3 weeks in Japan

Old Aug 11th, 2017, 10:23 AM
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3 weeks in Japan

Arrive Narita 4/4/2018, depart Narita 4/24/2018. Long time travelers in Europe, first time in Japan. I'm 80 my wife 70, both in good health. Suggestions for itinerary from the git-go, from the time we arrive to the time we depart. We will not be driving, using public transport, any tips for train tix ala Eurail? We won't be staying in first class hotels but not hostels either. Not looking for details, just cities/towns to visit. Should we stay in just a few places and take tours from there? We like to take hop on-hop off tours to get familiar with a city, something similar in Japan?
Thanks in advance, Sandi and Richard
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 02:34 PM
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Go to japan-guide.com

Read.

Review.

Consider.

Analyze.

Once you've developed a plan, come back and get more pointed direction.

The info is out there - go get it.
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 05:54 PM
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BigRuss gave you some necessary homework to do.

>>any tips for train tix ala Eurail?

There is a national Japan Rail Pass and several regional passes.

>>Should we stay in just a few places and take tours from there?
The "few places" depends on your travel style. Tokyo and Kyoto will be on your itinerary but you have enough time to visit elsewhere - where lodging costs are often lower.

>>something similar in Japan?

I haven't used them in Japan but I did read about a HOHO bus for Tokyo. A city bus tour would be easier to find (not HOHO, but a group that travels together).

Why do you want to go to Japan?
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 08:24 PM
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Hi there we have been to Japan about 20 times and are taking friends with us next April. We are in our 70's

2 nights Tokyo
2 " Hiroshima
1 " Kinosaki
4 " Kyoto
2 " Nagoya (because we have friends there)
2 " Kanazawa
2 " Takayama ( between Kanazawa and Takayama is by bus)
3 " Tokyo

If you would like any more details or info happy to provide it.
Everyone likes different things, we stay in hotels in major cities and then in a ryokan or minshuku in the smaller country areas.
We are getting a 14 day JR rail pass
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Old Aug 11th, 2017, 09:17 PM
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I agree that you would do well to do some research, starting with the excellent and easily navigable japan-guide.com, and then come back to us. Japan has a great deal to offer, and none of us can say what YOUR preferences for traveling there might be.

Enjoy your research!
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 04:02 PM
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I'm just starting my research for a 3 week trip next summer (haven't been there before). Tokyo and Kyoto are recommended by pretty much everyone. Lots of people go to Hiroshima, Nara as a day trip from Kyoto, Nikko as a day trip (or longer) from Tokyo, Hakone can be a day trip from Tokyo but seems like most recommend spending a few nights there. Looks like lots of people go to Takayama (quaint old town from what I've read). I've read mixed reviews on Osaka: good restaurants and aquarium, but maybe not so interesting otherwise. Japan Rail has rail passes but you have to add up your various trips and how you might use it, because apparently it isn't always worth getting. The website someone posted above for japan-guide is excellent! Loads of info there, pictures, videos, etc. I hope I'm still traveling when I'm 80! Be sure and post a trip report when you get back.
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Old Aug 14th, 2017, 10:49 PM
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Do you like nature and hot springs? Hakone, a very short train ride from Tokyo, is a dream. Lots of gorgeous mountain villages connected by a train that winds through the mountains, with ryokans galore and hot springs to soak in all day, great restaurants to eat at in the evening. I LOVED Kyoto as well, and it's a must visit, as well as Tokyo, but Hakone was magical.
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Old Aug 15th, 2017, 12:42 PM
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Once you have your itinerary in place, you can use hyperdia.com to price out your train tickets. The JNTO website has information about the different passes you can consider - https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/ . You can also find out information about Goodwill Guides there.

Three weeks is not a lot of time in Japan. Don't try to go to too many places. Think of your trip as the first of many trips to Japan.
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 10:30 AM
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Thanks all for the advice, seems like our itinerary mirrors a lot of those posted, exceptions: one day in Kanazawa and one day in Kamakura. We are on JAL non-stop to Narita on the outbound and JAL non-stop to Boston on the return, both in business class. Any comments on JAL business?

Thanks again, Sandi and Richard
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Old Aug 16th, 2017, 06:04 PM
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I felt rushed in Kanazawa with 2 nights there -- I wished I'd given it AT LEAST 2 or 2.5 full days. In general, I think it pairs well with Takayama for a stay of 5 nights for the 2 cities (and a stop in Shirakawago, if you like).

Note that Kamakura is an easy day trip from Tokyo.
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Old Aug 17th, 2017, 04:45 AM
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I agree with kja. We spent 3 nights in Kanazawa and 2 nights in Takayama. We loved both those places. This was our 3 week itinerary for our first trip to Japan:

Arrive KIX, 2 nights in Nara
Kyoto - 4 or 5 nights (can't remember)
stop in Hikone enroute to Kanazawa
Kanazawa - 3 nights
stop in Shirkawago enroute to Takayama
Takayama - 2 nights
stop in Kamikoche (sp) enroute to Matsumoto
Matsumoto - 1 night
Tokyo - 6 nights

I hope this helps.
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Old Aug 18th, 2017, 05:06 AM
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Thank you ,everyone for your advice from your personal experiences. To the people who replied "Do your own research" I would like to say that "Of course we do our own research!" We are VERY experienced travelers. We have found that personal experiences usually offer something we would not find in a book.
This also will be our ONLY time in Japan so we enjoy finding out what is on others "must see" list.

This is our current itinerary :
Tokoyo 3 nights
Kyoto 3 nights
Hiroshama 2 nights
Kanazawa 3 nights
Nikko 3 nights
Kamakura 2 nights
Tokoyo 2 nights
So, if you have any personal advice we would love to hear it.
Sandi ( and Dick, of course)
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Old Aug 18th, 2017, 05:09 AM
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Sorry, i forgot to ask a question about ryokins.
It is hard for my husband to get up from the floor. Do ALL ryokins have the beds on the floor? I would love the experience but it would not be possible for Dick. Any comments??
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Old Aug 18th, 2017, 08:56 AM
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Not all, but futons are the tradition, Japanese style. Some have Western beds. I stayed in a ryokan with a Western bed in Noboribetsu Onsen with dinner in an adjacent room. The ryokan hotel where I stayed in Aso might have had a Western bed and dinner was in a dining room.

In both of those cases, dinner was on a low table where I sat on the floor. Would that be a problem for him?

Finding a place with Western beds and table/chairs for a kaiseki dinner and breakfast might be possible, but am not sure it would be called a ryokan.

So, your issue is possibly not just with the bed type but with the dining table.
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Old Aug 18th, 2017, 09:06 AM
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If you see a lodging or dining place that says it is "Japanese style" then you should expect to be on the floor. Expect Japanese style at the restaurants in Gion, Kyoto (tho, FAIK you might find table w chairs).
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Old Aug 18th, 2017, 10:54 AM
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My husband has difficulties getting up from the floor too. At the traditional ryokans we've stayed in, we've asked them to stack the futons, double height, so it's a little easier to get up (and more cushioned). He also keeps a side chair next to the futon to give him some leverage in getting back up.

My only comment on your itinerary would be to fly into Tokyo and out of Osaka, if you haven't already booked your flights. That way the only backtracking you'd be doing is back and forth from Hiroshima. For that matter, if you could fly into or out of Hiroshima, that would even be better. Check some of the low cost carriers (Peach, Vanilla) to see if that's a viable option for you.
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Old Aug 18th, 2017, 04:54 PM
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Allow me to note that a surprising number of experienced travelers do NOT do their own research, and those who do rarely, IME, start by asking for an “itinerary from the git-go, from the time we arrive to the time we depart.” And if what they want is information about “personal experiences,” again, IME, they rarely start by saying, “Not looking for details, just cities/towns to visit.” So perhaps you will forgive me for having initially recommended that you do some research -- particularly because one cannot see all of Japan's highlights in 3 weeks. One can see a lot, however, and a lot of those that are of greatest interest to YOU.

Now, that said, I still don't see any mention of you interests or preferences, so I’m not sure how to comment on your itinerary, except to say that I find it extremely unusual for first-time visitors. Only 3 nights – so just 2 days or a tad more – in Kyoto? But 3 nights in Nikko? And 2 nights in Kamakura?
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Old Aug 31st, 2017, 05:36 PM
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If you are still monitoring this post, please note that I, and I believe a number of other Fodorites, will be happy to do what we can to help -- once you tell us your interests and preferences and give us a bit more information about your plans.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2017, 01:07 AM
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Ditto Kja's last two posts.
It's not that people don't want to help, but that you're not providing the information needed for us to be able to do so, both in terms of your personal interests and also your feedback on why you've picked what you have for your first draft itinerary.
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Old Sep 28th, 2017, 02:45 PM
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I am not sure if this thread is still active. If not, I will start a new one.

We too are planning a 3 week trip to Japan in late September of 2018. We planned an 18 day trip for 2014 and cancelled but this is what I came up with after my research, at that time. Now we have the flexibility to fly into Hiroshima and avoid some of the backtracking.

I’d appreciate some comments on altering this plan to 21 days and with the possibility of starting in Hiroshima and leaving from Tokyo...or the reverse. For those of you who have travelled there a lot like Wombat, internetwiz and BigRuss it would be great to get feedback on not enough days for some places. We are both in our late 60’s and my Wife is kind of a minimum 2 or 3 nights in one place kind of gal. So the less repacking the better for her. As you can see, I failed a few times.
One concern about this plan is that I do not seem to build in mishaps like missing trains/buses and general problems with language failure.

Day 1 Arrive TOKYO 4:15pm - night #1
Day 2 "TOKYO - Hato Bus Tours 1/2 day? Rikugien Garden and/or Asakusa, the Meiji Shrine and/or Hama Rikyu garden "
Day 3 TOKYO - day trip to Nikko
Day 4 TOKYO - Do the classis "round course". Hakone Tozan Railway: y train, cable car, ropeway, boat and bus. Purchase the free pass. Maybe add an extra night and stay in a Ryokan so Hakone Round course is less rushed?
Day 5 Bullet train to NAGOYA. Check bags in locker. Then take train to Ise + also see Hikone Castle and Genkyuen Garden in Hikone
Day 6 Leave Nagoya early towards MATSUMOTO. Get off at Magome and hike to Tsumago, about 3 hours or so. Then on towards Matsumoto
Day 7 MATSUMOTO - Matsumoto castle
Day 8 Go to TAKAYAMA . (GO BY BUS AND NO BACKTRACKING). Stay at a Ryokan.
Day 9 "Go to KANAZAWA - Use bus and stop at Shirakawa-go"
Day 10 KANAZAWA - See Kenrokuen garden in the morning
Day 11 Leave for KYOTO - Daitokuji Temple & Zen Gardens
Day 12 KYOTO - Katsura Imperial Villa & Garden and/or Nijo-jo
Day 13 "KYOTO - day trip to Mt. Koya? Or not and/or Daigoji Temple & landscape garden"
Day 14 Leave early for HIROSHIMA via Kyoto on bullet train. Stay in Miyajama (Shukkeien Garden)
Day 15 KYOTO - Miho Museum in a.m. then Kokedera (Moss Temple) in afternoon
Day 16 KYOTO - day trip to Nara (Isuien Garden and/or Yoshikien Garden)
Day 17 KYOTO - Ryoanji Temple & Rock garden or Heian Jingu Garden
Day 18 KYOTO - Day trip: Osaka Castle / Temmangu Shrine (Nakanoshima) - Minoo Park
Day 19 "Leave for Osaka airport in the morning (be there by noon…) for
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