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help me plan my first trip to japan!

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Aug 2nd, 2014, 09:19 PM
  #1
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help me plan my first trip to japan!

Hello!
I will be in Japan November 23-December 2 with my mom and brother (all adults). My brother has been, but is not much help outside of recommendations in tokyo. We need to visit Yokohama per my mom's wishes and I'd like to see the aquarium in Osaka. Beyond that, it gets super overwhelming trying to figure out what to do/see online. I need to have an itinerary ready for my brother in the next couple of days because that's when he wants to book the hotels. He also wants to avoid dragging luggage around so regardless of where we will go he will likely maintain a hotel room in Tokyo.
Any help anyone could give me would be most appreciated. I want to see traditional sights as well as enjoy contemporary Japan. Also, we're thinking 3 days in Tokyo will be enough. Thanks in advance!!
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Aug 2nd, 2014, 09:48 PM
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>>He also wants to avoid dragging luggage around so regardless of where we will go he will likely maintain a hotel room in Tokyo.<<

That does not make sense.

So, you have a 10-day trip, with 2 travel days on each end, so 8 full days in Japan. How long will you want to visit Yokohama? A day trip or visit family for a few days or what?
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Aug 2nd, 2014, 10:11 PM
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mrwunrfl,

I don't understand it either, but I get the idea he doesn't want to explore. (He travels a lot and lives in Singapore so I don't think he understands what a big deal this is for me.)

My grandfather was stationed in Yokohama during the occupation, so my mom wants to see where he worked, etc. I don't know how long it would take, but I thought we'd be there for a day trip. Obviously I'm open to suggestions on that as well as the entire trip.
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Aug 2nd, 2014, 10:14 PM
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Oh, another thing, weather permitting, I'd like to do a good amount of outdoor walking/hiking. I'm not worried about the cold, but wonder if it's advisable considering the time we'll be there.
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Aug 2nd, 2014, 11:03 PM
  #5
kja
 
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"He also wants to avoid dragging luggage around so regardless of where we will go he will likely maintain a hotel room in Tokyo."

Japan has an excellent luggage-forwarding option called takuhaibin -- no need to drag luggage around or to maintain a room to board it!
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html

"we're thinking 3 days in Tokyo will be enough."

That was more than enough for my interests in Tokyo, but then, I didn't have much interest in "modern" Japan and there is so little of traditional Japan in Tokyo that I could see what interested me most in a very limited time period. YMMV.

"it gets super overwhelming trying to figure out what to do/see online"

Even with a MUCH longer timeframe, planning a trip to Japan can easily seem overwhelming -- there is SO much to see and do and experience! You might want to focus your research on Kyoto and Nara, which together can easily take 6 days just to see the highlights. Japan-guide is a great resource (for those regions and elsewhere in Japan). I would also recommend getting a good guidebook or two -- there is nothing that can replace the information one can find in that type of resource!
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Aug 3rd, 2014, 09:51 AM
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Your brother might know about the delivery service in Singapore that is known as TA-Q-BIN. The company that runs it is a Japanese company (Yamato, see link from kja). In Singapore it is same-day service but don't expect that in Japan. Expect it to be overnight or second-day. To be safe, find out the deliver time frame at least 3 days in advance, if possible, especially if it is going to an airport.

Another option is to simply have luggage stored at the hotel after checkout. I would expect this to be available at least at any hotel nice enough to have porters.

There are coin lockers at railway stations where luggage can be stored.

You can visit Yokohama as a day trip from Tokyo.

You can visit Osaka as a day trip from Kyoto.

I am curious about your interest in the Osaka aquarium. Are you a person who likes to visit aquariums? and/or Is there something particular or unique about that aquarium that interests you?
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Aug 3rd, 2014, 10:41 AM
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>>My grandfather was stationed in Yokohama during the occupation, so my mom wants to see where he worked, etc.<<

This is interesting. Am wondering what it would take to scratch that itch. The area is vastly different now, of course. Was GF in the U.S. Navy? Army?

What was his job?

There is a U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka which is about 20 miles south of Yokohama and it was an important base during the occupation

Do you have any specific info about where he was stationed? GF may have said that he was stationed in Yokohama but it was actually Yokosuka.

Or he may actually have been in Yokohama. I have to believe that the occupation forces were in multiple locations. He may have lived/worked at a small military facility that is now the site of Yokohama Stadium.

You could do some research into the history, maybe even getting military records, depending on what it takes to satisfy your mother.

The easiest case of what it takes would be:
You take a train to Yokohama station, go outside and say: "this is Yokohama where he worked" and then you get on the next train back to Tokyo.

Or, he was Navy (or not), so you go down to Yokohama port, visit the Osanbashi cruise port area, and say "this is Yokohama where he worked".

Or you find out he was actually stationed at Yokosuka and you actually have to travel there just to get a picture taken in from of the "Welcome to United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka" sign out front (if there is one).

Or you just make it a day to see the sights of Yokohama and she gets a sense of place.

You aren't going to find the bunk he slept in, or the crane he operated, or whatever. So what's it going to take to satisfy her?
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Nov 18th, 2014, 09:10 AM
  #8
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Hello! So sorry for the late reply, I've been waiting on information from my mom regarding Yokohama, but she's not given me any more than she did from the beginning. Sigh. Oh well! In the meantime, I've been unable to book hotels in Kyoto or Osaka due to the foliage (Pretty sure) so I've worked out this itinerary. Wakayama was the closest I could get to those cities. Please let me know if this seems reasonable. Hotels have been booked so I can't change dates on those, but day trips can be rearranged.


We have JR Passes.

November 23-27 Tokyo Hotel

November 26, 2014- Tokyo (Shinjuku)>Yokohama (day trip)
Leaving in the morning, perhaps after the morning rush to spend the day exploring.

November 27-30 Wakayama hotel

November 27- Tokyo (Shinjuku)>Yokohama>Wakayama
-OR-
November 27- Tokyo (Shinjuku)>Wakayama
Leaving in the morning, perhaps after the morning rush
If Yokohama is a tiny stop and this makes sense for train travel, we will skip the day trip in Yokohama on the 26th

November 28 or 29 - Wakayama>Kyoto (and back)
Leaving first thing in the morning (8am-ish) to take advantage of an entire day in Kyoto. If travel will be easier on a Saturday during the morning then we'll go the 29th.

Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine
Gion District
Arashiyama Bamboo Grove
Any advice on when to return to Wakayama will be appreciated. We don't want to miss the last train/bus of the day and not be able to get back to our hotel.

November 30-December 2 Nikko hotel

November 30- Wakayama>Nikko (Will this take all day?)
If an all day journey, then leave around 8am. If it will not take all day around 10am.


December 2- Nikko>Tokyo(Haneda)
Leave mid day

Dec 2-3 Tokyo departing for Singapore (on the 3rd)
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Nov 18th, 2014, 09:11 AM
  #9
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BTW, my grandfather was in the army and worked as a postmaster some place in Yokohama. As far as I'm concerned, we'll stop off there and just let my mom explore.
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Nov 18th, 2014, 01:45 PM
  #10
 
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Did you try to get Kyoto hotels through Japan Tourist Board? That worked for us when everything else failed. Also, you are close enough there may be cancellations.

I think it's worth trying. And you will find the foliage wonderful throughout Japan with any luck
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Nov 18th, 2014, 05:06 PM
  #11
kja
 
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I also urge you to explore options to stay in Kyoto, or at least nearer it than Wakayama. I trust you've checked Nara and Osaka and other places that aren't quite so far?

For train times and info, have you checked hyperdia?
http://www.hyperdia.com/en/
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Nov 19th, 2014, 04:11 PM
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Kyoto's great, would lean on more time there.

Y'know, Yokohama is thisclose to Tokyo by shinkansen, which means it's faster to get there via Shinagawa than via Shinjuku . . .
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