Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Itinerary set: Now some logistical questions on first time trip to Japan

Notices

Itinerary set: Now some logistical questions on first time trip to Japan

Old Feb 25th, 2014, 06:38 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 626
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Itinerary set: Now some logistical questions on first time trip to Japan

Hi Fodorites,

I have been reading your posts and trip reports for the last few months, and taken advantage of the great advice and fantastic links you have provided, such as www.japan-guide.com and www.hyperdia.com. I now have an itinerary set, and flights and hotels booked, and would be thrilled to get any feedback that you might have to make this trip more time or cost effective. I'm not looking to make wholesale changes to the entire trip, but just some possible tweeks or advice to help it go as smoothly as possible, or suggestions to make it more enjoyable. Here is what I have come up with:

Days 1 - 4: Tokyo - 4 nights at the Capitol Hotel Tokyu - arriving May 14 at 5am. Plan to spend three full days exploring Tokyo, not including a day trip to Nikko, probably on the third day. For Nikko will take the 8:08 train from Tokyo Station to arrive two hours later, and the17:07 to return. Both legs have a Shinkansen and a JR train.

Day 5: Take the 9:33 train from Tokyo Station to Gora, arriving at 11:19 to visit Hakone. Grab some lunch and do the rope-way, boat, bus circuit. Spend the night at Gora Hanaougi Sounkaku Ryokan and enjoy the onsen that night.

Day 6: Explore the Hakone open air museum in the morning. Take the 12:08 train from Gora to Matsumoto to arrive at 16:26. Coming primarily to see the castle, which we can see in the morning. Spend night at Matsumoto Marunouchi Hotel.

Day 7: See Matsumoto Castle in the morning. Take the 14:05 bus from Matsumoto to Takayama to arrive at 16:25. Staying at the Hida Plaza Hotel for two nights. Explore Town at night.

Day 8: Take one hour bus to Shirakawa-go. Spend about 3 hours exploring. Take bus back to arrive about 15:00. Explore Takayama. QUESTIONS: would it be redundant to also go to the Hida Folk Village in Takayama? Is the experience similar enough to Shirakawa-go that we should do that instead, so as to be able to spend more time in Takayama? I realize this is up to personal preference, but am interested in your opinions.

Day 9: Depart Takayma at 9:37, arriving at Koyasan at 15:51. I realize this is a long travel day, but for various reasons, this is where we landed. Spend the night at Shojoshin-in in order to see the cemetary at night and in the morning.

Day 10: Depart Koyasan at 12:48 for Kyoto, arriving at 15:09. Spend 4 nights at the Hotel Mume in Gion.

Days 11 - 14: Explore Kyoto, with possible day trip to Nara. I realize we could double our time and still not see it all, but will work with what we've got. Depart Osaka ITA at 2:30pm for flight home.

Questions:

With this plan would it make sense to get a one week JR pass? If so, when to activate it? It seems to me it could be used for Nikko, but if there is a day pass for that, I could wait until we leave Hakone to activate it. I believe we could buy a day pass to get us to Hakone as well. Let me know if you have suggestions.

Can I buy all of my train tickets for the entire trip at one train station in Toyko? How about from a travel agent?

We will be on trains often during lunch. Will it be difficult to find a place to buy a bento box or other train friendly food prior to boarding?

We plan to send luggage ahead from Toyko to Takayama, and go with an overnight bag to Hakone and Matsumoto. Then to send it ahead from Takayama to Kyoto, and take a day bag to Koyasan. Any better suggestions?

I'm a bit concerned about making the many connections going from Shin-Osaka to Namba Station on our way to Koyasan. I see three changes, involving subways, with a 4 minute and a 7 mintue walk and not a lot of room for error. Is this as complicated as it appears? Any tips? Would it be easier/faster/less prone for error if we took a taxi between the two stations?

Thank you in advance for your help. Your wealth of information is invaluable. Although my questions have been primarily about transporation, please feel free to provide any other info which you think might be useful, even if I didn't ask about it specifically.

Thanks again!

Russ
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2014, 07:38 PM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"a day trip to Nikko" -- I trust you are aware that I recommend an overnight in Nikko. I understand that many people visit it as a day trip, but I would feel remiss if I failed to mention it!

"QUESTIONS: would it be redundant to also go to the Hida Folk Village in Takayama? Is the experience similar enough to Shirakawa-go that we should do that instead, so as to be able to spend more time in Takayama?" -- I didn't go to Shirakawa, so am probably not the best person to answer, but I would suspect they are, in many ways, similar. My understanding -- and I trust that others will correct me -- is that the Hida Folk Village includes a wider variety of structures than Shirakawa-go and, because it is a museum, you can go in and out of the buildings in a way that you can not do in Shirakawa-go, where the buildings actually belong to, and are inhabited by, the residents. FWIW, I spent 1.5 days in Takayama and did not see everything I wanted to see there.

"Spend the night at Shojoshin-in in order to see the cemetary at night and in the morning." - I hope you enjoy both the temple and Okuno-in as much as I did!

"Days 11 - 14: Explore Kyoto, with possible day trip to Nara. I realize we could double our time and still not see it all...." True enough, and you probably know what I'm about to say: If you can find a way to add a day or two to this area, and to visit Nara, I don't think you would regret it. That said, we all travel for different reasons and make personal choices about what to skip. Do think through your priorities for the area in advance, though -- with so little time, every moment could feel very precious.

"I'm a bit concerned about making the many connections going from Shin-Osaka to Namba Station on our way to Koyasan." -- I remember similar concerns, but can't guarantee that I was looking at the same exact stations. I did a LOT of google searches and eventually found a map that showed all the Osaka stations that my trip entailed in a format that was easy for me to understand. I made SURE I had that map at hand on that day! As I recall, it was easier than I expected to find the way and more nerve-wracking than I had hoped to feel confident that I was keeping the pace that the schedule required, but it all worked out. BUT my info is out of date and may not even involve the same stations. I trust others will chime in, but I'm not sure that a taxi would help -- you would need to find one and deal with surface-level road congestion, etc. The hyperdia schedules are, at least, based on what I found to be surprisingly reliable information about how long it will take to get from one transit point to another. That said, you might consider trying to get to Osaka a littler earlier, just to give yourself a bit more breathing room....

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2014, 11:24 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If I understand correctly, you won't be spending a morning in Takayama at all, as you'll be heading out early on the first morning to go to Shirakawa-go and the second one you'll be leaving for Koya-san. The reason this makes me sad is that it's very lovely to walk through the river-side morning market, looking at the unusual produce and your itinerary won't give you the chance to do that. In fact, you seem to really have hardly any time to see Takayama itself...

Also, when you say your travel gets you to Koyasan at 15:51, that is just when the train gets in to the main station. But the cable car up to the town and then the bus to the temple added a fair bit more time to our journey, as Shojoshin-in is at end of the bus route. Given that dinner is served very early in the temple, I'm really concerned you might miss it. There's an option to leave Takayama on an 8 am train that gets you in at 14:47 and this is the one morning I'd say it's worth getting up really early and taking that chance. And it means if you do miss any connection, you have at least got a chance of getting to the temple in time for the meal.

As for the Osaka changes, there are options with less changes.

You can go directly from Shin-Osaka to Namba(Subway) on the Osaka City Subway Midosuji Line and then walk to Namba Nankai. I'd play with Hyperdia by entering just Shin-Osaka to Namba(Nankai) at different starting times to see if you can work this to fit your timetable.

As part of the issue will be luggage, would recommend you send the majority of your luggage from Takayama to Kyoto using the takuhaibin (luggage delviery) service. Pack it up and give it to your hotel in Takayama and let your Kyoto hotel know. This is a very standard process in Japan so most hotels should be happy to send / accept luggage in this way.
Kavey is offline  
Old Feb 25th, 2014, 11:51 PM
  #4  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with Kavey that the plan to visit Shirakawago would mean skipping the delightful morning riverside market in Takayama. (It would mean skipping any number of sites in Takayama!)

But I don't understand Kavey's comments about the trip from Takayama to Koyasan. My quick check of Hyperdia schedules suggests that the 15:51 arrival in Koyasan is at the TOP of the cable car, not the bottom. Yes, one still needs to get a bus -- which, as I recall, was timed to synch with the cable car, but I wouldn't expect a problem. So what are russ_in_LA and I missing, Kavey?

FWIW, I just check my notes: I arrived at the top of the cable car at about 15:45 and had NO problem checking into to Shojoshin-in and taking a lovely hour-or-so long walk in Okuno-in before freshening up for dinner. Perhaps others have had different experiences?

(Kavey is usually SO on target that I'm sure I'm the one who is getting it wrong. Maybe we can ALL learn from figuring out why our research is leading to such different conclusions....)
kja is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2014, 12:23 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Aah, my apologies, I mis-read! SORRY!

I had thought the train time was arrival to the main train station, not top of cable-car but you are both right, it includes the cable-car journey as well. (We had to make a change between Osaka and the end station, and I assumed that was at Gokurakubashi but of course, Gokurakubashi is the end station just before the cable car). I don't recall now why we couldn't get a direct train from Osaka, perhaps it was a JR Pass thing? Sorry about that!

I also had it in my head dinner was at 5.30 but actually I think it is not served until 6pm so your timings should be fine anyway.

I think my suggestion on Shin-Osaka to Namba(Nankai) is correct!
Kavey is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2014, 12:34 AM
  #6  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm so glad we got it straightened out! (And I'm also VERY glad that I'm not the only person who sometimes posts in error! I know it is EXCEEDINGLY rare for kavey to do so.)

I was just about to add a correction to my post: I reached Shojoshinin in time to check in <AND savor a welcoming cup of green tea and sweet> before visiting Okunoin
kja is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2014, 03:52 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,150
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A couple of comments/answers:

> Gora schedule:

You might want to consider visiting the open-air museum when you arrive in Gora. It's one stop before you get to Gora station on the train, with an easy walk to Gora station. Then, you could do the Gora circuit, even considering doing it 'backward' so that you don't do the tram twice. (Your ryokan is at the top/end of the tram line from Gora station.) Also, if you find yourself with a little extra time, consider visiting Gora Park, an especially pleasant spot -- it sits between the town and the 1st stop on the tramway.

> Can I buy all of my train tickets for the entire trip at one train station in Toyko?

You can buy all of your JR travel tickets at Tokyo station, but not most others. The Hakone portion is not operated by JR. From Tokyo station, you'd take the shinkansen to Odawara station, where you buy the Hakone Free pass.

> Will it be difficult to find a place to buy a bento box or other train friendly food prior to boarding?

No, it will always be easy. The difficult part is deciding which one of the many good choices to take.

> Getting between Shin-Osaka and Namba

It might be easiest to take a taxi, especially if you have any time constraints. I took a taxi from central Osaka to Shin-Osaka, and IIRC it was around 2000Y. Namba station, especially can be something of a warren.
DonTopaz is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2014, 05:51 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kja, you are very sweet but I'm quite quite senile, and very glad you picked up on my error before I had chance to confuse heck out of Russ!

Further to Don's points - for our first trip, when we also got a JRPass, I worked out all the trains I wanted to book via hyperdia and made a spreadsheet giving departure and arrival station, times, train names and took this with me. Then, when we landed at Narita, I picked up our JRPasses, dated to start a few days later when we'd be leaving Tokyo and also asked them to make seat reservations for all the trains I'd listed on my sheet. It took a little while for them to do this, as there were quite a lot of trains, but they were happy to do so and gave me my seat reservation tickets for all of them (printed in English, not Japanese). Later in the trip, there was a train time we wanted to change, so we simply popped into that station before the original train time, asked them to cancel our seat res. on that train and rebook us on the later one, which they did without charge. No problem!
Kavey is offline  
Old Feb 26th, 2014, 06:21 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 626
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kja, Kavey, Don Topaz. You are all fantastic! I have to run to work, so haven't had time to properly digest all this great info, but will do so later today. Thanks again!
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2014, 09:31 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,086
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have to say this: there is no way that I would make that Takayama-Koyasan trip and I absolutely would change my plans because of the the travel time. That being said (I hate saying that) this is your trip and I will try to help, starting with the JR Pass question.

I looked at hyperdia for your trip and saw your itinerary. A good bit of your itin is not on JR. Your JR travel boils down to this:

day - trip - cost
3 tokyo-nikko ¥5,430
3 nikko-tokyo ¥5,430
5 tokyo-odawara ¥3,640
6 machida-matsumoto ¥6,180
9 takayama-osaka ¥11,650 -- Nozomi

¥32150

9 minus 2 is 7 so this is a 7-day period. But, the day 9 trip that you planned involves a Nozomi shinkansen between Nagoya and Shin-Osaka so you would not be able to do that specific itin with a JR Pass.

Uncheck Nozomi on hyperdia and see that a 9:27 dep from Takayama gets you to Koyasan at 16:15 and that can be done with a JR Pass because it uses a Kodama shinkansen. It goes to Shinimamiya on JR and would cost ¥10,310 from Takayama.

That itin means that your JR cost would be ¥30,810, so a JR Pass at ¥28,300 doesn't give you much savings at all.

But, you can travel for less between Tokyo and Nikko if you travel by Tobu Railway instead of JR. I see Asakusa(Tobu/subway) to Tobu-Nikko for ¥1,320, for example, and there is a pass: http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/pass/w_heritage_pass.html

This might be helpful for Nikko: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-302.pdf

There is also a pdf for Koyasan at the same parent page, this: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/r...medium=twitter
There is a World Heritage Pass for Koysan.

The walk times on hyperdia are doable and I think taking a taxi would just take longer (if one would be at all useful). And if it doesn't work precisely as planned then you just wait for the next train. I don't think any of your itin involves the last train of the day, so it will work out.

Consider stopping in Kamakochi for a few hours between Matsumoto and Takayama. I didn't think that the bus ride was particularly pleasant between the two cities, but stops at Hirayu Onsen and, especially, Kamikochi were what made the trip worthwhile. Otherwise, you can just take JR around the mountains instead of the bus across them and save the bus fare as doing this makes a better case for getting a JR Pass.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Mar 7th, 2014, 10:02 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,086
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I wrote the above a week ago but Submit didn't work. I just remembered that I saved it.

Need to add two things:

The Takayama- Koyasan trip is up to you. My advice on that comes from my experience (traveling Miyajima to Takayama same day, for example, is not something that I will do again).

Second thing is: I have visited both Hida-no Sato and Shirakawago, in that order, on two different trips. I enjoyed Hida-no Sato more than I expected to. Having visited it once I don't have a strong desire to visit it again. It is an interesting and unusual museum. Shirakawago is a World Heritage Site and it can be a whole different experience. It is a tourist place and has a museum quality, but Ogimachi is alive.

Hida-no Sato and Shirakawa-go are not redundant (at least not if you visit them in that order). HnS is a substitute for S-go, and a fine one, if you don't have the time to visit S-go.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2014, 03:00 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Day 8: Take one hour bus to Shirakawa-go. Spend about 3 hours exploring. Take bus back to arrive about 15:00. Explore Takayama. QUESTIONS: would it be redundant to also go to the Hida Folk Village in Takayama? Is the experience similar enough to Shirakawa-go that we should do that instead, so as to be able to spend more time in Takayama? I realize this is up to personal preference, but am interested in your opinions

More thoughts on Day 8. Further to my comments above about missing the morning markets in Takayama - is there any way you could take a later bus to Shirakawa-go, spend the same three hours there, and come back to Takayama later? Assuming those markets are of any interest to you. http://www.kaveyeats.com/2012/12/miy...-takayama.html
Kavey is offline  
Old Mar 9th, 2014, 09:38 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,086
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for posting that Day 8 again, Kavey. I can respond more directly to the two questions than I did before.

Yes: if you go to Shirakawago then you can skip the Hida Folk Village. It would be somewhat redundant.

Yes: a visit to Hida Folk Village would be similar enough to a 3-hour visit to Shirakawago which would come at the cost of 2 hours on a bus.

That 5-hour plan for visiting S-go means a 10:00 bus from Takayama. The market would open at 6:30, so there would be up to 3 hours available for that before heading to the bus station.

I recommend staying in Takayama that day and visiting Hida Folk Village. Save S-go for your next visit to Japan when you can visit S-go with less time constraint and consider staying overnight. With a similar time constraint that is what I chose to do and have no regrets.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2014, 10:03 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 626
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi all,

I was away longer than anticipated, but so happy to see your helpful suggestions.

mrwunrfl, wow! Thank for the incredibly detailed information. I think we will go ahead and skip S-go this time around and save it for a future trip. Better to more thoroughly explore Takayama, and see Hida Folk Village instead. I have some thinking to do about day 9. Thanks again!
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Mar 10th, 2014, 11:02 PM
  #15  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
While in Takayama, if you have ANY interest in Art Nouveau or Art Deco glass or in the Scottish architect/artist/designer, Charles Rennie Macintosh, do NOT miss the Hida Takayama Museum of Art -- outstanding! You can see it on your way to/from the Hida Folk Village; plan on a couple of hours. It has a very pleasant cafe.
kja is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2014, 06:10 PM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 626
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you all again for your feedback. Upon careful consideration, I've decided to revamp my days 6 - 9. I was really feeling like I wasn't giving enough time to Kyoto at the end of the trip, and was torn about rushing through Nara as a day trip from there, thus reducing my limited time in Kyoto even further. That fact, coupled with the long Takayama to Koyasan trip, has compelled me to delete Matsumoto entirely. As much as that pains me, this allows me to add an overnight in Nara on the way from Takayama to Koyasan, thus breaking up the travel time between the two, while also providing us an extra day in Kyoto, (since we will not need to go as a day trip from Kyoto). Here is what this looks like:

Day 6: Explore the Hakone open air museum in the morning. Take the 12:53 train from Gora to Takayama to arrive at 18:17. Staying at the Hida Plaza Hotel for two nights. Explore Town at night.

Day 7: Explore Takayama, morning market, Hida Folk Museum, Shrines. Skipping S-go.

Day 8: Depart Takayma at 9:37, arriving at Nara at 13:48. Explore Shrines and Parks afternoon and evening.

Day 9: More exploring in morning. Depart Nara 12:47, arriving at Koyasan at 15:03. Spend the night at Shojoshin-in in order to see the cemetary at night and in the morning.

Please let me know if I've made any huge mistakes, but this seems like a better alternative at this point. Thanks!
russ_in_LA is offline  
Old Mar 11th, 2014, 06:17 PM
  #17  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,985
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think that's much better!

I don't think you'll regret the extra time in Nara. If you have any interest in statuary, I thought the Kufukuji Treasure House had the most moving statues I saw in Japan.

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2014, 12:37 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That sounds way better!

(We also did Takayama to Nara, and then Kyoto after that...)
Kavey is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 07:22 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,086
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That is better and you didn't really have any huge mistakes to begin with. I see you have Hikari trains for both shinkansen trips. The Gora to Takayama is a bit too long (for me), but that is because of the 1 hour trip to get to Odawara. No good way around this I think. Sit on the right side of the shinkansen from Odawara.

The Takayama to Nara is good and all JR. You might have time to stash a bag at a coin locker in Kyoto station on the way to Nara. That could be day 7 of your JR Pass. You will definitely want to use the pass for Nikko on day 3, but you might gets some use of it on day 2. Then a regional pass for days 9-10 for Nara- Koya- Kyoto.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
CahayaMalaysia
Asia
6
Jan 30th, 2019 07:07 AM
Nknows
Asia
7
Aug 8th, 2017 08:16 PM
LaSam
Asia
14
Feb 23rd, 2016 10:45 PM
JeremyAlc
Asia
5
Oct 2nd, 2015 08:41 AM
internetwiz
Asia
14
Jan 28th, 2015 04:24 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO