Goin' to Japan!

First things first, lemme tag @NavyFish to see if he has any opinions.

I’m US Navy, active duty, and just got notification that I was selected for the orders I wanted to Yokosuka, Japan. I won’t be leaving until, at the absolute earliest, November, and with a school in-route it’ll probably be more like February. Either way, JAPAN B*#@#ES!

So with that out of my system: does anybody have advice on things to do, places to see, or anything else of the sort? Keep in mind that I am physically incapable of drinking alcohol, so please keep in mind that I have no desire to go bar hopping unless there is something truly interesting about the place.


Hey, congrats! PM me what ship/squadron you’ll be joining!

I’ve never been to mainland Japan myself, but have been to Okinawa. Folks say that Okinawa is to Japan as Hawaii is to the US. Either way, it’s beautiful, and has some of the best scuba diving in the world. So if you have an opportunity, visit! You can probably hop from Yoko to Oki on a MAC flight, there are numerous USMC and other bases on Okinawa.

Sound like it’s going to be an awesome tour. Japan!!

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No idea how it works with weekends off and such in your line of work, but if you can get a long weekend, I’d recommend the Japanese Alps (Nagano Prefecture, Matsumoto). Spend 2 nights in a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in the Kamikochi valley last fall. Stunning area, great for hiking! Of course a weekend Tokyo is a must (try the Gyoza at Min-Min :yum: ).

Other places I loved were Kanazawa and, of course, Kyoto. Next time I’m planning to do Mt. Fuiji, which I only saw on my way from Tokyo to Matsumoto.

Either way, you’re in for a blast. Fascinating culture, beautiful nature and delicious food :smile:.


Well as a guy who has never been to Japan yet. I can only say good luck :grin:

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I have never spent any time in the large cities of Japan. I spent my time in the countryside on Shikoku for ~2 months. I can’t specifically say what to do in your region, but I will give general advice.

Visit the Shrines on the mountain tops. The ones that are the most extravagant are naturally on the highest ones. While climbing these taller mountains I would find myself seeing shrines to dragons of the mountain, forest spirits, and even a noodle shop quietly nestled for travelers. I would catch glimpses of what I assumed were inspiration for those excellent Japanese haiku poets. The city shrines are also a breather. Even if you are not religious, they are spots of reprieve and serenity. Depending on where you are, some of them have koi ponds with the friendliest fish. I don’t suggest dirtying the water petting them, but you could if you ever wanted to. The monks typically raise them to be water puppies.

Go to the prefecture festivals. They have many. They’re not big on Shintoism anymore, but seeing the lights and their wish trees, as well as watching some sailing lanterns always brightened my heart. There are games and rituals that are fascinating and very unlike any Western and European culture.

I would also suggest visiting the farmer’s market, the long strips of malls, go to the graveyards, the rice fields, playgrounds, and isolated country places. In these places you will not see what are usually plastered for travel tips, but you’ll find magic. The graveyards were especially mysteriously beautiful and structured in a way that the Japanese culture welcomed ghosts and the spirit world. It’s odd, since in the Western culture its fashioned to be something to be feared.

Good luck, and I hope you have fun.


Thank you for the reply! I fully intend to take advantage of my time over there and see everything from the bigger cities to getting “lost” in the countryside. Forgive my not researching things that are probably readily available through Google, but my internet is terrible for the next few days. Regarding the following questions, I anticipate being there for ~3.5 years, so I should have plenty of opportunities to explore!

You say to go to prefecture festivals: can you enlighten me to what these are? I’m assuming a prefecture is a sort of geopolitical division, like a county or state in the US, which would make them a sort of local festival. Are there any in particular that you recommend, or should I just make an effort to go to all of them?

Do you have any recommendations on mountains to make a special effort to visit? I know Mt. Fuji is sort of the go-to tourism mountain, but is it really all that great or is it just a tourist trap?

Is it rude to pet them? I’m not really sure I’d want to reach into the pond anyway, but you have me wondering if it’s a faux pas or just something that shouldn’t be done. As for the shrines themselves, are there any expectations regarding behavior? I’ve read some advice from the internet (everything on the internet must be true!) saying there are paths you can’t/shouldn’t walk on/across, and that many shrines are closed to foreigners. Many others say this is silly and not a thing.

Penultimately (sorry, I love that word), I am a 6’5" (198cm?), 275 pound (125 kg) man who loves to eat. Aside from all the sushi I could ever desire, do you have any recommendations? Did you ever try/would you recommend trying the Fugu? Do you have any recommendations on what not to eat?

And, ultimately, given my size above, do you have any recommendations regarding housing? I read that the area I will be stationed will likely have traditional, semi-western, and westernized housing available. My assumption is that westernized would be both most comfortable and most expensive, but might make it easier to get a roommate to share living costs with.

Thank you again for the suggestions, and I will certainly do my best to enjoy all of it :slight_smile:

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Unfortunately I cannot draft a lot of the information you seek, as I have limited free time currently. I’ll write what I can…

For the festivals:

The “big ones”: https://www.tsunagujapan.com/10-popular-japanese-festivals/

Local festivals: http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/matsuri-list

Most of the time I just ran into them while I was watching fireflies in the summer and listening to the cicadas in the night.

Mt. Fuji is gorgeous. I specifically went for the Forest of the Dead. I can’t provide much assistance for sight-seeing because as I referred before, I didn’t go to traditional tourism sights. I lived like a local and visited things that interested me and what the locals suggested. I explored mostly Shikoku and only went to Fuji when I ended up on the mainland for a brief period.

As for etiquette for Japanese - it is rude to do anything without permission. At all. I never petted the ones in the shrines. When I meant that they could be pet, it was an observation the few times I saw the monks pet them. I did end up petting a personal one at the insistence of the person who lived at the house. A lot of them are friendly creatures.

I highly, HIGHLY suggest you read on Japanese mannerisms and etiquette, as their culture differs greatly from ours. Unfortunately I cannot give you any information on that - my friend was an ambassador and he guided me. I was not there long enough to learn it permanently. The locals did find me cute because I was a 5’3" young 20something that had no idea what was happening most of the time, so I got away with a lot of faux pas. I also cannot provide information on housing because I lived with the ambassador the entire time and he had a large expansive housing (he was 6’8" South African).

As for the food – I can’t really recommend much. I don’t know you well enough to adequately know your palette and your tastes to suggest a recommendation. I will say try EVERYTHING. If you don’t know what it is, give it a shot. That is exactly what I did and found myself doing some crazy things (including drinking an entire sake bottle with a venomous snake in it). Be wary though - give it a shot and use your intuition. They find it rude if you do not finish what you order.


I’ve been to that lovely place once on a school trip. Lots of sights to see / things to do. I think @Kindred did a good job explaining about the culture. I spent alotta time just in Yokohama, Tokyo. If you’re in the area you should check out the Landmark Tower – huge shopping-mall-skyscraper-thing with observatory at the top.

For food (just my personal preference) I definitely recommend the curry udon (thick noodles in a curry broth). I know the jonathan’s restaurant sells it among other places. There is also okonomiyaki, and of course, nothing beats authentic ramen or sushi (although I am a bit wary about fish now-a-days; but they do have cucumber sushi :slightly_smiling:). Either way, you’ll be seeing a lot of different cultural food to try out. All of them are unique.