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First trip to Japan

drron

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Joined
Jul 4, 2002
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Yes Japanese English can mean something different to what you assume.On one of our first trips to Japan we were heading off to Tokyo Disneyland with our son.Asked the Station Master which train to catch and he said-the next one.So the next train pulls in and we go to get on.He rushes over saying No,No,No,the next train.So the one about to arrive is this train,the second to arrive is the next one.
 

Blinky

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Joined
Oct 5, 2012
Messages
579
Yes Japanese English can mean something different to what you assume.On one of our first trips to Japan we were heading off to Tokyo Disneyland with our son.Asked the Station Master which train to catch and he said-the next one.So the next train pulls in and we go to get on.He rushes over saying No,No,No,the next train.So the one about to arrive is this train,the second to arrive is the next one.
Okay. Thanks for that insight.
 

Katie

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Sep 21, 2009
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One tip for anyone reading this heading to Japan - if you do get a Suica card, any excess credit on it can be used at various stores, such as 7-11. That could be handy! I'm pretty sure it also applies to Pasmo (??sp?) cards, too. Some of the cards can be used in a couple of cities.
 

kpc

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Joined
Mar 11, 2003
Messages
6,020
One tip for anyone reading this heading to Japan - if you do get a Suica card, any excess credit on it can be used at various stores, such as 7-11. That could be handy! I'm pretty sure it also applies to Pasmo (??sp?) cards, too. Some of the cards can be used in a couple of cities.
or keep it for your next trip to Japan...the Suica card only expires after 10 years of no use. I also learnt recently you can download an app from the Play Store (search suica card reader) that reads the balance on the Suica card. You can also take the card back for a refund.....
 

cqtiger

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Joined
Feb 21, 2019
Messages
36
Just got back last month with all the cherry blossoms. It's a fantastic place and people so friendly and despite the language barriers always happy to help. Still staggered at the tiny hotel rooms.
 
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Blinky

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Joined
Oct 5, 2012
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579
Getting towards the end of our time in Japan before 4 days in Singapore.

I wasn’t planning to visit Miyajima Island, but am glad I did. The decision made easier by the fact that our JR Pass got us there, including the ferry. It’s about 30 minutes from Hiroshima station, with the ferry taking 20 minutes more. We got on the ferry at 8am with a lovely Dutch couple we met in the queue, who we walked around the island with. Pro tip. DO NOT GET TO THE FERRY MID MORNING. We had only few on this ferry and walked around uncrowded paths. When we got the ferry back, the queue was easily over 100 meters long, and a long wait was guaranteed.

So the island. A really nice, clean beach with the Itsukushima Shrine in the background.

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Anyway this Shrine is one of the most photographed in Japan, and it is quite spectacular. You can stay on the island, and I wish I had. The idea of getting up at 6am and having the place to yourself is interesting.
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On the way back to our hotel and our train to Osaka, we dropped into Hiroshima Castle. Yes, rebuilt in 1951, but impressive nontheless.

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So on to Osaka. I used Google Earth to find how far from the station to the Osaka Hilton. Good news, only 500m. Hmmm, not where mr google indicated, so got into a cab, thinking a very short trip. Not so, a 2500 yet ride. Cursing Google Earth for its stupidity a got out of the cab and looked across the road to see Osaka City Station. What do they say about assumptions....

Anyway at checkin we were told our room was upgraded, and it was!!! My Hilton Honors membership had expired, so it must have been staff feeling sorry for these tired old timers (yes, another 18k steps today). So nice room. We will head out for dinner a bit later, but it’s chill out time for the rest of the day.
 

Blinky

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Joined
Oct 5, 2012
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579
Just got back last month with all the cherry blossoms. It's a fantastic place and people so friendly and despite the language barriers always happy to help. Still staggered at the tiny hotel rooms.
Agreed. I don’t expect large rooms in London, New York, Paris, Rome and Japan, but some are quite ridiculous. Interestingly the largest cities we have visited here, Tokyo and Osaka had the best rooms. The one in Kyoto was quite tiny.
 
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Blinky

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Oct 5, 2012
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579
Some observations, comments and questions about Japan

- it’s probably the only nation where I don’t feel short or old
- so neat and tidy without rubbish bins? Yes they are at stations, but that’s about it.
- do school students only do field trips? Seems that way
- I thought people in Singapore were the best dressed and presented people I’ve seen. More so than London, Paris, Rome and anywhere in Australia. But people in Tokyo and Osaka seem to have the others covered (yes, trite, trivial, superior, whatever).
- as mentioned earlier, honest cabbies who take you direct to where you want to go without fuss
- trains. Nothing more to say.
- some of the best food we have ever had, and we’ve had a lot of excellent food
- not cheap, but I still think value for money
- everyone, apart from a few obviously harassed station staff, tried to help
- the most polite people in the world?
- ******* invisible Mt Fuji
- Asahi in its natural environment
- no tipping, an Aussie paradise
- get out and about early
- get all essentials (wine and beer) from supermarkets. This works everywhere in the world.

There’s probably more I will think of and post later.
 

Blinky

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Oct 5, 2012
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579
Nothing has disappointed us with the trip so far, but Nara came close. Okay, a bit like killing Bambi (pun intended) so let me explain. I booked a half day Nara tour when we booked the flights because I read rave reviews about it and wanted something in a mainly blank itinerary. What I didn’t realise was that our JR pass would get us there for free. I should have, but have been busy.

So instead of our standard “let’s get there before the bogans” strategy, it was an afternoon tour from Osaka. When we got there, well you can guess. A massive number of people, including school groups galore. On Saturday. Do kids ever get a day off?

Again, I didn’t research fully, and thought the deers would be serenely wandering through a heavily wooded forest.



Not quite.
166283

But then we reached Todai-Ji Temple. Breathtaking. Originally built around 700AD, but like pretty everything old in Japan, re-built more than once. The last in the 1600s. It remains the largest wooden structure in the world (confirmed by Wikipedia) and from the outside is awesome.

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Inside was equally awesome, with massive bronze Buddha statues over 500 years old.

166285

So at the end, Nara gets a tick. But the deers did nothing for me.

Dinner at TGIs across the road. No, not a Japanese meal, but I’ll tell you what, the Japanese people in there were having a ball.

Up early tomorrow to spend good time at Osaka Castle. We will take in the market at Namba and try to find an Irish Pub before heading off for four days in Singapore late tomorrow night.
 

love_the_life

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Dec 21, 2012
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Nothing has disappointed us with the trip so far, but Nara came close. Okay, a bit like killing Bambi (pun intended) so let me explain. I booked a half day Nara tour when we booked the flights because I read rave reviews about it and wanted something in a mainly blank itinerary. What I didn’t realise was that our JR pass would get us there for free. I should have, but have been busy.

So instead of our standard “let’s get there before the bogans” strategy, it was an afternoon tour from Osaka. When we got there, well you can guess. A massive number of people, including school groups galore. On Saturday. Do kids ever get a day off?

Again, I didn’t research fully, and thought the deers would be serenely wandering through a heavily wooded forest.



Not quite.
View attachment 166283

But then we reached Todai-Ji Temple. Breathtaking. Originally built around 700AD, but like pretty everything old in Japan, re-built more than once. The last in the 1600s. It remains the largest wooden structure in the world (confirmed by Wikipedia) and from the outside is awesome.

View attachment 166284

Inside was equally awesome, with massive bronze Buddha statues over 500 years old.

View attachment 166285

So at the end, Nara gets a tick. But the deers did nothing for me.

Dinner at TGIs across the road. No, not a Japanese meal, but I’ll tell you what, the Japanese people in there were having a ball.

Up early tomorrow to spend good time at Osaka Castle. We will take in the market at Namba and try to find an Irish Pub before heading off for four days in Singapore late tomorrow night.
I'm sure the deer have become worse at Nara. When I was there in the mid 90s with the children, I think daughter fed everyone in the park (not really but we did go through an awful lot of food). On the several times I've been back to Nara, they seem to have become bolder and at times can be a bit dangerous.
In Nara we loved the Isuen Garden and also the National Museum there but last year it was unfortunately closed when we visited. They had a wonderful display of Japanese knife making. And like most places, things change and the small artist's studio we found a while back wasn't there any more either.:(
 

Blinky

Active Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2012
Messages
579
Now where was I? We have been so busy in debilitating Singapore I have fallen behind.

Last Sunday was our last day in Japan with a late flight at 11.25pm, and late checkout, thanks Osaka Hilton. Went out early to see Osaka Castle, and even getting there before opening there was a mass of people and armies more walking towards it. Rather than deal with more congestion and queues, we decided to do a little shopping and headed back to the hotel. On the way we discussed which deserted part of the world we would visit next...

J class from KIX to SIN was underwhelming, with fairly narrow lay down beds. But it was late at night, so a couple of champers, an average meal and a sleep for most of this leg. Arrived in SIN before 5am and headed off to Sofitel City Centre, where I’ve stayed before. The hotel is located above a MRT station, but we had luggage so caught a cab, which was not expensive.

When I stayed here last October I arrived at a similar time after a gruelling trek in the Himalayas, alone and obviously looking not my best. They checked me in early free of charge. This time they said they would charge $200, which I was very happy with, but I’ve only just realised they didn’t charge at all.

Anyway we had a suite with club access.

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The Millesime Club

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A superb hotel with the best breakfast buffet I’ve ever experienced and a sensational dining experience.

After breakfast we walked around Marina Bay, through the Sands Shopping Plaza and up to Raffles for its 11am opening and mandatory Singapore Sling.

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It was typical Singapore weather, 33C, 88% humidity and “feels like” 44C. Over the past couple of days I’ve been coming down with a cold due to repeated moves from extreme heat to freezing aircon, so called it quits after one drink (so unlike me) and headed back to the hotel. I somehow managed to get down to the club happy hour, but after just one drink, headed off to bed.

Anyway feeling much better on Tuesday, we went to Gardens by the Bay. Unfortunately the Flower Dome was closed for maintenance, so we had to be satisfied with the Cloud Garden, which was wonderful. The whole place is a bit cliched, but you still need to go.

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Managed to get back by Raffles again, and managed to squeeze in a SS together with a beer and my normally abstemious wife knocking back two cocktails.

On Wednesday back towards Marina Bay again to see the merlion before heading off to Orchard Rd.

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Orchard Rd was okay, but the conditions were just getting too much for us, so back at the hotel before noon. Mind you, it’s not a bad place at all to hang out.

On the last night of our holiday we had a wonderful four course meal at the hotel for $80 each, which I thought was good value. So no hawkers markets and street food on this trip to Singapore, but I think we will be back.

Anyway, trip back was what you would expect. The standard J configuration for 777, comfortable, excellent service and the Book the Cook meals we ordered. On reflection I would not have chosen Lobster Thermadore a second time. It was nice, but I think the beef choices were better.

So in front of a fire and full of positive thoughts about our tour. Hope some of you enjoyed.
 

love_the_life

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Dec 21, 2012
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Thanks for the great TR. I hope you plan to go back to Japan to see some of the other places - Hokkaido is wonderful especially in the snow. One of our favourite cities on the main island is Kanazawa - so much to see. We have so many more places to explore there. :)
 

Justinf

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Joined
Sep 8, 2009
Messages
1,774
Loving it.
I booked a flight to Japan last night for February next year.
 

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