16 days in Japan--how to divide time?

Old Jul 29th, 2017, 08:07 AM
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16 days in Japan--how to divide time?

My partner and I will be traveling to Japan for 16 days next month, flying in and out of Tokyo. We want to purchase the 7-day rail pass, but how should we divide our time to get the most of the rail pass? Should we head straight to Kyoto, stay there for a week, travel, and finish off in Tokyo?
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 08:48 AM
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It all depends on your interests! If you haven’t already done so, I’d encourage you to spend LOTS of time with japan-guide.com. It isn’t perfect, but IME, it’s an excellent resource.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 09:04 AM
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The days of a 7-day pass are calendar days. They are consecutive days. For a 7-day pass, you leave Tokyo on Day 1 and return on Day 7.

So, spending a week (6 nights) in Kyoto means that you would need to do some day trips from Kyoto to make the pass worthwhile.

If you are flying into Narita Airport then you could use the pass that day to get you to Kyoto. But, you could fly. Or leave Tokyo later.

But the usefulness of a JR Pass could depend on what you want to use the bulk of your time, those other 9 days, in Japan.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 09:10 AM
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If you haven't purchased your overseas flights yet, I recommend you fly open jaw in NRT and out KIX or vice versa, to save the time and expense of round trip train between Tokyo and Kyoto. With 16 days on the ground and assuming you would like to visit some other places besides Tokyo and Kyoto, I would split my time in Tokyo between the first of the trip and the end and use the 7 day rail pass in the middle to benefit from RT train between Kyoto and Tokyo. So, for example, arrive NRT, stay a few nights in Tokyo to get over jet lag and enjoy some areas. Visit Fuji-Hakone area for a couple nights, then activate the JR pass as the Odawara station and go to Kyoto. Visit Kyoto for a minimum of 4 nights, day trip to Nara or elsewhere one day, then go to Takayama for a couple nights and return to Tokyo by day 7. You can then check back into a Tokyo hotel and take a day trip to Nikko or Kanazawa and finish your Tokyo visit (save souvenier shopping for the last day)
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 09:26 AM
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Correction: I meant to say Kamakura, not Kanazawa as a day trip from Tokyo
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 04:55 PM
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You don't go to Japan to make a rail pass pay off - you go to see a lot of really nice places. You need to decide what you want to go and see - and after that, choose the best way to get there according to your time and budget.

Rail is one very good way to get around in Japan. It's the most convenient, going from downtown to downtown. If you travel a lot by bullet train, you can often get some good savings on a pass. But there is no guarantee of that. If you travel too slowly or too little, you could **lose** money on a rail pass also. So a series of regional passes for some might be better - or if you want to bypass a large area, flying somewhere far away and using a regional pass might make more sense too. One good tool is at:
The japanican tickets may also be a better alternative:

Or if going beyond to the Chogoku Region, Kyushu, etc., a 14 day pass might save you some good money. Or not. Do your research.

It's up to you to decide where you want to go, according to your interests, and other factors - like if you think you'll ever return to see more of Japan someday.

Japan-guide is one good one to browse what to see. But don't rely solely on it or anything else. The JNTO site jnto.go.jp is another good site to check out, as well as the official city websites which have tourist guides listing great places listed nowhere else. Trip Advisor has its shortcomings but for checking out other places to see near your target, it's one of the best.
I do recommend going to a hot spring at least once as well as a night in a Japanese inn (ryokan) for the experience. Prices range from modest to exorbitant.
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 01:27 AM
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I would recommend going to Hiroshima. Miyajima is absolutely beautiful. Then I would recommend going to Kyoto for a couple of days and then i would stop in Osaka for a day or two since it's super close to Kyoto and then I would end off the trip in Tokyo. And you can always take trips to Hakone or Nikko from Tokyo since it is really close. Also, if you are going to Tokyo there are lots of things to do there and you can even take day trips to places that are a bit closer than Hakone or Nikko like Kamakura, Yokohama etc. I loved Kamakura it was a beautiful area.
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Old Sep 21st, 2017, 07:11 AM
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If it helps, here's my itinerary for our first trip, just a tiny bit longer than yours, and we really thought it a great itinerary.

Day1 Arrive Tokyo early evening
Day2 Tokyo
Day3 --> Takayama
Day4 Takayama
Day5 Takayama --> Nara
Day6 --> Kyoto
Day7 Kyoto
Day8 Kyoto - shopping
Day9 Kyoto
Day10 Kyoto
Day11 Kyoto --> Mount Koya
Day12 Mount Koya --> Osaka
Day13 Osaka --> Hiroshima --> Miyajima
Day14 Miyajima --> Tokyo
Day15 Tokyo (Asakusa)
Day16 Tokyo
Day17 Tokyo
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