Japan bleg

I will be visiting Japan next month (Tokyo/Kyoto and some rural areas) and would appreciate any suggestions (more along the lines of things to see, rather than places to eat.)  I was told the Bank of Japan has an excellent museum of woodblock prints, but was not able to find any information online.

When I was young, Britain was my favorite country.  Now it’s Japan, mostly due to Japanese art.  This will be my first trip to Japan.

Also, any suggestions for dealing with a foot problem (plantar fasciitis?) would be welcome.  I always do a lot of walking when I travel, and my left foot has been killing me for the past month.

Looking forward to my first “real” vacation in many years.

 


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62 Responses to “Japan bleg”

  1. Gravatar of Alon Honig Alon Honig
    24. March 2018 at 14:51

    I recommend you visit the mountains outside of Tokyo for a quick hike. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this Japanese custom. It is also a very relaxing way to see the country.

    https://triplelights.com/blog/3-mountains-idealatrip-fr-1174

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. March 2018 at 15:05

    Thanks Alon, Right now we plan to do a week in Tokyo, a week in Kyoto, and 12 days in 4 different spots in the mountains.

  3. Gravatar of Jason Harner Jason Harner
    24. March 2018 at 15:24

    In Tokyo, the Meiji Jingu shrine is beautiful, as is the park surrounding it. I’d also recommend the neighborhood around Yurakucho station, under the train tracks at night. It’s got a really cool ambiance, and you can hang out with some locals blowing off steam.

    Sorry, I don’t have any advice for the foot issue. I’d definitely suggest you pace yourself, as you’ll be doing a ton of walking. If you push yourself too hard day one, you may be in real pain for the next few. The subway is a great way to get around. It’s super easy to navigate as well, you’ll get wifi and cell signal while on the train, so you can use google maps just like above ground.

  4. Gravatar of Kinusan Kinusan
    24. March 2018 at 15:27

    I am not sure what is meant by woodblock prints but Bank of Japan’s currency museum is worth visiting, I guess. https://www.imes.boj.or.jp/cm/english/

  5. Gravatar of Nick Nick
    24. March 2018 at 15:31

    Hey Scott, in Tokyo the Yamamoto train line circling the city will be your friend – shibuya/harajuku for crazy fashion, ginza is the well off shopping district, akihabara the city of electronics stores – each worth a stroll. Consider also the tsukiji seafood markets at 5-6am.
    Japan is obsessed with seasons. If you’re there during cherry blossom season there will be many picnic events and (as you may know) booked out hotel rooms, as a swarm of retirees follow the two week window from the south of the country to the north.
    In Kyoto, Kinkakuji or the golden temple is overrated (what locals call ‘hade’ which roughly translates to ostentatious – Ginkakuji is less decorated and more favoured).
    Kiyomizu and Ryoanki you can’t miss, but go to smaller gardens and villas as well, there are hundreds scattered – I lived nearby as an exchange student during uni and didn’t scratch the surface.
    And don’t be disappointed by your first views of concrete and powerlines which dominate the landscapes – Japan is very much an onion with a concrete skin.

  6. Gravatar of Nate Wilson Nate Wilson
    24. March 2018 at 15:32

    Probably already on your list but if you’re into Japanese Art, the Tokyo National Museum is a must see, they have the largest collection of art in Japan.

  7. Gravatar of HL HL
    24. March 2018 at 16:01

    A fantastic idea and I hope this is a prelude to more frequent trips to Asia!

    I am sure you will get a mountain of good recommendations from people in the comment section. I fully agree with Alon on hiking, but I guess it might be a bit challenging with the foot condition. Hakone, as it is on your route to Kyoto, is probably a nice place to keep the option on lovely ryokan experience and/or hiking around the area. This is of course well-known…

    My guess is that the woodblock prints are Nishiki-e collection in the BOJ’s currency museum. The Currency Museum of the BOJ is right in front of the main building in Tokyo Nihonbashi district. It is a fantastic place to visit for other reasons of course (i.e. great collection of old notes / coins organized neatly in terms of economic history). They close at 4:30 pm and do not allow entry after 4 pm. It is right next to Mitsukoshimae station (Ginza / Hanzomon subway lines). It is absolutely essential to use GOOGLE REAL TIME TRANSLATE in your mobile phone or some prior studies of the collection (at least in terms of Japanese characters, what are in the collection, etc) because they don’t provide English translation for these. I have been there three times, but I don’t remember any sort of “audio guide” type arrangement for foreign tourists.

    I strongly, strongly recommend Nezu museum in Aoyama. It has the spectacular collection of Irises by Korin and also beautiful architecture and Japanese garden. An absolute must if you like Japanese art.

  8. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    24. March 2018 at 16:16

    Boso No Mura open air museum near Narita airport. Basically, a medieval village (remembering that the medieval period in Japan goes up to 1868 or so).

    Walking near the old water mill, Shinto made sense to me in a visceral sense.

    https://www.google.com.au/search?safe=off&tbm=lcl&ei=eum2WrLrNMLN0gS35ZyQAg&q=boso+no+mura+open+air+museum&oq=boso+no+mura&gs_l=psy-ab.1.0.0i67k1j0l2j0i22i30k1l2j0i67k1.37014.43505.0.45311.33.25.0.0.0.0.367.3657.0j2j10j3.16.0….0…1c.1.64.psy-ab..23.9.2369.0..33i160k1j0i131i67k1j0i131k1j0i10k1.180.Qhv20KF_L8M#rlfi=hd:;si:1617561394734289304;mv:!1m3!1d117.94497012463411!2d140.27297575!3d35.822951249999996!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i13!2i7!4f13.1

  9. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    24. March 2018 at 16:19

    Off topic, but this post on Chinese income distribution v US income distribution is of interest.
    https://glineq.blogspot.com.au/2018/03/chinese-income-distribution-in-2002-3.html

  10. Gravatar of Sam Sam
    24. March 2018 at 16:20

    I enjoyed the Robot Restaurant, one of the crazier tourist attractions in Tokyo. The food is bad and not the point. But check the description first as it may not be everyone’s cup of tea. https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/restaurants/robot-restaurant-1

  11. Gravatar of John Handley John Handley
    24. March 2018 at 16:24

    Tokyo:

    -Asakusa if you like places packed with tourists
    -Sky tree or Tokyo tower
    -Tsukiji fish market
    -Ueno park and zoo and various museums (if you go soon the cherry blossoms will still be around too, it looks really amazing lit up at night)
    -In and around Shinjuku

    Kyoto:

    -Arashiyama
    -Kiyomozudera (was lit up at night in the autumn when I was last there)
    -Kinkakuji (gold temple, very pretty)

    Fukushima:

    -Nisshinkan (samurai school)

  12. Gravatar of John Handley John Handley
    24. March 2018 at 16:40

    Also Kyoto:

    -Nijoujou (castle with some nice paintings)

  13. Gravatar of HL HL
    24. March 2018 at 16:42

    BTW, the BOJ currency museum is relatively small and they don’t show everything in their collection if I am correct. They have periodic “exhibits”, but they usually have some main pieces on display.

    If you are a huge fan of these brocade pictures, you can also check out Edo-Tokyo museum, which is in the general area (thought you need to change between subways, i.e. Ginza to Oedo, on your way). The museum has a significant collection of ukiyo-e school art pieces.

    In my view, Tokyo has a slightly inefficient subway system (many overlaps between different subways lines competing against one another) even though it is superb in comparison to those in the US. Something to consider when you plan your actual itineraries around the city, since you have a slight physical challenge at the moment. Sometimes you need to walk a bit between subway lines, etc. At least that was the factor when I took my 70 year old dad around the city in the past. Much simpler in cities like Seoul and HK where the coverage / connectivity efficiency is incredible.

  14. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    24. March 2018 at 16:59

    Born in 1955, made lead soldiers, interested in monetary economics, Japan, architecture, and have plantar fasciitis. Past interest in baseball statistics.

    I actually just described myself, not Scott Sumner.

    Try strong arch supports. Stretch the Achilles tendon.

  15. Gravatar of MOF MOF
    24. March 2018 at 17:36

    I recommend a day in Nara. Todaiji and Horyuji are well worth it.
    Himeji is my favorite castle and a day trip from Kyoto. The temples of Kyoto are at all points of the compass and spread out. With a hurting foot it might be worth hiring a taxi for the day. MKtaxi and others even have English guides but you might not need that if you just want a point to point ride. There is a good antique market in Kyoto where you can pick up some prints.

    A stay in a hotel or ryokan with a view of Mt FUJI in Hakone would be a good way to spend a night on the way to or from Kyoto

    The first morning in jet lagged Tokyo head to the fish market and catch the tuna auction.

    The Imperial Hotel In Kamikochi has stunning views and access to a wide variety of hikes.

    Japanese massage is great. Might help the foot.

  16. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    24. March 2018 at 17:54

    I had PF for two years. Doctor told me to change shoes. It went away in a week. For me, Keen shoes/sandals did the trick, but I suppose it varies from person to person.

  17. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    24. March 2018 at 18:04

    Everyone, Thanks!

    Ben, So how come you like fiscal stimulus? :)

  18. Gravatar of Igor Igor
    24. March 2018 at 18:07

    Scott, as a couple of others pointed out: try new shoes.

    I have had the same problem for years. I tried several drastically different shoe types and settled on zero lift or zero drop shoes. I still run and walk healthy distances daily (on some vacations, we cover 15-20 miles a day), and my pain has subsided from daily to rare and has become quite manageable.

    Both my wife and I like Merrell zero drop shoes. They proved to be comfortable and durable.

    Good luck!

  19. Gravatar of Thomas Sewell Thomas Sewell
    24. March 2018 at 18:35

    Scott,

    Regarding shoes… find a good dedicated running shoe store in your area. Go there and have one of their experts observe you walking without shoes, then have them recommend shoes for you. Test the shoes out (walking around the store) to see if they’re right. At that point, you’ll want to get a clear explanation from them of what they observed about your walking and what about those shoes (size, width, pronation effects, etc…) makes them correctly adjusted for you. You might also have a conversation about walking/cushions if they seem amendable.

    Then I’d suggest purchasing a pair of proper running shoes from the store (which can be used for walking/hiking as light-weight shoes, they’ll just wear out a little faster than regular walking shoes) as well as finding some walking shoes online which have the same size and characteristics as the shoes the store recommended for you.

    If that doesn’t work, you can look at super-expensive specialty shoes like these: https://www.zcoil.com/products/legend-black-slip-resistant, but that may require extra navigation on your part.

    TL;DR – Lots of people spend a lot of money getting the “right” running shoes for their feet, so there is an industry you can take advantage of to help.

  20. Gravatar of bill bill
    24. March 2018 at 18:49

    Have you tried ice? You can freeze water in a plastic bottle and roll it with your arch. If that doesn’t work and new shoes don’t work, keep trying new things. I think different things work for different people. In the meantime, don’t baby it but don’t overdo it either. Best wishes.

  21. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    24. March 2018 at 19:41

    Scott– Why do I support money-financed tax cuts.

    1. Maybe I am wrong.

    2. Well, Ben Bernanke advised money-financed tax cuts in 2003 in Japan. So if I am wrong, at least I’m not off-the-wall crazy.

    3. We can have commercial banks create money, or we can have the government create money. Who will benefit from the money creation?

  22. Gravatar of Matthias Görgens Matthias Görgens
    24. March 2018 at 20:59

    Scott, enjoy Japan!

    Lots of ailments go away when you strengthen your body. That applies to your back just as much as to your feet.

    Alas, while it’s socially acceptable to exercise your back, the simplest way to exercise your feet will get you looked at: walking barefoot every so often.

    However, the training will take at least a few weeks and you need to start gentle. So not a solution if you are going to do lots of walking soon. You are probably restricted to only easing the symptoms for that.

  23. Gravatar of Brent Buckner Brent Buckner
    25. March 2018 at 06:42

    Re: plantar fasciitis

    I did well with the Strassburg Sock and so have others to whom I have recommended it:
    https://thesock.com/

  24. Gravatar of Schuyler Schuyler
    25. March 2018 at 07:19

    Ghibli Museum. Buy tickets well in advance before leaving the USA.

  25. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    25. March 2018 at 08:11

    Thanks everyone.

    Ben, You said:

    “Scott– Why do I support money-financed tax cuts.”

    I don’t

  26. Gravatar of Steve J Steve J
    25. March 2018 at 08:43

    Re: plantar fasciitis

    For me calf flexibility is source. Heel hang off stair works great. Be careful though easy to push too far. Best of luck with the foot and have a great trip.

  27. Gravatar of Bob Murdoch Bob Murdoch
    25. March 2018 at 08:47

    The easiest, cheapest, fastest and often most effective cure for your foot problem is a simple exercise called the wall calf stretch. Your browser will find many examples and write-ups. If your wife wears high heels very often she should be doing this stretch routinely.

  28. Gravatar of ChargerCarl ChargerCarl
    25. March 2018 at 08:48

    My favorite thing in Tokyo was to just take a train somewhere and get lost walking in the neighborhoods admiring all the fantastic modern architecture.

  29. Gravatar of Garrett Garrett
    25. March 2018 at 09:13

    I highly recommend the Sensoji shrine at Asakusa, Tokyo. It’s a Buddhist temple next to a Shinto shrine, with lots of great architecture. The front has a long market that you can buy little souvenirs if you want.

    While you’re walking up to the temple, look up at all the apartment buildings surrounding it. I remember being able to see people hanging laundry out their windows to dry. Also when I went the Sky Tree was under construction and I could see it in the distance (its right across the river).

  30. Gravatar of Matt Matt
    25. March 2018 at 10:37

    I recommend a day trip to Nara when you are in the Kyoto area. The national museum, temples and gardens are all concentrated in and around the park, making it much more walkable than Kyoto. There is also a walking tour of the adjacent old town which is excellent.

    Hiroshima/Miyajima is also doable in a day trip out of Kyoto due to Shinkansen.

    Nikko makes a nice day trip out of Tokyo. Nice and concentrated as well.

    Teshima and Naoshima art sites/museums are also worth seeing, but they are not easy to get to so maybe not worth it unless you have a specific interest in architecture.

    Having been to Japan a half dozen times, those are the sites that really stand out for me.

  31. Gravatar of AbsoluteZero AbsoluteZero
    25. March 2018 at 11:44

    Scott,

    Lots of good suggestions already. I agree with all of them. I certainly don’t disagree with any. I won’t add any specific location. Those are obvious. It’s Tokyo and Kyoto after all.

    Get a Suica or Pasmo card. You can get it at the airport as well as many other locations. There’s a version for non-Japanese residents that’s cheaper. If you’re landing in Narita, take the Narita Express to Tokyo.

    This is what I suggest you do. Not every day obviously, but you can set aside one day to do this. If you’re not staying close to Shinjuku Station, go there. First, walk around INSIDE the station. Yes, just inside. Observe. Look at everything, and the people. Then take the train, ride it for one or two stops. Doesn’t matter which direction. Get off. Doesn’t matter where. Walk around a bit inside the station first. Then get out. Random exit. Then walk around. Just walk around. Again, observe. Look at everything. Go inside places, walk into narrow alleys. If you think there’s probably nothing to see there, walk there anyway. Walk slowly. You’re not trying to get anywhere fast. Go slow, and observe.

    Go to Yodobashi Camera. They have several locations just around Shinjuku Station. Each of the buildings (called Kan) is devoted to one class of goods. Each building is several stories. Look at everything. Look at the labels. Look at how much they are. Look at where they’re made. Look at how they’re presented, depending on where they’re made. Look at how the people who work there behave. Look at what payment systems they take. Talk to the people who work there, in English or Chinese, not Japanese.

    Go to Akihabara. It’s not just otaku land. It’s not just electric town. It’s not just idols. It’s all of those things, and much more. Again, walk around and observe.

    When you do this, count things. Count how many phone booths. Count how many convenience stores (kon-bi-ni) yuo see. The big three are 7-11, Lawson, and Family Mart. Have cash, but always try to pay with a credit card first, and see if they accept it, and which ones. Talk to random people. In English. Ask them how to get to certain places. Note the difference in the different districts, in age, and so on.

    Have a great time.

  32. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    25. March 2018 at 12:59

    As far as plantar fasciitis, +1 on the arch supports.
    I’ve had issues with that myself. IMO, the probability of suffering plantar fasciitis is linearly correlated with: (lack of proper arch-supports * over-do-it-ness).
    (1) where “over-do-it-ness” = walking/running way more than you’re used to.
    (2) as far as arch supports, be aware that the “average” arch supports ones are geared towards “average” arch height. I have high-arches myself, and really need the high-arch supports. You need to get arch supports to match your arch height: you might try going to a running-shoe store and ask their advice on what arch supports are correct for your foot.

  33. Gravatar of Heskey Heskey
    25. March 2018 at 13:35

    50 mins by train to the south of Tokyo is Kamakura, one of the old capitals of Japan. It’s interesting as it signalled the move from imperial rule to military rule, and is reflected in the architecture of the temples/shrines. It’s also apparent in the styles of sculptures/art, with the beginnings of strong influences from China, shown in the museum there.There’s a 13th century statue of a Buddha that you can physically go into, and it’s also by the sea if you fancy a stroll along it for some fresh air.

  34. Gravatar of Hoosier Hoosier
    25. March 2018 at 14:18

    I think Tokyo is way overrated, but then I don’t care about tech or neon, and am not big into shopping. Also I couldn’t care less about anime or any other otaku related stuff.

    HOWEVER, there are some beautiful parts of the city if you seek them out. Meiji jingu is wondeful. Go to Asakusa for the old time Tokyo- meaning the 1950’s. I think this is the most atmospheric part of the city. It’s filled with tourists, but that’s the case with the whole country. Tourism is through the roof right now. I think they’re nearly doubling they number of foreign tourists compared to when I lived there back in around 2002. So you’re going to see lots of foreigners wherever you go nowadays.

    Museums in Tokyo are not that great. The national museum doesn’t hold a candle to the big museums of the west like the British Museum or the Met. The Edo-Tokyo museum however is an exception, but you may not find it that interesting if you don’t already have a feel for Japanese history. Just a very fun museum that does a fantastic job of re-creating Edo period Japan.

    The best part of most Japanese cities is wandering around at night from bar to bar. That’s when you’ll really see their charm, and Tokyo is no different. Golden Gai in Shinjuku is particularly fun, as is the area of town called Ebisu.

    Definitely squeeze in a day to Nara while you’re in Kyoto. I highly recommend Horyu-ji- the oldest wooden temple in Japan and one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world. It’s a beautiful place that doesn’t feel at all like it’s over 1400 years old. You’ll leave with a greater appreciation of the Japanese focus on craftsmanship.

    Kyoto as a whole can be a big disappointment if you don’t go in with the right frame of mind. It is definitely not Florence, or Sevilla, or any other old European town where every street feels like you’re in a movie. Most of it is pretty modern and you have to find the old parts of town. However, once you do then you’ll be enchanted. Gion is the obvious recommendation here.

    If you have time, then a short visit to Ohara is nice. It’s a suburb – just like Arashiyama mentioned above- but with far less tourists and also less commercial.

    I recommend not missing Kiyomizu-dera temple, but the best advice is to look through the guidebook and pick the temples that most interest you. There are over 100 of them I believe, and you’d never even want to see them all (unless you’re some kind of temple freak).

    I DONT recommend Kinkaku-ji. To me, it’s just a big gold box. Very ostentatious and not that Japanese because of it.

    But please enjoy! It’s a very special country and I have yet to meet someone who has visited and not come away with a greater appreciation for the place. And the people are awesome!

  35. Gravatar of B Cole B Cole
    25. March 2018 at 16:41

    Scott-

    Who’s on first?

    I support money-financed tax cuts.

    You do not.

    But if you wish to switch positions for the sake of debate I will consider that proposal.

  36. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    25. March 2018 at 20:14

    In Kyoto try to visit the house of Kawai Kanjiro. it’s a nice contrast when one struggles to distinguish all the different temples and shrine seen over the day.
    https://www.japanvisitor.com/japan-museums/kawai-kanjiro-memorial-museum
    It’s close to Kiyomizudera.
    Of course all the other places mentioned above. A daytrip to Nara from there should be. the wooden hall with buddha + plus some tame deer. Although they smell. Uji is famous for its green tea and Byodo-in (the shrine on the 10yen coin) and can be done on the same trip.
    Shame you’re missing cherry blossom we’re right in it now.

    In tokyo, Asakusa shrine is one to see what crowds can be like, but from there a boat ride down sumida river (about an hour) is relaxing and then get off in Hamarikyu Gardens, less crowded but one of the better parks and with shiodome one the background makes for great pics of old and modern japan. The teahouse in the park offers tea ceremonies, but i don’t know the timing there.
    thats close to ginza, to do some high end shopping and end the day in Shimbashi, Salary men heaven, with some simple food, beers and well…whatever else some salarymen do.
    of course Meiji Jingu, Shibuya, Shinjuku, Akihabara, Ueno also all areas to see. Harajuku on a sunday, i suppose the dressed up folks are still out, but i havent been in a while.
    for a day out Nikko/Kinugawa (Onsen) are worth a trip and night stay. but you mentioned some rural japan, so maybe thats covered.

  37. Gravatar of morgan s warstler morgan s warstler
    25. March 2018 at 20:30

    STAY AT Hotel Claska if only for one night – tell me when, you’ll get a room

    About:

    https://www.tablethotels.com/en/tokyo-hotels/claska

    It’s not easy to get a room at Claska — it’s got just twelve rooms, nine Western and three in traditional tatami style, and those twelve rooms are much in demand among the fashionable souls who populate Claska’s lobby scene. So it’s not out of lust for your money that we bring this fantastic hotel to your attention; it’s simply for the love of a well-made hotel.

    And a well-made hotel it is — possibly the finest small hotel we have come across, and certainly one of the coolest. The Japanese culture has a way of seizing upon and then perfecting trends born elsewhere, so it is not surprising that the original Tokyo boutique hotel is possibly the definitive entry in the genre. The interior design is beyond cutting-edge, from the entryway by the English design firm Tomato to the rooms and lobby lounge by a motley crew of hip Japanese designers. Vestiges of the original New Meguro Hotel (sort of a Sixties jet-set business hotel) remain, adding an authenticity that elevates the interiors beyond mere set design. If you are a design groupie, the sort of person who knows and cares who Tomato are, or just the sort of person who appreciates the delightful absurdity of an upscale pet salon called Dogman (servicing Meguro’s pups since 2003), then this is the place for you.

    Services are fairly minimal, in classic boutique style, though Claska’s lobby space is pitch-perfect, the kind of place the locals go out of their way to visit for all-day casual dining, drinks, and the occasional special event. We mean “out of their way” quite literally — thanks to its location in Meguro it’s rather less central than many of Tokyo’s other internationally known hotels. If you’re looking for that Lost in Translation experience, try the Park Hyatt in Shibuya or the Grand Hyatt at Roppongi Hills. Claska is a long taxi ride from these districts, and even the Meguro train station is not quite within easy walking distance.

    But that’s the trade-off. This is simply a wonderful hotel, among our favorite city hotels in all the world, and the starting rates are low, ¥12,600 (around $120 US) for room 505, the most basic single room — though if you wish, you can pay Park Hyatt prices for rooms 401 and 402. So it’s only natural that the hotel should be booked solid for months in advance. If you manage to get a reservation, and you survive the trek to Meguro with your patience intact, we’re quite confident you won’t be disappointed.

  38. Gravatar of Daniel Armstrong Daniel Armstrong
    25. March 2018 at 21:21

    Night splints like these cured my plantar fascitis. Really. Try one.

    http://www.plantarfasciitisresource.com/best-plantar-fasciitis-night-splint/

    Re Japan, go to a public bath at least once. Preferably one in a shitamachi (urban redneck) neighborhood like Asaksa or Ueno.

  39. Gravatar of egl egl
    25. March 2018 at 21:27

    Plantar fasciitis: http://www.running-physio.com/pf-new-research/

  40. Gravatar of Todd Kreider Todd Kreider
    25. March 2018 at 23:49

    Now that a bullet train goes to Kanazawa two hours north of Kyoto, I’ consider going there as it is a cultural city like Kyoto and even known as “Little Kyoto.” There is a geisha district as well as the best sushi in Japan, which is always fresh unlike Tokyo. There is a famous fish market nearby where much is in walking distance. (The cook on CNN had a show about a sushi chef from Kanazawa and featured that city for the first part.)

    There is a Ninja Temple built for the true libertarian with trap doors, false doors, etc. and even the construction of a small fourth floor to look out for Edo officials when the government then restricted temples to three floors. In summer, you’d want to call in advance but easy to get in if with only two or three people.

  41. Gravatar of Ish. Ish.
    26. March 2018 at 01:00

    I’ve been fortunate to visit Japan several times over the last three years (Thanks Uncle Sam) I’ve also suffered from plantar fasciitis (Thanks again Uncle Sam).
    For Tokyo: The Odaiba area and the Miraikan Museum of Emerging Science is worth the frustrating train ride. It is also near the flagship Tokyo Toyota showroom. Unlike any car dealership in America. Just look for the enormous Ferris wheel.
    I enjoy the Tokyo suburbs. A walk through a supermarket or big box store may bring a surprise. I am fixated on Japanese day planners and office supplies. It is amazing how good Japanese whisky is as available in just about any grocery or convenience store.
    For Plantar Fascitis: Tape your foot and consider form fitting shoe inserts. I swear by Sole heat moldable inserts.

  42. Gravatar of John Hamilton John Hamilton
    26. March 2018 at 02:46

    For the plantar fasciitis, I would shell out the money for those fancy, custom-bottom shoes. I also would try out rubbing DMSO on it. DMSO is a great topical anti-inflammatory, and it’s non-generic. It’s not FDA approved, since it’s always been used and can’t be. There are plenty of studies proving its efficacy though. They sell it at places like Farm N’ Fleet… not sure where to buy it in LA. Perhaps also consider getting a prescription for mobic. Ice helps too after long days. Hope this helps!

    PS: Seriously, try out the DMSO. Only side effect is that can make your breath smell like onions/garlic for a little bit (it goes away).

  43. Gravatar of DeservingPorcupine DeservingPorcupine
    26. March 2018 at 05:44

    Hoosier mentioned it above, but let me add a vote for Golden Gai in Shinjuku (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shinjuku_Golden_Gai). It was my favorite place in Tokyo (and apparently Sofia Coppola’s as well). It’s a small area of fairly rundown bars mostly built soon after the war. They’re cramped and a little pricey, but if the word “ambiance” applies to any place, it’s this one. Granted, it’s better if you speak Japanese, but it’s still a great place to go to meet interesting people from all parts of Japanese life, young folks to old codgers, artists and programmers.

    Go for lunch to get the lay of the land, and then go late at night for the real experience.

    Unfortunately, it is right next to Kabukichou, which is the red light district of Shinjuku. So, unless you take a long route from the train station, prepare to feel like an old, white perv during the walk there. (It’s perfectly safe, though, and you won’t be strenuously urged to solicit like you are in Roppongi.)

  44. Gravatar of Chris Chris
    26. March 2018 at 06:20

    I’ve been dealing with plantars off and on for years. What will ultimately work for you depends on what the root cause of the problem is – but here is what works best for me.

    *Never go barefoot – I have arch support sandals I wear at home when not wearing shoes.
    *Get some arch support inserts for your shoes (all of your shoes) – I like these https://amzn.to/2G74BOO
    *Do frequent calf-stretches – one leg at a time, rest front of your foot on an elevated surface (burb, stair, etc) and drop heel as far as you can with body weight, hold that position for 30 seconds or so.
    *Stretch hamstring buy doing toe touches – this is ultimately my root cause, tight (short, whatever) hamstrings put too much tension on my whole leg. If I keep my hamstrings loose with daily stretching it ultimately eliminated overall pain as long as I used arch support at all times.

  45. Gravatar of Russel Russel
    26. March 2018 at 06:58

    Got to as many different restaurants as possible.

  46. Gravatar of Simon Turkel Simon Turkel
    26. March 2018 at 13:58

    On PF, get orthodics. You can pay a lot of money and have a podiatrist measure your foot and cut special gel pads, or you can stop in the drug store and try Dr. Scholl. But you must place pads in all your shoes. Don’t ask me how, but it is night & day. Good luck

  47. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    26. March 2018 at 18:19

    Sumner-sensei

    I strongly recommend to visit Nara park.
    Near Kyoto.(1hour from Kyoto Station).There is many temples and Shrines.
    Not crowded.
    Welcome! (disclosure: I live in Nara)

    https://www.visitnara.jp
    http://www.narahaku.go.jp/english/index_e.html

    I think Rental car is useful for the foot problem.
    https://rent.toyota.co.jp/eng/

    Not famous temple, but Jōruri-ji is fantastic temple.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jōruri-ji

  48. Gravatar of brave chicken brave chicken
    27. March 2018 at 11:00

    Any thoughts on what’s going on with M1 in Japan; maybe you can ask while over there.

    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/fredgraph.png?g=jeSr

  49. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    27. March 2018 at 22:17

    Scott,

    re: plantar fasciitis, nice recommendations already, here’s my experience:

    – causes, too little sole cushioning, over-tightening laces, uphill running or walking, and mine gets worse with a lot of standing and driving too. Why the driving, because some shorter car seats press on the hamstrings and the back of the leg and foot is all connected right down to the heel where it hurts.
    – remedies, all of the above, especially: calf stretches, rolling the calf and hamstring with a sports roller and / or hard ball (sports supply), hard footrollers and golf ball exercises under the foot, and not to forget, strengthen the calf itself (stand on toes 20x in a row, 3 sets, 2x / week, or walk upstairs on toes only). Re-think your walking and running technique to move away from heel striking towards toe.
    – important symptomatic relief: well cushioned footwear = good and expensive running shoes fitted by a competent salesperson in a dedicated running store.
    – If it’s really bad, do go to a physiotherapist or osteopath and they will give you massage to relieve the calf and some taping for a few weeks.
    – magnesium supplements to relieve muscle tightness

    Warning – I did all the above religiously and it took me 18 months to get rid of it. This might not be over quickly.

  50. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    28. March 2018 at 06:13

    I just spent a month in Japan, mainly Kyoto.

    Some of the shrines really are incredible. I loved Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, which is made up of hundreds (thousands?) of statues carved by ordinary citizens. Fushimi Inari Taisha is even better than it looks. Go earlier to have it to yourself, allow two hours to see the whole thing. That applies to everywhere actually. East Asia is a crowded place, lots and lots of tourists to draw on. The Golden Pagoda.

    Maybe rent a bike for travelling through the city to save your foot? It’s extremely bike-friendly, even if you haven’t cycled for a while.

    I know you didn’t want food but I have to say, a feed of dumplings and beer up at the counter at Hohei in Gion is a great end to any day out.

    Make time on your trip for an Onsen town (volcanic baths) such as Kinosakionsen. Relaxing in the nip with other Japanese men in an ancient spa. Highly recommended.

    And I know you’re going to the mountains. But as a day trip from Kyoto, the hike up Mt Rokko is amazing. Within half an hour you’re looking down over the Kobe/Osaka megapolis, city from horizon to horizon. It’s like Akira or something.

    You’ll love it. Please write about it extensively.

  51. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    28. March 2018 at 06:17

    I just spent a month in Japan, mainly Kyoto.

    Some of the shrines really are incredible. I loved Otagi Nenbutsu-ji, which is made up of hundreds (thousands?) of statues carved by ordinary citizens. Fushimi Inari Taisha is even better than it looks and it looks great. Go earlier to have it to yourself, allow two hours to see the whole thing. That applies to everywhere actually. East Asia is a crowded place, lots and lots of tourists to draw on. The Golden Pagoda.

    Maybe rent a bike for travelling through the city to save your foot? It’s extremely bike-friendly, even if you haven’t cycled for a while.

    I know you didn’t want food but I have to say, a feed of dumplings and beer up at the counter at Hohei in Gion is a great end to any day out.

    Make time on your trip for an Onsen town (volcanic baths) such as Kinosakionsen. Relaxing in the nip with other Japanese men in an ancient spa. Highly recommended.

    And I know you’re going to the mountains. But as a day trip from Kyoto, the hike up Mt Rokko is amazing. Within half an hour you’re looking down over the Kobe/Osaka megapolis, city from horizon to horizon. It’s like Akira or something.

    You’ll love it. Please write about it extensively.

  52. Gravatar of Sean Sean
    28. March 2018 at 06:28

    Also I forgot — Naoshima Art island

    https://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/28/travel/naoshima-japan-an-unlikely-island-as-art-attraction.html

    extraordinary concrete galleries on a tiny island in the inland sea. Rent electric bikes. Visit all the galleries. Marvel at the views. Very memorable.

  53. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    28. March 2018 at 19:37

    Everyone, Thanks for all the tips. Yesterday I spent $80 for shoe inserts and $90 for sandals with arch support. If you knew what a cheapskate I am you’d be in a state of shock reading that.

    I am doing the calf exercises that people recommended, and rolling the foot on a plastic bottle full of ice. We’ll see how it goes.

    Hopefully Japan is a more civilized country than America, and I can buy some serious pain medication w/o a prescription.

  54. Gravatar of Ben J Ben J
    28. March 2018 at 22:05

    Scott,

    Unfortunately I can tell you that as the sufferer of a severe hangover in Tokyo a few months ago, I discovered that getting any reasonable dosage of effective painkiller is essentially impossible without a prescription. Luckily I could self-medicate with a lengthy stay in bed, although that won’t work for your problem. If you can, get some painkillers on prescription in the US and take them over.

    I also second Naoshima, the art island. One of the galleries has a fantastic Rembrandt collection. It’s feasible as a day-trip from Hiroshima.

  55. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    28. March 2018 at 22:48

    Ben, I don’t have a doctor.

    Thanks for the Naoshima tip.

  56. Gravatar of Michael Levine Michael Levine
    29. March 2018 at 02:33

    Tokyo:
    – Edo-Tokyo Museum
    – Rikugien (beautiful garden near Komagome on the Yamanote Line)
    – Tsukiji fish market, early in the morning for sushi (tours & sushi making lessons are available)
    – Ueno Park
    – Ota Museum of Art near Meiji Jingu for ukiyo-e
    – Meiji Jingu itself

    If you don’t mind crowds, then hit Asakusa or Akihabara. I don’t care for Shibuya—there are just too many people. That said, seeing the crush of people at the main intersection is a worthwhile experience to have once, and I recommend hitting Shibuya Mark City to check out “The Myth of Tomorrow” by Okamoto Taro. It is an amazing mural that depicts the horror of Hiroshima. After that, if you take a walk for ten minutes or so away from the center of Shibuya (say, toward Daikanyama), the crowds thin out a bit and there are a lot of nice restaurants and cafes.

    Shinjuku is somewhat scummy, but there are a LOT of izakaya and great places to drink/eat.

    Koenji is the center of hipster Tokyo, if you have any interest in that.

    Japan in general and Tokyo in particular will be the last refuge of Americana, I think, long after it disappears from the US. I know it’s not why you’re making the trip, but it’s an interesting theme to explore. Here’s a short ditty on it:
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/how-japan-copied-american-culture-and-made-it-better-180950189/

    It may be crowded, but Hakone onsen (hot spring) is worth it, with breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji possible on clear days.

    For Kyoto, I am partial to Ginkakuji to Kinkakuji. Arashiyama is beautiful. Make sure you go south to Fushimi-Inari. Be patient with Kyoto and do your research ahead of time. It’s not like some European cities, which scream HISTORY at every corner, but if you search for it, you will find it in Kyoto. I recommend paying up for a nice ryokan in Kyoto to set the mood (ie, stay away from western-style hotels). Give a sento (public bath) a try, too!

    Make time for a day trip to Nara, although the deer are a bit ridiculous.

    Not sure where your going in the mountains, but if you have time, go up to Tohoku. All recommended: Yamagata (Mt. Zao and Zao onsen), Akita (Lake Tazawa and Lake Towada, which is between Akita and Aomori), western Fukushima (Mt. and Lake Bandai), and Aomori (Hirosaki, which has bars that have shamisen performances and an incredibly bizarre museum in the middle of nowhere that commemorates the area’s claim to be the resting place of Jesus). In Iwate, Hiraizumi is a must. In Miyagi, Matsushima is overrated but still beautiful.

    I have no advice on your foot, alas. Might a cortisone shot be the way to go?

    Have fun!

  57. Gravatar of Ed Hanson Ed Hanson
    29. March 2018 at 04:59

    I am too cheap for even cable but fortunately one of PBS stations here broadcasts the Japanese channel in English NHK, 24 hours a day. It is by far the most watched channel in my house. I have become quite charmed by the presentation of Japanese culture. If you have time to watch before you leave, they have great news programs, great cultural spotlights, great information on train travel and every two months great Grand Sumo. All this along with a great smattering of art, craftsmanship, travel suggestions, shrine tours, and basic Japanese instructions for getting along. You are quite lucky.

    Ed

  58. Gravatar of Chie Kobayashi Chie Kobayashi
    29. March 2018 at 05:16

    Dear Dr. Sumner,

    I’m a translation member of the website called Economics 101 (http://econ101.jp/about/), which you agreed to grant us permission to translate your blog into Japanese few years ago if you remember (here is the list of our translation of your blog posts http://econ101.jp/category/translation/scott-sumner/).

    So I translated this post into Japanese, and then my friend said to me that a must-visit Japanese arts museum in Tokyo is Ohta Museum (http://www.ukiyoe-ota-muse.jp/eng) and I must tell you so.

    BoJ Currency Museum has an admission-free special exhibition on Nishiki-e till April 15, which may interest you as well (https://www.imes.boj.or.jp/cm/exhibition/current/ Japanese info only).

    Hope you will have a wonderful trip in Japan.
    We’ll be checking your blog :)

  59. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. March 2018 at 23:08

    Thanks Michael, Ed and Chie, that’s very helpful.

  60. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI H_WASSHOI
    31. March 2018 at 11:09

    You can buy Loxoprofen (Loxonin S)at drugstore from pharmacist who went the university for 6 years

    (I think savage enough)

  61. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. March 2018 at 11:13

    Thanks Wasshoi

  62. Gravatar of rick white rick white
    10. April 2018 at 15:28

    took my son there in ’13 during the week of the Boston Marathon Bombing. The Tsukiji fish market has moved since then but the small family restaurants around the market are the best places to eat at least once. We got a guide for the day who happened to be the wife of a Japanese economist who spent time at Princeton. She took us to Akihabra, the Shrine, a shopping district for youngsters, the Ginza district and a walk around the Emperors Palace-via bus, taxi and subway. We probably couldn’t have done this all in a day without our guide. The traditional Japanese inn – ryokan- in Kyoto was fantastic. The bus ride to the Philosophers way was hot but the walk along the Philosophers way was nice. You will want a new toilet after seeing the up-to-date environmentally sound hi-tech ones in the hotels there. Enjoy!

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