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MattMiddleton 11-23-2011 10:25 AM

Training at Hombu
 
Hi all,

My wife and I are going to be going to Japan for a couple of weeks, and I'd like to take a couple of classes at Hombu dojo. I've got a couple of questions for anyone who has been there in the last year or so:

- Any recommendations as to where to stay nearby? We're not made of money, but we're ok with $70-$100 a night (we're only staying in Tokyo a few days)
- What is the difference between the beginner classes and regular ones? I've been practicing about 4 years now (only 5th kyu though - long story), and wouldn't want to attend the wrong level of class.
- Unrelated to Aikido, any recommendations on what to see? We're probably going to Akihabara, because we're both big nerds, but I'd also love to take in some more traditional culture. Also, we're going to be spending time in Osaka, so any recommendations for there would be awesome as well.

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!

NagaBaba 11-23-2011 10:50 AM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Quote:

Matthew Middleton wrote: (Post 297912)
Hi all,

My wife and I are going to be going to Japan for a couple of weeks, and I'd like to take a couple of classes at Hombu dojo. I've got a couple of questions for anyone who has been there in the last year or so:

- Any recommendations as to where to stay nearby? We're not made of money, but we're ok with $70-$100 a night (we're only staying in Tokyo a few days)
- What is the difference between the beginner classes and regular ones? I've been practicing about 4 years now (only 5th kyu though - long story), and wouldn't want to attend the wrong level of class.
- Unrelated to Aikido, any recommendations on what to see? We're probably going to Akihabara, because we're both big nerds, but I'd also love to take in some more traditional culture. Also, we're going to be spending time in Osaka, so any recommendations for there would be awesome as well.

Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!

Buy monthly ticket (pass)here in Canada for JR so travel inside of Japan will be much, much cheaper - I mean free!!.I.e. 2 weeks pass is about 400$ as compared to one way Tokyo-Osaka 150$ if I remember well.

Bypass Tokyo completely. Nothing interesting there, you will waste you time and money. The real Japan is in the countryside not in the big towns. Go to Kyoto, Nara, Kamakura, Himeji,Nikko more here:
http://gojapan.about.com/od/attracti...age-Sites-.htm
This is a real deal, you will be charmed.

Also don't stay in big hotels, chose small local Japanese hotels and eat only local food. Find small family restaurants, quality of food there is exceptional. For aikido I'd suggest to visit dojos from different federations then aikikai to open your eyes on whole different approach for aikido.

Briac Pilpré 11-24-2011 04:06 AM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Guillaume Erard wrote a really good travel guide to Aikikai training with list of hotels and restaurants in the area - http://www.guillaumeerard.com/en/aik...o-aikikai.html

Guillaume Erard 11-24-2011 05:29 PM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Hi Matt,

I wrote an article given a bit of information for travelling Aikidoka who wish to train at hombu. Should be a good place to start for planing your stay in Tokyo as regards to places to stay and how to deal with the whole hombu dojo thing.

About which class you should attend, try downstairs first (many advanced students also go there anyway) and if you feel comfortable enough, move to the regular dojo.

Not directly related but I also wrote something on the current food safety situation in Japan so it might be relevant to you too ;)

You'll have a lot of fun in Japan!

Guillaume Erard 11-24-2011 05:46 PM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Quote:

Briac Pilpré wrote: (Post 298001)
Guillaume Erard wrote a really good travel guide to Aikikai training with list of hotels and restaurants in the area - http://www.guillaumeerard.com/en/aik...o-aikikai.html

Thanks Briac, sorry I did not see your message before posting mine :o

robin_jet_alt 11-25-2011 05:56 AM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
No specific recommendations for places to stay, but you should be able to find something reasonable for $50 per night. Accommodation is cheap in Japan.

I second what Guillaume said about trying downstairs first and then seeing if you would like to try one of the regular classes. At 5th-kyu I think the upstairs ones might not suit you, but I haven't seen you train, so it is hard to say.

As for getting out of the city, I agree with NagaBaba. Stay in Tokyo for a few days to train at Honbu and get your geek on in Akiba, but otherwise it is a horrible place. (I lived there for a bit over a year, and just moved away last week). The castle in Himeji is beautiful, but I believe it is being renovated at the moment. Kyoto is beautiful of course, and you might also like to check out Hiroshima and Miyajima. Otherwise, it depends on how much time you have, but I thoroughly recommend getting out in the country a bit. I've heard that Shirakawago in Gifu prefecture is nice. There is a similar place called Ouchijuku in Fukushima prefecture and I thoroughly enjoyed going there. Also, make sure you check out the hot springs. You might have to get out in the countryside a bit to find the nice ones, but it is definitely worth it. If you are going to Nikko, there are some nice ones in that area. Save a bit of money when you stay in the city and use what you save one a nice Onsen-Ryokan for a night. The food is great, you get to sleep on a futon, and you get to check out the awesome baths.

JJF 11-27-2011 04:06 PM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
I'd recommend http://www.kimiryokan.jp/ any day. The owner takes aikido as well.

It's traditional japanese ryokan. You share the showers and bathrooms, but it's clean, relatively cheap and very nice (in my opinion).

Also it is in walking distance from Ikebukoro station from where you can get to most interesting places in Tokyo Area. I'd also recommend a one or two night stay in Hakone with a swift trip up the volcano.. it's really nice.

Have a great trip

robin_jet_alt 11-27-2011 04:45 PM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Quote:

Jørgen Jakob Friis wrote: (Post 298223)
I'd recommend http://www.kimiryokan.jp/ any day. The owner takes aikido as well.

It's traditional japanese ryokan. You share the showers and bathrooms, but it's clean, relatively cheap and very nice (in my opinion).

Also it is in walking distance from Ikebukoro station from where you can get to most interesting places in Tokyo Area. I'd also recommend a one or two night stay in Hakone with a swift trip up the volcano.. it's really nice.

Have a great trip

Thanks for the link Jørgen. I met Minato-san a few times, and I planned to stay at his place the next time I was in Tokyo.

For those who aren't familiar with Tokyo geography, it's not all that close to Hombu, but it is only a short train ride, and Minato-san will help you out with finding your way around.

MattMiddleton 11-30-2011 10:20 AM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Thank you everyone for the fantastic advice!

NagaBaba: Thanks for the suggestion about local food/small hotels :) I definitely prefer that approach, as I think it gives us a much more authentic experience. We'll actually be staying in Osaka for a good part of our trip, as a friend of ours is teaching english there, and has offered to put us up. I'm particularly looking forward to checking out Osaka Castle!

Briac & Guillaume: Thanks for the links! I'll check them out right now.

Robin: Thanks for the advice on staying at a Onsen-Ryokan. My wife and I were talking about the trip the other night, and we both really would like to check out something like that.

JJF: The lack of proximity to Hombu isn't a huge problem - we lived in Toronto for several years, so we're used to taking transit everywhere (though I imagine the system in Tokyo is just a bit more complicated...and crowded ;) ). I'll definitely check out Minato-san's ryokan!

NagaBaba 12-01-2011 01:57 PM

Re: Training at Hombu
 
Quote:

Matthew Middleton wrote: (Post 298431)
JJF: The lack of proximity to Hombu isn't a huge problem - we lived in Toronto for several years, so we're used to taking transit everywhere (though I imagine the system in Tokyo is just a bit more complicated...and crowded ;) ). I'll definitely check out Minato-san's ryokan!

When you compare Toronto to Tokyo, so Toronto is like small country town. In Tokyo they have I think 25 lines of subway...and additionally everybody walks left side of the sidewalk ...
Bon voyage and enjoy your vacations.


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