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Travel to Japan - reco

post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
Hello guys,

I tried to search for a similar thread but did not find any.

I plan to go to japan for 3 weeks this year and I was wondering what would be the best time to do so?
Mainly Tokyo for a first trip.
It seems like July and August are extremely hot and humid and don't seem to be the best choice. And the typhoon season is around that time as well.
I would be available after June so that lets me with the last 4 months.
Any particular reco as which month would be the best? November seems like the best choice with weather.

I don't think that any of these months have sales frown.gif
I read that sales happen on July and January.

Clothing isn't my main objective but I won't say no to some Junya or local brands !
Also I'll try to hit some nice food places.

Anyways, if anyone has any reco on anything regarding Japan travels, I'll take them smile.gif (what to do around Tokyo?).
post #2 of 79
Sales are very infrequent and un-generous in Japan, really only the end of June or July and then beginning of January from New Year's Day or so.

The best month after April to be in Japan is maybe the end of September or beginning of October, if you just want some sightseeing and need to pack light'ish with regards to clothes and all that. The winter is pretty mild, though, so if you're from a very cold place it's not even that bad any time of the winter, but what bothers me most as you get past October or so is that the sun starts setting at ridiculously early hours, like 4:30pm. I live there now, but even before that, when just traveling there, it makes you feel pretty sluggish for a good hunk of the day when it's just incredibly gray, between bright daylight and then streetlight-fortified real nighttime.

As far as what to do, you already know, it's all about food in Japan right now. Beyond that, there are the usual amusements, but most the day is sitting somewhere with food or drink.
post #3 of 79
Sun sets at 430p... Welcome to Minnesota wink.gif
post #4 of 79
Good timing for this thread ... I'm going to be in Tokyo for the first time 2/9 - 2/17. Work trip, but I have a Sunday and the following Friday Night / Sat to myself (and possibly Monday as it's a bank holiday, I believe). Anybody around and want to meet up? I'm staying in Chiyoda-ku in the Capitol Hotel. Is this a good area for non-work activities?
post #5 of 79
I have doubts I'll be in Japan again for a long time. Chiyoda is a good base for going out and seeing some sights though. If you enjoy jogging, you're close to the Imperial Palace, and it has a track around the moat that I'm sure ranks amongst the best jogs in the world. Tsukiji is pretty close, so you can get the requisite early-morning sushi at a place like Daiwa Sushi, you're close to Ginza and some of it's great traditional cocktail/whisky bars, and Roppongi is not too far away either, if you really want to see that. The food is good everywhere, i can list places I know closer to my house, I only know a few places towards Ginza though.
post #6 of 79
Thanks Impolyt - if you have one or two absolute favorites in your area, I might have a chance to branch out one night.
post #7 of 79
yeah, there's a bunch of great places to be honest. Everything is decent, some places really great. Some local favorites of mine:

For yakitori I really like Torizenseo at Azabujuban, they also opened a store in the new Tokyo station. Incidentally the one in Juban is in a basement across the street from the superfuture offices. I feel the chicken comes nicely cooked (not so raw as to alarm you, as some places do), I love the wings, the vegetables are always great, and they have a wine list that is brief but nicely chosen. They even half bottles of champagne and serve in Riedel. At the end of the meal they have ochazuke or their version of an udon, a very thin noodle in homemade chicken stock, it's a petite serving but very nice.
wings:

You might find Birdland at Sukiyabashi easier to find though for yakitori, it's near Ginza and is in the same basement arcade next to Sukiyabashi Jiro. You will probably catch a glimpse of Jiro and his son working if you go down there. Birdland has kept a Michelin star and has a longer wine list, and a course menu that isn't too expensive.

For soba, check out Matsugen in Azabujuban. They had it in New York but it has since closed; they have an English menu, the counter dining is conducive to eating alone. There's all manners of grilled vegetables and fish cooked right in front of you that are usually finished in salt, and then you have a bunch of choices of soba. It's a really satisfying meal and will show you why soba should never be compared to something like ramen. I recommend the kamo nanban soba (grilled duck breast and grilled long onions, with a little fleck of yuzu rind in the broth that begins to amplify its effect as you get through the bowl:


If you ever have lunch time free, I really like the lunch sets at the Japanese restaurant in the Conrad hotel at Shiodome, Kazahana. It's modern kaiseki and you can end the meal with tempura or other choices and the prices are not cheap but not expensive, either. They might send out the amuse of a housemade tofu with a dollop of caviar on top or something. It's pretty nice. View is fantastic too.

Likewise, I like the lunch menus at this Chinese restaurant, Chugoku Hanten Fureika in Higashiazabu. It's got 2 Michelins and their yumcha lunch set is pretty nice for $30 or so. For awhile they had 800Y Laurent Perrier by the glass, not sure if they still run that. Otherwise, the Chinese restaurant Ryutenmon in the Westin in Ebisu is also good. Szechwan Restaurant Chin is Chen Kenichi's place in the Cerulean Tower Tokyu hotel, but I don't like it as much as Fureika or Ryutenmon. I go to Chin when I go to Shibuya to see my accountant, otherwise I'm usually at Fureika for the lunch sets.

Bourgogne is a good wine bar in Aoyama, in the side street running next to Aoyama Gakuin and across from UN University- she usually has a flight of champagnes if you like that, and her reds and whites are great, obviously the burgs are good here. She serves all the wines by the glass, in Lobmeyr glass, and the prices are pretty fair, accordant to bottle.

If you are in Ebisu you owe it to yourself to the burger at Blacows. Easily one of the best hamburgers in the world.

For pizza I like sitting at the counter at Pizza Strada in Azabujuban, watching him make his neo-Neapolitan style pizzas and getting some of their side dishes as well. Also really conducive to dining alone. The experience will be impressive.

Maisen at Omotesando for tonkatsu is hyped but worth it. Can also sit at the counter there if you're alone.

For bars, Star Bar is Ginza is a fun experience but you'll want to get in around 6 when they open, otherwise it'll probably be full. I actually prefer drinking at Coffee Bar K as the bartender Ozawa there is an old boozehound in an old boozehound bar and he makes mixed drinks with insane complexity - and, it's Ginza but not horribly expensive. I think the drinks are around $10 or so and as I said, very well made. Just watching him mix is fun.
post #8 of 79
Thread Starter 
lol awesome post wink.gif
thanks!
post #9 of 79
THanks - looks like that area is not a difficult trip from my hotel. Is the 30 min. walk safe? I see there is also a train line.
post #10 of 79
yes, 30 minute walks are safe anywhere in Japan - but if there's a train going to where you want to go, all the better. I looked up the location of your hotel, you might be better veering towards stuff in the Ginza area and Tokyo station, and that Conrad at Shiodome isn't too far. Azabu is kind of a tossup because you can train it easily, cab should be about $20'ish each ride. The stuff towards Roppongi or Shibya/Ebisu/Omotesando will be better served by train or cab.
post #11 of 79
ron,

1. 5 am breakfast at the fish market
2. sumu wrestling, see if there is a tourniment while you are in town. fantastic entertainment
3. tokyo museum
4. get to a bathhouse

that is pretty much what I would recomend. honestly, I didn't have a badly prepared meal, but the city is so big that I wouldn't recomend specific places because there is no reason to travel 90 minutes for my kastu place when there is probably one just as good or better near your hotel. enjoy
post #12 of 79

I like the Wolverines a little better as far as design. Unfortunately, the Red Wings don't come in my size (14's) and due to unreliable measurement, I would have to try any couple of shoes on, before buying like that. I have a couple of Carolina Loggers that I've been quite pleased with, but I've always desired to try Red Wings.

gold coast holiday homes


Edited by andrew65 - 1/26/13 at 8:04am
post #13 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrew65 View Post

I like the Wolverines a little better as far as design. Unfortunately, the Red Wings
 don't come in my size
 
(14's) and due to unreliable measurement, I would have to try any couple of shoes on, before buying like that. I have a couple of Carolina Loggers that I've been quite pleased with, but I've always desired to try Red Wings
.

HUH?
post #14 of 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post

ron,

1. 5 am breakfast at the fish market
2. sumu wrestling, see if there is a tourniment while you are in town. fantastic entertainment
3. tokyo museum
4. get to a bathhouse

that is pretty much what I would recomend. honestly, I didn't have a badly prepared meal, but the city is so big that I wouldn't recomend specific places because there is no reason to travel 90 minutes for my kastu place when there is probably one just as good or better near your hotel. enjoy

I... agree that you can get well prepared food at most places, but it's really worth seeking the good places out in Tokyo, IMO. Between the times I would go to Japan and not really care and just find my way around, versus the times I went more prepared with a list of places I wanted to see and eat at, there's no question that the food really blew me away and made an impression on me when I prepared for it, and there's a sense of quality that comes into its own when you're bookmarking and paying more attention. When I'd just fumble around I hardly remembered anything besides things being nice and interesting at the time, let alone any of the names. Some of each is fun, I guess. I prefer kind of wandering around in the night looking for drinks, but meals are better served if you reserve them in advance, of course. Anything really good in Tokyo will need a reservation. Some have archaic online reservations on their site, some use OpenTable Japan that works just the same, but most good Japanese restaurants are gonna need a phone call from the hotel concierge.

Omotesando and Aoyama-dori need a walk to be appreciated, at least for the people you'll see. Always fashionable and sometimes interesting looking. You can stop going up Aoyama-dori by Aoyama-itchome or Gaienmae. Can get back to Harajuku on foot easily by triangulating from Gaienmae.

Tokyo is large, but the things a tourist enjoys are mostly contained within a little horseshoe from Ueno to Ginza and the Imperial Palace, Tsukiji, Azabu and Roppongi, Ebisu and Daikanyama, to Shibuya up through Harajuku and Shinjuku. So, in that sense, it's not that that large.

Sumo is kind of esoteric. It's better watched on TV than in person, IMO. It happens so fast and in person you'd end up paying a ton of money for a bad vantage point, it's to the degree that Japanese people who go to sumo matches bring some sort of portable TV with them so they can watch the replays and other angles, on the same broadcast people at home watch. Would not waste the time or money to go to Sumo.

Bathhouse, maybe. Not always the most fun thing to do for a westerner straight off the bat. (no pun)

If there's time on a weekend or something, a trip to Kamakura to see the Daibutsu (the big Buddha statue) is worth it. Very breathtaking in person, and it's fun to ride the old Enoden rail through the hills.

If there's anything that is absolutely important, one must either roam or get a data plan from a rental kiosk at the airport before you go into the city, if it's still business hours when you land - or reserve one before you arrive. Having maps and Google translate in your pocket will save your life. Can't imagine being in Japan without those conveniences now, though I did it for years before.

If I can recommend any fine dining places one should try to get into in Japan, if the budget allows and reservations/timing are right (I haven't even been to all of these yet, but feel like they're the eventual local musts)
-Ryugin
-les Creations de Narisawa
-one of the 3-star sushi places that isn't Jiro. Maybe Mizutani, but it may be no easier. Saito? A lot of them don't want to serve non-Japanese people, so that's a challenge.
-Kondo (tempura)
-something kappou, like Azabu Yukimura

Then, if one really wants to take advantage of it, there are bunch of alumni-type fine dining restaurants (many around Azabu or Roppongi area) that hover down around 1 Michelin star where the menu prices are good, the food always has little interesting twists while remaining in pretty good taste, and oft times they'll serve a classic dish note for note from whatever famous foreign restaurant they've trained at. Kind of a twofer sometimes.
post #15 of 79
impolyt_one - I tried Maisen a couple years ago and it was awesome. Have you tried Butagumi and can compare the two?

Do you also happen to have a recommendation for a good steak? We were originally looking to try Dons de la Nature but now plan to go to O'Shima instead since they have a more reasonable lunch menu.

By the way, what is the approximate price range of Torizenseo?
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