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Should we visit Kamakura? 2008/1/24 06:34
We are planning a 2 week holiday to Japan this October. With limited time should we visit Kamakura?
by Denise  

... 2008/1/24 08:45
If you are interested in temples, stay in the Tokyo area and have a day to spend, yes, I recommend to visit Kamakura.
by Uji rate this post as useful

That depends... 2008/1/24 10:53
The question really depends upon your itinerary. If you were planning a more extensive trip from Akita to Kyushu for example, and Kyoto is one of your stops, Kamakura could be missed, for Kyoto could be considered a larger version of Kamakura. If you are planning on spending a lot of time in the Tokyo area (though I don't recommend spending most of your time in one area), Kamakura is a must see destination for the average visitor.

Keep in mind too, that most visitors, can find a lot to do in some of the most remote parts of Japan. Don't worry too much about missing anyplace in particular--you can always come back.
by zoogy rate this post as useful

Kamakura 2008/1/24 11:54
Get away from Tokyo. But if you are in that part Kamakura is wonderful. Also a few miles from there is a small island of Enoshima. Google it. It is accessable by a causeway and is as wonderful as it gets. Also you must plan to get to the Mt Fuji area which is really not far from all of this. My best advice, unless you speak the language a little and are comfortable getting around, get a guide or even take a tour. Much time and frustration can be avoided by having someone who knows how to get around. Spend your time enjoying the country and not trying to figure out what bus to take. I envy you, If you haven't been to Japan before you are in for a truly amazing experience. Try to adjust to the Jet lag and unless you have tones of time you can really avoid the Fish market in Tokyo, whatever people say.
by peter rate this post as useful

Thanks 2008/1/24 12:00
Thanks for the advice so far. We have never been too Japan and we are most interested in seeing the stunning National Parks and wilderness areas as well as cities like Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo. We don't intend to over do the cities though. Nikko sounds great as the Mt Fuji lakes area. We would also like to see Hokkaido, the National Parks there look stunning. We're open too all suggestions.

by Broomelea rate this post as useful

Go for it. 2008/1/24 12:57
Kamakura is a wonderful place. I would definitely recommend it.
There are many famous temples and delicious food. It brings out the authentic tradition of Japan.
Hope you have fun!
by kikster335 rate this post as useful

Japan in 2 weeks 2008/1/24 13:01
The country side of Japan is truly underrated. Enjoy!

If you are interested in more natural areas of Japan, then I agree with Peter: don't spend much time in Tokyo. Tokyo is an enormous behemoth that can eat up a lot of travel time, and it is easier to experience urban Japan elsewhere (without all of the chain stores; or scores of identically dressed, overly-fashion conscious; or swarms of drab salary men on overcrowded trains).

Compared to many areas of Japan, Nikko is architecturally very unique, but it is a bit out of the way. Fuji is one of the best climbing experiences in the world for the inexperienced, and offers incredible views from the summit, but October is a little late in the year.

by zoogy rate this post as useful

Help 2008/1/24 22:23
If you would like some assistance planning an itinerary I would be more than happy to assist you. My mom and sister came to visit me for 2 weeks and saw more of Japan that most do. They both loved Kamakura, as others have mentioned it is an amazing little place to get away from the big cities. It is well worth the train ride from Tokyo. Email me stormz_usmc@yahoo.com if you would like more information on travel, just add who you are and what your goals and current plans are.
by MarineUSMC rate this post as useful

Travel Plans 2008/1/25 00:42
Hokkaido is a nice place with Ainu Villages and all but I would pass on it. It is a large peice of real estate and very far from Honshu [ unless by air]. If you can get to Kyoto but it is a large city too but remember that it is truly unique as it was untouched during WW2. Many fine temples and cultural experiences. I would consider the Marines offer as local knowledge is very important. I spent three years in Japan and travled extensively but there was so much to see and you have so very little time.
by Peter rate this post as useful

Add 2008/1/25 00:54
Also Hiroshima is all brand new and you won't get much from it unless you are very especially interested in the Bombing and museum. Also Climbing Mt. Fiji in October is not a good idea. There are no facilites and you will need special climbing equipment clothes ect that you will have to carry with you the rest of the trip. Travel light ! There is a good reason that the climbing season is July and Auugust. Unless this your prime focus to come to Japan to climb Fuji in October it is a bridge too far. Do get to the area and experience the mountain even you could bus to the 5th station But a full fledged climb in a rush, could be a dangerious experience. You could xpect snow, high winds and very cold. Don't mean to chill you but best to be realistic.
by Peter rate this post as useful

even more 2008/1/25 02:45
Hiroshima, yes is a nice place it has a lot to offer in the city itself: the castle, museum for the atomic bomb, and very nice gardens along with some real nice art museums with English tour maps. Quite far from Kamakura though, unless you get the Japan Railpass (do you know about it?) it may or may not be worth the trip. Although around Hiroshima is Miya Jima (highly recommended) home of one the three top views in Japan along with the famous Torii Gate. The number one view being Mt. Fuji, which I climbed in 2006 it's amazing but a lot of work as previously stated but rewarding. Otherwise near Hiroshima, you can also head to Iwakuni (US Marine Base there Ooh-rah!) where there is the famous Kintai Bridge and White Snake museum (very small). Along with a small mountain with a castle on the top. Also in the Yamaguchi/Hiroshima prefecture is a nice place called Hagi. Very gorgeous little town there with Castle Ruins along with other off the beaten path cultural stuff, and not to mention a local brewery in which I think is home of one of the best beers in Japan. If you wanted to stay to the north and wanted to get the most out of your time in Japan in just two weeks, I would recommend Kyoto. Yes, it is touristy and not quite off the beaten path, but it has a lot to offer, from Geisha's to Temples and Gardens. I would spend a couple days there to really get a good experience of it. You can also take in a lot in Kamakura to answer your question (again), the architecture is amazing at some of the temples, the Great Buddha is pretty interesting and the town itself has a relaxing feel to it. To experience Tokyo in such a short time is hard, plan to look for a river boat cruise that was a highlight for my family when I showed them around Japan. Again though it all depends on what you want to see! There are so many options out there, just do your research, plan plan plan that's my best advice. Oh and if you don't know learn some simple phrases or buy a Pocket book it can come in handy!
by MarineUSMC rate this post as useful

Fuji Climb 2008/1/25 07:57
Ready for this leatherneck, I climbed Fuji on July 20th 1969 on the Day of the Moon Landing.. OH RAH to you! Stationed in Yokohama. US Army if you will forgive that.
by peter rate this post as useful

and 2008/1/25 08:13
pocket dictionary a very good idea, before your trip listen to the language on you tube, also get a money conversian card but its pretty easy now. Marine climbed fuji but what time of year? October big difference.He has very good ideas. Oh sorry.. their jar- heads now. Just kidding..
by peter rate this post as useful

oohrah 2008/1/25 11:23
In response the "hooah", I climbed it in September, just after the "season closed". Pretty hard, but we are made for it. Also to add onto the money portion, I would exchange your currency and get some yen at the international airport. If you're traveling with a family, look into getting temporary phones from Softbank, I believe they do that.
by MarineUSMC rate this post as useful

Hoo Raah 2008/1/25 12:02
Ran into a marine lately who was stationes at Camp Fuji at the base of the mountain. He told me that they were not allowed to climb the mountain as someone had died climbing it the previous year
[would have been 2005] I thought pretty whimpy for marines but go figure. Also re: currency exchange was told that the airport is NOT the place to exchange as the rates are high, could not confirm this but on a two week vacation, conveience might take precedence. Question to you. Does the military still use MPC? When I was stationed there they issued military script, and would change it every once in a while. We called it "funny money" as it looked like it was out of a cracker-jacks box. The climb was long [ from the Gotemba route] but not that hard. We were not well preped for the cold at the top but made it for sunrise. Still have my fuji climbing pole. Did you get one? This was a great experience but is probably not for people on a two week trip. I presume that they are a young couple without children, this then would change the equasion. Saw a film on an off season climb and it was VERY rough. Winds were howling and extreme cold. Climbers were outfitted with professional looking gore tex gear and looked like Mt Everest. They made it OK but was not a fun run. Good to talk with you.
by peter rate this post as useful

People die 2008/1/25 12:16
Not just Marines have died on the mountain, but no we are still allowed to (they let 60 year olds climb it still during on season so yes Military can too). I did it while I was on leave also not with the Marines. Although I did go with a buddy of mine. The Fuji Stick is pretty cool I guess expensive for each stamp even got the sunrise top one lol. About the "funny money" or "Yen-Jamins" (as we have been calling it.. yes, the aiport is not the best places to get money exchanged, check the rates at different places and watch for the best return. That idea was for you to come prepared with money.
by MarineUSMC rate this post as useful

Visit Kamakura 2008/1/25 13:17
Yes!. I saw my brother's photo taken here. He was a foreigner studying in Japan.
And finally I made it in Dec 2007!
by miss saigon rate this post as useful

Save that 2008/1/25 13:19
Fuji Stick, you will treasure it in years to come. Ready for this.. the exchange rate MPC to Yen was 360 yen to the dollar. As a PFC we lived very well. When i climbed fuji there were old mama-sans humping up the mountain, making us 20 yr olds a little humble. I traveled a lot in Japan in the three years there, got to speak pretty fair japanese but there was still so much that we were not able to do. Was married at the time and lived off base.
the orig posters are in for the time of there lives. However two weeks is just not enough time to hardly do anything. Two months would be more like it, but you do what you can. I presume also that they are flying in to Tokyo which makes some difference. Other advice for them . stay in Japanese Ryokans and avoid western hotels beds ect. Also bring some small gifts, personal type things from their home area that they can give out as presents. The Japanese love that stuff, who wouldn't. They might also go onto some tour sites and get a feel for whats doable in the time available. Your rail pass idea is good they didn'thave that when I was there. Your suggestion for bringing lots of cash is correct. Japan is a cash society and while Japan is about the most crime free country on the planet, I would advise a moneybelt for the cash and passports ect.
by Peter rate this post as useful

. 2008/1/25 13:21
Peter if you are exchanging USD into JPY then the airport exchange counter isn't bad. In the case of USD changing it back home in the USA you get the worse exchange rates.
by John rate this post as useful

Okane 2008/1/25 13:42
Money! Most important thing while traveling (and good walking SHOES in Japan). Both John and Peter are right, the rates are decent, but maybe not the best. That's why you should check for rates and watch them at different places. Some places advertise 1xx amount of yen, but then charge a couple more yen/cents so it's not really any better. If you're dealing with a large amount, then get your best rate for sure, no matter what. If you're dealing with a small amount don't be SO worried. You can also exchange money here in Japan, usually I actually get better rates off base than I do on (no where near Peters 360Y wow lol). Ryokans are really nice, and interesting way to experience the culture, but can be expensive. So if you're traveling on a dime, maybe do 2 nights in a Ryokan, and the others stay in a Western hotel. Hotels in general are expensive in Japan (and anywhere)! Getting back to the question, visit Kamakura, you'll be highly pleased.
by MarineUSMC rate this post as useful

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