Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

First stab at Japan Itinerary - thoughts?

First stab at Japan Itinerary - thoughts?

Apr 18th, 2019, 05:55 PM
  #21  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 65
kja Shojoshin-in is apparently available when wed like to go - is booking through Japanese Guesthouses the only/cheapest option?
mymatemarmite is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 06:00 PM
  #22  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,365
Originally Posted by mymatemarmite View Post
kja Shojoshin-in is apparently available when wed like to go - is booking through Japanese Guesthouses the only/cheapest option?
Sorry, I have no idea!
Hope it works out
kja is offline  
Apr 21st, 2019, 05:43 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 301
I think one overnight in Koyasan is enough. I presume you'll be staying at one of the temples. One night is certainly doable, but two is twice the expense with little more for the experience. The crown jewel by far is seeing the Okunoin Cemetery. It is simply mind blowing with over 200,000 graves there going back up to 1200 years or so. Not sure if you're kids are up to it, only you really know, but some love to go there at night as well. If you opt for that, be sure to pick a place to stay with no 9 PM curfew. There are paid night tours there but you can just go by yourselves. Be ready for some significantly colder temperatures there, and you might bring some snacks with you in case you get hungry after dinner (some people don't find the Buddhist vegetarian food filling enough, and kids might be finicky). There is one convenience store there but it may be quite a walk to get to. You should also have enough yen in cash with you. Worst case, there is one post office with an ATM machine you can use - but not open 24/7.

If you are putting in 2 days for Hiroshima and Miyajima, you have a good chance to see the whole range of sights. You can also see the Itsukushima shrine both at high and low tide. At low tide you can walk out on the beach to the giant torii. Unfortunately, your timing is not good here - from June it will be covered up for renovations. You may be able also to go see Iwakuni, farther south, with the country's most charming old bridge. But by all means really see Hiroshima City - don't cheat yourself by just rushing over to the Peace Park and then leaving the city. There is so much more to see, like the Shukkeien Garden and Mitakidera Temple. Try some of the okonomiyaki there too at Okonomi-mura. For Miyajima, again, many who don't know the place just see the shrine and then leave. The Daishoin Temple is just as nice if not more so, and you can also climb up Mt Misen for one of Japan's most beautiful traditional Top 3 views.

If you are going to see Kamakura, you might as well throw in Enoshima as well for a well rounded day. You can use the Enoshima-Kamakura Freepass to save some money. Enoshima is also one of the famous cat islands of Japan (and easiest of them to get to), so if you like, buy some cat treats to take with you. The highlight there is unquestionably the Kotokuin Great Buddha - but you should be able to see some other gems there as well, like the Hasedera Temple, Tsurugaoka Shrine, and the Hokokuji Temple (famous for its bamboo grove). If you were going in June, you could see an explosion of hydrangea all over the city, but perhaps that will be in some future trip.

One thing I didn't see much of is anything with the kids in mind. If they have a ton of pent up energy, there are many traditional gardens you can visit where they can run and explore, as well as burn off some excess energy. If you are going to Nikko, there is Edo Wonderland. Last year I managed to make it over to the Machida Squirrel Park, and it was quite an experience instantly having 200 friends climbing up me for some sunflower seeds (better not wear a skirt). It's in a Tokyo suburb. There are some more ideas you can browse here, and here, and here.
You can see most of the best of Nara in Nara Park in half a day or so. You can add more places if you want to make it a full day. I suggest you consider see Himeji as well for half a day - you could do it on the way to HIroshima & Miyajima. It has the country's finest surviving old castle, and the Kokoen Garden nearby is excellent. The combo ticket for both can save a little money as well.
Adastra2200 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 06:38 AM
  #24  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 65
Adastra all those specifics are incredibly useful, thankyou! And yes options for burning off energy are always very welcome! Our kids are pretty good travellers but we also know that if we offset stuff theyll like with stuff well like everyone will be happy - at the moment a lot of our Tokyo planning is with them in mind. And we ALWAYS have tons of snacks for the fussy younger one!

what is a cat island?! Sounds like something right up their street
mymatemarmite is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2019, 09:47 AM
  #25  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 301
There are about a dozen cat islands in Japan - they are mostly small and remote islands where the number of cats is much more than the people there. The most famous are Tashirojima in Miyagi and Aoshima in Ehime. But there are often only a couple of ferries a day to most of the islands, and to see anything efficiently, you need to stay overnight nearby the ferry port the night before, to catch the morning ferry. Enoshima is different though, and is the easiest to get to - no ferry is needed.

I didn't mention it earlier, but your timing is very good for seeing the autumn leaves. You can see a list of some famous places here. Be aware though that for the popular places in Kyoto, they can be jammed with people.
Adastra2200 is offline  
May 1st, 2019, 11:06 PM
  #26  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 154
Following...
jlee is offline  
Aug 11th, 2019, 01:16 PM
  #27  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 65
popping on again because you've all been unbelievably helpful so far. I'm trying to work out if it's worth doing Hakone between Kyoto and Narita, as far as I can see it's a good 3-4hour journey, so is that too much for one night? Would others recommend 2? I think we'd forward our luggage from Kyoto to Narita in either case. this is what our trip would look like with either option:

Tokyo - 6nights
Miyajima - 2 nights
Kyoto - 3 nights
Koyasan - 1 night
Then either Kyoto 1 night, Hakone 2 nights, or the other way around (Kyoto 2 further nights and 1 night in Hakone).

I really like the idea of a night in Hakone in an onsen in the mountains before getting on the plan (our flight is roughly 5pm in the evening from Narita) but a little concerned about 2 back to back rushed days of travel, at the same time we'd really like to visit Nara while in Kyoto and if we do 2 nights after Koya-san we can def fit that in, would love anyone's opinion
mymatemarmite is offline  
Aug 11th, 2019, 02:22 PM
  #28  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,838
We finished our trip in Kyoto and took a train to Tokyo Shinagawa, then transferred to the Narita Express for our late afternoon flight home to the US from NRT. It was easy, no stress at all. We changed trains at Shinagawa as it was an easier, smaller station to deal with rather than at Tokyo Station.. Worked very well.
No need to spend last night in Tokyo.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Aug 11th, 2019, 06:17 PM
  #29  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,365
It really depends on what you want to see and experience, but FWIW:
  • 3 nights strikes me as very, very little for a first visit to Kyoto, particularly if you want to visit Nara (which I loved!). I tend to think a stay of 6 nights for Kyoto and Nara (combined) more reasonable for a first trip. For comparison, I spent 2 full days just in Nara!
  • No need to spend 2 nights in Koya-san unless you want to, and of course, there are many reasons that you might. But I'm not sure I understand your reference to the timing implications of adding a night there.
kja is offline  
Aug 12th, 2019, 06:30 AM
  #30  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 65
Thanks - I think well stick to our plan of Kyoto for 3 nights, Koya-San for one, back to Kyoto for 2 and then going to Hakone for one night on the way back to Narita
mymatemarmite is offline  
Aug 12th, 2019, 06:48 AM
  #31  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 9,536
BTW looking at your user id may I ask do you really like marmite? Thats like vegemite I think.
jacketwatch is offline  
Aug 12th, 2019, 06:49 PM
  #32  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,365
Originally Posted by mymatemarmite View Post
Thanks - I think well stick to our plan of Kyoto for 3 nights, Koya-San for one, back to Kyoto for 2 and then going to Hakone for one night on the way back to Narita
Oops: I missed that "back to Kyoto" part -- sorry!
kja is offline  
Aug 16th, 2019, 02:40 PM
  #33  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 301
One night in Koyasan is enough - there is little you will get staying a 2nd night that you wouldn't get the first (and the places aren't exactly cheap). No matter what though, don't miss the Okunoin Cemetery, and go back to it at night too if you want a real surreal experience (if you do this, be sure to pick a temple with no curfew). Look into getting the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket - you can't get to Koyasan on a JR train.
Two nights at Miyajima is also the same story. Hopefully you can see Hiroshima City as well (not just the Peace Park - the Shukkeien Garden and Mitakidera Temple are wonderful) and if you have the time, Iwakuni a bit past Miyajima is very nice as well.

If you are going to put in 3 nights for Kyoto, you could allocate half a day and see Nara Park. Most of the best is there (don't miss the beautiful gardens) and your kids will love feeding the deer (be aware though that once you have food a few of the bigger ones can get very pushy). As for Kyoto, you will never see it all in one visit anyway, and after seeing temples and shrines, and temples and shrines, and then more temples and shrines, your kids are likely going to be getting very glassy-eyed. There are some other things you can throw in, like the Saga Scenic Railway + Hozugawa River Cruise, or Iwatayama Monkey Park, or Railway Museum for variety. If you have some energy at sundown, you don't have to skip Osaka at all. In fact, that is when the city is at its very best, and your kids will love seeing the lights and decorations at places like Dotonbori and Shinsekai. There are some great places for city views as well if the weather is good, such as the Umeda Sky Bldg, Abeno Harukas Bldg and Cosmo Tower.

For your last day in Japan, there is no need to stay in Tokyo the night before, as said, but you will need to leave in the morning - there is a 10:59 AM bullet train from Kyoto that with the N'Ex would get you to Narita at about 3 PM (assuming you are using a JR Rail Pass). Beyond that there is an 11:27 AM train leaving which gets to NRT at 3:27 PM. Anything later than that is pushing your luck.

If you want to tour the Hakone sights, look into getting a Hakone Free Pass at Odawara Stn.

By the way, if you want a really nice birthday gift for your 7 year old, get tickets online for the TeamLab Borderless Museum or TeamLab Planets (the first is better, costs 500 more and you can spend hours there, the 2nd is less crowded, involves walking through water, takes an hour or so and is a temp exhibit only going to autumn 2020). Pick a less busy time like a weekday and when they first open. Other times can get wildly crowded. Especially for TeamLab Borderless, better not to wear a skirt.



TeamLab Borderless



TeamLab Planets
Adastra2200 is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
RosBlack
Asia
35
Dec 20th, 2018 06:22 AM
ceekay126
Asia
11
Aug 19th, 2018 05:42 PM
inor
Asia
6
May 28th, 2010 08:06 PM
cmstraf
Asia
10
Nov 26th, 2007 05:01 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:36 PM.