Electrical Compatibility in Kyoto
December 12, 2004 9:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Japan in a few weeks and I'm wondering about the differences in electrical outlets and how my laptop (powerbook g4) will be able to handle it, and if there is a special kind of adapter I need because it's a computer. All the power adaptor kits i've found thus far have been for hairdryers and what not. Anyone know?

And while I'm at it, anyone know anything good to do in Kyoto, especially for New Years? heh.
posted by atom128 to Travel & Transportation around Kyoto, Japan (17 answers total)
Japan uses 110 volts instead of 120. Most equipment will handle the difference without a converter.
posted by reverendX at 9:41 PM on December 12, 2004

You don't even need the kit. Japanese power outlets are just like the ones in the US, as far as your computer is concerned. Your G4 adaptor will work fine as-is.

(For those without G4s: the adaptor has no grounding pin. I recall seeing less of those when I was in Japan.)
posted by tss at 9:55 PM on December 12, 2004

Powerbooks will handle the, erm, power in Japan and most other places worldwide - take a look at your power adapter, it should have a label saying that it will convert for anything between 100 - 240 V.

The trickier part is getting an adapter to convert your American 2-prong plug to whatever kind of plug will work for Japanese outlets, but I would imagine that you could find one there.
posted by sluggo at 9:56 PM on December 12, 2004

Sharper Image sells a set of plug adapters that cover most types of outlets in use around the world. I highly recommend picking one up if you do a lot of international travel. Airport convenience shops sometimes sell plug adapters, too, in case you need to pick one up while you're on the road. A lot of Asian countries have American-style sockets in urban hotels, but it doesn't hurt to have a plug adapter with you just in case.
posted by rhiannon at 9:59 PM on December 12, 2004

You rang? The Mac question was already answered (you're good to go), so for the other one, I guess the "heh" means more emphasis on the par-tay aspect and less on the bell-tolling and mochi-stretching.

For a dance-club, Club Metro in Keihan Marutamachi Stn. is the most popular. Bars for girl-hunting: Pig & Whistle at Sanjo-Kawabata, Hub just off Kiyamachi near Sanjo, or for slightly more mature crowd in real Irish Pub with good food try Tadgs at Shijo-Kawabata.

If I misread and you want to literally ring in the New Year Japanese style, Joya-no-kane is the ceremony of ringing temple bells 108 times at midnight. Chion-in (seen in The Last Samurai) is the big'un at something like 75 tons, one of the biggest in the world, and then you can go to nearby Yasaka jinja to light the end of a rope and bring it home all the way swinging it to keep it smoldering to light an altar candle for good luck. Your hotelier may thank you.

If you prefer to choose a less crowded temple, you can participate by ringing the bell yourself with a log like a battering ram suspended on ropes. It's fun.
posted by planetkyoto at 10:35 PM on December 12, 2004

BTW, New Year's morning sees one of the biggest inflows of visitors in the whole year in Kyoto, people making their first shrine visit of the year to ask for a prosperous and healthy year, which is a big deal.
posted by planetkyoto at 11:01 PM on December 12, 2004

for slightly more mature crowd in real Irish Pub with good food...

Calling an Irish pub in Kyoto a real Irish pub doesn't sound quite right.
posted by painquale at 11:12 PM on December 12, 2004

Kyoto, and Japan in general, is DEAD around New Years. Most businesses are closed for 3 days starting 1/1. ATMs are not prevalent and it's likely that there will only be one in Kyoto that you can use (Citibank on Shijo-Karasuma). If you're in to Budism planetkyoto's suggestions are probably good, otherwise I'd recommend a Shinto shrine. Shimogamo Jinja is where I like to go for New Years.

If you have Japanese hosts that can show you around you'll probably be fine. If not, you may be bored as most businesses are closed for the first 3 days of the new year.

On preview: most of the people flocking to Kyoto will be going to Heian Jingu, which will be crowded. Other Shrines won't be as packed as Heian Jingu. If you must go to Heian Jingu, go on the 2nd or 3rd.
posted by mexican at 11:13 PM on December 12, 2004

Just to clarify about the outlet thing: all the outlets I saw in Japan when I was there two months ago consist of two parallel plugs (not two grounded ones, and not three). I bought a three-prong-plug adaptor for my computer in an electronics store in the Akihabara district of Tokyo that turned it into two prongs. It cost about $6. My laptop (and my husband's iPod) ran fine via the converter, but it got rather warm, so keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't overheat.
posted by Asparagirl at 11:13 PM on December 12, 2004

painquale, if you've ever been to a HUB in Japan, you'd know what planetkyoto is talking about.
posted by mexican at 11:31 PM on December 12, 2004

My Japanese host family had North American style plugs in their house. I even bought an electric razor in Japan that uses North American style plug, and I use it here in Canada.
posted by joelf at 12:45 AM on December 13, 2004

To clarify, Hub and Pig & Whistle are good as pick-up joints for younger singles, Tagd's is run by an Irishman, Tadg, who's a freaking great chef, a place where you can drink Jameson instead of cocktails with pornographic names.
posted by planetkyoto at 1:10 AM on December 13, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. planetkyoto- its funny, i ran across your blog while i was looking up things to do in kyoto earlier in the week.

looks like im all set. thanks.
posted by atom128 at 8:56 AM on December 13, 2004

Just make sure you're not bringing a G5 Imac =)
posted by idontlikewords at 9:26 AM on December 13, 2004

Kyoto will be cold and probably snowy. Bring good boots and winter wear. Have a good time.
posted by pwb503 at 10:13 AM on December 13, 2004

i spent new year's day at the meiji jingu in tokyo 2 years ago and strongly recommend going to the most crowded place possible to suck in the japanese new year's day spirit. so, hit heian jingu.

there's also a pocket of cool restaurants (including a funky italian place--japanese love their spaghetti) just west of the canal/river/whatever it is that runs north south. i don't remember the name, but it's just off the street that runs due west of the westin miyako hotel (which is not a bad place to stay, imho) and is on the bottom floor of a funky open air mall done in red brick. Any kyoto residents know where i mean?

having been there around new years' myself, much will be closed, but the kiyomuzidera/ryoanji/nanzenji were all in (quietly) full swing.
posted by elsar at 11:49 AM on December 13, 2004

I think you mean Pontocho Alley, the tiny narrow no-cars street crammed with restaurants and bars running parallel to the river? There's a restaurant I went to on that street that serves whale bacon. Very cool.

It's also the local gay district/fruit loop (check out the bar "Hello, Dolly" there). And if you keep going down that alley, heading towards the Gion district and crossing a road or two, you eventually get into the (surprisingly clean and safe) red light district. No women in the windows like Amsterdam, though.
posted by Asparagirl at 1:54 PM on December 13, 2004

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