Japan - 8 nights. Tokyo, Osaka &

Feb 2nd, 2016, 10:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 30
Japan - 8 nights. Tokyo, Osaka &

Hello all!
I found Fodorites especially helpful on my last trip so I thought I'd turn to you fine folk again.
I'm a late 20's solo lady traveller planning my second visit to Japan.
Two years ago I visited Japan for the first time and had a marvelous 3 weeks. I did the first timers' special and spent almost a week in Kyoto (saw Nara as a day trip), a few nights in Hiroshima (saw Miyajima and Okunoshima, a real highlight), a night on Koyasan, a couple nights in Kanazawa and a couple nights in Takayama with a stop over at Shirakawago along the way, and ended with a week in Tokyo (day trip to Fuji Five Lakes). (see http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ghts-where.cfm for the full low down).

This time, my time there is much shorter (tacked it onto a couple weeks in Taiwan because I really wanted to go back!) and with just 8 days I'll be both arriving in and leaving from Narita. I have 3 rough goals - explore Osaka (with maybe a day trip to Himeji since I didn't get to see it last time), cycle the Shimanami Kaido (this one is big for me - I'm a daily cycling commuter and I think it's something I'd really enjoy), and 'hang out' in Tokyo with the chance to see a few additional neighbourhoods.

So, here's where I need some help. Unfortunately I've got myself into a Golden Week situation again with the first week of May and want to book my accommodation asap. Given just the cost of Tokyo to Osaka it seems like the JR Pass will be worth it for my week. Here is how I was thinking of breaking it up.
3 nights Osaka, 2 nights Onomichi, 3 nights Tokyo
27 - Arrive Narita 5:30PM and head straight to Osaka (approx 4.25hr train) (sleep Osaka)
28 - Osaka (Himeji day trip?) (sleep Osaka)
29 - Osaka (sleep Osaka)
30 - Osaka - late departure to Onomichi, 2hr train (sleep Onomichi)
1 - Onomichi ('day trip' the Shimanami Kaido, maybe skipping to Setoda by ferry to make it poss in 1 day) (sleep Onomichi)
2 - Onomichi - Tokyo (somehow... long day :/ 6hr train so if I leave 8am, arr in tokyo for roughly 2/230) (sleep Tokyo)
3 - Tokyo (sleep Tokyo)
4 - Tokyo (sleep Tokyo)
5 - Depart Tokyo via 4:30pm flight (so will leave Tokyo around 1230/1 so I get that morning)

It might be best to just cut Himeji if I want to see Osaka... but maybe do-able as a half day trip? I've searched Hyperdia but going from Onomichi to Tokyo might be a bit... intense. I imagine it'll also be tight going from Narita to Osaka but I only travel with carry on and I'd rather do Tokyo at the end. At least i won't be suffering much jet lag coming from Taiwan vs North America.

Should I perhaps cut it up a bit differently? The one thing I cannot change is Narita as origin and departure, and my burning desire to cycle the Shimanami Kaido.
musicdiver is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2016, 11:20 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,120
Noting, in advance, that I haven't visited Osaka or Onomichi, all I can really say is that what you are outlining makes sense to me, given your stated interests.

Yes, visit Himeji-jo if you can, and also consider visiting the small gardens next to it, Kokuen
I think you are wise to aim to visit Himeji-jo on a Thursday rather than a weekend, but it looks like you have at least some flexibility there if you need it.

As for long travel days, I must admit that I never found traveling in Japan difficult enough to worry about it. Like you, I'm a solo traveler with only carry-on (and sometimes wonderfully light carry-on while in Japan, as I did take advantage of my options for luggage forwarding!). As long as I knew what my route was -- and I had printed out my intended route and a few "back-up" options in case I missed a connection -- I didn't see a problem. YMMV.

"I've got myself into a Golden Week situation again with the first week of May and want to book my accommodation asap."

Check booking.com -- you should be able to make some reservations that are cancellable. Just be sure to pay attention to the details!

Sorry I can't be of greater assistance!
kja is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2016, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,523
IF your flight arrives NRT on time then you will have 1 hr 18 minutes to get through I&C, get your JR Pass, and board the Narita Express at 18:48 to Shinagawa and then a Hikari shinkansen. After that you only option involves an overnight train 7 hours from Yokohama to Himeji.

I don't see any good flight options and I checked OSA, HIJ, OKJ, and FUK.

May 2:
Depart Onomichi at 09:39 and it is 5hr 1 min to Tokyo with JR Pass arriving 14:40.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2016, 07:54 PM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 774
mrwunrfl seems to be overlooking the NRT-KIX flights on Peach at 18:45 and 20:55 and on JetStar at at 20:45. These are cheap, too, at $45-$53.

I don't know how far along the Shimanami Kaido you will be going, but I highly recommend a visit to the Oyamazumi shrine on Omishima. This is a lovely shrine, and its museum contains the most celebrated armor, swords etc. in Japan.
someotherguy is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2016, 09:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
I really wanted to love Osaka more. We spent a night there on our first trip, didn't love it, but went back overnight on our second trip, determined to try and find what it was that others had fallen for - I kept coming across foodies saying it was the best place ever! But we never did feel it. I enjoyed the food market there very much, small but easier to wander through than the crowded Nishiki in Kyoto, and much real shopping by ordinary shoppers. The knife museum in Sakai was a disappointment (for us, your mileage may vary) but the temple we stopped at en route was pretty, though I don't think I'd detour just to see that one. Dotonbori was colourful but the area is small and for us, worthy of a half-an-hour walk-through. I did love the cup noodle museum on our first visit, that was a definitely thumbs up. And I'd love to visit their fish market, but we couldn't swing it, as our potential dates were Sundays.

Given how good your previous itinerary was, I'm betting you've put this one together after carefully looking into what appeals to you, and have identified enough in Osaka to keep you busy for that time period.

If not, I'd tentatively consider taking one night from Osaka and adding either to your cycling segment or to Tokyo.

Or you could keep it in Osaka and look at other places to visit from an Osaka base, such as Kobe. We wanted to visit Kobe last time but ended up changing our itinerary on the fly to spend an extra couple of nights in Kyoto.
Kavey is offline  
Feb 4th, 2016, 12:42 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 30
Thanks for the fast feedback everyone!

kja - "As for long travel days, I must admit that I never found traveling in Japan difficult enough to worry about it."

- Too true! I found that too. I think the only time I regretted a long journey was when I only had one night on Koyasan and was coming from Hiroshima and leaving the next day for Kanazawa. Given that it wasn't just a matter of making a train connection, but rather taking a cable card and a bus, I would've been better off either picking a different spot for the one night or staying two nights. I've decided one night only makes sense if it's within 2 hours of one's other destinations!

mrwunrfl - Thanks for checking up on connections! I am gambling a bit with that first night but I suppose if I miss it I can always bail and spend the night somewhere closer to Narita (to be determined by hostel availability )

someotherguy - Thanks for the tip! I'm thinking of taking the ferry to Setoda on Ikuchijima so I should have more time to work my way through Omishima.

Kavey - Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. I'd heard similar things about Osaka and so had avoided it my first time 'round, but not wanting to retrace my steps too much on a second visit (because man I did love Kyoto and would be happy to revisit it again one day but...) I thought I'd give it a go. Thinking mostly of just eating and cafe sitting and neighbourhood wandering more than anything. Because I'm getting in so late on the first night, I'll really only have two days in Osaka itself. Looking at it now, although it may be prudent to do Himeji on the Thursday, perhaps I'll leave it for the Saturday (and live dangerously. A weekend AND golden week...) and do it 'on the way' to Onomichi so I have a straight forward two full days in Osaka (and/or to day trip somewhere if I find that it's not for me after day 1... suppose if I really wasn't feeling it I could go back to Kyoto and see the temples I missed during my week there last time ). I'm not huge on theme parks and figured during golden week it'd be a bit crazy to go to one anyway, but I see their Universal Studios does have a Harry Potter portion...
musicdiver is offline  
Feb 4th, 2016, 06:25 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,120
"I've decided one night only makes sense if it's within 2 hours of one's other destinations! "

In contrast, my strategy is to make sure I don't have two consecutive days that require long, complicated journeys -- or to do that only with very good reason. To each his / her own!
kja is offline  
Feb 4th, 2016, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,220
Good to read your thoughts on Osaka... Your plans sound good, and if you're chilling and pootling and cafe sitting, then you'll surely pass away a lovely visit.

One thing I would say in response to your point about Kyoto: we did 5 nights in Kyoto on our first trip (2012), then 6 on our second trip (2013) and we have 7 scheduled there for our upcoming March/April 2016 trip!
Kavey is offline  
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