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Draft itinerary(Tokyo and Kyoto); how to fill these gaps?

Draft itinerary(Tokyo and Kyoto); how to fill these gaps?

Nov 18th, 2013, 12:06 PM
  #1  
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Draft itinerary(Tokyo and Kyoto); how to fill these gaps?

Hello, everyone--thanks for reading. We are a family of four (with a 7yr old and an 8 yr old) and we've loosely sketched out our itinerary, but we could use some help filling in a few gaps. There's so much we'd like to see, but I have a hard time keeping straight where the various neighborhoods are in relation to each other, and my pre-trip work madness hasn't given me enough time to really study it all as I wish I could have!

So any suggestions or tips would be very welcome--I know there are so many of you on here familiar with these cities that I hope you'll be able to share the benefit of your wisdom!!
________________

Nov 21st--arrive late afternoon, get settled at our VRBO apartment in Nishi-Okigubo (planning to take SUICA + N'Ex deal, though I'm curious about whether limo bus might not be affordable since there are four of us!).
22-Heart of Tokyo tour by Travelience: this tour seemed fairly well reviewed as a "highlights" tour, we expect we may want to see some of these spots in more detail so we'll plan to return on another day if we need to.
23--watching an FC Tokyo game at the stadium (so excited) and then _________? Would love to find out if there's a good spot (an observatory, a hotel?) from which to see Mount Fuji if we have good weather. I don't think we'll be going all the way out to Fuji but if it seems that's the best way to see it, then maybe we'll try to do that this afternoon.
24--in the morning_________? in the afternoon, we'll go to the Harajuku district to see the kids all dressed up. Am investigating whether there are nice shrines or temples I can catch in this area after we people-watch for a while.

25--plan to travel early morning to Kyoto, take bags to hotel (Hyatt). Weather might be a bit rainy, so I'm looking for indoor activities for this day and the 26th. Manga Museum?
26--Still working out what to do on this day--was hoping to take a local tour as we got our bearings but the weather will still be a bit dodgy.
27--considering a day trip to Iga to see the Castle and the Iga-ryu Ninja Museum; only problem is that we aren't planning to do the JR pass so this may turn out just too expensive. Would love any other suggestions--if we stay in town and we haven't already been able to do Philosophers' Walk and Niji Castle and Fushimi Inari (maybe also Kiyomizu Temple?).
28--will leave for Tokyo late on this day, so will want to stay fairly local to Kyoto. OPen to tips!

29--hoping to enroll in a "Ninja Experience" course for the kids on this day, do a bit of Takashimaya shopping, would love to do some sort of Anime exposure for the girls but I understand the Ghibli is very hard to get tickets for this close to travel.
30--catch what last bits we can and sadly, fly back to California!

I'd really love to see more and go to more remote towns but it's a bit of a balancing act--I don't want to spend the WHOLE time on trains.

I'm very excited for our trip and researching it has been a thrill--can't wait!

Mark and Clara
MandalsoC is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 04:51 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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I'm sure you will have a great trip!

For planning your route, I trust you have seen:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014_when.html
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Nov 18th, 2013, 06:31 PM
  #3  
 
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On the 24th, you can combine Meiji Shrine (must-see in my book) with Harajuku.

I think you would want 7-day JR Passes activated on the 24th and use it for the Narita Express on the 30th (assuming you are flying out of Tokyo Narita Airport.

I will have to take a look at Iga.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 07:37 PM
  #4  
 
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Any N'Ex to Tokyo station and then JR Chuo line to Nishi-Ogikubo then taxi. Or N'Ex or limo bus to Shinjuku and then JR Chuo line and taxi. You might inquire from the VRBO about taxi fare from Shinjuku to the lodging. N'Ex or bus is your choice.

The bus might make it a bit easier, at least leaving the airport, but you would have to get from the bus to the JR line to N-O. From the N'Ex you will already be in the station, so maybe easier to find your next train.
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Nov 18th, 2013, 07:58 PM
  #5  
 
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The 27th in Kyoto could certainly be well-spent by vistining the sites you mentioned and/or others.

The JR Pass, which you really probably ought to get anyway, would make the day trip to Iga Ueno free (otherwise it would be about 2200 JPY per person roundtrip.

For that day trip, the town you would go to is Iga Ueno. About 1 hour 45 minutes and three trains to get there.

The castle is called Iga Castle or Ueno Castle or Iga Ueno Castle. Looks nice.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4352.html
And the museum:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4351.html

That day trip is doable and looks like fun, but you gotta really want it, considering that it is time away from Kyoto where your visit is short.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 08:44 PM
  #6  
 
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I took a look at the tour you are interested in. It visits sites that you can definitely navigate on your own. About 35 minutes from Nishi-O to Asakusa, see the site, easy walk over to the boat, boat to Hama Rikyu, walk over to Tsukiji. There is more on the tour, like a stop by the Imperial Palace (this is probably going to be less than you expect).

Oh, but you have to get to Asakusa to start the tour; Then it sounds like they walk you to Sensoji and explain some things. And you still walk to the river boat, and walk from Hama Rikyu to a restaraunt on the outer area of the market. Then a subway ride. Basically, you are paying to have somebody walk you around and explain some things (that you could read about beforehand).

For your family of four it will cost 15,120 JPY, including the "transportation fees". You can probably do it for closer to 5,210, in other words about 10,000 is the price you pay for the guide to walk you from place to place (at that person's pace) and explain some things.

You could DIY at less cost and then spend the money on dinner at Ninja Akasaka restaurant:
http://www.thatfoodcray.com/2013/03/...ka-restaurant/
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 09:02 PM
  #7  
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Thank you so much for these ideas, Mrwunrful. I am grateful for the help! I will have to reconsider the tour if getting between the sites s straightforward. i hadn't seen the Ninja Akasaka restaurant--I'll bet the kids would enjoy that!

We will be on our way day after tomorrow!
MandalsoC is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 09:10 PM
  #8  
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Thank you, also, to you, Kja. That site has popped up several times as I've searched but I haven't managed to spend any good time on it. I'll work my way through it in the next few days so I can sort some detail for our time in Kyoto. Thank you or your guidance!
MandalsoC is offline  
Nov 18th, 2013, 10:54 PM
  #9  
 
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Part of the joy of visiting Japan is navigating public transport yourself, and it's not particularly difficult either. I'd bet the kids would enjoy it.

You can buy a SUICA card combined with the N'Ex tickets, and that can be used to pay for journeys in both Tokyo's underground and also in Kyoto, if you use that. We found it very useful indeed.

In Kyoto, there's so much to see.

Given the age of your kids, I'd also suggest a trip to Nara, not only are the temples (and temple gates) impressive, it's quite a blast feeding the semi-tame deer (though be careful, they are not really tame tame, just used to people and being fed).

As for the weather, you can either take umbrellas or pop into any convenience store and buy clear plastic ones for a few dollars. I love those. And I love that some places have umbrella wrapping bags just outside the entrance, so you can slide your wet umbrella into these so they don't drip when you go inside! Genius!
Kavey is offline  
Nov 19th, 2013, 06:51 AM
  #10  
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Hello, Kavey--thanks very much. Yes, I think I'm convinced on the SUICA+N'Ex, particularly as we'll need to use the subway in any event and if I understand correctly hte SUICA can be used for bus or train or subway in Tokyo--that makes lots of sense!

I appreciate the recommendation to visit Nara with the little ones. That may be just what we need!

Best,
Clara
MandalsoC is offline  
Nov 19th, 2013, 07:13 AM
  #11  
 
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I don't know about bus in Tokyo, we never took those, but should be easy to check web for validity. Best thing is that you don't need to worry about loading too much money on to them, should that be a concern, because when you leave Japan, you can either take the cards home and use them again next time or return them at the airport JR office and be refunded all money remaining on them... that's what we did.

I can't remember if I mentioned but, depending on what your kids like, there's also the idea of a cookery class in Kyoto. We did one this time (a few weeks ago) with Emi from Uzuki Cooking and loved it. It's held in her kitchen in her traditional Kyoto house and is private for your group. Fabulous and you can chat to her about exactly what to cook if you like. Fantastic value in my opinion!

Oh and there are boat trips along the Hozu river, ending in Arashiyama, if you're going there? There's a monkey park I looked at when we planned our trip last year, though we didn't go in the end...

And was just googling, as you do, and came across this, which may be of interest, again depending on what the kids are in to... http://www.toei-eigamura.com/en/

The Kyoto Handicraft Centre offers craft activities, which could be a good way for them to learn traditional crafts without just traipsing around museums looking at them?

In Tokyo, I never got to Odaiba (ferris wheel, marine park, science museum) though it was on my shortlist. Could be of interest?

If they are foodies, the food markets, both Nishiki in Kyoto and maybe the outer market area of Tsukiji (which has advantage of not needing to wake up at zero o'clock in the morning)!

Clothes shopping for funky kids fashion accessories in Harakuku, Tokyo?

Apparently there's a toy museum focusing on wooden toys, where you can play with them hands on... in Tokyo somewhere.
Kavey is offline  
Nov 19th, 2013, 07:40 AM
  #12  
 
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You can pretty much discard the idea that you will return to the tour sites.

There are volunteer guides in Japan known as Goodwill Guides, officially known now as Systematized Goodwill Guides (SGG). I have not used SGG yet.

Here is a page on the Tokyo SGG site that has info about an Asakusa Area Tour on Sat & Sun:
http://www2.ocn.ne.jp/~sgg/guide.html

Looks like their center, where you meet the tour, also has info and maps. If you go there on Friday you likely can get what you need to DIY in Asakusa and find your way to the Sumida River boat.

Looks like there is a TIC in Asakusa:
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/s...a_culture.html
That page doesn't have much info about the center but you should be able to find more/better elsewhere. For all I know, the SSG club center and TIC may be in the same place.
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Nov 19th, 2013, 07:44 AM
  #13  
 
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A good way to "fill in the gaps", if you still need to do so, is to look at tours that are offered, where they go and in what order, and then figure out how to do it on your own. Tokyo is too vast for a city overview tour that would be meaningful for use in planning where to go on your own.
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Nov 20th, 2013, 01:29 AM
  #14  
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Wow--thanks so much MORE to both of you. YOu've pointed me to some marvelous locations and ideas (we are really hoping to do the cooking class, Kavey!) and are confident that we'll squeeze in so much more than we knew about just two days ago. The last few hours have been a whirlwind of packing and prepping the little ones for the trip, we leave late tomorrow morning--but I wanted to thank you both very very much for your kindness. I promise to report back on how we filled our gaps =)

All the best,
Clara
MandalsoC is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 04:31 AM
  #15  
 
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Clara, have a wonderful trip. Look forward to hearing back!
Kavey is offline  
Nov 20th, 2013, 06:30 AM
  #16  
 
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You'll want to visit the TIC in Kyoto station too. Have a great trip.
mrwunrfl is offline  
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