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Travel tips in Japan?


19 Sep 2003
Hi anyone finding this post, I'm 21 year old student from the north of scandinavia making plans to travel through japan and south korea during a 4 month period (end of august til' beginning of january). And for this trip it would sure help to have some tips on what a traveller should do/see/visit. Of course I've spent quite some time with books such as Lonely planet etc. but it wouldn't hurt with tips from people actually living in Japan or people who've travelled the region before me.

My interests are most things involving the out-of-doors (hiking, climbing - both bouldering and alpine - seakayaking, snowboarding and crosscountry skiing.), I'm a big fan of sports - everything from soccer and icehockey to downhill cheeserolling and uphill motorcross. I also enjoy photografy and music.

So if anyone got any tips for me on it would be SO nice if you could post a reply telling me about it. Anything from smashing scenic nature to fine architecture to sumo events to music to local festivitys. I'm also interested in tips on hostels in the tokyo/yokohama area and hostels or other affordable lodging on the island of Hokkaido .

Well that's it I guess, thanks to those who took time reading my post and a BIG thanks to anyone taking time to answear it.

Domo arigato

(Sporting my near none-excistant Japanese language skills)
Greetings and welcome. A couple tips that you may find useful include getting yourself a high-quality camera beforehand (if you dont already have one), take as many pictures as you want, send the film back home to be developed, then purchasing more rolls of film whenever you need them (no shortage of supply in Japan), repeat process. This allows you to travel lightly with never more than a few rolls of film on your person at one time as opposed to lugging around dozens of undeveloped rolls. Also, keep a notepad with everything you might want to purchase for yourself, souvenir, etc. and write it down. Then as the last week of your stay approaches, go back and purchase everything you wanted and take it all back with you at one time on the plane. This way, you can travel abroad freely and lightly without lugging around that cheap DVD recorder you saw on sale and just *had* to buy the first day you arrived...
Clothes: You will be in the region from the hottest time of the year until about the middle of the winter. For me, packing would be a nightmare if you want any thing like a couple sets of clothes. You might be stuck with carrying bulky winter things in the middle of humidity hell and lugging around summer stuff when it is snowing outside. The only solution I can think of is to bring summer clothes you never want to use again and throw them out after it gets cold. Them at least you winter bags will be lighter. You could also buy winter clothes here and then get rid of your summer stuff when you buy it.
Good pointers everyone, =). The notebook idea was new to me and it sounds real useful. The pointer on mailing the film back home makes even more sence considering what airport x-ray tends to do with exposed film. When it comes too clothes I'm considering bringing along the wintergear and pack light for the warm period. I'm guessing t-shirts etc. are cheaper than a functional wintergarments over there (?).

Thanks budd for the tip on the youth hostel url! Funny I didn't find it myself since it poped up as nr.1 on google when I entered the "correct" search-word.

Does anyone have any clue how camping in tent would work out in the N.Ps and on the countryside? Is it ok to kindly ask the owner of the landstrip if you can camp there for a night? Are campsites avaliable or how does it work?

Also the somewhat pessimistic - but o-so necessary question - is there anything one should look out for and be aware of? You read that Japan is generally safe and that streetcrime is near none excistant when compared to European metropolitan areas and american cities but you also get some other wibes. I've heard about motorcyclegangs dressed up in jumpsuits that ride around with banners assualting people. I don't know what to believe - sounds like something ot of Kubricks "Clockwork Orange".

Thanks for the tips, keep 'em coming.

In general, I don't think there are campgrounds in the national parks but there usually nearby private campgrounds that you can use for minimal cost. There are also yama-goya (mountain huts) where you can stay on a futon indoors. People (cyclers etc.) have also spent nights in public parks, parking lots, etc without having been hassled.


If you are going to be in Tokyo, you could head towards the Chichibu area (take Chuo line & head west) where there are many great trails & mountains. Or go a little further into Yamanashi. Every Japanese book store sells detailed topographical maps. Even though they are in Japanese, you should be able to identify trails, campsites, hot springs and other features. And they are a great help and a good souvenir too. You just need to identify the region where you are going.

As for as safety goes, you have almost nothing to be concerned about. The biggest danger is petty theft and even that is a fairly small danger. Just take normal precautions like you would in your home country.
"I've heard about motorcyclegangs dressed up in jumpsuits that ride around with banners assualting people."

I assume you are referring to the Bosozoku or "speed tribes" as they are sometimes called. Most are harmless and more style over substance if anything (some are even laughable riding scooters...). I highly doubt you would encounter any difficulties while travelling abroad from the likes of them as most are far too busy trying to "look good" and impress the neighborhood girlies as well as annoying the local police than actually causing trouble.
Your from Scandinavia, a costly place, so don't worry about travelling to Japan, it is not expensive and eating out is cheap and easy.
Don't make eye contact with anyone and always be clean, pure, honest and humble. Don't smile. They don't like that.
You won't be scared of anyone, and learn some local language so you can talk to people, and make friends, it can be beneficial.
Oh boy, the computer I'm typing from is messy so i'm gonna have to make this post short. Thanks for the tips. Especially the trecking locations near Tokyo, big cheers for that.

A kind of dumb question that I couldn't find any answears to (perhaps cause there is no need to ask the question). But how do sizes on clothing etc work in Japan. Is it like in the western countries or? Just in case I would want to buy my mum a kimono or something.

Feels good to know that I'll be able to feel secure while traveling Japan. If anyone got any random tips, feel free to chip in. I'm gonna ask questions til' I run out of them or everyone gets tired of this topic and drops it. Take care everyone.
I bought a T-shirt in Japan that was a M and its pretty consistent with western size I think. They have S, M, L. Not sure about XL though.

I'm not sure how a dress like a Kimono is measured though.
If you get a typical souvenir type "kimono" (yukata actually), they are sized simply -- small, medium, large kind of thing. Other sizes are based on metric system so they are different than U.S. but perhaps similar to Europe, I don't know.
It depends on your height and weight - clothes and shoes here are quite small. Thankfully I find it no problem (I have tiny feet) but, J-girls have such slim thighs I sometimes find trousers a problem LOL ;)
P.S, it's probably best to write down your measurements before you go in case you find their measurement system confusing. Everything is in cm.
You should come to Nagano ( Hakuba / Omachi area ) if you wish to do alot of hiking and winter sports. There are some really good locations around here. Also .. there are some pretty good logings too. For 10,000 en/night you get a 2 bedroom 2 floor log house , furnished and comes with a parking space. It's not charged by person. If that is over priced for you then there's the "gaijin house" opposite the station or a ryoukan hotel just down the road from my house 👏 Omachi has a few winter hikes you can go on as far as i know, and hakuba has many snowboarding hills .. I aspecialy reccomend "hakuba 47".

Then not far from here is tokyo-shinjuku ( 3 hours by highway on a bus ). Or you could go just as far as Yamanashi-ken and get a full view of MT. Fuji on a clear day. ( yamanashi is 2 hours from here by car ) 👏

As for camping : Nagano has alot of locations which are often used for camping , well ... in my home town of omachi we do anyway. They are usualy next to the rivers , totaly secluded from the roads. People often set up BBQs there and camp out. I've never head of the police doing anything about them before. You just gotta watch out for the occasional stray monkey. They'll steal your food and camping equipment for sure.

What to watch out for? ... Hmm this is Omachi ... Small city ... I leave my car door unlocked and the engine running during the winter whilst i go shopping. Nothing has ever happend. As for the bikers. They are only out on weekends around here. They make alot of noise but arn't a real problem other than that. It's the theiving old people that you gotta look out for.

One negative this about this area is the lack of transportation methods localy. It's not like Osaka where they have a train running to near enough every block ... We have a bus that leaves to Nagano city 3 times per day and a train that goes as far as Matsumoto. If you wanted to get to tokyo on train it would invlove a change of trains at matsumoto station. If you wanted to go by bus .. you would have to get to matsumoto interchange and wait there. there is absolutely NO local transport. hmm Taxi if you wanna pay 630yen ...
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