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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!

Aug 23rd, 2010, 04:59 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 5,309
Here is my small contribution, I feel unworthy amongst all the true experts! If you check out the Harajuku girls and shop in that neighborhood this is a really good Okonomyaki place: http://www.sakuratei.co.jp/en/index.html

We were there a couple of years ago and my then 19 year old son really liked the artsy atmosphere. We ate on the outdoor terrace and it was very pleasant.
SeeHag is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 05:21 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
I apologize for offending and did not mean to be so foolish in stating my non Buddhist beliefs online. My apologies for not realizing that one could experience Koyasan without Buddhism being involved,your right,how silly.

filmwill: These Hakone ryokan rec's I leave are from expensive to budget accommodations all either checked out personally by me or recommended by someone I trust. The budget ones are in the "city".

I have tried to get reservations here three times in planning and have not gotten a res yet, always booked even six months out. I checked this place out the last visit and it is a good as it looks in the pictures, just so expensive.....rhkkmh should stay here





http://lalaca.com/English.html KimJapan's reco


http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/ha..._suimeisou.htm I think lcuy stayed here on my reco

Hopefully someone will add more

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 06:31 PM
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I'm going to have to take out another line of credit to afford these hotels.

Pardon me while I pass out.

Some of them are just gorgeous--but $500/night/person?? That's just insane!

Oh lordy, I'm missing Thailand right now. Sticker shock is definitely in effect.
filmwill is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 06:53 PM
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Yes the higher end places are.....high

Suimeisou can be had for $150 per person, Lalaca a little less. Remember this includes your dinner which is usually kaiseki or similar and breakfast so all in all not that bad,lol

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 23rd, 2010, 07:18 PM
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HT, if we were to splurge on 1 ryokan...where would you do it?

Right now I'm thinking hotels/business hotels for Tokyo and Kyoto...but ryokan for possibly Hakone, Koyasan and/or Miyajima.

We definitely cannot afford to splurge in all places, but I feel like it's worth it for 1 or 2 nights somewhere.

Where would you do it?
filmwill is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 07:17 AM
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One night at Hakone Ginyu is my dream. The cherry blossoms might be in full bloom by the time you get there.

Gora Kadan is supposed to be the cream of the crop but when you get that expensive,most of the subtleties are "lost in translation", meaning that it would be better if you were a local to get all of the traditions that are going on around you even as you step through the front door.

If you are doing ryokan in those three places may I suggest that you save the splurge Hakone ryokan till the ending of your trip on your way back to Tokyo? That way you will be impressed with the other ryokan you visit and not be disappointed. There are a few less expensive ryokan on Miyajima. I know Mara mentions a ryokan she stayed in on Miyajima but can't remember the name right now. Maybe she will chime in here soon........mrwunrfl has stayed here and had a favorable review http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/miyajima/momijiso.htm
Momijiso is located in the middle of a forest all by itself on the trail up to the gondola, excellent atmosphere....

As I mentioned earlier Koyasan's ryokan are not the same as a luxury place basically because of the Buddhist monks who run the place. You will get a comfortable place to stay and most likely be served shojin ryori style food. This is a vegetarian style of cooking which is very tasty and Japanese but not at all what you would get at a place like Hakone Ginyu. At Ginyu you would expect to get the best seafood and meats available presented in a way that is an artform in itself. The difference would be like comparing the Pen, 4 Seasons or the Oriental in Bangkok to the Marriott. The Marriott is a nice to stay but cheaper for a reason(because Bob stays there,lol).

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 11:15 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Happy to oblige, HT


I stayed at Morinoyado - link above - when I was in Miyajima in April 2009. It is some sort of government run inn and is quite reasonable. I was on my own and had a huge Japanese style room with an anteroom, separate toilet and bathroom, large sleeping room and a little sitting room. The meals are included and dinner is served in the room - you go to their restaurant for breakfast. I did not use the public bath there so can't give you info about that. It is in walking distance of the Torii gate - I went there at low tide in the evening. I highly recommend this inn particularly if you are on a budget.
I agree with HT - Koyasan is not the place for a splurge - the veggie food as good as it was is not s high-end kaiseki meal -and I am under the impression that the range of prices there is pretty narrow anyway. So possibly Hakone would be your best place to splurge.
Enjoy your trip:
Mara is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 05:36 PM
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When I tried to book a bed at some of the Miyajima ryokan for cherry blossom time I pretty much failed to find anything (admittedly I was booking for a Friday-Sunday stay, and only two months ahead of time). This was for this year's season. Once you settle dates, try and book as far ahead as you can.
Sydney2K is offline  
Aug 24th, 2010, 11:17 PM
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I really enjoyed my overnight stay in a gassho zukuri (Koemon) and seeing the sights in Shirakawa-go. It was in the winter and, IIRC, a weekday. I would add Kanazawa, Shirakawago, and Takayama to the itin in the OP.

People leave the big cities to visit the country, towns, small cities. Like Nagoya-jin going to Takayama or S-go or Gero. Do the reverse. Cities have festivals of one kind or another on the weekends.

I recommend staying a night in Nara and doing it not from Kyoto but on the way from Hiroshima to Hakone or Tokyo.

Here is a good link, click on and read "About Ryokans" and "Ryokan Styles":

If you are in Kyoto in April and have any interest in seeing geisha then I can't recommend anything more highly than taking in a performance of the Miyako Odori. emd, her daughter, and I saw that performance a few years ago and I absolutely loved it.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Aug 25th, 2010, 09:34 PM
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Great suggestion about the Miyako odori


Also if you are having trouble making reservations for any ryokan in Japan, a little known fact is that the Japanese Guest Houses people at the link that mrwunrfl left above will contact and make a res for you at the ryokan you are having trouble making reservations with either from lack of English skills or whatever.
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 02:36 PM
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Moving some stuff around in our itinerary a bit here guys and need some input:

Day 1 Depart LAX
Day 2 Arrive Tokyo (early evening)
Day 3 Tokyo
Day 4 Depart for Koya-san
Day 5 Koya-san
Day 6 Depart for Kyoto
Day 7 Kyoto
Day 8 Kyoto
Day 9 Kyoto
Day 10 Depart for Hiroshima / Miyajima
Day 11 Hiroshima in the AM; then depart for Hakone
Day 12 Hakone
Day 13 Depart for Tokyo
Day 14 Tokyo
Day 15 Tokyo
Day 16 Tokyo
Day 17 Depart for LAX

(1) are we trying to cover too much in too short a time? I'm starting to feel like, even with active in-laws in tow, that it might be a bit too much running around.

(2) if so, which place should we drop? I'd be inclined to drop either Miyajima or Koya-san--since they seem to have the most "in common" with each other (i.e., peace and quiet, nature, etc.)

(3) are we spending enough time in Kyoto, given that we want to do a lot of day trips (i.e., Nara, etc.)?

...and finally

(4) are we spending too much time in Tokyo?

Thanks a bunch guys...getting closer to nailing this itinerary down finally!
filmwill is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 02:42 PM
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You might consider dropping that first day in Tokyo (Day 3) and just spending the night - that's what I've decided to do.
thursdaysd is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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1. no

2. looks good don't drop anything

3. yes

4. imho, no


I would only spend one night in Koyasan and add the night to Kyoto.

I would go to Kyoto first and then spend a night in Koyasan. I think your reasoning might be splitting time between cities and ryokan but actually continuous ryokan stays are quite nice and a lot more enjoyable imho than staying at any hotel as you will see. Its always nice to come home to your room after a long day of touring and have a nice soak and be pampered......you'll see

Also by going to Kyoto first and staying there you more slowly immerse yourself into the Japan train system. It is a learning process. By going to Koya from Tokyo would require multiple changes in trains and tickets you would have to use and be a long day. It would also require you to stay two nights atop Koyasan because you would be arriving later in the day. If you leave from Kyoto, you can leave in the am and get there early to drop your bags at your ryokan and have the day to explore the town which I haven't been to yet but am quite sure can be done in a day. That gets you another night in Kyoto and gets that long day on the train cut short.

Have you any thoughts yet on what you will do with your bags as you travel throughout Japan? If you are "heavy travelers" you can always use their takuhaibin services to move your larger bags from place to place ahead of you as you travel with just a small bag between certain cities.



I use these services every time while traveling in Japan, its wonderful!

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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In general, I agree that your plan looks good.

I think hawaiiantraveler's suggestion to go to Kyoto before Koyasan is well worth considering.

How to balance time between Tokyo and Kyoto really depends on your interests - I am glad I had 6 full days for Kyoto and Nara and found 3 days enough for what I most wanted to do in Tokyo.

kja is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 08:43 AM
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one thing i would like to note is that early April in Koyasan is equivalent to early/mid March in Tokyo, Kyoto, etc. in terms of temperature because of its high altitude. late winter rather than early spring.
kanazawan is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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Thanks for that bit of info, HT--that's EXACTLY what I needed to know. I had many questions about the logistics of getting to Koya...so, knowing that, we will definitely go to Kyoto first.

What would you say the travel time/amount of trains would be getting from Koya to Hiroshima? I'm not too worried about that trip, since we'll be spending either 1 night in Miyajima/1 night in Hiroshima or 2 nights in Miyajima now (I forgot we have 1 additional night in our plan that I didn't account for above!)

As for luggage, we're generally light travelers. A small suitcase and a duffel bag for us. Perhaps 1-2 small suitcases for the in-laws. I doubt that we'll need that luggage delivery service, but I will definitely keep that info in my back pocket. Did you reserve ahead of time or did you just drop-off at a convenience store in each city you were in?
filmwill is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 12:29 PM
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What would you say the travel time/amount of trains would be getting from Koya to Hiroshima?

Basically you have to get from Koyasan to Shin-Osaka to catch a hikari shinkansen(presuming you'll be using a JR pass) to Hiroshima. Have we told you about www.hyperdia.com yet? Just put in Koyasan in the from box and Hiroshima in the to box and click out the airplane and nozomi in the "search details" and the times and transfers details all pop up. Leaving at 9:30 am from Koya will get you into Hiroshima about 1:30. Schedules and times will change a little with the seasons but you can get a gist of scheduling by using this tool.


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 05:22 PM
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I did Koyasan to Tokyo in 2009 - that's a really long trip - I think going from Kyoto is better as HT said. And btw, if you are going to Miyajima you need to add in about another hour for the local train to Miyajimaguchi and the ferry to the island....
Mara is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 05:42 PM
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Mara is right, I didn't see that if you wanted to go straight to Miyajima from Koyasan part.
IIRC its twenty minutes from JR Hiroshima station on the local train to JR Miyajimaguchi station. You get off there and cross the street and down a little food stall filled lane to the ferry for a ten minute ride to Miyajima. Maybe a one minute walk from the station. You can see the ferries as you exit the train. You can use your JR train pass on the JR ferry.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 06:33 PM
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Well that should work out fine since the plan right now is to head to Koyasan (from Kyoto) and then to Miyajima from there. There's no real rush to get to Miyajima since we might spend 2 nights, which leads me to...

...the question now is: to spend 2 nights in Miyajima or 1 night in Miyajima/1 night in Hiroshima (before heading to Hakone)?

I'm leaning towards resting the bones in one place (and seeing Hiroshima early in the AM before we catch the train back north), but curious to get the take of those who have done this before.

BTW, HT, you did send me that link before but I guess I wasn't unchecking those options so I had found it really confusing. Makes MUCH more sense now. Thanks (for everything)!
filmwill is offline  

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