Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto

Despite my distrust of cultures that have no cheese, I am going to Japan in November. We will stay in Tokyo and make day trips by bullet train (and others) to Kyoto and Hakone.

More on all this later…but, if any of you out there have tips or recommendations, send them my way. Husband has been to Japan several times, but this will be my first trip and it will be the first truly “foreign” place I’ve been to in years.

I might come back looking like this:

CWE2858[1]

or this:

geisha-kyoto-p-001.1[1]

Or, if I have too much sushi, like this:

sumo-wrestler[1]

Sayonara.

14 Comments

Filed under Travel

14 responses to “Dōmo arigatō, Mr. Roboto

  1. How fun! My father and brother in law have travelled there quite a bit on business. They are by far the tallest ones there….

  2. So lucky! It’s one thing to visit Europe with it’s Latin-based languages. You can stumble your way around with some success. In the Far East, where there’s no recognizable language, you’re screwed! But in the good way. Would love to visit Japan one day…

  3. Envy, envy. I’ve wanted to visit Japan for years now;
    my ideal itinery would take in some potters, some gardens, mountain views, some primatology centres, some temples, and a lot of eating…

  4. Okay, the first sentence of this post? PRICELESS!!

    Oodles of jealousy here, too! I hope you have a blast, and you’d better take tons of photos to share!

  5. Well, I learned something today.

    Who doesn’t have cheese? I mean, the japanese, as I’ve just discovered but thats so strange!

    I hope you have a great time – looking forward to the photos!

    Bx

  6. I agree with you re: cheese. But good sushi almost makes up for it. We’ve got a lot of Japanese emigrants down here and thus REALLLLLLLLY good sushi.

  7. Tips?

    Hakone:

    Do the zig-zag railway first, and the pirate galleon last. Not the other way around.

    Also consider planning a day trip to Nikko, to see the three wise monkeys.

    Kyoto:

    Kiyomizu Dera

    If you are in Kyoto overnight, consider dinner in Kobe (the other side of Osaka, 45 mins). It’s Japan’s first western settlement, and its gourmet capital.

    Tokyo:

    Go to Shibuya Station. Exit at Hachiko Square. Stand on the footpath watching the jumbotrons. When the lights change, marvel at over five thousand people swarming the interesction every time.

    Then look left. Up the hill, you will see a building named Shibuya 109. Take a lift to the 7th floor, and make your way down. It’s a vertical mall filled with fashion stores. But not just any fashion stores. This is where Japanese teens shop. Makes Harajuku look lame.

    Go to Tokyu Hands in Shinjuku. The world’s most effete Home Depot.

    Department stores:

    Mitsukoshi at Nihombashi (Mitsukoshimae station) has its own bespoke kimono salon.

    Every Japanese department store has a superb food hall in the basement. They always hand out free samples. Do not miss the opportunity to cruise a Japanese department store food hall.

    Do Tsukiji fish market in the first couple of days on arrival. You’ll still be jet lagged and won’t mind getting up at 4 am. Now THAT’S sushi. Or sahimi, probably.

    Look, but don’t necessarily buy, electronics at Akihabara Denki-Cho (“electric town”). If you must buy, make sure you get an “export model”, or it may not work in the USA. Good place for region-free DVD players. Otherwise, marvel at the male-nerd silliness. One of the few places you can buy used panties, since they cracked down on forgeries. 15% of all electronics sold in Japan go through Akihabara, and many new gee-whiz electronics are test-piloted with consumers there.

    My favourite bar in Tokyo is XEX, atop Atago Green Hills tower (sometimes known as the Mori Tower). Great view of Ginza, the bay, and Tokyo Disneyland fireworks. Expensive, but worth it. Sushi An is a great sushi restaurant, too. BTW, Atago is a cool shrine.

    http://www.tabletguides.com/Travel-Guides/Reviews/Tokyo-Japan-Japan/Nightlife/Bar-Pub-Lounge-Games/The-Bar-at-XEX-Atago-Green-Hills/1691

    Otherwise, I recommend looking at the small resaurants that don’t necessarily cater to an English-speaking crowd. They’ll all display plastic models of their menu out front. So take your camera, snap a picture of what looks good, and show it to the waitress inside.

    By the way, restaurants get all those plastic models , as well as their crockery and kitchen equipment, from a street in Tokyo’s east called Kappabashi Dori. If you want to get a set of proper Japanese sushi kit, or ceramic knives (recommended for vegetables and fish), go there.

    Where are you staying? Many will try to convince you to take a so-called limousine bus from the airport. I prefer the Narita Express train, departing at quarter to and quarter past the hour. Blow the extra $20 and get a Green Car (First Class) seat. If you’re staying in Ginza, Akasaka or Marunouchi, then there’s no question that the train beats the bus. Don’t even think about a cab.

    Oh, and practice with chopsticks before you go.

  8. By the way, my favourite cheese shop in Tokyo is the Fromagerie Fermier, on the road up to the Atago Shrine. Exquisite.

    Originally it was called Fromagerie Ferme, until someone noticed that no French people visited.

  9. Julie Fisher

    YOU’RE the one who told me about which Japanese beer is good. I bet by the time you’ve been there two days you’ll have caused more than one prim and proper native to laugh out loud even without the hand in front of the face thing.
    My sister went to Japan once back when she was rather normal. As you know she is tall like me, and I remember her saying that she felt like she had landed in the land of the Liliputians (sp.?) when they handed her a kimona in her hotel and showed her her room–small bed, small everything.
    My own best thought about Japan is the movie scene of Bill Murray in the elevator in a Japanese hotel, his head clearly twelve inches above everyone else’s. (Can’t think of the name of the movie.)

  10. Sarah–Husband has been a few times himself, so at least he knows how to get around. I’ll be lost!
    UB–You’re exactly right. My high school Latin (and French and Spanish) won’t do me much good. I have, however, conducted extensive research on Japanese beer.
    Denise–Temples, shrines and scenery are at the top of the list. Not sure how the gardens will be in Nov., but at least it shouldn’t be too crowded.
    NATUI and Beth–I think there’s a lot of lactose intolerance which explains the lack of cheese. And there will definitely be plenty of pix.
    AFM–We hope to have one night on the town with some of Husband’s clients. That should make for some good sushi.
    Headbang–Oh my goodness, thank you so much. I will print and research your suggestions. I really appreciate all the time you spent on this.
    Julie–The movie is Lost in Translation…a feeling I imagine I’ll have quite often.

  11. Ah, look. I was coming over to suggest that you talk to Headbang, as he has intimate knowledge of the Japanese and their culture, and he’s already been here. Well, bye then.

  12. Matt

    Hello, I stumbled across your blog via A Free Man’s. I would second Headbang8’s comments on Atago Shrine, a quiet neighbourhood shrine away from the tourist crowds (but still very close to the centre of the city) . I’m also a little biased, having been married there.

    If you only have limited time in Kyoto and have a few people to share the cost, this is a good way to cover as many sites as possible in comfort.
    http://www.mk-group.co.jp/english/sightseeing/index.html

  13. Matt–Welcome to Franklin and thanks for the suggestions. I’ll definitely add Atago Shrine to the must-see list. Cheers.

  14. Fascinating. May I add your blog to my link exchange directory?

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