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Visiting this summer

Tireich

Soon-Too-Be-Gaijin
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I plan on going to Japan (preferably Tokyo) for at least two weeks sometime this summer. I've been reading around this forum for a couple hours now just soaking up knowledge.

I'm not very familiar with the language and I'm sure that will be a major issue when I'm there so I'm going to study the basics so I can at least get around and order some rice wine or something. I can always pick up the Japanese for Dummies book at Borders...

Plus, I hope the showerheads in hotels aren't as low as I hear they are. I'm 6'7" and that could be a problem...

So...can anyone tell me what their first visit to Japan was like?
 

jonerik

Kouhai
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I've been to Japan twice; first in October 2004, then again this past November. I'm going back in May (my girlfriend lives in Nagahama).

I'm 6'2" and the shower heads were a bit difficult to navigate around. The bathrooms in the hotels tend to be eentsy on the whole. You should try the Japanese-style baths that a lot of hotels have. The experience is a lot more pleasant than trying to wedge yourself underneath a shower head that's located somewhere just below your neck.

I was very impressed with Japan the first time I went there. I was with my girlfriend most of the time, so I had someone with me who knew the language and the culture. We stayed one night at an old house (built in 1920) in Kyoto; the rest of the time was at hotels in Tokyo and Nagahama. This last time I was there I had picked up some more of the language, so I was able to get around and order food more easily on my own (which was good since she had to work a few days while I was there).

The first time I went she took me to a lot of temples and castles, since I'd told her that was what I was especially interested in seeing. In Tokyo we went to the Edo-Tokyo Outdoor Architectural Museum, the Imperial Palace, a sumo school, Asakusa Temple, and a few other places like that. Oh, we also went to the Pokemon store. I'm not a huge Pokemon fan, but it was certainly interesting.

The language barrier depends on whom you're talking to. My experience has been that most older people don't understand a lot of English, while most younger people have had at least a couple of years of high school English. This isn't a hard and fast rule, though, so there are certainly exceptions.

A lot of restaurants have menus with pictures of the food that you can point to. You'll probably won't starve to death.

Have fun!
 

jonerik

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Oh yeah, one more thing: The old style squat 'n' grunt toilets are still plentiful throughout Japan. Larger restrooms will give a choice between the two, but sometimes you've just gotta make do with what's there.
 
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