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Tony - Japan 2024 Planning


Tony Galiani

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Hakodate’s nice, great seafood, Lucky Pierrot burgers, you’ve got the tram, the South Hokkaido railway and lots of freight trains.

 

Things I enjoyed but I’m not so sure about in winter are the night view from the mountain and the park at Onuma. And if you haven’t done it yet it’s probably worth travelling on the loop line around the coast from Onuma to Mori as that would seem a likely candidate to be closed. 
 

Also  Hakodate is the location of the oldest concrete power pole in Japan 😀

 

Further afield the line from Furano to Higashi Shikagoe will close at the end of March, not sure if you could do that in a day from Hakodate, and by then it will probably be pretty busy. 

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Hakodate is a nice city. You don't need a very long time to see most of it so a couple of nights may suffice. Certainly a lot of historical significance and some of the  surrounding countryside is beautiful. Onuma-Quasi National Park is a short train ride away from the city centre. Definitely different architecture to other parts of Japan due to American and European influence during the Industrial awakening. It also boasts one of the top 3 night viewing spots in Japan, although these polls I would take with a pinch of salt, it is a nice view, especially at night.

 

In regards to trains, the Shinkansen station, Hakodate-Hokuto is a way out of town but the express connections into the city were pretty good. 

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Yugamu Tsuki
17 hours ago, Gunzel said:

Hakodate’s nice, great seafood, Lucky Pierrot burgers, you’ve got the tram, the South Hokkaido railway and lots of freight trains.

 

Things I enjoyed but I’m not so sure about in winter are the night view from the mountain and the park at Onuma. And if you haven’t done it yet it’s probably worth travelling on the loop line around the coast from Onuma to Mori as that would seem a likely candidate to be closed. 
 

Also  Hakodate is the location of the oldest concrete power pole in Japan 😀

 

Further afield the line from Furano to Higashi Shikagoe will close at the end of March, not sure if you could do that in a day from Hakodate, and by then it will probably be pretty busy. 

I'm glad someone else knows of the concrete pole. I had to take a photo of myself with it.

 

Lucky Pierrot is probably my favorite place for burgers. The night view from Mt. Hakodate does line up with one of the best views in my eyes. As long as you don't have the bad luck that it's under construction like me, you can take the ropeway car up and down.

 

It's an interesting experience to me that the shinkansen goes under the water to get to Shin-Hakodate station. I believe there are even 2 stations underwater for maintenance and a usually closed off museum about how it was constructed.

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Tony Galiani

Okay - can someone tell me where the oldest concrete power pole is located?  Just in case we go there.

 

Current thinking is to go up to Hakodate for a couple of days then go somewhere south from there - possibly flying to Kyushu or Kyoto before heading back to Tokyo (and some model railway shop visits).  Looks like Hakodate's airport is easy to get to and fares seem reasonable.

 

Ciao,

Tony

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Yugamu Tsuki

https://www.google.com/maps/place/The+First+Concrete+Electricity+Pole+In+Japan/@41.7652137,140.7161622,311m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m6!3m5!1s0x5f9ef3a8df097f77:0xae2852067ad08ca1!8m2!3d41.765043!4d140.7165535!16s%2Fg%2F11b6v7_8sk?entry=ttu

 

For you sir. Luckily it is near a very touristy area. They also have some snazzy manhole covers in the area.

 

*About 2 blocks east of the pole is Hachiman Zaka Slope which is famous for its well placed engineered position for a great view.

Edited by Yugamu Tsuki
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16 hours ago, Tony Galiani said:

Looks like Hakodate's airport is easy to get to and fares seem reasonable.

I think you can catch the tram most of the way there although it is probably simpler on the bus. Don't forget the JAL Japan Explorer Pass, valid for any visitor to Japan, any sector Y11,000 or less. 

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Tony Galiani

@Gunzel - didn't know about that pass - just checked via the link and, interestingly enough, JAL has a flight close to the same time as ANA and the pricing is similar as well.  Think I need to decide about this soon.

Tony

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On 1/10/2024 at 1:00 AM, Yugamu Tsuki said:

I'm glad someone else knows of the concrete pole. I had to take a photo of myself with it.


Me too!

 

I’d love to visit one or both of the underground stations but it seems those tours have been off the agenda for a while. When I visited in 2018 they had a fairly comprehensive display for the 30th anniversary of the opening. 
 

Lucky Pierrot burgers are good but I really love their Yuzu thick shake!

 

ANA used to have a very similar pass but it seemed to disappear during COVID. Sometimes of course normal fares can be better, particularly with some of the low cost airlines. 

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Have a good trip, Tony. Looking forward to some photos!

 

On the SIM front, I ened up only using Ubigi for the whole trip. VPN to get around "not in Japan" issues with the Hard Off app and Yahoo Auctions etc. Didn't try a Yodobashi SIM in the end. Ubigi was decently fast and reception was good basically everywhere.

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Tony Galiani

@mojo - Thanks - good to know.  I will likely stick with the eSim again especially now that I know I can always run into Yodobashi for a Sim cards if we have a problem.  Getting excited - still haven't pinned down where we are going outside of a hotel for our first night in Tokyo.  Likely Hakodate for a few days but then not sure.  However, I do plan to get in some shopping in Tokyo before we return home - Sakatsu Gallery for some books and YFS at the very least.  We head up to Fredericton in Canada tomorrow for more cold climate clothing testing so I will be prepared.

 

Yesterday, I tested my ice traction grips that you put on your shoes for use on icy slippery surfaces and they worked well.  But it struck me that these could be awkward to use as I don't think I would want to wear them going into a shop or bus.  Hoping to find something easier to take on/off - though not sure if that exists.

 

And good flight news as well - our first flight was on a 737 Max 9 but that was cancelled in enough time for me to get the last two seats on an earlier flight so our mini-vacation to Canada can proceed.  (Maybe not good news?  Just checked the Fredericton weather forecast - looks like the high for our time there will be something like -10C .... )  And I now have to get up at 0 Dark Hundred tomorrow to catch the new flight.

 

Cheers,

Tony

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Tony Galiani

Anyone been to Aomori in the winter?  Not sure going to Japan's snowiest city in winter is a great idea but my Canadian snow-loving wife keeps bringing it up.  Possibly stopping there on our way back to Tokyo from Hakodate.

 

We are planning to go to Enoshima one day after we get back to Tokyo.  Apparently there is a great winter illumination set up there.

 

Tony

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31 minutes ago, Tony Galiani said:

Anyone been to Aomori in the winter?  Not sure going to Japan's snowiest city in winter is a great idea but my Canadian snow-loving wife keeps bringing it up.  Possibly stopping there on our way back to Tokyo from Hakodate.

 

We are planning to go to Enoshima one day after we get back to Tokyo.  Apparently there is a great winter illumination set up there.

 

Tony

 

I've been to Enoshima twice, it is pretty good.

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Bob Martin

I’ve been to Enoshima a few years ago, it was nice but crowded then.  But now it’s even more crowded.  A recent report said Kamakura/Enoshima area has 8-10x more tourists per sq.km. than even Kyoto.

 

Edited by Bob Martin
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railsquid

I was there a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning. It was busy, but not unpleasantly crowded, though the narrow shopping street at the bottom of the main approach was busy.

 

Enoden to Kamakura was rammed though.

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19 hours ago, Tony Galiani said:

Anyone been to Aomori in the winter?

Not for a long enough time to make a real impression, just felt like more of the same from being in Hokkaido, icy footpaths and feeling like I’m about to fall over. 
 

Planning to visit Enoshima and ride the Enoden in late Feb. 

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Tony Galiani

I think crowding is a fact of life in a lot of places.  We try to avoid super crowded places but it it what it is.  Typically we aim for a mix of places - in Kyoto we went to Mt. Inari which was very crowded and then to the Philosopher's Path which was not.

 

My wife enjoys illuminations so we will hopefully go to Enoshima to see them - likely on a weekday evening so maybe it won't be too crowded.

 

Ciao,

Tony

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Tony Galiani

@Gunzel - that's my impression of Aomori as well.  And it is so spread out that getting to any of the sites in winter weather would be a lot of effort.  Trying to convince my wife that we can go to Aomori one Autumn to sample the apple products which I understand the area is know for.

 

Tony

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They do love their apples. And have some impressive rice field art. If you do go it’s worth a day trip out to the Tsugaru railway, if you go in February they are probably still running their “stove train”, diesel hauled cars rather than a railmotor and with a few coal burning stoves in each car for heating and cooking your dried squid. 

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If you are visiting in February you can catch the Winter Illumination at Enoshima. Just be aware that it is a bit exposed at the top, so can get chilly. You can take an escalator up to the top, and then walk down. It's worth seeing, the lights are spectacular.

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Tony Galiani

Planning on going to the illuminations in Enoshima if at all possible.  Spent part of last week in Fredericton, NB, Canada making sure my clothing and shoes would be up to the task.  While we have frequently traveled to cold climates without too much difficulty in the past, I seem to be getting older and a bit more susceptible to the cold.  Had some difficulties on our trip to Vienna this past December.  Made a few adjustments which helped me cope better in Fredericton last week - Canadian innersoles and sock liners with "Icelandic" socks, fleece lined mittens with glove liners and, ironically, a face mask which really helped when the temps hit -15C.

 

Thinking we will go to Enoshima mid-week which might make it a bit less crowded.  Having been checking train routes - looks like JR from Tokyo Station with a change near Enoshima will work but I need to spend more time checking that out.

 

Cheers,

Tony

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Tony Galiani

More progress today.  I found some easily adjustable ice cleats - so that I can use them outside but quickly change them for indoor use - and ordered them.  Also made reservations at the JR Inn in Hokadate.  Seems like a reasonable option and a win/win view wise - either the rooms face south so we can see Mt Hakodate or they face north so I can watch the trains in the station.  (Okay - that would be more of a win from me than my wife!)

 

Tony

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Tony Galiani

Looking to purchase Shinkansen tickets to go to Hakodate.  Could be me, but is seem more complicated than necessary.  It looks like the tickets can be purchased from outside of Japan but require an IC card when boarding the train.  Not sure how this works - still working my way through the JR Ease web site.  My wife already has an eSuica card - guess I need to get mine as well since I will need it in any event.

On our last trip we just purchased tickets the day before we rode - wondering if it is safe to wait until I get to Tokyo to make my purchase.

Tony

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Yugamu Tsuki

Hey Tony,

 

If you're planning on taking the Hayabusa from Tokyo-Eki to Shin-Hakodate these will need a reservation always (needed even with JR Pass but its not that difficult working with JR staff in person for these) and then you'll need to transfer to Hakodate-Eki (short ride). I got my reservations done 2 days in advance pre-covid, I'm unsure how much has changed since then but I don't think headed up north should be that different.

 

Staying at that place you will be able a block north of the morning fish market which is a must seat if you enjoy seafood.

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Hi @Tony Galiani

 

It was quite easy to book for Nagoya from outside if Japan. They were proposing both IC card or QR COde.

 

QR Code is very convenient. I don't see it on JR East portal but you can book with Ekinet if I dont mind. At least it's what I did to ride the Sapphire Odoriko in Sept. 2023.

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Tony Galiani

I am running into some Suica card difficulties and wonder if anyone can offer some guidance on this.  It is easy enough to download the Suica and Pasmo apps but they are both in Japanese so I have no idea how to use them.  Ironically, they have web support in English for their respective FAQs, but I cannot find any info on how to use them.  One user comment I found via a web search suggested doing screen shots of each page and then using a translation app.  I don't know how to do that but will work on that this weekend but wondering if there was any other info to make this process easier.

 

On previous trips I had simply purchased a card at the airport  but sort of annoyed that they now expire.  I can always resort to that when we arrive at Haneda but thought I would like to try going with the eSuica or ePasmo to join my eSim card.  Or will that be a step to far for me?

 

Of course, I have to do an edit and add some info here.  In searching around, it seems it is possible to simply put the card in my Wallet and make sure I have it loaded with sufficient funds and then I can just tap my phone on the reader when I want to use it.  So I really don't need to go through the entire enrollment process.  Does that seem correct?

 

Any info appreciated!  I suppose I can use that last method, and worst case scenario at the airport, just go back and purchase a real Suica card if that doesn't work.

 

Tony

Edited by Tony Galiani
added clarification
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