Lux Pacifica 2018 – Pre and Post Tourism

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Tokyo is one of the most interesting cities in the world, simultaneously mixing old and new, high tech with centuries of tradition and artistry. Japan, although modest in size, has an amazing share of fabulous cities, imposing volcanic peaks, natural springs and gorgeous temples, shrines and pagodas, all interwoven with a culture that still echoes ancient Shinto codes.

If the couple of days at Lux Pacifica do not give you sufficient time to see Tokyo, a few extra days is justified. Arm yourself with at least a Metro/Subway One Day Ticket. You will see that the transport system is vast so, to begin, you can visit places near to the conference venue such as the Tokyo Skytree Town or Asakusa old town where you can visit the Sensoji (“Ji” meaning “temple”) and its associated Nakamise traditional shopping Street.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3004.htm

If you prefer guided half-day, one-day or longer tours, then a sample guide can be found at:   http://www.alljapantours.com.au/2016/12/01/optional-tours-2017

If you have time for just a one-day tour, or, at a stretch, 2 – 3 days, Hakone and the Mount Fuji area can be easily visited. Time for a one-day tour varies from 8 – 11 hours depending on the company, modes of transport etc. An easy one-hour drive west of Tokyo, Hakone is a magical region of volcanic hills covered with forests and dotted with hot-spring resorts. Twisting roads yield vistas of Lake Ashi and when the weather is clear, heart-stopping views of Mount Fuji. Hakone can also be reached by train and, once there, visitors ride scenic cable cars or cruise on the lake. The Hakone Open-Air Museum has a remarkable collection of international sculptures, with 11 pieces by Henry Moore alone.  The following is a sample one-day Hakone tour:   http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/F800

For a tour of 7 days or so, consider seeing a little more of Tokyo, plus perhaps visit Hakone and Kyoto.

More comprehensive 10 -14 day tours could include: Hakone, Mt Fuji, Takayama, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nara, Nagano and finishing in Osaka or return to Tokyo.

Mt Fuji – Japan’s most famous mountain on an attractive tourist route;

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Takayama – this is the picturesque home of one of Japan’s three most beautiful festivals that is generally held in March

 

 

 

Nagoya – visit the Toyota factory and see industrial robots at work;

Kyoto – beauty and cultural significance and home to 14 UNESCO Heritage Sites;

Hiroshima – a World Heritage site;

Nara – the oldest capital city of Japan established over 1300 years ago. Around the Kasuga-taisha shrine are holy deer that freely roam the streets. (The great grandfather of Lux Pacifica convenor, Motoharu Takao, used to be a priest of the Kasuga-taisha sect as well as a government officer before WWI – ask him about the story!);

Nagano – snow monkeys. December to March is the best time for snow but the
monkeys bathe year round. Nagano can be easily reached from Tokyo on the Shinkansen ASAMA or Kagayaki service.  In addition, hiking is another attraction in this area;

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And, lastly,

Osaka – known as the nation’s “kitchen”

Although you may have tried sushi, sashimi, tempura and other Japanese delights at home, you have an opportunity in Japan to enjoy unique foods including authentic takoyaki (baked octopus balls), okonomiyaki (Japanese vegetable pancake) and zenzai (sweet hot soup with rice cake and black beans).

As you travel around in Japan you can stay overnight in hotels or traditional minshukus and ryokans. They vary from the simple, traditional and inexpensive to the ultra luxurious and pricey and some offer both Japanese and Western bedding.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 3.27.49 pmMinshuku (民宿) are family operated, Japanese-style bed and breakfasts and less formal than a ryokan (旅館). They offer visitors a good opportunity to meet local families and experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle. Minshuku are typically located around tourist areas such as hot springs, ski resorts and in the mountains. They are also commonly located in smaller countryside cities and towns or by the sea. A ryokan is a Japanese-style inn, generally larger than minshuku and in many the bath water is supplied directly from a hot spring, not so with minshuku.

Near Mt Fuji is this typical minshuku:

http://fujihakone.com/en/

An example of a Japanese style hotel/ryokan in the Mt Fuji area: http://www.konansou.com/eng/index.php. It has an onsen, a typical Japanese hot spring bathing facility.

In Hakone try this spectacular and somewhat pricey ryokan: http://www.hakoneginyu.co.jp

Lastly, if you plan to visit various cities, it is strongly recommend that you to buy JR pass in advance:   http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/index.html