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Japan 2011: We're booked...time for some serious Fodorite assistance!

Japan 2011: We're booked...time for some serious Fodorite assistance!

Jun 7th, 2010, 07:57 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,600
Thanks so much KimJapan.

I travel solo, and am really reluctant to rent a car - for both financial and navigational reasons - but I will take "So infrequent that I've actually never seen one" as definitive for Gokoyama!

My original thought was S-go, and it would be a weekday, even if I change my itinerary (http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...nts-please.cfm) to leave Tokyo earlier. I think I'm willing to trade the stress of driving myself for a more touristy experience.

I'm definitely looking forward to Kanazawa, and am thinking of trying for a Welcome guide there.

Apologies for the hijack, filmwill.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 08:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
I have several students who are volunteer guides in Kanazawa. They are retired men, and one in particular I think is quite knowledgeable and personable. You do need to reserve probably a month in advance at least as they are popular and being a group of volunteers they are sometimes hard to schedule.

Feel free to e-mail me, you too filmwill.
teaghanmackenzie at mac dot com.
KimJapan is offline  
Jun 7th, 2010, 11:20 PM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,870
Hi Kim - Good to find you here again. Filmwill, You will love Japan in April - I stayed there a month during my first trip and traveled with a friend who lived there to an onsen right on the sea (a train ride away from Osaka) and then to a ryokan in an ancient pine forest full of shrines and temples. Kim - Do you have any idea where that could have been?
crosscheck is offline  
Jun 8th, 2010, 09:14 AM
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I'm not Kim but you may have been at an onsen in Wakayama(ocean)and Mt Koya(Koyasan)for the ryokan in the pine forest with temples and shrines....

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 04:56 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 4
You've picked some great places! I've recommeded a few more in case you're interested.

KYOTO(Stay at a Ryoukan www.japaneseguesthouses.com)
HIMEJI (I went to Himeji and only part was covered for renovation, but could still go inside)

If you don't mind whizzing around I reckon you could do that in 2 weeks. You'd have to get the Japan Rail Pass but it was great value http://www.jrpass.com
kitty_chan81 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 05:29 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 446
I would definitely include a day trip to Nikko from Tokyo and do Nara as a day trip from Kyoto.
As you only have 2 weeks I think you could also do Osaka as a day trip from Kyoto but if you do decide to stay a good hotel option is "Il Cuore" Namba it's right across from the Namba train station, therefore great for restaurants and shopping in Dotonbori.
You can't miss Hiroshima as sad as the visit will be but I would stay in Miyajima and visit Hiroshima the next day before heading back to Kyoto, maybe with a visit in the afternoon to Himeji castle.
Some of the hotel rooms in Japan can be pretty small we found that if you book rooms with 2 single beds instead of a double the rooms were much larger.
Clark55 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2010, 05:29 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
BTW, while I am on this computer let me leave you with one of my favorite bookmarked sites that has a lot of my favorite sites listed within......you'll see what I mean.

Don't book hotels from this site though, just get ideas for hotels, restaurants, onsens,train schedules, subway maps,etc.


The site is the most all inclusive I have found about Japan next to


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jun 10th, 2010, 12:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 5
You may be interested in the audio guides to some of the temples of Kyoto and Nara at www.iconicguides.com - a much more cost-effective and flexible way to see the sites of these two once-great ancient capitals. I would definitely recommend a day trip down to Nara from Kyoto and don't miss out on Horyu-ji, which includes the world's oldeat wooden buildings, as well as Todai-ji in central Nara. Another place I would try to visit (just 20 minutes on a local train south of Kyoto) is the fabulous Phoenix Hall at Byodo-in in Uji City. Have a look at the website above for further details about its history.
bgdavies is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 10:29 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 47
If you are not into high end accomodations we just stayed at a Super Hotel in Kyoto. Right on ShijoKawaramachi which is central Kyoto. Walking distance to every street shopping; Nishikidori your market is not 5 minutes away. It cost us 4200Y per person. Included breakfast; laundramat,computer center and a community bath if you so desire. There is also Kyoto Central Inn which is on the same street a little higher in cost and no breakfast. If you booking in advance and know the days getting a convenient/inexpensive hotel in Kyoto won't be a problem its never been for us and we have been there during Golden Week and paid no more than 5000Y per person in a business hotel on Shijo/Kawaramachi.
melen is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2010, 11:32 PM
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I'm baaack!

Kidding. But I am back in full-swing of planning mode.

Now that I've digested things a bit, I'm trying to find a 4th place to add to the mix (thanks to all your lovely suggestions)

So right now we have Tokyo/Kyoto/Hiroshima & Miyajima + 1 TBD stop (possibly 2)

Some ideas I've narrowed down to are: Mt. Koya/Koyasan or Hakone. Love the allure of an onsen/hot springs visit so Hakone seems ideal, but also pulled in by the allure of the misty mountain graveyard/staying in a temple experience. Any way we could do both?
filmwill is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 11:51 AM
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I haven't been to Koyasan yet partly because of what I know and want from a ryokan. The ones at Koyasan would require a more spiritual state of mind to enjoy. Not that it's a bad thing in anyway, just my preference.

No decadence,opulence or gluttony here
Simplicity, temples,monks, reverence,religion, history, shojin ryori are what you must want to achieve enlightenment at Koyasan.......I prefer decadence,lol. Kathie and Cheryl would have to spend at least two to three nights here. You and yours one night. Your inlaws might kill you for taking them here

For first timers in Japan I would recommend a stay in Hakone. So many sites to see with lots to do. Museums, hiking, gondolas, eating, ryokans with onsen, lakes, boats, maybe that perfect picture of the elusive Fujisan and on and on. Doing the 'circuit" along with some light hiking,hotsprings,sightseeing, museums and shopping can easily fill two nights. If you do decide to do Hakone, I suggest you stay outside of the towns of Hakone and Hakone-Yumoto and in the upper regions of the little towns of Miyanoshita or Gora. Just a heck of a lot prettier out there than in the "city" and within the region you will be seeing anyways.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 12:09 PM
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I probably fall between Kathie and HT in my interest in Koya-san. I'll be spending one night there in September (it's my first trip to Japan) and will report back.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 12:14 PM
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Thanks, HT. Are there any onsen/ryokan you would recommend looking into in Hakone? I assume it's fairly close to Tokyo so we could head there before heading to Kyoto?

BTW, are accommodations really *that* spartan at Koyasan? It seemed like, from what I was reading, that there are more 'tourist-oriented' ryokan...nothing luxurious perhaps, but definitely more comfy than a hard floor to sleep on.
filmwill is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 12:24 PM
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I am at work now and have the links for Hakone at home, will post later.

Like I said, we haven't been to Koyasan yet but it's not that the ryokan are that spartan at Koyasan, I am sure they would be comfortable, but the atmosphere there is what would be uncomfortable to me. I am not into Buddhism and that is what the place is all about. Its what you go there for

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 12:49 PM
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I found my stay at Shojoshin-in in Koyasan very comfortable. Not 5*, but not at all what I would call spartan. The food was outstanding. I didn't go for a spiritual experience, although I was glad to take the opportunity to observe the morning prayers. And although i don't know, I didn't have the sense that the majority of others who were there at the same time were there for a spiritual experience - it was a chance to eat delicious foods in a beautiful setting, see the stunning scenery on the way to and from Koyasan, walk through Okuno-in, visit some of the other temples. . . .

For more info about Shojoshin-in:

kja is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:03 PM
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Well we're definitely into Buddhism. If we were to consider a trip to Koyasan (we probably have time for both Hakone & Koyasan, actually) would 1 night suffice? Seems like 2 could be overkill, but I'm not sure how easy/difficult it is to get to. Assuming this would be an offshoot trip from Kyoto (before we head south to Hiroshima/Miyajima)
filmwill is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:33 PM
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any true fodorite would have left work immediately and driven home to get you the info.... hey, he owns the company too...
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 01:53 PM
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One night suited me quite well.
kja is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 02:02 PM
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I spent two nights in Koyasan but the first day I got there fairly late in the afternoon. The next day I took a walking tour in the morning of Okunoin and some other areas and spent the afternoon exploring on my own including a couple of museums and temples. Then the next morning I left quite early. So imo it depends what time you will get there and leave - there is quite a bit to see.
And I think there is a definite variation in the different temple lodging - I stayed in one which I read later was regarded as being 'grungy' although it was fine for me - but no private bath or tv - however there was a room with a internet connection where I was able to use my laptop.
Mara is online now  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 04:09 PM
Join Date: Jul 2008
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Koyasan is definitely a highlight of a trip to Japan. Going there on the little train, staying in a monastery which is very comfortable and set up for decadent tourists even to the great food....and the walks, particularly through the ancient graveyards are like nowhere else. It would be silly to miss this once in a lifetime experience and dismiss it as "too Buddhist" or not comfortable enough.
We went back.
Tommmo is offline  

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