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  1. #1
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    Have any of you been to Japan?

    Hi.

    I am taking a possible trip to Japan in 2012.

    Notes -
    - I don't know how long I'll be there (yet).
    - I am planning on going in the summer
    - I am planning on going with my boyfriend
    - I am planning on visiting Tokyo and Kyoto (so far)

    Things I want to do (so far, still working on this) -
    - Ghibli Museum
    - Harajuku district
    - Fushimi Inari Taisha shrine

    Anyway, what I'm asking for is:
    - Where are some good places to eat?
    - What attractions do you recommend? I am open to anything. I am a fashion student (but not fashion design), I like anime, and I love Geisha and historic Japan. My boyfriend is into history.
    - What other cities do you recommend to go to? I am not staying solely in Tokyo.

    And any other info would be helpful.

    Thanks to everyone that helps!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanbfan View Post
    - I am planning on going in the summer


    Well, I see you're from Texas so you're won't find the heat and humidity that much worse. Still.
    To think that fun is simple fun, while earnest things are earnest, proves all too plain that neither one thou truthfully discernest.

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    I lived in Japan for several years back in the 80s - can't comment on touristy because I didn't do much (was always working).

    But the food was almost always wonderful. There are noodle shops at almost every corner and the ramen (soup with a fish-based stock) is always fabulous. And pubs are great for food, the Japanese always eat when they drink and pubs serve tapa-like dishes. I remember eating various delicious pickled foods in pubs, not knowing what it was that had been pickled - but it was always good.

    And of course there is sushi and tempura. And it is worth shelling out the $$ for a meal of Kobe beef, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Japanese restaurants always have pictures or miniature replicas of the dishes they serve in the window, so you will always know what you are ordering (the design of the replicas must be a minor industry in Japan.)

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    I went in the summer two years ago (end of June). Got a GREAT deal on flights but, um, you're looking at about 100 degrees with high humidity. There is a rainy season around that time, too, so beware; you could be washed out.

    There are two directions you can go. City and country. City should definitely be Tokyo and Kyoto...two very contrasting cities. Osaka I recommend as more of a 'west coast' vibe and has lots of energy. I'd also consider Hiroshima which I did for a day trip and is a nice little diversion. The museums are awesome.

    Big note. As a tourist you have to apply for your rail passes BEFORE you get to Japan. I forget the process, but the Japan Rail sites will tell you. You get the pass validated in Japan but you get it before you enter the country. Tourist Japan rail passes are a much better deal.

    You could also head north and go into mountains. Northern Island is very cool too...too lazy to check name. There you get mountains, great for hiking and Japan has one of the biggest bathing cultures in the world. Many outdoor spas and natural springs.

    If you want a hybrid, try Kyoto, Tokyo, Nagano area.

    In Kyoto my friend set us up at something like a Monastery. Very traditional accomodations in a spiritual enviro. Came with some meals and semi private meditation sessions. Loved it.

    I highly recommend you also learn a handful of key words in the language. I know this isn't always the American way but you can expect to find very little English spoken there. Signs are in Japanese first and Korean second. English comes way down the line. Restaurants were particularly difficult as few menus had English translations. YOu need to find something with pictures on the menus. Learn key words like "thank you" "help" "bathroom" "chicken" "tea" beer", etc...
    Bring an Eng/Japanese dictionary.

    This is also a very polite culture. Be careful not to speak too loudly on subways, etc. They don't like loud. People even don't talk on their cell on trains, etc. Seen as rude. I was shocked as I stood in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in the world in Tokyo. Six streets converge. Cars adn people everywhere...and I found it so quiet....
    No one shouts, cars don't honk, no screeching tires...wicked cool.

    Oh...again on the heat. I bought a few moisture wicking polyester work out tops. I also brought a few small gym towels. Soaked them in cool water at regular intervals and tucked them into my shirt collar. I was so good to go. All the biz types in suits looked at me with envy ...or they thought I was a big nerd...hard to tell which....

    Hope that helps. Good luck!

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    I can't go any other time unfortunately. In 2012 I will be entering my last year of school in October, and since I go to a quarter school, breaks are about nonexistent. I also get out late (middle of June), so I'm kinda screwed in the time department. My boyfriend goes to a semester school (so he goes about August - May), so it only works if we go in July. I am from Texas and I have been faced with unbearable heat on numerous occasions. I think I might be fine.

    I was definitely planning on learning a little Japanese, I have trouble speaking it (I always want to roll my R's) but I know it'll be beneficial to me. My boyfriend is going to learn it also. I, personally, find it rather insulting when some Americans go to another country and expect everyone to know and speak english fluently.

    I bought a travel book on Tokyo and they mentioned people don't like cell phone chatter on subways - since out of country calling on a cellphone is very expensive, I think I'll be good .

    And I love, love, love ramen (Japan town in LA has good ramen!) so I'm looking forward to having authentic ramen!

    And JapanFan - I read in my travel book for Tokyo there is a street that has kitchenware and has the food replicas. So it must be an industry

    Thank you guys so much for helping, it really means alot.

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    Will piggyback off this thread...

    I'm going to Worlds in March and planning 11 days of traveling the length of the country before to heading to Toyko for the final 5 days and the competition.

    ryanbfan - I just took a Japanese course in a continuing ed program at the local community college and it was so hard. I always try to learn a little of the language before I go to a country, but I've never tried to study a non-Indo European language before. I'd walk out of each class thinking, "Damn, this makes German feels like a native language..." I learned enough to at least be polite, know a bit about the culture and say a few key phrases. Warning though, it's difficult!

    My travel companion has never been to Hokkaido (that's the name of the far northern island, Rock2 ) or Nagasaki so we're flying to Sapporo and our goal is to use our 14-day rail passes to get all the way south to Nagasaki with the only "must see" stop on our list Hiroshima & Itsukushima Island (Miyajima).

    We are just starting to plan and so far I've only bought this book - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1873756976 to get a feel for the train schedules and main lines.

    I'd love any advice on:

    - What do to/see on Hokkaido in 3 days - Sapporo + ?. We love to hike and it sounds fabulous up there but wonder if it will it still be too icy/snowy in mid-March to safely hit the trails in one of the national parks?

    - Recommendation of cities/places convenient to the main shinkansen lines running north-south the length of Honshu. We can stop anywhere for a day/night and are open to anything off the beaten path...

    - Wondering of Kyoto is worth it? I've never been but my friend has a few times and isn't eager to stop there again and would rather use a day to see something new to him. Any cities less well known that are just as historically interesting and well preserved?

    - Is Nara worth seeing?

    - Recommendations for things to see/do in Tokyo

    - Any advice on Japanese culture, food... I have never ever been able to figure out chopsticks, no matter how many lessons I'm given or how much I practice. Should I pack some plastic utensils? Will that be considered rude?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BreakfastClub View Post
    - Recommendations for things to see/do in Tokyo

    - Any advice on Japanese culture, food... I have never ever been able to figure out chopsticks, no matter how many lessons I'm given or how much I practice. Should I pack some plastic utensils? Will that be considered rude?!
    I echo the last two requests!

    And I have heard about Japanese being so, so hard to learn. I used to help a Korean kid with bettering his english and he said he failed Japanese language at his school in Korea.

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    I was in Japan in 1998....I visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Kobe and some small towns in the "very countryside" where my friend was from in Shizuoka prefecture.....

    Kyoto is awesome, you must see the gold & silver temples....also Gion (sp?) the geisha district is interesting.

    There's a temple on one of the coins, maybe the 10 yen, called Byodoin, it's in a nearby town called Uji.

    Osaka Castle is really cool too.

    Nara is really cool too, but I wouldn't spend more than 1 day there....the Todaiji (sp?) Temple with the big bronze buddha is well worth seeing, as is the surrounding park with the friendly deer you can feed.

    Kobe is pretty cool too, seemed a little more western to me than the rest of the country. There's the Shin-Kobe Ropeway that'll take you to a hill above the city for an amazing view & an interesting herb park.

    The Japanese people seem to be very welcoming to tourists, and more than willing to help and/or practice their English with you. It's a very polite society, but they don't seem to expect foreigners to know all the rules/protocol etc....like if you look Japanese you're expected to act Japanese, if you're a foreigner, you'll be cut some slack....none the less they will appreciate any attempt you make at the language, bowing, that kind of thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BreakfastClub View Post
    Will piggyback off this thread...

    I'm going to Worlds in March and planning 11 days of traveling the length of the country before to heading to Toyko for the final 5 days and the competition.

    ryanbfan - I just took a Japanese course in a continuing ed program at the local community college and it was so hard. I always try to learn a little of the language before I go to a country, but I've never tried to study a non-Indo European language before. I'd walk out of each class thinking, "Damn, this makes German feels like a native language..." I learned enough to at least be polite, know a bit about the culture and say a few key phrases. Warning though, it's difficult!

    My travel companion has never been to Hokkaido (that's the name of the far northern island, Rock2 ) or Nagasaki so we're flying to Sapporo and our goal is to use our 14-day rail passes to get all the way south to Nagasaki with the only "must see" stop on our list Hiroshima & Itsukushima Island (Miyajima).

    We are just starting to plan and so far I've only bought this book - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1873756976 to get a feel for the train schedules and main lines.

    I'd love any advice on:

    - What do to/see on Hokkaido in 3 days - Sapporo + ?. We love to hike and it sounds fabulous up there but wonder if it will it still be too icy/snowy in mid-March to safely hit the trails in one of the national parks?

    - Recommendation of cities/places convenient to the main shinkansen lines running north-south the length of Honshu. We can stop anywhere for a day/night and are open to anything off the beaten path...

    - Wondering of Kyoto is worth it? I've never been but my friend has a few times and isn't eager to stop there again and would rather use a day to see something new to him. Any cities less well known that are just as historically interesting and well preserved?

    - Is Nara worth seeing?

    - Recommendations for things to see/do in Tokyo

    - Any advice on Japanese culture, food... I have never ever been able to figure out chopsticks, no matter how many lessons I'm given or how much I practice. Should I pack some plastic utensils? Will that be considered rude?!
    I've been to Kyoto and Nara when I was like 12yo. I am not into temples and shrines so I was bored to death. I guess I'd rather die if I have to go see the temples and shrines again. I am not into museum either.. I only enjoyed this Deer park in Nara. That's about it.
    When my friend came to visit me in Tokyo from the US, I took him to the Tokyo Disneyland and Sea Paradise. I also took him to a Pachinko Palor for gambling. At night I took him out to Roppongi bars and clubs. He seemed to really enjoyed Japan.

    By the way, I never been to Hokkaido..

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    Keep up the suggestions - have been to Tokyo once before, but for only 72 hours and most of it with friends who led the way (which was great for once, because I am usually the taskmaster).

    Will be there for Worlds. Just finished all my air and hotel plans. 2 days in Tokyo and 2 days in Kyoto before 5 more days in Tokyo for Worlds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanbfan View Post
    I echo the last two requests!

    And I have heard about Japanese being so, so hard to learn. I used to help a Korean kid with bettering his english and he said he failed Japanese language at his school in Korea.
    My least favorite subject was Japanese. For some reasons, I was always failing it.. not sure why.. it's my first language.. Oh well

    Here is my favorite youtube video of Japan.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF_BnlirgxE

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    If you like anime or other otaku culture, you have to visit Akihabara preferably on the weekend! I was very amused the last time I was there for the people watching and some memorabilia shopping!

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanbfan View Post
    I can't go any other time unfortunately. In 2012 I will be entering my last year of school in October, and since I go to a quarter school, breaks are about nonexistent. I also get out late (middle of June), so I'm kinda screwed in the time department. My boyfriend goes to a semester school (so he goes about August - May), so it only works if we go in July. I am from Texas and I have been faced with unbearable heat on numerous occasions. I think I might be fine.
    Well, so long as you are prepared. It will be very humid even at night. Approx 35C during the day and approx 28C at night (sorry I don't know the temps in fahrenheit ).

    Quote Originally Posted by ryanbfan View Post
    I was definitely planning on learning a little Japanese, I have trouble speaking it (I always want to roll my R's) but I know it'll be beneficial to me. My boyfriend is going to learn it also. I, personally, find it rather insulting when some Americans go to another country and expect everyone to know and speak english fluently.
    Nobody will expect you to speak any Japanese and any effort will be praised. Excessively in most cases.

    The key to pronouncing Japanese is keeping the accent flat and definitely try not to roll your R's as Japanese people only do that when they are angry.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakfastclub

    I'd love any advice on:

    - What do to/see on Hokkaido in 3 days - Sapporo + ?. We love to hike and it sounds fabulous up there but wonder if it will it still be too icy/snowy in mid-March to safely hit the trails in one of the national parks?
    In short, yes. Mr. allezfred is from Hokkaido and the thaw doesn't really begin in earnest until April. Summer is much better for hiking as it is not as hot or humid as the rest of Japan.

    I wouldn't say that there are that many must-see sights in Sapporo, but it's a really fun town. Susukino is the big entertainment district and the area around Sapporo station has miles and miles of underground shopping.

    The Clock Tower is probably the best known landmark, but it's frequently described as one of the most disappointing tourist attractions in Japan.

    The city is laid out on a North American grid system so it's very easy to get and find places. Odori Koen Park divides the city in two and might be nice for a walk if it's not too cold. You'll also find Sapporo Tower here too.

    I believe there's a botanical garden in the grounds of Hokkaido University and a small Ainu (indigenous people of Hokkaido) museum, but I've not been.

    I've been to the Sapporo Beer Garden a few times and would recommend it highly. Most people go there for the lamb BBQ know as Jingis Kan (Genghis Khan) which is an all you can eat deal and involves a hot plate in the shape of the island of Hokkaido and a Mongolian warrior's helmet. It's great fun and quintessentially Hokkaido.

    The last time I was there I went to the most amazing hot spring at the Sky Resort Spa at the JR Tower Hotel Nikko at Sapporo Station. When they were building the hotel a few years back they struck the hot spring source and now you can take a bath on the 22nd floor looking out over the city of Sapporo. Amazing.

    Hitsujigaoka (literally the hill of the sheep) is a nice observation point out over the whole city, but it might not be as appealing in winter as in summer. There is a snow festival museum (the festival takes place in February) and a place where you can have Jingis Kan (right next to a field with lots of sheep in it ), but I wouldn't say it's a must see.

    Sapporo is famous for its ramen and there is a ramen village in one of the buildings at Sapporo Station with restaurants serving ramen from all over Hokkaido.

    About 30 minutes by train from Sapporo is Otaru which is right by the sea and famous for its canals, glassmaking, sushi and music boxes. There is also a ski slope overlooking the city.

    About a three hour and a bit journey along the Pacific Coast is the city of Hakodate. It was one of the three ports (along with Yokohama and Kobe) forcibly opened to outside trade by Commodore Perry in 1858 and it is a lovely city with stunning night time views from Mt. Hakodate. The Goryokaku star-shaped fort remains are an interesting sight and the old Western neighbourhoods with the Russian orthodox churches are worth a walk around.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakfastclub
    - Recommendation of cities/places convenient to the main shinkansen lines running north-south the length of Honshu. We can stop anywhere for a day/night and are open to anything off the beaten path...
    Sendai. We are actually thinking of going here while we are in Japan. Hometown of Shizuka Arakawa. Near to Matsushima, one of the three famous views of Japan (the other two being Miyajima/Itsukushima and Amanohashidate). Regional specialty is gyu-tan.

    Nikko. It should be in your guidebook. Access via Utsunomiya (specialty gyoza ).

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakfastclub
    - Wondering of Kyoto is worth it? I've never been but my friend has a few times and isn't eager to stop there again and would rather use a day to see something new to him.
    Since you have never been, yes. Kyoto can be disappointing when you have the image of a city where all the houses are wooden and geisha teeter around every corner in geta. It's a big moden city of 1.5 million people with all that entails, but historically it is very important.

    Key sights that I would recommend are Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, Nijo-jo and Arashiyama.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakfastclub
    - Is Nara worth seeing?
    Yes, yes, absolutely yes. I used to live in Nara, but that doesn't make me biased.

    Why? Nara was the first capital of Japan. Even if it was for only about 70 years, it was formative for Japan as a nation. Most of the sights like Todaiji, the Nara National Museum, Kasuga Taisha and Kofukuji are located in Nara Park. Don't feed the deer. Or touch them. Or show them any food.

    Horyuji is about 20-30 minutes southwest of Nara city. Oldest wooden structures in the world.

    Most of the above are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

    In the southern part of the prefecture, there's Yoshino (famous for its cherry blossoms) and Muroji (which has beautiful five-storied pagoda set in the Japanese countryside. Lots of monkeys!).


    Quote Originally Posted by Breakfastclub
    - Any advice on Japanese culture, food... I have never ever been able to figure out chopsticks, no matter how many lessons I'm given or how much I practice. Should I pack some plastic utensils? Will that be considered rude?!
    As with language, most Japanese people will be forgiving of your inability to eat with chopsticks. I personally didn't find them that hard to learn to use.

    If you eat in a restaurant with western food, they should have knives and forks (a lot of things like curry rice or fried rice are eaten with a spoon). It is acceptable to eat sushi (but not sashimi) with your hands.

    You really have to go out of your way to offend Japanese people and I think they'd be more amused by you bringing your own plastic utensils than anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyrak View Post

    Osaka Castle is really cool too.
    With its authentic elevator.

    Seriously, it's in a nice park which will be lovely when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.

    If you are in Osaka, the aquarium is amazing as is the Umeda Sky Building. Dotombori is great to walk around. Regional specialties are okonomiyaki and takoyaki.

    Quote Originally Posted by nyrak View Post
    Nara is really cool too, but I wouldn't spend more than 1 day there....the Todaiji (sp?) Temple with the big bronze buddha is well worth seeing, as is the surrounding park with the friendly deer you can feed.
    Nara is worth more than a day! In fact, it's a great place to base yourself as you can travel to either Osaka or Kyoto in 30 minutes.

    But if you want to just see Todaiji, yes that can be accomplished on a day trip. And the deer aren't friendly. They are rude and aggressive. Big rats!

    Quote Originally Posted by nyrak View Post
    The Japanese people seem to be very welcoming to tourists, and more than willing to help and/or practice their English with you. It's a very polite society, but they don't seem to expect foreigners to know all the rules/protocol etc....like if you look Japanese you're expected to act Japanese, if you're a foreigner, you'll be cut some slack....none the less they will appreciate any attempt you make at the language, bowing, that kind of thing.
    This.

    I'd recommend visiting Hiroshima (regional specialties hiroshima-yaki and oysters) for the Peace Park and Miyajima.

    If I think of anything else, I'll post it.
    To think that fun is simple fun, while earnest things are earnest, proves all too plain that neither one thou truthfully discernest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allezfred View Post
    The key to pronouncing Japanese is keeping the accent flat
    LOL, my instructor, who was native Japanese (her English was a little rough at times ) kept emphasizing "not so, uh, mmm English is like when you are singing... you know..." and she say something in English exaggerating how we raise and lower pitch for emphasis and how in Japanese it's so important to keep it all flat and even. No sing-songy.

    Quote Originally Posted by allezfred View Post
    You really have to go out of your way to offend Japanese people and I think they'd be more amused by you bringing your own plastic utensils than anything.


    Thank you so much Allezfred and everyone else who gave feedback. Much appreciated!


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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanbfan View Post
    Hi.

    I am taking a possible trip to Japan in 2012.
    - I am planning on going in the summer
    - I am planning on visiting Tokyo and Kyoto (so far)

    - What attractions do you recommend? I am open to anything. I am a fashion student (but not fashion design), I like anime, and I love Geisha and historic Japan. My boyfriend is into history.
    Summer?????!!!!!! - OKINAWA! .....

    http://www.bookhostelbook.com/countr...ach_resort.jpg

    As far as the rest, I am going to be lazy and repost old info I posted about Kyoto on this site in 2007, perhaps some of it is useful. (I can't give a link, it's in the archive section for premier members). It was designed for someone who was going in Autumn, so some may not apply.

    ==========================
    Take a good fotocamera! And lots of film! Even Black and White film, because some areas in Kyoto give out wonderful Black and White fotos…

    This is a good time of the year! The trees might be changing leaves in beautiful shades and colors (or maybe a little later in October), and Kyoto is one the MOST beautiful cities in Japan.

    Even if one does not have a tour-book or directions in Kyoto, just walking through the streets of various districts is just a beautiful experience. Just walk around…. There is always something to find that is pleasing to the eye….

    If the conference organizers already planned a 1 day site-seeing trip, most likely it will cover the main Shrine, Temples, a visit to the Geisha district (Gyion), and probably will end up at a Tee-House for a ceremony. (maybe not, but that’s how most “organized tours” worked so far).

    There are between 100 and 120 Temple and Shrines in the area of Kyoto, and all of them are a treat to visit. Few of them do look “the same” to a westerner, who is not deeply familiar with local history, and some of the look “the same” to everyone….. after you see the 50th at least……

    Besides the mains ones already named in this topic, few of my favorites are the following, mainly because of the beautiful Gardens and Grounds which surround them.

    - Byodo-In Temple (in Uji City, suburb of Kyoto. J-R system UJI train stop)
    It’s a ancient Grand Villa belonging to the Head of the Fujiwara Family, which was converted to a Temple by one of the sons in the early 11th century.

    It was an actual Grand-Residence, in suburbs of Kyoto City. It has one the BEST grounds, with gardens, rivers streams falling into ponds, tree-lined walkways. It was called “The Garden of Aristocracy” of the given times.

    The fact that it was a private residence originally makes the “temple layout” a bit more interesting than the ones which were built as “temples” from the start.

    - Tenryu-Ji Temple (in the Kyoto City, Ukyo-Ku)
    Is one of the 5 Great Zen temples of Kyoto, and has one of the best Zen Gardens and grounds. The gardens are preserved as they were designed in the mid 14th century, and specifically structured to high-light the beauty of each of the 4 seasons. No matter what time of year you visit, the gardens have a well arranged design to suite the season.

    - Rokuon-Ji Temple (in the Kyoto City, Kita-Ku)
    It’s also a small private villa of a nobleman converted to a temple. The grounds and temple which stands at the edge of a large pond, is small (relatively to others), but that’s the one that is often used on the fotos symbolic for Kyoto.

    There is also a tons of Museums, Arts and Crafts houses and Historic sites……. Need a week at least to see most of them.

    1. If your friend maybe interested in Silk Production, Textiles and Kimono Design.

    - The Chirimen Pass/Bito Factory (in Yoza-Gun area).
    A silk producing factory of the late 18th century which produced some of the best fabriques for the hand-made kimonos. It’s an interesting area, that was part of the japanese Silk Road, and the few streets around Bito factory are untouched for many decades, remaining “as is in those days”. That’s one of the truly “un-touched by modern” parts of Kyoto.
    I believe you can visit the place during regular “working hours” 9 to 5 or 6….

    - (there is another museum about Silk Production, but it is a replica of the original Silk Plants in the area, not an original factory).
    The Tango Chirimen Museum (Yosa-Gun, Kyoto)
    It’s an active exhibition of the production process, and you get to see the ACTUAL silk produced. If you bring some drawings of “what you want”, they’ll make your design come out on silk and give it to you, and can even produce “little household items” with silk coverage with your design.

    - Nishijin Textile Center (Kamigyo-Ku, Kyoto City).
    Everything you want to know about Fabrique Manufacturing in Japan. Hand and machine made. Big emphasis on Kimono making. Hand-woven fabriques demonstrations, and 5 times per day they have a Kimono Fashion Show inside a hall with a “Kimono Walkway”.

    The best part, is one can go into a fitting room, and they will dress you up in the Classical Kimono for either Geisha, or Geiko or Maiko….. These are multi-layers, multi piece Kimono sets, and it takes over 30 minutes for each fitting.


    2. If your friend maybe interested in Tea-Ceremonies….

    - Ageya Tea Room at the Sumiya Motenashi Art Museum (in Shimogyo-Ku).
    “Ageya” is a traditional establishment where Geiko performed tea ceremonies with music and dancing. This Ageya is the only one preserved “as in the old days” specially for tourists to view without reservations.

    There are few other historic Tea-house buildings in Kyoto, but they required advance reservations (and I don’t know how to recommend making such…… sorry).

    - If there is further interest in the Tea-Ceremonies, there is a place called Omotesenke Kitayama-Kaikan in Kita-Ku.
    It’s a museum of the “Traditions and history of Tea-Ceremony” AND! in Autumn times it teaches short classes on “Tea-Ceremonies”, you get to learn how to “serve tea like a Geiko”…..

    3. If your friend is interested in “local crafts, lifestyle and architecture”…

    - Miyama Kayabuki Art Museum and other museum buildings (Nantan-City, Kyoto).
    Pretty darn interesting place to spend few hours, has paintings of the times, local farming and industrial tools, every-day life items, arts and crafts, etc. It’s part of a “classic Japanese hill-side village” which you can walk through.

    - (If she is willing to take a short ride out of town). There is Residence of the prominent merchant Mikami, which is close to the town around Miyazu Castle.
    It’s located in Miyazu City.

    The Mikami’s House is “Z” classic Japanese residence with all the “attributes” you see in the movies and travel specials. Sliding rice-paper doors and walls, tatami matted rooms, gardens, rice-preparing station and kitchen, you name it….

    - Museum of Ikebana (Nakagyo-Ku, Kyoto City)
    A small museum on one of the top floors of a building, but with fantastic display of classic Japanese Flower Arrangement Art – Ikebana.
    One must find the telephone first, and make reservations, they allow limited number of visitors per day, since museum is small.


    4. Sake Times…… watch it made and drink it..

    - Ama-No-Kura Sake Brewery (Miyazu City, same area as Mikami’s house).
    It’s an operating Sake Production plant (in the old style). You can visit, they even let you try to “participate” in some of the processes. And there is a tasting room.

    - if there is further interest in Making of Sake, then there is Gekkeikan Okura Museum (in Kyoto City, Fushimi-ku). That place has tools, equipment, really cute grounds to walk about, with little river ways…… and they let you try LOTS of Sake……

    5. Weird stuff….

    - ONI Museum – The Devil’s Museum. (in Fukuchiyama-city, greater Kyoto).
    All sorts of stuff about Japanese and Foreign Devils…… Masks, symbols, dance costumes, dolls, sculptures…… Pretty cool place.

    - Kyoto Chopstick Culture Museum (Yamashina-Ku, Kyoto City).
    One of the best collections of Chopsticks, simple and jeweled, from all over the world and mostly Japan. Plus, the admission fee includes “Chopstick making work-shop” – Your are taught to make your own Chopsticks.

    - Japanese Hair-Style Museum (Higashiyama-Ku, Kyoto City)
    Display of Geisha wigs, other wigs, hair-styles, combs, hair-holding pieces, head-dresses…. Pretty fun and quick to see.

    Ride on a real House-boat. Jukkoku-bune. It rides on small rivers along the villages. The docks are in Hideyoshi and in the Ryoma. But get a tel. numbers at the hotel and call.

    - Sanjukkoku – bune . Or you can take a bigger size house-boat, more touristy but easier to reach, and it rides on a bigger size canals/rivers. The docks are in Fushimi-Ku, Kyoto City.

    - Or find any boat-ride that says “bune”, it means “skinny boat”, and it rides in more rural areas of the rivers, along villages and nature.



    But there are so many more Arts and Crafts Mfg. museums – Ceramaics and Pottery, Cedar and Wood Finishes, Roof-tile making, Caligraphy,


    6. Walks over bridges……

    - Kozuya Bridge is the famous bridge running almost ½ kilometer across to the Yawata City. It’s the longest wood-bridge in Japan, and it floats on the river without fixtures into the base of the river basin.

    - Togetsukyo Bridge (Ukyo-Ku, Kyoto City)
    Beautiful views along the bridge which runs over Oi River. It’s lined by views of trees and water reflections…..

    - Uji Bridge (in UJI City),
    Runs along the view of mountains and is one of the oldest ones in the region.


    AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST! Hot Springs Bathing!
    I don’t have fones of these places, nor the map. But, in any hotel they will have a directory, and you will need to call to make reservations at a Hot Springs Resort of your choice, or at least find how to get there.

    There are few “modern looking ones” (in square glass-and-concrete buildings) and few “old style and architecture” with great views of the countryside. I’ll only give the later ones.

    Some have only indoor tubs and pools, some have out-door tubs and pools – it’s called “roten buro”.

    Some let you be naked, some require bathing suites. Do ask which is which.

    - Yunohana Onsen – Hot Springs Health Spa in Kameoka. 10 minute train ride from the Kyoto City. It’s up on the hills, no city noise. Has lots of great pools and tubs to sit in.

    - Yakuno Kogen Onsen (in the Village of Yukuno, Fukuchiyama-city, Kyoto)
    Although the building and facilities are fairly modern, the bathing areas are all “Wall to Wall Glass”…. You look out right at the country side as you take the waters.

    It has indoor and outdoor pools, tubs, jakuzzies….. some of the best selections. They have a “rock bath” and they put herbs and grasses into it for special healing effects.

    - (my favorite) Amanohashidate Onsen – Hot Springs/Bath house.
    In Miyazu City right in front of the Amanohashidate Station.
    It’s somewhat “modern” but the outdoor facilities give the Best Views of all the Hot Springs…

    But again, you can get a directory in a hotel, or at least contact info for these Hot Spring places and pick your own.



    ……… and the very very last, but not least…… A Cave Park.

    - Shizushi Limestone Cave Park (in Funai-Gun, Kyoto)
    Has walks inside caves. Totally worth it. Take 1-2 sakes, and it’s even better. You’re in an underground Cave, it’s dark and lights shine off the walls….

    It’s not the Caves alone but the park and the nature areas around are worthy of a visit also. There are walk-ways in the part to watch birds and local plants, and snack facilities at the entrance.

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    Go here!!! A bakery that makes pretty much only Totoro cream puffs in different flavours... I can't believe such a magical place exists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nyrak View Post
    Kyoto is awesome, you must see the gold & silver temples....also Gion (sp?) the geisha district is interesting.
    I've heard that's really a red light district...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sailornyanko View Post
    I've heard that's really a red light district...
    Geishas aren't prostitutes. If there's any red light district it is probably not Gion.

    And I just wanted to restate that I can only go in the summer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sailornyanko View Post
    I've heard that's really a red light district...
    What was that somebody said about a little information?

    Quote Originally Posted by ryanbfan View Post

    And I just wanted to restate that I can only go in the summer.
    The one good thing about summer in Japan is that there lots of festivals (matsuri) some with really nice fireworks displays. The Gion Matsuri in Kyoto is generally held around the end of July. Lots of people dress up in yukata (a lighter less formal kimono).

    The one time in summer to avoid is from about mid-August for about three days because a lot of people travel to their ancestral homes so long-distance trains, planes etc are very busy.
    To think that fun is simple fun, while earnest things are earnest, proves all too plain that neither one thou truthfully discernest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allezfred View Post


    Well, I see you're from Texas so you're won't find the heat and humidity that much worse. Still.
    Some FSUers live in such heat and humidity ALL YEAR ROUND.

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