American Looking for Companions: Arrive 14 Apr - Wakayama, Nara, Kyoto, KinosakiOnsen, Tokyo - Depart 30 April 2019

9 answers

First trip to Japan, but well-researched and comfortable in foreign lands. Activities planned most days, some native Japanese guides arranged, but evenings and other days are solo.
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Company would be nice (of any age or gender) for daytime activities and/or dinners (even during the guided portions), especially if you're a repeat visitor or speak more than my few words/phrases in Japanese.
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I'm an early-retired, non-smoking female who conserves money to allow times of splurging, and am open to any keen-minded non-smoker to enjoy shared experiences.

Interesting request?
5/5 (1 vote)
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Answers to the request

March 25, 2019
04:46 EDT

I reach Tokyo on 21st.
Also first trip to Japan.
Not well researched!

I may be around the regions that you have planned during your dates but not finalised the itinerary yet - I have ordered JR pass though, that's the preparations so far, of course in addition to having booked flights and having also ordered £1000 worth of Japanese ¥!

I'm from the UK - where are you?

March 25, 2019
07:12 EDT

I'm an American, well-traveled to EU and visited England also. You must be planning to cover a lot of miles to get a JR Network pass. Be aware that it is not valid on the fastest Shinkansens (Nozomi and Mizuho / N700s). You'll have to use other trains, and JR network rail (not private) when you plan trips. Using Hyperdia.com will allow you to search for the right Shinkansens, and you can exclude Private rail lines also. In fact, JR refers people to that search engine on their own web pages. Be careful which station you choose when there are multiples, and be patient while it searches: it goes through every network of rail, subway, ferry, monorail, etc. before reporting results. The directions feature on Apple Maps is pretty good for mobile use (close to actual travel date) and at the last minute, since routes/stations are mapped and clickable. I'd suggest you download the JR "Nationwide JR Route Map" so you can see the grey lines to avoid when planning. I don't know about exchange rates GBP to JPY when within the UK, but for USD to JPY, it is better to change your cash after arrival, using counters for Japan's banks at the airport, or their own ATMs, and those of the Japan Post. Pre-pay hotels with credit cards as much as possible, but remember Japan is largely a cash-based society (fortunately, also a low personal crime rate, so safer to carry cash there, but always use a money belt/pouch, etc.). Avoid "convenient" ATM's (worse rate, higher fees) and never use Travelex anywhere useless an absolute emergency. When you have a better idea of dates/places where they coincide with mine, let me know if you wish to do some sightseeing with me and my guides - or have dinner to converse in English!

March 25, 2019
09:42 EDT

Thanks. I already have my JR pass voucher, perhaps a bit too late to change my mind now! But I have done enough research to justify £400 for it.

I have today also collected ¥ 145,000 for our 1000 bucks.

My email is saurabhgandhi@hotmail.com.

March 25, 2019
08:43 EDT

Good advice on the JR pass, I was just about to get one, now i realise I’ve got alot more research to do on travel routes.
I’m a corporate pilot from NY, heading to Tokyo 4/17 departing 4/27. So far, I’m thinking a few days in Tokyo, definitely Mt Fuji, Niigata for Cherry Blossoms, maybe Hiroshima, and 4/23, 4/24 I’ve signed up for a Blacksmith knife making course.

March 25, 2019
09:43 EDT

Cheers Jon. I’m a medical doctor and also have a PPL - I fly Cessna for fun.

My email is saurabhgandhi@hotmail.com.

March 25, 2019
10:02 EDT

Depending on how much your travel days and destinations are spread out, you might do better with a regional pass or two. I recommend you build a little spreadsheet with the dates, cities, and fares to compare to passes. Fares are included on Hyperdia.com (and prices for 3 classes of seating shown). Day of week is critical because (as with airlines) offerings vary by day of week, weekends/holidays, and therefore the fares. I'm in Japan from 15 Apr-30 Apr, and staying 3-6 nights in 4-5 places, so no pass saves me money. And I can use a Nozomi for Kyoto-Tokyo in 2:15 hrs
. . . . . Mount Fuji will consume a bit of time in travel - you'll want to research what happens after arriving by rail: it's over an hour to drive to the mountain base by car, no public transit shown. I'll see it from the Shinkansen, which is close enough for me, so you might decide to visit somewhere near it and enjoy other things to do at the same time. . . . . For me, any site that is well-filmed and presented by professionals is a 2nd tier option for me. "Experiences" like knife-making are certainly worth it - I'm doing some involving textiles in Kyoto. Don't forget to research festivals where you can see all kinds of shows, eat all kinds of foods, and see beauty at the same time - without admission. The Azalea Festival (near Ueno, Tokyo) and the Wisteria Festival (East of Skytree Tower) are both taking place around the time you'll be there. Japan does not go downscale for festival food: it's the same decent-to-high quality as street vendors offer. And there are several flea markets held monthly which might prove worthwhile for vintage souvenirs (not mass-produced stuff). . . . . . And don't forget that Japan is big on reasonably-priced baggage delivery - either to/from airport, to/from hotel, or from hotel to hotel. I'm sending one small suitcase ahead of me (using Yamato's Kuroneko service). Only taking a carry-on and tote on the trains (and connecting to crowded subways/buses, where baggage storage is an issue). As I said, I have done a lot of research and am lucky to have English-speaking Japanese natives to assist with confusing/complex issues - like suggesting the Kyo Traffica discount transit pass which is discounted 10% then it works at full value like a debit card. There's also a 72-hour bus/subway ticket (pass) in Tokyo. Good luck, Jon.

March 25, 2019
11:01 EDT

Thanks! Sounds like you’ve really got this planned out. Did you use a service or just research in line? Can you recommend any good online sites? Just started watching a myriad “25 things you must see in Japan” videos on youtube.
Mt Fuji was a bucket list item, I wanted to climb it but, alas, I’ll be a few months before climbing season. Its a company trip so I can’t choose the timing...
For transportation I’m prioritizing convience over cost. Yes, Hyperdia looks like a great app, already have it loaded up on my phone. Still looking to nail down my itinerary this week or next. I think the hotel concierge might be able to offer some suggestions too.

March 25, 2019
11:37 EDT

Jon: A lot of research on line, recommendations from friends who've been before, but plans are then submitted and validated by English-speaking Japanese contacts I have. I've been planning this trip since last year, so exercise my "go-to researcher" designation amongst my friends. . . . Glad you have Hyperdia going, and if you have an iPhone/iPad, don't sell the Maps application short. Apple Maps shows points of interest nearby so you can see if a hop-on-hop-off along the way makes any sense (much clearer and less cluttered than g-maps). One example: there is an old train in Fukuchiyama I want to photograph myself, so I made sure my Kyoto-KinosakiOnsen trip went through there with a few minutes to do so. I had spotted a photo of the engine on the TripAdvisor page, which is previewed for most points in Apple Maps. . . . . Hotel staff really get a lot of requests for "suggestions" (and many actually are asking for a tour plan). So very often they refer you to a local guide service. So. . . .if you will stay at your hotel for multiple nights (and if the nightly rate is not bargain-basement), you may try sending a tentative route for a day and ask for their suggestions (be sure to include the date/day of week, in case of holidays/special hours). In Kyoto, I'm staying for 6 nights, so they were very helpful (even gave me her personal e-mail). I simply write and ask "will this work?" or similar. If you ask for suggestions, make sure you tell them to avoid the hokey touristy things like dressing up like a Samurai, Ninja demonstrations (not authentic), etc. If you want to e-mail me direct when you have something fleshed out for any of my destination cities, I'll send you back links I have for there. . . . AskJona and it's at AOL. (you know the rest, and I write it this way to prevent skimming). I'll reply from my main e-mail address, it's a name you'll recognize.

March 25, 2019
11:46 EDT

Oh - just read your message again: You may wish to prepare with free downloads of Japanese language for beginners from NHK. Go here: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/ Then click on the tab for "Learn Japanese". There's a pdf workbook you can download too, and one click to download all lessons. . . . . . and they have lots of English-language programs under "NHK Live", as well as streaming, to get familiar and yet more in the mood: a food ingredient show (Trails to Tsukiji - which is now different as of 2018 than in the video - they moved commercial/wholesale fish ops to Toyosu). Cooking lessons on Dining with the Chef. . . . The NHK Travel landing page (in English) is here: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/travel/ Then you can sort/select in various areas and for your interests (and the site has few ads/commercials). They have short clips and full programs.
And if you have Amazon Prime, there are tons of great travelogues on Japan, history, culture, etc.

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