I want you to know the power of this post ... this thread is out of pure desperation to help me come up with a decision, what you reply may swing me one way or another. I've been tossing and turning now for a few weeks now about wether i should go to Tokyo or not. Time is precious, so when i plan a trip it has to be right, as i don't often get the chance to vacation. This thread is out of pure desperation to help me come up with a decision, what you reply may swing me one way or another.
I'll be in Bangkok for some work around the first few weeks of January, and have a five day schedule break in between. I'm urging my wife to make a trip up to Tokyo, but she is dead set against the idea. I'm talking a massive irrational against the idea, she just doesn't fancy the idea.
We've done Singapore, Hong Kong, and a few other asian cities in the past year. We just had a close friend who returned and said Tokyo was quite boring, and wasn't much to do or see there. Naturally, different strokes for different folks, and we enjoy it even if he didn't, but he is of very similar ink to us, and we usually enjoy the same things. Boring goes against the grain as how i always envisaged Tokyo to be, rather as some future like city (ideas subsconciously flowing through when Japan was a superpower back in the 80's at the cutting edge of all technology).
Also the fact is i'm going in January and here it's going to be rather cold. I don't mind cold at all, infact i love certain cities like New York, Paris in the winter. But i draw the line at being uncomortably cold.
And the fact that perhaps alot of the infrustructure is running at low speeds sinse the earthquake .. eg the lights at Shijinku and all that (hey those lights are a big deal for tourists, imagine Times square without them!).
We're both mid 20 year olds, like going to tourist attractions, seeing cultures, eating at nice restaurants, hate going for walks in the countryside and admiring pompous artwork or views ... what do you all think? Shall we venture out there?
Tokyo is one of the largest (the largest?) cities in the world. With over 100,000 restaurants - and more Michelin stars than any other city in the world. It is definitely a "must-go-to" city for anyone who loves food. There is also plenty to do between meals .
As for the weather - I've lived in Florida for 40+ years - so I am not a cold weather person. But the highs in Tokyo in January seem to be about 50 degrees F and about 75% of the days are sunny. Doesn't sound so bad. Robyn
If you cannot find something fun to do in Tokyo, then you just aren't trying. Even after losing a good deal of post-Bubble luster, there is more than enough food/fun/culture/techie/erotic/otaku/whatever goodness to fill a vacation with.
Well, I'm just in transit on my way back to cold Canada after a short holiday in Tokyo . I absolutely loved my trip, though it did have its challenges. Given your experience in Asia it might be less of a problem. The things that I loved the most were the pompous views , but there was still lots for city folk to do. The food is great as mentioned, but you'd better have the budget for those Michelin starred places, or even (I thought) mid-range places.
Given your wife's reticence, and that you've been to other Asian cities, what about trying India? Totally different in my opinion and still one of my favourite (and also challenging) countries. It has everything that you said you wanted and then some. It might add a couple of hours to the trip, but not much more, and really is a different experience. There are lots of very different options within India with good connections out of BKK as well.
P.S. Unfortunately the cold is leaving . I was planning to ski in the next couple of days!
I think one difference between our trip in 2006 and a trip today is that the US$/JY exchange rate was a little less than 90 cents for 100 yen then - over $1.25 now. Reckon I could compute the Canadian$/JY cross in US$ terms - but I'm too lazy right now . At the time of our trip - we thought that Japan - even Tokyo - was reasonably cheap.
Also - a note to the OP - the restaurant prices aren't so bad when you consider that tipping is simply not part of Japanese culture. And when I looked at some prices today - well the room we stayed at in Tokyo at the FS is now 15% cheaper than it was during our trip in 2006 - due to a combination of lower room rates and free nights. I think that Japanese tourism may be hurting due to radiation scares. (The aftermath of the earthquake wouldn't affect restaurant pricing as much - since there are about 30 million people who live in Tokyo and they like to go out to eat.)
I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. I think Japan is a wonderful place to visit - one of the most enjoyable trips my husband and I have ever taken. It is also a very hard act to follow. I'm trying to plan our travel for 2012 now. And when I start to read about some places I'm considering - I get turned off by reports of shady practices when dealing with tourists - pollution - problems with sanitary conditions (my husband and I are *very* bad when it comes to taking food precautions in second world countries) - etc. Robyn
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Tokyo is an uber-large city. If you like NYC, Paris, London, etc, then you'll love Tokyo.
As for eating, as others have mentioned, Tokyo has the Michelin-starred restos than any other city in the world. Choose any top resto in Europe and there's a good chance there's a branch in Tokyo. In fact, when I go, I really don't buy anything but go just for the food.
I'm trying to plan our travel for 2012 now. And when I start to read about some places I'm considering - I get turned off by reports of shady practices when dealing with tourists - pollution - problems with sanitary conditions
If those are your concerns and you're looking in Asia, robyng, I suggest you take a look at Taiwan or Malaysia. (Singapore too, I guess. But it's small).
I went around the world. It was alright for a holiday but I wouldn't want to live there - Michael Redmond
....And the fact that perhaps alot of the infrustructure is running at low speeds sinse the earthquake .. eg the lights at Shijinku and all that (hey those lights are a big deal for tourists, imagine Times square without them!)....
All the lights are back on. All the infrastructure is running at full speed and full schedule. All of it.
I'm not sure what your wife is so worried about - Tokyo is awesome - as is Japan in general. It's my favorite country to visit by far. Your biggest issue is going to be the language barrier. But nonetheless you can definitely do it and have an amazing time - just do yourself a favor and research as much as you can before you go. A GPS capable phone is also a great idea cause you will get lost. You can rent a local handheld or a mifi - but whatever you do avoid roaming on googlemaps or you'll owe hundreds in data roaming fees.
Also, though the exchange is pretty brutal, hotels prices have gone down due to the tourism downturn. I've found some great deals on Japanese sites like Rakuten and Jalan (need some Japanese or a lot of patience for the latter) that are generally better than what is offered on other web sites.
And IMO Tokyo and Japan in general have some of the highest PQR restaurant values in the world. If you don't need to blow out on high end sushi or kaiseki you can have great food at a reasonable cost. Hit the expensive places for lunch when they have much cheaper specials and go to izakayas or yakitori-yas or other less fancy places in the evening. Also, draft beer is good and generally pretty cheap compared to other big cities like NYC and London.
Long answer but seriously, you'd be crazy to have the opportunity and not go.
JordanNite, even at half or a third capacity, Tokyo's infrastructure is still decades better than my hometown of New York.
Like Singapore, infrastructure money was spent (whether they had money to do it or not is another story ), and as a tourist from a place that couldn't care less about infrastructure spending, you'll be amazed at how well everything runs. Tokyo is open for business, go enjoy it!
And frankly, there is more daily radiation in Hong Kong then there is on the streets of Tokyo.
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My partner and I spend every Jan-Mar in Tokyo to escape the "cold" US Midwest. In Jan 2012, we are starting out in Osaka, first, for two weeks, then we have rented a home in Tokyo through March. The summers are like the US Midwest (hot, humid) so when we go there then, we are used to that. We have really never found Tokyo "boring." Neither one of us are Japanese and only one of us (not me) speaks Japanese. We both really love Tokyo and this trip is actually a "house hunting" trip.
I'm urging my wife to make a trip up to Tokyo, but she is dead set against the idea. I'm talking a massive irrational against the idea, she just doesn't fancy the idea.
I love Tokyo, but it sounds like your wife isn't even willing to give it a chance. If she goes there with the intention of hating it, she will hate it.
I was in Tokyo this week and I was concerned about potential health risks (radiation). I guess I won't know if there are any side effects for awhile, but it's business as usual in Tokyo. There's no evidence of the earthquake.
We shopped most of the time--Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, and Ginza. For guys clothes, make sure you go to places with the men's stores (ex. Hankyu Mens).