In the first two weeks of July, myself and two of my girl friends are planning on travelling to Japan for about 4-5 days. We're having a hard time finding accommodation and completely lost on places we should visit no matter how many sites we read up. For a break down, primarily we want to:
- SHOP (NOT looking for brand names or electronics)
- Experience the wonderful food of course (CREPES!!!)
- Hot Springs
- Have some night life fun
Question .. what's the legal clubbing / drinking age?
Please recommend some clubs / drinking places / restaurants / sites / accommodations / anything =]
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You don't say where in Japan you're going, which makes it hard. I'm going to presume Tokyo, and I'm also going to presume you're in your late teens to early 20s if you're worried about the drinking age. Furthermore, I'll presume you're on a budget. Let me know if I'm wrong with any of those assumptions and I'll se if I can help you out any more.
Shopping -- Shibuya is where all the cool Tokyo kids hang out. It's a very young, crazy area full of the weirdest fashions you'll ever see and a lot of miscellaneous cool junk. Much lower-key but also a good place to shop (good clothes, reasonably prices, a good place to get away from the crowds) is Shimokitazawa. Just look for the train that goes there, get off and you're there. Of course, there are a lot of other areas to shop. Shinjuku is a major hub and there are a lot of department stores, mostly with rather fancy stuff, but there are also smaller stores nearby with better prices. (The department stores are worth a look too.) If you're looking for bargains on clothes, there are often quite cute and cheap clothes at Uniqlo and Life. Both are chain stores. Uniqlo might be compared a bit to Old Navy. Life is more like Target.
- Uh, crepes??? Okay, it's true, you can find crepes in Japan. Not the first thing I'd think of, but sure. Good, cheap food can usually be found at:
- Ramen shops (Ramen-ya)
- Conveyer belt sushi places (kaiten-zushi)
- Izakayas (Japanese-style pubs that serve food)
- Okonomiyaki-ya (places that serve thick, eggy pancakes with vegetables, meat and seafood. If you've ever had Korean kimchi pancakes, they're like that. Trust me, they're good.)
- Hot springs... Tokyo isn't the best place to find them. If you can travel outside the city, try the Izu peninsula (closest) or the western shore (I think Toyama prefecture, or possibly the one next to it, has good hot springs). The best place to go for hot springs is Kyushu, especially Oita prefecture.
- The legal clubbing/drinking age is 20, but I have NEVER heard of anyone getting carded. I got into a bar once when I was 14. I was also never carded at clubs when I was in my early 20s and everybody told me I looked 16.
I would also recommend Shibuya for shopping and as a place to hang out, especially if you like clothes which are a little bit different and slightly weird. It was also an excellent place for buying unusual sunglasses.
Ginza also has plenty of shops/department stores but that's tailored more towards 'Hollywood/look at me I've got loads of money' type fashion, whereas Shibuya was more focussed on young/individual fashion.
For going out there are loads of bars in Roppongi, and Shinjuku also has plenty nightlife (although I got the impression it was a bit more sleazy and preferred Roppongi).
I'd also try to get to an izakaya as well, although the ones I went to were in Kyoto so I wouldn't know where to recommend in Tokyo. Also, the izakaya I went to in Kyoto were in weird places (like in a block of flats behind a main street), and we only got allowed in because we were with someone who knew the owner, so I think you would have to know someone who knew about them in order to find one.
I also never heard of anyone getting IDed in Japan. I think they just naively put it down to trust and assume that if you were under age you wouldn't try to go to a bar or club.
I had a discussion with a Japanese man about the fact that they have vending machines on the streets in Japan that sell alcohol. To him this was normal and he couldn't grasp the concept of why this would be dodgy in England. To him you weren't allowed to buy alcohol until you're 20, so he couldn't understand why kids in England would buy alcohol when they weren't allowed.