Friday, November 29, 2013

Travel Tips - Japan:Tokyo, Kamakura & Hakone

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                     JOTARO'S TRAVEL TIPS                   
JAPAN 2013 : TOKYO, KAMAKURA & HAKONE
Entrance to Engakuji Temple from Kita Kamakura Station.
These are tips we picked up during the course of preparation for our biking trip in Japan & while we there in these three cities (... see Cycling Japan 2013 blog). This page provides : useful net sites, hand-phone apps, maps and a simple discourse on the Japanese people. 
Hope this will be helpful.

Useful Net Sites:

For Travel Spots

Japan Guide : Tokyo
Japan Guide : Kamakura
Japan Guide : Hakone 
eBook : Lonely Planet Japan 12th edition
Tripadvisor

For Transportation & Hotels

Hyperdia (Rail Transportation)
Tokyo Sightseeing Bus Tour
- K's House Tokyo Backpackers' Hostel (for cheap lodging in Tokyo)
Fujimien Ryokan in Hakone (highly recommended)
- Hakone Free Pass (a pass that covers travel from Shinjuku Station to Hakone, free cruises, cable car rides, entry into selected sites - 5000Y for 2-day pass; 5500Y for 3-day pass).
Air Asia (for Air Travel)
Booking.com (Hotel bookings - this site is good as no deposits required, pay at counter)
Agoda.com (Hotel bookings)
Tripadvisor (Hotel users' reviews)

Useful Apps For Hand-phones:

Travelling In Japan (a host of apps for travelling in Japan)
- Japan Trains (for Android)
- City Maps 2Go (offline maps for iPhone, $2.99)
- City Maps 2Go (offline maps for Android, free)
Learn Japanese Phrase Book (Basic Japanese - resides in memory, no internet required)
Easy Taxi (Booking taxies for Android, free)
Aldiko eBook Reader
- Sony Reader (eBook reader for PCs, Tablets & Handphones)


SHOPPING TIPS
- Uniqlo thermal wear items are much cheaper in Japan, there's an outlet at Ameyoko, Tokyo.
- A lot of choices of Kit Kat available at Ameyoko Market Street. Wasabi Kit Kat available only at certain seasons, but is available at Haneda Airport shops anytime.
- At Haneda airport, shop at the upper floors. There are better deals there.
- Souvenir shopping at Hakone-yumoto and Kamakura is cheaper.
- A wide range of electronic goods at the Akibahara district.

Japanese People:

Generally, Japanese are disciplined, honest, courteous, helpful, clean, etc.
Disciplined - you won't see queue jumping, no bumping into people, etc.
Honest        - No worries about leaving things behind and getting them stolen. No snatch-thieves.
Courteous  - They greet people with warm smiles. In shops they will thank you profuesly, whether you make a purchase or not. "Arigato, Arigato! Unlike some other countries, where one will face sultry looks and rude remarks if one does not purchase or ask to many questions.
Helpful         - They will go out of their way to help lost tourist (like us) in their limited English.
Clean           - Most streets & alleys are clean, hardly any rubbish around. No lazy throwing of rubbish anywhere, even if public bins are scarce (many were removed after the subway poison attack). We noticed that in fast food outlets, they will clean up after finishing - even to the extent of wiping the tables, so do follow likewise.
Neat              - Products are nicely packed and arranged even in the wet markets. A lot of effort and detail made to ensure packaging is neat and beautiful.
Workers sifting out fallen leaves.
Meticulous - Japanese are meticulous in maintaining their image. At Sogenchi Gardens, workers could be seen sifting the ground to remove fallen leaves.
No Smoking!
Smoking Zones - Many areas are designated non-smoking zones. Smoke only where there is a public ash-tray stand.
Urinals for elderly and the blind
Handicapped Friendly - Special embossed floor tiles are there to help the blind. Raised line for normal walking and raised studs for junction points, top of stairs - and even for urinal standing positions. Railings for elderly - even for urinals.




Useful Maps (Airport & Train Stations)

(click on map for enlarged view)


Map of Kuala Lumpur Rail Links (More Info)

Map of Haneda Airport Terminal 2 for international flights (click here for interactive map).

Map of Tokyo Station (click here for PDF copy)
Map of Kamakura Station (click here for map link)

Map of Odawara Station (click here for map link)

Map of Hakone-yumoto Station (click here for PDF copy)


Useful Maps (Parks & Temples)
(click on map for enlarged view)

Tokyo Attractions
Senso-ji Temple Map

Ueno Park Map

Tsukiji Fish Market Map
(Note: Be at the guard-house early, before 4:00am to get visitors pass; only 120 passes are issued.)

Tokyo World War Two Museum Map

Tokyo Imperial Palace Map

The East Gardens Of The Impeial Palace Guide Map

The Ueno-Ameyoko Area Road Map


Kamakura Attractions
Kamakura Tourist Attractions Map

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine Map

Engakuji Temple Ground Layout Map

Kenchoji Temple Map


Hakone Attractions
Hakone Area Map showing tourist attractions

Hakone 3-D Map

Hakone-yumoto Map

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5 comments:

  1. Hi Jotaro! Just want to say your posts and tips on your trip to Japan have been great and inspiring to me!

    I plan to bring my Brompton bike to Tokyo this November, and I would like to ask regarding how is it like cycling in Japan.
    (1) Would places such as shopping malls / restaurants / shops allows bromptons in their premise or are we suppose to park our bikes at a designated bicycle parking? Is it legal to park the bike just outside that shop?
    (2) I heard bicycle theft is quite common in Japan, could you share how would you secure your bikes to prevent theft or recommended accessories for it?
    (3) Is it true we are suppose to bag-up our bikes while in the trains?

    I guess these are the questions i could think of so far. Appreciate your advice on this. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lydia,
      Glad that the tips were helpful to you. As for your questions:
      1. Parking in malls.
      Japan is a densely populated country and very often malls are crowded with people, thus it is difficult to push a folded Bromton through. I am not sure whether they allow the Brompton in, we did not try seeing how crowded these places are. Yes there are bicycle parking outside the malls but sometimes they may not be located near the entrance.
      2. Theft is not rampant in Japan, but at crowded areas in the city it is better to play safe. Lock your bicycle to a convenient post, or have a friend sit around to keep an eye if there is no convenient post around.
      See this blog: http://www.tokyobybike.com/2012/02/three-types-of-japanese-bicycle-thieves.html
      3. Yes it is a must to bag bikes in Japanese trains. In fact, the bikes have to be bagged the moment you enter the boarding platforms. See: http://ahpekbiker.blogspot.com/2013/11/cycling-japan-2013-day-5-day-trip-to.html

      Hope these answers your questions.
      And have a good trip.

      Regards,
      the AhPek Biker.

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    2. By the way,
      Japan is a nice place to cycle in, especially the smaller towns and villages. And the people are friendly, polite and helpful
      The centre of Tokyo have junctions that are close to each other and cyclist has to stop frequently. Do follow the law here and don't beat the lights.

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    3. Wow! Thx for the prompt reply! Yeah, this will be my first time bringing a bike to overseas. So, will be nervous in regards to the preperation and also whether the cycling experience in tokyo is going to be troublesome or not. Well, i will continue to post more questions if I do have. For now, many thanks to you Jotaro!

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    4. Hi Lydia,
      Do cycle in Tokyo, there are several spots worth visiting. The troublesome part is more at the city core area, the outskirts are ok.

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