Kansai
Best months:
June to November

Kansai

Japan
LAST UPDATED 03/01/2008
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introduction

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Ningyou: Japan Kinki Region large; 22 October 2005

Kansai (also known as Kinki, literally "near the capital", referring to former capital Kyoto) is a region in the western part of the main Japanese island of Honshu. It is a second populated region after Tokyo's Kanto.

surfing

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Nnh: Amanohashidate, Kansai; 2005

Kansai lies to the south of Tokyo but still suffers the hangover of crowds. The region has an east and west coast. The East offering more reliable North Pacific wind swell and rarer groundswells with the west occasionally producing typhoon generated rarities from the coastal regions of China. Mount Fuji dominates the entire landscape as it has for several million years. The breaks on the east coast really need a southerly orientated swell to work properly, which is very rare.

Worth hitting the coast if this event is occurring but most surfers and merely transiting through the region ultimately heading north, south or west when a typhoon off China makes it a whole new ballgame.

travel

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Reservation for the Hikari 17 from Tokyo to Hiroshima on March 18th, etc (from www.wikitravel.org)

Japan has one of the world's best transport systems, so you will really enjoy travelling around the country. Transportation can be quite expensive, but fast and safe. Train is definitely the most popular option. Japanese railway system covers the majority of the country and trains nearly always depart and arrive on time, so you can rely on the schedule. Just remember that most trains don’t operate 24 hours, so plan a backup if want to be out late. The first and most confusing aspect of the system is the overlap of several private railway networks with the JR network, plus Tokyo also has two separate metro systems. So just be aware of that. Also note, that private railways are often cheaper than JR for an equivalent journey.

Another option is to travel by plane with the majority of domestic flights leaving from Haneda (HND) in Tokyo, Itami (ITM) in Osaka and Kobe’s airport. Book tickets in advance, which may allow you to get a significant discount, otherwise it will be quite expensive; and allow 3-4 hours to transfer. If you are 22 or younger, check the Skymate Card for special prices.
Boats are a surprisingly uncommon means of transport, mainly because the major islands are linked together by bridges and tunnels. There are some long-distance ferries linking Okinawa and Hokkaido, but it will be cheaper to travel by plane/train.

Long-distance highway buses are much cheaper than trains, but prepare for the longer journey and less comfort. Local buses are common in smaller towns and have the idiosyncratic payment system, where you board from the back of the bus and grab a little numbered slip as you enter. You pay at the end of your trip after pressing a stop button. You should deposit the slip and corresponding payment in the fare machine next to the driver (there is an electronic board there displaying numbers and prices below), just make sure before the trip that you are nor short on change.
Taxis are a bit expensive, but they are clean, completely safe and can be found everywhere in Japan, even in the country.  

where to stay

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jpatokal: Wanihama, Lake Biwa, Japan, 17 November 2004

Ise (伊勢) is a city in Mie prefecture of Kansai, Japan. It is primarily known for the eponymous Ise Shrine, arguably the holiest and most significant Shinto site and the reputed home of the Emperor's Sacred Mirror.

Hinodekan (日の出館) is a traditional styled ryokan located in short walking distance to Ise Station. Prices start from ¥5000 per person for group bookings. Breakfast and dinner can be included for an extra cost of ¥10000.

Wanihama Seinen Kaikan (和邇浜青年会館)is an accommodation on the western shore of Lake Biwa, located 1.5km through rice paddies from JR Wani station. It is truly a rural Japanese experience but nowhere close to public transport. The hostel is a huge, rambling, decrepit complex of buildings maintained by an old couple.

Accommodation here is very cheap - roughly ¥2800 per night and you'll get your own room complete with private bathroom and a TV.

what to pack

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Mohylek-Fujifilm Finepix S9000; 1 April 2007

Pack according to the season. Take warm and cool cotton clothes. Definitely take along some bug repellent spray, good sunscreen and sunglasses.

Better take your medicines with you (esp. anti histamine tablets), as the brands can be unfamiliar and cost more. By the way, getting a trip medical insurance would be a good idea.

All the gear if you plan to camp: a good sleeping bag and tent that are good for low temp; special gas container u can use for heating food and water; a sturdy backpack or a cargo pack with a good daypack. Invest in a portable water filter or at least take some puri-tabs or boil the water.

A dictionary may become very handy. 

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