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First Time Trip to Japan: Please Help with 2 Week Itinerary

First Time Trip to Japan: Please Help with 2 Week Itinerary

Jul 6th, 2013, 02:54 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 165
First Time Trip to Japan: Please Help with 2 Week Itinerary

Since this is a first time trip for both my husband and I (both in our mid-30s) to Japan...any help is greatly appreciated!!

**We definitely want to see the major attractions (shrines/temples) but are going during the autumn when the leaves change so want to see many nature areas also.**

We are starting our trip off in Beijing for 4 nights as we want to see the Great Wall of China and are then flying to Japan for the remainder of our trip. We plan to fly into Tokyo and out of Osaka or vice-versa to save time and hassle...I am trying to avoid training from Kyoto/Osaka area to Tokyo before flying back to the USA as this makes for a LONG day!

-Fly Beijing to Tokyo (or Osaka)

*We have about 12-13 nights to work with in Japan:

*4D/5N: TOKYO (2 full days Tokyo, 1 day Hakone, 1 day Kamakura)
*2N/1D: NIKKO (To go beyond the Kegon Falls and boat on the lake, see Ryuzu & Yutaki Falls)
*5D/4N: TOKYO (2 full days Tokyo, 1 day Hakone, 1 day Kamakura, 1 day Nikko--maybe hire a driver so don't have to deal with buses and can see more?)

**OPTIONAL: Trying to fit in the Alps area of Kanawaza and Ogimachi but seems like the travel time is a lot?? Would like to train through the Alps also because I have been reading about how pretty the ride is. Would prefer seeing Kanawaza vs Takayama.

*6N/5D or 5N/4D: KYOTO (2-3 full days Kyoto, 1 day Osaka, 1 day Kobe)

*We are not interested in seeing Hiroshima.

Any suggestions on how to tweak this itinerary so that we see the highlights and some nature areas? Maybe overnight in Hakone?

Thank You!!!
enlehman76 is offline  
Jul 6th, 2013, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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It's much easier to fly to Osaka from Beijing than from the U.S., so it makes more sense to arrive in Osaka (for Kyoto area) and depart from Tokyo.

There are a zillion different possible good itinieraries. If you'd be interested in art, consider the Benesse art site on Naoshima island ( http://www.benesse-artsite.jp/en/ ). Hakone is a great place to be in the fall, lots of outdoor activities. If possible, try to arrange your schedule to be in cities on the weekends and the more touristy places (such as Hakone) during the week -- that will make your hotel arrangements easier and possibly less expensive. Hakone is a place where 2 (or even 3) nights is much better than 1 night. With 1 night, you just scratch the surface, but the really interesting stuff requires deeper digging.
DonTopaz is offline  
Jul 6th, 2013, 04:46 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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You are trying to fit a great deal into a little bit of time! You'll see some wonderful things, but you might want to consider trimming a bit or adding time. As examples, I thought Beijing worth a minimum of 5 or 6 days (preferably more) and I thought Kyoto itself worth a a minimum of 3 days (not counting Nara, which I think deserves another 2 days). But it really depends on what you want to see and experience.

Of your 2 options for Nikko, I like the one that has you stay there. I think trying to see Nikko as well as Kegon-no-Taki and Lake Chuzenji in a single day trip fromTokyo would make for a very long, exhausting day at any time of year, but especially during fall, when these places will be very, very busy with day trippers as well as those who stay a night or two.
kja is offline  
Jul 6th, 2013, 07:11 PM
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I would skip both Kobe & Kamakura this trip, and allot enough time to both Nikko and Hakone to stay at least one night. No matter your budget, there are nice places to stay in both areas. As Don said, there's lots to do in both areas and you can relax and enjoy it minus the day trippers.

Its been years since I did a Matsumoto/Japan alps trip, but if you want to cross a lot of Japan, you can take a long train ride that way to Kyoto.

In Japan, hiring a driver is very expensive. The public transport is excellent.
lcuy is offline  
Jul 6th, 2013, 08:08 PM
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When is this trip? Autumn, but when?

Takayama is in the Alps and Ogimachi, Shirakawago is not far. Kanazawa is not in the alps and also not far from Shirakawago. The train from Nagoya to Takyaama is scenic but not wow scenic.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 05:06 AM
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We want to go when the leaves change (I know depends on the area as higher elevations will change first) so are thinking end-October/early November??

I have read much about Takayama being touristy and Kanazawa being a better place to stay overnight (our only reason to go to Kanazawa is to see the gardens but have also read if going to Kyoto that Kanazawa gardens would be a slight disappointment) if needed to see the Ogimachi area.

We are totally fine taking the bus between Takayama and Kanazawa to see Ogimachi and seeing Ogimachi for the 3 hour bus layover. Just wondering if taking this large detour between Kyoto and Tokyo is worth it vs adding on time in Hakone and Nikko.

While I would like to see the highlights of Japan, we don't want to spend our whole trip seeing shrines and temples because we like seeing nature...especially during the fall.
enlehman76 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 05:18 PM
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I'm not sure what sources you are reading. They don't seem consistent with my personal experiences.

Takayama may have some touristy areas, but I suspect that varies with the time of year, and in case, sometimes things are frequented by tourists because they are worth seeing. There were certainly parts of Takayama that I saw some years ago that were not heavily touristed.

I did not find Kanazawa's gardens disappointing, even after visiting Kyoto. Actually, I think it a bit sad that someone would think so -- but to each his/her own.

> we don't want to spend our whole trip seeing shrines and temples because we like seeing nature...especially during the fall.

A perfectly legitimate choice -- but you do realize that shrines and temples normally include gardens and some truly gorgeous experiences of nature?
kja is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 09:13 PM
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Then you want to go in mid-November for peak colors in Kyoto around the 18th.

Am not sure what you want to get out of a visit to the Alps. You want a scenic train ride, 3 hours in Shirkawago, and a visit to Kenrokuen. How many nights are you willing to spend for this travel?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 10:00 AM
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I'd recommend a night in a temple on Koyasan over Osaka. Osaka is meant to be a great destination for foodies but it doesn't seem to have a great many other attractions to visit in between eating. I did have fun making my own pot noodles at the Momofuku Ando Cup Noodle Museum but I'd still suggest skipping it for something else given your limited time.

I also loved our night in Nara, though much of that is because of the superlative ryokan experience we had there, we also loved the deer park and temples. Read about it here: http://www.kaveyeats.com/2013/01/kai...o-in-nara.html

So I'd say 6 nights in Kyoto region, to allow you to do both Nara and Koyasan. There is SO much to see in Kyoto. I wrote a series on temples and shrines (some in Kyoto and some elsewhere, here's the last post with links to the othe 5: http://www.kaveyeats.com/2013/03/mes...of-love-6.html)

We didn't visit Nikko during our time in Tokyo so I can't comment on that but would say that Tokyo is much vaster than we took in when plannning and there's so much to do there.

We loved Takayama and we went during one of its two busiest weekends for the autumn festival there. Yes, touristy in parts but for good reason... it's beautiful and charming and I didn't find it overcrowded even on our visit compared to Tokyo or Kyoto it was still peaceful. As has been said, tourists visit for good reason and whilst it's not always the case, the reverse is also true to a certain extent.

Travelling on the trains is easy and a joy so travel time doesn't feel wholly wasted, I would add.
Kavey is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 05:59 PM
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Posts: 165
Thank you all!

Since this is a first time trip for my husband and I to Japan, we are of course trying to fit a lot in but unfortunately won't have enough time.

We have 16 nights to work with and this is what we have planned right now:

*Fly USA to Beijing
*4N/3D in Beijing
*Fly to KIX
*5N/4D in Kyoto (Spend all 4 days in Kyoto area with the flexibility to day trip to Osaka, Kobe, or Kanazawa----any suggestions???)
*Train Kyoto to Nikko
*2N/1D Nikko
*Train to Tokyo
*5N/4D Tokyo (2 full days in Tokyo, 1 day Hakone, and 1 day Kamakura----any suggestions?)
*Fly home to USA

Anything about this itinerary anyone would tweak?? Should I shave a night off of Kyoto to add to Tokyo or vice versa? Should I try and fit in another night in the Takayama/Alps area?!?

enlehman76 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 02:40 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Looks a lot better. In Kyoto you probably won't have time for any day trips. Ditto with Tokyo with so much to do and see there. Arriving in Kyoto about Nov 18 would be optimal for this itinerary.

Suggestions: Less day trips the better.....you will be back

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2014, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 783
Just wondering how did your trip go ?
okoshi2002 is offline  

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