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Thread: Any suggestions for Japan trip?

  1. #1

    Any suggestions for Japan trip?

    G'day friends,

    Due to a ridiculously cheap airfare, my girlfriend and I find ourselves in Japan for three and a half weeks. While she's more keen on Disneyland (sigh) I'd really like to see some history and culture.

    I've got particular interest in the Sengoku era and samurai history. I'd love to see some examples of nihonto and yumi while I'm over there, and apart from Osaka castle (which I've wanted to visit since I was knee high to a duck) I don't really know where to start.

    Seeing as so many of you jet off to Japan on a yearly basis, can you recommend any sights, museums, dojos or temples? I'm visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagano and a few other places in between. I've got an unlimited rail pass so even if something's off the beaten track if it's really worth it I can get there.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading.

    Cheers,

    Matt

    PS: Any tips on where to find great onsen would be awesome!

  2. #2
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    If your in Tokyo go see the National Sword Museum out in the suburbs its about 20 min on a local train. AOI-Art and another sword shop are right arround the corner.
    Sengakuji Temple where the 47 Ronin are buried is also in Tokyo
    Tsukiji Market worlds biggest fish market is a great place to eat sushi in the side streets and if you want some nice cooking knives you can also buy them in the side streets.

    In Kyoto there is the National Museum but check if it is open again.
    Also check out the "flea market" at the temples in Kyoto its worth it... great food and lots of antiques, armour and sword parts.
    Niji Castle which belonged to the Daimyo is also in Kyoto and is really cool.
    There are also some really cool temples on almost every street and some really neat ones on the hills arround town.

    Osaka castle is interesting but not the origional which was destroyed in WWII and burned on many previous occasions. The current concrete look alike structure is not a traditional castle but has a great view and showcases the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi the Taiko. It also has a few swords and suits of armor. As well as a place where you can put on some yoroi and have your picture taken... Osaka on the upside has some really great places to eat...

    Nara is also worth a few hours to go see the great Temple and pet some deer but there were no sword etc there.
    "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."
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  3. #3
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    I highly recommend Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture. It's a short trip from both Kyoto and Osaka and can be done in a day or less. Contrary to Mr. Treichel's opinion, I was not particularly impressed with Nijo Castle with the exception of the nightingale floors.

    If you are interested in the Meiji Restoration and the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate, I can recommend a number of interesting places in eastern Tokyo. Quite a few temples still bare scars from the Battle of Ueno and a number of Tokugawa Shoguns, including Yoshinobu, the 15th and last, are buried in the area. The Ueno area and the surrounding Yanaka, Nezu, and Sendagi areas to the north and west are all very nice and in general I recommend a walk through the area.
    無雙直傳英信流・研究会 - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Kenkyukai
    東京蘆洲会 - Tokyo Roshukai

  4. #4

    Some ideas ... with a suggested itinerary for a few days in Tokyo

    Hi Matt,

    I go most years, and have developed an itinerary for Tokyo which includes a range of things that students have enjoyed (below).

    I'll give a bit of detail here, in case that's useful ... and figure that others might stumble across it later as well.

    Overall, I've got two main bits of advice: first, purchase the Lonely Planets for Japan, Tokyo, Kyoto and any other areas you're interested in, and see what you can find ... they recommend a surprising amount of somewhat obscure destinations, especially for folks interested in samurai and bakufu history, as well as the budo - and give a little background so that you have more of an idea of what you're looking at. They might only be a starting point, but they're a good one, and worth taking over anyway.

    Second, get some ideas from what you're interested in for your study (if you train) - for example, are there shrines associated with your art? Or, find out if the specific events in time, or people you're interested in, have associated sites ... you can often visit the very places you have read about. Heck, I even have three guidebooks (in Japanese) showing places you can visit just related to Musashi ...

    Tokyo
    Many people hear 'Tokyo' and think it would be like walking through the set of Bladerunner ... well, at night, perhaps, but if you do it right, then during the day, you can feel like you're back in old Edo.

    One of the biggest tricks is working out how to group your activities so they're in roughly the same area of Tokyo, or are a quick train trip away - otherwise, you can spend a lot of your time (and money) criss-crossing the city. (On the money front, purchasing a Suica is the way to go for the Metro.) The following itinerary groups things mostly by area, and, in general, each day includes one significant shrine, one temple, a museum or other site relevant to the budo (or, at least, makes you feel like you're transported back 150 years).


    Ueno
    • Statue of Saigo Takamori - a good place to pay your respects, and the site of the 1868 rebellion
    • Shitamachi History Museum - just around the corner; recreates some old buildings
    • Tosho-gu (shrine) - up in Ueno Park, built 1651, founded in memory of Tokugawa Ieyasu
    • Tokyo National Museum - has a good Nihonto & armour section - a good taste for some later sites. Often has relevant special exhibits also.



    Ryogoku & Fukugawa
    • Edo-Tokyo Museum - massive structure, which houses a re-creation of the Nihombashi Bridge, and a series of old buildings. Not much in the way of Nihonto; the focus is more on history, culture, and change. Most relevant part for those interested in the budo is a diorama near the beginning that recreates Edo in miniature - the museum supplies binoculars, so you can zoom in ... with visual immersion, it's easy to imagine you're walking alongside those samurai ...
    • Nearby is the 'sumo district' ... there are stables around, as well as places to eat
    • Fukugawa Edo Museum - probably the best museum for recreating that Edo feel - houses a small neighbourhood of different shops and houses, and you can enter each one, see household and everyday items 'in the flesh', and so on. Was closed for renovations back in October 09; can't remember when it was meant to re-open. Oh, and halfway along the street and across the road is a little sake shop, run by a man called Yasugi Hayashi - drop in, buy the best sake he has (don't panic, it won't be too expensive), and say hi from me.
    • Kiyosumi Teien - fantastic gardens; can have lunch here
    • Fukugawa Fudo-do - temple devoted to Fudo-myoo, who I'm guessing you've heard of - good to get there at 3pm for the 'fire ceremony'. You're allowed inside, where there are many displays related to Fudo.
    • Tomioka Hachimangu - across the road; shrine devoted to Hachiman.
      The temple and shrine are a couple of trains stops away from Fukugawa Edo Museum - or a delightful walk through local neigbourhoods ... just get Hayahshi-san to point you in the right direction.

      This is a big day - even with an early start, you might decide to split it in two.


    Shibuya & Shinjuku
    • Japanese Sword Museum (Token Hakubutsukan) - the LP says get the Keio Line to Hatsudai; I tend to get the Odakyo Line to Sangubashi ... anyway, the station staff, or people at the 'combini' across the road can direct you from there - it's a few blocks away
    • Meiji-jingu (Emperor's shrine) - back down past Sangubashi station
    • Meiji-jingu gyoen (garden)
    • Jingubashi - for people-watching
    • Kinokuniya bookstores - there are two in Shinjuku; have good martial arts sections ... also worth looking in art (sometimes have Nihonto books there), philosophy/religion (some relevant texts, eg Takuan, Omori, etc), and history/military (a lot of the relevant Japanese translated texts are here).



    Imperial Palace & Jimbocho
    • Imperial Palace & gardens
    • Budokan - worth seeing if something is on ... last time I was there, there was a major Judo competition on ... they let me walk in for free and watch.
    • Yasakuni-jinja - despite/because of its complex history, it's a fascinating place
    • Yushukan (war museum) - next door to the shrine. Not many, but a few nice Nihonto.
    • Down the road is Jimbocho, which is both the 'bookshop district' and 'sporting goods district' - best of both worlds! One vendor I've dealt with there is Budo Shop Sakuraya. Sanseido bookstore has a fairly good budo section, but this has shrunk over the past couple of years.


    Other stuff / excursions
    Obviously, there's a lot more, but I find the above is a great introduction to Japanese history ... with a fairly good amount of Nihonto as well. Here are a copule of other ideas, and some day trips:

    Japan Sword Company is worth a visit ... even if you're not going to purchase a sword, ask politely for Fumiatsu Moroishi, and see if he'll show you the showrooms upstairs ... the collection here contains many kinds of items that you won't see even in the bigger museums.

    Sengakuji , as Christopher mentioned, is a must. Make sure you see the videos and museum at the beginning (it will help in identifying what's outside) - there's an English-dubbed version, and the attendant will play this for you. Leave plenty of time for putting incense on all of the graves ...

    Kashima and Katori - a really worthwhile day trip, to visit Kashima Jingu and Katori Jingu, two of the most significant shrines for the budo. Kashima is the nicer, and a long walk in the grounds is transportative. Each has a museum, which are worth looking at; the one at Kashima holds 'Futsu-no-Mitama-no-Tsurugi', a 2.71 metre chokuto - they say it's both the longest and oldest (1300 years old) sword in Japan. (The museum may not be open, but just ask the attendants.)

    They may not have them prominently displayed, but at both shrines, you can get Goshinto, bokken that have been blessed by the priests (I think that's what they were trying to tell me; my Japanese is bad, so someone else feel free to correct this!).

    Hakone & Odawara - a castle, a train trip up the side of a mountain, a cable car, a trip on a pirate ship (!) across a lake, a checkpoint staffed with (models of) samurai and featuring an armoury, an onsen ... what more could you want? Get the 'furii passu' when you book your ticket on the 'Romance Car' train to get there... the LP has all the details.

    Kamakura - doable in a day, but more than enough for two days ... do you want to see the temple restored by Takuan? Or walk up a disused mountain track behind a temple, only to come out in a forest filled with statues of Tengu in various jo kamae? Of course you do!


    Kyoto

    I'm not as familiar with Kyoto, but here are a couple of things worth tracking down:

    Nijo Jinya - the house of the Ogawa family, tours are by booking only, and in Japanese ... get there early, and see if anyone else in the group can translate. The house holds all sorts of secrets, like a hidden space for a bodyguard to drop down on visitors with ill intent, secret cupboards, and more. Well worthwhile!

    Teradaya Museum - Sakamoto Ryoma's favourite watering-hole, now a museum. See where he slept after a few quiet ones!

    Kurama & Kibune - a great day trip: catch the train to Kurama, hike up the mountain to where tengu teach kenjutsu (Ueshiba Morihei used to take his senior students here), hike down the other side, have lunch sitting (literally) over a river, and then wander down to the onsen, where all you can see is forest ...



    Well, I hope that gives you some possibilities!

    Now, I want to see what everyone else suggests ... to get ideas for my next trip!

    Cheers,

    Mark

  5. #5
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    If you can get up to Nikko in Tochigi, I highly recommend the Toshogu Shrine there.

  6. #6
    Wow, thanks for everyone's suggestions, I really appreciate it. Thanks especially to Mark for putting in so much time typing that up, that's going to really come in handy over the next few weeks.

    Cheers again,

    Matt

  7. #7
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    think this may be worthy of a 'sticky'.

    Dave
    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  8. #8
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    Dunno if anyone has suggested the O-Edo Museum. It's the really odd-looking building right next to Ryogoku Station (on the JR Sobu line, the yellow train). It has a wide range of exhibits that showcase the development of Edo all the way through to its becoming Tokyo and is an absolutely fascinating place. I have been several times and always found something new to marvel at. The museum also provides English-language devices that explain the exhibits, an awfully big help if you don't speak or read Japanese.

    Another good place to go is the Japanese National Museum of Folklore. It's in Sakura City, Chiba Prefecture, which is a bit of a hike, but it does have some fascinating displays. I particularly liked the models of the streets of Kyoto and the bushi's house. I haven't been there for at least fifteen years and it's probably just added to its exhibits, but there's a wealth of material there.

    If you like traditional architecture, there's a collection of farm houses from all over Japan. I don't remember the name of the place, but it's in Kanagawa Prefecture (I think in Kawasaki City), which is pretty close to Tokyo.

    The Sword Museum as being in the suburbs of Tokyo is a fifteen minute bike ride from Shinjuku Station, give or take. Take a taxi, though, as it is in a rather complicated residential neighborhood and you *will* get lost if you try to hoof it.

    Although I lived in Tokyo for nearly twenty-two years, I have never been to either Senso-ji (where the 47 ronin are buried) or Tokyo Tower. (Then again, I grew up in L.A., about six miles from Universal Studios and I've never been there, either.) You might find Tokyo Tower especially interesting if the sky is pretty clear. Otherwise, maybe not so much.

    Okachi-machi has all kinds of little shops with all sorts of Japanese goods. It's a bit of a walk from the Asakusa Kannon temple that somebody suggeste you see, but the whole area is interesting. If you like Japanese gadgets or want to get really ineresting (read, "odd") souvenirs, those are the places to go. I really find the stalls near Asakusa-dera (the temple) interesting and fun, too.

    Depending on your tolerance for weird, noise and/or sleaze, Kabuki-cho (near the east side of Shinjuku Station) is an interesting place. It's rather hard to describe, and even though I lived near there for most of my time in Japan, I always felt it was like going to another planet. Sort of like L.A. (where I grew up, so I *do* know what I'm talking about). Some good restaurants, though. A whole LOT of bars, too. Some of them are okay, some are not. The place is mobbed up and some places do NOT welcome people who don't "belong." You should be able to tell whether or not you're in a good place. If you are told to leave, though, do so. You do NOT want to beef with the local boys unless it's your idea of a good time to spend a lot of time in a hospital or the cop shop. Been to both, didn't like either. Trust me on this!

    Budo: go watch the practices at the Kodokan, the Aikikai or Yoshinkai, either of the Japan Karate Association hombu dojo (don't ask, it's a political thing), and either the Nippon or Tokyo Budokan's evening classes. The former is in Kudanshita, the latter is in Ayase. There are many different arts taught at both places, so you'll have a chance to see a bunch of stuff. If you have names and addresses of dojo in the area, that's a great thing to do, too. Your lady will probably be bored to tears, but hey...

    Hope this helps,

    Meik Skoss
    Shutokukan Dojo
    Koryu.com

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meik Skoss View Post

    The Sword Museum as being in the suburbs of Tokyo is a fifteen minute bike ride from Shinjuku Station, give or take. Take a taxi, though, as it is in a rather complicated residential neighborhood and you *will* get lost if you try to hoof it.
    No worries... They have signs in English directing the way... just keep your eyes open. It's about a 5 minute walk from the local station in that part of the suburbs. You can take a train there from Shinjuku Station.
    Last edited by Christopher Treichel; 01-21-2010 at 11:13 AM.
    "Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio."
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    Nakamura Ryu Batto Do, Order of Seven Hearts

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Meik Skoss View Post
    Your lady will probably be bored to tears, but hey...
    I'm learning how to snowboard for her, which almost certainly means pain and embarassment. I think she'll deserve it.

    Thanks for the input Skoss Sensei and everybody else who has contributed, I'll let you know how I get on when I get back. Keep the ideas coming though, this will be a good resource for people going over for their first time.

    Cheers,

    Matt

  11. #11
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    A sword exhibition titled 100 Years of Modern Era Swords: Revival & Inheritence (現代刀の100年・復興と継承) is currently be held from now until the 28th of February, 2010. The venue is the Jingu Choukokan (神宮徴古館) in Ise, Mie Prefecture. I don't think I'll be able to make it, so my three tickets may be available for free. Please PM me if interested.

    Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture is quite off the beaten path but full of treasures. Between Kanazawa Castle, Kenroku-en Garden, the Nagamachi Samurai Residences, the mislabeled but very interested "Ninja" Temple (Myoryu-ji), and a unique dish called jibuni you should find enough to do for at least two full days. It's not a replacement for the more famous locales such as Kyoto and Nara, but it's not a bad addition.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meik Skoss View Post
    Although I lived in Tokyo for nearly twenty-two years, I have never been to either Senso-ji (where the 47 ronin are buried) or Tokyo Tower.... I really find the stalls near Asakusa-dera (the temple) interesting and fun, too.
    At the risk of being pedantic if exact: 浅草寺 is read Senso-ji; there is no Asakusa-dera though 浅草神社, the accompanying shrine, is read Asakusa-jinja. The 47 Ronin are buried in 泉岳寺 (Sengaku-ji) in Minato-ku, Tokyo as previously mentioned.

    In terms of views, I recommend the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Shinjuku) which is free. Tokyo Tower is best seen from other buildings, the best of which is probably the pricey but close Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Landmark Tower, Japan's tallest building, also provides an excellent view of the Tokyo Bay from the nearby city of Yokohama.

    Quote Originally Posted by Meik Skoss View Post
    Okachi-machi has all kinds of little shops with all sorts of Japanese goods.
    The area between Ueno and Okachimachi Stations, collectively referred to by the name of the largest shopping street, Ame-yoko (アメ横/アメヤ横丁), is quite fun. I recommend grabbing a bite at one of the shops literally below the Yamanote Line tracks. There's nothing like enjoying a beer with a train thundering over your head. Beer keg seats and beer crate tables may be available outside in the streets, weather permitting. Start from Ueno Station and walk between the north- and south-bound tracks.
    無雙直傳英信流・研究会 - Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Kenkyukai
    東京蘆洲会 - Tokyo Roshukai

  12. #12
    If you make it to Kyoto there are plenty of cultural things places to visit. More specifically, you might like to check out these places:

    The Budokuden. This is the famous practice hall where lots of demos take place. You are free to wander in and around the grounds (it looks a little like a large temple) and who knows... you might be allowed to sit in on a practice session as an observer, or watch through the large doors which are often left open if the weather is suitable. Very cool for atmosphere. (There are three main buildings, the old one, a new one, and a kyudo hall tucked into the south east corner of the compound.

    Just to the north of this is a large east west street called Marutamachi. As well as quite a nice antique shop (The Blue Parrot), and the Kyoto Handicraft Centre - both of which might be suitable for someone with slightly less martial interests than you - there are several shops selling bokken, bogu and various other martial art supplies, among which is....
    Tozando... which sells swords and armour. To whet your appetite, you can check out this brief tour on youtube
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngzgHNDYMm8

    Also you might like to check out the Kyoto Ii Museum, which has arms and armour related to the Ii family. This is downtown, just on the edge of the famous Gion area, which is very picturesque if you walk down the right streets. It is on a street called Shinmonzen St., which is filled with antique shops and suitable for a wander. (Some of them are friendly to foreigners - some of them aren't friendly to anyone! so don't take it personally.) I think you can try on armour if you make a pre-booking.

    http://www.ii-museum.jp/english/top.htm

    Kyoto has a distinctly different feeling from other cities in Japan, so I would recommend it if you get the chance.

    Chris

  13. #13
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    E. Spinelli wrote:

    "At the risk of being pedantic if exact: 浅草寺 is read Senso-ji; there is no Asakusa-dera[,] though 浅草神社, the accompanying shrine, is read Asakusa-jinja. The 47 Ronin are buried in 泉岳寺 (Sengaku-ji) in Minato-ku, Tokyo as previously mentioned."

    Yes, Eric, you *are* being (more than) a bit pedantic. I know that the proper name of the temple is Senso-ji. That said, I taught high school kids living in Shita-machi (Toritsu Joto H.S.) for close to ten years. They *never* called it by its proper name unless I specifically asked for its proper name; they *always* referred to it as Asakusa-dera. On the cosmic scale of things, does it really matter? No.

    But, gee whiz... Guess that was my bad, huh?

    Sheesh!

    Meik Skoss
    Shutokukan Dojo
    Koryu.com

  14. #14

    National Musem of Japanese History and Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Musuem

    Quote Originally Posted by Meik Skoss View Post
    Another good place to go is the Japanese National Museum of Folklore. It's in Sakura City...
    Do you mean this one, Meik? National Museum of Japanese History (国立歴史民俗博物館, Kokuritsu Rekishi Minzoku Hakubutsukan):
    http://www.rekihaku.ac.jp/english/index.html

    It looks fantastic. It just had a special exhibition on the 'Beginning of the Jomon culture'; I missed out on seeing it last year due to a full schedule of taking students on tour.

    As for architectural museums, there's the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Architectural Musuem (江戸東京たてもの園, Edo Tōkyō Tatemono En):
    Official page (not in English): http://www.tatemonoen.jp/
    A brief English summary: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3032.html

  15. #15

    Two more sources for inspiration...

    Oh, and and for a great source of ideas, there's the JNTO (Japan National Tourism Organisation) website: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/index.html

    Their 'Browse by interests' secton lets you wander through lists of 'Castles, gardens, and architecture', for example, or 'Shrines and temples'. The photography on the site is often spectactular ... it's a great resource.

    I don't know if they still do it, but the JNTO used to have a great suite of brochures they would post out for free. My favourite, 'PG-801: Museums and art galleries', is still holding up after 8 years ... it lists a few open-air museums, budo-related sites such as the Japanese Sword Museum mentioned above, and lots of, well, 'particular interest' places, such as the Kite Museum and the Tobacco and Salt Museum ... something for everyone!

    As for finding sites more related to specific events in history, and so on, books like the Osprey series, and the 'picture history'-type books of Turnbull, etc, for all of their limitations, can be good sources for ideas. It's easy enough to see a photo of a shrine/temple/hill where an event took place, and then find out how to visit it ... or to read about a certain series of events, or period in time, or group of people (such as the Sohei) and then make an itinerary to see places related to that. And the buildings, statues, etc are usually far more impressive in person than photos can ever suggest...
    Last edited by Mark T; 01-30-2010 at 10:11 PM.

  16. #16
    There may or may not be some places here that you might be interested in:

    http://kenshi247.net/category/series/places/
    George. Osaka, Japan.
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  17. #17
    Is there anywhere in Tokyo area where I can learn how to make cardboard armour yoroi, like this site www.usagijuku.com ?

  18. #18
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    This group has a branch in Tokyo. They offer classes to the publlic, but it is like a college course, takes several months. They actually have you make your own yoroi. Helps if you speak Japanese. I met this group when I lived over there. Very friendly. They were at a demo we participated in. We got to get pics wearing their armor. Lots of fun. My sensei was invited to wear their stuff in a festival parade at one of the castles.
    Anyway, this group is part of the Myochin family armorers tradition. They take this quite seriously, even if they do have fun with it.

    Dave
    Dave Drawdy
    "the artist formerly known as Sergeant Major"

  19. #19

    Map for Japanese Sword Musuem ... and where to go afterwards

    Quote Originally Posted by Meik Skoss View Post
    The Sword Museum as being in the suburbs of Tokyo is a fifteen minute bike ride from Shinjuku Station, give or take. Take a taxi, though, as it is in a rather complicated residential neighborhood and you *will* get lost if you try to hoof it.
    Aww, c'mon Meik! Getting lost in Tokyo is half the fun! (I always figure if I have a day where I don't get lost in Japan, then I'm probably not being adventurous enough ...)

    In any case, here's the map of how to get there ... sorry it's a little travel-worn. It shows both Hatsudai Station on the Keio Line, as well as Sangubashi Station on the Odakyu Line. I tend the use the Odakyu Line, mostly because I'm used to it, and it has a 'combini' across from the station, so you can grab a quick bite on the way (and just remind yourself of Donn Draeger's famous quip if you get stared at for eating while walking ). The hardest part of the trip is actually finding the right platform at Shinjuku!

    An insider's tip: as a Gaijin, your reception at the Token Hakubutsukan can be on the 'chilly' side of polite. It's a pretty conservative establishment, so dressing well and being quiet and respectful is the way to go. It's even quieter than the average museum, giving it a sense of being almost a place of reverence or sacred ground, and that's how I engage with it. I've lost count of the number of times I've been there and rowdy Westerners have come barreling up the stairs, only to be greeted by (appropriately) scowling attendants. (I'm also guessing they get a few anime-wannabe-samyureyes at times, which must get tired really quickly.)

    Even if you speak no Japanese other than kata and technique names, politely mentioning that you train - or teach - in the arts goes a long way to breaking the ice (especially with the stony-faced security guards on duty - they have a pretty dull job, and all bar one I've talked with there have loved meeting interested Westerners, and the break from the routine). As does buying things from their gift shop: they stock most of the 'usuual suspects' Nihonto books (for example, all of the Kodansha titles), as well as some titles in Japanese which are still useful pictorial references ... as well as sword bags, cleaning kits, and even phone cards. Spending your money here, rather than at a large book chain store, is one small way to give something back.

    While walking down Nishi-Sando from Sangubashi Station is not the prettiest of walks, once you've finished at the museum, you can just backtrack, crossing over the Odakyu Line and continuing to the end of Nishi-Sando, and you're at the North Gate of Yoyogi Koen, where you can then visit the Meiji-jingu and continue strolling through the Meiji-jingu Gyoen. This provides some nice reflection time after the Hakubutsukan, and the traffic of Nishi-Sando. Following the path south through the gardens drops you out at Jingu-bashi for some amusing encounters with cos-play girls and Rockabilly rebels.

    While Omote-sando, just in front of you is, on the whole, an overpriced high street for the rich and frivolous, it does contain Oriental Bazaar, one of the better entry-points for souvenirs (with some good antiques upstairs), and one of the best places to get lunch in all of Tokyo: Home/Hiroba at Crayon House, which specialises in hearty and healthy organic meals, and even serves (gasp!) brown rice.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Mark T; 02-20-2010 at 02:34 PM. Reason: typo

  20. #20
    Even though I got back more than six months ago, I just remembered to drop by and thank everybody who contributed. We went to as many of the suggested locations as we could and they were all great.

    This thread is a great resource and I'd encourage people who've been to Japan to keep posting here so new travellers like me can share the knowledge.


    Oh, and the National Sword Museum wasn't too hard to find. We took the Odakyo line from Shinjuku and it's a ten minute walk from the station. Dreary suburb, though, but a great place to go.

    Keep the ideas coming,

    Matt.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    196
    Hi Guys, I know this is an older thread but I just read about the recommendation to visit the Saigo Takamori statue in Ueno as it is the site of the 1868 rebellion. Actually, the Meiji Restoration was pretty much over by 1867 and the Satsuma Rebellion started in Kagoshima, a city in southern Kyushu, in 1877. That was the basis for Tom Cruise heading to Japan to brighten their lives. If you actually wanted to pay respects to Saigo Takamori, Kagoshima would be a far greater place to start. You may visit the Castle at the foot of Shiroyama which is where the final battle took place and the samurai were decimated by the Imperial troops. The Castle walls are still riddled with shot and shell marks, Saigo's school is right next door and the stone walls there are equally marked from the battle. Just behind this site you may find a small shrine dedicated to Saigo which is where he died by assisted suicide. His head was never found. There are also a series of stone bridges in Kagoshima, right downtown (Tenmonkan) that cross the Kotsuki River there. One of these bridges was the where the wives of the samurai went out to meet the Imperial troops with their Naginata, of course they were killed as well and did so before their husbands, not as many people are as aware of that. Those Bridges were washed away in a nasty flood in 1991 or 92 but rebuilt in a park near downtown. Just outside of Kagoshima city is a beautiful little town called Chiran where the entire area is preserved in Tokugawa style samurai residences, very interesting to see. There is also the Kamikaze for Peace Museum in Chiran which is worth seeing. Kagoshima was one of the few Kamikaze bases during the war. Actually, the street in the New City Kagoshima are so wide because they were the original Kamikaze airstrips. There is a very interesting Museum in Kagoshima again right on the Kotski river dedicated to the memory of the Meiji Restoration and the Satsuma Rebellion which is actually located right across the river from the birthplace of Saigo... and my old apartment. In the downtown you may also find the main Dojo for the rather obscure Jigen Ryu style of swordsmanship. So much to see and do in Kagoshima, and Japan in general when you know where to look. Cheers Andrew
    My guess is that you are reading this in English on a computer of some sort and if that is the case I hate to be the one to tell you but you will never be a samurai nor a ninja, any more than you may apply to become a 12th century French Knight or an Emporer of China. Some jobs are simply no longer hiring.

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    BC, Canada
    Posts
    196

    Oops, ps

    My wife just reminded me that with Ryoma Sakamoto in the spot light right now, Kagoshima is the location he took his wife for what is often called the first Japanese honeymoon. Their statue is near the mouth of the same river into Kinko Bay and is only about a five minute walk from the site of the British-Satsuma War which happened all about the same time as well, this was in part the inspiration for Jame's Clavell's novel Gai-jin. Kagoshima was also the headquarters for the Imperial Japanese Navy and Kinko Bay was where they ran the rehearsals for Pearl Harbor. (I am missing a lot but I can't think of what else anyone would be interested in seeing). Oh, if anyone saw the Japanese drama Atsu-Hime the young man who has a crush on her was the same fellow who built the old stone bridges, small world. Cheers and hope to see you in Kagoshima.
    My guess is that you are reading this in English on a computer of some sort and if that is the case I hate to be the one to tell you but you will never be a samurai nor a ninja, any more than you may apply to become a 12th century French Knight or an Emporer of China. Some jobs are simply no longer hiring.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    los angeles
    Posts
    2
    great thanks!
    Live like a ninja!

  24. #24
    That's a great place to find yourself. Aw there are so many places I could suggest. My top three would be head over to see Mt. Fuji, there's a town called Yamanashi that's a great quaint little town. Plenty of outdoor activities as well. Another great place would be visiting Hiroshima and checking out the WW2 memorial. A lot of great history there to learn about. Best of luck!
    Katana Reviews - Quality in our weapons leads to quality in our art.

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