23 days in Japan

Nov 18th, 2005, 03:10 AM
  #1  
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23 days in Japan

Could anyone give me help/suggestions in my trip to Japan?
Family of four: a couple and 2 teenager girls.
Is it worth to buy a 3-week JR pass?

Nov 27: arriving Narita
Nov 28: Tokyo – Akihabara / Ghibli museum
Nov 29: Tokyo – Asakusa / Tokyo Tower, Hamarikyu garden
Nov 30: Tokyo – Tsukiji market / Disney sea
Dec 01: Tokyo - Sanrio Puroland / Ginza
Dec 02: Hakone
Dec 03: to Hamamatsu
Dec 04: Hamamatsu (relative´s home)
Dec 05: Hiroshima / Yamaguchi - Shimonoseki
Dec 06: Yamaguchi / maybe Beppu onsen
Dec 07: back to Hamamatsu
Dec 08: day trip to Kyoto
Dec 09: Osaka
Dec 10: Osaka / back to Hamamatsu
Dec 11: Hamamatsu
Dec 12: day trip to Takayama, maybe Shirakawago
Dec 13: to Hokkaido
Dec 14: Hokkaido - ski
Dec 15: Hokkaido - onsen
Dec 16: back to Hamamatsu
Dec 17: Hamamatsu
Dec 18: day trip to Tokyo - Harajuku
Dec 19: go to stay at Tokyo – meet friends
Dec 20: Tokyo – last shopping/sightseeing
Dec 21: leave Japan

Thank you in advance!!
Rose
rose1313 is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 03:27 AM
  #2  
 
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Wow...what a trip! You are certainly planning to cover a lot of ground.

Disneysea is a full day. The nighttime shows are excellent. The shopping mall in Disney has nice shops and good restaurants.

A day trip to Kyoto is not enough. I'd skip Osaka entirely and spend the 3 days in Kyoto.

A day trip to Takayama and maybe Shirakawa-go from Hamamatsu will be a long, long day. I'd think about a night there if you want to see those places. It will also be cold and perhaps snowy. It's been a bit unseasonably cold this year.

With so much travelling, a 3 week pass is only 12,000 yen more than a 2 week, roughly the cost of a one-way ticket on the shinkansen between Tokyo and Kyoto. Your first week is Tokyo, though, and you don't need the pass, though you could use it on the JR lines around the city.

You might want to try plugging your train trips into grace.hyperdia.com to get the cost of each ticket, then decide.
KimJapan is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 03:44 AM
  #3  
 
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Kyoto is the heart and soul of Japan and to spend less than 4 days is a huge mistake. Also Nara is a must. I would skip Osaka and eliminate some other stops or reduce them in order to increase Kyoto. Aso teenagers would love Himeji Castle which is a day trip from Kyoto.
glorialf is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 04:46 AM
  #4  
emd
 
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I took my teen son last spring and am taking my teen daughter back this spring. You will have a blast.

Where are you staying in Tokyo, what area?

You have your ticket vouchers already for Ghibli, right? I would recommend being there right when they open in the morning. It is a small museum packed w/great things to see and experience, but it gets very crowded by later in the morning and is way too crowded in afternoon.

Unless you are staying in western Tokyo and hence will be close to both Ghibli and Puroland to get to both early in the morning on the two different days you have planned, since you will be in far western Tokyo to go to Ghibli I would also go to Sanrio Puroland that same day. Sanrio Puroland is in Tama, a city in western Tokyo, accessible by private rail in 40 min. from Shinjuku station. I would go to Ghibli from opening til noon, then go from Ghibli to Mitaka station to Shinjuku station, switch to the private Keio line rapid express train, and be at Puroland at 1 pm. Then the other day go to Ginza during the day and then Akihabara in evening. Otherwise, you are going all the way west, and all the way east on two different days for Ghibli-Akihabara and Puroland-Ginza.

Go to Akihabara in evening if possible - all the neon is tres cool then and the arcades are busy and more fun. We went twice, day and night, and night was much better.

Also, the day you go to Tokyo Tower, try to go at night. During the day there is alot of smog which can really make the views up high very hazy. But at night you get to see all the neon, and Tokyo Tower itself is lit up in orange and is very cool to walk up to and away from. And they have these interactive boards up at the observation levels (all indoors) where you can stand at the windows and press a button on the board and it tells you waht araea of Tokyo you are looking at by lighting up just like the area looks lit up outside the window. This is VERY COOL, and you can only do it at night.

I would also drop Osaka and stay in Kyoto unless you have some personal reason to go to Osaka, or something in particular that you really want to see or do (Universal? Spa World? I am trying to think of what would appeal to teens there when baseball and sumo aren't happening in Osaka.)

BTW- you know Puroland is aimed towards really little kids, right? All the rides are for really small children. I understand the teen obsessions and maybe this is why your daughters want to go there. My 14 yr old son is obsessed w/Bandai and GUndham things so we went to the Bandai museum- part of that is geared more towards younger kids but at least the Gundam stuff was more teen/adult oriented. Puroland centers around shows and rides for much younger kids.

The Sunday you go to Harajuku you should also have time to visit Meiji shrine. Great to go there on Sundays.

You are going to Senjosi temple in Asakusa, right?

One area your teens might really like that last day on Dec. 20 in Tokyo is Odaiba, the entertainment area in eastern Tokyo, across the SUmida river from Asakusa. Lots of fun theme shopping places (Venus Fort, indoor mall that looks like Italy, etc.) and other fun interactive things to do there (Sega Joyopolis- indoor amusement park complete w/roller coaster and virtual rides, etc.)
emd is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 05:14 AM
  #5  
emd
 
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If you are concerned about too many temples in Kyoto for your teen daughters to stay interested, there are also alot of fun interactive Japanese craft workshops that can be done in Kyoto. My son and I did a fabric stenciling/painting workshop (about 2 hrs.) and each brought home a piece; we both really enjoyed that. I am planning on doing a workshop on making Japanese sweets w/my daughter, and maybe a fan making/painting or we might go to the Nenju Buddhist rosary/bracelet shop and make some jewelry w/traditional beads. You have to break up the temples w/other things in Kyoto w/a teen, IMO. Your girls will probably really like the Higahsiyama area as there is lots of great little shops right along w/the temples there. We also loved the area around Shijo-dori and Teramachi shopping street/shrine areas, where the Nishiki-koji outdoor food market is.

Also, you might be interested in hitting a good outdoor flea market in Tokyo on that Sunday - if you are interested I have some info about them. One of them is fairly close to where you'll be at Harajuku.
emd is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 10:28 AM
  #6  
 
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Wow, very ambitious schedule! Is this for this NOv 27th? Can you get a railpass voucher at this point?

I'd also skip Osaka. Kyoto is so much more interesting...especially to teens. My daughters loved the temples, Gion, the castle and wandering/shopping the Teramachi area and the department stores. You need to stick together to get to some of the more famous (and distant) sights, but the rest of the time they can wander safely on their own in Kyoto.

Osaka is more of a big modern city.
lcuy is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 10:39 AM
  #7  
emd
 
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She can get a rail pass overnighted by Fed Ex from any JTB agency in the U.S.
emd is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 12:18 PM
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My friend has just written an excellent post about what to do in Tokyo

http://www.ttsai.net/index.php/archi...f-youre-there/
luckykat is offline  
Nov 18th, 2005, 08:12 PM
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Why Yamaguchi? Why Shimonoseki? Where, what towns, would you be staying on the nights of Dec 5 and 6.

Are you aware that to get from JR Hamamatsu station to Sapporo station takes 6 hours if you fly from Nagoya (or Tokyo or Kansai) to Chitose airport? It's 15 hours by JR.

If you got the ANA discount fares for visitors (it is not too late), then you could fly to Hokkaido, to Sapporo or one of the more remote places. Then fly from Hokkaido to Hiroshima (JAL has nonstops CTS-HIJ) or Oita (to visit Beppu). Then take JR back to Hamamatsu after stopping in Kyoto.

The day trip to Takayama or S-go will involve several hours of travel. Ok in itself, but you'll be spending much of the next day getting to a slope in Hokkaido.

Won't there be skiing in Nagano or Gifu prefectures about that time?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 06:38 AM
  #10  
 
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emd, could you tell me how you arranged the interactive Japanese craft workshops? What was the cost? I'd love to know the details. Thanks
birder is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 07:16 AM
  #11  
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Thank you all for so kind and precious suggestions!!
Yes, I realize that I have very short time to decide last things before departing...

Actually we have relatives and friends we want/need to visit, that´s why the places like Hamamatsu, Shimonoseki and Osaka.

I will consider being longer in Kyoto.
Emd, I am also interested in the craft workshops, please.

The big doubt now is: Rail pass or flying to Hokkaido?
Mrwunrfl, the ANA discount fares for visitors must to be gotten abroad?
Is it possible to get a cheap tour package after arriving in Japan?

I can have the Rail pass here in the same day, that´s why I didn´t buy it yet...

Emd, I´d like to thank you so much about the ghibli museum hint, I´ve got in your previous trip report!! My whole family loves Miyazaki´s films! I am aware that I have to buy the tickets in advance, but here I can´t. I was thinking about asking my relatives to buy them for me, but now I am considering buying them after arriving Japan, and going there in my last days in Tokyo...

I have to leave now...
Thanks again!!
Rose

rose1313 is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 02:42 PM
  #12  
 
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Once you are in Japan it is possible to buy a package of air/hotel/even ski rental to Hokkaido. It shouldn't be very expensive at this time of year. If you read Japanese, you could check out prices on www.tour.ne.jp - sorry, no Engish available. A travel agent would also be able to advise you of where there is actually snow and open slopes. Every hotel in a ski area has a bath. The nice ones have deluxe onsens with multiple tubs. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I think you should visit an agent in Tokyo. They are all over the place...just go into any place with travel brochures displayed outside. Visit a couple to compare prices.
KimJapan is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 10:14 PM
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There is a good summary of the air passes from JAL and ANA here:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2364.html

If you flew from Hokkaido to Fukuoka then you could get to Shimonoseki very easily. There is a subway from the domestic terminal to Hakata station where you can get a local train to Shimonoseki. I stayed in Shimonoseki with my nephew at a nice ryokan for about 18000. I forget the name of it but can look it up if you are interested.

Shimonoseki is famous for fugu. That is blowfish and it can be poisonous if prepared incorrectly. I think that you will be there right in the heart of the fugu fishing season. So be sure to try some fresh caught fugu sashimi (instead of the farm grown).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 19th, 2005, 10:43 PM
  #14  
emd
 
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It is really late, I can't believe I an even awake. I am tied up all day and night tomorrow, but I will answer your questions on the crafts workshops and also give you some info on the Ghibli tickets and how to get them inside Japan (at Lawson's stores) when I have time to post on Monday.
emd is offline  
Nov 20th, 2005, 11:34 PM
  #15  
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Hi, everybody.

I have made some changes in my schedule, considering your hints/suggestions:

Nov 27: arriving Narita (Nihonbashi area hotel) – Akihabara at night(camera buying)
Nov 28: Tokyo – Ueno Zoo and Ginza or Odaiba (?)
Nov 29: Tokyo – Asakusa (Sensoji, Nakamise, Drum museum), Edo-Tokyo museum, Tokyo Tower
Nov 30: Tokyo – Tsukiji market, Disney sea (move to Shinjuku area hotel)
Dec 01: Tokyo - Sanrio Puroland, Shibuya
Dec 02: Tokyo - Ghibli museum / Hakone
Dec 03: Hakone / Hamamatsu
Dec 04: Hamamatsu (relative´s home)
Dec 05: day trip to Kyoto
Dec 06: again to Kyoto / at evening to Hiroshima (stay 1 night)
Dec 07: Hiroshima / Yamaguchi (stay at Shimonoseki)
Dec 08: Shimonoseki / Himeji / back to Hamamatsu
Dec 09: Osaka (visit relatives, stay 1 night)
Dec 10: Osaka (visit friend)/ Nagoya (stay at relative´s)
Dec 11: go to Shirakawago (stay 1 night)
Dec 12: back to Nagoya
Dec 13: to Hokkaido
Dec 14: Hokkaido - ski
Dec 15: Hokkaido - onsen
Dec 16: ?
Dec 17: ? / back to Hamamatsu
Dec 18: day trip to Tokyo – Harajuku, Meiji shrine
Dec 19: go to stay at Tokyo – meet friends
Dec 20: Tokyo – last shopping/sightseeing
Dec 21: leaving Japan

KimJapan, thanks for hiperdia.com and tour packages hints. I can read Japanese (not everything, but...).
I could see that it is worth buying the 3-week JR pass, even if I buy a tour package to Hokkaido, by airplane, which I am thinking to do, after arriving to Tokyo.

Mrwunrfl, thanks for JAL air pass hint.
It is really a good value, but comparing with the tour package, I think the second one seems to be cheaper, if I am right.
Could you please tell me the ryokan name, at Shimonoseki?
And I´ll try the fresh fugu sashimi!!

Luckykat, unfortunately I couldn´t access your friend´s post.

Emd, I think I´ll try to buy the tickets for Ghibli museum at Lawson´s, when I get to Tokyo. I read its website and I could see that there are tickets for Friday, Dec 2. Thank you!
And please, how could I plan my visit to Kyoto in 2 days?

Thank you all! This forum is so good!

Rose
rose1313 is offline  
Nov 20th, 2005, 11:59 PM
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Really enjoyed Mimonosusogawa Bekkan in Shimonoseki.
http://big5.tabimado.net/portal/bgmy...ain?f_no=14394
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 04:28 AM
  #17  
emd
 
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Kyoto traditional craft making oppurtunities, for those who are interested:

Incredible new website on Kyoto that has a very detailed and informative listing of every place in Kyoto that offers interactive wrokshops on craft-making, from doll-making, numerous kinds of fabric workshops, making tradtitional Japnaese sweets, making washi paper, making pottery, on and on:

http://www.pref.kyoto.jp/visitkyoto/...ltural/crafts/

There are various other opportunities available through groups that organize these types of traditional crafts for you (WAK, Espirit, private guides, etc.) but they vary from being expensive to exorbiant in price. The site I have given you gives you a description of the craft, how long it takes, address, phone numbers, fee, when open/closed, AND how to get to each place (VERY important). From that list, if you have your hotel concierge or someone who speaks Japanese call for you (sometimes English is spoken and that is indicated), you can set
up these workshops easily yourself. I had our concirege call the Yuzen Muesum "Kodai Yuzen-en" for us one morning and that afternoon we went there to see the museum collection of kimonos and did a fabric stenciling workshop (similar to slikscreening, but more simple process) that took about 1 1/2 hrs. We spoke no Japanese (well, my son spoke a few words) and it was no problem because the man showed us by hand how to do every step. I think it would be that way for most of these since they are "making" events, just watch what they do and they will come over and help you do it.

I have other sites too (have done alot of research on this) that I will post when I get back home from where I am now. But the one above is the very best for amount of info - alot of other sites don't give you the info on how to get there, etc.

I strongly encourage taking cabs unless the place is in close proximity to a subway or bus line and your concierge tells you you can find it easily. Luckily we had the name of the Yuzen place in Japanese, because the signage is almost always in Japanese. We took the subawy but had a difficult time finding the street and building. I had to call the concierge, who called the Yuzen museum and then called us back - several times- to guide us as we walked around trying to find it in the rain. Lost in Kyoto is no fun (unless you are with my son, who danced all over the sidewalks and sang "Singing in the Rain" to me for an hour so I wouldn't get stressed while we searched for the bldg. in a downpour).
emd is offline  
Nov 21st, 2005, 09:17 PM
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Hi

My wife and I went to Japan in May this year and I have posted a trip report with pictures and links on my personal homepage http://gardkarlsen.com We went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji, Hiroshima etc. Maybe you can find some useful information there. Get in touch if you have any questions or comments Have a great trip.

Regards
Gard
Stavanger, Norway
gard is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 04:03 PM
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emd, thank you so much!
birder is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 06:39 PM
  #20  
emd
 
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You're welcome. Regarding cost, I made a lovely piece the size of a square scarf, peach silky material upon which I was taught how to stencil/paint Kinkakuji. I chose the colors for it. The picture is in one corner of the square, and I have it folded in a triangle on top of my dresser w/the part w/the fabric painting exposed, so I look at Kinkakuji each morning. Cost for that project was $20. My son stenciled the same design on to a light denim bag about the size of a one gallon ziploc bag; it has drawstring silk cord closure at the top; cost $12.
It is pretty funny that we didn't ev
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