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Comments • Going to Japan, need advice!

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    CasperBat (7 months ago) #19228236You're welcome! Be sure to check back in later after your trip to let us know how it went!

    Got back from my trip~ blog/33242
    Thanks for all your advice!
    5 months ago
    0pt
    This is kind of late and I'm not sure if it's been mentioned already, but when I went to Japan they offered special passes for foreigners at Narita airport. They're really cheap and gives you access to all the Tokyo Metro lines. It's also super cheap, only 1500yen for a 3 day pass. ^^ www.tokyometro....
    7 months ago
    0pt
    CasperBat (7 months ago) #19228236You're welcome! Be sure to check back in later after your trip to let us know how it went!

    Totally will XD
    7 months ago
    0pt
    iced_wine (8 months ago) #19214856Omg, you are amazing! Thank you so much for all your advice!! And yes, I will definitely check out Alice on Wednesday, it looks like a super cool place to check out XD
    You're welcome! Be sure to check back in later after your trip to let us know how it went!
    7 months ago
    0pt
    CasperBat (8 months ago) #19213691Ah, good choice. The JR Pass will get you most places, and the suica has you covered for anything else. Any yen left that you don't use on suica can be refunded at the end so you don't lose out. Perfect!
    The JR Pass will be of limited use in Kyoto - there is a JR bus that leaves from Kyoto Station that you can use (and you will want to because it goes to touristy spots), but that is all. Actually, most of Kyoto doesn't have train/subway access at all, since they didn't want to demolish too much history to make the tracks. You'll be using the bus or walking most everywhere in the city, very different from Tokyo. Now, Kyoto does have some subway lines you can use if they go where you need to be, but those are operated by non-JR companies so you'd have to suica them. So, bus from Kyoto Station only.
    For Ikebukuro, I originally meant finding a shopping guide online from other fujoshi who have been, sharing their favorite shops and such. That way you can pin down the kinds of things you definitely want to find. If there is anything about the district available for tourists in an official capacity I don't happen to know about it. (doesn't mean there is or isn't, just I don't know about one.) If you look up Otome Road online you might find suggestions.
    The AmiAmi shop in Akiba is VERY new, maybe about a year old at this point. They opened up after I left Japan the most recent time, so I've not been inside to know what their selection or pricing is like. I imagine they probably sell their new figures at MSRP to account for the cost of the retail space.
    Some Akihabara shops will honor the duty-free shopping for purchases over 5K yen, while others will not. Usually it's the big names that will - Mandarake, Volks, Yodobashi Camera, Laox, since they're large corporations that are set up with the duty-free forms required. AmiAmi is probably included. You can always ask at the cash register before purchase. Pretty much nobody is going to give you duty-free status by default even if you look obviously foreign - you'll have to ask for it specifically every time.
    Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto has a nifty underground stone in a darkened cave that you can go pray to / make a wish to for 100 yen donation. The large balcony / "stage" is something you've definitely seen in anime. Also, they sometimes have grad students majoring in English stationed there to guide you around the temple and its grounds, while they practice English.
    If you run out of stuff to do in Kyoto and want an excursion, Osaka is a 40 minute train ride away. Going to Nipponbashi (Den-Den Town) is the kansai version of Akiba. It's certainly different enough from Akiba to be well worth a visit all on its own. Especially A-Too, the shop that seems to have everything... But you can do this on a second visit to Japan. I know you only have five days this time!
    Don't forget about Alice on Wednesday :). For example, you could check out the lolita fashion shops in LaForet Harajuku, eat a crepe at the end of Takeshita Dori, shop for upscale souvenirs on Omotesando, visit the Meiji Shrine and its gardens, visit Volks Super Dollfie Tenshi no Mado (if you like ABJD), and do Alice, all within a few blocks and one stop at Harajuku Station (on JR Yamanote).


    Omg, you are amazing! Thank you so much for all your advice!! And yes, I will definitely check out Alice on Wednesday, it looks like a super cool place to check out XD
    8 months ago
    0pt
    iced_wine (8 months ago) #19203900I decided on the JR national pass, since roundtrip between Tokyo and Kyoto pretty much covers the price of the pass, any additional travel I get out of it is pretty much just bonus. Though I'm planning on loading up a Suica anyway, just in case I get on the wrong train.
    Is the JR pass also pretty useful in Kyoto? As in, can I get around Kyoto staying within the JR umbrella?
    In Ikebukuro, where do I find a shopping guide? Do stores have them or do I go to like a visitor station?
    I have heard from others as well that Akihabara figure prices can be pretty ridiculous, the advice you gave about going to shops on higher floors is both hilarious and very insightful :D Will definitely make sure to trek upstairs.
    Do you know if the pricing at AmiAmi's physical Akihabara shop has the same discount as their online shop? I know the physical store will probably charge the 8% GST, can I get a tax refund on anime purchases the way I can for food and general items valued over 5000jpy?
    I'm definitely interested in the culture. Was planning on hitting shrines and temples in Kyoto, so thanks for the recommendations :) Also gonna hit one of those miniature food model shops (I'm crazy for miniature food) in Tokyo?
    Sorry keep on hitting you with so many questions. I really appreciate all the help and advice you have given!

    Ah, good choice. The JR Pass will get you most places, and the suica has you covered for anything else. Any yen left that you don't use on suica can be refunded at the end so you don't lose out. Perfect!

    The JR Pass will be of limited use in Kyoto - there is a JR bus that leaves from Kyoto Station that you can use (and you will want to because it goes to touristy spots), but that is all. Actually, most of Kyoto doesn't have train/subway access at all, since they didn't want to demolish too much history to make the tracks. You'll be using the bus or walking most everywhere in the city, very different from Tokyo. Now, Kyoto does have some subway lines you can use if they go where you need to be, but those are operated by non-JR companies so you'd have to suica them. So, bus from Kyoto Station only.

    For Ikebukuro, I originally meant finding a shopping guide online from other fujoshi who have been, sharing their favorite shops and such. That way you can pin down the kinds of things you definitely want to find. If there is anything about the district available for tourists in an official capacity I don't happen to know about it. (doesn't mean there is or isn't, just I don't know about one.) If you look up Otome Road online you might find suggestions.

    The AmiAmi shop in Akiba is VERY new, maybe about a year old at this point. They opened up after I left Japan the most recent time, so I've not been inside to know what their selection or pricing is like. I imagine they probably sell their new figures at MSRP to account for the cost of the retail space.

    Some Akihabara shops will honor the duty-free shopping for purchases over 5K yen, while others will not. Usually it's the big names that will - Mandarake, Volks, Yodobashi Camera, Laox, since they're large corporations that are set up with the duty-free forms required. AmiAmi is probably included. You can always ask at the cash register before purchase. Pretty much nobody is going to give you duty-free status by default even if you look obviously foreign - you'll have to ask for it specifically every time.

    Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto has a nifty underground stone in a darkened cave that you can go pray to / make a wish to for 100 yen donation. The large balcony / "stage" is something you've definitely seen in anime. Also, they sometimes have grad students majoring in English stationed there to guide you around the temple and its grounds, while they practice English.

    If you run out of stuff to do in Kyoto and want an excursion, Osaka is a 40 minute train ride away. Going to Nipponbashi (Den-Den Town) is the kansai version of Akiba. It's certainly different enough from Akiba to be well worth a visit all on its own. Especially A-Too, the shop that seems to have everything... But you can do this on a second visit to Japan. I know you only have five days this time!

    Don't forget about Alice on Wednesday :). For example, you could check out the lolita fashion shops in LaForet Harajuku, eat a crepe at the end of Takeshita Dori, shop for upscale souvenirs on Omotesando, visit the Meiji Shrine and its gardens, visit Volks Super Dollfie Tenshi no Mado (if you like ABJD), and do Alice, all within a few blocks and one stop at Harajuku Station (on JR Yamanote).
    8 months ago
    0pt
    PopMatrix (8 months ago) #19198746Have fun! Along with all of the good info mentioned already, if you choose, just remember that you can only buy the JR Pass voucher "outside" of Japan. You will need to redeem it within 90 days of purchase and must show your passport entry stamp to exchange the voucher for the actual Pass. The last time I got one, it was paper based so you need to show it to the station officers to get in and out of every JR Train, Subway, and Bus.

    Thanks for the heads up! I didn't realize the pass was going to be paper (thought it was at least going to be plastic).
    8 months ago
    0pt
    CasperBat (8 months ago) #19185074You're welcome!
    It looks like the specific JR West pass I was thinking of isn't offered anymore, so you'd need to use the full-blown JR Pass which is valid for any JR-operated train in the whole country as the prepaid option. The JR pass is valid for 7 days and costs about 30K yen. Financially, it could be worth it for your itinerary - I estimate you could save around $40 over buying all the different tickets individually (including transportation around Tokyo and Kyoto during the days). However, be VERY careful about the JR Pass and do LOTS of research in advance on where exactly you want to go and how you want to get there, to make sure that you take trains where the pass is valid. (It would indeed be OK for JR Yamanote, if you choose it). JR isn't the only train company in Japan, even if they are the biggest. If you get on the wrong train by accident, or JR doesn't go quite where you want to, you're gonna owe money and need to have a loaded-up Suica anyway to pay for it.
    That's why I suggest that a Suica's no-hassle convenience might be worth the tradeoff. You're paying the same rates the native Japanese pay, plus you don't have to worry about who operates the trains or going through any special ticket gates to get in. You just follow the crowd! I think you'd enjoy your vacation more this way, concentrating on the sightseeing. But both options are available and valid choices.
    A day in Ikebukuro will be enough time to hit most if not all the shops on Otome Road. The Animate in the area is particularly nice. You might look for a shopping guide in advance so you know what is where, or you might just go treasure-hunt to see what you find.
    PVC Figure prices in Akihabara were atrocious at most of the ground-floor shops easily seen by tourists. Be sure to go up the stairs to other floors. Jungle in Radio Kaikan Bldg (7F I think) and the Suruga-ya stores have fair figure pricing. AmiAmi now has an Akiba store, new, which might be worth checking out. Also Nakano Broadway has fair pricing (Mandarake and Liberty) and idol/jpop goods (at Trio). It's OK to gawk at the ground floor Akiba shops, but look around before buying anything from one.
    Are you interested in some culture while there? Seeing one Shinto shrine (Meiji Jingu in Harajuku) and one Buddhist temple (Senso-ji in Asakusa) would be worthwhile, and both easy to get to in the time you have alloted. You can get neat traditional Japanese crafts, instruments, and the like at the markets in front of these places. EDIT: Or maybe that's what Kyoto is for.. in which case there's Kiyomizu-dera and geiko arts at Gion Corner..
    I'm old school and use hotel internet plus printed or hand-drawn maps, so I'm probably not the best judge of whether pocket wifi is worth it. Free hotspots are becoming more common in Japan. Alternately you can rent a SIM card for your smartphone right at the airport if you want.


    I decided on the JR national pass, since roundtrip between Tokyo and Kyoto pretty much covers the price of the pass, any additional travel I get out of it is pretty much just bonus. Though I'm planning on loading up a Suica anyway, just in case I get on the wrong train.

    Is the JR pass also pretty useful in Kyoto? As in, can I get around Kyoto staying within the JR umbrella?

    In Ikebukuro, where do I find a shopping guide? Do stores have them or do I go to like a visitor station?

    I have heard from others as well that Akihabara figure prices can be pretty ridiculous, the advice you gave about going to shops on higher floors is both hilarious and very insightful :D Will definitely make sure to trek upstairs.

    Do you know if the pricing at AmiAmi's physical Akihabara shop has the same discount as their online shop? I know the physical store will probably charge the 8% GST, can I get a tax refund on anime purchases the way I can for food and general items valued over 5000jpy?

    I'm definitely interested in the culture. Was planning on hitting shrines and temples in Kyoto, so thanks for the recommendations :) Also gonna hit one of those miniature food model shops (I'm crazy for miniature food) in Tokyo?

    Sorry keep on hitting you with so many questions. I really appreciate all the help and advice you have given!
    8 months ago
    0pt
    Have fun! Along with all of the good info mentioned already, if you choose, just remember that you can only buy the JR Pass voucher "outside" of Japan. You will need to redeem it within 90 days of purchase and must show your passport entry stamp to exchange the voucher for the actual Pass. The last time I got one, it was paper based so you need to show it to the station officers to get in and out of every JR Train, Subway, and Bus.
    8 months ago
    0pt
    iced_wine (8 months ago) #19163010Wow, thanks for all the details!!
    So for the Tokyo-->Kyoto trip, I was planning on taking the Shinkansen on my own (not with a tour group). So would the JR West Pass be the most cost-effective option overall? Would travels on the JR Yamanote Line be included in the JR West pass? This is my first trip to Japan.
    I'm planning on 1.5 days in Akihabara and 1 day in Ikebukuro. Though I think I will go somewhere else for dinner. Should I devote more time to Ikebukuro given that I'm super into BL/yaoi?
    Also, do you think it's worth it to get a pocket wifi?

    You're welcome!

    It looks like the specific JR West pass I was thinking of isn't offered anymore, so you'd need to use the full-blown JR Pass which is valid for any JR-operated train in the whole country as the prepaid option. The JR pass is valid for 7 days and costs about 30K yen. Financially, it could be worth it for your itinerary - I estimate you could save around $40 over buying all the different tickets individually (including transportation around Tokyo and Kyoto during the days). However, be VERY careful about the JR Pass and do LOTS of research in advance on where exactly you want to go and how you want to get there, to make sure that you take trains where the pass is valid. (It would indeed be OK for JR Yamanote, if you choose it). JR isn't the only train company in Japan, even if they are the biggest. If you get on the wrong train by accident, or JR doesn't go quite where you want to, you're gonna owe money and need to have a loaded-up Suica anyway to pay for it.

    That's why I suggest that a Suica's no-hassle convenience might be worth the tradeoff. You're paying the same rates the native Japanese pay, plus you don't have to worry about who operates the trains or going through any special ticket gates to get in. You just follow the crowd! I think you'd enjoy your vacation more this way, concentrating on the sightseeing. But both options are available and valid choices.

    A day in Ikebukuro will be enough time to hit most if not all the shops on Otome Road. The Animate in the area is particularly nice. You might look for a shopping guide in advance so you know what is where, or you might just go treasure-hunt to see what you find.

    PVC Figure prices in Akihabara were atrocious at most of the ground-floor shops easily seen by tourists. Be sure to go up the stairs to other floors. Jungle in Radio Kaikan Bldg (7F I think) and the Suruga-ya stores have fair figure pricing. AmiAmi now has an Akiba store, new, which might be worth checking out. Also Nakano Broadway has fair pricing (Mandarake and Liberty) and idol/jpop goods (at Trio). It's OK to gawk at the ground floor Akiba shops, but look around before buying anything from one.

    Are you interested in some culture while there? Seeing one Shinto shrine (Meiji Jingu in Harajuku) and one Buddhist temple (Senso-ji in Asakusa) would be worthwhile, and both easy to get to in the time you have alloted. You can get neat traditional Japanese crafts, instruments, and the like at the markets in front of these places. EDIT: Or maybe that's what Kyoto is for.. in which case there's Kiyomizu-dera and geiko arts at Gion Corner..

    I'm old school and use hotel internet plus printed or hand-drawn maps, so I'm probably not the best judge of whether pocket wifi is worth it. Free hotspots are becoming more common in Japan. Alternately you can rent a SIM card for your smartphone right at the airport if you want.
    8 months ago
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