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One week trip to Japan - Page 20

post #286 of 306
going next week
post #287 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post

going next week

Are you doing the Mandarin this time around ? Didn't you cop/rent a spot in Tokyo ? I've been off SF for a while, so my memory is a bit foggy.

Really want to try that Chinese spot you wrote about before...really interested.
post #288 of 306
yeah I am moving there this time, living in Azabu. Last time I went I tried the Conrad instead, better rate. Wasn't bad, the in-house Japanese restaurant and bonus services were good.

I bought this year's Michelin guide recently, there's a fuckton of restuarants in Minato, so if you're there to eat (which you probably should, since the yen is gonna preclude any jawn buying) you should stay around Roppongi somewhere. Every other restaurant in the Michelin guide is somewhere within close walking distance to Roppongi Hills, so it's a decent base of operations.
The yen is so strong though, I'd forget about Japan and just go to Europe this year, come back to Japan next year if the yen has reached anywhere near 90/$1.
post #289 of 306
Not being particularly inclined with Tokyo Real Estate...why Azabu ?

Thanks. I'm not planning to hit Tokyo until Sept/Oct of 2012. Wherever I go, I'm in for the food -- street, michelin rated, modern casual, whatever, so thanks for the tip.

Good Luck on the move.
post #290 of 306
Azabu wasn't my choice, it was my gf's choice, but it is admittedly a nice place if there were nice places to live in Tokyo. I am looking up what's around my place and there's a napoli pizza joint with pizzas for 1000Y and bottled beers for 200Y, that will be enough to make me happy a few times a week.
post #291 of 306
subbed. icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
post #292 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by nahneun View Post

That itinerary is pretty similar to mine when I went two years ago. Budget about 4k-5k total for all your expenses. Trainfare is expensive, especially if you take the Shinkansen. There are a lot of good places to eat. Look for the one week in Japan thread that I started.

I am reading through the thread right now, and it will take some time.

Meanwhile, 4-5k budget, this is without plane ticket? Naive me was thinking around $1.5k maximum. I might as well spend the money on a ticket to LA and go to Little Tokyo or something. frown.gif
post #293 of 306
Thread Starter 
If I had to break it down for you, it would be something like this:

1.5k-2k USD for hotel fare (business hotels).
- i don't know what the going rates are exactly, but you'll probably end up spending more than me since your stay is slightly longer. if i remember correctly, it was something around 100-120 USD/night during the summer. since i never actually paid for my room (my aunt paid for my plane ticket and room as my graduation gift), i'm not sure how much it ended up being after fees. i vaguely remember the conversation my aunt had while she was talking to the travel agent, and i think it should work out to around that much after won -> usd conversion. book something within walking distance to the subway. you'll thank me for that later.
- you will save considerably if you stay at youth hostels or capsule hotels (maybe around 30-40 a night?), but you might have to jump around between different hostels every night since rooms aren't usually available in large blocks. i made my estimate based on the fact that you said you'd be staying at hotels.

500-750 for train and subway fare.
- not sure how much traveling to and from you'll actually be doing, but the bullet train was like 150-200 USD one way or something like that from tokyo to kyoto. i did opt for the seated cabin, which was like a 50 USD surcharge. i was walking around for over 12 hours every day, so I wanted some respite. i don't recall exactly. Also, prices may have gone up since I went in 2010.
- get a suica card, the japanese equivalent of a metrocard. i put around 50 dollars in mine and i spent it all by the time i left tokyo.

1k for food.
- now, you may think i'm crazy, but hear me out. food in japan is AMAZING. there's a reason tokyo has the most 3 star michelin restaurants. seoul does not even compare. granted, i focused mostly on japanese food when i was there, but i had no regrets dropping over 100 dollars on food + drinks for a few meals. as per drew's suggestion, if you plan on eating at a michelin-rated restaurant, go during lunch instead of dinner. i didn't have the opportunity to splurge on A5 wagyu, but i think you should.

500 emergency funds
- just in case. you never know when you're visiting a foreign country.

also, while i went from tokyo -> kyoto -> osaka (just for my flight out), it might be better to condense your stay in one city. there's a lot to do and a lot to eat, and i kind of regret dividing up my trip sometimes. i wish i had saved kyoto for a second visit, but if you are crunched for time, by all means, visit all three cities.

of course, this is a very generous estimate and not exactly student-friendly, but it will make your stay very memorable. if you can do it, i would strongly recommend it. others who live or have been to japan more frequently can probably give better insight, but based on how much i spent when i was there, i think this is a relatively fair estimate. of course, these numbers are very safe and have a large buffer, so you probably won't end up spending this much. whenever you visit another country, i think you should always be prepared for the worst. just in case foo.gif.
post #294 of 306
I'll throw my hat in the ring on this (although this is largely focused on Tokyo). This is just excerpted from an e-mail I wrote to some friends:

I am not 100% confident on this, but if memory serves me correctly it is very expensive to take a taxi / towncar from NRT into the city (in the order of $200 and that was when the JPY was relatively weak against USD and it has since gotten stronger, so could be up to like $240 USD equivalent now).

There are other options, so don't be too alarmed. There are definitely coach buses that go to and from on a regular basis. I think they were reasonably priced ($30 ish per person?). There are also trains. Japan's rail system is very efficient, clean, and timely. I think the trains were about the same price as the buses. I imagine buses only have 1 or 2 drop off points. Traffic may be bad depending on what time you are arriving, so trains may have an advantage there for ferrying you into city quickly. The upside of the train system is that you ought to be able to switch around to different lines at a major station once you arrive in the city.

As far as what to do with your time once you arrive, I'd say you should definitely try to get a good meal in. There are amazing restaurants in Tokyo (for frame of ref, Tokyo has ~140k restaurants where NYC has 50k). Obviously there are amazing sushi places, but I'm not a huge sushi fan so pick that on your own if that appeals to you. I would recommend doing sushi, tempura, tonkatsu, ramen, or shabu shabu/sukiyaki. Japanese are really into specializing, so you might go to a place and it's solely a tempura restaurant, or they only have ramen, etc. I would personally recommend a restaurant called Maisen ( http://www.mai-sen.com/ ) which is known for their tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet). It is tucked away in the Omotesando area, but it is well known so if you have it written down you can ask. I would recommend locating it on a map 1st, though. It is a fairly big restaurant for Japan and does brisk business at lunch. Patronized primarily by Japanese, very authentic, and I believe for most dining rooms here you take off shoes and sit on the floor. Reasonably priced (maybe $20-25 ish for a set / prix fixe lunch). Walking distance from Harajuku and Harajuku station, but closer to Omotesando station (a couple blocks behind Omotesando Hills shopping mall).

Another good option for food (although likely more pricey) is shabu shabu or sukiyaki. This is a Japanese style meal where you cook thinly sliced beef in sauce at your table. It's kinda like a cross between Korean BBQ and teppanyaki. We have been to multiple shabu shabu places in Tokyo, but I don't remember what they were called. Just make sure it's not an all-you-can eat one. The prices vary accordingly with the quality of meat ordered (basic is like $30 per person, and Kobe beef is like $60 per person). You get a bunch of other things with your beef (soup, salad, veggies, maybe even sherbet at the end). I feel like we went here, but can't confirm (http://www.asakusaimahan.co.jp/english/index.html). If you search around in a travel guide, I am sure they will recommend at least one sukiyaki/shabu shabu place. We might have been to this one as well (http://roppongi.shabuzen.jp/) as that is in Roppongi.

To-do. I would recommend you take the train to Harajuku station and walk thru Harajuku down Takeshita Street which is an epicenter of teen culture. Lots of funky Japanese kids decked out in absurd apparel, weird stores, crepes, just a sight to behold. You can walk down to Omotesando area from here (which has a lot of fancy shopping such as Dior, RL, Paul Stuart, Louis Vuitton, etc.... although there are like 50 LVs in Tokyo I swear). Cutting thru Omotesando is a street called Cat Street. No idea what the Japanese name is for it, but it is commonly referred to as Cat St. Take this south towards Shibuya. Lots of really cool shops on Cat Street. Feel free to wonder off in the alleys etc as there will be stuff to see. Places off the top of my head to check out are any Ships stores (kinda like a Japanese J Crew), Journal Standard, United Arrows (different stores have different levels of clothing / different focus, prices anywhere from $50 to $5k depending on the particular store). As you head into Shibuya, if you see a store called Tomorrowland, it is very very cool. Not sure if it's men's only, but it's just a great store (think it's on Aoyama Dori which runs more or less parallel w/ Cat Street). As you go into Shibuya, make sure you go to Shibuya Crossing which is where there are like 12 different intersecting crosswalks and tons of people all the time. There are weird things here like arcades, and crappy teen clothing stores. Lots of neon lights, etc. The Tokyo you see on tv and in movies. Shibuya has a major train station and I would hop on a train to Shinjuku (4 ish stops maybe?). Shinjuku has a lot of department stores. I'd check out Isetan if you have time (they have a men's store which is incredible). Go to the basement of a high end dept store and they will have a big food court / grocery store with everything imaginable including disgusting Asian delicacies, $200 melons, wonderful French pastries, great gelato, etc. I would also recommend Beams which is a very cool store with men's, women's, and homewares (http://www.beams.co.jp/en/shop/east/shinjuku/beams-japan.html). There are lots of different things in Shinkjuku, malls, restaurants, hotels, etc.

I think Tokyo is mostly about experiencing the street culture so it is a great city to walk around. I don't think the area near the Imperial Palace is all that exciting and the palace itself isn't much worth seeing. I'd say save that for some other trip.

The area called Roppongi is new and kind of hip, but it seems kind of manufactured. With limited time, I wouldn't spend much time (if any) over there. If you're there at night, however, there is a bar called the Cavern Club which has Beatles cover bands play (all people in the bands are Japanese) and it's really really awesome. Cover charge of maybe $25 but includes a drink I think.

Most of the better temples are outside the city, so allocate your time accordingly if this interests you.

Tsukiji fish market is only open during the early morning and kind of in a boring part of Tokyo, but it's interesting especially if you are jet lagged and up early.

Other things to note. People speak pretty bad English on the whole, so be prepared for that. There are many places (including restaurants and shops) where credit cards are not accepted. Japan is still very much a cash economy. So it is best to have some cash on you in case you run into a situation where you need it. Finally, tipping is not expected and is warranted only when someone truly goes way above and beyond the call of duty.

Hope this helps. Sorry it's a bit lengthy.
post #295 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by deepitm View Post

Japan is still very much a cash economy. So it is best to have some cash on you in case you run into a situation where you need it.

Cash is almost unnecessary in Tokyo. Get a Suica prepaid card at NRT and you can use it at most restaurants, at convenience stores, and even at a lot of vending machines. You swipe it on the turnstiles for both the subways and JR trains throughout the Tokyo metro area, so you don't need to buy tickets. JR has been promoting the cards to tourists by doing a N'Ex+Suica deal which gets you an NRT express rail ticket into town (or round trip if you know the return time) and a Suica card without having to pay the 500 yen deposit. You can recharge them at a JR station (among other places)with a credit card and the recharge machines speak English. I've been to Japan three times in the past year and really didn't need cash except when I went outside the service area for the Suica system.
Quote:
The area called Roppongi is new and kind of hip, but it seems kind of manufactured.

Are you talking about Roppongi Hills, i.e. the Mori complex? Roppongi itself is neither new nor hip, and is no more manufactured than most of Tokyo which itself is one of the most manufactured cities in the world. One of the few places in Japan that you are at risk of waking up in an alley minus your wallet and watch, or getting your ass kicked by a Nigerian bouncer.
post #296 of 306
Good basics from deepitm, some of the things to add to that:

Nobody rides a cab from NRT to Tokyo on meter, that would be like $300. There are some pre-determined special prices for that very trip but not all cabs run it; the Airport Limousine bus is the easiest to navigate and they stop at most large hotels. You come out of the gate and the ticket counter will be right in front of you, usually. If you're not staying in a big neighborhood or large hotel, you will have to figure out which stop on the bus route to get off at and take a shorter taxi ride from. You do this before buying your ticket, so that your bus ticket reads your stop and they pack your bags under the bus accordingly. I ride the bus home and get off at Grand Hyatt/Roppongi Hills, and it's just a 10 minute walk home from there for me, they stop in mostly convenient places.
The trains are mostly convenient but there is a transfer at Ueno or Nippori to get to local lines that might be less convenient if you're first-timing it. I never use the train to get from the airport, but if leaving from NRT I often take a taxi from my house to Ueno and catch the Skyliner there ($35 cab ride plus ~$30 train fare)

Frankly, if you can avoid NRT altogether and fly into Haneda, you'll save significant time and money on the ground - a train ride from Haneda to local lines (Yamanote, etc) is about 5 bucks and quick. From Hamamatsucho you can ride the Yamanote line. Haneda is awesome, I try to use it as much as possible.




The Cavern Club closed, but there is an Abbey Road bar with a good Beatles impersonator band. There's a small fee to sit and you gotta keep drinking (and the sets are 30 on, 30 off) but it's a good time, especially for a mixed crowd/older people. It's a block away from the main Roppongi crossing.

Maisen is worth the stop, but figure out the history beforehand so that you know going in that their 1960's kitsch thing is that it was converted from a bathhouse. Try to sit upstairs rather than downstairs at the counter, as the upstairs is a time capsule, all Eames, even the napkins look like they're straight from the 60's. The regular set menus are a better deal than any of the special Tokyo X pork sets. Most tonkatsu places in Tokyo are good, I also like Anzu katsu (chain, I think) in Mitsukoshi Ginza.

There are plenty of good temples within the city, many have significant histories. I live pretty close to Sengakuji - where the 47 ronin are buried. That's right in the city.

Asakusa Imahan is fun, also a time capsule, and expect to have a woman in a kimono cooking for you, tableside - but it's expensive. Not the cheapest place if you're just looking to eat good quality wagyu, but good and famous. There are Imahan restaurants all over; there is one upstairs at Takashimaya Times Square in Shinjuku as well.

Most styleforum guys would enjoy Beams F and International Gallery Beams; they carry some interesting Italianate brands that would be harder to find outside of Italy. I have a little collection of Petronius x Beams pocket squares going and Eredi Chiarini ties that I get at Beams F. Strasborgo is also a good #menswear type shop. Isetan Men's in Shinjuku is good if you have limited time and want to see a whole gamut of men's clothing and shoes.

When I meet up with styleforum guys for a drink, we have met in Ebisu and hit Blacows for burgers, and then gone back towards the station and drank at Ebisu Yokocho. It's an indoor street food alley with a bunch of different food choices (good for winter drinking, as it stays nice and warm) and it's cheap, full of normal locals. There's seafood, a wine and vegetable bar, a beef tongue specialties place, yakitori I think, etc. Everything is prepared pretty well, considering the settings. Really good time imo, and recommended if you're a tourist. Close to the station so it's easy to find, and when you're done it's easy to get back to the train. Shibuya is pretty close too, so one could walk it with little difficulty.
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fg20081121rs.html

Do carry some cash. You don't need all of your money in cash, but there will be places that will work only in cash. It's also good form in Japan to give exact change, so that you don't burden them with giving you a ton of change back.
post #297 of 306
oh, and if arriving at either airport within normal working hours, you can rent a 3G pocket wifi for a pretty good price (I think $10ish a day; it's cheaper than hotel wifi); if you arrive late you can rent these online so that you have them when you arrive (I think they deliver to hotels) - get a pocket wifi for sure. Wifi is hardly available for free in Tokyo and there aren't many unlocked routers or anything like that, so you have to fend for yourself. Totally worth it if you have a smartphone or an iPad, maps will save your life. Just copy and paste the addresses (minus the 'bldg 1F' kind of specific labels) into maps and you'll find your routes and directions. Japanese addresses in Tokyo will be 'something'-ku (ward), 'something' (neighborhood) and then three numbers, like 1-2-3 - that's all you need for Google maps. For example, Ebisu Yokocho that I posted about, the address you punch into your iPhone is 'Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 1-7-2' - easy.
The only downside with those pocket wifi rentals is that they get flogged all day everyday, so the battery life is never that good, just a couple hrs or so if you're constantly on it - carry the charger with you so that you can recharge it while you eat, etc.
post #298 of 306
double
post #299 of 306
Quote:
Originally Posted by impolyt_one View Post

oh, and if arriving at either airport within normal working hours, you can rent a 3G pocket wifi for a pretty good price (I think $10ish a day; it's cheaper than hotel wifi); if you arrive late you can rent these online so that you have them when you arrive (I think they deliver to hotels) - get a pocket wifi for sure. Wifi is hardly available for free in Tokyo and there aren't many unlocked routers or anything like that, so you have to fend for yourself. Totally worth it if you have a smartphone or an iPad, maps will save your life. Just copy and paste the addresses (minus the 'bldg 1F' kind of specific labels) into maps and you'll find your routes and directions. Japanese addresses in Tokyo will be 'something'-ku (ward), 'something' (neighborhood) and then three numbers, like 1-2-3 - that's all you need for Google maps. For example, Ebisu Yokocho that I posted about, the address you punch into your iPhone is 'Shibuya-ku, Ebisu 1-7-2' - easy.
The only downside with those pocket wifi rentals is that they get flogged all day everyday, so the battery life is never that good, just a couple hrs or so if you're constantly on it - carry the charger with you so that you can recharge it while you eat, etc.

It's amazing from a US perspective how hard it is to find free wifi in Tokyo. I once warwalked around Tokyo Station trying to find wifi to email my coworkers who arrived separately, and couldn't find anything free. Ended up just going over to Ginza and sitting in front of the Apple Store to grab a signal.

I priced out a docomo pocket wifi the last time I went to Tokyo, and discovered that it was cheaper for me to just add international data service to my phone for the duration of the trip. Very surprising given how badly the US carriers tend to rape you on data. AT&T has tiered int'l data plans that you can retroactively step up on the last day of your billing cycle if you overrun your estimate. Having data right on my iPhone was totally worth it since I could use the Maps app to get around and wasn't hostage to a pocket wifi that might run down.
post #300 of 306
Re: transportation from Narita: I bought the JR Express train ticket + Suica pass deal that's available only to foreigners and was really glad I did. Got a bunch of free subway rides in addition to my ride from Narita for a price comparable to the Airport Limo bus ride.
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