Sunday, October 3, 2010

Japan Travel: When/Where Not to Go

(Readers who have been to Japan, please feel free to add your own times and places!)

For most people, going to Japan represents a serious outlay of cash, and if you're going you don't want to get blindsided by unexpected factors. Here's a short and dirty list of times and places you don't want to travel in Japan, based on my time over there:

The week of Obon (August) and Golden Week (late April-May): Holiday weeks when most people travel. You'll find higher prices and bigger crowds traveling.

New Year's: In addition to more people traveling home to family, some businesses and banks close for a few days, leaving you out of luck if you're trying to get cash.

Kyoto in July-August: Kyoto is in a valley that nicely traps in heat and humidity, making it pretty nasty in the summer if you're walking everywhere.

Harajuku (Tokyo) on the weekends: Yeah, you'll miss the cosplayers on the bridge in front of Meiji Shrine and some of the interesting street fashion if you don't go then, but you'll also miss the insane amount of people crowding through Takeshita Street and the neighborhood.

Meiji Shrine (Tokyo): This isn't a "don't go" as it's a beautiful shrine, but rather wear or bring comfortable shoes because the walk back through the woods to get to the shrine is entirely on a wide gravel path, unless they've changed that since I left.

Tokyo Tower: Biggest tourist trap in the city, with cheesy souvenirs and a panoramic view up top often blocked by smog.

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