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I found out only yesterday that my company is sending me to Japan to Kobe this Saturday, for two weeks. I'll be working all day but in the evenings I'll have some time to sightsee. What would you recommend to see in Kobe?

Also after my work is done there I have a few days off and I'm planning to go to Tokyo. Again what would you recommend to see there?

Do you think I shouldn't go to Tokyo or rather go somewhere else in Japan? Any suggestions are welcome.

EDIT

Sorry for being too vague I'll try to narrow it down.
I think the "standard tourist" rules should apply here. I wanted to see things that are specific only for Japan like their temples, castles as they're a lot different from European ones. Is there a museum with Samurai's armours? What's the highest/best view spot to overview the hole city? I Googled something like this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Luminarie which I think would be amazing to see.
I hope that makes sense to you.

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Hi 6bytes, and welcome. We try to make questions less subjective than yours currently is, so that we can answer them objectively. As it stands, it's waaay too open - what do you want to see? Are you keen to see temples, or go to the tech district? Ride on the public transport, or go meditate somewhere? See a sports game, or try out restaurants? Are you concerned about Tokyo, or just wondering if it's interesting? Please could you edit your question and put in some more detail, so that we can then help to answer your question :D –  Mark Mayo Jan 27 '12 at 1:47
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This is what travel guides are for. –  Michael Borgwardt Jan 27 '12 at 8:02
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@MichaelBorgwardt I think this is going into a wrong direction :/ I remember a few years ago there was a big issue with LonelyPlanet's guides being written by people who never went to the countries they wrote about. Whether this was true or not I kinda lost hope in guides and try to look for other sources of information about a place I'm going to. –  6bytes Jan 27 '12 at 11:16
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@6bytes: Well, there's always wikitravel.org –  Michael Borgwardt Jan 27 '12 at 11:23
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It seems you have multiple questions for which the answers will be factoids. These are exactly what Stack Exchange is looking for. Please abandon this question and ask those as new separate questions. –  hippietrail Jan 27 '12 at 14:15

2 Answers 2

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Right, so you're from London. One of the top attractions in Kobe is, ironically, a concentration of Western-style houses(!). But that's probably not going to be a huge attraction for you. However it's claimed by many sources, including Wikitravel, to be the must see attraction, so if you want to, head to the Ijinkan - near the Shin-Kobe station. These are 19th-century residences of Kobe's foreign traders, clustered in the Kitano area.

To me, Kobe immediately brings to mind images of their terrible earthquake in 1995, which killed 6433 people. If you head to Meriken Park, they have a memorial there to this.

Just nearby is Kobe Tower, which has a viewing pavilion, so you can get a good view of the city.

There's the Fruit Flower park, but it's not really going to have too many blooms in February. Same for the Herb Park.

Ah, now to drink - Kobe is known for its sake! In the Nada area are breweries, so I'd try and head there for some tastings :) The Hakutsuru Sake Brewery Museum has free entry, and free sake!

At night, you mentioned the Kobe Luminaire. However, note that it's generally only in December, and even then only on certain days. Check when you get there though, as it may be running for a special event, and it'd definitely be worth seeing.

Oh! Also, try and find some Kobe beef. Oh now I'm jealous, I totally want to try it from there. "The meat is generally considered to be a delicacy, renowned for its flavour, tenderness, and fatty, well-marbled texture.".


Now, Tokyo. This will be your history stop (Kobe was more food and culture?). You'll need to go to the temples of Asakusa, the gardens of the Imperial Palace, and the Meiji Shrine.

If you're looking for a view of the city, you have a few options. The Tokyo Tower is the obvious one, but expensive. Alternatively, head to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. It's the highest spot in Tokyo, and has viewing platforms, and is FREE! A final option is considered to be the best, however, from the World Trade Center Building at JR Hamamatsucho station which, "although not as high, offers stunning views of Tokyo Tower and the waterfront due to its excellent location, especially at dusk".

I'd also do a sento (public bath) experience, and go to Shinjuku at night - the lights are supposed to make Picadilly Circus look like a backwater town!

There are also several museums in Tokyo, so if you want some more history - Samurai or art or other, check out the list of them when you get there, I won't bother listing them out here. The National Museum looks to be the most relevant for a tourist to go and enjoy though, from what I can see.

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Definitely plan a stop in Kyoto/Nara when you are on your way to Tokyo. Kyoto was my favorite second destination when I was in Japan. I can't be more specific, I have very good memories of getting lost in Kyoto on many occasions. Oh yes, do consider visiting a Japanese bath house.

I agree with Mark on Tokyo, especially on Shinjuku. Also do some cycling while in Tokyo. At the hotel where I stayed, rental bikes were offered.

Another option is to consider climbing Mount Fuji. Buses leave from Tokyo. I forgot the name of the city where I went to climb Mount Fuji, but I recall reading about it in the Lonely Planet on Japan.

If you have time you might also want to go in the other direction to Huis ten Bosch. This is by far one of the most bizarre theme parks I have ever visited. It is a park presenting Dutch life, but from a Japanese perspective. Being Dutch, I found it brilliant.

You could also consider buying the Japan Rail Pass, which allows for unlimited rail transport throughout Japan. This pass is only for sale outside Japan.

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I went to Kyoto on Saturday and got lost a few times in Higashiyama Ward around the temples. Thanks for the advice :) –  6bytes Feb 6 '12 at 2:54

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