I love Travelfish and I'm happy to see it's venturing into more counties in Asia. I lived in Japan for the 9 years and would be happy to answer any questions I can.
Not a problem. It's only fair as I've gotten some really good advice on Travelfish before several of my trips, but I haven't been able to contribute much back in return as I've only ever traveled as a tourist in the main countries you cover.
Yes I do!
I'm going there in a couple weeks. I'm wondering about seeing nature, going hiking, camping ect. (I know it'll be monsooning, but maybe I can still get away with some outdoor fun?) Also I'm interested in wwoof-ing - any recommendations?
Starting 18 June is when I'll be free and looking to occupy myself with volunteering or nature. I'll be in Kyoto at that time.
I wish I could be of more help. I lived in Tokyo and northern Japan for many years. I could point to you some great hiking up there and even an organic farm or two. While I have visited Kyoto a number of times, my time has always been spent in the temples and castles of Kyoto. Try this article for hiking info (I've never done any of the trails myself) http://www.insidekyoto.com/best-kyoto-hikes. I know Lonely Planet has some good hiking books. Have a great trip! Hopefully someone who knows the Kyoto area better will be able to help to.
We've just made a quick decision to go to Japan in 3 weeks - eeekkk!!!! Any suggestions what we can do/ see to get the best out of the country? Have thought about getting the 21 day rail pass to get around. Many thanks in advance Gina
#6 Yorkshire_Kiwi has been a member since 8/2/2014. Posts: 31
Great decision! I'm guessing you are staying for 3 weeks or longer? Give me an idea of what your looking for...traditional culture, nature, temples, castles, museums, etc. Also where are you flying into and out of? Only adults or are there kids in your group too? The train passes can be a great deal if you plan to visit different parts of the country!
We're wanting to stop for 4 weeks, flying in and out of Tokyo. No kids, just myself and partner. We're wanting to see as much as possible, all of the above as well as the quirky! Maybe not too many museums unless they are super interesting! And maybe a theme park? We can stop longer depending on how much it will all cost, but I'm guessing everywhere in Japan is pretty expensive so might have to keep it short.
We have just been told it will be monsoon season, how much rain does Japan get? Is the humidity bad?
Many thanks for your help again
#8 Yorkshire_Kiwi has been a member since 8/2/2014. Posts: 31
Crazy day. I'll get back to you tomorrow with some ideas. To answer your question, July falls in both the rainy season and the typhoon season. Plan on getting rained on at least once a week. As far as typhoons go, you will always have at least 2 days notice that one is coming. They can/do interrupt train services, but everyone knows they are coming so they plan according. Most typhoons in Japan aren't a big deal. If it looks like a strong one is coming, people plan ahead...schools close, beach front windows are boarded up, people move out of mud slid areas, etc...not things that will effect you as a tourist other than finding something to do indoors. Most of Japan is humid all summer long.
I'd suggest a week in Tokyo. A Google search should give you tons to do. For quirky eating try http://www.ninjaakasaka.com/ (not cheap, but worth it if you like sea food) and http://alcatraz-er.net/ (food isn't anything to brag about, but a great time).
North of Tokyo
Nikko - Amazing...most tourists don't make it here, but it has a little of everything...temple, nature, hiking, hot springs, waterfalls, ninja park, etc. Plan on using buses to get around. A good hostel there http://web.travel.rakuten.co.jp/portal/my/info_page_e.Eng?f_no=63145 1-3 days
Nagano - Home to the winter Olympics (not exciting in my opinion, but some people like that) But they have snow monkeys http://www.go-nagano.net/modules/contents07/index.php?id=1&mode=disdetailsisetu&cityid=107&junleid=2&indexid=1&kubuncode=1 ( will be there even in summer). I only suggested it because you are looking "different" things. 1 day
Sapporo - Normal I wouldn't suggest, but you have time. A great place to beat the heat. Wonderful crab and ramen, seafood markets, zoo, etc 1-3 days
South of Tokyo
Kaumkura - Great city! Wonderful place to walk from temple to temple if the weather is good. Home to the outdoor daibutsu. 1-2 days
Hakone - Famous in spring for its flowers. But has an interesting waterpark...you can bath in tea, wine, sake, etc http://www.yunessun.com/english/yunessun.html 1 day
5 lakes area - great place to see Mt. Fuji and Fujiku Highland theme park http://www.fujiq.jp/ 2-3 days
Kyoto - Almost every tourist makes it here. It's been a few years since I've stayed here, but you can't beat the location http://www.hanakiya.jp.net/
Hiroshima - Amazing museum (left me speechless) and peace park. 2-4 days. If you have time a day trip to Miyajima is worth it.
I haven't stayed at all of the location, but I've stayed at enough of them that they have my loyalty. http://www.kshouse.jp/index_e.html
Hope I've helped!
The typhoon season isn't usually until September/October on the mainland. The rainy season usually starts at the beginning of June but with all the weird and wonderful changing weather the world has experienced for the last few years, it seems to be moving to July. However, it is not predictable: some years it pours down almost every day for 4-6 weeks and other years you'll just get a few days of heavy rain and a few light showers.
Be aware that it will be very hot and sticky!
The rail pass is definitely somthing to buy if you are going to spend several weeks travelling.
Yes, most tourists head to Kyoto but a lot are disappointed as the famous temples are scattered all over the very modern and not very attractive city. A lot of the sites have to be accessed by bus as the subway doesn't reach very far: being stuck in the traffic on a 35 degree day and then arriving at a temple swarming with tour groups of school kids and pensioners on outings is not something that most people enjoy!
If you want to experience more rural areas or those less visited by foreign tourists, in the Kansai area I can recommend Lake Biwa. There are several impressive hill top temples such as Enrakuji, there is Hikone castle and some low key beach areas. There is a nice hike around the small Yogo lake to the north of Biwa.
Wakayama prefecture has a very nice hike - the Kumano Kodo - and pleasant (but pricey!) guesthouses. Basing yourself in one of the larger towns in Wakayama and hiring a car woud allow you to visit wateralls, hot spring resorts and temples far away from the crowds of Kyoto.
There are island-hopping oportunities between Kansai area and the large island of Shikoku. Shikoku and Kyushu are not visited by so many foreign tourists. For this reason the locals are friendlier. The active volcano Aso in Kyushu is pretty impressive as is Sakurajima - an almost island created by lava flow. Ferries run from Kansai to Kyushu
Thank you very much Gina and Tennouji, there's lots of options there for us to look at. Looks like it's covered just about everything with some great tips to get away from the tourist crowds. I shall have a look at them all shortly, just arrived back from a 3 day boat trip and feeling hot and tired!
Again, thank you
#13 Yorkshire_Kiwi has been a member since 8/2/2014. Posts: 31