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Help with itinerary to Japan (24 nights)

Help with itinerary to Japan (24 nights)

Feb 11th, 2009, 03:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 9
Help with itinerary to Japan (24 nights)

Hi there. My wife and I are going to be in Japan for 24 nights by end-March to mid-April 2009 and we need some help with the itinerary. We don't want a stressed trip but rather a relaxed one so that we can enjoy our time in the different places we visit.

We fly in and out from Tokyo.

Our idea is to spend 8-10 nights in Tokyo to see the city and make 2/3 one-day trips to Hakone, Yokohama, Nikko or Takaragawa Onsen.

Then we would like to go to Nagoya for 2 nights visiting Takayama.

After that we think about staying 9 nights in Kyoto with day trips to Nara (1 night?), Himeji, Uji, Kobe, Bamboo forest and Osaka.

Finally we plan to stay 2 nights in Hirosima with a full day trip to Miyajima. And then back to Tokyo to fly back.

Please, could you help me with suggestions, opinions, key places that we are missing in these areas and any other comments.

Thanks a lot
adonnay is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 08:35 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
First question is do you have any of your hotel or airlines reservations yet? Your dates are for next month.

Are you trying to schedule your trip 3+ week trip at this last minute?

Your itinerary seems well thought out and you already covering all the well beaten tourist paths and looks like a relaxed schedule to me.

If you come back and answer my questions, I will try to help with some suggestions

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 09:19 PM
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Hi. Thanks a lot for your reply.

We are travelling around the world for a year visiting quite a few countries. We already have the tickets to and from Tokyo.

We do not have any hotel yet as we are now deciding the itinerary. The good thing is that having 24 days let us to go on a relaxed way and have some flexibility.

We don't want to be rushing from one place to another to see every single thing. We want to visit key things and spend time wandering around.

We also have to big pieces of lugagge and that is why we prefer to use Tokyo and Kyoto as a base and make day trips from there. Do you think that is reasonable?

Thanks a lot

adonnay is offline  
Feb 11th, 2009, 09:48 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Are you planning to hit the cherry blossom season in a particular city?

Except for 2005, the end-March/mid-April is past the middle of the cherry blossom season. Obviously, we are dealing with the weather: 2009 can behavior nothing like previous few years.

The Japan Meteorological Agency forecast of cherry blossom blooming does not come out until March, but you can see the trend for last few years:


And here is map for 2008 showing how the blooming season across the country:

greg is offline  
Feb 12th, 2009, 01:11 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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Make your hotel reservations soon, especially in Kyoto, as previously mentioned you are traveling in the midst of the Sakura season and the good hotels will be at a premium.

Use the Takuhaibin service for transport of your luggage from city to city. Very easy to do and reliable. You can have the front desk at your hotel or ryokan make the arraignments for you. You don't want to carry luggage on the trains if you don't have to and you did say you wanted to travel with no stress
See here for details:


Do an overnight in Nikko or Takaragawa Onsen. Those places are too far and too much to see and do for a day trip imho. You can do both as a day trip but you end up seeing nothing but the train as you go there and back again.

We did two nights at Osenkaku in Takaragawa Onsen last spring during the Sakura. The place is magic. You can read about it in my trip report or look here for details



I would also recommend an overnight in Miyajima so you can experience the island when all the day tourists have left. Quite a different atmosphere to say the least.

One night in Nara sounds like a good plan. I don't have any Nara reco's but others here will chime in soon.

Hakone on your list might be the only other place to spend an over night, the others on your list would be good as day trips. Good luck!


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Feb 12th, 2009, 04:00 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 4
The first thing that struck me about your plans is your desire for a "relaxed trip". It is easy to look at a guide book and map and think how close everything looks and then plan for too much in too little time. And if you want to relax, Tokyo is the last place in Japan to do so. I always spend the end of my trip in Tokyo and then go home and crash.
I love the gardens in Japan and bring friends there to visit them.

Hakone is a nice place to relax but you would need to spend at least two nights in any one place to get to experience it in a relaxing manner. They have great Onsens there and a spectacular sculpture garden. You could stay at the Historic Fujiya Hotel where they have their own free modest Onsen in-house. Their prices are higher on the weekends and sometimes they will give foreigners a discount.
Make it a rule to spend a minimum of two nights in any one place.
Nikko is fabulous. The setting reminds me of our mountains and water here in the Pacific Northwest. We stayed at Turtle Inn with its own Onsen and very reasonably priced.
If you are going to Nagoya just to get to Hida-Takayama, then I would skip Nagoya,unless you are interested in art as there isn't much there that you won't see in other cities. Again, stay overnight in Takayama. It is a very atmospheric old town. I love their morning market.
Kyoto is where I spend most of my time. Try the Palace Side Hotel for reservations.
They are so inexpensive and its a great place across the street from the Imperial Palace. You can do Nara as a day trip. Check Fushimi (day trip)out as well. The Inari Shrine there is an amazing site. And you can visit all of the sake breweries. Himeji Castle is gorgeous from the outside but as castles go Nijo in Kyoto is more interesting (unless you are interested in Japanese carpentry). The garden next to Himeji (KoKo-en is fabulous). The west side of Kyoto, Arashiyama, is a bamnboo forest.
I haven't been to Osaka but my husband who is a native of Japan, loves the food there.

marilynT is offline  
Feb 13th, 2009, 10:19 PM
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I agree that you should skip staying in Nagoya. Just go to Takayama and stay there. There is a big festival in April. I guess it would be the weekend of the 18th but could be the 11th.

You could add a stop at Shirakawago.

As ht suggested, you should use the luggage delivery service. You could take what you need for the first night/day and ship your luggage from the airport to your Tokyo hotel, if you want.

For you trip to Takayama, you should ship your luggage from Tokyo to Kyoto and then just take a small bag on the train for the 2/3 days in Takayama.

At the end of your stay in Kyoto you can pack what you need for Hiroshima and ship the rest back to either your Tokyo hotel or right to the airport.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 11:25 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2008
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Thanks a lot to all of you for your comments and suggestions. We are just finalising the itinerary and trying to book hotels/ryokans. Obviously some of the first ryokan options are already booked.

We already sorted out the accomodation in Tokyo, Takaragawa Onsen and Hakone. Any suggestions for Kyoto, Takayama, Nara and Miyayima?

Again, thanks a lot for your help.
adonnay is offline  
Feb 14th, 2009, 11:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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The Best Western Hotel in Takayama.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 08:52 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
We enjoyed Iwaso Ryokan on Miyajima last April


Hotel Okura,the Hyatt, or the Granvia are my choices in Kyoto. There are many others in various price ranges, I don't know which you prefer....

hawaiiantraveler is offline  

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