Headed to Japan for golf next month. 90% of planning is done, but would love to bounce some questions off of someone who’s there.
You going to stop by the callaway Japan shop?
Where are you headed? I lived in the sticks about 2 hr train ride from Tokyo for almost a year (over a decade ago), and spent decent amount of time in Tokyo and Kyoto. Shoot me a PM if you’d like to discuss in more detail.
5 days Tokyo, 1.5 at Kawana resort, then down to play Hirono and Naruo.
Sounds like Black Cat to forward most of the luggage is the smart move?
I found free translator for a day from the Tokyo Guides website. I’ll use that freebie for help with shopping one day. Otherwise this will mostly be a golf trip.
How much cash for incidentals? Golf courses look like you get a charge account when you arrive?
Any use in going out at night if I don’t speak much Japanese?
I’ve got my weekly rail pass and help for the high speed trains, but how hard is subway just for getting around Tokyo?
I’m very comfortable just popping into sushi counters and small stores and using hand signals, etc.
But what are my don’t misses that most tourists miss?
Subway is easy- signs are in western letters as well.
There are some incredible contemporary architecture gems sprinkled everywhere (even though most buildings are very bare). If that interests you, i can give some pointers.
Going out is a must. Small bars and big clubs are amazing.
I’ve been out before in the Rapongii district, but always with someone who was fluent. Would love some nightlife tips.
I’m staying at Tokyo Station
Do they have an Uber equivalent or is it still taxis?
Do I need cash for anything?
Eh. I’ve wandered around Tokyo on a few trips with nothing but the barest google translate Japanese and got along just fine. Either they speak passable English or you speak just enough broken Japanese to get by or you both muddle through with sometimes amusing results. It’s half the fun. I wouldn’t worry too much.
Same in Beijing.
Uber is available in Tokyo. It’s primarily black car service. That being said, taxis in Japan are the so use them as well.
Yes a strong memory from my first visit was the taxis offering cold beers that they’ll put onto your fare receipt. I was told it’s understood as kind of bonus companies will overlook for the salarymen who work late.
Really looking forward to the golf and the little sushi counters.
Mostly I just want to make sure I “know what I don’t know” so I’m not missing something I’ll regret later. Chances are this will be my last visit for a while.
Nice. Once you get outside the big cities, English understanding drops off dramatically, but most restaurants have picture menus and signage near the trains always have English with other signage continuously being updated due to the Olympics next year. Definitely use the shipping services for your clubs and any large bags. Trying to put big bags on trains during busy times is not fun. On some of the stops, the bullet train may only be stopped for a minute or two before leaving so be ready to get off. Make sure your schedule doesn’t have you traveling at all during rush hour on the trains. Get all your golf lined up early. Many courses still won’t allow a single and some won’t even allow less than 3, although that is starting to change. Almost every course gives you a locker number and all your food drinks is put on your account that you settle up at the end of the day. Golf is a full day affair over there. It’s expected you will stop for lunch after the first 9 and then they get you off the back 9 when you are done with lunch. Some of the resort courses that see a lot of foreigners have changed and accommodate people wanting to play 18 straight through, but outside the resorts that would be unexpected and you might have issues if you wanted to play through. You’ll probably want cash for restaurants and some stores. While most places take credit cards, almost everyone still pays with cash in Japan.
My knowledge is a decade old and my memory is hazy, so grain of salt here. No knowledge of the golf scene. I was relatively strapped at the time but I’m assuming plastic will get you pretty far in 2019.
I would definitely go out at night, even without speaking Japanese. My favorite part about Tokyo was just randomly exploring and ducking in dive bars, ramen counters, street food, finding a random live music (the sushi counters are great, but so are the noodle places). There are so many nooks and crannies, just pull your 3w and go for it. It’s a safe city and you’ll make some friends for the day or evening if you’re willing to put yourself out there. Especially younger people will be curious to meet westerners, and you’ll meet some people that want to try out their English, especially after a few drinks.
Tokyo’s subway system is really clean and efficient, and I’d encourage you to explore somewhere besides Rappongi, which is sort of a Gaijin/Ex-pat hangout area, at least pre-recession. You should plan your time based on which of the general main neighborhoods you want to see stuff in, because while the city is walkable within a certain specific area, it’s obviously huge. If you have wandered far from a train station and find yourself needing to take a bus, you can remember that the Kanji (pictoral Chinese alphabet) letter/word for train station (“eki”) has a bunch of noise and what looks like an “R” on the right side of it. You see that on a bus’ digital sign, and you’ll know that it’s headed to a train station.
Shibuya is big and relatively clean. My then-gf/now-wife enjoyed shopping there for weird clothes and shoes, and you can see the busiest street crossing on earth. The Meiji shrine is probably worth a walk through. I think they have some pretty nice hotels and higher end restaurants in that vicinity.
Shinjuku Station area is worth walking through at night just to see the spectacle of the sheer amount of neon lights and weirdness, but it’s also the “seedy” part of the city where lots of the businessmen go after work. But seedy by Japanese standards is still pretty safe. Good place to do some karaoke.
Harajuku is much younger scene with lots of crazy fashion, also pretty good people watching and shopping area.
I forgot which neighborhood, but the dual towers of the metropolitan building has an awesome view of Mt Fuji and the entire Tokyo area if go to the top.
Visiting the area where the Imperial Palace is cool and feels like a retreat from the chaos of the city. Not sure when you’ll be there but the palace itself only opens to visitors once a year and it’s Oct 30- Nov 3 this year.
I think it was the Tokyo National Museum that I liked too, but I’m sure the guidebooks will steer you fine there.
Search to see if there are any seasonal festivals going on when you’re there.
If you’re thinking of day tripping outside of the city for non-golf activity, I highly recommend taking the bullet train towards the mountains and staying overnight at an onsen, where they have the natural hot springs, and they will serve you a multi-course meal in your traditional room with the tatami mats and wooden doors. I’m guessing you wouldn’t have to take more than an hour train ride to find a cool spot.
@BamaBearcat love seeing your pics from Japan on twitter. Give us the recap of your trip when you get back.
I am going to Tokyo in March. Would love to play a round- does anybody have any suggestions where to play? Kawana seems like an option and I could spend a night there. @BamaBearcat ?
A major golf/hotel resort with a course on site like Kawana is going to be the easiest for you assuming you don’t speak Japanese as they are used to dealing with foreigners. If you’re staying at any major hotel in Tokyo the concierge can probably help you get out somewhere too. Outside of the major cities or an internationally known golf resort, it will be tough being both a single and without being able to speak Japanese. Are you bringing your clubs? Many courses will not have rental clubs or if they do they’re not going to be the greatest.
Has anyone golfed in the Hakone area? Loved that area and there is a ton of golf.
The Kawana hotel is pretty run down, and nobody there spoke more than a very little English. The golf is good but even then somewhat depressing because of what it’s potential would be if it was well maintained.
You might try the closest US military basis. I understand they’ll allow non military to play.
The private clubs were some of the most difficult to access I’ve ever had. Like Pine Valley or Shinnecock hard.
Sorry I can’t help more.
This helps a lot!
I will have to find a local to invite me somewhere it seems, a run down Kawana sounds too depressing. Or book something through a tour operator.
I will bring my own clubs.
If you’re going for business try and mention that you’re a golfer to whomever you are meeting with. There are tons of people over there looking for an excuse to play; since, many courses still don’t allow less than threesomes out and there’s a lot of social pressure not to use vacation days (if a foreigner is coming then of course you can take a day off to entertain them). When my mother in law mentioned I’m a single digit golfer, her doctor, dentist and multiple neighbors all wanted to set tee times up the following weekend before she even had a chance to tell them I only visit for two weeks in the spring.
Posting just in case anyone else searches for “Japan” and stumbles on this thread (like I did). I just moved to Misawa, but planning to take frequent trips near Tokyo (once travel restrictions ease). Hoping to find some fellow golf nuts out here!