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Trip to Japan?


Martijn Meerts

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Martijn Meerts

I recently came across a site that looked somewhat interesting to me: http://www.japanroads.com .

 

In short, they offer long guided tours with everything arranged for you, including hotels/ryokan, food, transport within Japan etc. etc. All you need to do is get to Japan and to the place where you're supposed to meet up for the tour. They have lots of interesting tours that take you the more uncommon places, so you won't be going to the typical tourist places.

 

Now, personally I'm much more interested in the more traditional places in Japan, so these tours are really my thing (although I do want to see Tokyo as well of course.) But, while you travel in a group, it'll be a group of strangers, and I'm not necessarily good with strangers ;)

 

What I was thinking, maybe it could be an interesting idea to use one of those tours for some of the members of the forum here to meet up. Basically we'd follow one of the tours, and afterwards head to Tokyo for a few days and go see all the good stuff there (Ghibli museum, imperial gardens, Tokyo Station, ride the Yamanote line all around, etc.)

 

Now, I know it might be a bit too much to ask, it's expensive no matter how you look at it, and some of course would prefer to travel with their partners/friends/etc (of course, those could come along as well ;)), but I thought it could be an interesting "adventure".

 

I would love to do one of those Imperial Pilgrimage walking tours in April, during the Sakura season. Or the Shoguns & samurai tour around the same time. The Gion district with cherry blossoms, that's bound to be absolutely amazing =)

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alpineaustralia

If you havent been to Japan before you'll get a real kick out of it. I just came back a few months ago from my second (tourist) visit with my wife and 4 year old son and I would suggest the you avoid tours and travel independently. It is deads easy to travel around and you will get a better feel for the place. In the meantime, here are some of my better photos from the trip...

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CaptOblivious

Also, and I apologize for not saying something sooner, but those are some really spectacular shots, alpineaustralia!

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Martijn Meerts

Alpine, the problem with going independently is that I would have to go all alone. No wife, no girlfriend, no kids, heck, I don't even have any real friends. Plus, those Japan Roads tours don't seem like your typical tourist stuff.

 

And traveling alone is not my strongest point, I tend to get depressed and end up staying in-doors the whole day, which is not a good thing to do on a first trip to Japan...

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alpineaustralia

Many thanks Capt. I have a few more if anyone is interested but I was conscious not to clog the website with my travel happy snaps. I particularly like night photography and the geisha absolutely fasinate me. My wife booked us right in the middle of Gion and we hunted down the geisha like papparazzi. The pictures you seee of them are not at tourist locations but rather outside teahouses that they are about to enter. But before you start to feel too sorry for them, they are worthy adversaries and skillfully give anyone the slip.

 

I hear you Martijn. Perosnally, I prefer to travel alone but it is a personal preference.

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Great photos Alpine and don't worry about clogging up the website. The thread does say "Trip to Japan"

    When I was in Nagano in 1998 I found the people to be very friendly and helpful but was surprised how many people didn't know English. All of us were also surprised how advanced the Japanese were with electronics and other inventions. There were things we saw in 1998 that are just coming to the USA now. (Camera in rear bumpers of cars, very small cellphones, a car wash the size of a parking spot, etc.)

    The photos of the sumo wrestlers brought back memories for me. In 1979 our company did a 30 min film on the sumo wrestler Tiaho. It 's not that easy to become a sumo wrestler and there is a lot of training for it plus it's a total change of lifestyle if you are accepted.

   

 

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CaptOblivious

Let me re-iterate something Bernard said: Don't count on anyone being able to speak English. I encountered a total of two English-speakers: One was a Japanese student studying in America, and home for the holidays, and the other was a Korean immigrant. Rudimentary spoken Japanese (knowing how to ask "Where is blah" or "Which is the train to foo?" and understanding the response), and a knowledge of the kana and a handful of useful kanji (local train, express train, various tasty foods, entrance and exit, men and women, and the various signs for bath-houses, for example) will get you very far. Thankfully, the JR system is labeled in English as well as Japanese (and then, both in kana and kanji).

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CaptO - that is a good point when traveling to a foreign country. When I was in Australia it was an easy trip because everyone spoke English. Japan was harder in that not a lot of people spoke English so I did a lot of pointing. I experienced the same thing in Italy but I had a good friend that moved there and was fluent in Italian so when we went touring she translated everything for us, without her on that trip it would have been frustrating.

 

Martijn - I just realized, since you live in Norway but are Dutch, how many languages do you know? I envy you because you must know more than one language. I on the other hand know two, English and Brooklyn.

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Speaking of a language barrier, I was in Edinburgh for a conference and on several occasions found it impossible to communicate verbally (from either side). That was a bit of a conundrum, because as far as I could tell we were both speaking English.

 

I tried French, but all that got was a look as if I was mentally deficient. I considered trying Japanese or Ukrainian,but I figured that was unlikely.

 

Apropos of Japan, the Pimsleur series of language CDs should give you a decent basis on which to go travelling in Japan, although I would recommend a class or website to teach yourself some written Japanese. Yesjapan.com is particularly good in this regard.

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Darren Jeffries

Speaking of a language barrier, I was in Edinburgh for a conference and on several occasions found it impossible to communicate verbally (from either side). That was a bit of a conundrum, because as far as I could tell we were both speaking English.

 

Ok, I can see your point here. I am british and live in England, but i dont understand most scots.

My company has an office in Edinburgh and I dread having to call them to discuss a case.

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In the late 70's when I was going to school in Manchester, some of my classmates took me to a comedy show were Billy Connolly was the main act. (Didn't know he was a comedian) I believe he is origially from Glascow, Scotland and all my friends thought he was the funniest act there. I on the other hand had to keep on asking my friends, "what did he say??" But that could be the same for someone who comes across a thick American "southern or New Yark" accent.

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Darren Jeffries

In the late 70's when I was going to school in Manchester, some of my classmates took me to a comedy show were Billy Connolly was the main act. (Didn't know he was a comedian) I believe he is origially from Glascow, Scotland and all my friends thought he was the funniest act there. I on the other hand had to keep on asking my friends, "what did he say??" But that could be the same for someone who comes across a thick American "southern or New Yark" accent.

 

I find American accents very easy to follow, even those from the deep south. I find regional accents from my own country sometimes hard to follow, Liverpool and Newcastle for example.

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Martijn Meerts

Bernard, I know Dutch and English fluently (written and oral), can read all German and speak enough to get around, can understand all Norwegian, and write it quite well, but pronounciation is difficult. I've also studied French for 2 years many years ago, but all that's lost. Next project will be Japanese, both written and oral :)

 

 

As for the trip to Japan, I'll be joining a kyudo dojo (kyudo being traditional Japanese archery) in september. There's a fair chance I might meet some people there who might want to come along. I wouldn't even mind paying the hotel if someone comes along, since most hotels don't have single person rooms, and a double room costs the same for 2 people than it does for 1 :)

 

We'll have to see though, all I know is that one way or another, I *WILL* go to Japan *SOON-ISH* =)

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I hope you do make it to Japan. Any place you visit is quite different than when you read about it or see pictures.

Martijn - with all the languages you know, you could have a second career as a translator.

 

Darren - Liverpool wasn't as bad as Newcastle accents were for me. On of the guys I went to school with In Manchester can from Newcastle. He would blurt things out in class and crack everybody up except me. I needed a translator to explain the jokes to me.

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alpineaustralia

I must admit I generally can understand almost all of the North American accents with the exception of 98% of the chinless wonders that find there way onto the Jerry Springer Show.

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