6 nights / 5 days Japan itinerary

Dec 2nd, 2016, 03:43 PM
  #1  
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6 nights / 5 days Japan itinerary

I'll be traveling to Japan in late April 2017. Flying in/out of NRT:
Arrival: 28 Apr @1400
Depart: 4 May @1830

So, basically I'll have the afternoon / evening of 28 Apr in Tokyo, maybe full day 29 Apr, and another almost full day on 4 May before departure back to US.

I'll be traveling alone, so I won't have competing agendas! Looking to see both sides of Japan (the new and the old). I've read other posts with experts like yourselves stating Tokyo / Kyoto are the best bets. Is that really all I can expect to fit in to this time range?

Thanks for all the input, and let me know if I have left out any pertinent information that would help you in assisting me!

Tim
fontaine1900 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2016, 03:53 PM
  #2  
 
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You can fit in both a - little time in Tokyo and a little time in Kyoto, but you won't see it all - or likely even enough to feel like you have seen it. If it was me - and, obviously, it is not, I'd spend the whole time in Kyoto.

Best source of info is www.japan-guide.com

Can you arrange your flight so you fly into one city and out of the other? That will save you valuable time.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2016, 04:40 PM
  #3  
kja
 
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I agree that you would be wise to spend lots of time with japan-guide.com

One option, particularly if you can switch one of your flights, would be to split your time between Tokyo and Kyoto -- but you really have no realistic opportunity to include anything else in this trip, IMO.

I must admit that I'm not sanguine about your options for combining Tokyo and Kyoto on this trip, as much of your time there will being during Golden Week (the first week in May, during which there are several holidays and many Japanese take trips / vacations),
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2282.html
I'm sure others can speak more knowledgeably to the issues you are likely to face.

If you are already committed to flying into and out of Tokyo at this particular time of year, the I must admit that I think you might want to skip Kyoto this trip. (And I say that as someone who infinitely preferred Kyoto to Tokyo.) There's enough "traditional" Japan in Tokyo to easily fill one day. Depending on the competition for trains, you might be able to take a day trip to Kamakura, or a day trip or overnight to Nikko or perhaps Hakone....

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2016, 05:01 PM
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Both Kathie and kja have a lot more experience than I do . . . but as a novice (only one trip) If there are holidays during that week (my trip was over a popular time and a holiday in November) Kyoto will be PACKED.

And the travel into Tokyo/across the country to Kyoto/back to Tokyo etc will eat up a LOT of time.

I loved LOVED Kyoto but many sites were extremely crowded. And many places in both Kyoto and Tokyo were closed both on the holiday and the day after.

Much as I hate to say it -- if you have booked flights in/out of Narita, you probably should stick to Tokyo, and just Tokyo.
janisj is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2016, 06:35 PM
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Agree with the above. Plus, you don't really have the first afternoon, by the time you have cleared immigration, located your transport and made it into Tokyo you will have consumed most of the afternoon.

I am not a fan of Tokyo, but you can certainly consider day trips to Nikko and Kamakura. You might even overnight in Narita itself, as I just did before my flight home. It has a castle with nice grounds and lots of places to shop and eat. It is one train stop or a hotel shuttle ride from Narita airport.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2016, 11:48 PM
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Do you already have the flights booked? If not, I'd certainly take a pause and see if you can shift the dates to get you out of Golden Week.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2282.html

We were there this year in the 4 weeks preceding Golden Week and it was crazy crowded enough then - our week in Kyoto coincided with another (lesser) holiday and it was utterly crazy busy.

For the rest, I agree with the others. Yes you can do both but you'll certainly be rushed in both.

And you may have trouble securing a seat on the trains between them - usually not a big deal but trains are very very busy during holidays. You won't need a JRPass so you don't have to wait until you pick that up to get train reservations made but I actually don't know what the process is to book train tickets and reservations ahead of one's visit and I'd definitely want to do that if I were travelling between Tokyo and Kyoto that week.

My instinct would be to do one or the other and include a few day trips within the visit.

From Tokyo you can easily visit Nikko, Kamakura, Yokohama, Kawagoe... you could even do Hakone as a day trip if you wanted to. And maybe go to Hitsujiyama Park in Chichibu, which is on my wish list and said to be at its best at that time of year.

From Kyoto you can easily visit Osaka, Nara, Uji, Kobe, Yamazaki (for the whisky distillery) and you could potentially do an overnight to Koya-san.

Of course, if you spent the 6 nights in Kyoto you would be best flying in and out of there rather than Tokyo.
Kavey is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2016, 10:55 AM
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Kanazawa would be a good option for 3 nights. Or Matsumoto for the wonderful castle and the Nakamachi-dori (1 or 2 nights would be enough).

I you visit either of those cities then I highly recommend a stop in Nagano to visit Zenkoji. It is an amazing and important temple that is easy to get to from JR Nagano station. There is more in the area if you wanted to spend a night or two (an onsen ryokan for a night would be my choice).

This little loop Shinjuku - 2.5 hrs -> Matsumoto - 50 min -> Nagano - 2 hrs or less -> Shinjuku would be about 18,000 JPY. This has the benefit of not being Kyoto.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 10:28 AM
  #8  
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Thanks to everyone for replying! Good news is that my flights are booked with award miles on AA, so I can change it as much as I want.

So, how about this for feedback:
Fly into Narita, spend a long day in Tokyo
Train to Kyoto, spend the rest of my time there, fly out of Kyoto (I guess?)

Also, time of travel isn't set in stone either. I'm VERY flexible on dates.
fontaine1900 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 10:44 AM
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If that is all the time you have, your plan is fine. But if you can add some days, you will be well rewarded.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 10:45 AM
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And do move your dates out of Golden Week, if you can.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 11:46 AM
  #11  
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Kathie - Would you recommend moving it earlier or later in the year? I will be in Ecuador in mid-March, so earlier in April might be a bit much. I'd love to see some of the blossoms though.

Sounds like the more time in Kyoto the better though, from everyone's input!
fontaine1900 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 12:15 PM
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Earlier is better. Don't know if you can make it work with your travel schedule.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 03:30 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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Yes, open jaw into Narita and out of Kansai or Osaka would likely be best.

Ad Kathie noted, if you can add time, you'll find plenty to do with it!

Earlier would, indeed, be better for blossoms, but for various reasons, I ended up going in May -- after Golden Week -- and found some advantages to doing so. For example, the iris and azalea were in bloom, and I was able to see the magnificent Kamagawa Odori in Kyoto.
kja is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 05:13 PM
  #14  
 
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Glad someone above noted that you will be traveling during Golden Week - it will be extremely crowded in many popular places. Not to be mean, but you are not picking the best time to be in Japan as far as crowds go.
As far as cherry blossoms go, you will be too late for the southern half of the country, and you'd need to travel way up north to see them - pretty much Aomori or Hokkaido.
That said, you will be right on time to see the shibazakura near Mt Fuji - no they are not actually sakura or cherry blossoms, but they are pretty nonetheless.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6919.html

The real gem though is you have perfect timing to see the wisteria or fuji - and they are a sight you will never forget the rest of your life. The best places in the country to see them are the Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi and the Kawachi Fujien in Kitakyushu - the former is definitely a possibility for you.
https://goo.gl/EvSI3v

And of course the Hitachi Seaside Park is absolutely delightful at that time.
http://en.hitachikaihin.jp/
Look at the various rail passes that are available on:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html
Do not ever think that a rail pass is a guaranteed money saver - you could save a fortune, but if you don't travel enough or far enough you could also lose money. For the Tokyo area, the Tokyo Wide Pass can be an excellent way to see the area and still keep a lot of cash in your wallet.

I will say again that japan-guide.com is one of the better sites to get info, and I refer to it often. But it too has some holes and neglects some very good places, so don't ever solely rely on one website alone. One of the best things you can do is look at the official website of the city you plan to go to - many have tourist info in English you can look at with great places that are listed nowhere else.
Adastra2200 is offline  
Dec 4th, 2016, 05:58 PM
  #15  
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Incredible information! I think the open jaw sounds like a great idea. I definitely have some research to do, but have quite a bit more information than I did before!
fontaine1900 is offline  
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