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Back From Japan!

Darlene

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We just got back from 10 days in Japan. We used Marriott Reward points air/hotel package for our airfare, and part of the hotel.
Day 1: We flew United into Osaka, and got a 2-day area Kansai pass for $40.00 each. We went straight to Kyoto where stayed in Watazen Ryokan. Their website is http://www.watazen.com It was in a great location, just a couple of subway stops from the train station, and near high end retail shops on one side, and a street mall on the other side. There is a 99 Yen store on the corner, a 7-11, and a Circle K close by. Our room was a traditional Japanese style hotel with tatami mats and sliding doors. It has one area with a table, 2 chairs, and a fridge. The second area was where we slept with futons on the floor. It had a low table, and chairs, and a HD TV. My kids loved watching Japanese TV. There was a third area for dressing. These three rooms were separated by sliding doors. There was a shower and tub room, and toilet room (with special slippers), and a sink. The American style toilets are incredibly fancy by western standards. Downstairs were the bathing rooms, one for men and one for women. My daughter and I loved having our hot bath in the evening. There were also meals available, but we did not eat there, we have picky eaters!
Day 2: We used our Kansai area pass, and took the train to Heimeji Castle. It is about 2 hours from Kyoto. This is a wonderful small town with a huge castle. This is the only castle of its quality that is the original. Most of the castles were destroyed and have been rebuilt. As you enter the Heimeji gate, there is a small office with free English speaking guides. We were lucky to get a great guide, who spent the next 90 minutes taking us through the castle. We went into town, and had lunch before going to the gardens. After the gardens, we walked around the covered shopping area in town before returning to Kyoto.
Day 3: We did the eastern walk of Kyoto including a little of the Gion district. Kiyomizu Temple, Jishu Shrine, ending at the Heian Shrine and garden. We went to the Kyoto Handcraft Center, and Nijo Castle.
Day 4: More Kyoto - The Golden Pavilion, and then went to Ryoanji Temple with the famous Zen rock garden. We took the bus across town to Fushimi Inari Shrine that has hundreds of orange gates/shrines on the hillside; part of "Memoirs of a Geisha" was filmed here. We did not go to the Silver Pavilion since it is currently being renovated.
Day 5: We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Tokyo. Checked into the Tokyo Ginza Courtyard. We walked around the Ginza shopping area. We went to the Swarovski store, a big department store and ate, and shopping at the toy store.
Day 6: Harajuku area and Meiji Shrine, and the Sony building.
Day 7: Tsukiji Fish Market early in the morning. We went to Hama Rikyu /gardens and took the water boat to Asakusa to Sensoji Temple. We took the subway to Ueno Park and Tokyo National Museum. We walked through the park afterwards. There was a flea market. The best part was the yakisoba.
Day 8: Disney Sea - all the ambience of Disney with some really different rides, including the Jules Verne themed area and the "Journey to the Center of the Earth ride.
Day 9: Went to the mountains (hills) about 1 hour west of Tokyo. There is a nice path by a river with a shrine. There were lots of kayakers in the water, and it is a nice picnicking spot. My husband's brother, who lives in Fussa, rented a car (Toyota Wish) and took us there. We went to a community matsuri.
Day 10: Went shopping in the morning for last minute souvenirs, and came home.
It was a great trip! I'd like to go back with just hubby sometime in the fall when it's not so hot.
Darlene
 
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jehb2

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What an awesome trip. I lived in Himeji for 2 years. I actually live on the same street (about 800 meters) from Himeji Castle. In the evenings I use to ride my bicycle around the castle. I have been back a couple of times for research but I have always stayed with friends. When I lived there I got paid in yen and imagined it would be a rather expensive trip if I were just visiting from the US and converting dollars.

We now have kids and I would love to take them. With the current exchange rate did you find it expensive to travel in Japan?
 

glypnirsgirl

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What a wonderful vacation. When my husband took his children there about 10 years ago many of the Japanese were fascinated to see Western children. He also said that his children were a little overwhelmed by how foreign it was and became his "little ducks" following closely behind him again.

Thank you for sharing your experiences.

Elaine
 

Kola

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Anatawa Nihongo Wakarimaska ?

Darlene, I am sure you will remember your trip as a real lifetime experience ! I am very much familiar with some of the places you mentioned having lived in the Rappongi area of Tokyo for two years. That's not far from the landmark Tokyo TV tower and walking distance from the Tokyo American Club which serves as a focal point of various social activities for foreigners. That was many years ago but I still cherish many photos and souvenirs we brougt back. Sayonara for now !

K.
 
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