First time in Japan (13 days)

Old Feb 12th, 2017, 05:02 AM
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First time in Japan (13 days)

Hello my fellow travelers,
I'm looking for some help with my planning on our first time Japan trip:
Day 1. Leave USA
Day 2. Arriving to Tokyo @8:30 PM local time to HND - Haneda
Day 3-5 Tokyo, incl. day trip to Nikko
Day 6: Leave Tokyo morning, spend day in Hakone, overnight there
*"activate" JR pass when leave Hakone?
**wondering if Fuji Five lakes is more interesting?
Day 7-9: Kyoto (day 9 - afternoon Nara)
Day 10: Leave Kyoto early morning for Himeji, spend 3 hours there, continue to Hiroshima on a way to Miyajima Island, second part and overnight in Miyajima
Day 11: Leave Miyajima for Hiroshima, spend morning in Hiroshima, go to Osaka for afternoon and overnight
Day 12: Leave Osaka morning for Takayama, afternoon and overnight in Takayama
Day 13: Leave Takayama sometime in the afternoon fro Tolyo
Day 14: Tokyo: day trip to Kamakura ? - or do nothing…
Day 15: Good bye Japan leaving from Haneda
I was planning to buy 7 day JR Pass - is it enough?
At what point do I reserve seat on a train?
I read through several posts and majority indicated that Kyoto should have more days but I'm not sure how to fit Hiroshima-Miyajima without leaving Kyoto (and I really wanted to go to Koya but need to be realistic...)
Thank you all in advance.
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Old Feb 12th, 2017, 09:26 AM
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It really depends on what you want to see and experience, but I am among those who think that 3 days is very little for Kyoto and Nara.

You might consider skipping Osaka unless you have a particular reason for visiting it.
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Old Feb 12th, 2017, 09:43 AM
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Yes, a 7-day pass activated on Day 7 to use it to go to Kyoto and then it will be good to use to get back to Tokyo on Day 13. You could do the exchange and get the pass validated at Odawara station, the JR station near Hakone. Or you could do it in Tokyo before that.

When is your trip?

Day 10 - I don't think you have time to visit both Himeji and Hiroshima on this day without getting to Miyajima too late.

Day 11 - Maybe you are just changing trains in Hiroshima on Day 10.

The only reason I see for having Osaka in your itinerary is to because the the trip from Miyajima via a Hiroshima stop to Takayama is a bit long. I did not enjoy traveling from Miyajima to Takayama, but you might want to bite the bullet (as I see it) because you are shorting Takayama.

In your itinerary description I see a good bit of "afternoon here" and "morning there" and 3 hours, and the rest of the time is on the move. It kinda jumps out at me. Which is ok, depending on your travel style.

I suggest that you stay in Yokohama at the end of the trip. It's closer to Kamakura and you get get to Haneda from the YCAT.
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Old Feb 12th, 2017, 09:49 AM
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You have a full day in a place only on Days 3, 4, 8, and 14.
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Old Feb 12th, 2017, 01:25 PM
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Your plan of activating your pass from Hakone makes the most sense. If you did it from Tokyo (Day 6) your last day would be Day 12 and you'd have to pay a lot of money to get back from Takayama. You can get a Hakone Free Pass to get from Tokyo to Hakone
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html
but on the way back, go to Mishima Stn to activate your JR pass. You'd lose a few dollars that way for the Hakone Pass, but you'd save much more than buying a train ticket to Odawara to get the Hakone Pass from there.

For Nikko, get the Tobu Nikko Free Pass.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_002.html
For Day 9 - Definitely go enjoy Nara. The Nara Park area has most of the best.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...TIKwkioxuAKwt5

You can do Himeji Castle (and don't miss the Kokoen Garden next to it), Miyajima, and Hiroshima in 2 days, but as said you can mostly skip Osaka during the day. For Miyajima, virtually everyone stampedes to the Itsukushima Shrine from the ferry, but don't miss the Daishoin Temple also, which is in many ways even more beautiful.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KGUB-HPKNxP10Q

You can keep Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg and Abeno Harukas Bldg are wonderful.
On another evening, you could also go and see Kobe.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...K2bcKCzr2pJQh2

Kamakura is well worth seeing too, and you can pair it with Enoshima also.
http://www.odakyu.jp/english/deels/f...hima_kamakura/
Don't sit there and do nothing.
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Old Feb 12th, 2017, 03:13 PM
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FWIW, while I agree that many of Nara's most memorable sites are near Nara Park, I would also say that the sites of Ikaruga are among the most notable in the area. JMO.
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Old Feb 13th, 2017, 08:03 AM
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Thank you all so much for helping me with my plans: I will rethink an overnight in Osaka. You are correct @mrwunrfl, one of the reasons to stopover in Osaka is to break up 8 hrs train ride to Takayama. @Adastra2200 - thank you for details on trains - the most confusing part to figure out.
One more question to all: if I chose have a 'base' in Kyoto, is it ok to leave my luggage for one night (that would a night in Miyajima) at the 'base' hotel in Kyoto with a 'reception'?
Thank you.
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Old Feb 13th, 2017, 08:50 AM
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That trip is about 6 hours. An hour from Miyajima to Hiroshima and then a bit over 5 hours from Hiroshima to Takayama.

To find a good itinerary for the trip on hyperdia, start with Hiroshima to Takayama. You want to use shinkansen and limited express trains for the trip.

Uncheck- "Ordinary Train" so that you exclude the local trains on the Takayama line, especially, but also elsewhere.

hyperdia now shows the JR Miyajima ferry, so you plan the trip from the island to Hiroshima.
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Old Feb 13th, 2017, 09:08 AM
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Yes on the luggage question.
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Old Feb 13th, 2017, 03:56 PM
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Most hotels will hold luggage -- or there are lockers at train stations, which would mean that you wouldn't have to go back to your hotel.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2274.html
(Scroll down to "luggage storage")
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Old Feb 14th, 2017, 09:23 AM
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To all, I'm very grateful for your insights - working now on my 'improved' itinerary
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