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Walking in Japan

Holiday Ideas & Foreign Travel
busybee
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Walking in Japan

#71464

Postby busybee » August 2nd, 2017, 11:13 am

I am a keen walker and would like to walk in Japan either during the Cherry Blossoms or during Autumn Colours, but not the golden week. I would like to go to anywhere in Japan so long as there are good walking (moderate to vigorous level) to be had. I do not know how feasible it will be to go self-guiding as this will cut the costs of the holiday considerably.

Any suggestions,views and experiences will be appreciated.

Lootman
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Re: Walking in Japan

#71512

Postby Lootman » August 2nd, 2017, 2:27 pm

There are two areas I might suggest. The first is the mountains in the central area of Honshu, called the Japan Alps. This is easier to get to and has more populated towns where you can stay and move about between:

http://www.japan-alps.com/en/

If you want something quieter and less populated, then head to Hokkaido in the far north. You can take a bullet train to Hakodate in the south, or a slower train or fly to Sapporo in the North. You will then probably need a car:

https://walkjapan.com/destinations/hokkaido

And yes, avoid Golden Week at all costs. Also, the cherry blossom season in April is very crowded and expensive in places like Tokyo and Kyoto. You get the blossoms in March in the far south of Japan, and in May in Hokkaido.

I'm sure there are other areas for walking too, but these are the two I know about.

SwissPaul
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Re: Walking in Japan

#100645

Postby SwissPaul » December 1st, 2017, 8:29 pm

Hi
my son is going to Japan for 2 weeks during the holiday season. For his xmas present he wants me to get him a train travel card - any suggestions please.
thanks
John

Lootman
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Re: Walking in Japan

#100652

Postby Lootman » December 1st, 2017, 9:04 pm

SwissPaul wrote:my son is going to Japan for 2 weeks during the holiday season. For his xmas present he wants me to get him a train travel card - any suggestions please.

You can pick up a JR travel pass at the Japan Travel Centre in London:

https://www.japantravel-centre.com/

If that isn't convenient then they can apparently be ordered online although I've never done that.

Importantly, you have to buy the pass BEFORE you get to Japan. You're actually buying a voucher for the rail pass that you then exchange for the real pass when you arrive in Japan - most major airports and railway stations in Japan have a JR kiosk for doing that. I'd do it at the airport because both the Narita Express and the Haneda monorail accept the JR pass.

zico
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Re: Walking in Japan

#101878

Postby zico » December 5th, 2017, 8:30 pm

Hi Busybee. We recently did a "self-guided" tour with a company called "Inside Japan" who were very good.
For the "self-guided adventures" option, you tell them what you want to do (or ask for their suggestions), they arrange travel, transfers, transfers and rail passes for you, along with detailed pamphlets telling you about each step of the journey, and about the areas you'll be visiting.

It's still pricey (as it's Japan), but about half the cost of a fully guided tour, and you get a lot more flexibility.

For our trip, we arranged our own flights to/from Japan. We visited Tokyo, Matsumoto, Takayama & Kyoto. Matsumoto is in a wide valley with big mountains all around, about 2 1/2 hours train ride from Tokyo. Takayama is a 2 1/2 hour bus journey from Matsumoto, over mountain passes and is also near some biggish mountains. It's about 4 hours from Takayama to Kyoto.

For what you're thinking of, as a starter I'd suggest 2/3 nights in Hakone (nearby hills, and possibility of climbing Mt.Fuji about 20 miles away) 3 nights in Matsumoto (buses take you to the start of full-day hikes) and maybe 3 nights in Takayama.
But the "Inside Japan" experts will have other suggestions.
We found Japan to be a much easier place to get around than we expected, although on a couple of hikes, we found that the English/Japanese dual-language signposts quickly became Japanese only.

Let me know if you need any further details.


Here's a link

https://www.insidejapantours.com/?_$ja= ... IsQAvD_BwE

GoSeigen
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Re: Walking in Japan

#101888

Postby GoSeigen » December 5th, 2017, 9:22 pm

SwissPaul wrote:Hi
my son is going to Japan for 2 weeks during the holiday season. For his xmas present he wants me to get him a train travel card - any suggestions please.
thanks
John


John, you don't have to buy the Japan Rail Pass before you get to Japan. You can buy it at certain major stations in Japan if that is more convenient in terms of flexibility, security etc. However they do cost about 10-15% more if purchased in Japan.

Details are here:

http://www.japanrailpass.net/file/trial_basis_en.pdf

GS

zico
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Re: Walking in Japan

#101914

Postby zico » December 5th, 2017, 10:19 pm

JR Railpass excludes “NOZOMI” and “MIZUHO” trains - and it's not immediately clear what these are.

They are 2 categories of bullet trains (aka Shinkansen) which operate on many lines, and are essentially super-fast routes that only stop at really, really big cities. But the JR railpass is still OK for "normal" bullet trains which are still very fast indeed. For example, between (say) Tokyo-Hiroshimam, the Nozomi and Mizuho trains may only stop at 2 other cities, whereas other Shinkansen trains will stop at 4-5 other cities. For a journey of 3-4 hours, there'll only be a difference of 20-30 minutes between the super-fast trains and the very-fast trains.

busybee
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Re: Walking in Japan

#102413

Postby busybee » December 7th, 2017, 11:42 am

hello Zico,

Thank you such for sharing information of your self-guided trip to Japan and also the link for 'Inside Japan'. My walking holiday in Japan is planned for Autumn of 2018 so am gathering as much info as possible of the place. As I will be fully retired by then, and has never visited Japan, I plan to spend at least 3 to 4 weeks there. My main interest is walking, and wondered how practical it will be for me to self-guide in more remote places.

Thank you.
busybee

gryffron
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Re: Walking in Japan

#102632

Postby gryffron » December 7th, 2017, 11:08 pm

I did the Nakasendo Way trip with WalkJapan. The guide was excellent. A Brit who had been resident in Japan for nearly a decade.

The Japanese speak NO English. Not a word. Even in the touristy places. And you can't read the road signs, instructions or directions. I think it would be very hard to go there without either a guide or a working knowledge of Japanese.

Hugely enjoyed it. The Japanese are aliens. I have been all over the world and people are more or less the same. But not the Japanese. They are well weird. They're so polite and nice, 99% of the time, then they do something utterly crazy that blows your mind. Visit a pachinko parlour. What freaked me out most was an everyday supermarket, which seemed to have a full blown rave going on in the isles. Deafening music, flashing lights, women stuffing samples of octopus tentacles at you. woah! It was just so unexpected on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.

Oh, and the Japanese don't walk. Anywhere. The nakasendo way is beautifully maintained and hundreds of miles long. We passed one group of 4 Japanese hikers in the entire fortnight.

Gryff

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Re: Walking in Japan

#103249

Postby DiamondEcho » December 10th, 2017, 7:35 pm

gryffron wrote:The Japanese speak NO English. Not a word. Even in the touristy places. And you can't read the road signs, instructions or directions. I think it would be very hard to go there without either a guide or a working knowledge of Japanese.
Hugely enjoyed it. The Japanese are aliens. I have been all over the world and people are more or less the same. But not the Japanese. They are well weird. They're so polite and nice, 99% of the time, then they do something utterly crazy that blows your mind. Visit a pachinko parlour. What freaked me out most was an everyday supermarket, which seemed to have a full blown rave going on in the isles. Deafening music, flashing lights, women stuffing samples of octopus tentacles at you. woah! It was just so unexpected on a quiet Tuesday afternoon.
Oh, and the Japanese don't walk. Anywhere. The nakasendo way is beautifully maintained and hundreds of miles long. We passed one group of 4 Japanese hikers in the entire fortnight. Gryff


Just some personal observations IME / Pls do not take them as 'contradictions/corrections' or similar, it is just my 2c.
Most JPnese speak no English, same as most English speak no JPnese. A difference is some of the latter go to study abroad and/or work for Western MNCs [Multi-national Companies] where English is going to be required. But they are in the small minority, and outside of Tokyo and away from international hotel front-desks are probably going to be hard to find. Looking on at a passing crowd you wouldn't have a clue who is which; but something that struck me on a trip there a few years ago was the willingness of locals to come and offer support to a confused looking visitor has really changed from when I lived there in the early/mid 90s. Back in the 90s they'd have been too shy, afraid to say the wrong thing > confuse you > embarrass you, these days they seem to have got more confident.
Road signs, at least in Tokyo, are bilingual - Google/Image on 'Tokyo sign road name' and you will see. Getting lost is still very easy once off the larger roads as addresses are split into blocks that are ultimately numbered in chronological order of the address/building being built rather than precise/consecutive physical street location. I used to find getting to the approximate area pretty simple, but finding the actual building within a say 100M radius often a lot harder. For the same reason restaurants/bars/hotels and other such destinations often have simplified cartographic pictograms of their location vs other landmarks to assist navigation. Example: http://www.fnetravel.com/english/tokyo/ ... nt-map.jpg
The JPnese are unusually similar to us in several ways for Asians as they share the perspective of an island-nation, though they have opened up to the world a lot more recently. [They certainly generally greatly admire what they know of our culture IME].
Yes, the JPnese are different, a product of their historically closed society, and inherent sense of social order. But IME if you can manage to navigate that, which a visitor can, you will have a most enjoyable time. Also keep in mind they'll regard you by default as a know-nothing foreigner, so their own social expectations will not apply to you. IME they're more likely to vicariously enjoy seeing you break their rules, than take you to task for not knowing nor observing them. In short, don't worry about 'doing something wrong/silly' - you'll be fine, they expect it anyway.
Most JPnese are 'ordered' most of the time, but almost all of them have a time when they can throw out the rule-book and they have license to let loose. Friday night after work in cities being an example, groups of workmates otherwise responsible/sober have license, almost a tribal expectation, to go and get absolutely smashed. That's all about corporate-bonding and is very common IME. They tend to get drunk quickly [the 'Asian gene' vs alcohol] so expect to see glowing red faces, and at throwing out time suited men prostrate asleep on the pavement. It's harmless to the visitor though, stepping over such bodies going home on a Friday night was typical, but I never saw any unrest or violence. So yes their 'off-duty streak' can seem pretty mad, contrary, but it is always well within defined acceptable limits.
IME hiking is popular in Japan, just IME they get 10 days holiday a year so little chance to pursue it. Just look at the crowds hiking on Mj. Fuji in season to see them out and about en masse.


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