help w Japan trip

Old Apr 5th, 2010, 08:56 PM
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help w Japan trip

My wife and I are leaving Miami on May 27th and heading to Japan. Our return is June 17th. We are staying in Tokyo until June 7th. I need suggestions on side trips from Tokyo. Then,, I need suggestions on what to do from June 7 to June 17th. We are getting a train pass. What do you think of Kobe, Hiroshima and Nagano? Does the train take you to the mountain? Where is a nice cool place to stay? We both enjoy sushi and sashimi and would like suggestions in Tokyo and other cities. This is our first trip to Japan. You fodorites helped me with Thailand in 2004 and I was not misled. Thank you for your attention to this. My E-mail is [email protected]
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Old Apr 6th, 2010, 12:00 AM
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Kamakura is a great daytrip out of Tokyo, only 1 hr each way by train. Best to go on a weekday as Japanese flock here on weekends. Good view of Mt Fuji on a clear day.
Kyoto is my favourite Japanese city. Hiroshima, Kobe and Himeji are all good for day trips. Nagano was great but it was the middle of winter with powder snow 5ft thick, don't know about June.
My suggestion would be 10 days in Tokyo the rest in Kyoto with daytrips from both. Forget a phrasebook this country is easy to traverse.
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Old Apr 6th, 2010, 02:04 PM
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day trips from tokyo- try the IZu peninsula, and Ito in particular. there is a lovely walk through cherry blossom groves to some cliffs and a dangling suspension bridge!

nikko is an easy day trip and some beautiful temples, including the 3 wise monkeys carvings.

we also went from nikko up to the lake for a hot spring experience at the lakeside hotel, in an onsen that overlooks the lake( 1,000 yen for non residents), and followed this with a trip to the KEgo waterfall.
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Old Apr 6th, 2010, 02:12 PM
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this was our itenary- happy to provide further info if you are interested, but it workeed really really well for us!

flight arrives, travel to osaka and boook into hotel.
day 1 osaka sights and travel to mount koya, and stay overnight in temple lodge with buddhist prayers next day
day 2 return from mt koya to Osaka( Osaka castle and/or boat trip if time)
day 3 nara
day 4 Kyoto/ arashiyama and boat ride
day 5 Kyoto late afternooon travel to Hiroshima, to arrive late evening
day 6 miyajima
day 7 Hiroshima to Tsumago,
day 8 we plan to walk the kiso valley trail then on to matsumoto then on to Tokyo, where we booked ,Shinagawa Prince Hotel which is opposite the JR station.
days 9, Nikko,
day 10 izu pensinsula and Tokyo
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Old Apr 6th, 2010, 02:44 PM
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Where is Kyoto in your plans and why Nagano? We spent 5 nights in Kyoto and needed more time. Kyoto is excellent. I think Al_Core's time-splitting suggestion is a good one.

You should definitely go to Nikko. Its importance is far more than "some beautiful temples" and the monkey carvings. Read up on the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Meiji Restoration to see why.

Nagano is pretty industrial -- don't get thrown off by the fact that it hosted an Olympics. We actually stayed in Matsumoto for our "mountains" part of the trip because it's a smaller city and has the fantastic castle.
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Old Apr 6th, 2010, 03:14 PM
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Thanks. I will spend more time in Kyoto. What is a moderately priced place to stay? How about a RYOKAN? Lynabee-Did you take this trip by train? Is Matsumato really cool? The castle sounds great. Anybody have great sushi-sahimi experiences? Where? Do I need to pre-book hotels outside of Tokyo and Kyoto? Thanks for your help.
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Old Apr 6th, 2010, 03:43 PM
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As a former Tokyo native, I agree that Kyoto is a must-see. Since you have the time, you should also go to Nara from Kyoto - it's a quick train ride/day trip. Also recommend staying in a ryokan for the ultimate Japanese experience of sleeping in a tatami room, having fancy meals in your room, etc. You should look in some guidebooks and search prior posts for recommendations - they can be very pricey. Beware that most ryokan rates are per person, not room, but would typically include breakfast and/or dinner.
From Tokyo, I would definetly go to Nikko (it can be done as a day trip) and also Kamakura. Kamakura in June has beautiful hydrangeas so will be mobbed on weekends. You should also go to a hot springs resort (onsen). Hakone is an easy trip from Tokyo where you can find many hotels near the lake that have the onsen baths. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji from there. It's also worthwhile to do the cable car ride and touristy lake boat crossing - all the guidebooks have the route which probably every visitor to Hakone does. The Hakone Prince Hotel is right on the lake and very nice/ modern. The Fujiya Hotel in Hakone is not on the lake but might be a better choice due to its history and atmosphere. Google them both and you'll find out more.

Keep in mind that June is rainy season in Japan and it will be very humid - maybe you're used to that if you live in Florida.
There are so many sushi restaurants in Tokyo it's hard to recommend a particular one but you should probably go to Tsukiji, the old fish market area, where there are many choices of varying prices.
Personally, I would not bother going to Nagano as I think of it mostly as a ski resonrt.
You might want to go to a travel agency and pick up Japan tour package brochures to get an idea of the "top" sights.
Good luck!
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Old Apr 7th, 2010, 08:34 AM
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We stayed in a rental apartment in Kyoto that we found on vrbo.com. It was like a ryokan (tatami mats, futons, pillows, no sofas/chairs type furniture) and had a western toilet and shower. We didn't get ryokan breakfast, but we loaded up on pastries from Vie de France (it's the Japanese Au Bon Pain) at Kyoto station every day or two -- the pastries are relatively inexpensive and very good.
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Old Apr 7th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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Thanks for all of your help. I have fodors and Frommers and will look into your advice.Then, I will get back to you. The Ryokan is a must whether in vacation rentals or per night. The meals in room sound special though.Matsumoto will be good as it will be a change from Florida and Biscayne Bay.Nikko is definitely on the radar. Can you get to all of these places w a rail pass? Do you walk or take taxis from the train stations? Do we need a raincoat during this period of time?Thanks again.
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Old Apr 7th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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Here's the deal for JR passes: you need to obtain the voucher from a travel agent before you go to Japan and exchange it for the pass in Japan. This takes 10 minutes at Narita airport. We got the seven-day pass, but it may be better for you to get a 14-day pass (far less than double the price) because you will have more than a full week outside Tokyo and you can schedule your further-afield day trips from Tokyo for when your pass will be active. You can pick your date to activate the pass -- it does not have to be active upon arrival.

There are direct trains to Matsumoto and Nikko (one short transfer, I think) from Shinjuku Station. The better option for Nikko is to take the Spacia limited express and the included Nikko world heritage site pass from Tobu railways (http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/index.html). The Spacia train is NOT included on a JR pass. The Spacia train runs far more often than the JR-Nikko line.

Taxis are really expensive in Japan, primarily because driving is (toll roads, high gas prices).

Matsumoto Castle is about 10-15 minutes from the station. The castle is great to see and tromp around in, but the visit doesn't take that long. Conceivably, you could do a LONG day out from Tokyo that goes to Matsumoto in the morning, visit the Castle, hop the train to Nagano (one hour) and visit the temples or snow monkey park, then take a shinkansen back to Tokyo from Nagano. In the Frommer guide we had, the author had a suggestion for a restaurant in Matsumoto that served great unagi. Dunno the name -- it was in Japanese and we matched the characters in the book to the small sign in the window.

Nikko is about a 20-25 minute walk uphill from Tobu-Nikko station and the site is very large (and also all uphill). It takes HOURS to putter around and see all the shrines, temples, architecture.

For sushi, try the restaurants around Tsujiki (sp?) Fish Market in Tokyo but eat there at 10 am. Straight catch-of-the-day stuff. Google the fish market and you'll get more info.
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Old Apr 7th, 2010, 05:41 PM
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citiboy, you have been given great advice above. If you have some time you can click on my screen name and read through a few of my trip reports which covers all the areas you are planning to go to. You may gleen a little information about your itinerary and Japan in general from them.

Aloha!
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Old Apr 8th, 2010, 02:30 PM
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hawaiiantraveler-we spent 2 wks in your beautiful islands for New Years Eve and our 10th anniversary 2 yrs ago and it is hard to believe you leave the "Rock". However; we understand after seeing your pictures. We love calimari, clams and snails and more fish. Where do we find this? Where was the Octopus restaurant? That is what we eat as we do not eat red meat-Chicken and fish are great.Where can we find food like that? We decided to spend two nts each for 8 nts total before returning to Tokyo. What do you think of the lost in translation hotel or do you have another suggestion? Montsumato sounds great for 2 nts.How about 2 nts in Kyoto? Is it worth 2 nts in Hiroshimi? How about somewhere with Hot Springs for rest and beauty? Can we spend 2 nts in Nikko or are we overdoing it? The rest of you can way in. Rachel and I are so appreciative for your help. We have traveled the world and would be glad to reciprocate. Aloha.
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Old Apr 8th, 2010, 05:17 PM
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I can only suggest what I would do, which is a little different than what was suggested above(which were good suggestions btw).

In Tokyo I would stay in Shinjuku at the Hyatt Regency Hotel which is right down the street from the Park Hyatt of "Lost in Translation" fame. The Hyatt is more than half the price of the Park Hyatt and just as good imho(maybe because I am a Diamond member). If you are a Gold Passport member you know the procedure on how to upgrade to club status to get free breakfasts and evening hors d'oeuvres, bigger rooms and cocktails in the regency club if not learn how.

I would probably cut my time in Tokyo short of yours and leave on June 5th and activate my 14 day JR Rail Pass http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361.html then do two nights at this ryokan that you can get to by rail and bus(or rent a car) http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/nasu/omaru.htm Let Honmasan take care of you for a couple of days as he is about the only one that speaks English there.....maybe two others....
Then I would be off to Hiroshima/Miyajima for two nights. Night one in Hiroshima at maybe here http://www.hgh.co.jp/english/ where you can get a discount by showing your JR Pass. Explore Hiroshima and switch over to Miyajima for a night http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3401.html and maybe stay here or wherever your budget allows http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/miyajima/momijiso.htm

Then head off to Osaka for a couple of nights and eat at that Octopus Restaurant you were asking about that you saw in my pictures at maybe stay here http://www.swissotel.com/EN/Destinat...el+Description right in the heart of Namba and all the wonderful shopping and restaurants that Osaka has to offer. Dotobori is right out the door and, well see here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4001.html#dotonbori

Then it would off to Kyoto for 4 nights. I love Kyoto for its sights but not what they do to gouge the tourists who visit. A Friday or Saturday night may well cost you 600 US+ for accommodations just not worth that price. It is one of the reasons that turn me off of Kyoto. Japanese at their worst....Kyoto does have great architectural and World Heritage sites which is the draw for me and of course the shopping although after you have been to Osaka you will see that the shopping areass in Kyoto are but a child's replica of Osaka's Dotombori, Shinsaibashi, Amerikamura and Namba Walk.

I would then make my way to Matsumoto for a couple of days staying here: http://www.mcci.or.jp/www/kagetsu/englishtop.html I have been here and totally can recommend it. Ask for the castle view, it will cost a little more but is worth it especially the night shots.

Then back to Tokyo after a night in Hakone or Fuji Fives Lakes but I have now lost count of your days,lol. Just a little different approach. If you want reviews of the places I mention just read some of my trip reports. Good Luck!

Aloha!
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Old Apr 10th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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I forgot to mention we will be in Tokyo from May 29 to June 7th but will be going to Kyoto for 2 nights during that time. Should I go back to Kyoto during the unplanned June 7th to 17th or is that enough? Is one night in Hiroshima enough? What do you folks think of Kobe? Is it worth the stop? Aloha and thanks.
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Old Apr 11th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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What do you think of the Matsubaya Ryokan in Kyoto? Thanks.
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Old Apr 11th, 2010, 08:13 PM
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One night in Hiroshima is enough
Never heard of Matsubaya, sorry. Only go back to Kyoto if you know what you are going for in the first place

Aloha!
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 08:48 AM
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What Ryokan do uou recommend in Kyoto? Middle price.I really appreciate your help Peter. I will do a trip report as I travel. I enjoy that approach although I am not taking a laptop.
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 10:23 AM
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Here is what I have so far. I am staying at a home in Shinjuku May 29 thru June 6th.-nts of June 2 and 3rd in Kyoto . Lv Tokyo on the 6th. I have not put these in proper order nor made reservations but here goes for the 11 remaining nts until departure June 17th:last 2 nts in Tokyo at the Hyatt. 2nts Osaka(swiss hotel0, 2 nts Matsunoto, 1 nt Hiroshima,1 nt Miyajima,2 nts Hakone- that leaves one nt open unless you recommend staying over in Nikko or Kamakura.What do you folks think for the first trip to Japan?What is the best order to travel? Then, will work on reservations. Thanks Peter and all for your help thus far.
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 01:48 PM
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Depends on you but if it were me I would go to Hiroshima from Tokyo then work my way back up the country.

Use www.hyperdia.com for your train reservations,costs and times. Then from Hiroshima you can move on to Miyajima then on to Osaka, Kyoto, Matsumoto before getting back to Tokyo. You can either throw Hakone right after Tokyo or just before going back to Tokyo. Do Nikko over Kamakura but you would be better served saving Nikko for another trip. Let us know if you need further help.

Aloha!
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Old Apr 12th, 2010, 02:06 PM
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Thanks My Friends-I will get back to you. We are staying in the home of the deceased Mikimoto President in Tokyo. Sounds like an experience I cannot recommend to other travelers unfortunately. My son married his daughter 2 1/2 yrs ago. This should be interesting.I will give you folks a trip report on every move.
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