Saturday, April 2, 2011

Trip To Japan - Update and Questions Posed

Well, to update you on things, Qantas are still changing flight schedules around (they seem to be doing it on a weekly basis, making decisions on Fridays about the upcoming week). Not sure what happens if you're flying out on Saturday though. Anyhow - they put me on flight that left Sydney (direct flight for Narita) the next day at 6:05 am. Yet - in my opinion this is just an imaginary flight (they did the same thing to T-chan as well). So I jumped first before being pushed and changed my flight to also fly via Hong Kong (from Melbourne), and this time fly direct into Haneda airport (where T-chan/L-kun and grandparents would be arriving 30 mins earlier). That's a significant advantage. We're all together no matter what happens.

The issue that we're working through now is what to do for our "scheduled" mini break. L-kun and grandparents would be flying back to Sapporo on the 12th, and T-chan and I had been planning on swanning around Nikko. The earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster put paid to those plans; as it did to so many other peoples plans (and lives).

Instead we've decided to get out of Tokyo for the 3 days - and will be either travelling to Nagoya; or back to Kyoto. Let's just say it's not easy deciding these things when both of us are busy (my work load's gone through the roof in expectation of going away on leave... funny how that is... and T-chan's busy preparing for the wedding).

I know - how can we be thinking of holidaying in Japan now? Well, I have to say that I love travelling around Japan, and whilst the country is in a state of shock (and possibly concussion) from the events of the 11th of March, life must go on. I know people are not in a ebullient mood now, but I guess we prefer to view Japan through the lens of what it hasn't lost (as compared to what it has lost). I also know that there's going to be some disruption, though things seem to be normalising now somewhat (power black outs have stopped for the moment, but are due to come back next week... what impact will that have on us? I don't know yet).

We've got two main options (both involving train travel from Tokyo) :

Option 1 - Nagoya (hire a car) > Ise Grand Shrine > (Iga) > Hikone > Nagoya
Option 2 - Kyoto (in particular Uji / Hiei-zan / bits that we missed in 2006)

Hard to make decision... and let's just say my poor old Lonely Planet guide from way back in 2002 is getting a dusting off (yes, I still read books). Anyhow, I'm sure they're both two very good experiences (though I hesitate to say great experiences, all things considered).

Because it's Cherry Blossom season now, not only can accommodation be difficult (though I bet a lot of foreign tourists will be absent this year), but also the roads can be murder at this time of year. We'd previously experienced aborted attempts to see Cherry Blossoms in Hokkaido due to 25 km long traffic jams... and the online guide for Hikone warns about heavy traffic at this time of year. Actually - I have to admit that I'm a little worried about the access to petrol these days in Honshu.

I would be happy to hear people's views (if anyone has an opinion on having been to the places of Option 1 in particular - or indeed, if anyone reads this).


  1. Maybe the option that makes up for what you missed. Happy belated to T-Chan and whichever option you choose, be safe!

  2. Thanks for that. I have to say that I could spend another 2 weeks in Kyoto and be without any regrets. The problem we have is perhaps that we've only got three days before we head back to Sapporo. And there's so much more to see and do.

    Right now, I'll just be happy if there's no more escalation of the nuclear problems that they're having there. Still very nervous about L-kun's safety (no matter how reassured we all are - that's parenting for you).

  3. Please enjoy your stay in Japan while you are here. We, Japanese, honestly want you to.

    I would go to Kyoto, because many tours to Kyoto, especially from abroad as you know, have been canceled; the place is much less crowded and you might enjoy the atmosphere.

    Hotels are much easier to reserve. People in Kyoto will happlly welcome you.

  4. Yeah - we're leaning away from Option 1 - mainly because we'd prefer to be able to enjoy a more relaxing driving holiday than the one we've planned ourselves. It might need to wait for the next trip.

    I have to say, I'd have though that the majority of tourists in Kyoto would be Japanese at this time of year... but if there's few people, that's always a bonus.

    Do you know if the shinkansen would likely be disrupted between Tokyo and Kyoto?

  5. Both sound like good plans. Let me know which you decide. It'd be nice to be there for hanami season. I hope it won't be too crowded no matter where you go. Stay safe though!

  6. Well - we decided the safer option... 2. Going back to Kyoto. I really wanted to go for that driving holiday, but on the other hand we would have been driving for perhaps 7-8 hours over 3 days. That's not that bad, but hardly restful.

    Ise Grand Shrine will have to wait another year at least.

  7. No need to worry about Shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto, but the number of travelers less by 30% has been reported using Tokaido Shinkansen.
    Japanese going to Kyoto are much less, too.

    Possibly, no blackouts in Tokyo, either, while you are there.
    I expect everything will be OK with you.

  8. Thanks for that.... we've just booked, so fingers crossed. I'm sure it will all be good.