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4 nights / 5 days in Japan Recommendations - Kyoto vs Nikko

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Dec 9th, 2015, 05:22 PM
  #1
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4 nights / 5 days in Japan Recommendations - Kyoto vs Nikko

I arrive in Tokyo Airport at 4:40pm on a Wednesday and then have 4 nights and 5 days in Japan, departing on the 5th day (Sunday) via Tokyo airport once again.

I'm interested in a mix of history and modern day culture / bar hopping / clubbing.

In terms of itinerary, if Tokyo nightlife its much better Friday and Saturday, I was thinking of immediately taking a train upon arrival out to Kyoto... spending Thursday and Friday out there... and then taking the train back to Tokyo Friday night in time to go out Friday night, then Saturday all day in Tokyo... going out Saturday night once again, and then Sunday some sort of day activity then fly out.

1) In terms of Tokyo, is the nightlife good on a Wednesday night... or will it be much better on Friday and Saturday nights?

2) If I had to choose between Kyoto / Nara and Nikko, would you recommend Kyoto?

3) Are there any cool Edo towns you would recommend to perhaps spend a day that could somehow fit into the itinerary of either Kyoto or Nikko?

4) Would you recommend any hot springs in either Kyoto, Tokyo or Nikko?
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Dec 9th, 2015, 05:26 PM
  #2
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In case it affects itinerary, flight out is 10pm on Sunday... so full day Sunday to do activities.
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Dec 9th, 2015, 11:38 PM
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Your current plans are overly ambitious IMO. Can you do it? Sure, but I'm in the less is more camp. Taking into account your arrival, departure, checking in and out of hotels together with traveling between Tokyo and Kyoto, you really don't have 5 days.

While I love Kyoto, I would suggest just staying in Tokyo since bar hopping and nightlife is an important part of your trip. Kamakura would be a good day trip for history and culture, easily reached from Tokyo. Nikko would also be a possible alternate.

This would leave you 3 days if you include your departure day in Tokyo which can easily be filled with sightseeing and activities.
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Dec 10th, 2015, 01:04 AM
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kja
 
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" If I had to choose between Kyoto / Nara and Nikko, would you recommend Kyoto?"

Yes -- Kyoto.

FWIW, I think curiousgeo raises some excellent points.
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Dec 11th, 2015, 01:50 AM
  #5
 
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> 1) In terms of Tokyo, is the nightlife good on a Wednesday night... or will it be much better on Friday and Saturday nights?

I guess the order would be Friday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Most workers in Tokyo commute more than an hour. Only smaller number of passionate persons would go into the center of Tokyo on a Saturday night.

For Tokyo in general,
http://night.enjoytokyo.jp/
For Roppongi proper,
https://retrip.jp/articles/10322/

> 2) If I had to choose between Kyoto / Nara and Nikko, would you recommend Kyoto?

Yes. Nikko is a mixture of nature and history. Moreover, it is relatively new. Nikko is built after 1600 AD, while Kyoto / Nara is 700 AD. The latter also developed city contents. Nikko would be just a grave and small.

> 3) Are there any cool Edo towns you would recommend to perhaps spend a day that could somehow fit into the itinerary of either Kyoto or Nikko?

Kamakura is a popular historic destination, but for 1200 AD.

For Edo (1600 AD), this page lists the followings in Japan. Most are far away from Kyoto / Nikko.
Ise
Kurashiki
Taketomi Island
Shirakawa-go
Tsumago-juku
Ginzan-onsen
https://retrip.jp/articles/1245/

Just for near Tokyo (=Edo), this page lists
Sawara
Fukagawa Edo Museum
Boso-no-Mura
Asakusa
and each could be done in a day.
https://retrip.jp/articles/3128/

Kawagoe, Sawara, and Tochigi cities are called as "Ko-edo" (small edo).
Kawagoe is famous, and "Ko-edo" express runs from Seibu-Shinjuku. Sawara is getting popular.

> 4) Would you recommend any hot springs in either Kyoto, Tokyo or Nikko?

Most of the travelers taking such a route seem to select Hakone, however, this theme park might be interesting.
http://www.ooedoonsen.jp/en/top/
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Dec 11th, 2015, 11:34 AM
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Lots of great ideas above for when you have a much longer trip. You basically have 3 full days in Japan, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and I assume an evening return flight, giving you until about 2pm on Sunday. There is no one "right" answer to your question, however, in your case, what I would do would be one of the following:

1) Your original plan of train Wed night to Kyoto, all day there on Thursday and Friday. (Save Nara for another trip, too much to see in Kyoto with only two days). Spend Saturday and Sunday in Tokyo seeing Asakusa and the Edo-Tokyo Museum on Saturday and Meiji Shrine on Sunday.

2) If you decide you would rather spend your 4 nights in Tokyo, then a day trip to either Nikko or Kamakura will be well worth the effort.
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Dec 18th, 2015, 08:36 AM
  #7
 
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We just returned from Japan traveling from Nov 27-Dec 7 and our goal was to see Nikko "off-season" without the crowds it is renowned for.
We flew into NRT and spent the first two nights in Asakusa which is a part of Tokyo that maintains some older shops and businesses adjacent to the Sensoji Temple. We enjoyed walking the "nakamise-dori" which is a covered street of shops.
We then took a direct train to Nikko (under two hours) and spent the next three nights/2 days near the Toshogu where the major collection of temples and mausoleum exist in a beautiful mountain setting. We moved on to Oku-Nikko for two more nights to enjoy the Yumoto onsen, hiking the areas nearby lake and see waterfalls.
On return to Tokyo we stayed in Ginza for two nights for completely different pace of shopping for gifts to bring home. Fortunately, the Imperial Palace grounds was opened to the public that Sunday, which apparently occurs only twice an year, once in December to celebrate the emperor's birthday. The maple trees on the immaculate grounds were ablaze !
With 5 days I think Tokyo-Nikko could be a good option.
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Dec 18th, 2015, 05:48 PM
  #8
 
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IMHO, Stay in Tokyo and enjoy your time there without having to change hotels. Kyoto and Nikko very worthy but with limited time visiting them with one day for each wouldn't do justice to either of the destinations.
Plenty to do in Tokyo for the actual 3 days you have.
A day trip to Kamakura with a side trip to Yokohama Chinatown could take up one day with that evening being spent back in Tokyo.
Mt Takao or Hakone as alternative day trips.
Planning a three day Tokyo strategy will be a challenge. Asakusa,/Senso Ji Kappabashi, Meiji Shrine/Harajuku/Shibuya, Roppongi Art Walk, Tokyo Big Sight special event.
Check Time Out Tokyo for other special events in the city while you are there.

Do a search on youtube for >Tokyo Eye< the NHK program for for some ideas.

Not too many onsen in Tokyo but my wife and I had fun at Ooedo Monogatari in Odaiba, not a mountain ryokan experience, but an onsen theme park.
Watch out if you have tattoos here though.
http://www.ooedoonsen.jp/en/top/

As I said, just my opinion.
Whatever you decide have fun and report back to the group how your trip went





As I said just my opinion in any event have fun and report back to how it worked out.
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