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First visit to Japan

UK
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First visit to Japan

Hi,

So I am planning to visit Japan in September. I have always wanted to visit and try out my very basic Japanese! However I have a question.

For my first ever visit to Japan - would Sapporo be an ideal choice? Or would Tokyo make more sense?

I like exploring a city. I want to experience "real" Japanese life; not the typical tourist sights.

I would plan on visiting for two weeks. Would two weeks be too long to spend in Sapporo, is there enough to keep me occupied?

Illinois
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1. Re: First visit to Japan

For two weeks you can see a lot of Japan, including Tokyo & Sapporo. A good site to do some research - http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623.html - the site has some suggested itineraries. IMO - two weeks in any one city is too much.

Consider flying on an open jaw ticket - fly into one city and out of another. This will eliminate doubling back to your original destination.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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2. Re: First visit to Japan

I agree with Dave in that two weeks is too long. Plus, as nice as Hokkaido and Sapporo is, it is a small sampling of Japanese life, being the last region to be settled. Therefore, it's more modernized than you're thinking and tourists will be there as well. There is nothing wrong with the typical sights. There is a reason why they get so much attention.

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3. Re: First visit to Japan

Thanks for the answers. The problem is I didn't really want to move around too much. Airports are horrid! Perhaps two cities would be best though. Say, fly into Tokyo for a week and then continue on to Sapporo for a week? Fly back to London from there.

Honolulu, Hawaii
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4. Re: First visit to Japan

You can experience Japanese life with day trips and short stays from Tokyo and avoid another airport (Tokyo-Sapporo) unless there is a compelling reason to go to Sapporo.

Aoyama Dori and San...
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5. Re: First visit to Japan

"Real" Japanese life is not going to be found in Sapporo or Tokyo, unless you're looking for an urban lifestyle to observe and study. You will need to make day trips to more suburban and rural areas to see non-tourist type things.

Sapporo, Japan
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6. Re: First visit to Japan

HI there

Yes, much as I love Hokkaido I really wouldn't recommend here as the place to come on a First Visit to Japan.

It's a modern society with a landscape that looks more like Canada or Europe! Japanese people come here on holiday because it ISN'T like Japan.

Two weeks in Japan...it depends what you are interested in, but I'd suggest going by train:

Tokyo to Nara/Kyoto and then to Hiroshima. Make some side trips to other places.

For a first time visitor there is so much that is interesting and unusual...so apart from the tourist sites, just things like supermarket displays and shopping centers/game centers/street fashion - all of THAT you can find in places along the route.

Maybe check out some Homestay programs too in cities like Kyoto? Most city tourist offices have systems where you can stay with someone locally for a few nights.

Amanda

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7. Re: First visit to Japan

There isn't a particular reason for visiting Sapporo. It was just one city I thought would be interesting to visit. Also, by "real" I didn't necessarily mean rural Japan - just people watching, experience the culture etc; which I think can be done in a larger city.

So, I am thinking of making Tokyo my hub. Easiest location to fly to. Stay there for a week with a few day trips to Nikko and somewhere else (suggestions? - somewhere off the beaten track would be nice) and then get the train to Kyoto for 2 - 3 days.

Now for the last 4 days. Amanda, you suggest Hiroshima which does sound interesting. Spend the four days there with maybe another day trip (again, any suggestions would be great) and fly back home.

You think Hokkaido should be off of the agenda then? I do like the outdoors but it seems a bit silly to double back though. Plus Hiroshima with all its history should make a interesting visit.

Philadelphia...
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8. Re: First visit to Japan

Good advice from Amanda, but you will have a great time no matter what you do.

I understand what you mean about wanting to glimpse real Japanese life, but don't forego the tourist sights--no better place for people-watching. Unlike many places in Europe where most of the tourists are from other countries, 95-100% are Japanese at most places.

If you're only staying in two cities, spend a bit more time in Kyoto, four or five days (more than I would spend, but I would move around more than you want to). Besides the famous sights, it will be a chance for you to explore another city--ab bit more orderly than Tokyo. For not much more than the regular return fare, you could get a one-week JR Railpass for that part of the trip. That would let you do a day trip to Himeji castle, for example.

If you're going to be spending some time in Tokyo, consider Nihon Minka-en, a nice collection of old farm houses in suburban Kawasaki. I found it lovely. The docents invited me to sit by the fire and have tea. It is likely to be not at all crowded, and you can stroll through the adjacent wooded park before heading back to Tokyo. city.kawasaki.jp/88/88minka/home/minka_e.htm

Don't pass up the gardens in Tokyo, just because its winter. I like the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, and Kiyosumi teien.tokyo-park.or.jp/en/kiyosumi/index.html

I recommend the Edo-Tokyo museum, after you've been in town a couple of days. You will want to learn the remarkable history of this town that has risen again and again from the ashes. http://www.edo-tokyo-museum.or.jp/english/

Sapporo, Japan
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9. Re: First visit to Japan

HI there

Yes...I think Hokkaido would be a waste-of-a-first-Japan-experience....

I hope you are posting now on the forums for other areas...and hunt around the site to find what sounds interesting.

The trains of Japan are an excellent way to get around.

If you did a Tokyo - Nara/Kyoto and Hiroshima 3 stop trip with side trips from those base places - I think that would a true Japan experience!

but save Hokkaido for next time!

amanda

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10. Re: First visit to Japan

I definitely think making Tokyo your hub is a good idea.

Some day trips we did were:

Yokohama - I'd definitely recommend it, we spent a whole day... with loads to explore.

Asakusa - Worth visiting the touristy spots, but then we wandered off into the backstreets and saw loads of little houses and shops, ended up in a park and then back to the shopping area. Really nice.

Also Kamakura, but we didn't see much of that.

As you have 2 weeks I'd do what we did our first time in Japan (and I think a lot of people do) and stay in Tokyo and then go to Kyoto/Hiroshima for a few days. This time we just stayed in Shinjuku and did day trips, which is good if you like fast city life but to be honest I could have done with a bit of time away from the rush! Next time I'll be visiting somewhere in the country... I think for your first time you should spend some time getting used to it.