Help me plan our first trip to Japan!

Feb 12th, 2019, 06:50 AM
  #21  
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A new plan: after 6 days in Tokyo we will head to Kyoto on the 17th for a week. We wanted to be in Kyoto for the last day of Hanatoro festival. The trip to Kanzawa will now move to after Hiroshima/Miyajima.

Looking for suggestions of areas and hotels in Kyoto. Our budget can go to $250 a night and it doesn't work for us to stay in a Ryokan due to my neck /back issues.

Thanks again!
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Feb 12th, 2019, 05:57 PM
  #22  
kja
 
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My favorite area to stay in Kyoto is the Kawaramachi district. YMMV.
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Feb 12th, 2019, 10:24 PM
  #23  
tt7
 
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Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
Looking for suggestions of areas and hotels in Kyoto.
There are probably three main "areas" to consider -

1. In and around Kyoto Station, particularly the area to the north of the station (though there are also hotels on the south side).
2. "Downtown" (which is really 'uptown') and could be considered to be the area from Shijo-dori in the south (from Omiya in the west, to Karasuma and to Kawaramachi in the east) and north from there, up to and beyond Karasuma-Oike towards the Imperial Palace.
3. East of the river, including Higashiyama and Gion.

There's no right and wrong in terms of where to stay; everybody has their preferences and it may depend on what you're planning on doing. The area around Kyoto Station is viewed by some as less "interesting" than other areas. However, there is no shortage of shops and restaurants in, around and under the Station and if you're planning a number of day trips (Himeji, Osaka, Arashiyama, Nara, for example) being close to the Station has its advantages. Downtown has lots of shops, restaurants and other things to do. East of the river is much less served by public transport (trains and subways at least) and you'd be much more reliant on buses or taxis (the latter anathema to some of us...) for getting around.

Many of the "tourist sites" - whatever they may be considered to be (Kinkaku-ji, Ginkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, Daitoku-ji, Path of Philosophy, Fushima Inari etc. etc.) - are generally not within any of these areas so require some sort of 'trip' to get to. Thus being close to convenient public transport is a plus. Buses can be a good (and interesting) from of transport but can take a bit of figuring out (in terms of where they go). There are only two subway lines (one running north/south, the other east/west, intersecting at Karasuma Oike) and a couple of train lines other than JR - the Hankyu line running east/west along Shijo-dori and the Keihan Main Line, running north/south just east of the river. If you haven't already, I would study the map of Kyoto and, armed with a list of places you think you want to got to, figure out where they are and how you're going to get there. I would want to be fairly close to a subway or train station that would facilitate "getting around". Japan-guide.com may be helpful in figuring out how to get to places - see, for example, how to get to Kinkaku-ji. [I would take the subway up to Kitaoji and then the 101 bus (which originates at Kitaoji) to Kinkaku-ji. Afterwards, continue on that bus and you'll end up west of the Imperial Palace (passing fairly close to the Raku Museum, if that is of interest) and further south passing Nijo Castle, before heading east on Shijo-dori as far as Karasuma and then south to Kyoto Station]. Lots of ways of getting around but being close to a subway or train station to get started is often the key....
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Feb 13th, 2019, 04:56 AM
  #24  
 
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I found google maps on my phone very useful for the buses in Kyoto.

There is also the electric railway/tram, which is useful for Arashiyama and Kinkaku-Ji.

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Feb 19th, 2019, 09:21 AM
  #25  
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Since we will be traveling for 3 weeks and all of our hotels, JR passes will have been paid I am wondering how much US cash I should bring. Should I convert USD to Japanese Yen before leaving (at my local AAA office) or wait until I arrive at Haneda Airport? Which ATM cards will be best for us to use and have more success in locating ATM's across Japan?
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Feb 19th, 2019, 06:29 PM
  #26  
kja
 
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Since the invention of ATMs, I haven't converted currency before leaving the U.S. even once.
I do study maps of the airport at which I will land, so I know where the ATMs are.
Map of the Facilities | Haneda Airport International Terminal

Here's info on ATMs:
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2208.html

You can find almost any information you need on japan-guide, and you will then almost certainly have the most current possible information. I seriously encourage you to consult it!
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Feb 22nd, 2019, 12:24 PM
  #27  
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I want to take a bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawag and after a few hours to Takayama. Are there several bus lines to do this and if so any preferences? Will we be able to store our luggage in lockers for a few hours in Shirakawago? I went online to reserve tickets but was unable to as it was over a month until the date I wanted. Since we are leaving Kanazawa on March 28 do I have to wait until Feb. 28?
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Feb 22nd, 2019, 04:20 PM
  #28  
kja
 
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https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5950.html
Scroll down to "Access and Orientation." Click on links.

If you care to describe the problems you are having with japan-guide.com, perhaps we can help you learn to use it? You don't need to sign in -- that's only if you want to post on its forum. Just click on the magnifying glass and type what you want to know. Or browse it.
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Feb 22nd, 2019, 11:29 PM
  #29  
 
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I don't have time to read the whole thread, but I read something upthread about whether or not to visit Ginza. I've gone to Ginza, a few times, as my hotel is walking distance away. If you go on a Sunday, then the main street is closed to traffic, which is really nice, and folks are out in the street walking around. It was quite lively on Sunday, but I go in the summer. I don't know how it is in other seasons. Below is how it can be in the summer.


Happy Travels!

Last edited by Guenmai; Feb 22nd, 2019 at 11:41 PM.
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Feb 23rd, 2019, 11:00 AM
  #30  
 
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Originally Posted by allyboy View Post
I want to take a bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawag and after a few hours to Takayama. Are there several bus lines to do this and if so any preferences? Will we be able to store our luggage in lockers for a few hours in Shirakawago? I went online to reserve tickets but was unable to as it was over a month until the date I wanted. Since we are leaving Kanazawa on March 28 do I have to wait until Feb. 28?
Nouhi Express bus schedule: https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/
and then click on the Takayama - Shirakawago/Kanazawa Line link to see bus fare and timetable (in both directions).

When I took the bus last October, the bus between Shirakawago and Kanazawa was fully booked, so I would suggest to book your bus tickets a few days ahead. I do not know if there will be places to store your luggage for a few hours in Shirakawago, but you may ask at the TI office in Shirakawago because many tourists want to do the same.


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Mar 7th, 2019, 05:20 AM
  #31  
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Quick question: Is it appropriate to wear jeans in Japan?
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Mar 7th, 2019, 07:13 AM
  #32  
 
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I am an active senior as well...even though I wear jeans all the time at home in NYC I never wear blue jeans when I travel anywhere...just my thing...
I do wear black denim pants/jeggings or leggings and I do have a blue denim mini skirt I wear with leggings....
Whether or not appropriate I really can't say.....
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Mar 7th, 2019, 09:27 AM
  #33  
 
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I never travel with jeans. Too heavy and take too long to dry.
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Mar 7th, 2019, 03:43 PM
  #34  
kja
 
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I suspect that you will find that Japanese are very stylish and generally dress a bit more upscale than is common elsewhere. That said, what is appropriate attire depends on what you are doing. Even if I traveled with jeans (I don't -- like thursdaysd I find them too heavy and too hard to wash), I would not wear them to a temple or shrine. If you're hiking, maybe they would be OK.
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Mar 7th, 2019, 05:24 PM
  #35  
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Thanks for the "jeans" tips! I shall leave them home. As usual my wife was correct!
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Mar 7th, 2019, 11:36 PM
  #36  
 
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Not so fast. Many Japanese wear jeans everywhere ( I mean in private & not at work ). You are tourist, in private, so nothing wrong with wearing jeans while visiting the country. It's up to you, as long as you feel comfortable in it. I understand those above who say they don't, they don't wear it because they find it heavy and uncomfortable and not because they will look out of place. I would wear it even when visiting temples, etc. Absolutely no problem at all. That said, my jeans are clean and ones looking nice enough. Again this comes from a Japanese. If you leave your jeans at home, fine, if you wear it in Japan, fine too !
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Mar 8th, 2019, 06:33 AM
  #37  
 
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Long time lurker but had to chime in to say jeans are absolutely fine to wear in Japan. As someone who only travels with jeans since that is what I am used to wearing (and I air dry them at home anyway so letting them air dry on the road is fine- not like I only bring 1 pair of pants) I've never felt out of place in Japan in jeans. We're heading there for the fourth time this month and I've worn them to temples, shrines and everywhere else. Perhaps if you are heading to a fancy restaurant they aren't appropriate but unless they are all torn up they are fine to wear.
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Mar 8th, 2019, 08:09 AM
  #38  
 
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Most of us said there is nothing wrong with wearing jeans - just some of us don't for various reasons...not a question of them being inappropriate....

At home I don't use the dryer for clothes but in Japan I have and they seem to dry a lot slower.....even with my lighter weight denims....
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Mar 8th, 2019, 06:03 PM
  #39  
kja
 
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Originally Posted by Mara View Post
Most of us said there is nothing wrong with wearing jeans - just some of us don't for various reasons...not a question of them being inappropriate.....
I agree! I certainly only meant to speak to MY comfort level in the hope that it would be useful to the OP.
And I should add that I have absolute confidence that you will be made to feel welcome no matter what you wear.
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Mar 11th, 2019, 01:38 PM
  #40  
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We arrived in Shinjuku after: 12 hour flight ( Delta) from LAX which was wonderful! I booked Delta Comfort and the space, food and service was excellent. After Passport control and Customs ( with our carry on luggage in hand) we headed to the Information Counter in the terminal. There are several very informative, english speaking and eager agents ready to assist you and head you in the right directions. For us it was validating our 21 day JR railway pass, purchase Suica cards ( also at JR ), pick up our wi fi device and buy bus tickets which would deliver us right in front of our Hotel Century Southern Tower in Shinjuku. We boarded our bus and 1 hour later we entered our Hotel, threw our suitcases down in our room and left immediately for our 2 hour "free" tour ( tipping allowed), of nightlife & social life covering Kabuki-cho, Omoide-yoko-cho ( Memory Lane aka Piss Alley), Golden Gai, and Shinjuku train station. Although we were tired we ventured on with about 30 other tourists and had a very good tour with lots of info, funny stories and great intro to our immediate neighborhood here in Shinjuku! Now back to our hotel for much needed sleep!
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