itinerary help early July

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Sep 5th, 2018, 04:06 PM
  #1
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 160
itinerary help early July

I realize people ask the same type of question over and over, but on this forum, it always helps me best when it's my thread. So this year we're considering Japan. My daughter (20) will be in Taiwan studying abroad, so she would fly to Japan to meet us. There are complications with her and getting back to the US which I may ask in another thread.

Meanwhile - a suggestion of itinerary came through a travel agent - but she wanted such an outrageous fortune and wasn't willing to do a portion of the trip - so we will do most on our own - with your help if you'd be so kind as always.

Fly into Tokyo 5 nights. We have Marriott points (like almost a million) so considering choosing a Marriott (5th night is free). Then go to Kanazawa and Takayama - maybe 5 days total and stay in a Ryokan - though I'm finding many have no shower. Next onto Kyoto for 3 days (perhaps Marriott or Hilton with points). 2 nights in Hakone Ryokan again. Back to Tokyo for a night before the flight.

I've seen some people talking about going into Tokyo and out of Kyoto - haven't looked into those flights yet.
So what do we like so you can advise us?
We know there will be rain though we don't like it - but the umbrellas will be fine. We want to try Kabuki theater. We want to wander and eat great sushi (and other food). My husband wants to see sumo wrestling. The Alps sounded so charming and a huge change from Tokyo. Kyoto - well of course the shrines. And we love to shop. We aren't run, run, run people - but we don't want to sit around either. Hiroshima is also on our radar, but it may not be possible. I think 17 days would be the most we could do.

This would be a family of 60 year old parents (us) and our grown kids (24 and 21). My son (24) just loves nightlife. My daughter likes food and shopping. We're all good with hiking - and love history.

I'm a bit anxious about dealing with the rail pass without help. We did Croatia last year and found someone who we paid for a little bit of transportation, but we did everything else on our own pretty well.

Any and all feedback welcome!
Ellen
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Sep 5th, 2018, 05:35 PM
  #2
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 19,436
If you haven’t already done so, spend LOTS of time with japan-guide.com

Three days is very, very little for Kyoto. IMO, most first-time visitors to Japan want about 6 days for Kyoto/Nara.

Five days is, IMO, about right for the combination of Kanazawa and Takayama.

I don’t think many people would want to spend more than a night or two in a traditional ryokan, where you would likely sleep on tatami, bathe in a tub (perhaps a half-tub), and spend hours relaxing over meals. Of course, there are exceptions, but you will need to research them carefully, perhaps using japaneseguesthouses-com in addition to booking.com

Kabuki, sumo, etc. are not year-round options – again, you’ll need to do some research.

IMO, it’s too early to think about rail passes – you need to know more about your final itinerary. But the japan-guide.com websites on the passes are, IMO, excellent.

Yes, consider flying into Tokyo (Narita or Haneda) and out of Kyoto (Kansai or Itami).

And another yes – people new to Japan ask the same questions over and over and over – scanning a few planning threads and trying to learn from them wouldn’t hurt.
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Sep 5th, 2018, 11:37 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Ryokan may not all have stand up showers like in the US, but they will normally have hand-held shower heads in the bathing area. You can stand, or sit on the plastic stool and scrub yourselves clean, then you submerge yourself in the tub for a soak. Read up on Ryokan etiquette if you haven't already!! More important than having a shower, IMO, is asking if you have a private toilet or a private bath in your room. We love Ryokans, and go to some at least once a year. Two nights is the maximum for any ryokan because, a) you eat so much that you need a day or two in between to get hungry again, and b) many of them will repeat a some of the meals if you stay a third night. Also, you will then have a chance to eat different styles of food in local restaurants.

I would spend just a little time in tokyo at the start, and put the big clump of Tokyo days at the end. Why? Because you can do the bulk of your shopping and only have to pack it once for the trip home. obviously, if you are going to do your trip one way -arriving into Tokyo or Osaka then leaving out of the other, this may determine the order in which you travel. Often the flights on a multi city like this cost about the same as a regular round trip, and you save the expense and time of a three hour trip back to the start point.

Rail passes are super easy. Plan your itinerary, then see if single tickets cost significantly less than the rail pass. You can use a rail pass for the week where you are doing a lot of moving, but if you're in a city for multi-days, it might make more sense to buy individual tickets or use a shorter regional pass for the places you'll make use of it. Trains over all are simple. Go to a rail station, tell them where you want to go and ask them to give you tickets in English. You can buy them all at once, or as you go. It's no different with the pass, but you can change your itinerary more easily, and don't have to whip out you credit card as often.
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