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Old 08-25-2016, 01:21 PM   #21
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Spent most of my two weeks in Japan drunk in a bar in Tsuchiura, which may or may not prove helpful, though I will say I met a bunch of Japanese Jaycees, who appear to be like American Jaycees, in that they drink a lot...

The shogun shrine at Nikko was nice.
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:00 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
That brought back a great memory.

Some decades ago, I was in Taiwan for a week, staying in downtown Taipei. Every evening, I would just start walking in a random direction until I saw no more English anywhere. I spoke not a word of Chinese, and I just wanted to have a bit of an adventure.

I would walk into some fairly nice looking restaurant where nobody spoke English, and simply indicate that I was hungry. They would bring me a meal (which was always wonderful) and I thoroughly enjoyed it every night.

I was also impressed by the fact that they never charged me quite as much as I thought would be reasonable, so I don't believe anyone ever took advantage of my ignorance.

As I always say, people everywhere are inclined to treat you at least as well as you treat them. I still have warm feelings for Taiwan, and would like to go back someday.
I have similar feelings for Tokyo. We had a short visit there a few years ago and my son and I went out for a late dinner after a long day of traveling (DW/DD didn't feel like going out). We found a Japanese restaurant where they spoke no English. We ordered sashimi, followed by sushi. They even served my 14 year old son beer, which we had to politely decline (much to the disappointment of DS). The food was excellent, the prices very reasonable, and the atmosphere couldn't be beat.

While we were in Tokyo, we took a day trip to see the Buddha statue in Kamakura, on the outskirts of Hase. When we were taking the train there, I talked with a local and he gave us the tip of getting off the train at Fujisawa and then taking the local train to Hase. It was a bit more scenic, since the train from Fujisawa to Hase goes along the coast.

After we visited the Buddha statue, we ended up walking back to Kamakura via hiking trails surrounding Hase/Kamakura. We didn't have a clear sense of direction and one of the trails we took eventually lead us out to a shrine, a pleasant surprise. Looking at google maps, it was the Sasukeinari Shrine: https://goo.gl/maps/U9rYzCS4n4L2

Afterwards we stopped for lunch in Kamakura. Our luck ran out there, since the meal wasn't the best, but the layout of the restaurant made up for the lesser quality of food. The restaurant had private booths with a call button when you wanted service - we had a bit of fun with that .

Overall, we had a wonderful time visiting Tokyo. Someday we'll have to return for longer and explore more of Japan.

Have a good trip!
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Old 08-25-2016, 10:14 PM   #23
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The wife and I spent 8 days in Japan last November, on a tour. She and I had been to Japan several times, on business. This was our first time as tourist, and our first tour.
We spent a few days in Tokyo, took bullet train to Osaka, and spent time seeing Kyoto, Kobe, and flew back to West Coast from Kansai Airport.
I found Japan to be impeccably clean, well run and safe. It was also affordable. A nice meal for 2 similar to US cost, maybe a bit more.
We plan to return next year, maybe take in Hokkaido.
BTW our tour company (recommended): Super Value Tours in El Monte, CA
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Old 08-26-2016, 06:25 PM   #24
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FWIW, if you'd like to see my many photos from our Japan trip, see https://flic.kr/s/aHsjfc7sAM
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Old 08-27-2016, 12:37 PM   #25
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For me, the historical stuff and Japanese food are the big draws.
For DW, factory tours and nature are fascinating.

We have no idea what the best way to proceed might be. Canned tours are something we both dislike. Our local travel agencies are pretty poor based on past experience.

Any ideas would be very welcome. Thanks in advance.
I'd recommend Rick Steves' guides, both in paperback (which you tear apart for the sections you wish to carry around) and his videos (smartphone). We've been very happy with them in Spain and Italy.

Military servicemembers & retirees can get Space A flights from the west coast (Travis) and Hawaii (Hickam) to Yokota Air Base, and rarely to other Japan locations.

Military servicemembers can also stay at the New Sanno in Tokyo, but I'm not sure about retirees. The armed forces recreation centers have recently been tightening their policies.
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Old 08-27-2016, 11:13 PM   #26
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I'd recommend Rick Steves' guides, both in paperback (which you tear apart for the sections you wish to carry around) and his videos (smartphone). We've been very happy with them in Spain and Italy.

<snip>
?!? As much as I enjoy his guides for Europe, I didn't think Rick Steves did Asia.
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Old 08-28-2016, 03:43 AM   #27
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?!? As much as I enjoy his guides for Europe, I didn't think Rick Steves did Asia.
Hunh. My apologies. I thought I'd seen a video tour of Japan, and I was wrong.

I checked Rick Steves' site for "Japan" keywords and didn't click through. Now I see that those are other people looking for Japan info.

Upon further research, I'm embarrassed to report that I've mistaken Rick Steves for the Globe Trekker guy Ian Wright.

Moderators: I've lost the edit button for post #25. Please feel free to strike out my first two sentences.
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