10 days in Japan

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by splat, Jul 3, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. splat

    splat Silver Member

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    Just finished a 10 day trip to Japan using my recently aquired knowledge from the forums - many thanks!

    SFO-NRT on United Business Class - Booked using US Airway miles from the share-share-share promo last year. Preboarding was a mess as per the numerous posts regarding the new procedures. Had 4 BC upstairs - very nice and enjoyed the privacy. The crew were in a big hurry to get lunch service done and shut off the lights - I think we were only in the air less than 2 hours before it was lights out.

    Tokyo - took the airport limo bus to the Conrad Hotel. Easy to do, but a bit of a distance.

    Conrad Hotel - used points (predevaluation) for 5 nights. Booked standard city view room, received standard city view room (gold status). However, they did make up for lack of upgrade by giving us free continental breakfast for 4 each morning. At $27 per person, that was a nice value, however by morning 4 the lack of diversity was getting a bit tiresome. I still appreciated it though.

    Places we went - Tsujki Fish Market - a blast:) If you go to Tokyo I think this is a must. Akibarah - wierd but the kids loved the hundreds of animae shops. By the time we were done I thought I'd throw up if I saw one more puffy thing with big eyes smiling at me.:p Harajuku - no kids dressed wierdly but a good many trendy shops and restaurants. Ginza - comparable to NY 5th ave. Loved the department stores with restaurants food selections in the basements. The food basements are kind of like Whole Foods fresh counters but magnified 1000%. They seemed to go on and on. We bought all kinds of things to take back to the hotel, including a kitty cat cake (another big eyed smiling object that was too cute to pass up). Disneysea - ok that was the worst day of the trip. The lines are horrible and the rides are actually less thrilling than Disneyland. It made me realize that the fun idea of doing Disney's around the globe was actually a less than brilliant idea and is being discontinued:confused:

    Kyoto - took the shinkansen from Tokyo. Arrived at the Kyoto station and took a taxi to the Hyatt.

    Hyatt Kyoto - the service was nice. I felt like they were falling all over us to be helpful. The bathroom is nice except for the single sink area - way too small for a group of 4. The room was very tired, I suspect they will have to rennovate when the Ritz and Four Seasons open in a couple of years. Booked a standard room using points and upgraded with cash $60 to a deluxe. I like the big windows so I didn't mind that at the correct angle people in restaurant could see you. Just kept the blinds tilted and it wasn't a problem. Breakfast was ridiculously expensive. I thought the location was good contrary to some posts. There is a wonderful temple almost literally next door. It's the longest temple in Kyoto and has over 1000 gold statues (think China's terracota warriors but in gold). The museum is also directly across the street (unfortunately it was closed during our visit).

    Places we went - Kiazomadera Temple was really fun. The walk up through all the shops was a sight for the senses. Then we took the other little windy road down (can't remember the name) another fun walk. Gion - this was an absolute blast. We got there around 5 pm and I spotted my first Geisha on a side street and began taking her picture. She breezed past me without even looking, hit the main street and literally dozens of tourists began chasing her to get her picture. It was wild. We went to Gion two nights in a row, had dinner and went Geisha hunting. My kids thought it was an absolute blast. Tip - you really will see more if you wander the side streets and if there aren't throngs of tourists they might stop and pose. One did for my kids. We did a morning bus tour that picked up at the Hyatt and took us to 4 temples including the Imperial Palace grounds. Normally I hate tours, but it was a huge time saver and easier on the feet.

    Osaka - took the train to Osaka arrived at the station and took a taxi to St. Regis Hotel

    St. Regis - hands down this was the nicest hotel we stayed at. We booked 2 rooms one on points one at a sale rate. The finishes are just lovely and the bed very comfortable. The bathroom was fabulous right down to the hidden drain in the bath area. It was a nice hotel to finish our travels at. Staff is very punctual if they tell you room service will be there in 30 minutes, it's there on the dot. Room service food by the way was good. We didn't eat at the italian restaurant as it just didn't seem that appealing. They have a zen garden beer garden hour - which I thought was a little strange, but people looked like they were enjoying it. A gold member got a box of chocolates and two free cocktail coupons (woohoo)

    Places we went - Osaka itself isn't that exciting. It's a big city with a river. Did some shopping, took the river boat cruise and took the shinkansen down to Hiroshima and Mijayma island. Mijayma island was actually more fun than I thought it would be.

    KIX - SFO on United again. Same seats, better crew. Same chaotic boarding process. Some guy in First Class approached a gate attendendant and protested at the amount of people in Group 1 and she told him "yes, you're in group 1 stand there". I think it was a language barrier issue, until he made a ugly face then I think she understood his issue as she came and got him out of line during the boarding process so he could get on.

    Taxis - we actually ended up taking more of these as planned as I just felt so exhaused at times I couldn't think about navigating the subways and trains.

    Language - it was fairly easy to get along. Japanese people really go out of their way to be friendly and want to talk to foreigners.

    I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot of things, after 10 days it's a little blurry. Luckily I have 650 pictures to remind me.
     
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  2. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    We had very similar experiences in Japan. The people were fantastic. We enjoyed it so much that we are going back in October. I actually did like Disneysea because of the differences, but the lines were quite long. We also really enjoyed Nara, a short distance outside of Kyoto. We had the good fortune of seeing many of the Harujuku teens dressed in their clothing, and it was fun to see although certainly not our style. Thanks for the report.
     
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  3. splat

    splat Silver Member

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    Marcwint55 - Glad you're going back there really is so much more to see. Have a good time!
     
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  4. guberif

    guberif Silver Member

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    Hope you'll share some pictures (or a lot of them)! :)
     
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  5. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

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    Japan was a lot easier to navigate without speaking japanese than I thought (but also somewhat harder at times - like small family run non tourist restaurants where no one spoke English and no English menu - but mostly there were pictures and/or someone spoke a few words of English).

    Although I never got into the fish market proper there are hundreds of tiny shops/restaurants there selling everything from fresh fish, freshly made tamago (which you can see the chef cooking), dried fish of various sorts and LOTS of sushi/sahimi and other food options. There are places selling "fast" food (fresh oysters, sticks of barbqued food), small stall sushi where you can get rice topped with amazing chu toro for $7 usd and lots of other choices at higher prices, etc. A veritable wonderland of food.

    There is a garden ?Imperial Garden about a 15 minute walk from there. The grounds are nice but not exceptional (and like many gardens/parks there is an admossion charge - but AIR it was only 100 or 100 yen). Inside the garden there is a stop for the river boat which goes to many places- I was headed to Akausa (about 1200 yen) and the 20ish minute ride gave me some views I wouldn't have seen otherwise. It was a hot day and I was really tired from a lot of walking, so having a chance to sit and have air conditioned comfort was really nice.
     
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  6. Fishing4Deals

    Fishing4Deals Silver Member

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    I really appreciate this thread. I am dreaming of going to Japan on points in a couple of years. I am a bit intimidated about how to get around in the big cities. I am thinking that we will get rail passes and travel the countryside. Do you think it would be possible to do this trip without advance hotel reservations -- just looking for hotel rooms near the train stations?
     
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  7. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    you should be able to, although depending on when you travel, you may not get the best of accommodations.
     
  8. Boraxo

    Boraxo Silver Member

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    Great trip report. We are mapping out a very similar trip in May sans Disney (I hate abusement parks!) but are still looking for a smaller town not too far from Kyoto where we can hang out for a couple of days. LOL because we have the same UA flights. Still considering hotels in Kyoto, the Hyatt seems a bit pricey, but then again we can't complain as we have 4 free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.
     
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