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Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Old 02-07-19, 01:52 AM
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Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Going to Japan in April for 2 weeks. Never been. Will be landing in Osaka. What are some must-do's? We're not doing Universal Studios.

How's the food over there? Are there calories in the packages? Is it mostly weird food? Hubs has visited and thinks I'll starve for 2 weeks (I AM a picky eater).

He also says no one speaks English. I visited Israel and everyone was like oh everyone speaks English. NO ONE spoke English (or Spanish).

Wanted to visit my whole life, I'm psyched! We'll be staying with relatives who've lived there for three years and speak fluent Japanese and are working but will have time to sightsee with us and drive us around in their car.

We'll have a then-11 month old with us. We'll be taking formula so her food is no issue.

I'm the type of person who just starts walking around and eventually find my way back. Hubs not so much But he needs downtime now and then and I don't so he may stay "home" with the kid while I head out sometimes.

Last edited by GatorDeb; 02-07-19 at 02:00 AM.
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Old 02-07-19, 02:26 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Iíve been to Osaka, Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima. Tokyo Iíve been to 5 times.

First thing to remember, donít tip. Itís considered rude. Japanese people are for the most part very polite and friendly. Not a lot speak fluent English so that might be somewhat of a challenge.

Osaka was cool, but it wasnít my favorite city. Itís very industrial and there arenít that many tourist attractions. Osaka Castle is one that I can recall being interesting. I have been to Universal Studios Osaka, but that was well over a decade ago.

As for food, I donít know. Do you eat Asian food? They have great ramen noodles and plenty of sushi places. Rice is a big part of the Japanese cuisine as well. There are restaurants that have plastic food models and you can choose what you think looks best and order via a vending machine. Itís easy and you donít need to speak Japanese. Or you could just eat at any old Western restaurant. But you have to ask yourself, did you really travel 4000 miles to eat hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza or salad? But, most restaurants have English menus.

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Old 02-07-19, 02:31 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

A few quick things because I don't have much time now:
- Language: People understand English a lot more than it appears. Many don't feel comfortable so they don't "speak" it, but they usually get what you say. Especially in Osaka and big cities, there are enough people who are fluent enough that you should have no problem.

- Food: I don't know how picky you are with your food, but there are lots of Western and Westernized restaurants. It definitely helps if you like rice. Packaged foods have nutrition labels.

- Things to see:
- In Osaka: Dotonbori (entertainment street next to a river), Osaka Castle
- Since you are in Japan for two weeks, definitely go to Kyoto and Nara which are nearby cities, and try to go to Tokyo if you have time. Take the shinkansen bullet train.
- Since this is your first time in Japan, there is just so much to absorb. The whole country is very distinctive, unlike anything you see in Western countries, so just take the time to walk around and be adventurous. Japan is easy to get around by train and subways, and people are friendly and helpful, so don't be afraid to explore.
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Old 02-07-19, 02:34 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Here’s a couple of basic Osaka travel guides that might help you out.



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Old 02-07-19, 02:38 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

DJariya:That's a great tip on the tip! (no pun intended). I would have never known that. I mean I'm open to trying stuff but the way he makes it sound they serve mostly fish that was alive a few minutes ago. I don't do well with moving food.

I love Panda Express but all those places are Americanized Asian food (and wrong country). I can definitely do ramen noodles and rice.

Osaka Castle looks like a great place to take pictures at.

I could always ask our relatives but I want tourist recommendations versus local recommendations.

Psi: Great to hear they have a great transportation infrastructure. For as big as Vegas is, the bus system here sucks. A lot of places have 30 minutes between buses

I have a thick accent so maybe that'll make people more comfortable

Hubs says it's easy to find Western food but expensive. And I mean I DON'T want to go to Japan to eat McD. Thanks for the recommendations I'll look them up!
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Old 02-07-19, 04:49 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Itís been 20 years, but I agree to hit Kyoto and Nara and visit some of the shrines.

I thought this was a neat video that also explains what to expect from a ramen place:


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Old 02-07-19, 08:09 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

I've only been to Osaka once (to take the kids to Universal), I've mostly hung around in the Tokyo/Yokohama area, so I can't offer much sightseeing input there. But as others have mentioned, if you can swing a trip to fairly nearby Kyoto/Nara, by all means do it, totally worth it for the sightseeing. If you like ramen and rice at least, you should be ok, and yeah there are plenty of western style restaurants too. Japan has a fantastic public transportation system, just make sure you have a map and remember the important stops. Get ready for a huge culture shock, but it's totally worth it, Japan is a fantastic place to visit, have fun!
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Old 02-07-19, 09:27 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Japan is fantastic. Everyone is super friendly, the place is clean and safe and you should have no issues going for a wander by yourself. We found no-one really spoke any English, but you can get along by pointing and smiling. The greatest thing is when you go into a restaurant and the server spends two minutes explaining the specials. In Japanese - so you have no idea what just happened. But everyone is so nice you feel bad for trying to explain that it didn't help.
The trains are great - very easy to get around and they're dead on time.
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Old 02-07-19, 09:33 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

I don't have any advice to add, but I'll just say it sounds like a great adventure. Have a wonderful time GatorDeb. Post some pictures if you feel like it.
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Old 02-07-19, 09:50 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by Phodg View Post
The trains are great - very easy to get around and they're dead on time.
Yep, and you will actually hear an apology on the station loudspeakers if the train is even a minute late.
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Old 02-07-19, 10:05 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Go visit the Bunny Island . First time I heard of this, I wonder how they control the population to all the bunnies over there.

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Old 02-07-19, 10:15 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Lots of stuff to see in Japan, visit a Pokemon Center, check out the Ghibli Museum, visit the multi-story arcades at Akihabara, among the other areas already mentioned like Osaka where I would recommend eating Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, and Waraiyaki cooked on a grill at your table, or feeding the deer at Nara.
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Old 02-07-19, 11:31 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by PerryD View Post
Lots of stuff to see in Japan, visit a Pokemon Center, check out the Ghibli Museum, visit the multi-story arcades at Akihabara, among the other areas already mentioned like Osaka where I would recommend eating Takoyaki, Okonomiyaki, and Waraiyaki cooked on a grill at your table, or feeding the deer at Nara.
Not sure if she's going to the Tokyo area, but yeah the Ghibli Museum is fantastic, and I love Akihabara, I'll spend a whole day shopping for toys, movies and music there.
Making okonomiyaki right at your table is awesome fun, especially with a group of friends, you just drink beer, take turns at grilling the food and have a blast.
It's funny, the thing I remember most about Nara is all those frigging deer everywhere.
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Old 02-07-19, 11:32 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Enjoy your trip! I always wanted to go to Japan.
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Old 02-07-19, 11:32 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by dom56 View Post
Go visit the Bunny Island . First time I heard of this, I wonder how they control the population to all the bunnies over there.

Oh man, my daughter will need to go there!
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Old 02-07-19, 11:33 AM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by Giantrobo View Post
Enjoy your trip! I always wanted to go to Japan.
Hey Robo, weren't you married (past tense?) to a Japanese woman? Surprised you never made the trip there.
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Old 02-07-19, 12:24 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Deb, I know we spore IRL about my recent Tokyo trip, but since you mentioned food, here was my luch at Sanrio Puroland


Hamburger Curry with Salad. It was actually pretty tasty.
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Old 02-07-19, 12:37 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by cultshock View Post
Hey Robo, weren't you married (past tense?) to a Japanese woman? Surprised you never made the trip there.

I was. But she was born here and her parents were born in Hawaii.
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Old 02-07-19, 12:37 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Here's some advice from Marty Friedman from Megadeth. He lives in Japan and is also fluent in Japanese.

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Old 02-07-19, 12:42 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by cultshock View Post
Making okonomiyaki right at your table is awesome fun, especially with a group of friends, you just drink beer, take turns at grilling the food and have a blast.
Just don't have THIS guy take a turn at the grill...


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Old 02-07-19, 01:06 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by Giantrobo View Post
I was. But she was born here and her parents were born in Hawaii.
Ah gotcha, never mind.

Originally Posted by Why So Blu? View Post
Here's some advice from Marty Friedman from Megadeth. He lives in Japan and is also fluent in Japanese.
Cool, I didn't know that Marty lived in Japan.

Originally Posted by devilshalo View Post
Just don't have THIS guy take a turn at the grill...


Hmmm, I do want to check out the Godzilla hotel.
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Old 02-07-19, 01:10 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by cultshock View Post


Hmmm, I do want to check out the Godzilla hotel.
Yes! I'm in a a few Godzilla/Kaiju groups and people post their pics of that Hotel.
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Old 02-07-19, 01:20 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by GatorDeb View Post
Great to hear they have a great transportation infrastructure. For as big as Vegas is, the bus system here sucks. A lot of places have 30 minutes between buses

I have a thick accent so maybe that'll make people more comfortable

Hubs says it's easy to find Western food but expensive. And I mean I DON'T want to go to Japan to eat McD. Thanks for the recommendations I'll look them up!
Getting around: Bus is tricky and requires some familiarity with routes and language. Trains and subways are a lot easier. At stations, signs show 3 languages: kanji ("Chinese" characters), kana (Japanese characters) and romaji (Western alphabet) so it's easy to locate your routes and destinations. The shinkansen bullet train is a separate system and requires you to buy tickets from A to B (except for Japan Rail Pass, see below).

Communications: To most Japanese, we all have a thick accent, so it doesn't matter I find in my travel abroad that the most important thing is not whether people understand you right away, but whether they are willing and patient enough to take time to understand you, and by that standard, Japanese people are among the best -- polite, friendly and helpful. You will almost never meet a person who thinks "Get away from me, you dirty foreigner."

Food: You will find Western fast food places like McDonald's and Starbucks that are more expensive than in the US, but there are a lot of cheap local places for Westernized food like spaghetti, pizza and fried chicken. And lots of places for curry and grilled meat. Usually less meat and smaller portion. A lot of cucumber.

Other: If you plan to take the train a lot, especially bullet train to go to faraway cities, you might want to get a Japan Rail Pass, which is similar to Europass. I have not used one in a long time so don't recall details, but you can buy one only before your trip (cannot buy from within Japan). Check out this site: https://www.japan-rail-pass.com/.

Another thing is a cash card that you buy and top off as needed, that can be used for local transportation and also some/many stores. There are two systems: "Suica" and "Pasmo". Ask your local friends about which one works better in Osaka. The beauty of those cards is that you just flash them when you go through the subway turnstiles, so no worry about fumbling through your money to buy a ticket. You can get these cards after you arrive.
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Old 02-07-19, 01:20 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

I went to Tokyo last year with my wife to see the cherry blossoms; we had a lot of fun, and didn't have too many issues with language/communication around the city. Worst case, Google Translate is your friend. I think overall Japanese food isn't too crazy or "weird" to westerners either.
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Old 02-07-19, 01:46 PM
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Re: Going to Japan - sightseeing ideas? Food?

Originally Posted by Psi View Post
Another thing is a cash card that you buy and top off as needed, that can be used for local transportation and also some/many stores. There are two systems: "Suica" and "Pasmo". Ask your local friends about which one works better in Osaka. The beauty of those cards is that you just flash them when you go through the subway turnstiles, so no worry about fumbling through your money to buy a ticket. You can get these cards after you arrive.
Oh man, the Suica card changed my life during my visits over there. So easy to use, and many stores do accept them. They are basically like a pre-paid credit card, that you can just "tap" anywhere you need to pay for something.

I agree with you regarding the buses, the train/subway system is very easy to use, but I'm still scared about getting on the wrong bus if I go that route.

Oh, and I only have one thing to say about McDonald's in Japan: deep fried apple pies, just like they used to have over here.
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