Planning for a trip to Japan

Culture, language, tangibles, intangibles from countries known for tea. China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, India, etc...

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Feb 4th 12 6:26 pm
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Planning for a trip to Japan

by debunix » Feb 4th 12 6:26 pm

I'm starting to gather ideas for a trip to Japan in the fall, probably October. My friends live near Tokyo, but would hopefully be able to take a few days for a short trip or two away from the metropolis. I'm still in the daydreaming/woolgathering phase of planning--just trying to get ideas for things I might try to fit in.

I've been there to visit with them once before (way too many pictures from the trip here on flickr), and this time want to see some different sights, and of course, to take in at least a few tea-centric things. I'd like to see a tea-growing area; and have some expertly prepared top-quality matcha (too see if better matcha and technique can reconcile me to the enjoyment of it); and probably buy a piece or two of teaware.

Any suggestions for your favorite sights to see or things you've always wished you had a chance to see, tea-related or not?

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Feb 4th 12 7:59 pm
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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by JBaymore » Feb 4th 12 7:59 pm

As far as getting teawares, maybe plan a side trip from Tokyo to Mashiko. I can give you pretty detailed directions to get there that are probably pretty easy to follow and also info on a couple of places to stay in town.

One simple route is to take the JR Shinkansen from Tokyo Eki (station) to Utsunomiya and then the Toyo bus from just outside Utsunomiya Eki (station) to Mashiko. It'll take about 2 hours, one way. The other route is all via trains, but there are a few train changes and at one point the train you will be on splits... with the front cars going whre you want to go and the back cars not....and no English announcements happening.

Here's a great English language train travel planning tool for Japan: http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

With hundreds and hundreds of active potters working in that one town (probably the largest single geographic concentration in Japan at the moment), and working in diverse styles/techniques, you can't HELP but find some teawares that would "float your boat". At all pricepoints from "mortgageable" to amazingly and absurdly inexpensive for the quality.

Make sure to check out whomever is showing at Kanoya Gallery (on the Mashiko Sankokan end of town), and also the work in the two Yamani gallieries (near the "Potters Square" with the giant tanuki).

If this interests you... let me know. Also see the "show off your teawares" thread for some Mashiko info I just posted there.

best,

....................john

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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by debunix » Feb 4th 12 8:08 pm

That sounds very accessible and like a neat day trip. Thanks!

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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by SlientSipper » Feb 5th 12 2:19 am

I'd like to see a tea-growing area; and have some expertly prepared top-quality matcha (too see if better matcha and technique can reconcile me to the enjoyment of it); and probably buy a piece or two of tea ware.
Go to Tai-Ho-An in Uji(Near Nara/Kyoto)
Travel around Uji and get plenty of Matcha. Its heavenly.
Matcha is Uji's specialty. You may not find a better cup anywhere else.

If you want to buy Tea ware its cheaper in Shinegawa. Or Tokyo region.

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Feb 5th 12 7:34 am
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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by Xell » Feb 5th 12 7:34 am

Not related to tea, but if you're interested in something near Tokyo, then i can suggest visiting Nikko, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikk%C5%8D,_Tochigi. Really beautiful place, with many famous onsen's and impressive sightseeing spots.

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Feb 5th 12 2:09 pm
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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by JBaymore » Feb 5th 12 2:09 pm

Xell wrote:Not related to tea, but if you're interested in something near Tokyo, then i can suggest visiting Nikko, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikk%C5%8D,_Tochigi. Really beautiful place, with many famous onsen's and impressive sightseeing spots.
I'll second Xell's thoughts on this to the MAX.

If you head up to Mashiko and spend one day there, then you can head back to Utsunomiya via the Toyo bus (50 minutes+/-) and then catch the train direct to Nikko. Plan on at least a long full day there in Nikko...preferably two. There is a LOT to see there. It is stunningly beautiful and drips with history. Picture postcard Japan, for sure.

I've been there four times over the years. Very special place. Just don;t go on a Japanese national hoiliday!!!!!! CROWDS!

best,

...................john

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Feb 5th 12 5:06 pm
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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by rdl » Feb 5th 12 5:06 pm

JBaymore wrote:Just don;t go on a Japanese national hoiliday!!!!!! CROWDS!
best,
...................john
and autumn can be crowded wherever the leaves are changing color - but a helpful suggestion is to get up and go out very early, before the tourist buses arrive. you'll have the place to yourself. or stay as late until closing time - when most of the tourists have re-boarded their buses and have gone.
Kamakura is an easy visit from Tokyo.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2166.html

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Feb 6th 12 4:54 am
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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by SlientSipper » Feb 6th 12 4:54 am

Oh if you do find yourself in Tai-Ho-An
Ask for the ceremony.
Its legendary! :)

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Re: Planning for a trip to Japan

by David R. » Feb 23rd 12 11:20 pm

Just back from Japan myself. I really don't know much about Tokyo area. I am much more a Kyoto lover. If you want some addresses there, I can provide some. October is definitively a great season to see Kyoto and Japan ! :)