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Yep, I'm headed to Japan in a touch over a week. We'll be gone a couple weeks, for pleasure. :D

Anyone else been there? We're going as a group including a native and her husband, who taught English there for close to a decade, as well as a good friend of the wife's who minored in Japanese. We'll be in a hotel in Tokyo for a few days, then on the bullet train to Niigata to spend some time in the country with the family of the hosts who organized the trip. After a few days there we'll head to Kyoto for a while before returning to Tokyo for the flight home. I've been in Rosetta Stone for a little while but it's a lot to cram, so I've settled for some basics.

A weird part of me is looking forward to the flights almost as much as the trip itself. We're on a 747 out of Detroit to Narita - apparently we're either the last or second-to-last 747 to ever make that flight, as they're replacing the route with an A350 two days later. We're on a 777 on the way back. For me, this will be the first time I've traveled any major distance...
 

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Safe travels.

I've been to Japan several times and it's one of my favorite countries to visit. While it's always nice to have a native speaker around, everyone is quite civil there and getting around is quite easy at least in the cities (compared to other countries) even if you don't speak english. The subway system is laid out quite logically and enough things are written in Romanji that it's not an issue.

Things just work there (like the trains). I remember a waitress apologizing at an italian restaurant that our dish would take "8 minutes." Hilarious. It's one of the few countries that feels really safe; you see little kids (like <7) going about their own business riding trains and buses without their parents. I've only really seen that in Munich and (certain parts of) Israel.

It's also the only country I've ever been to in the world where people will stand in a line, patiently, waiting for a taxi stand instead of trying to cut each other off.

If you like cute stuff, they've got it. In droves.
If you like japanese cuisine (more than sushi), it's fantastic. I personally love the whiskey hi-ball and takoyaki combo. Also the different types of okonomiyaki (my favorite is hiroshima style). Other regional cuisines are interesting -- like kushikatsu in Kyoto (basically, deep fried bits of stuff on a stick -- like tempura meets yakitori). Ramen though remains one of my favorite things to eat there -- there are so many regional variations you can literally eat this for every single meal and not have the same one twice.
My best advice if you dont have a direct recommendation is to find a ramen alley (street with multiple ramen shops) and look for the ones that are the busiest.



You probably have most of your trip planned already but if you get the chance:

From Kyoto
- day trip to Nara. It's one of the old capitols of Japan. Amazing and chock ful of temples+deer.

Tokyo.
You should check out this Cars & Coffee. I haven't been but it's on my to-do list for my next trip.
https://www.facebook.com/daikanyama.lindbergh
https://jalopnik.com/this-tokyo-bookstore-does-one-of-the-most-diverse-cars-1794711303


-g
 

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So cool! So jealous! The 747 is a legend! As a pilot I'm sure you appreciate the history of that aircraft.

You're going to have such a good time. I'd be excited too! That's a once in a lifetime trip!

I hope you got good seats on the flight. Long flights like that can be very tiring. We took a trip to Hawaii in 2005 and flew coach. We took one of the helicopter tours of the island when we got there and, if I had it to do over, I would have spent the helicopter tour money on better seats for the flights over and back. There's a lot to be said for premium cabin seats on long haul flights.

Either way, you'll be there long enough to get over your jet lag and still have time to enjoy your visit.

Safe travels and take lots of pix to share.
 

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Watch "I'll have what Phil's having" on Netflix (should still be there)

He goes to Japan and shows you some of the small eateries where you can get the REAL good food...not the tourist stuff...
 

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Well, at least Typhoon Lan will be a week in the past by the time we get there. The areas we'll be staying (Tokyo, Niigata, Kyoto/Osaka) are right in the middle of this storm's path right now. Although I hear Japan's infrastructure is a lot more resilient to these types of storms, it's still something we'll be watching closely over the next few days.

I do think we have Nara in the plans when we're in Kyoto. I know our stay in Tokyo will be 4 nights (first night basically is a write-off) then after a trip via rail it's 5 nights in Niigata and one night at an onsen in the mountains. Then we fly to Kyoto for 3 nights there, then finally a night in Osaka before our flights home.

On a less serious note, I looked up Delta's flight schedule and we are the second to last ever 747 flight from Detroit to Narita. It switches to the A350 on Monday. Darn!!
 

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Just passed through Detroit yesterday; saw a 747 flight headed to Narita. I wondered if you might be waiting to board but your flight is this week coming up.

Or were you there?

I hate to hear they're retiring those...
 

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Yeah, we leave this coming Saturday and we get back three Sundays later. Hopefully the flight crew isn't too picky about me taking a bunch of pics on the plane. I want to get at least a few from our seat (doubt that'll be an issue) but I also want to get a few through the forward door windows; that classic wing shot where you can see the engines. And I've read that usually if you ask the crew, they'll let you hang around for a few after arrival and go up to the upper deck even if you aren't seated there.
 

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So cool. I look forward to seeing your pictures and living vicariously through them ....
 

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I'd encourage you to bring an ereader + table/laptopt with movies just in case. It's been several years since I last flew in a 747 but i remember being surprised how primitive the inflight entertainment system was in that plane.
 

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I'm bringing my Nintendo Switch along with my X220; between those two I've got more than enough juice for the flight. :thumbsup:
 

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Best of luck on that trip B. And hope you’re not stuck in the middle of all that human cattle on that big bird .
 

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Rolled back in to the hometown yesterday evening. I'm still adjusted to Japan time, but hopefully the return to EST happens faster than the adjustment to JST.

I'm in the midst of going through the ~1500 photos and videos I took during the trip. Once I do that I'll probably share a few. Overall the trip (and our hosts) were fantastic. We didn't go to Nara for a variety of reasons.

It's a very different "feel" over there than here, I already kind of miss it. I would enjoy going back again in the near (ish) future. But as my Japanese vocabulary is extremely limited and I should continue my studies, I don't think we'll be going back for at least 5 or more years (since we now focus our efforts on saving for and acquiring a home).
 

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It was really hard for me to pick only half a dozen photos from the 1500 I took on the trip, especially considering the hundreds upon hundreds of fantastic shots I got. I guess these will suffice for the time being.

Here's a scene from one of the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo.



For the most part, outside of the major cities, Japan is mostly scenes like this. Mountains, with cities tucked between them.




Our visit coincided pretty perfectly with peak fall colors. This was a little place in Niigata known as "Maple Valley".



Down in Kyoto, which is chock-full of temples and shrines, here are a couple scenes of two I found most striking; the Golden Temple (Kinkaku-ji) and the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji).




We didn't visit Mt. Fuji, but we did get to see it on our flight from Osaka to Tokyo on our way home.

 
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