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f13.net  |  f13.net General Forums  |  General Discussion  |  Topic: Advice on travelling to Japan 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
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Author Topic: Advice on travelling to Japan  (Read 1782 times)
Terracotta Army
Posts: 833

on: June 15, 2017, 09:33:16 PM

So, I'm going to be taking a vacation to Japan next year and was hoping for some advice and help on a number of things. I'm taking my mother, as Japan is somewhere she's always wanted to go but could never afford to, and with my father passing earlier this year I'm trying to help her knock things off her bucket list, so a lot of the advice and help I need is actually centred on things relating to her.

1) Biggest issue is food; my mother has a number of allergies, most notably; peanuts, nuts and sesame seeds. I've read that peanuts and nuts (and associated oils) aren't that commonly used in Japanese food, but sesame oil is. Are there any Japanese foods to be especially wary of, or that are especially safe? Tips on dealing with these allergies while there would also help.

2) What are the 'you must see!' recommendations you guys have? Mainly looking for anything involving wild-life, scenery, shrines/historical sites, and 'cool/weird/interesting'. Anything overly physical is a no-go. Anything involving getting into the water is a no-go. The trip is likely to be at least 3 weeks long and we're willing to go across most of the country to see things.

Right now the rough plan is to visit; Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto and Wakayama (my mother wants to visit the zoo there) as just a starting point.

3) We're torn on exactly when we should go (options being March, April, first half of May, October, November and December). Is there anything in terms of sights, wild life or shopping that is overly seasonal, beyond the cherry blossoms?

4) Speaking of shopping, any good recommendations for; fabrics, jewellery (gold, silver, jade -- nothing copper or an iron alloy), women's clothing, general souvenir type stuff that we should keep an eye out for, or places we should definitely check out?

5) General tips, really. Neither of us have been to Japan previously (or any Asian country, to be honest).

Anything would be appreciated. Going to put a decent amount of research into this, if only to try and get my mother more into travelling (she's a fair bit nervous on leaving the country -- mainly due to depression and lack of confidence since my dad passed), so even references to good sites to look at for information would help (although I'll be doing a lot of looking elsewhere on my own).
Terracotta Army
Posts: 9667

eat a bag of dicks

Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 10:13:16 PM

1) Avoid any attempts at poké. Yes, it's mostly a hawaiian thing, but it's gained some traction in Japan. It's basically sushi grade fish tossed in sesame oil and scallions.

2) Depending on when you go, there are different things to see. I'd avoid Golden Week, (Next year April 26-May 6) as it's full of Japanese tourists from all other areas of the country visiting places they don't normally go. Tokyo at Christmas is probably my third favorite place to be, after New York and my wife's family's place. (London being a really close fourth.) I'd generally advise going in mid fall or late spring. lots of festivals in the former, obon and sakura in the latter.

3) Absolutely hit Fuji and Kyoto, also Osaka. Hit at least one sake brewery. (The easiest probably being Sawanoi, just outside of Tokyo.)

That's Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto. Hit the Amida Buddha, Kōtoku-in in Kamakura. Possibly the Hiroshima Peace Memorial.

4) Plenty of places to shop, not sure how to help there.

Throw me some specific questions once you've done more research and I'll do my best to answer them.

Tuned in, immediately get to watch cringey Ubisoft talking head offering her deepest sympathies to the families impacted by the Orlando shooting while flanked by a man in a giraffe suit and some sort of "horrifically garish neon costumes through the ages" exhibit or something.  We need to stop this fucking planet right now and sort some shit out. -Kail
Posts: 21265

Reply #2 on: June 15, 2017, 10:16:07 PM

How severe are the food allergies?
Terracotta Army
Posts: 833

Reply #3 on: June 15, 2017, 10:41:07 PM

How severe are the food allergies?

Fairly severe. She'll have epi-pen's on-hand bad. She isn't certain on sesame seeds as she hasn't had any in ~15 years, but it was as bad as her nut allergies at that point and she isn't eager to find out.
Posts: 58186

Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 07:30:54 AM

Dodging sesame oil is gonna be a fuckin trick.

Edit: If it's been 15 years, why don't you go have her tested for a sesame allergy? You'll rest a lot easier in Asia if she isn't actually allergic to it.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 3260

Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 10:46:24 AM

You've probably already thought of this, but pick up a tourist phrase book and try to learn a few phrases so you can at least say "I'm a foreigner, please have pity" or something similar.  Or try to recognize some kanji for ease of figuring out where you are.

Jealous you'll planning that long a trip there.  I'd love to visit but that's probably never going to happen.

Terracotta Army
Posts: 18942


Reply #6 on: June 16, 2017, 12:26:49 PM

Next month my nephew is moving to Japan for three years.  :(  I'll miss him... not that I see him all that often.  He's been there before and speaks the language and all that so there won't be much culture shock or anything.  It'll be fun for him since he and his wife are into all things Japanese.  I would go nuts since I can't speak the language.  Years ago when I went to France it drove me crazy when I realised just how much French I had forgot.  He won't have that problem.  He never forgets anything, the little show off. 

Hope you have a great time.  If you go bike or scooter riding, bring a helmet.  You don't want to rent something that strangers put their nasty heads into... srsly.  A friend did that and his head smelled like fish for a week.  That was in ancient times, though.  People probably don't wash their hair with fish anymore.

My Sig Image: hath rid itself of this mortal coil.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 9962


Reply #7 on: June 16, 2017, 08:36:16 PM

 Damn, so much I could say. I can't help you with food because I really don't know what goes into it all. It's so amazing but I think sesame seed is a big part. So you'll have to figure all of that out on your own.

 Tokyo is a very neat place if you have not been to Japan before. So if you're going to be there longer I recommend you travel a lot. Kyoto and Osaka are great.  It's a little hard because there are many amazing temples in Japan that you have to hike through the mountains and forests to get  to.   There are a lot of amazing castles in Japan, but many are traditional and you need to climb up ladder's to get to the top. So Osaka Castle is probably best, because it's a reconstruction with a elevator to the top.   And as my father saw when he first went there, those castle grounds are larger than anything built in Europe. It blew his mind.

 In Kyoto there is a river that runs into the city. You can take a train that runs along the canyon beside the river. When you get to the other end, you can take a bus over to where  there are rafts  you can get on. You then ride the entire way back to Kyoto on white water rapids, in a traditional Japanese boat, and they think this is totally normal. I took my elder father to this, and he loved  more than anything.  If this sounds cool to you I can give you more details.

 You may consider staying in a traditional Japanese Inn in  The countryside. They are really neat and a great place to see the countryside. Based on what you were saying, you should consider the north, such as Sapporo,  or the south such as Kyushu.   Both areas are amazing, have a great scenery, and have very friendly people.

 If you have questions about specific areas, I am more than happy to talk about it. I love that country. As for times to go, summer is always nice, cherry blossom season is amazing, but hard to time right. Autumn is actually really neat, as all the Japanese maples turn colors. This is what is in all of the temples. So going to the traditional temple grounds in autumn is often one of the most amazing times of the year, and has less tourists than cherry blossom season.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2017, 12:24:22 PM by Teleku »

"My great-grandfather did not travel across four thousand miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this nation overrun by immigrants.  He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland. That's the rumor."
-Stephen Colbert
Terracotta Army
Posts: 27447

Badge Whore

Reply #8 on: June 19, 2017, 02:29:57 PM

Saw a completely unreleated video about polishing knives today that lead me to this channel: Rachel & Jun

She's an American living in Japan and vlogs about the cultural differences and things you might not otherwise think of for travelers or folks looking to live in Japan. I immediately thought of this thread. The channel looks pretty well organized with topics Like Culture, Exploring, & Food.


The past cannot be changed. The future is yet within your power.
Terracotta Army
Posts: 88

Reply #9 on: June 26, 2017, 12:10:41 PM

That video was nice to see, but in general animals are not treated well in Asia and I've felt sick seeing a Zoo in Japan, with a lot of Animals driven mad in tiny, cruel enclosures.

Sesame is quite common as an optional topping and the oil is used a lot in Chinese fried foods. Definitely check for an allergy update before you go.
I would say that you MUST have some Wagyu Steak. It won't be cheap, but it will be the best you will ever eat in your life. The food in general will be great and more affordable than many Western Cities.

Summer is like Hell. Too hot and humid. If you are from Georgia in the US, then you will be acclimatized, if not I'd recommend late Spring, or after September.

I really used to love the Alps in Japan. It's very beautiful and peaceful. You have great skiing in Winter and Mountain Biking all other times, but if you are not so active, maybe walking around Kyoto temples in Autumn with the beautiful leaves would be glorious, or the Cherry Blossom viewing in Spring.

Shopping is very easy in Japan, but not so cheap. The packaging and quality of goods made in Japan is very high. It's nice to have a choice as  most of the world is flooded with Chinese made crap, these days.

I would recommend asking about the special rail passes that are only available outside of the country. They let you travel around the whole country, and will save you a fortune and open up a lot more options. Ask at a Japan Center, or Consulate / Embassy if there is no Japan Center. They will send you a ton of useful info for your holiday.

Personally, I'd not recommend Tokyo. It has it's attractions, but I prefer the countryside and big Cities are pretty much the same at heart. If you have to see one, Osaka is much more friendly.

Try to see a festival, stay in a traditional Japanese hotel, visit a hot spring, see some temples / shrines, eat some food that isn't Sushi, like Yaki-tori, Yaki-niku, or Tempura (most of the food is great).
Don't worry about learning the language, but some polite phrases will be appreciated.
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