Subject: Re: Japan?

I'm no expert, but I have been to Japan a couple of times, though I have not been to Osaka.

YES! By all means buy the railpass. Though it's expensive, it will save you a bundle in train costs. In any city itself it can't be used for the local metro/subway within the city but can be used for excursions to local places outside the city that can't be travelled to by subway. You can also use it to/from the airport. For example, from Tokyo you can use it for the short (1 hour?) excursion to the seaside town of Kamakura (sp?) and from Kyoto I think you can use it to get to Nara (don't recall is Nara is subway or JR). Nara Park is not to be missed.

Just my opinion, but Kyoto is a much more interesting place than Tokyo so I'd plan on more days there. It's also a little less expensive. From Tokyo, I recommend taking a day tour to Nikko with an organized tour group. This can be arranged though your hotel.

Chopsticks are called Hashi and it's in your best interest to try to learn to use them. If you're going to be eating in a lot of budget places, you might not have options. If it's really a problem, I'd suggest that you bring some disposal plastic forks with you on your trip for use at restaurants where they might not have a fork. Many of the noodle shops will only have hashi.

Noodle shops and Korean BBQ restaurants are the biggest bargains in eating in Japan and the best way to keep costs down.

BTW, on the trains, they'll be people walking up and down the aisles selling food and snacks, so don't worry about buying food in the station to bring aboard with you. However, on the train, sometimes the food is wrapped and you can't see the contents of the packages, while at the counter in the train station, there's one unwrapped "sample" package showing what's inside. Every train station in Japan sells tons of fresh food items.

Also, if you're on a budget, you can have a nice lunch at the big department stores in Tokyo. Restaurants are generally located upstairs at an upper floor. Or for an inexpensive dinner, you can buy wonderful food items at the food courts in the basements of the big dept. stores. They make the food dept at Harrods look small!

Candice NYC