12 days Japan 2019- Itinerary Help

Nov 16th, 2018, 12:22 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Meant to add, on our first trip to Kyoto, we gave ourselves 5 nights there (plus overnights in Nara, Osaka, Koya-san and Miyajima).
We stayed for 3 nights in the Hotel Granvia at the station, and the other 2 at another fantastic Ryokan, Shiraume, in Gion. https://www.kaveyeats.com/2013/03/he...n-me-into.html

That was perfect for the first trip to Kyoto, as the station location was great for getting around, plus the restaurant floor in the high levels (maybe floor 11?) of the station had some good restaurants, plus we had the department stores there. For my money, I felt Granvia catering (breakfast, main meals, bars) were severely overpriced and we booked RO (got a good deal) and ate breakfast out every day. The rooms were fine, your usual anonymous but perfectly comfortable western hotel room.

For our subsequent stays in Kyoto (6 nights and then 7 nights), we chose a (now defunct) hotel just a few paces south of the intersection of Kawaramachi Dori and Oike Dori. We love being in this area, great for buses and metro, easy to walk to some attractions and we love the shopping and food and drink options around here.
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Nov 16th, 2018, 01:01 AM
  #22  
tt7
 
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Originally Posted by Kavey View Post
..., plus the restaurant floor in the high levels (maybe floor 11?) of the station had some good restaurants, ...
Restaurants on the 11th floor, ramen restaurants on the 10th...
https://www.kyotostation.com/dining-at-kyoto-station/
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Nov 16th, 2018, 04:08 AM
  #23  
 
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Hi again

I was going to say PLEASE don't stay near the train station in Kyoto, it's charmless and not near anything... but then if you are going to do a ton of day trips maybe it's not a horrible idea. Could you split it up, a few days in the main sightseeing area and then the train station hotel for the days you plan to do day trips?

My hotel was barely a 5 minute walk from the river and all the lovely restaurants which have patios overlooking the river. I loved being able to wander over there every night for drinks and dinner. In fact my hotel was easy to walk to a few metro stops (one was 5 mins away, the line other ten mins away - the one that was direct to Fushimi Inari) so if your day trips are truly day trips, that isn't too hard to get to the train station - you aren't lugging luggage? Were it me I'd still stay very central and walkable.

In fact my next trip to Kyoto will be longer and I may well stay in the old-town part of it, the more hilly part which isn't near train stations. I only discovered that my last full day in town and was bummed I hadn't made a beeline there. But, I was seeing other wonderful things the whole time. So much to see there!

Your Tokyo hotel (Hilton) is on the quieter/more boring side of Shinjuku. When I was asking advice everyone told me the other side was more interesting and I took their advice and upon searching found the Granbell (very convenient to walk to a variety of things, and a very nice hotel) but I did wander to the other side of the train station including the Park Hyatt area and yep, boring.

I also agree with taking the train all the way from Kyoto to the airport. You won't see much in Tokyo if it is just the place you sleep before getting up AGAIN to get to the airport. BTW Tokyo gets dark very early. in late MAY it was dark before 7 PM!! I think sunset was 645 or so? They don't use DST.

The trains are so efficient and convenient and easy, I would be fully confident of making my flight even though I was leaving a city far away from the airport that same morning.

I also took everyone's advice to not get the JR pass so that I could take the Nozomi Shinkansen but I also wasn't doing a bunch of day trips - it might be cheaper for you to do so, just know that your Shinkansen will have more stops if you are not on the Nozomi.

Hope this all helps?

Last edited by flygirl; Nov 16th, 2018 at 04:16 AM.
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Nov 27th, 2018, 10:00 AM
  #24  
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Sorry to reply so many days later. Between my computer going whack and Thanksgiving week, you can imagine how much I was online. I am going to probably narrow down to 2 main cities and do day trips. And one night at a ryokan.
Kaven, "the belly rules the mind" is hilarious! I LIKE that! ha ha. The ryokan is gorgeous and the food looks amazing! Thank you for recommending.

In regards to japan rail pass. Would it be worth me purchasing it if I'm going to day trips? How would you determine when it's worth purchasing it or not?
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Nov 27th, 2018, 06:28 PM
  #25  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by marcast View Post
In regards to japan rail pass. Would it be worth me purchasing it if I'm going to day trips? How would you determine when it's worth purchasing it or not?
Read about Japanese trains here:
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2016.html

Check the cost of individual tickets on HyperDia
http://www.hyperdia.com

Add up the costs and compare to the costs of one or more train passes, which are all described in the first link I provided, the one to japan-guide.

Be sure to note any limits imposed by passes. For example, the Japan Rail passes don’t cover the fastest of trains (called Nozomi).
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Nov 28th, 2018, 12:16 AM
  #26  
 
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Originally Posted by marcast View Post
Kaven, "the belly rules the mind" is hilarious! I LIKE that! ha ha. The ryokan is gorgeous and the food looks amazing! Thank you for recommending.
It totally sums me up! And glad you like the look of it.
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Nov 28th, 2018, 03:44 PM
  #27  
tt7
 
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Originally Posted by marcast View Post
In regards to japan rail pass. Would it be worth me purchasing it if I'm going to day trips? How would you determine when it's worth purchasing it or not?
When researching train fares using Hyperdia (see the link below for an example), a few things to watch out for -

1. You need to ‘untick’ the Nozomi and Private Railway boxes. As already discussed, you can’t use Nozomi Shinkansens with a JR Pass, nor can you use any of the private (non-JR) railways.

2. The example below has the number of ‘route outputs’ set to 5, which is probably optimum. You can increase it up to 10 but, rather than giving you a continuation of similar trains, that will probably just add a bunch of very convoluted routes. Just adjust the departure time if you want to see later trains.

3. The fare from Tokyo - Kyoto is ¥13,800. Don’t be misled by the bit in the middle in the ‘Fare’ column that says ¥8,210. That’s the base fare; on top of that there’s a limited express fee and a seat fee (usually just identified as a seat fee). At the top of each ‘route output’, you’ll see the ‘Total’ and the separate ‘Fare’ and ‘Seat Fee’ amounts. The Total is the one that matters.

4. In this example, you’ll see the first four trains are Hikari but the fifth is a Kodama. As previously noted, avoid those as they are much slower (because they make many more stops).

5. An ‘unreserved’ seat is slightly cheaper than a ‘reserved’ seat but that’s largely irrelevant with a JR Pass. With a JR Pass, you can go and just get on the train and sit in any available seat in an ‘unreserved’ carriage but as the seat reservations are free with a JR Pass, much better to stop in the ticket office and get reserved seats. Don’t be tempted to sit in an empty seat in a ‘reserved’ carriage without a reservation for that seat. Though they don’t check tickets, they do have a handheld electronic map of which seats are reserved … so if you’re sitting in one that’s supposed to be empty, they’ll know when they come through the carriage….

6. In the output, under the name of each train, you’ll see a “Train timetable” and an “Interval timetable” link. These will give you a list of stops for that train (where and when) and a schedule of all the trains for the day and where and when they stop.

7. Station names are usually straightforward but can occasionally be quirky. Whereas Kyoto is Kyoto, note that Osaka and Shin-Osaka are not the same. The Shinkansens stop at Shin-Osaka, which is a short distance (4 minutes on a local train) north of Osaka Station. Also, you have to use the spelling that Hyperdia expects - so if you go to the Bamboo Grove from Kyoto, that’s Sagaarashiyama (all one word) not Saga Arashiyama. When you start to type in a station name, it should give you a dropdown list based on what you type, so use that where you can.

8. Note also that the fares are the same, no matter when you book the ticket - whether it’s three months in advance, three weeks, three days, three hours (or three minutes, if you can manage it…).


In the link below, the input area will probably display below the output. Just re-run it for each trip you plan to take and add up the total fares (doubled for a round trip…) and compare it with the cost of a JR Pass (7 days - ¥29,110; 14 days - ¥46,390).

HyperDia SearchResult

In your scenario - 12 days split between Tokyo and Kyoto, arriving and departing from Tokyo - a 7 day pass should be worthwhile if you start it on day 6 (going Tokyo to Kyoto), do some day trips from Kyoto (Hiroshima? Himeji? Nara?) and then back to Narita from Kyoto on day 12.

Some sample fares -

Tokyo - Kyoto ¥13,800
Kyoto - Hiroshima ¥11,290 (x2)
Kyoto - Himeji ¥5,470 (x2)
Kyoto - Nara ¥710 (x2). There’s no seat fee but make sure you take the Rapid service, not the Local.
Kyoto - Narita ¥16,780

As you can see, just the trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and then back to Narita will cover the cost of a 7 day pass - any day trips from Kyoto are a bonus.

You should also get an IC (Suica) card. These are prepaid transit cards that can be used to pay for trains (but not the seat fee), buses, subways and can also be used at convenience stores (7-Eleven, Family Mart, Lawson). Much, much easier than getting a ticket every time you want to hop on a train or the subway. There are a number of regional variations (Suica, Pasmo, Icoca, Nimoco etc.) but they operate interchangeably throughout Japan (more or less). Suica is issued by JR East in Tokyo, Pasmo by the non-JR private railways/subways in Tokyo - I'd get a Suica. If you have iPhones (8, X, XR, XS), you can load a virtual Suica card in Apple Wallet and top it up using Apple Pay - very convenient. If you get a physical card, it can be topped up at ticket machines (but cash only).
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_003.html
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Nov 29th, 2018, 05:26 PM
  #28  
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Oh my, thank goodness you gave me this explanation! I'm going to read it again to better understand it. Thank you so very much tt7!
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Jan 28th, 2019, 12:07 PM
  #29  
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Finalizing 12 days to Japan 2019

Hello everyone!
So I have gone around and around with this itinerary trying not to make it too fast pace, but I have to finalize it since my trip is coming up soon. I don't know if I've achieved my goal, but with your review, could you help me with some details?
Here are my plans for mid to end of March. Traveling with my husband and son that's celebrating his 16th birthday. First time to Japan. We love nature, culture, food, but we want a little taste of modern and things we don't normally see in USA.

Day 1- Depart from USA
Day 2- Arrive from Haneda Airport. Maybe have dinner in Golden Gai. Staying at Hilton Tokyo in Shinjuku
Day 3- Tokyo: Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens, Meiji Shrine, Tsukiji Fish market for lunch, Ginza and Akihabara (could eliminate gardens if you think it's too much for the second day in Tokyo)
Day 4- Tokyo/Nikko: daytrip to Toshogu Shrine and Lake Chuzenji
Day 5- Tokyo: Harajuku, Imperial Palace, Asakusa Sensoji Temple, Shibuya crossing
Day 6- Tokyo: Meet a colleague in the morning near Omote-sando station in shibuya. Then to visit the Teamlab borderless Museum in Odaiba area.
Day 7- Nara. Depart in the morning to stay at ryokan overnight.
Day 8- Nara for the day: Kasuga Taisha, Todaiji Temple, Deer park, then head to Kyoto.
Day 9- Kyoto: Fushimi Inari, Kinkakuji Ryoanji, walk around Higashiyama streets, and Gion District
Day 10- Do a Hozugawa River Cruise, Bike around Arashiyama, Tenryuji Temple
Day 11- Osaka: Umeda Sky building, kokoen Garden and Himeji Castle and walk in Dotonbori district
Day 12- Kyoto: Nijo Castle, Kiyomizu Temple, and hopefully a traditional Tea Ceremony
Day 13- Head back to USA from Kyoto to Tokyo (Narita airport) departs at 5:30pm

So several questions...
A) Am I ok at the Hilton Tokyo Hotel for the places I am traveling to? (there's where I booked) I heard its the boring side of Shinjuku. But after a day of walking, I am not sure if I'd want to be back at the hotel late at night anyhow. Any thoughts? I have a feeling staying near the Tokyo station would be best? near Imperial palace?
B) I have to admit I am overwhelmed with the transit from one place to another. Is googlemaps my friend or hyperdia? I've heard mixed opinions. I want to try to have as much planned as possible.
C) Would JR pass be worth purchasing for us? Or is japanican better?
D) For Nikko, should I purchase Nikko pass? Here is where all these passes confuse me. Or I was thinking if I should get a tour from Viator to save the hassle?
E) Am I seeing too many temples and shrines? Or are all of above worth seeing because they are different?
F) When would you recommend I forward my luggages o the next hotel (if any) or put my luggages in the station locker?

Thank you so much to all. Any information for transportation from Tokyo to Nara. Nara to Kyoto. Kyoto to Narita airport is greatly appreciated!
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Jan 28th, 2019, 02:38 PM
  #30  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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A few initial thoughts....

Meiji-jingu (and Yoyogi Park), Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens, Harajuku, Omotesando and Shibuya are all (roughly) in the same area, so I would be trying to do those on the same day. For Meiji-jingu, Sunday is usually the best day to see half of Tokyo all dressed up (and to see a Shinto wedding procession). If you go to Shinjuku Gyoen Gardens in the afternoon, you'll probably find the other half of Tokyo that wasn't at Meiji-jingu in the morning.

If you do end up staying at the Hilton on the 'boring' side of Shinjuku, you're close to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices so go up to the (free) observation deck at the top.

I would suggest visiting the Imperial Palace in Kyoto rather than in Tokyo. Take the subway up to Imadegawa and walk east along Imadegawa-dori to the entrance on the north side of the (outer) Imperial Palace gardens. Walk south until you reach the walls of the Palace compound; turn right and then left, following the wall of the Palace. Previously, to visit the (interior) Palace grounds, you had to join a tour and apply in advance to the Imperial Household Agency. However, the interior grounds (though not the actual buildings) are now open to all so go in and tour the inner Palace grounds. After you exit the inner grounds, continue south through the outer gardens and exit to the south. Turn right (west) and walk along to Marutamachi subway station.

Tsukiji Fish market - as you presumably know, the actual market has now moved, though the outer market is still there. I'm not sure I would make a special effort to go there for lunch. Ginza - high-end shopping and restaurants ... of very limited interest to some of us (actually none) though obviously YMMV.

If you go to Asakusa and Senso-ji (which I would), you may also want to go for a walk along Kappabashi-dori, otherwise known as Kitchen Street - every conceivable bit of cooking equipment you can imagine (and then some..). It's a couple of streets to the west of Tawaramachi subway stop - you'll know you're there when you see the huge chef on top of the building on the corner.

In Kyoto, you should go to the Nishiki Market. It's a covered arcade extending east-west for several blocks with all manner of food and other stores. If you get there by subway to Shijo Station, follow the signs (underground) to exit 17, turn left up the short escalator and you’ll find yourself in the basement food hall of the Daimaru department store. After perusing the beautifully presented offerings, head to the back of the food hall, out the doors and up the steps. If you need a coffee, Starbucks is about 50 metres to the left, the entrance to the Nishiki Market about 100 metres to the right.

Go to Nijo Castle on your way back from Arashiyama. On the train back to Kyoto, get off at Nijo Station. You can walk the short distance from the (train) station or alternatively take the subway one stop from Nijo to Nijojo-mae, which is closer to the Castle entrance (which is on the east side). Be sure to visit the Ninomaru Palace to see the interiors and to experience the ‘nightingale’ floors. If the Waraku-an tea house is open, sit outside (if you can) on one of the red-covered benches and enjoy the view of this part of the garden while enjoying a matcha tea and Japanese sweet.

Am I seeing too many temples and shrines? Absolutely not. For some of us, it's not so much the temples and shrines but the gardens. Just about every temple or shrine has some sort of garden and even though we’re not gardeners, there is something sublime and satisfying about Japanese gardens. The gardens at Nijo Castle and Tenryu-ji are excellent. When you're in Arashiyama, do not miss Okochi Sanso - the entrance is at the top end of the Bamboo Grove (you'll see a gateway ahead and to the right). Did you decide on the Hozugawa River Cruise in preference to the Sagano Scenic Railway?

For Kiyomiza-dera (day 12) I would suggest the following... Take the subway to Keage, turn right on the main road and after about 50 metres, turn right through a small tunnel. Follow the road up to Nanzen-ji and then Eikan-do, visiting both on the way. From Eikan-do, turn right on Reisen-dori and walk up to the beginning of the Path of Philosophy. Turn left and walk all the way up the Path (alongside the canal). At the top, turn right up the approach road to Ginkaku-ji. After visiting Ginkaku-ji, go back to where you turned right at the end of the Path and go straight over - the bus stop for the #100 bus is about 50 metres on the left. The bus will take you back in the direction of Kyoto Station. You can get off at Heian-jingu (by the massive torii gate) opposite the Museum of Modern Art (worth a visit) before walking back up to Heian-jingu. Don’t miss the gardens, which wrap around the sides and back - the entrance is on the left if you’re facing Heian-jingu. Continue on the #100 bus further south and visit the Ninenzaka area, from where you can walk to Kiyomizadera.

We haven't been to Teamlab Borderless Museum in Odaiba but it gets excellent reviews - get there early seems to be the suggestion..

OK, that's probably enough spanner-throwing for now....
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Jan 28th, 2019, 05:32 PM
  #31  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Have you checked the timing to make sure you can see Toshogu Shrine and Lake Chuzenji on the same day trip from Tokyo? When I went, visiting Lake Chuzenji required being in Nikko either the night before or night after.

Some of your days sound overly ambitious to me, but I could be mistaken. I would think having some sense of your priorities, so you can adjust your plans on the fly, would make sense. And definitely group similarly located priorities as tt7 suggests!

B) Use Hyperdia

E) I saw many, many, MANY more temples than you plan to visit, and never became “templed out”. Others see the similarities and not the differences, and are ready to swear temples off forever after just a few. I don’t see how any of us can say how you will react. I’ve been to all the temples you mention and thought them all worth seeing and thought each held unique elements. YMMV.

F) I don’t see how any of us can answer that! I assume you know when you will need things, whether you can meet the requisite times for sending luggage, whether your luggage will be convenient to take along and check, etc.

As for transportation, please consult japan-guide.com: for each destination, there’s an incredibly detailed page on “Access.”
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Jan 28th, 2019, 06:14 PM
  #32  
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Thank you so much for taking the time to give me all that information tty! I HAVE noticed that Ginza and the fish market is not mentioned much in the forum. I personally love watching the travel channel and the food network and saw it mentioned so much, that I thought I should add it to my itinerary, but you all know best. If there's better things to do, I will consider it for sure.
tty, were you recommending taking the scenic train in Arashiyama vrs. the river cruise? Am I going to have time to go to Arashiyama, Tenryuji temple, Okochi- Sanso and Nijo Castle all in a day?
kja, let me know what days are overwhelming. I don't want us to feel so rushed and rather enjoy and omit a place.
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Jan 28th, 2019, 07:10 PM
  #33  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by marcast View Post
were you recommending taking the scenic train in Arashiyama vrs. the river cruise?
FWIW, I did the scenic train, but not the cruise. I thought it fun, but not necessarily worth the time it took.

Originally Posted by marcast View Post
Am I going to have time to go to Arashiyama, Tenryuji temple, Okochi- Sanso and Nijo Castle all in a day?.
I don't really know what you mean -- Arashiyama is a section of Kyoto that includes Tenryuji and Okochi-Sanso, so I don't know what else you want to include. Just the highlights of Arashiyama could easily take a full day (if not more); if you just want the two places you mention, you might be able to fit them in with Nijo-jo.

Originally Posted by marcast View Post
kja, let me know what days are overwhelming. I don't want us to feel so rushed and rather enjoy and omit a place.
4, 5, 9, and 10 -- but it depends on your pace and when you head out and whether / how many breaks you take.... As I said, thinking through your priorities in advance would, I think, be to your advantage.

Last edited by kja; Jan 28th, 2019 at 07:13 PM.
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Jan 28th, 2019, 08:06 PM
  #34  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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Is googlemaps my friend or hyperdia? I've heard mixed opinions. I want to try to have as much planned as possible.
Would JR pass be worth purchasing for us?


As kja has already said - Hyperdia. I am somewhat biased in that I'm an Apple person, not an Android person, and therefore don't really use Google Maps, invariably defaulting to Apple Maps, though I acknowledge that Google Maps may in some instances be better. For train journeys, use Hyperdia.

For buses, I find Apple Maps works ok. You can see where the bus stops are and it'll tell you what buses stop there, what time/how often they run and if you select one, it'll show you the bus route superimposed on the map. Google Maps may do a better job but, as I say, I'm not a Google user.

For the subway in Tokyo, download the Tokyo Metro official map app. This is an Apple link - Tokyo Subway Navigation. For an Android/Google link, I'm afraid you're on your own.... Note that the map also shows the JR Yamanote line, which is often the best way of getting around Tokyo, if not across Tokyo. The (circular) Yamanote line runs in both directions - clockwise and counterclockwise / inner and outer loops - so make sure you get on it going the right way. If the next station after you get on isn't what you were expecting, get off and cross over to the other side!

In Kyoto, there are only two subway lines (one north/south, the other east/west) intersecting at Karasuma Oike, so it's pretty easy to navigate. As in Tokyo, the subway trains are pretty frequent so don't bother with the timetable, just go and get the next train.

I would get a 7 day JR Pass and start it on day 7 (the day you're going to Nara) and it will expire on day 13 (the day you return to Narita). As previously discussed, also get a Suica card to use for non-JR trains (and JR trains in Tokyo before the Pass is active), the subway, buses, vending machines, convenience stores ("konbini" such as 7-Eleven, Family Mart, Lawson) and some cafes etc. If you have an iPhone 8 or later, you can load a virtual Suica card in Apple Wallet and top it up using Apple Pay (if you need instructions, please advise). When you buy a rail pass (before you leave home), you'll receive an exchange voucher that you have to take to the ticket office to exchange for the actual rail pass. You can do that as soon as you're in Japan so you may want to do it at Haneda when you arrive (as well as getting a physical Suica, if you don't have iPhones). Make sure to tell them what day you want the pass to start (because you can't change it once it's issued). They're obviously used to dealing with this so they'll (usually) have a calendar and point to the day/date they think you want it to start.

If you get a JR Pass, seat reservations (on the Shinkansen etc.) are free, so it's worth getting a reserved seat. What we usually do is have the Hyperdia output for the train we want (and the next few in case the one we want is sold out) displayed on the iPad (either live or a screenshot) and then just show that to the staff in the ticket office. You can get the reservations at any time (once you have the pass) so if you know what train you want, you can go and get seat reservations a day or two ahead (or earlier). In Kyoto, there is a ticket office section where they speak English (and possibly other languages); as you enter Kyoto Station from the north, the central gates are straight ahead - the ticket office is diagonally over to the left (45 degrees). The tourist/English spoken here section is at the far back after you enter.
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Jan 28th, 2019, 10:15 PM
  #35  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
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I HAVE noticed that Ginza and the fish market is not mentioned much in the forum. I personally love watching the travel channel and the food network and saw it mentioned so much, that I thought I should add it to my itinerary, but you all know best.

No we don't! We all just have our own personal opinions and biases but don't let that put you off - if you want to do it, do it!

Am I going to have time to go to Arashiyama, Tenryuji temple, Okochi-Sanso and Nijo Castle all in a day?

I would say yes, but it obviously depends on just how much you want to see and do. When we go, we usually aim to get a reasonably early start, though that can be constrained by what time places open - Tenryu-ji used to open at 9 am but it now appears to be 8.30, Okochi-Sanso opens at 9 am. The Bamboo Grove is always open. The Sagano Scenic Railway first train starts at 9.01 (note that no trains are running on Wednesday March 6 and 13) and if you just do a roundtrip (with immediate return) it takes an hour. I suspect the river cruise is going to be more time-consuming. If you haven't already seen it, this map of the train, boat ride etc. may be helpful - Sagano. It appears that the (one way) boat ride takes two hours ... + 20++ minutes to get to the boarding site (10 minutes on a train from Saga Arashiyama, 10 minutes walking) and then a 20 minute walk back from the boat landing site to Saga-Arashiyama. In contrast, the Scenic Railway is 25 minutes each way, so one hour if you do the round trip. The Saga Tarokko station from where the scenic train leaves is right next to Saga Arashiyama station. Whether you do the boat ride or the Scenic Railway clearly affects the time required. Like kja, we've done the Scenic Railway but not the boat ride. It must be said that one way on the Scenic Railway would be enough but then you've got to get back.... we've done it only once (though we've been to Arashiyama probably half a dozen times) and though we enjoyed it and didn't begrudge the one hour it took, we probably wouldn't do it again .... whereas Tenryu-ji, the Bamboo Grove and particularly Okochi-Sanso we're happy to visit again and again.

The Bamboo Grove can get overrun with selfie-stick wielding tourists so our preference is to get there reasonably early. I think if I were doing this, I would aim to be at Saga-Arashiyama station by no later than 8.30, when the adjacent Saga Torokko ticket office opens at 8.35 (though you can get tickets in advance which would be worth doing if you can). Get seats on the 10.01 am Scenic Railway, intending to board at Arashiyama Torokko station, which is adjacent to the top end of the Bamboo Grove/Okochi-Sanso. Head to the Bamboo Grove asap (20 minutes) and walk up through the Grove (20 minutes) by which time Okochi-Sanso should be open. If I already had tickets for the Scenic Railway, I'd try to time it so that we arrived at Okochi-Sanso when it opened (9 am). Tour Okochi-Sanso - with a bit of luck and a following wind, you'll probably have it pretty much to yourselves. Looking at photos of our last visit, there's about 45 minutes between the first and last photo (and on our previous visit, about 40 minutes). Don't forget to stop in the tea house (included in the admission ticket) for a matcha tea and a really nice green biscuity-thingy. Head to the nearby Arashiyama Torokko station for the 10.04 am Scenic train. An hour later, get off at that station and walk back down the Grove to the north entrance to Tenryu-ji. Visit Tenryu-ji and then meander your way back towards Saga-Arashiyama station, (hopefully) finding somewhere along the way for lunch. Get the train back towards Kyoto, getting off at Nijo to visit Nijo Castle. A couple of hours later, head off in search of a nama biru (draft beer) - you've earned it.

Are there other things you could see and do in Arashiyama? Absolutely ... but there are only so many hours in the day. Nijo Castle closes at 5 pm, last admission is at 4 pm, as is last entry to Ninomaru Palace, so I'd be aiming to be there no later than 2 - 3 pm.

Trains to Saga-Arashiyama (JR Sagano line) from Kyoto take about 16 - 18 minutes and depart from tracks 32 or 33. Trains leave at 7.42, 7.59, 8.14, 8.28 etc.
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Jan 28th, 2019, 10:23 PM
  #36  
kja
 
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@ tt7: I'm guessing that no one ever suggested that you are too terse. ;-)
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Jan 28th, 2019, 10:27 PM
  #37  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,226
Originally Posted by tt7 View Post
we've done the Scenic Railway but not the boat ride. It must be said that one way on the Scenic Railway would be enough but then you've got to get back.... .
I took the regular train to Kameoka and the Scenic Railway back.
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Jan 28th, 2019, 11:04 PM
  #38  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 293
Day 11- Osaka: Umeda Sky building, kokoen Garden and Himeji Castle and walk in Dotonbori district

Are you still planning on going to the sumo? This day is really in two parts - (1) Himeji Castle and the adjacent Kokoen Gardens and (2) Osaka.

Himeji Castle opens at 9 am so an early morning Hikari Shinkansen (8.00 am or 8.23) will get you there in good time (55 minutes or so). Pick one that doesn't involve a change of trains at Shin-Osaka (which neither of those do). It's an easy 20 - 25 minute walk from Himeji Station, up Otemae-dori to the Castle, which you can see in the distance as soon as you exit the station. You'll pass various (random) statues on the walk on the way up, which are worth a photo. There are statues on both sides of the street, so maybe walk up one side and eventually come back down the other side. When you get your tickets, remember to get combined tickets for the Castle and Kokoen Gardens (¥1,040).

Mrs. tt7 is much taken with manhole covers (that is, adding photos of them to her collection.....). Like a lot of things in Japan, they are often an art form in themselves, with beautiful designs, often coloured. There are some nice examples on the walk up to the Castle (and, obviously, elsewhere in Japan). By the time you're finished at the Castle and the Gardens, it'll probably be time for lunch, so find somewhere on the way back to the station.

When you're looking at train times from Himeji to Osaka, remember the Shinkansen goes to Shin-Osaka. You can get a JR Rapid service to Osaka Station but it will take at least twice as long as the Shinkansen. It's just a 1 stop/4 minute ride from Shin-Osaka to Osaka on a local train so stick to the Shinkansen. We haven't been up the Umeda Sky building so I'll leave those that have to comment. If you get the Midosuji subway line to Namba Station, exit 14 is (I think) the closest to Dotonbori. If you're going to the Sumo (which usually finishes around 6 pm), the Edion Arena is a little bit south of Namba Station. Sunset is also about 6 pm so after that Dotonbori will be all lit up. After you've had your fill of eating and drinking, back to the station for the train back to Kyoto - after a grand day out!
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Jan 28th, 2019, 11:10 PM
  #39  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 293
Originally Posted by kja View Post
@ tt7: I'm guessing that no one ever suggested that you are too terse. ;-)
No indeed - when I'm writing my travel diary, Mrs. tt7 usually accuses me of trying to emulate War and Peace .... brevity certainly has its place but, as I keep trying to explain to her, it's trying to capture all those little details and nuances and the quirky things that happened along the way that make it much more useful when I go back to read it to try and remember what the hell we did ...
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Jan 28th, 2019, 11:32 PM
  #40  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,226
@ tt7: You do an admirable job of capturing deals and nuances and quirks! And I think those elements make for excellent trip reports! But I must admit that those things don't work well for me when offered as advice, simply because people differ so very greatly in their diurnal rhythms (not to mention preferences, interests, etc.). Your perfect day would be my nightmare, if for no other reason than because of a difference in when we want to start our days, and so I couldn't use your detailed input -- I would need to work out a plan for myself. But that's just me! I'm not saying you should stop sharing the wisdom you have gained -- you offer an irreplaceable wealth of detailed information, and I think Fodors is enriched by your input! Have you considered writing a trip report? From my perspective, that is the perfect vehicle to provide the kind of detail you so generously offer. I think that anyone planning his or her or their own time would benefit from knowing the details of your experience. Domo arigato, tt7

Last edited by kja; Jan 28th, 2019 at 11:40 PM.
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