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Help with itinerary for December trip with kids

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Mar 6th, 2016, 10:59 PM
  #1
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Help with itinerary for December trip with kids

Four of us including two kids ages 8 and 10 will be in Japan for 9 days in December (16-26). We are flying to Tokyo and leaving from Osaka. We plan to be in Tokyo for 3-4 nights and in Kyoto for 4 nights (with a side trip to Himeji castle). I am having a hard time deciding where to spend 1-2 nights between Tokyo and Kyoto, considering it will be cold in Takayama and other parts of the country. What do you recommend? My 8-year old wants to see the snow monkeys but I am concerned we will spend lots of hours on travel so that he spends 15 minutes looking at the monkeys. I am also thinking about Hakone and Miyajima. What do you think? Anything else I should consider?
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Mar 7th, 2016, 03:32 AM
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Hi I would suggest you stay at Kanazawa, you can easily connect to Tokyo & Kyoto.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 06:39 AM
  #3
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I thought that Kanazawa is very rainy in December. It is not the case? We live in Southern California so we are scared of bad weather
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Mar 7th, 2016, 09:55 AM
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More time in Kyoto and you can see the monkeys there. There is a monkey park in Kyoto near the Arashiyama area and Tokyo has a monkey park too. Check Japan-guide.com.

You don't need to go to Nagano and take a bus ride into the sticks just to hike 4 miles round trip to see the little apes running around a hot spring area and pooping in the waters. We did that on the spur of the moment because we were in Matsumoto to see the castle, but it was just us sans kids.

Miyajima will be a hike b/c it's not between Tokyo and Kyoto.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 10:13 AM
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Yes, I know about the monkeys in Kyoto but I am sure it is not the same as seeing them in hot baths in Nagano. In any case, I doubt that we will go there -- too far.

I do realize that Miyajima is not very close to Tokyo but the question is whether it is worth a two day trip or would it be better to spend one or two nights in Hakone. I have a reservation for Hakone Ginyu but I am not sure if the kids will appreciate and whether it is worth staying there. I can easily cancel.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 10:39 AM
  #6
 
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Kanazawa - the average of 13 inches of precipitation would mean a lot of rain when the average low is 38F. Are your kids not interested in seeing snow (elsewhere)?
Takayama - colder, yes, but you will need to be prepared for freezing temps elsewhere anyway. I don't recommend it for a 1-night stay.
Miyajima - would be a 6+ hours trip from Tokyo
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Mar 7th, 2016, 11:28 AM
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Hi there --

Last summer we embarked on an amazing trip to Japan with our 3 kids and a young cousin. With advice from Fodorites we started in Tokyo, followed by Hiroshima/Miyajima and ending in Kyoto. We loved taking the train from Tokyo to Hiroshima, which took 4 hours and was a breeze. We spent the day in Hiroshima before taking the ferry to Miyajima. We stayed two nights on Miyajima but one night would be fine too. The kids delighted in the deer, the easy walks and hikes, the great shops, and walking out to the red Torii gate at low tide. Miyajima is great for kids! We then took the ferry back to Hiroshima and went directly to the train to Kyoto. The train was easy breezy and took just under 2 hours. For us, the combo of Tokyo, Hiroshima/Miyajima and Kyoto was perfect for our family.

Good luck.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 01:16 PM
  #8
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lolazahra, thank you very much for your reply. Good to hear that Miyajima/Hiroshima worked well for you! Did you consider Hakone at all? I do think that logistically Miyajima is doable due to fast trains. That will be the only long trip during 8-9 days.

mrwunrfl, no, we don't need to see snow. The kids see plenty of snow at ski resorts around LA and in Mammoth. Any thoughts? Miyajima is far, I agree, but it will be our only long journey during the whole trip.
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Mar 7th, 2016, 06:02 PM
  #9
kja
 
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I would consider adding the time to Kyoto / Nara, but if you are committed to adding a 3rd location -- and I can see that there are advantages to doing so! -- then Hiroshima / Miyajima would be a good choice, IMO, for the reasons already given (AND Miyajima is another place with options for seeing monkeys, if not in a hot bath). I haven't been to Hakone yet, and so can't comment.

I would not aim for Takayama or Kanazawa -- I don't think you have enough time to fit them in. JMO.

I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time no matter what you choose!
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Mar 7th, 2016, 10:41 PM
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Mar 8th, 2016, 07:07 AM
  #11
 
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Hi.

I did not consider Hakone, only because we had limited time as well. I figured we would be back at some point and would discover new sights. Honestly, the 4 hour train ride on the fast train was so easy and went by quickly. I remember rushing to pack up ipads and games because it did not seem like we were on the train very long. Our hotel in Tokyo booked all of our train travel for us in advance and the tickets for all legs were waiting for us when we checked in. We also used the fabulous luggage shipping available in Japan and sent our bags from Tokyo to Kyoto -- which only took one day. We went to Hiroshima/Miyajima with just overnight bags and backpacks. It worked out perfectly and the hotel in Tokyo handled this we as well. Once in Kyoto, we did do one day trip to Nara, which was also fantastic and easy. There is so much to see and do in Kyoto though that IMO I would only add Nara if you have enough days. If you do go to Miyajima, the kids will at least see the deer if you skip Nara.

Good luck. Its a great destination for kids.
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Mar 8th, 2016, 08:24 PM
  #12
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Lolazahra, thank you! What did your kids enjoy the most? Which places and experiences?
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Mar 10th, 2016, 03:44 AM
  #13
 
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We had such varied experiences but some highlights particularly for the kids were going to the crazy Robot restaurant, visiting a cat cafe which is quintessentially Japanese, walking around in Harajuki area, and eating in lots of Ramen shops -- the menus are fun and full of pictures. I have girls so I let them get crazy Japanese nail art, which I would never do at home. They also really liked all of the gardens, riding the subway and walking around, especially that famous crossing -- I cannot think of the name. Oh and we did a sushi making class. This was all in Tokyo. They loved Hiroshima/Miyajima -- I explained why above. The day trip to Nara was special -- the temple is very impressive and feeding the dear is a must. Kyoto was filled with great wandering alleys and they were able to purchase gifts for their friends -- even my little ones. They got a little templed out in Kyoto because there are so many to see. They had a mantra ..."taxi, ticket, temple!" You might consider letting them sleep in a bit one day and run and see a few on your own and have them join later depending on their temperaments. Oh, we took a very fun and interactive Samurai sword class in Kyoto. Great costumes and pics! Lastly check out fire ramen in Kyoto. Fun! You will not run out of things to do with the kids and can see all the "must-see" places too.
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Mar 10th, 2016, 11:05 AM
  #14
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Thank you very much for the detailed description!!
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