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First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

Sheffield, United...
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First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

I am hoping to go to Japan next year when I will be 67. As no friends or family wish to visit Japan I will be travelling alone: therefore I am thinking about joining a group or tour. Does anyone have experience of such a holiday?

My interests are history and culture, architecture and countryside. I would particularly like to go when the Cherry blossom is out and also would like to visit temples and traditional Japanese gardens.

I am thinking of a two week visit but since this will probably be my one and only visit, should I allow longer or can I get a real flavour of the country in this time?

My budget is about £4,000 max but I would prefer to spend less, only I have heard that Japan is an expensive country to visit.

One worry which probably sounds trivial, is that although I would like to attend a Tea Ceremony and stay in a Ryokan I have dodgy knees which makes sitting and kneeling on the floor very difficult: any suggestions for an old crock? Many thanks:)

Vermont
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1. Re: First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

From one old crock to another:

We (husband of 45 years and myself) just returned from our 10th trip to Japan.

Two weeks? I would say no, but I am mindful of the fact that on our first trip we spent 4 days after a month and a half in China. Since then we've upped the ante to 6 weeks at a time.

I think you can do it alone if you go via Japan Rail, but you might prefer a group tour for the company (we ourselves have never done a group tour anywhere so can't speak to that)

You should love the preparing for the trip. There's lots of info here on TA and plenty to found on the Japan National Tourism site http://www.jnto.go.jp and at japan-guide.com .

Knees - I took a tumble in Yoshino whilst looking at sakura and then proceeded to ride a bicycle a few days later. Bad knee trauma but I kept going (had to do 6 weeks of Physical Therapy when we returned home). Kneeling? not to worry, you don't have to.

Enjoy!!!

Vermont
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2. Re: First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

susanna: "One worry which probably sounds trivial, is that although I would like to attend a Tea Ceremony and stay in a Ryokan I have dodgy knees which makes sitting and kneeling on the floor very difficult"

Me again, I neglected to mention this - if you do stay in a ryokan or minshuku you will most likely be sleeping on a futon and your room will have a very low table in it with chairs without legs - can you manage to get up and down from the floor?

Whilst we were staying at a Tsumago minshuku, one of the other guests at dinner had just had knee surgery. The innkeepers provided him with a stack of small/short chairs so that ultimately he sat at normal height but the table was still low. On the other hand, my husband has trained himself to sit seiza http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiza - even though it is more a position for women than men - but I am unable to due to dodgy knee.

Sheffield, United...
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3. Re: First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

10th trip? Gosh, sounds a place that gets under one's skin!! I know two weeks sounds a tiny amount of time but for many years I have not been able to travel so there are so many places I want to go and so little time, and money:)

I really appreciate your comments: I did not think about a futon or very low table which is silly of me. Although I can get up from the floor it is hardly elegant and perhaps I need to accept that there are some things that this ol' body would now find a step too far. In my early 20s I dislocated a leg very badly which has now come back to haunt me and bending the knee more than 45 degrees makes it dislocate again so seiza is out of the question unfortunately. Which is a shame as a physio recently said "Your body was clearly very supple once upon a time!!!" I think it may have been meant as a back-handed compliment.

I will head on over to the Japan National Tourism site, thanks very much.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

only I have heard that Japan is an expensive country to visit.

we visited Tokyo and Kyoto in Mach 2014...our first trip there.

prior to our trip I was under the impression that DIY travel was difficult and expensive....happy to report that this is not true!

of course, going at cherry blossom time will be expensive so factor this in to your trip. we went a few weeks before cherry blossom time (and who can predict when this will be?) and, whilst we only saw early cherry blossom trees, our hotel rates were reasonable.

food was cheaper than we expected as we ate at the noodle shops/counters.

English sign-age was found in most places that we tourists would visit. we found that when we needed help, even though the people we approached could not speak English, they were very helpful and friendly.

Kyoto was great for 5 nights...so many temples/shrines/gardens to visit.

Nara and Arashiyama were both worthy of a day trip (our mistake was that we had only allocated a half day in each place there from Kyoto).

Tokyo was great too...so many areas to check out!!

have fun in the planning of your trip.

5. Re: First time traveller to Japan: hints and ideas please?

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