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-   -   First Time to Japan--Itinerary Help (https://www.fodors.com/community/asia/first-time-to-japan-itinerary-help-970923/)

michmich11 Mar 18th, 2013 05:45 AM

First Time to Japan--Itinerary Help
 
Hi,

My husband and I are going to Japan for the first time in June. We have already booked our airfare and some hotels but need help finalizing our itinerary. We are interested in spending time in Tokyo and Kyoto as well as one night in a ryokan somewhere quieter. We love exploring new places, outdoor activities and food. Here is what we have in mind so far:

Arrive NRT Thursday June 6 @ 9 PM. Spend 5 nights in Tokyo, with possible day trips.
June 6- Tokyo
June 7-Tokyo
June 8-Toky
June 9-Tokyo
June 10-Tokyo
June 11-Hakone (at ryokan)
June 12-Kyoto
June 13-Kyoto
June 14-Kyoto
June 15-Kyoto
June 16-
June 17-
June 18-

I'm looking for suggestions for day trips from Toyko as well as where to spend the last three nights of our trip. Is Hakone an appropriate place to have ryokan experience? Or do you have any different suggestions? We fly back to New York from NRT at 5 PM on Wednesday June 19. Is it necessary/advisable to spend Tuesday night June 18 back in Tokyo? Any other feedback/suggestions would be helpful! Thanks!

hawaiiantraveler Mar 18th, 2013 06:42 AM

spend a couple of nights in Hakone instead of just one night to maximize your sightseeing in the area(lots to see and so). See here for some suggestions and information.

http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/index.html

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

You may want to travel to somewhere else with all your time onland. I don't know what piques your interests but you could definitely fit in a couple of nights in Hiroshima or somewhere else if you so desire.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2160.html

Be aware that June will be in the tsuyu(rainy)season and this year will be more rainy than usual it is predicted. No real need for concern but just be aware of this. An overnight in a ryokan on the Izu Peninsula http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6310.html
on your way back towards Tokyo couldn't hurt either....maybe at someplace like this.....

http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/shizuoka/arai.htm

Aloha!

Kavey Mar 18th, 2013 12:57 PM

I didn't visit Hakone so can't comment but did love this ryokan in Nara: http://www.kaveyeats.com/2013/01/kai...o-in-nara.html

And also a lovely stay in this ryokan in Kyoto itself: http://www.kaveyeats.com/2013/03/her...n-me-into.html

Neither are in remote countryside areas, but both offer traditional experiences, peace and quiet, exemplary service and wonderful food.

I understand there are many many wonderful options in the region around Kyoto.

Oh and another option is to spend a night in a temple on Mount Koya-san, which is an amazing experience.

michmich11 Mar 18th, 2013 01:44 PM

There are just too many choices!! I am feeling super-overwhelmed...

kja Mar 18th, 2013 07:26 PM

> There are just too many choices!! I am feeling super-overwhelmed...

You already have the bones of a great first trip to Japan -- chunks of time in Tokyo and in Kyoto and a few days in a place that interests you. Take a deep breath and maybe even step away for a day or two. Then look through a good guidebook or two, consult japan-guide.com, search this board ... I'm sure things will begin to fall into place.

michmich11 Mar 18th, 2013 07:48 PM

Thanks for the advice and reassurance, kja. I will continue to research and I'm sure I will be back with more detailed questions for all you experts, cheers!

Kavey Mar 19th, 2013 10:56 AM

Can I recommend Japan Guest Houses for affordable to middle end ryokans? Not got ALL the info you'd want on the website, but email response is good and helpful and bookings straightforward.

michmich11 Mar 19th, 2013 11:52 AM

Thanks, Kavey. I have been using their site and emailing back and forth with them. Very excited for the ryokan night of our trip!

Kavey Mar 19th, 2013 12:06 PM

Which one did you choose?

michmich11 Mar 19th, 2013 01:27 PM

I haven't chosen yet, though I'm thinking about the following:

Hotel Senkei http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/db/hakone/senkei.htm
Kijtei Hoeiso http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...tei_hoeiso.htm
Kiritani Hakoneso http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...i_hakoneso.htm
Mikawaya Ryokan http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...e/mikawaya.htm

love417 Mar 20th, 2013 02:55 AM

My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Japan - Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. We thought it was a great itinerary. We travelled by Shinkansen, spending the bulk of our trip in Tokyo (7 nights) and dividing the rest in Kyoto and Osaka. On another trip to Osaka, we also went to Kobe on a day trip by train so I gues you can do that too. We enjoyed Japan immensely, good luck!

michmich11 Mar 20th, 2013 03:43 AM

Thanks, love417. Did you do any day trips from Tokyo?

love417 Mar 20th, 2013 11:24 PM

Yes, we did the Mt. Fuji - Hakone tour from Tokyo, then a full day tour of Tokyo just to get a feel of the city.
Then we went on our own for the rest of our tour. The trains are easy to navigate once you understand how it works.

The Mt. Fuji-Hakone tour was nice because we got to see the 'provincial' Japan. But we didn't really get to see Mt. Fuji since it was very cloudy (April), though en route from Osaka we saw it in its full glory from the Shinkansen.

The full day Tokyo tour was worth it though. We were able to see a lot of Tokyo in a day, have a feel of the city and pinpoint the places where we would want to return to. But you can also do the tours on your own, if that's your style.

michmich11 Mar 22nd, 2013 02:05 PM

Kavey--your photographs of the food in the Nara and Kyoto ryokan are absolutely breathtaking!! Thank you for sharing.

Kavey Mar 22nd, 2013 02:54 PM

That's very kind of you, thank you. I had such lovely experiences at both, I wanted to try and do them justice, though I only gave a small idea...
Can't wait to go back again this year!!!

nanthompson2 Apr 4th, 2013 08:34 AM

love417-what company did you use for the full day tour of Tokyo? Where did you stay in Tokyo and Kyoto?

I am going to Japan for 2 weeks in May. Thanks!

michmich11 Apr 9th, 2013 02:12 PM

I've been reading up and following the threads in the Japan forum. Here is where I'm at right now with the itinerary:


June 6--Arrive Toyko 9 PM
June 7-10--4 full days in Tokyo (perhaps 3 full days and 1 day trip)
June 11--Early train to Hakone, overnight in ryokan in Hakone
June 12--1/2 day in Hakone, train to Kyoto
June 13-15--3 full days in Kyoto

Here is where I'm not sure what to do. We have a 5 pm flight from Narita on 6/19. Should we arrange to spend the night of Tuesday 6/18 back in Tokyo? Or should we train straight to Narita from wherever we spend the last leg of our trip? Some possibilities for this last part are Hiroshima, Nara, Kobe, Osaka. It seems like Hiroshima, Nara and Kobe are all suitable 1-nighters. I don't know that we'd need 3 nights in any of them (correct me if I'm wrong here please!). And Osaka is lower on my list because I'm not really looking for a big city feel. Is there a reasonable way to work one or two of these places in? Or is there something else you think we might be missing? I do like the idea of staying 1 night in a temple on Koyasan as well. Would it be possible to fit that in too?

Thanks for your advice!

Kavey Apr 11th, 2013 12:05 PM

I don't know if it will help you but our itinerary was as follows:
2 nts Tokyo
2 nts Takayama (for the festival)
1 nt Nara
5 nts Kyoto
1 nt Koya
1 nt Osaka
1 nt Miyajima
4 nts Tokyo

Although the single night stops might seem rushed, it didn't feel that way at all, perhaps because the travel itself was easy and part of the experience as a whole.

From Kyoto it's easy to do a day trip (or overnight) to Osaka. It's more of a big city, and is the only place we didn't warm to as much, though we're giving it a second chance when we go back this autumn.

You could do an overnight to Koyasan, stay in a Buddhist temple overnight, it's cultural, different and fascinating. The travel seems a bit of a faff, but even with the various changes, it's actually not difficult and the last (main) train ride along the river and up through the mountains is beautiful. The cable car (which is actually a funicular) is also charming.

Or we took the train to Hiroshima, spent a few hours there before taking the ferry across to Miyima for the afternoon and overnight. We then trained all the way back to Tokyo from Hiroshima and didn't find that tiring or difficult at all.

kja Apr 11th, 2013 04:50 PM

> We have a 5 pm flight from Narita on 6/19. Should we arrange to spend the night of Tuesday 6/18 back in Tokyo?

Personally, I would hate to bear the cost of a missed flight should anything go wrong, but then, that's probably unlikely. (Actually, I would put all my time in Tokyo just before my departure - just a personal preference.)

> Some possibilities for this last part are Hiroshima, Nara, Kobe, Osaka. It seems like Hiroshima, Nara and Kobe are all suitable 1-nighters. I don't know that we'd need 3 nights in any of them (correct me if I'm wrong here please!).

I haven't been to Kobe or Osaka, but thought Hiroshima and Nara well worth visiting. How much time to allot really depends on what you hope to see and experience. FWIW, I spent about 1/2 day in Hiroshima (with an overnight in Miyajima). I spent 2 full days/2 nights in and around Nara, in addition to 4 full days in and around Kyoto.

> I do like the idea of staying 1 night in a temple on Koyasan as well. Would it be possible to fit that in too?

Sure! Select your temple carefully. I was happy with Shojoshin-in.http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...hojoshinin.htm

You have a number of great options - you'll just have to decide which ones suit your interests best. Enjoy!

michmich11 Apr 15th, 2013 05:53 AM

Thanks so much!

I think we are going to extend our stay in Kyoto by 2 nights and use it as base to visit Nara, Kobe and hopefully day trip to Hiroshima as well. We will spend our final night back in Tokyo to lessen the travel load for the final day.

kja Apr 15th, 2013 05:09 PM

If I'm following, I think that means you will have 5 full days in/around Kyoto. Much better than 3! But you'll still have to be very selective given the wealth of options in the area. The good news is that you'll see some wonderful things no matter what you choose.


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