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edr23 Apr 1st, 2012 06:49 PM

Draft Japan Itinerary - Suggestions?
Will be there for 2 weeks, May 14-27. Traveling with my parents in their late 50s/early 60s and my wife (we are in our late 20s). My mom is pretty picky about hotels, she wants large rooms, high end stuff. We do want to avoid getting over-templed, my wife and I were in Thailand and Cambodia in August and I think we saw too many, they all started to run together. Appreciate any hotels or itinerary suggestions - no tight budget (except to maybe exclude the top tier $600/night places in Tokyo). Also looking for good guide suggestions. Here's what I have so far.:
Mon-arrive, check in Hotel Century Southern
Tue-Tokyo (Fish Market, major sights)
Wed-more Tokyo (Sony?)
Thurs- day trip to Hakone
Fri-day trip to Nikko (Samurai anniversary Parade, temples, waterfall)
Sat-travel to Takayama - check in at Associa Takayama Resort
Sun - Takayama (heard that there is a good morning market to go to on weekends), artist stuff
Mon - travel to Hiroshima by way of Nagoya, taking in Toyota Factory tour, stay at Crowne Plaza (Sheraton by train station sounds better because its newer, but seems far from attractions)
Tues-Hiroshima and Miyajima, leave for Kyoto, stay at Hotel Granvia Kyoto
Sun-depart out of Osaka airport in afternoon

My main question is whether I have too many days in Kyoto+Nara for my temple-weary crowd, and if I should add another day in Takayama area for some day hikes at Japan Alps National Park and Shirakawa-Go. Thanks!

kja Apr 1st, 2012 07:35 PM

> Fri-day trip to Nikko (Samurai anniversary Parade, temples, waterfall)

I spent an overnight in Nikko, and had barely enough time for a trip to Kegon no taki and the main temples before a late return to Tokyo. I think trying to see that, along with the parade, on a day trip from Tokyo would be challenging.

> Mon - travel to Hiroshima by way of Nagoya, taking in Toyota Factory tour, stay at Crowne Plaza (Sheraton by train station sounds better because its newer, but seems far from attractions)
Tues-Hiroshima and Miyajima, leave for Kyoto, stay at Hotel Granvia Kyoto

I haven't checked, but it sounds like a LOT of travel time for very little time in Hiroshima or Miyajima. I think you will find the Peace Park and Museum very different than other things you will see (not to mention very special), and it is well worth planning on giving them at least 1/2 day. And while in Miyajima, you might want to consider leaving time to go to the top of Mt. Misen.

> My main question is whether I have too many days in Kyoto+Nara for my temple-weary crowd

That's very hard to say and really depends on what else you choose to include in your journey. For example, in addition to temples, Nara has an small preserved merchant district, a large park, and an excellent museum. Not to mention that it has both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines (which are different beasts), and some of them have outstanding museum-quality collections of artwork. Similarly, Kyoto has temples (of varying types) and shrines and lovely walks and imperial palaces and markets and traditional districts and museums and bamboo forests and ... Well, I think you get the idea.

Hope that helps!

lcuy Apr 2nd, 2012 01:12 AM

I would do either Hakone or Takayama, but not both, especially if you are going to Hiroshima. If you drop one, you could do two days at the other and add a night to one of your other cities, perhaps Nikko. You'll be hard pressed to see the temples and the waterfalls even without trying to fit in a parade.

A day trip to Hakone is just too rushed, You can do the circuit in just one day, but then you have to travel back to Tokyo that evening and get up early to do the similar trip to Nikko the very next morning. at least spend the night around Hakone, then go to Nikko from there and spend a night in Nikko. Or Skip Hakone entirely, do an overnight in Nikko and do your nature walks in Takayama.

Going to Hakone doesn't mean you'll see Fujisan, and May might be rainy anyway.

As Kja said, there is a lot more to Japan than temples. Gardens, shopping for Japanese crafts, museums of many types, eating, wandering old neighborhoods, boat rides, hiking, festivals... I'd rather have time to do some spontaneous adventures than be rushing from town to town.

hawaiiantraveler Apr 2nd, 2012 08:04 AM

Great advice given to you above. Your trip will go much smoother by heeding their advice. The Toyota factory tour will take you at least a half a day. The train ride from Takayama to Hiroshima alone would take a minimum of 5 3/4 hours by train. I would nix that plan and concentrate more on Hiroshima and Miyajima if it were me. Unless you are in the car industry Hiroshima and Miyajima are much more interesting. Take a look at this site for things to do in the cities of Japan.

You can leave for KIX from either Kyoto or Nara so no need to spend a night in Osaka unless you really want to. Osaka is just a short train ride from Kyoto(20 to 40 minutes) depending on what train you take.


mrwunrfl Apr 2nd, 2012 10:56 PM

I once traveled from Miyajima to Takayama. It was over 6 hours. Walk, ferry, walk, JR local, two shinkansens, JR limited express. After that trip, I made a rule to keep trips to 4 hours, 5 hours max.

As ht pointed out, Takayama-> Hiroshima is over 5 hours. I read that it was something like 90 minutes to get from Nagoya to the Toyota factory town. If what I read was correct then you have 8 hours travel time for that day. Plus the tour.

For that day, if you keep it as you planned, the Sheraton would be a good choice as it is a very short walk from the shinkansen side of Hiroshima station.

The location of the Sheraton is a good one for the next day that you have planned. You would be able to leave your bags at a locker near the shinkansen for your trip later that day to Kyoto.

Then you could just go to the other side of the station and take the local train to Miyajimaguchi and walk the couple of blocks to the Miyajima ferry.

Your other option for that day would be to taxi to the Genbaku Dome and Peace Park - or take a street car from in front of the station (the Sheraton is on the back side). After going past the Dome, the park, and through the museum you could then take a streetcar back to Hiroshima to take that JR local to Miyajimaguchi. Thre is another way, a streetcar I think, to get from the Peace Park to Miyajimaguchi or nearby.

You got a few ideas for options to those days in other posts.

I have two suggestions:

1) Go straight through Takayama-> Hiroshima. Stay at the Sheraton. Go into the city that night. Unfortunately, the Carp will be out of town, so no baseball. Next day go to Miyajima and spend as much time as you like. Or spend some time there and visit the Dome, Peace Park, and museum. After a second night at the Sheraton, go into Hiroshima and see what you missed the first day or just get on the train to Kyoto.

2) Second option is like the first, but stay at the Rihga Royal. It is a much better location for seeing the Hiroshima sights.

I had corner rooms with nice views at both the Sheraton and Rihga Royal. Those would fit your requirements. There is a Granvia at Hiroshima station that is even more convenient to the shinkansen tracks. I stayed there once with the JR Pass discount. It was more like a nice business hotel, in my experience, but there may have been nicer rooms (Japanese hotels often list the size of the room and size of the beds, so you could look for that info). The Sheraton is what you expect of a Sheraton. The Rihga Royal has some negative reviews, but it still is one of the best hotels in Hiroshima, AFAIK.

3) Go from Takayama to Kyoto, maybe even fitting in the Toyota tour enroute. Spend your time in Kyoto and Nara and then go to Hiroshima. Maybe you'll catch a ballgame then. Then go from Hiroshima to Osaka for the night before your flight. Stay at the Osaka Hilton and take the limo bus to the airport.

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