First time to Japan!

Jul 7th, 2013, 05:26 AM
  #1  
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First time to Japan!

My mom and I are taking a mother daughter trip to Japan sometime in November we are looking at 8-9 nights, 10 if we push it. I guess my question is how much can I fit into this time without just being rushed and seeing nothing at all. Should we just divide that time between Tokyo and Kyoto or should we make side trips. Would we have time to see Hiroshima? What side trips do you recommend for us? We both love history and beautiful scenery, we want to take some awesome photographs. Any help? Thanks in advance.
bobcat13 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 06:29 AM
  #2  
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Any help?
bobcat13 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 07:15 AM
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Believe me, you will get plenty of responses - just not in the first hour after you post. Be patient. We have lots of Japan experts here.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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ok =) just excited I guess.
bobcat13 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 10:57 AM
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and its a holiday weekend
rhkkmk is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 11:16 AM
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While you are awaiting a response to your question, go to the top of the page and choose Japan from the drop-doown menu. That will bring up all of the recent posts about Japan. I find I learn a lot from the others questions and responses.
Kathie is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 01:16 PM
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I am not on my home computer this weekend so I don't have all of my bookmarks available. I would say with 10 nights available I would split the time between Tokyo and Kyoto. You can do a long day trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima one day if you like. The transit time would be about two hours each Way but you could easily spend four or ffive hours in Hiroshima sightseeing.

The best way to maximize your 10 days is to fly into Tokyo and fly out of Osaka. That way you don't have to backtrack into Tokyo from Kyoto for your flight home

If you want to you can take one night from Tokyo and one night from Kyoto and add those two nights to a stay in Hakone. You will get lovely mountain pictures here with a possible viewing of Mt Fuji.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5200.html

Check the Japan guide site also for Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima info. Be back with more detail when I get home tomorrow.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 05:07 PM
  #8  
kja
 
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You've already gotten some great advice, including the reference to japan-guide.com

With 8 or 9 nights (10 would be better!), you should be able to get a nice taste of Kyoto and Tokyo (fly into one, out of the other; for Kyoto, that probably means Kansai) and you should be able to include a visit to Hiroshima, too (and for that, consider staying overnight at a ryokan in Mijajima).
kja is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 08:53 PM
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Ok, then make it 9 nights and do try to push it to 10. You definitely have time for a side trip or day trip.

Peak fall colors will be in Kyoto around November 18th. You should visit Meiji Jingu (shrine) in Tokyo on a Sunday before that. It is a beautiful park and shrine and at that time you should see wedding processions and families with their children celebrating Shich-Go-San.

If you fly to Tokyo and from Osaka then you would not need a JR Pass. Tokyo to Kyoto would be about 13,500 and Kyoto to Kansai Airport would be about 3,500 yen. So your rail cost is 17,000 (assuming you want to take the train to the airport).

Kyoto to Hiroshima is about 11,000 each way. That gets you to about 39,000 total to pay as you go. A JR Pass costs about 28,000 so it would provide a savings.

That means that the additional cost for Kyoto- Hiroshima- Kyoto would be about 11,000 yen each (28,000 pass cost minus the 17,000 you would pay anyway). That is about $110. If your budget allows it then I would consider it to be worth it: it is high quality transportation, a good value, an enjoyable trip, and with your interest in history a visit to the Peace Park and museum would definitely be worth your time. It is an easy streetcar ride from Hiroshima station to the Genbaku Dome and Peace Park.

Hiroshima castle was more interesting than I expected, so you could visit that too (walk from Peace Park), but a visit to Miyajima would be better if you have, or can make, the time (street car, train, and ferry or train and ferry from Peace Park). Staying the night at a ryokan on Miyajima even better.

If you had to return to Tokyo to get your return flight then your train costs will be at or just above the cost of a 7-day JR Pass. In that case, visiting Hiroshima would be no extra cost.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Jul 10th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Could someone speak about the ease of Americans using the Japan Rail System? It is our first time to Japan as well - and in the fall - and we will be making a circle route from Narita/Nagano to the west coast and down to Kyoto and back to Tokyo. We will purchase the rail pass. Thanks for any help or advice you can shed. I see that sometimes we need to transfer between one and two times along the way within a 3 hour period. We do not speak or write Japanese. Can we get by with little stress?
Enzo47 is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 03:50 PM
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I have found it incredibly easy to use the rail system, especially if you have a rail pass, which allows you to bypass the ticket counter (assuming you will have made reservations for your various trips at the rail pass office--we used the folks in Tokyo Station and they couldn't have been more wonderful in helping us reserve seats for our whole route). If you want to be more flexible I believe you can make seat reservations as you go.

The trains are punctual, well equipped, clean, and fast, and they will take you most anywhere you plan to go. Don't dawdle when you make a connection because your next train will leave on time. Announcements on the trains we have taken (except for the most far-flung lines) have been in English as well as Japanese. Officials at the stations and other travelers will be very helpful if you look like you need assistance or are lost. Transfers are easy, but don't dawdle because, as I mentioned, the trains run on time!

I predict little stress. Have a great trip!
aprillilacs is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 04:17 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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I agree that you are likely to find the Japanese rail system very easy to use. For more info:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e627.html
kja is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Enzo47, sounds like you have used hyperdia to find out your route? Your transfers will be pretty easy. You can take the shinkansen or limited express trains for your whole trip.

You can get reserved seats as you go, minutes before the train departs. And there are unreserved cars.

When you leave Nagano one of your options would be to take a JR local (unreserved) to Naoetsu and transfer to a limited express train to Kanazawa. The other option is two shinkansen and a limited express, all with reserved seating.

You can get the reserved seat for Naoetsu to Kanazawa at Nagano station. I think the agent will also give you a ticket for the local train from Nagano with trip info on it but it would be a train without reserved seats. In the unlikely event that you mess up and miss the connection in Naoetsu then you can just get on the next train to Kanazawa in an unreserved car.

They should print your reserved seat tickets in English. If it is all Japanese then just ask for another one but in English. Station signs will be in English.

By the time you are on the train to Kanazawa, maybe by the time you are on the train to Nagano, you will be pros.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Jul 29th, 2013, 08:01 AM
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One of the things we loved most about Hyperdia was that when we plugged in a route, it not only told us exact train times but also every platform.

So if we did a journey involving changes we knew that train A would come into platform X at 13:45 and train B would leave from platform & at 13:55. We didn't even need to look at the various departure boards or platform boards, though we always double checked, and Hyperdia was always correct. We just went straight between our arrival and our departure platform, very easy and quick.

For local journeys where we'd not looked up a partiular train time, we didn't have any trouble either as there were announcements in English and everything was very straightforward.

Wish our (British) train system were more like this...
Kavey is offline  

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