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Family of 5 - Trip to Japan: Need help getting organized

Family of 5 - Trip to Japan: Need help getting organized

Jan 26th, 2010, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,521
Depending on the time of your arrival at NRT you may be able to skip the first night in Tokyo and just make it all the way to Kyoto the day of your arrival. This might seem like a lot of travel in a single day, but you'd skip the hassle of transferring hotels and the trains are very comfortable.

Do you know yet when your flight gets into NRT?
Therese is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 02:53 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 88
Our flight gets in a 4 or 5 pm. I thought about that, but we would have to take the train into Tokyo and change at Tokyo or Shinagawa station for the 2 hour ride Kyoto with our bags, right?

Although we're just flying from LAX, I think we'll be pretty tired.
sdfamily is offline  
Jan 26th, 2010, 04:11 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
With five people and all those bags(how many) you should seriously consider using the takuhaibin service explained in better detail than I could here:


You don't need to send all your bags, just the ones you aren't utilizing. Traveling lightly on the trains is the way to go.

Some other family options for Tokyo and Kyoto lodgings if you haven't already seen:






The Shinagawa area would be nice for your first night in Tokyo.

How are you getting from Narita to Tokyo the first night? Do you know about the limosine bus service? If you stay in the right hotel the service is virtually door to door and they handle your bags for you and you can get a free Tokyo metro day pass in the deal.


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 27th, 2010, 08:35 AM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 3,614
Are you going to have JR passes? If so, you can activate your JR pass at NArita Airport when you get in (JR office there open til 7pm in Termnial 1, 8 pm in terminal 2: http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en009.html. Then jump on the NEX train (NArita Express)at Narita, and get off of it at Shinagawa. You do not have to switch at Tokyo Station to do that. Then, next morning, get the shinkansen from Shinagawa to Kyoto.

I have used the NEX from Shinagawa to NArita twice, piece of cake, MUCH easier than Tokyo Station- very small station.
emd3 is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 02:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,204
You could take a bus from Narita Airport to a Shinagawa hotel and then get your JR Pass the next day at Shinagawa station.

But it would be more economical to get your JR Pass at the airport. Either way, a 7-day pass is going to expire by the time you get to Matsumoto. The fare from Matsumoto to Tokyo is about 6700 JPY. So the adult cost for your JR travel would be 28,300 plus 6700 = 35,000. That is 10,000 less than a 14-day pass (for an adult).

How are you going to spend day/nights 6-8? Train to Takayama on day 6, and then what? Will you be going to Kamikochi? There are a few places to stay there.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 29th, 2010, 02:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,204
I think you could take a day from Tokyo and add to your days in the mountains.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2010, 10:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 5
I did this same thing 2 years ago with my 3 teenage boys, and they loved the trip to Japan. I took my brother and wife too, and they also had a great time. Here is what we did; spent one week in Kyoto and five days outside Hiroshima as our two home-bases. We rented a couple of nice apartments in Kyoto and did the following. A couple days visiting temples and shrines in Kyoto: Kiyomizu, Sanjusan Gento, Fushimi Inari, Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, etc. etc. (We especially liked the first 3 in the list). Went to Mt Hiei one day, went down to Nara one day, went the Arashiyama Monkey park one day (along with some temple visits), went to down to Koyasan one day. You don't need a train pass for these places they are close to Kyoto and the trip to Koyasan is mostly on non-JR trains anyway. Split the time up, so you spend a day Temple hopping in Kyoto, then a day on a short trip to one of those other places I mentioned. Then another day in Kyoto at temples. That prevents some of the burn out that kids can have if they see too many similar sights several days in a row. Kind of like going to art musuems in Europe day after day in a row. Then we used our 7-day Japan Rail Pass and went to Himeji one day. We then transferred to the Hiroshima area, and stayed at the Sleep Inn right next the Higashi-Hiroshima shinkansen station. That was our home base for the rest of the trip and it worked out perfectly. Went to Hiroshima one day, went to Miajima one day, rented bikes and spent a day on the Kibi Plain bike route (probably the funnest day of the trip for the kids). Went to Okayama castle one day and also rode the train over the Shikoku to visit a city I had been before there. The Sleep Inn at Higashi Hiroshima is great; brand new, inexpensive, free breakfast, very nice rooms, excellent service, the nicest non-major hotel chain rooms I have ever stayed in. We used our JR Rail Passes for these last 7 days and also to get back to the Kansai airport on our last day. Since Shinkansen rides are about $50 or more each way, the $300 7-day ticket was a great deal. I lived in Japan for 2 years and wanted my family to see this part of Japan, with Temples, Castles, Countryside, rather than Tokyo and other metropolitan areas of Japan. Everyone has their preferences, but I had little intrest in spending the time and money it would consume to see Tokyo sights, to me it would be little different than spending time in New York City - lots of tall buildings, neon, crowds - Not the Japan I know and wanted to experience.
gregg001 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 08:10 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 88
Thanks everyone for the great advice!

gregg001 - Your trip sounds great and very similar to how we usually travel. I could easily be talked into eliminating Tokyo if we hit the Pokemon store in Osaka.;=)

We'd like to do the bike thing also, but I'm wondering about a kids seat/bike for my 4YO????

I'm torn between the areas around Hiroshima (like Miyajima) that you visited and the Alps. I don't think we could fit in both without too much moving around.
sdfamily is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2010, 10:00 AM
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 5
Sdfamily, I'm not sure about the 4YO kid and the bikes either. Bike rentals are pretty big in Japan these days, and you'd think they would have ones with a kid seat of some kind. You'd have to do some research on that. The bikes we rented were a little older than I had anticipated, but we only paid $10 for the day, and we rented them from some little mom and pop place. I think your kids would definately enjoy the Monkey park. Its right there in Kyoto, a short hike up one of hills and only takes a few hours total, depending on how long you want to spend hanging out and feeding the Monkeys. Miyajima is not very big, and doesn't take long to see, but if you like mountains I think there are hiking options on that island too. We didn't do that, but you could research that. Koyasan is up in the mountains, you have to take a cable car up a steep mountain for the last part of the trip to get there. Check it out on Google Earth. And Mt Hiei right outside of Kyoto is up in the Mountains also. You take a cable car and then a ropeway car to get there. We had a great time at both of those locations too. You'll have a fun time in Japan. My wife thought we were just going there to humor me, and she said it was the best vacation we have ever had.
gregg001 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2010, 10:19 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 555
We enjoyed the little Shitamachi Museum at the south end of Ueno Park's Shinobazu Pond--not far from the Keisei-Ueno station. We had a couple of hours to burn before heading to the airport on our last day, and the musuem was just perfect--very helpful staff; we had a private tour with an English-speaking guide.
Paul1950 is offline  

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