First Trip to Japan in August

Old Jun 12th, 2017, 08:15 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2012
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First Trip to Japan in August

Dear all!

I am planning for a 7-days trip to Japan for two and hoping to get some advice from you guys. We are flying in and out from Haneda Airport and this is our initial itinerary:

Day 1 - 4: Travel from Haneda Airport to Kyoto
Day 4 - 7: Tokyo

As our trip is relatively short, I am uncertain if it is worthwhile to allocate a day for Nara while in Kyoto. Or would there be more places of interests in Kyoto/ near Kyoto that we should not miss? I am considering to make a trip to the Yamazaki distillery too. What would be the recommended time allocation for each city?

Our interests lie mostly in food, culture, sightseeing and shopping. Both of us don't usually search through travel guides while travelling as we value personal experiences and suggestions more than that (e.g. off the beaten track destinations). Therefore, we would greatly appreciate any form of recommendations (food, attractions, where to stay and etc) for this trip. Thanks in advance!
rene_tsn is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2017, 08:40 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I assume you know you will be traveling to Japan at a hot, humid time of the year.

Help me understand exactly how much time you have in Japan. Are you counting Day 1 as the day you arrive in Tokyo? That means you won't have a full day on that day. And you have counted Day 4 as in both Tokyo and Kyoto. Are you flying out on day 7?

So, depending on the answers to those equations, you may have as much as 7 days in Japan, with one day devoted to travel between Tokyo and Kyoto, or you may have as few as 5 days on the ground in Japan.

I do recommend you learn a bit about Japan before you go. The best resource I know is www.japan-guide.com You will want to understand how the train system works, and perhaps the luggage forwarding system. I always like to read about pales I might like to go so I can make some decisions ahead of time about how I want to devote my time.

If it were me and I only had 7 days, I'd spend it all in the Kyoto area, but your interests may be different from mine.

Happy planning!
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 12th, 2017, 08:50 PM
  #3  
kja
 
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I can't tell from your post how much time you actually have -- do you have 7 full days? Sounds to me like you really have only 2 days in Kyoto (days 2 and 3) and 2 in Tokyo (5 and 6), with bits of other days to either side of travel.

FWIW, I'm not unusual in finding 6 days a barely sufficient introduction to Kyoto and Nara. So if you want to include both Kyoto and Tokyo on this trip -- and I can understand that you might -- you'll have to be very selective.

I loved Nara and spent 2 full days there. Unless you skip Tokyo, I don't think you have that luxury. But Nara can be visited as a day trip from Kyoto, and I don't know of any reason why you would need to decide that in advance.

You are planning to visit the two most commonly visited cities in Japan. Don't expect to find "off the beaten track destinations" unless you want to go to places unworthy of your very limited time. IMO, if you value personal experiences and suggestions, then you might want to do a bit of homework to justify them. Without knowing anything about your or your interests (other than your unwillingness to crack a guidebook -- which, of course, is best done BEFORE, not WHILE, traveling), I really wouldn't know where to start.

Of course, you could start with what many of us consider the single best on-line source of information on Japan -- japan-guide.com
And you could read trip reports here on Fodor's, or read / skim the MANY planning threads for similar trips.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2017, 01:35 AM
  #4  
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Hi @Kathie and @kja, thanks for your suggestions!

Yes, I should have been more specific in my previous post. Initially, I intended to spend two full days in the respective cities:

Aug 23: Fly in to Haneda and travel to Kyoto
Aug 23 evening to 26: Kyoto/ Nara
Aug 26 to 29: Tokyo
Aug 29:Depart Tokyo

My intention is to mainly sight-see in Kyoto and make a day trip to Nara, if time permits. As for Tokyo, the main purpose is to visit museums and relaxation. Will consider to shorten the Tokyo stay so that I have more time in Kyoto and Nara.
rene_tsn is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2017, 03:45 PM
  #5  
 
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You don't have time for Nara if you want to see Kyoto. You barely have time for Kyoto.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2017, 07:15 PM
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A week is not much time, and I agree that Kyoto would take months to see it all - but unless you plan to return to Japan again soon, you should absolutely not miss Nara. Even half a day would allow you to see many of the best places, mostly in the Nara Park area. The Todaiji Temple is a must, and if you only had time to see one temple in all Japan, Todaiji IS IT.
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...TIKwkioxuAKwt5

Also yes, August is going to be brutally humid and muggy - be ready to sweat like a pig and bring lots of deodorant. Kyoto gets hit even harder, since it sits in a basin, so if you find it just too much, you can do what the Japanese do and run to the nearby cooler mountains to see Kibune and Kurama.

The cheapest and most efficient way to get to Kansai and back would be the japanican ticket.
http://www.japanican.com/en/tour/detail/VJOPENTK1/
It beats the pants off the 7 day JR Pass for just going to Kansai.
After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5 PM, you can zip over to 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

For getting to/from Haneda and around Tokyo, there are also some good combo tickets.
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/tr...discount/rail-
bus.html
Adastra2200 is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2017, 08:13 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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I am incredibly glad that I saw Todaiji. I'm not sure I would said it is THE ONE temple to visit with such limited time in Japan. (Actually, I'm not sure it is the ONE temple I would recommend even if time and opportunities are limitless, but thankfully, I don't need to choose.)

When I visited Todai-ji, it was overrun by tours of Japanese students -- and thank goodness they have the opportunity to see these monuments to their heritage! I doubt that you can predict when huge groups of people will arrive at any specific place you visit. With so very little time, I would encourage you to select a few high priority sites and a plan that includes back-up options if the line to visit one of your high priority sites is daunting.
kja is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2017, 08:34 PM
  #8  
 
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Again, you don't have as much time as you think you do. You will have the 24th and 25th for Kyoto and Nara. The 26th is a travel day. and you have the 27th and 28th in Tokyo. You really can't count your arrival and departure days as days in a place. If you are lucky, you'll have a couple of hours you can use for sightseeing. Nor can you count the day you move from Kyoto to Tokyo. So you have two full days in each Kyoto and Tokyo. You will have to be very selective about what you want to see/do in each place.

You will want to research carefully what you want to see and do, as you have so little time. You will get a small sample of Kyoto and Tokyo, but that's it. You have no time to get "off the beaten track" you barely have time to see much of the beaten track. That's why I recommend you research carefully what you might want to see/do.
Kathie is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2017, 12:20 AM
  #9  
mjs
 
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I should also add that August imho is the worst month for travel to central Japan. It will be hot and humid and typhoon season. Last year August saw temps to 99 with high humidity in Tokyo. Not only are you limited in time for your trip, but you may also find it physically difficult to do as much as you want due to the oppressive weather.
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Old Jun 14th, 2017, 08:45 AM
  #10  
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Thanks for all of your suggestions! This has definitely gave me a clearer picture.

Unfortunately, we could only travel to Japan in August so will have to make do with the weather.

We are sticking to the 2 full days in Kyoto and visiting these sites:

Day 1 - Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kiyomizudera, Higashiyama and Pontocho
Day 2 - Arashiyama
rene_tsn is offline  
Old Jun 14th, 2017, 04:51 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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If it helps, keep in mind that Fushimi Inari is open 24/7, and so (a) can be seen after other things close and (b) can be seen before or after the worst of the day's heat.
kja is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2017, 05:02 PM
  #12  
 
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Yes, you could avoid the crowds in the early morning, and afterwards you could also see Tofukuji Temple, or another excellent place is Sanjusangendo.

You can take the Keihan main line to Kiyomizu-Gojo Stn and walk 15 minutes east to get to Kiyomizudera Temple.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUaQtFKyEH0

If you can really get up early, the Honganji temples open around sunrise and are within walking distance from Kyoto Stn. Some of the most impressive building you'll ever see.
Adastra2200 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2017, 08:36 AM
  #13  
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Thanks for the wonderful suggestions! Will definitely check out these places.
rene_tsn is offline  
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