Re: Going guitar hunting in Japan!
Wow, where to start (and end)?
Since you are gonna be in Kyoto, there is a ton of cool stuff there. Obviously there are the shrines and temples and i dont really think i need to go into any great detail here, any decent guide book could help you out there. The main ones are Kyou mizu dera, which is awesome but swamped by tourists, especially at this time of year as it is one of the most spectacular times to go. kinkaku ji is impressive on a nice day, but i actually preferred ginkaku ji. I really liked Nijo-jo. I has cool squeaky floors to catch out ninja. Chion in is very impressive with its enormous wooden gate followed by a hike up a load of steps. It is a fully functioning buddhist temple and is often in use which really gives it an atmosphere unlike any other temple in Kyoto. Though the best temples were tucked away off the beaten track, and i wouldn't be able to begin to tell you where they were. Arashiyama threw up a couple of nice surprises. Kyoto is just a great place, many people will tell you it's their favourite city in Japan for numerous reasons. It's also in Kansai which lends it a far more relaxed atmosphere than Tokyo. You'll see what i mean when you get here. It would also be well worth taking a day (or even just an afternoon) exploring Nara, which is very close to Kyoto and has some beautiful sites of it's own.
As for Tokyo, if you get the chance to spend a few days here you will not regret it. Its difficult to talk about must sees in Tokyo, it's more a place to experience than a sightseeing city like paris or london. As you'll discover when you get to Japan, the best things about Japan are the ones you stumble on. Here are a list of places you should check out though.
Shinjuku - My favourite place in the world. It is such an awesome, frenetic place and it literally goes on 24-7. The first thing you'll encounter is Shinjuku station which is just incredible. I swear the entire poulation of Tokyo must pass through this place at rush hour. You'll wanna avoid the skyscraper district unless you wanna go up the government building for the view. Instead head ithe other way. At night this place is just neon, noise and people (and man are the girls hot). During the daytime it's just noise and people. The cover of the G3 DVD does not do this place justice. This is what everybody imagines when they think Tokyo. Depending on what you want i would suggest a trek into Kabuki-cho. It's quite notorious in Japan as it's where all the yakuza hang out and its full of sex shops and hostess bars. As a foreigner though, you won't understand why the japanese are so fearful (the yakuza are not nearly as frightening as many would have you believe), so just wander round, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the sights. The place is full of small bars and restaurants, and there is something quite uniquely Japanese about the place.
Shibuya - kind of like shinjuku; on speed. The place is mental. It is full of kids sporting the latest in wierd and wonderful fashion (which in Japan dates at an unbelievably quickly), and when i say full, the place is rammed. You literally have trouble moving around on the weekends due to the crush of people. That said there are a few cool bars (the clubs suck though) and some decent live houses where you can catch some of the local musical talent. i use the word talent in the loosest sense of the word. Some of the bands are great but a lot of them seem unsure even how to plug their guitars in (the sad thing is, someone appears to have told them).
Harajuku - I like it here, a lot more relaxed than the above, but has some cool little streets where you can stroll and check out the shops selling all sorts of wierd and wonderful stuff. Whilst youre her, you can check out Meiji Jingu, a shrine tucked away in fairly spacious wooded grounds. You'll forget for a second in youre in the heart of perhaps the noisiest city on earth. Well worth a visit.
Asakusa - A nice little town, but the main reason to come here would be Sensou-ji. It has a KYoto-ish air to it, but is a really cool temple.
Akihabara - THE place to come for electronics of ANY kind. It is actually called "Electric town". It is a fascinating place. This is where all the Otaku (maniacal followers of something or other, usually animation and manga) hang out and one of the most interesting things to do here, is to go to one of the many cafes dotted about that pander to the Otaku fantasies. Kind of theme cafes where the girls dress up in all sorts of uniforms and call the customers master. It is a little wierd, but this is one of the things that makes Tokyo so cool.
Roppongi - I would not list this as a must see, except as a case study of the human animal in action. It is just wall to wall nightlife, and it has a mildly sleazy atmosphere. Still, worth a visit if you have an evening free and fancy a night on the town. And the girls here really ARE stunning.
I think that will do. sorry its so long. This is just what i like about Tokyo and Kyoto. There are loads more things to do and see here so do your research and get hold of a decent guide book (the lonely planet book is pretty thorough though a bit pricey). Most important thing though is to make the most of your trip. I dunno how long you're gonna be here but it will almost certainly be too short. Take the time to get to know the people and you will reap the rewards. And if you can learn a little japanese (just the basics) you will blow them away and it will be greatly appreciated, as well as making your life a little easier. I've been here 4 years and people are still amazed when i say anything in Japanese. Have a really great time, it will certainly be a trip you'll remember forever. If there is anything else you wanna know, feel free to PM me and i'll sort you out with any info you might need.
Last edited by leppermessiah; 11-06-2005 at 02:00 AM.