PART 1 CONSIDERATIONS
You have your parents coming to see you? Fantastic! You havenft seen them for so long and want to show them all around!
Just few things to consider ? please, think about these questions: Do your parents speak Japanese? Do they speak English? Have they been in Japan before? Have they traveled abroad before? If the answers of all the questions are no, be prepared for some difficulties.
The point is that so far your parents have been the people to take decisions for you and to guide you. But coming for a first time to a country which language they donft speak, will put them in the situation to be guided by you all the time. This will definitely be confusing and unpleasant change of the roles for them.
If you could persuade your family to read a bit about Japan in advance or even study few easy words that would be very helpful for all of you.
One more question to ask yourself is gHow different from the Japanese cuisine and lifestyle is your parentsf one?h
If itfs quite different, you better donft consider giving them first hand local experience straight away! Give them some time to adapt first and introduce the new things little by little. The most important is them to enjoy their stay, not to try everything!
When my parents came I put them on an ordinary Japanese diet from the very first day. By the second day my mum was really sick ? her stomach couldnft accept such amount of soy sauce and miso. So from that point on we kept on European stuff or were asking for no soy sauce menu in the Japanese restaurants. Can you imagine how funny it looked three foreigners in a small traditional restaurant asking in polite Japanese gCould you make us this dish with no soy sauce and no miso, please?h
PART 2 FEW TIPS
If you plan to travel extensively, you might find it convenient to buy a rail pass. It is only for foreigners on tourist visa, it has to be bought abroad and stamped before using, in Japan. The good thing is that it can be used on shinkansens and any train, plus some JR buses. The bad thing is that you canft use it, so will have to pay for the shinkansen from your pocket.
If youfd prefer less expenses or wonft have time to travel far, think about adjusting your parentsf visit with seishun 18 kippu period of use.
PART 3 ITINERARY
The best is to have a plan made in advance about where and when to go. Check for matsuri in the area youfll visit ? some of them are really impressive.
1. Must see list
Well, this is easy ? Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara.
Tokyo also has an old part (Asakusa), not only the skyscrapers, and some very interesting museums around Ueno park.
Kyoto ? a tour using the local buses/JR is the cheapest way, walking from one place to another would be too exhausting.
Nara ? the historical Nara Park is the main place; everything is within a walking distance there.
2. Must see extended list
If you have some more time to spend, I would suggest adding the following:
Nikko ? north from Tokyo, really worthy! Splendid Shinto complex in the heart of the mountain.
Takayama and Shirakawa go ? in Gifu ken, the best small traditional town and the best traditional village! Highly recommended! Have a famous matsuri (spring and autumn), many interesting museums plus plenty of onsens around.
Kamakura - an old capital very close to Tokyo, the biggest sitting Buddha
3. Around Nagoya
Even if youfll stay in Nagoya most of the time, there are a lot of places to go:
Tokoname ? a famous pottery center and beautiful old style town
Seto ? for pottery lovers again, the town itself isnft that impressive
Inuyama ? an original castle plus very pretty old town; Inuyama matsuri is really worthy!
Arimatsu ? famous traditional craft center, very interesting local crafts museum
Ise ? one of the most famous Shinto shrines and a lovely old town.
Hope you and your family will enjoy your time together!