First Trip To Kyoto

Aug 20th, 2005, 02:33 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
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First Trip To Kyoto

This is our first trip to Japan. Our daughter will be studying in Harakata, close to Osaka. We plan on visiting our daughter in November. We have made airline and hotel reservations in Kyoto. Any advise from travelers who have been to Kyoto would be deeply appreciated. We are also interested in taking several daytrips like Hiroshima and Himeji. Our hotel is located close to the Imperial Palace in Kyoto. Any tips of things to see or avoid???? Thanks in adavance. Joe
joewest is offline  
Aug 20th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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What airport(s) will you be using? Into and out of Tokyo? Osaka? How long and when will you be there?

If you will be in Tokyo on a Saturday or Sunday in November, then you should visit Meiji Shrine.

The fall colors will be in Kyoto around the 3rd week of the month.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Aug 20th, 2005, 04:48 PM
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The colors will be in Kyoto towards the end of the 3rd week of November this year, that is, the 18th to 20th would be about peak. Later in the month (I would expect) it would be colorful on Miyajima.

You can visit Himeji and Hiroshima on the same day trip from Kyoto.

The weather should be nice, will need a jacket and/or sweater.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Aug 21st, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Thanks for the information. We are flying into KIX and will be in Kyoto from the 17th to the 25 of November. I'm surprised to hear that the fall colors will be at a peak. Here in the mid-west we're expecting snow at that time of year. Has anyone on the board done private tours? Miyajima also looks to be on our list of possible daytrips. Any other suggestions or tips on the city of Kyoto. My wife and I love to walk while on vacation. We love to see more of the non touristy backstreets and eat where the locals eat. Thanks again for any help.
joewest is offline  
Aug 21st, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Go to as many different kinds of gardens as you can -- read some guidebooks for ideas. Go to Nara for a day trip and absolutely go to the Miho Museum for a day trip. It will be a highlight. Other less touristy places that are wonderful in or near Kyoto are Uji and Ohara.
glorialf is offline  
Aug 21st, 2005, 01:12 PM
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Go to the "Kinki" section of the following webpage:
and you will see links to pdfs named "Kyoto Walks" and "Nara Walks". At the bottom of the page is a "Special Interests" section that includes a "Japanese Gardens" guide. IIRC, most of the guide is about gardens in Kyoto.

A roundtrip to Hiroshima and/or Miyajima will cost between 20,000 and 25,000 yen, per person, depending on how you do it. You would break even with a 7-day JR Pass if you used it for all of the following in a 7-day period: one-way between KIX and Kyoto, Kyoto-Nara and return, and Kyoto-Hiroshima/ Miyajima and return. If you also decided to go to Himeji on a separate day trip, then the 7-day pass would be worthwhile.

I was in Kyoto in mid-late November a few years ago. It was said to be peak color on the 18th-19th. I remember that it was beautiful at Ginkakuji in Kyoto and in Nara. Miyajima should be beautiful but may be crowded.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Aug 21st, 2005, 07:43 PM
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You will love Kyoto!! We were there in April. Two things-

1. If you love to walk go to the JNTO web site and print out the Kyoto Walks-they are great maps-easy to follow and you see many wonderful sites plus you can explore side streets as you go! The walking times are about right, if you don't side track youself, as we often did! We walked from the Imperial Palace after our tour to Nijo Castle and had a picnic lunch on the castle grounds. It was a pleasant walk.

We did not buy a Rail Pass, as my husband wanted to ride the Bullet train. We did get all our tickets at the Airport train station when we arived as our time-5 days-was very full! We also shipped our luuggage to the Kyoto hotel so we wouldn't have to mess with it on the train and in Kyoto Station.

Do plan to go to Himiji Castle and Miyajima Island. We took the bullet train and did both in one day- loved both places, just wish we could have spent the night on the Island. We both thought they were more interesting and perttier than what Nara had to offer. We were "templed out" and the Nara park was hot and dusty so that may have colored our oppinion there!

Also go to the Toji Temple Market on the 21st! Lots of Local color and neat things to eat, look at and, if you are a shopper, to buy!!
cwn is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2005, 06:04 PM
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Thank you all for the great tips. I printed out the Kyoto walks and also picked up Lonely Planet's Kyoto guide. I'm still a little confused on the JR Rail Pass. Seems to me that it's a great deal but I'm confused as to where to purchase one. I found the listing of offices but none in my cityof Milwaukee. We are flying out of Chicago and saw that there is an office in Ohare airport. I'm surprised that none of th eoffices have an e-mail address. Does anyone know if we can buy the JR passes at Ohare while waiting for our flight? Or is this something that we have to buy weeks prior to leaving??? Again, thanks in advance. Joe
joewest is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2005, 06:47 PM
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For the 7-day or 14-day JR Pass you have to buy a voucher before you leave for Japan. You exchange the voucher in Japan for the Pass. You must have the temporary visitor's arrival stamp to do the exchange. You and spouse will get that stamp. You'll need to find out what stamp your daughter will get. It may be different because of her student status.

You should call the 800 number that is listed with the Ohare listing. It is the Japan Airlines reservation number (for N. America, I think). I would be wary about getting the JR Pass voucher at Ohare since their business there is about airline tickets. Maybe others have had good experiences doing it but there is no way that I depend on it on departure day. You might get some rookie who doesn't know what they are doing. I recommend calling as I think that it can be done over the phone. Call one of the other numbers too, like JTB or one of the other travel agency numbers.

You should also take a look at the JR West passes described here:
I think your DD may be eligible for those passes which are purchased in Japan. If you would be travelling to Hiroshima/Miyajima and Himeji from Osaka then the Sanyo pass would be good.
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