Going to Japan....need advce

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jeff Adkins, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    It looks like I'm going to Japan in early December. My friend works at a major airlne and has a worldwide pass that expires at the end of the year. Anyway, I've chosen Japan since I've been all over Europe, Russia, Central & South America but never been anywhere in Asia.

    I bought a few books and now I'm even more confused as to which part of Tokyo I should stay in and what I should see while I'm there. Chances are that I won't be back for many years so I want to make the most of it.

    I'd prefer to stay in an area that doesn't shut down early as I'm a night person.

    Thanks!
    Jeff
     
  2. Matt_M

    Matt_M Stunt Coordinator

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    How long are you going for?
    Lots of places to see in Tokyo
    I would suggest staying at Shibuya. Great nightlife and most clubs are open all night.
    Definately visit Shinjuku, Akihabara, Roppongi.
    You might also consider going to Yokohama...doesn't take long from Tokyo to go there and it's a great city.
     
  3. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Jeff, give us a bit more information. How long, where and your budget.

    For this post I’ll assume Tokyo and a fair amount of money, but I’d have some suggestions in a few other cities.

    In Tokyo the hottest nightlife will be found in Shinjuku and Roppongi. Roppongi (especially the area around Roppongi Crossing is much smaller and easier to understand than Shinjuku as there are really only two primary streets (with some smaller ones branching out). But I don’t think that there is very good accommodation right there—you might try the Tokyo Prince which is not too expensive for Tokyo.

    Both of these districts are very lively, with the ususal touts for strip clubs (and whatever). But there are plenty of fine restaurants and clubs. In Roppongi I can recommend Birdland for jazz and such.

    There is a lot. Let us know. I can have some specific recommendations.

    My feeling is that the very best single thing to do in Japan is to take the bullet train to Kyoto, stay in a Ryokan and tour some of the temples. But this might well not be your style. Kamakura is a day trip from Tokyo, if you can’
     
  4. Jason L.

    Jason L. Second Unit

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    1. If you don't know how to use chopsticks, bring a fork!

    2. Kamakura is a pretty cool day trip. I have heard that Kyoto can be boring unless you are really into temples. I was planning on going to Kyoto, but the bullet train is expensive.

    3. Going to see Fuji [Hakone] is pretty cool, but unfortunately it is rare that you can find a clear day to see it properly. All I wanted was a picture of myself with Mt. Fuji in the background, and I couldn't do that because it was cloudy.

    4. I didn't go out at night that much because the jet lag had me up at 5:00 A.M. every morning and because I didn't want to spend a ton of money.

    5. I don't know if you ever stay at hostels, but there is one in a high-rise building in Tokyo that is an incredible bargain. I also stayed at a hostel in dorms that the athletes stayed at during the 1960 Olympics which is in a park.
     
  5. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    My first trip to Japan I hit Nikko (an hour or so by train North of Tokyo), Fuji/Hakone, and Kyoto. All were really enjoyable. Nikko has the shrine of the Tokugawa Shogun (the one fictionalized in the mini-series Shogun). It is chock full of the three monkeys (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil).

    Kyoto is nice if you like the introspective museum type activities. The castle of the Shoguns is cool with the Nightingale floor. I also enjoyed the temples and Zen rock gardens.

    In Tokyo, Akihabara is a must for the electronics buff. Also, a stop at the Sony building in the Ginza is mandatory or we vote you off the Home Theater Island [​IMG]

    There is a nice temple in Asakusa that is worth a visit. They have a nice market if you want to pick up some souveneirs.

    I enjoyed Ueno park with the Zoo and museums. Makes a good day trip since it contains the Zoo, Science Museum, Art Museum, and National Museum.

    I actually enjoy staying in Yokohama or at the New Otani but I am not a big night life person. Also, make sure to get a subway map before you go (a google search should find a few choices). The Tokyo subway is the cheapest and easiest way to get around the city.

    Good luck and enjoy the trip.

    Kenneth
     
  6. Dave Poehlman

    Dave Poehlman Producer

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    Make it a Santori time...

    [​IMG]


    Sorry.... couldn't resist.
     
  7. Mark Sherman

    Mark Sherman Supporting Actor

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    Pick up a book on Japenese to learn a few Key phrases. Just to be on the safe side. Talking ssslllllooooowwwweeerr and LOUDER doesnt always help.
     
  8. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    A couple of helpful words are (spelled phonetically):

    Koh-reh: "This" useful when shopping

    Soh-reh: "That" useful when shopping or if you have to point out something (like on a menu or the food models in front of the restraunt)

    Nahn-des-kah: "What?" useful if you are trying to figure something out. Can be combined with other words by adding a wah (Kohrehwah nahndeskah: what is this)

    Doko-des-kah: "Where?" useful to use when pointing to something on a map (kohrehwah dokodeskah: where is this)

    Bee-roo: "Beer" useful for some people [​IMG]

    Oh-High-Oh Goh-zigh-mus: Good Morning
    Koh-nee-chee-wah: Good Afternoon
    Kohm-bahn-wah: Good Night (usually used in parting I think)

    Those are some of the key ones I remember off the top of my head, unless you need the ubiquitous "I Love You". That seems to go a long way in any country [​IMG]

    Kenneth
     
  9. Daren Welsh

    Daren Welsh Supporting Actor

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    -laughs at phonetic spelling- (good idea, though)

    oh-te-ah-rye: "restroom"
    (otearai)

    oh-te-ah-rye wa doko-des-ka: "Where is the restroom?"
    (otearai wa doko desuka)

    (koh-reh wa) ee-ku-rah des-kah: "How much (does this) cost?"
    (kore wa ikura desuka)

    Make sure to let us know how it goes after you've come back. I've been learning the language for a couple years now and would like to go over there sometime next year.
     
  10. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    Some cultural tips for Japan:

    Always put "san" at the end of a person's name. It is a sign of respect. If you were dealing with a very very important or high ranking person you can use "sama". Usually the family name is first and the given name second. Example:

    Hayao Miyazaki would be Miyazaki-san (first name basis) if you were being friendly or Hayao-san to be formal (last name basis).

    I am not up on all the ways to identify yourself but one way would be:

    Watashi-wa (Wah-tah-shee-wah) Jeff Adkins Des - "I am Jeff Adkins.

    A greeting that could be used would be:

    Hajimemashte Dojoyorushiku (Hah-jee-meh-mahsh-teh Doh-Joe-yoh-roo-shee-koo) - kind of like it's a pleasure to meet you.

    Also, it is generally impolite to fill your own beer glass in Japan (if you are with others) so a person wanting a refill will often try and fill your glass (even if it is full). You would then fill theirs.

    Bowing etiquette is fairly simple. The most important person bows the least. You should always bow lower than the most important person. If you are equals or friends it won't matter. Bow in a single motion with your hands at your sides.

    A few more useful words/phrases:

    Hai (High) - Yes

    Dozo (Doh-Zoh) - Please

    Cohi (coh-hee) - Coffee

    Kudasai (Koo-dah-sigh) - give me

    Cohi Dozo Kudasai - Please give me some coffee

    ie (ee-ay) - No

    Wakaru (Wah-kah-roo) - understand

    ie Wakarimasen (Wah-kay-ree-mah-sen) - No I don't understand

    iki (ee-kee) - go

    ikimashoka (ee-kee-mah-show-kah) - shall we go

    arigato (ah-ree-gah-toh) - Thank you

    Kenneth
     
  11. Daren Welsh

    Daren Welsh Supporting Actor

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    FYI, it's douzo yoroshiku (doh-zoh-yoh-roh-shi-koo).

    Depending on how much time you plan on spending there and how far out of Tokyo you want to see, you might consider a rail pass. I haven't looked into it much, but I understand you have to buy it before going over. It's like an unlimited pass and I think it covers different lines depending on which pass you get. Maybe someone can fill in the blanks.

    Japan Rail Pass Japan Rail
    Some info
     
  12. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    Good catch. It's been awhile since I've been to Japan. I get more trips to Thailand these days so they closest I get to Tokyo is passing through Narita airport when I change planes.

    Here is a link to a Japan subways map:

    http://www.japan.co.jp/~pbw/tokyosub.htm

    It may look confusing but the trains have colors on the trains that match their lines. That makes it easier to identify the correct trains.

    The subway fares are usually easy to identify from maps in the station but if you are unsure just buy the lowest fare. At the station exits they have fare adjustment machines that will take your old ticket, tell you how much you still owe, and give you the proper ticket so you can exit. Pretty easy once you get used to it. Using the subway you can go from one side of Tokyo to the other for just a few dollars.

    Also, if you go bar hopping watch out for the hostess bars. Although they can be fun they are extremely expensive.

    One more thing. Etiquette for eating bowls of rice. It is impolite to point a people with chop sticks. If you need to set down chopstick there is usually a holder to lay them on, or you can lay them on the bowl. Never stick your chopsticks into the bowl and leave them vertical. This is very impolite (and I think bad luck) since they do this for dead people.

    If you have some extra money (and like beef) go to a place where you can try Kobe Beef. It will be pricey but well worth it. One of my favorite Japanese appetizer foods is Yaketori (little skewers of sliced meats). Don't forget to try Saki (rice wine). It doesn't suit everyone's tastes but in December when Japan is cold it will warm you up big time.

    Kenneth
     
  13. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    Bad advice :p) Most likely when you say that, they don't understand. Or worse yet, they do understand and they reply in Japanese and you don't understand. Or they reply in English and you still don't understand. No matter what, you lose. I think you should stay home to be safe.
     
  14. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    They generally assume the Gaijin don't speak Nihongo (Japanese) :p) Funny story though. When I first went to Japan in the late 80's I spent some time in Fukushima (a smaller town north of Tokyo). One day I was out walking near my hotel and heard a group of young boys saying "America-jin, America-jin". I looked around and realized that was me [​IMG]

    On that note however, another rule that worked well for me was to take a matchbook from my Hotel. That way if I got lost I could show it to someone and they could point or I could take a taxi and hand the driver the matchbook [​IMG]

    Also, two more useful words:

    Migi (mee-gee) - Right

    Hidari (hee-dah-ree) - Left

    [​IMG]

    Kenneth
     
  15. HienN

    HienN Stunt Coordinator

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    [I hope not too political]

    Note the similarity between Japanese and English


    Hil-la-ry - Left

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Jeff Adkins

    Jeff Adkins Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the tips everyone!

    OK, here's a bit more info on the trip. It's probably going to be around 5 days or so. I'd prefer not to stay in the nicest part of town based on what I've heard about hotel rates ($200 and up). When I go to NYC, I stay in Jersey City if that tells you anything. [​IMG] A decent area of the the city would be fine, but nothing fancy.

    As far as food goes, I gotta try the Kobe Beef. I've heard so much about it. Here in the States I love Miso Soup, Chicken Teriyaki and Shrimp Tempura, but I have no idea if these dishes truly exist over there or not.

    A day trip outside of Tokyo would be nice, although I don't want to spend over $100 in train fare.

    Lots of you gave me great ideas to check out. I'm going to look into the rail passes and see about a day trip. That sounds like fun.

    Is Narita airport really 90 minutes outside of the city?

    One last question.....where should I go to find a good selection of DVDs? Back in the laserdisc days I heard of a place called Ishamaru...anyone know of it?

    Jeff
     
  17. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    There are a ton of stores in Akihabara (if you have a multi-region player). There are also several HMV stores in Tokyo (one is in the Ginza, I think; another is in Shibuya). They sell DVD's and CD's.

    I did a quick search and found this link which might help with the day trips:

    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2164.html

    If you do either Nikko or Fuji/Hakone that will be an all day trip for either. I have been to Kawagoe and that was nice. They have the temple in Asakusa I mentioned.

    One of the day trips I like to make in Tokyo is starting out in Ueno park in the morning. I will hit the zoo, national museum, science museum, and art museum. I can then grab lunch in Ueno (or at my favorite curry rice place in Akihabara). The afternoon I hit akihabara and Shibuya for my electronics and CD/DVD shopping. I then finish up with Asakusa and the temple where I do souvenier shopping, although there is a department store in Akihabara that sells tourist stuff on their top floor also. All are easily accessible using the Tokyo subway system. Of course your milage and interests may vary.

    Hope that helps.

    Kenneth
     
  18. Matt_M

    Matt_M Stunt Coordinator

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    If you don't mind doing the tourist tours and you are on a limited budget I would suggest taking a bus tour. Costs like 50$ and you can get to see some of Tokyo's main attractions quickly. The bus takes the toll highway so it's really quick and you get a lot of sightseeing in a day. tickets to all the attractions are included in the price of the ticket. Here http://www.hatobus.co.jp/english/
    Going to Yokohama would cost you around 12$ by train and if I remember right takes around an hour to get there.
    I don't think it makes any sense for you to get the rail pass since you have only 5 days there. Otherwise it would be a good idea and you could go to Kyoto, Osaka and other major cities by train.
     
  19. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    I found a better subway map:

    http://www.tcvb.or.jp/en/guide/img/02subwaymap.pdf

    Also, a trip from Tokyo to Yokohama shouldn't be too bad unless you are staying in the far north of Tokyo. I did some research on the net and a regular train between Tokyo Station and Yokohama would be be about $5 (and take an hour or so). At $12 you could take the Shinkansen and get there in 30 minutes.

    I also recommend the bus trips (particularly for Fuji/Hakone). For inside Tokyo, if you figure out where you want to go and match it up against the subway map you should be able to move around pretty easily (and cheaply). If you decide to do Nikko you generally take a train to Nikko (you can buy the ticket at Ueno station I think) and then buy a bus ticket at Nikko station (to hit the sights in the Nikko area). Depending on when your five days are positioned I would plan for Tokyo sight seeing on a weekend. Tokyo subways can get very crowded during work hours on weekdays (so crowded they have men with gloves who push the people in so the doors will close). It is not that crowded on weekends or after rush hour.

    Kenneth
     
  20. Mark Hayenga

    Mark Hayenga Supporting Actor

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    Important words:

    yoh-shih-ki (yooshiki): Western-style toilet (very important word!)

    oh-mee-yah-gay (omiyage): souvenir

    doko des ka (doko desu ka): where?

    ee-koo-ra des ka (ikura desu ka): how much?

    nay-dahn-wa? (nedan wa?): price?

    nahn-des-ka (nan desu ka?): what is it?

    (something)-koo-dah-sai (kudasai): kudasai appended to something usually means "please do (something)".

    oh-nay-guy-she-mas (onegai shimasu): please give me (as in "Bee-ru o onegai shimasu - please give me a beer).

    day-wah mah-tah (dewa mata): informal goodbye

    sayonara: more formal/permanent goodbye

    chikatetsu: subway

    'JR': Japan Railways (the bullet train things IIRC)

    bah-soo (basu): bus

    bah-soo tay (basu tei): bus stop

    ee-tah-dah-key-mas (itadakimasu): said before a meal, literally means "I recieve".


    Oh, and try some natto while you are there. And some real ramen.
     

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