they mostly rushed from place to place and never really got to do much because places turned up to be closed or they ran out of time and just stayed in their room.

You don't have to make an hourly schedule, but what I did was to note down several places of interest in each area I planned on going to, and things to look for. Even if I didn't check everything, I also didn't run out of things to do and mostly didn't miss out on things (except the damn renovation at Miyajima).

Also, don't spend 9 days in Osaka. It's a cool city but you'll run out of things to do in five, at most, unless you really like eating (the cuisine is insane in Osaka). You can spend a couple days in Kyoto visiting Sanjuusangendo, Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, the street market/food court and maybe the imperial palace, but that would take 1-3 days.

I liked Kobe, but mostly for the Nunobiki experience. I fell in love with Hiroshima, I would rather just hang around there than in Osaka if I don't have anything specific to do. If you do end up getting the JR Pass, choose a couple of cities to see rather than just staying in one. I think only Tokyo lasts more than a week for mostly touristy stuff.

I like the concept of capsule hotels but I have some hang ups: are there ones with private bathrooms? How is the sound dampening in most of the pods? Are the mattresses generally comfortable? Will my size be a problem? (I’m 6’4” 300lbs).
Private bathrooms would kind of defeat the purpose of a cheap, compact livingspace so I think not. Sound dampening is only average since you're not sealed inside. Mattresses in my place were like 2 inches thick. I was not comfortable and at 6'0" my feet were touching the screen door. I'd actually recommend trying one, for one night and the novelty of it all, but don't expect to sleep well, and definitely not stay there longer.
 

mere_immortal

Member
Oct 25, 2017
420
You don't have to make an hourly schedule, but what I did was to note down several places of interest in each area I planned on going to, and things to look for. Even if I didn't check everything, I also didn't run out of things to do and mostly didn't miss out on things (except the damn renovation at Miyajima).
This is what I've done. Essentially my plan is one or two main things per day in a certain area, then I've also made a custom google map full of places to eat, shop, visit etc. that I can check out when I'm not doing the main thing or going to another main thing. So if I'm feeling tired I can just do one thing and have a relaxed day, or cram in a bunch of stuff if I want to.
 
Oct 26, 2017
2,516
This is what I've done. Essentially my plan is one or two main things per day in a certain area, then I've also made a custom google map full of places to eat, shop, visit etc. that I can check out when I'm not doing the main thing or going to another main thing. So if I'm feeling tired I can just do one thing and have a relaxed day, or cram in a bunch of stuff if I want to.
That sounds like a good idea. For eating, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to try and then used Google to just find a good place nearby. We found all kinds of neat places that way.
 
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MikeHattsu

MikeHattsu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,710
Also, don't spend 9 days in Osaka. It's a cool city but you'll run out of things to do in five, at most, unless you really like eating (the cuisine is insane in Osaka). You can spend a couple days in Kyoto visiting Sanjuusangendo, Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, the street market/food court and maybe the imperial palace, but that would take 1-3 days.
Can take all kinds of day trips from Osaka though. Kyoto, Nara, Uji, Kobe...