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Juniper Workshop - Saturday March 9th (18 Feb 2019)

Join our exclusive Juniper workshop feature Leong Kwong.

Saturday 9th March, 2019 10am at the Bonsai South Nursery (114-116 The Boulevarde, Caringbah NSW 2229)
Call to reserve your space – call (02) 9531 4589

Hurry as space is limited! To reserve your spot call (02) 9531 4589 .

www.bonsaisouth.com.au/bonsai-workshop-juniper/

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Japan trip

4 years 7 months ago #50958 by David Jones
Hi Everyone,

I've been wanting to go to Japan, Omiya in particular, for some years now and am thinking of going this October for 7-10 days. Has any one got recommendations, must sees, travel tips etc?

Thanks in anticipation.

David

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4 years 7 months ago #50963 by wrcmad

David Jones wrote: Hi Everyone,

I've been wanting to go to Japan, Omiya in particular, for some years now and am thinking of going this October for 7-10 days. Has any one got recommendations, must sees, travel tips etc?

Thanks in anticipation.

David

I reckon I could help. :)
2 questions:
Are you travelling alone?
Are you travelling on a budget?

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4 years 7 months ago #50989 by David Jones
Hi Wrcmad,

I'll be travelling alone and all going well won't be on too much of a budget.

Cheers,

David

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4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #50990 by wrcmad

David Jones wrote: I'll be travelling alone and all going well won't be on too much of a budget.


Cool. Since you are not on a budget, the world is you oyster! It also reduces the usefulness of a lot of my tips.
I'm not sure what style of travel you prefer, but I am a budget traveller - for reasons not restrained by expenses, but simply because I prefer it that way. In my experience, you experience a lot more of the sights, culture, people and places you visit by travelling budget. This does not all mean I deprive myself of anything while travelling, it just means I put myself out there, immerse myself, experience the place I am visiting, and do as the locals do.
I can do 7 nights in Tokyo for less than $1000pp twin share ex Australia(flights, accommodation and all expenses included), staying in great accommodation, eating awesome food, and seeing and experiencing more than I otherwise would by taking an expensive tour. However, some prefer other options.

Given you have no budget, then flights aren't an issue... neither is accommodation, or places to eat. So I'll focus on sights. However, I still recommend not to isolate yourself in a western hotel, and stay in a Ryokan - you will meet a lot more people, have good company and conversation, and get a lot of tips on what is going on and the best way of going about your travels.

My recommendations for a week in Tokyo (for someone who has never been there before), and keeping in mind that this is a bonsai forum, and I hate shopping malls :blink: :

2 days in Omiya
1 day visiting Kunio Kobayashi (1.5hrs by subway from Ikebukuro), then on the way back drop into Tokyo Imperial Palace and Imperial East Gardens. (for those into techno - alternate drop in is Akihabara (Electric Town) for the biggest electronics and technology shopping district in Tokyo.)
1 full day trip to Hakone/Mt Fuji (2hrs from Tokyo), and on the way back drop into Tanzan Onsen (hot springs) for a traditional volcanic geothermal Japanese hot bath (great for the weary legs). This is in my opinion the best Onsen I have visited.
1 day Asakusa to see Sensoji Temple and the surrounding very old part of Tokyo, then skip over to Ueno Park, and on the way home pop into Rikugien Garden - one of the best Japanese gardens in Tokyo.
1 day visiting Shinjuku Gyoen Garden, then pop into Shibuya Crossing - one of the busiest in the world, with dazzling city scape. On the way home pop in and vist Meji Shrine.

That will fill your week, and if you have a spare day, no doubt you will have to go have another look at those pesky trees again! :laugh:

For Omiya, a lot take a tour or hire a guide, but I prefer to do it on my own. I never travel in tours anywhere in the world. It limits your choices, experiences, time, and freedom, and costs a bomb. I don't see the point? The nursery staff are always willing to chat, answer questions, and offer any information you wish to know.
Omiya is not big. You can easily walk it in a day at a relaxing pace (see scale on map below). The nurseries are only about 100m apart.
The map is the path I followed last time I visited, and takes in the most notable nurseries.
Note, when you get off the train at Omiya Koen, cross to the other side of the tracks.
Note also that the Bonsai museum is NOT open on THURSDAYS!, so go any other day of the week.

My suggested walk itinerary:

File Attachment:

File Name: Omiya.pdf
File Size:420 KB


Some notable highlights:

Fuyo-en specialises in deciduous trees, so a visit there will see some jaw-dropping maples, elms etc with nebari to die for, like this:




Mansei-en houses the (said-to-be) oldest bonsai in Japan, at 2000 years old (yes, two thousand) - this beastie juniper below:



Cheers! and good travels!
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4 years 7 months ago #51058 by David Jones
Thank you Wrcmad, sorry to take so long to get back to you, its been a seriously busy couple of weeks. Whilst I don't have to worry overly about money I wont be splurging and like you will be avoiding tours. The Ryokans definitely seem to be the way to go. Did you stay near Omiya at all or did you do day trips from elsewhere?

Those trees are great and I love the idea a of seeing Omiya in the flesh. Depending on how long I go for I might try and get to Kyoto as well.

Cheers,

David

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4 years 7 months ago #51059 by David Jones
Wow, I didnt register the age of that Juniper at first. The oldest tree I've in any of the books was a 1000yrs which is pretty stunning, let alone 2000

David

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4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #51063 by wrcmad

David Jones wrote: Did you stay near Omiya at all or did you do day trips from elsewhere?

I always stay at Ikebukuro, for a number of reasons:

The location is fantastic for the traveller using public transport. Ikebukuro subway station is a major railway hub, and the 2nd busiest in Tokyo. It is located on the Yamanote loop line which makes access to anywhere in Tokyo easy. It is also a major Shinkensan stop, which makes travelling further afield easy. It is also a NEX stop, which makes travel to and from Narita airport a dream.

It is both a commercial and entertainment district, which makes facilities such as shopping and dining out plentiful. It also makes it more reasonably priced than some other areas. There are actually about 8 adjacent blocks of cafes and restaurants in the centre of town, the competitiveness of which makes dining locally very inexpensive and good value.

My favourite Ryokan is located about 5mins walk from Ikebukuro station ( www.kimiryokan.jp/ - You can book directly via email.) It is the only place I stay in Tokyo now - awesome.

It is only 25mins on the subway to Omiya station. :P
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4 years 7 months ago #51068 by JC
Hi WRCMAD

Thanks for all that information that you have shared, I have saved every bit of it for the future.

JC
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4 years 7 months ago #51074 by David Jones
Yes, thank you very much Wrcmad, particularly helpful knowing about Ikebukuro station and surrounding area. Ive yet to work out how long I can go for but cant help thinking I wouldn't mind getting out in to some of the smaller towns in the countryside. Is that something you have done much of? It sounds like you've traveled to Japan alot.

Cheers,

David
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4 years 7 months ago - 4 years 7 months ago #51087 by wrcmad

David Jones wrote: Ive yet to work out how long I can go for but cant help thinking I wouldn't mind getting out in to some of the smaller towns in the countryside. Is that something you have done much of? It sounds like you've traveled to Japan alot.

I love Japan. I first travelled there around 20 years ago (when I was living in Korea for a while) and have been going back regularly ever since. It has become cheaper and cheaper over the years to travel there, so now is an annual/biannual trek for me. Like I mentioned in a previous post - I can show you how to do 7 nights in Tokyo for less than $1000 all-in ex AUS. For that price, every bonsai enthusiast should do the pilgrimage sooner rather than later. :)

I once back-packed from Fukuoka to Tokyo, so I have seen my fair share of the country side and smaller towns. However, most of the small, out-of-the way places I have seen have been stumbled upon - I have the motto when I travel that I always take the path less travelled, and it has served me well. If I ever have to make a choice regarding a route to travel, I always try to take the out-of-the way path, off the tourist trail, and it is amazing what you can just seem to "find".

Given your time-frame of 7-10 days, a visit to a rural village can be done, at a squeeze for the most out-of-the-way though. This becomes a bit tighter if you visit Kyoto as well... but Kyoto is very worthwhile - absolutely beautiful. As an aside, accommodation can be quite pricey in Kyoto, especially in peaks. So I always visit Kyoto from Osaka, where accommodation and expenses are cheap - Kyoto is one Shinkensan stop from Osaka (15mins), so it is no trouble (assuming you will have a JR pass?).

I have a few of possibilities of smaller towns to visit that I would recommend, in order of least-out-of-the-way and easiest to access, to most out-of-the-way and need to "make it a mission":

1. If you visit Kyoto, take a walk up Saga-Toriimoto Preserved Street. It is a preserved part of the old Kyoto town, a historic street lined by traditional townhouses (machiya). It is very pretty, and worth a visit, but is a little bit "touristy".

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2. The Hakone day trip out of Tokyo is an absolute must, and was still the highlight for my kids when I took them to Japan. Hakone is a tourist trail ascending the mountains adjacent to Mt Fuji by cable car, then gondola, then pirate ship. At the summit of the gondola, you can get off on the top of the mountain and walk the active volcanic springs where they still mine sulphur, and cook black eggs in the hot volcanic water - a treat if you are hungry. At this point, the view across the valley is one of the best you will get of Mt Fuji - however - you must choose a clear day for this trip, or your view of Fuji will be ruined by clouds.
I recommend you take the trip in the anticlockwise direction, in the order mentioned above. this way you can see an important addition: The usual route back to Tokyo is to scoot back to the Shinkensan at Odwarra station from Hakonemachi wharf by expressway bus. However, I have found a priceless alternate route (the road less travelled :) ). Stay on the boat until the second wharf - Hakone Yumoto. There you can catch the Hakone-Tenzan bus (bus 'k'). Instead of the freeway, this bus will take you back to Odwarra via the old winding mountain route, where you pass through some beautiful old mountain villages. Get off at the Tenzan Onsen (hot springs) for what I reckon are the best volcanic hot springs I have visited in Japan. They are located in a picturesque valley, and a soak in these springs will rejuvenate your weary legs (but be ready to get your gear off :whistle: ). After a soak in the springs, continue you bus journey back to Odwarra, and back to Tokyo.

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3. Ohara is a rural town nestled in the mountains of northern Kyoto, about one hour from Kyoto Station, but still technically located within Kyoto's city limits. There are a few old temples and a pretty waterfall to see, but the main attraction is Sanzenin Temple which also includes a moss garden. From Kyoto Station, the fastest way to reach Ohara is to take the Karasuma Subway Line to its terminal station Kokusaikaikan Station (20 minutes, 290 yen) and then Kyoto Bus number 19 to Ohara (20 minutes, 350 yen, every 40 minutes).

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4. Miyama is a remote, rural area in the mountains 30 kilometers north of central Kyoto. The area is famous for its traditional, thatched roof (kayabuki) farmhouses. Unlike those found in many other historic towns and districts around the country, the majority of Miyama's old houses survive as residential dwellings where people still live and work. This in turn lends a very nostalgic atmosphere to the area, and gives visitors a chance to experience the traditional, authentic feel of rural Japan.
Take a local or rapid train along the JR Sagano Line (Sanin Line) from Kyoto to Hiyoshi Station (about 45 minutes, 760 yen, fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass). Most trains require a transfer at Sonobe along the way. From Hiyoshi take a Nantan Bus into Miyama (50 minutes, 610 yen one way to Kita).

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5. A very rural and traditional Japanese village is a fairly long day-trip out of Tokyo. The Shirakawa-go and neighboring Gokayama regions line the Shogawa River Valley in the remote mountains that span from Gifu to Toyama Prefectures. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1995, they are famous for their traditional gassho-zukuri farmhouses, some of which are more than 250 years old.
The fastest connection between Tokyo and Shirakawa-go is by Hokuriku Shinkansen and bus via Toyama: Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Toyama (130-170 minutes, around 12,500 yen one way) and transfer to the bus to Shirakawa-go (1.5 hours, 1700 yen one way).

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Hope this helps. :S
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