Getting to the seminar.  (a work in progress)
The seminar is based in Matsusaka Japan, a rural area in the Mia prefecture. To get to Matsusaka you will enter Japan probably through Nagoya, Tokyo or Osaka. From any of these ports it is relatively easy to get to Matsusaka by the rail network. Although it my seem daunting for those that haven't visited japan before it is entirely possible and quite fun to do so. many attending the seminar will know of others and may like to arrange flights together. This page will be developed over the coming months with resources to make the trip a little less adventurous. I hope this page is helpful - its no substitute for local knowledge from a friend or a lonely planet guide.

Unsolicted advice
Directions FWIW If you are a bloke its good to make a decision to get over the biological imperative of 'not asking for directions', and having gotten over that remember when asking for directions try not to get yes/no answers as Japanese people like to say 'yes' and often nod and smile if they don't understand you. 
things to carry
Bring bits of paper with written instructions, maps and place names on them as many japanese can read english better than speak it! Bits of kanji on maps are good also for those that don't know english writing. Print out the maps and directions on this website (maybe in color) and keep them on you (the map below can explain everything to someone you need help from with just a little finger pointing) 
Guide books
Buy a lonely planet guide to Japan, its not only a good read on trains but one good decision about where to stay/eat, a useful included map etc.. can recover you the price of the book and save you time.
The public transport is great but you are going to walk a long, long way in tunnels under the ground and up and down stairs and escalators (esp. if you are staying on after the seminar) Get a suitcase with good wheels (not those dinky little metal casters) or a backpack. Try to arrange you luggage so you have your hands free most of the time and a shirt pocket available to grab the little things you might need all of a sudden at a turnstyle. 
Cash is King
Cash is King, Japan is very safe and people routinely carry large amounts (~$500) around with them. VISA card is around in Japan, accepted at larger hotels but not at many shops (Japan has their own equivalent systems borne out of a subway card) Sometimes it takes some hunting to find a ATM machine. I get a wad of cash at one of the few ATM's at the airport but the risk averse might get some in Australia before leaving

This is a conceptual map of getting to Matsusaka from Osaka, Tokyo and other places - click link for larger map and other information

In making the journey to Japan for the seminar and spending some time on tour afterwards we hope that many of you will fell at home and confident to travel around japan, as well as getting to know some local aikidoka and dojos to visit for the immediate or not to distant future.

Japan is a fabulous place to visit exploring both the ancient culture as well as the modern. Visiting informs wonderfully many of the aspects of what we do in aikido adding to a richer experience on the mat now and in the future.

Train travel
Train travel in Japan consists of the JR (Japan rail ) national network, together with many other private lines. When in and around big cities they will also have their local subway systems mostly run again by JR though usually there are some private lines as well.
Its sounds complicated right? but it is all pretty efficient,  after all it moves the uquivalent population of Australia around Tokyo everyday (within seconds of the nominated schedule or your money back). Armed with English maps (see below) you might wander for a little while underground but manage to get where you need to without breaking into a 'pocari' sweato.

JR rail pass
JR offers a rial pass for foreigners that is substantially cheaper, but can only be purchased before you come to Japan. The pass only lets you go on JR train routes though so check carefully

Kintetsu Pass
if you are coming in through Osaka the Kintetsu rail network can also get you to Mie and they offer a rail pass for foreigners that is comparitively cheap here 
General rail info 
(Thanks Mark and Lisa for the heads up)
Here are some rail maps to help you want Matsusaka(no tsome trains are express some are local - express costs more and is faster - local can take awhile) the line you want is the ŌSAKA-UEHOMMACHI - KASHIKOJIMA


Buying tickets
For longer journeys there are offices you go into and line up to buy a ticket, using in the big cities English will get you by. Talk slowly in broken English. Talking faster and louder is not usually helpful

For shorter journeys e.g. across tokyo there are machines you put money into and get a ticket. Many now have an english option. prices are usually set out on a large board showing the prices from your current location. If you get a ticket at a lower price by accident you can usually make an adjustment at the other end. 

Rail staff are helpful, often there are multiple ways to get where you are going which might explain why different people tell you different things

Single Journey finder
can help you find your journey, it only shows one route though and there are multiple possabilities often

These are the famous bullet trains of Japan that can take you across Japan very quickly. There are a number of speeds of trains from the Nozomi trains (express),  Hikari trains (often only slightly slower but quite a bit cheaper) and the kodama train (milk run). Mostly these names are written in Japanese on the sides of the trains so it pays to ask. You can pay extra to reserve a seat or just get a ticket and take your chances/stand for the journey. reserved seats are marked with lights and you can squat for a time (not sure how polite this is though). The seminar falls on 'golden week' a Japan national holiday so it would pay to reserve a seat (thanks David Shield for that tidbit) 

JR rail pass (buy before you go and save $$$)

Travel maps and directions from Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka

When you enter Tokyo you fly into the  Narita airport, which is about 1 hr North of Tokyo. Haneda is another airport near tokyo but along way from Narita and used for internal flights mostly.

To get to Matsusaka you need to take JR or NEX in the direction of and mostly likely go through Tokyo station where you change trains for Nagoya. At Nagoya change trains and then onto Matsusaka (either JR or Kintetsu rail lines). 

Nariata is a big airport but after some hunting around you can find the JR rail desk and some friendly english speaking staff can help you get on the first train out of there and to Matsusaka. becaue of the frequency of trains don't panic you will be able to arrange tickets on the spot, (though you may prefer to book before you go)

Because of the time that flights come into Tokyo from Brisbane I have not normally been able to get to Matsusaka on the day of the flight arrival either by train or by connecting flight to Nagoya (actually you might make it but if there is a delay you will miss your flight to nagoya - travel agents can assist in making this decision). So you can find some accomodation in Tokyo or elsewhere 

FWIW Once I took the NEX to Shinagawa, stayed at the the Shinagawa prince Hotel (which cost far too much money) but it was convenient and my schedule for work was tight. The hotel was right across from the station and i was tired, next morning i was on the first train to Shinkansen to Nagoya at then Matsusaka and had a full day with Sensei

A some point you take a train Tokyo bound and then switch to an express train (Shinkansen) to Nagoya. Tokyo is a very busy station especially in peak hour and can be fun, but as an alternative you might be able to change trainins somewhere smaller (like Shinagawa) where you can stay overnight if you need to or change trains with only a few platforms to negiotate.

The narita express is a quicker way to get to Tokyo (it costs a bit more )
here is the Tokyo subway map - daunting certainly but actually quite doable you only need if you plan to stay in Tokyo for a bit (Narita airport is on the right)
here is the Tokyo rail network (Narita airport is on the right)
I won't even try to supply the bus map its way scary

David Shield (formerly Capalaba and now living in Japan) is coming to the seminar and has offered to assist and meet people coming in to Narita please contact him if you wish to travel with him. 

From the plane station its 45min to Osaka city and then 1 hr 45min to Matsusaka. Osaka is attractive to me because Jetstar flies there from the Gold coast on fairly cheap tickets. From other cities it may/may not be so attractive.

Take the train from airport train to Osaka Namba station. In this station are 2 (maybe more ) train companies, Nanka and Kintetsu on around 8 platforms. Take a limited express train from on a  Kintetsu train to Matsusaka station. Total cost is around 2000Y

Directions from Sensei
Airport station (Nankai Line) --- Namba station (Nankai Line) --(change the train)-
--(walk) Take Kintetsu Limited Express for Matsusaka at Namba station of Kintetsu Line (the last train leaves at Namba station at 9:50 p.m.)--- Matsusaka station

Here is the rail network map leaving Osaka airport (Kix)

And the rail network map to Matsusaka
(Matsusaka is on the red route)
NB: It looks like there are multiple namba stations one for different train lines. Not sure will find out when i am there  

Some flights come in here but they tend to be expensive. Sometimes if you are flying in to Tokyo it might be easier to take a domestic flight to Nagoya and then quick 1hr train ride to Matsusaka or take the ferry across the bay (then taxi to Matsusaka)


Get from the train station to the seminar hotel here

Matsusaka is the railway station and Matsusaka-ko is the ferry port. From the railway station, you can walk to the hotel in 5-10 minutes, take the north exit from the station (its the smaller exit). You can see the hotel easily from a distance, its main sign is in japanese.

From Matsusaka-ko ferry port you have to take a 100-yen shuttle bus.

Near the hotel are some cheap eats and a 24 hr super market.

Danny's visit to Matsusaka 2008
See past Aikido trips to Japan by some budo bums
facebook pics

See pictures of Hashimotos sensei's dojo's in Matsusaka

About Matsusaka