9 days in Japan in April

Old Nov 23rd, 2017, 04:33 PM
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9 days in Japan in April

Hi. My husband and I are planning to take our 8 yr old son to Japan for Spring Break. We will have 9 full days there (and 1/2 day the day we arrive and depart). We would love to go to Tokyo (spending 1 day at Tokyo Disney), Hakone and Kyoto. I know we won't have long in any city, but is this doable? Is it possible to do to a day trip to Hiroshima? Think Hiroshima would be an interesting place to visit. Should we buy a 7 day Japan rail pass? Any suggestions are welcome!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2017, 05:09 PM
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That is a very busy time of the year due to cherry blossoms/sakura. I would start getting hotel reservations (that can be cancelled) at least in Kyoto. You can figure out the necessity of a rail pass after you nail down your itinerary.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2017, 08:31 PM
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It would, I think, be "do-able" if very ambitious to try to fit all of these locations into your time frame, but whether to do so depends on your interests and travel preferences. If you haven't already done so, please spend some time with japan-guide.com. And, as Mara said, nail down your reservations for Kyoto ASAP.
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Old Nov 24th, 2017, 09:12 AM
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If I'm reading your post correctly, you have 10 nights, right?

I would say your plans are just about doable depending on how much you like to rush and how much you actually want to see of each place. Personally I'd drop Hakone but then I didn't love Hakone whereas others do, so take my comment on that with a pinch of salt!

Assuming you fly into and out of Tokyo I might do something like...

Day 0 Arrive Tokyo
Day 1 Tokyo (sightseeing)
Day 2 Tokyo (sightseeing)
Day 3 Train to Kyoto (afternoon sightseeing)
Day 4 Kyoto (sightseeing)
Day 5 Kyoto (sightseeing)
Day 6 Kyoto (either more Kyoto or day trip to Osaka or Nara or...)
Day 7 Early morning to Hiroshima, afternoon / overnight Miyajima
Day 8 Morning in Miyajima, afternoon train back to Tokyo
Day 9 Tokyo (Disney)
Day 10 Fly home

Obvs you could lose a day of Tokyo or Kyoto sightseeing for your overnight in Hakone...
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Old Nov 24th, 2017, 09:15 AM
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PS I loved Kyoto more than Tokyo but still love both, I would normally weight to Kyoto but have a feeling Tokyo may hold more interest for a young boy.
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Old Nov 24th, 2017, 02:10 PM
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It's possible. You could do 4 days in Tokyo, 1 day for Hakone, and 4 days in Kansai. If you go all the way to Hiroshima/Miyajima for a day trip, you'd make a 14 day JR Pass pay off, but you'd get greater savings if you do all the long distance travel within 7 days. The pass is only partially useful to go to Hakone - you could take the bullet train to Odawara, and then get a Hakone Free Pass.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html
The Loop Course is a common way to see the sights and takes a full day.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5210.html

Trying to do Hiroshima from Kyoto means a lot of train travel. The way back could be done after sundown, but it's still using a lot of morning time on the trains. You might consider instead going to Himeji, with Japan's grandest castle. Taking a half day to see Nara is also very worthwhile.
https://goo.gl/vuY9rd

Or if you're content with just going Tokyo-Kyoto round trip, then look at using the japanican ticket instead of the 7 day
JR Pass.
http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/VJOPENTK1/
If you do this, you can get the Hakone Free Pass ticket that's valid from Shinjuku Tokyo instead of Odawara. This only works going to Hakone as a day trip, not going en route to Kyoto.

While in Kyoto, when most of the places close down around 5 PM, you could also go over and see the sights of Osaka or Kobe in the evening.
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Old Nov 24th, 2017, 04:50 PM
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I will look at Kyoto hotels now. Does anyone have recommendations on where to stay in Kyoto or Tokyo? Or what area is good to stay in when in Kyoto and Tokyo? Thanks!
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Old Nov 24th, 2017, 04:54 PM
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For Kyoto, I was glad to stay in the Kawaramachi district.

In Tokyo, I think it depends on what you most want to see and experience.
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Old Nov 25th, 2017, 03:28 AM
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Ditto Kja, I always like to stay in Kawaramachi in Kyoto too, but the hotel I usually pick is closing in January. Lots near it though.
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Old Nov 26th, 2017, 09:40 AM
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What are your travel dates to/from Japan?
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Old Nov 26th, 2017, 12:18 PM
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"michelle_dorland on Nov 24, 17 at 5:50pm
Thanks everyone for your suggestions. I will look at Kyoto hotels now. Does anyone have recommendations on where to stay in Kyoto or Tokyo? Or what area is good to stay in when in Kyoto and Tokyo? Thanks!"

You need to list your personal hotel price range.

I was just in both Kyoto and Tokyo in August 2017. I was in Kyoto for 9 nights and stayed at 4 different hotels as I like to hotel hop in new places. Now, I know which one(s) I like the best and have booked two, out of the four, for this coming summer and again for 9 nights in Kyoto, but have upped it to 10 nights in Tokyo since Tokyo is so massive in size. I'll do 5 nights in Tokyo and then 9 nights in Kyoto and then 5 nights in Tokyo before flying home. I'll be back in Marunouchi for both stays.

While in Kyoto, I stayed both in the Hiyashiyama and Kawaramachi areas. I just had to look up what hotels are in the Kawaramachi area and noticed that at least one of my hotels was listed in that area.

I stayed 2 nights at the Hyatt Regency ( Hiyashiyama), 2 nights at the Ritz Carlton ( listed as Central Tokyo-maybe Kawaramachi), 3 nights at the Four Seasons (Hiyashiyama), and then 2 nights at the Royal Park (Kawaramachi).

The Royal Park Hotel was in the heart of downtown if that's the experience that you want. The Ritz Carlton was near downtown, but in a quiet area. It only took me about 10 minutes, in a taxi, to get to Daimaru department store on the main street in downtown Kyoto.

Although while staying in Hiyashiyama, I taxied into downtown Kyoto and other areas which was fine and not that expensive. But, it was really nice to go back to quiet and peaceful Hiyashiyama area at the end of the day.

As for the Royal Park, it worked out fine, except for the too firm mattress that threw my back out. I'm glad that I saved it for the last 2 nights before heading to Tokyo for 5 nights and before flying home. But, when I arrived into the area of the Royal Park, it was a shock to the system as I had been in quiet areas up to then.

As for Tokyo, I stayed in Marunouchi area at the Four Seasons. I liked that area as it was peaceful and full of varied food choices and was an easy walk to Ginza which I walked to and then taxied back to my hotel in a very short period of time. Plus, Marunouchi is where the trains begin and end and it was only about a 5-minute walk to my hotel as it was on the same street as one of the exits of Tokyo Station (train station). It made it really convenient and easy for getting back to Narita for my flight home. There are also hotels inside of Tokyo Station.

Happy Travels!
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Old Nov 28th, 2017, 03:20 AM
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Mrwundrfl, we plan to be in Japan Mar 29-Apr 8, which I just learned is a popular time to visit.
Guenmai, thanks so much for input on hotel locations and where you stayed. I'll look at hotels in those areas. Unfortunately, the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons are out of our hotel budget on this trip. We would like to spend $200-$300/night on a place to stay.
Also, anyone visited Hakone? Where's a good area to stay there.
We are so excited to experience Japan!
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Old Nov 28th, 2017, 07:13 AM
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We ha a lovely stay in Hakone at the Hyatt - perhaps the most beautiful Hyatt I've stayed at. We had a wonderful suite with big, curved windows in the living room with a great view of Mt. Fuji.
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Old Nov 28th, 2017, 07:48 AM
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Popular time to visit is an understatement - it is prime time for cherry blossoms....so imo you should pick a Kyoto hotel right away and probably during the week is better than the weekend. I was looking at booking.com and many are sold out already....
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Old Nov 28th, 2017, 11:53 AM
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If you are going to Disney for one day, I advise you to keep that for your last day, Saturday the 7th, as that is the only day it will not be super-crowded while you are there. And I recommend you do Disney Sea that one day, as it is unique and probably the world's best theme park. You will need to be at rope drop at least one hour before park opening.

Reserve all hotels now, as long you can cancel.
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Old Nov 28th, 2017, 12:24 PM
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First, I wouldn't hotel hop - that's a single person or couple's trick. You can't do that with a hobbit - they like stability and some downtime.

Second, you cannot overstate the size of Tokyo - physically it is large, and it has more people than New York in about 80% of the space (Tokyo's population is about 9.2M, it's metro area is about 36M, which is just short of California). So asking for the "best area" is difficult.

You may consider Ueno and Shinjuku. They're on opposite sides of Tokyo. Shinjuku has a ton of sites in the area, including the Meiji Shrine nearby. Ueno has a good zoo, is near Akihabara and Asakusa, and is close to some museums that may interest the boy. Neither is close to Odaiba, which your halfling would probably like (ours did), especially the Miraikan (which I promote enough here that I should get some recompense, but I don't).

I don't think your itinerary will make a 14-day JR pass work, but it will make a 7-day pass work and you can activate on whatever day you like (not just the day you get the pass) so that you can cover trains to Hakone, Kyoto and Hiroshima. To calculate the rates a la carte, go to hyperdia.com. You don't need the green car JR pass, the regular trains are already more comfortable than the plane.
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Old Nov 28th, 2017, 01:03 PM
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I wasn't suggesting that the OP hotel hop. I only mentioned it to explain why I ended up in 4 hotels in 9 nights. I do it in order to figure out where I like staying the most in order to plan the next trip. I realize that the OP has an 8-year-old. I have an 8-year-old niece and her siblings who travels a lot with my sibling and her spouse. Plus, how would the OP hotel hop in the small amount of time that they have?

Personally, I wouldn't start in Tokyo and settle down and then on to Kyoto and settle down and then back to Tokyo and settle down again and then home in the short period of time that the OP has. For me that would be more exhausting than hotel hopping. But, to each his own.

I'd fly into Tokyo, and then transfer planes and fly on to Osaka Itami Airport ( 1 hour and 20 minutes) and then take the MK Shuttle, 10-seater bus service ( 1 hour and about 20-25 minutes) on to Kyoto as I did on this past trip and was dropped off at my Kyoto hotel's front door. I arrived at night and then was ready to eat, rest, sleep, and wake up fresh the next morning and in Kyoto.

http://www.mk-group.co.jp/en/osaka/

I'd then stay in Kyoto for 5 nights as there's plenty to do in and around Kyoto and then take the Shinkansen bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo Station and stay at one of the hotels in or at Tokyo Station since the train will end there. I'd stay in Tokyo for 5 nights since the OP has 10 nights total.

I didn't take the Shinkansen train from Kyoto to Tokyo as I flew from Osaka-Itami to Tokyo (Haneda Airport) and then took both the monorail and train into Tokyo Station. But, on the upcoming trip since I'll do 5 nights in Tokyo before going on to Kyoto, then I'll probably take the Shinkansen into Kyoto, but I don't know if I'll take the train back to Tokyo or if I'll fly into Tokyo (Haneda Airport) from Osaka Itami.

Happy Travels!
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Old Nov 29th, 2017, 07:43 AM
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>

There's no need to bookend the trip in Tokyo, as the OP may be thinking. They can immediately continue on to Kyoto and then come back to Tokyo for 4 nights before the flight home. They can also stay in Tokyo, go to Kyoto and Hiroshima, and then go to whatever Tokyo-area airport they're returning from the day of the flight.

Most flights from Tokyo to the US leave in the evening because the flight across the International Date Line means you actually land in the US at a time EARLIER than you leave Tokyo (this means a morning flight from Tokyo would land within the no-landing times in US airports). Getting from Kyoto to Tokyo - either Narita or Haneda - is simple because the train schedule is about as accurate as the atomic clock (shinkansens on the Tokyo-Osaka line average deviation from their schedule is less than one minute per YEAR).
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Old Nov 29th, 2017, 03:53 PM
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Thanks everyone for your input! I really appreciate it. We are thinking of starting our trip in Tokyo for 4 nights, then head to Kyoto during the week for 4 days (we are thinking of taking a day trip to Hiroshima-know that this will be a lot of travel in 1 day, but don't want to keep switching hotels too much) and then finish our trip in Hakone for 2 nights before taking the train back to Narita Airport.
In Tokyo, I was able to get a great rate and can have access to their Executive Lounge since I'm a gold member. This hotel is near Shingawa station which I know will be convenient when arriving from Narita and leaving for Kyoto, but isn't near much else. If we aren't going to go back and forth to the hotel during the day,I'm wondering if the location won't matter as much? I'm also looking at the Citadines Shinjuku because a friend recommended the Shinjuku area. Thoughts??
I tentatively booked an apartment type guesthouse in Kyoto in Shimogyo area. There are no reviews which makes me leary, but the pictures look good.
In Hakone, any suggestions on area to look at staying? I'd love to stay at a ryokan and am willing to splurge a little, but don't want to break the bank.
Thanks everyone !!
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Old Nov 29th, 2017, 04:46 PM
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I'm not sure a day trip to Hiroshima would make sense with so little time in Kyoto. You can always decide once there.
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