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Help with itinerary for family's first visit to Japan

Help with itinerary for family's first visit to Japan

Old Dec 24th, 2001, 12:28 PM
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Help with itinerary for family's first visit to Japan

Hello Everyone,

We are planning a 9 night trip to Japan for the first week in April, two parents and 11 and 14 years old boys. We are flying in and out of Narita Airport. This is where we are thinking of going and would appreciate any suggestions you might have. Tokoyo for 3 or 4 nights, 1 night in Hakone and then several nights in Kyoto. Here are my questions: Should we just do days trips to Himeji, Nara, Nikko,Kurashiki or other ideas or should we plan on staying overnight? Is tacking on Takayama (and staying overnight) too much? We want to sightsee, but also want to relax and are fine with not seeing everything. Can we plan on going from Kyoto to the airport to catch a plane by 4 PM or would it be less stressful to spend our last night in Tokyo? Thanks in advance for your help. These boards have great information. Have a happy holiday.
Old Dec 24th, 2001, 05:13 PM
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Just came back from 8 nights in Japan with the family. We arrived at Osaka, train to Kyoto and "Nozomi" bullet train to Tokyo where we flew out from Narita.

Osaka ok, Kyoto beautiful and Tokyo - too crowded! I think 3 nights in Tokyo is plenty and 2 nights in Kyoto is about right to see most of the sights. We were staying at a Japaneese Inn in Kyoto and it was wonderful(beware, very expensive).

The places you've listed we did not go but I can give you the following information. Narita to central Tokyo(Ginza area) by airport limosine bus, cost = Y 2,000 per adult and take about 2 hours(depending on the time of day). Train will take you about 1 and 1/2 hours but dragging luggages around is a big hassle(bus will pick you up from the hotel and the driver/hotel bell boy will take care of your luggages).

Bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto, 2 hours and 15 minutes by Nozomi class(fastest) and 2 hours and 40 minutes by Hirakari class. Cost about Y 10,000 for the green car(1st class). If you want to catch a plane from Narita you must leave Kyoto at around 8am the latest(2 & 1/2 hours to Tokyo + 1/2 hours turn around time to catch the airport express + 1 & 1/2 hours to Narita + 2 hours arrival before your flight).

Oh.. if you plan to visit Disneyland, Disneysea or Universal Studio - everything is in Japaneese! Still fun but less enjoyable.

Old Dec 25th, 2001, 01:08 AM
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Bonjour Nancy,

First, I recommend a 7 days railpass for this trip. You can use it for all the destinations you plan to visit, except public transportation inside Kyoto.

Apiwat has given you excellent information on trains. Just pack light and save time by avoiding being stuck in traffic with the limousine bus ;-)

Depending on the time of day you are landing in Narita, you might take the Narita-express to Tokyo station and then a bullet train directly to Kyoto and stay there for 3-4 nights, visit Nara (don't miss Nara!), then head to Himeji and/or Kurashiki (1 night), then back to Tokyo and take daytrips to Nikko, Hakone or Kamakura until you fly back. Tokyo is crowded, true, but has lots to see, and far more traditional sides than what's currently believed.

Takayama involves 5 hours train from either Tokyo or Kyoto with a change in Nagoya, a bit too much in such a short trip IMO, and it might still be quite cold at that season.

Here are a few links that might help you:

Info on Tokyo Subway: http://www.tokyometro.go.jp/e/index.html

Transportation information, trains fares, etc. http://www.jnto.go.jp/db/traffic/

Affordable accomodation: Japanese Inn Group: http://members.aol.com/jinngroup/
Welcome Inns: http://www.itcj.or.jp/index.html

Kyoto Visitor's Guide: http://www.kyotoguide.com/e-whatson/index.html

Daily Japantimes on line: http://www.japantimes.co.jp

Old Dec 25th, 2001, 03:22 PM
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Hi Nancy,
You can travel easily from Kyoto to Nara, and i imagine it's not too bad a trip to Himeji Castle, which is definitely worth a visit! You can also do a day trip to Nikko from Tokyo, tho' I think a lot of people prefer to spend a night there to get away from the crowds in Tokyo. I agree that takayama is a long way off your route and while it is gorgeous, it's also very touristy.
Have a great time!
Old Jan 7th, 2002, 10:00 PM
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Hi. Given your time restraints, I would recommend a day trip to Nara from Kyoto. Just be sure to catch the express train to save time (same price as the train that hits every station in between). A visit to Todaiji in Nara is a must. If you are looking for a hotel in Kyoto, my family enjoyed the Hotel Harvest Kyoto. It is conveniently located next to a subway stop (on what I believe is the city's only subway line) and is across from Kyoto's old imperial palace (fantastic if you have the time). The rooms are relatively spacious and comfortable. A taxi ride to Kyoto's other attractions from there would be relatively inexpensive considering there will be four of you, as well as the time you could save. I would recommend going back to Tokyo the day before your departure. Many hotels have bus service to Narita Airport. That might be a better option than dragging your suitcases through the stations and the cost is the same as the Narita Express from Shinjuku or Tokyo Station. Hope this is helpful. -- Justin
Old Jan 21st, 2002, 11:09 PM
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No one has replied to the Hakone part so I think I will give you some suggestions. Are you going to Hakone for the hotsprings? Or Mt Fuji?

You can take a train about 2 hours to Hakone ¬“cŒ´ (Odawara station) from Shinjuku station for around 400 Yen round trip - One of the speciality there is Ume - plum and steam buns. Ume you can find in your rice (pickled plum) or inbetween grilled yakitori chicken. Also a treat is the wasabi dips Tasting is available at almost all the shops. But most importantly, when you go to Hakone area, you can visit the Onsens. I think since you are not staying at a hotel, then you can go to any hotels that has public access to Onsens at a fee. The best one is Ten Zen - you can take a bus from the station about 15 minutes. Its the most popular one because it offers 9 theme outdoor and indoor springs with 1 cold metal tank. Bring your own towels or you have to buy it at 200 Yen. The entrance fee is 900 Yen. Its seperated between male and female quarters and its a truly invigorating experience. April is still not too hot so I think its fine...

And geez, I think after typing all this, Nancy, U are probably thinking of going to hakone for Mt Fuji?

Well, if you do have a day - I do reccomend doing the Onsen experience

The entire purpose of a hot spring experience is to relax, heal, feed yourself with amazing array of prepared food by the inn and then soak in the therupuetic waters again...it just goes on all day long

Old Jan 21st, 2002, 11:16 PM
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I did some more research and found the website


gives you direction to the place too!

Its the cleanest, nicest one I have been to in Hakone that is easily accessible by Tokyo trains

I hope you will have a wonderful time in japan.
Old Jan 23rd, 2002, 04:44 PM
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Thank you everyone. You all have such good ideas and advice. I love this site!. I think we have decided to do 3 nights in Tokyo, 1 in Hakone, 4 in Kyoto and the last night in Tokyo before we leave. We will also be doing some days trips to be planned later. Here are some questions I still have before I book my hotels. In Tokyo, we were planning on staying at one of the big American hotels, but I'm getting the impression from all of these letters that what I call double beds to fit 4 people (and my 14 year old is 5'10") doesn't really exist. Is that true? Ryokens sound interesting, but I thought we would do that in Kyoto. I think what I am nervous about is lack of American amenities for 9 nights- raised bed, privacy, American style bathrooms. I want to have the real Japanese experience, but for 9 nights-I don't know. Also while my husband and I would love to go in the communal baths or springs, my sons say they will only go in with a bathing suit. Is this an option? My last question is about The Fujiya Hotel in Hakone. I have a phone # for them, but was wondering if anyone had their email or web address and has any of you stayed there? Again the room enough for 4 problem? Thanks again for your help. Usually I book vacations myself over the web, but this seems like I may need some help from a travel agent who has experience with Japan. We are really looking forward to this trip.
Old Jan 23rd, 2002, 05:00 PM
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You've already decided on the itinerary so maybe this is a moot point, but I would definitely go to Nikko over Hakone any day.
Old Jan 23rd, 2002, 08:53 PM
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Hi Nancy- You cannot fit 4 people in these rooms. We quit being able to fit in a western syle double when our daughters were about 6 & 8. When they say double, they mean 2 people. Unless they say you'll get 2 king beds, i'd plan on 2 rooms, or else get a Japanese style room. You get much more space, and I think once you try futon beds, you will be very happy. They are on the floor, but well padded.
Japanese rooms will often have a dressing room off the bath tub as well, so you'll still have privacy. If your room doesn't include bath, ask if the shared bath is private, so you'll be in it by yourself.
In the community baths or springs, bathing suits are not accepted. The whole idea is to be completely clean before you get in the water, and a swimsuit doesn't let you clean yourself you know where. What my newly teen aged daughters did when they were in that weird stage and we were places with group baths (Tokyo Youth hostel for one) was to take baths at the very beginning or end of the bathing hours. Less people. In addition, they didn't bathe with me or each other. I guess it's okay to be naked in front of total strangers, but not family! If you and husband want to do the community baths, there is probably an arcade nearby. Send the boys there while you relax!
Old Jan 23rd, 2002, 11:11 PM
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I agree completely with Justin on taking the express train from Kyoto to Nara. We took a bus from Kyoto to Nara but it was a bumper to bumper traffic all the way! So on the way back, we just threw away the return bus ticket and took express train back to Kyoto, what a difference.
Old Jan 24th, 2002, 12:12 AM
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Greg, you're absolutely right. The "rule" in Japan is to ever waste time going by road when there's a train connection.

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