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A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 04:29 PM   #1
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A weekend in Japan

It looks like the powers that be at the office are sending me on a boondoggle to Japan for a week later this month. I will have a weekend to explore (not much time I know) but does anyone have tips on how to maximize my time there? A quick list of the best things to see? I will be in/near Tokyo. Never been to Asia before, don't speak Japanese.

Also, I will be flying coach for 18 hours, is there any way to plug my laptop in? Can I buy an adapter that will fit the aircraft somehow? I don't know if international flights have plugs like that...?
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 04:38 PM   #2
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Re: A weekend in Japan

Take some good books!
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 04:50 PM   #3
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Re: A weekend in Japan

Soup, they have a great open air market that is
accessible by the subway. I can't remember
the name right now, but it is a great place to buy
souvenirs.

Cheers,

Charlie
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 05:11 PM   #4
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Re: A weekend in Japan

I went to Japan on a business trip for a few days in January. Between my work and the jet lag I didn't get much free time to explore, so I'm no help there.

Assuming you're going over there from somewhere in the US, the best way to beat the jetlag is to try to stay up all the way over. I actually tried to sleep until I hit the west coast (San Francisco), then tried to stay up from there to Tokyo. On the way back try to sleep as much as you can.

A lot of the Japanese people speak English, at least if you're in the urban areas. The Japanese people are very polite.

On United in coach class at least, there are no plug ins for laptops. What I did was borrow a bunch of batteries from my colleagues. The other thing you can do is configure your laptop for maximum battery use.

The food is different, but I made a commitment to try all of it and ended up liking it a lot except for the raw tofu and the cow stomach.

Have fun!

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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 06:32 PM   #5
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Re: A weekend in Japan

Some days I have jet lag before I even leave the
house

JG
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 06:33 PM   #6
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Re: A weekend in Japan

I just got back from a week in Japan compliments of Uncle Sam. This was my first trip to Japan. I took a couple of days leave afterwards and stayed on in Tokyo. Some general observations:

1. Everyone was extremely polite.

2. I felt very safe there.

3. A lot of people speak english and if you ask they will be glad to help you.

4. Very easy and user friendly airport. We took the Exec bus limo to from the apt into Tokyo. Very efficient.

5. ATMs are easily accessable in Tokyo.

6. Subway system is easy to master but it is huge. Recommend the day pass for about $10 as it covers several public and private lines.

As for things to see and do in Tokyo visit the Asakusa area (temples, pagodas, and lots of souviners). I visited the fish market early in the morning and it was very busy. A unique experience. Also I went to a Japanese Public Bath and it was awesome. I went to Oedo-Onsen Monogatari. A lot of families were there and it was the one recommended in the Frommer's guide book. You can easily spend 4 hrs here with everyting they have including the resturaunts. I highly recommend it as this was my favorite thing. If you need directions let me know.

Near the Ueno train station there is a shopping area about 100 yds long with over 500 shops. It was wall to wall people.

There is the Rappongi area that has a lot of entertainment of all kinds. I will leave it at that. I got off the beaten path and just explored around the city. No real issues.

As for the flights they were long but it wasn't that bad. No plugs in coach for laptops, flights were packed. I have a portable DVD player and took an extra battery. It worked great.

As for food I tried to go native and eat local cusine as much as possible but you can get anything there. I was worried about the choices but no issues.

I have been home for 3 days and I am still messed up on sleeping and the time. Bottom line: I am looking forward to my next trip to Japan.

If you need help just let me know!

JDW
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-07-2005, 08:53 PM   #7
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Re: A weekend in Japan

We were there last year. I didn't think Rappongi was so bad (more Americanized restaurants), but Shinjuku was pretty strange. Then again, we wandered into an area of Kyoto that was pretty strange, too.

Yes, everyone is very polite. Not sure English is that widespread, but everyone knows and says, "Thank You."
The subway sytem is easy enough, but I'd have someone walk you through it. If you take cabs, remember that not all cabbies speak English. A tip: go to the hotel's front desk and grab a few business cards that have the hotel's name in both English and Japanese. In a pinch, you can hand it to the cabbie.
Just about every restaurant has wax reprensentations of its food in the window, along with the price in yen. Some also note that they have a menu in English.
Also, train stations are good places to get food at reasonable prices.
I suggest you check out the food markets in the big department stores ... home of the $75 melons and fruit that looks as if it is on steroids....
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-08-2005, 01:42 PM   #8
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Re: A weekend in Japan

Thanks for the tips. I'm leaving from the East Coast, so a quick flight to Atlanta and then a monster 18 hour flight to Tokyo (coach, ugh!). I'll be arriving on the weekend so should have one day to recover before getting down to business. I think the plane has laptop power adapter plugs, but I need to get a special adapter to use them. Maybe a set of those noise-reducing headphones as well.

Unfortunately, I've noticed that there's some jealousy from the other workers in my office...and I can understand that, as I'm by far the youngest/most junior employee here...yet I'm going on this special assignment. What can you do?
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-08-2005, 01:53 PM   #9
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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Unfortunately, I've noticed that there's some jealousy from the other workers in my office...and I can understand that, as I'm by far the youngest/most junior employee here...yet I'm going on this special assignment. What can you do?
Bring back omiyage for everyone!
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-08-2005, 08:10 PM   #10
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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Maybe a set of those noise-reducing headphones as well.
I have a set of the $300 Bose Quiet 2 headphones and I travel a lot. I tried others and they just didn't compare to the Bose if you can stomach the cost. Good thing is they have 0% financing for 12 months. They reduce the noise by about 75%. I feel so much more rested when I wear them and it is much easier to sleep. Plus the sound quality is incredible when you are watching movies or listening to a cd.

JDW
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-08-2005, 08:26 PM   #11
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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Bring back omiyage for everyone!
Or maybe some saki ...
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-09-2005, 04:46 AM   #12
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Re: A weekend in Japan

I've heard good things about $99 Plane Quiet anti-noise headphones.
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-09-2005, 10:13 AM   #13
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Re: A weekend in Japan

Quote:
It looks like the powers that be at the office are sending me on a boondoggle to Japan for a week later this month. I will have a weekend to explore (not much time I know) but does anyone have tips on how to maximize my time there? A quick list of the best things to see? I will be in/near Tokyo. Never been to Asia before, don't speak Japanese.

Also, I will be flying coach for 18 hours, is there any way to plug my laptop in? Can I buy an adapter that will fit the aircraft somehow? I don't know if international flights have plugs like that...?
Hey, I may be dating myself, but I flew to Japan in 1961, in a prop. It took us 24 hours, many stops. But I was so young, I didn't mind. And, I was single and in Tokyo, the yen was 350 to the dollar. Life was good. I got stationed on Hokkaido for 15 months.
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-10-2005, 05:28 PM   #14
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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I have a set of the $300 Bose Quiet 2 headphones and I travel a lot.
If I had $300 for headphones, I'd already be ER'ed ...instead I settled for the Maxell HP/NC-II for $35 at wal-mart. Based on favorable reviews I found online, they offer ~70% of the Bose performance at 10% of the cost...can't beat that value. I just don't travel enough to justify the Bose. But based on impromptu testing around the apartment, I would recommend the Maxell...even with the NC off, they do a much better job of blocking outside noises than the $25 pair of Koss full-ear headphones I bought at Best Buy earlier today (which are getting returned). They take 2 AAA batteries for 50 hours of use and they fold up for storage.

http://www.walmart.com/catalog/produ...uct_id=3059753

Does it strike anyone else as strange that we are encouraged to "finance" a set of headphones? The house, the car, the education...sure...but a pair of tiny speakers for your ears?
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-10-2005, 07:05 PM   #15
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Re: A weekend in Japan

Just a couple of ideas off the top of my head:

Kamakura is a short trip from Tokyo, and features lots of old temples and a giant Buddha. Very historic -- it was the capital about a thousand years ago. I would highly recommend it. For a more aggressive day-trip, you could try to get to Nikko and see the temples there, with the original "see-/hear-/speak-no-evil" monkeys. But if you only have a weekend free, I probably wouldn't try to go that far out.

Within Tokyo, if you are a gadget geek, it could be fun to wander around the electronics shops and stalls in Akihabara and check out the latest cool stuff. You could also try to take in some Kabuki if you have a spare evening (they usually provide a listening device with English explanations with which to listen along while watching). The Imperial Palace grounds and the previously-mentioned Asakusa are also worth short visits. If you're really into history, you could try to hunt up things like the final resting place of the 47 Ronin, for example; there are lots of historical sites scattered here and there around Tokyo.

Tomcat's Oedo Onsen Monogatari recommendation sounds good, too. I haven't been there myself, but would definitely recommend checking out Japanese baths/hot springs. If you wanted to get ambitious, you could take the shinkansen to Hakone and hit some onsens with views of Mt. Fuji -- but again, likely a bit much to pack into your only free weekend.

For contemporary culture, Shibuya and Harajuku are good if you want to see what the kids are into these days, Ginza is for checking out high-priced fashions, and Roppongi has lots of bars where younger foreigners hang out.

When you say you will be "in/near" Tokyo, does that mean you will not be in Tokyo proper? If not, where would you be?

Bpp
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-11-2005, 03:26 PM   #16
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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When you say you will be "in/near" Tokyo, does that mean you will not be in Tokyo proper? *If not, where would you be? *
I am not entirely sure yet...the office is in Kurihama which seems to be a pretty small town, but I think I'm staying in Yokohama (or is it Yokosuka?) which shouldn't be too far from Tokyo. I didn't book the hotel reservations so I'm in for a surprise...
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-11-2005, 04:58 PM   #17
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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If I had $300 for headphones, I'd already be ER'ed oes it strike anyone else as strange that we are encouraged to "finance" a set of headphones?
I hear what you are saying. It took me a long time to break down and get them. Despite its the same amount of $$$ the 12 months make it more palatable.

If Uncle Sam wasn't sending me TDY and paying me extra for the trips I doubt I would have splurged. But to be honest with you it makes travel much better.

Since I can't retire for at least 5 more years I doubt keeping the $300 bones would add to much to my enjoyment after leaving the AF

JDW
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Re: A weekend in Japan
Old 04-11-2005, 06:05 PM   #18
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Re: A weekend in Japan

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the office is in Kurihama which seems to be a pretty small town, but I think I'm staying in Yokohama (or is it Yokosuka?)
Then you will be very close to Kamakura.

Yokohama is supposed to have a famous Chinatown, though I have never been there myself (and why would one go to Japan to visit a Chinatown anyway?) Also supposed to be an historic area there where foreigners used to live in the 19th century. Don't know much else about it, I'm afraid. Yokosuka has an American naval base, but again, don't need to go to Japan to see one of those.

Bpp
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