Steve Leadbeater wrote:
Believe it or not, I have never set foot on Japanese soil,
and now I have to plan a trip to the Kodokan for several
of us at my Judo club.
I need HELP !!
We are planning on attending Winter training in January 2015 a lead time at present of 18 months.
What do I have to organise ??
every suggestion will be taken seriously (with the exception of those requiring medical assistance and the Karma Sutra)
Please let me have your thoughts and well used advice.
Tokyo is often not too bad in winter. Hokkaido is a different story.
Other posters have already suggested helpful options. Personally, when I am in Tokyo, for some reason I feel a lot less motivated to visit things than when in Kyoto or Nara. I guess that is partly because, well, I can't say I really like Tokyo.
There are at least 4 good places to stay around the Kodokan all for a varying budget, going from the cheapest ryokan, over a budget hotel, to the more expensive hotels. Make sure you plan and understand how to get from the airport to where you have to be. Don't be a foreign idiot who takes the taxi from Narita to your hotel, or you should already start doubling your budget.
The other thing that requires planning is about the only financial advantage you can do in Japan and that is find out about the Japan Railpass. It can only be bought abroad before coming to Japan. So don't come to Japan and then start asking around where you can by a Japan Railpass; you can't buy it in Japan. It allows free travel or huge discounts on many trains. Since NBK mentioned Nara and Kyoto in his post, you really want one of those passes or you are going to spend a fortune by 'shinkanshen-ing' through Japan.
That being said personally I am not a great fan of the kangeiko. I think it is overrated. If you want to be a stud, you are born too late, I don't know of any real kangeiko held anywhere in Japan anymore when it comes to judo. I doubt if they still exist for kendô either. The original kangeiko involved hanging the sweaty gi overnight outside in the freezing cold to 'dry', and in the morning with training sessions starting at 4 am, putting that frozen gi on your body in an unheated dôjô and have it melt into suppleness by your own sweat. Then of course, physicians started to understand how arthritis developed, etc.
So, far less macho today, but then again it has become something meek where only the early hour is significant, but even that is later today than what it used to be. If you attend sufficient sessions and are present during roll call, you'll get one of them certificates which the Japanese and Americans are so fond of, but which in the real world obviously isn't worth the paper it's written on. On the other hand, I also appreciate that it may be important to visit the temple of judo and have these special memories in the context of a discipline you have devoutly attributed a good part of your life to. From the positive side, it's much more pleasant in sense that there isn't the crowd of foreigners there in January which you find in summer. So, go for it !