View Poll Results: Best experience in Japan for a first time visitor.
Visit Tokyo and Kyoto
100.00%
Stay in Shinjuku east in Tokyo
20.00%
Visit Fushimi Inari in Kyoto
20.00%
Imperial Palace in Tokyo
20.00%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 5. You may not vote on this poll

Japan- First time

Old May 6th, 2018, 11:15 AM
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Japan- First time

I am visiting Japan for the first time with my daughter (age23). We are from California, USA. We are going to spend 2 nights in Hiroshima, 4 nights in Tokyo, and 3 nights in Kyoto this month of May.
1. Which are the best areas to stay in these cities. We normally like to stay in Airbnb rather than hotels to mingle with locals and experience the Japanese life.
2. What are the most things to do since we donít have that much time.
3. Do we need to reserve for visiting the Imperial Palace.
4. Is buying the JR ticket to travel around the best way to do it. We are flying to Hiroshima.
5. Any day trips from Tokyo.
6. Any other tips for the first time traveler to Japan.
I will appreciate your response.
Thanks,
Only Travel
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Old May 6th, 2018, 11:31 PM
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JR Pass

https://www.japan-guide.com

I was in Japan for the first time last summer 2017 although I have been to Asia a lot. As far as Japan went, I really liked Kyoto and spent 9 nights there and 5 nights in Tokyo. At first, I had no desire to go to Tokyo, but decided to spend some time there and liked it although I find it a bit much after a short time. It's a really big city with a confusing public transportation system and I'm very used to public transportation systems overseas. I'm also used to big cities as I'm from Los Angeles County and usually like big cities.

I will be back in Japan this coming summer, but for 3 weeks instead of the 2 weeks I spent there last summer. I will again do Tokyo and another 9 nights in Kyoto. While in Kyoto, I didn't go to Fushimi Inari, but will do it on the upcoming trip.

While in Tokyo, I did not go to the Imperial Palace although it was right across from me as I stay in Marunouchi neighborhood. As for Shinjuku, I went there twice to shop, but it's not an area that is for me, personally, to stay in. I like much calmer and less busy Marunouchi and will be staying again in that neighborhood this coming summer.

As far as neighborhoods in Kyoto, I prefer Higashiyama. I stayed in 4 different hotels in 9 nights and two were in Higashiyama and walking distance from each other. One of the other ones was in the heart of downtown Kyoto and the other one was also downtown, but in a very quiet location.

As for a JR Pass, I didn't get one as I flew, upon arrival into Tokyo from L.A., from Tokyo-Narita Airport to Osaka-Itami airport and then took the MK Shuttle Service to Kyoto (about an hour 40 minutes). On the way back, I took the MK Shuttle service, from Kyoto back to Osaka-Itami Airport and then flew into Haneda Airport-Tokyo as it's much closer to Tokyo city than Narita. I then stayed in Tokyo for 5 nights before flying home.

This coming summer I will be taking the Shinkansen bullet train (2.5 hours) straight from Tokyo Station, train station, to Kyoto and vise versa as both of my hotels are attached to Tokyo Station. On the last trip, I stayed at the Four Seasons, a 5-minute walk, from Tokyo Station. On this upcoming trip, I will try out two new hotels to compare.

Happy Travels!
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Old May 7th, 2018, 12:52 AM
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Guenmai: Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I appreciate it. I have booked a room in Shinjuku just few minutes ago. I wish I had read your comments before that. I have not booked Kyoto yet. We will be there for three nights. We wil be taking Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. Would you recommend booking a place in Higashiyama or downtown? With 2 and a half days in Kyoto what are the most important things we should do? By the way I am also from LA area in OC. Thanks.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 01:57 AM
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It's good that I'm a real night owl. I'll post a link to a recent discussion of Japan that might be of help to you. I posted quite a bit on that thread. The OP will also be going to Tokyo and Kyoto, this month, and has only a week so a lot of us helped her out in the planning.

As far as Higashiyama vs. downtown, it all depends on what you want and your budget. I suggest reading the below link to get some ideas of what I and others have posted. I'm glad that I stayed in both areas to compare, but stayed in the quieter, more relaxing Higashiyama first and then stayed at my 4th hotel, the Royal Park Hotel, in the heart of downtown last although I had been downtown several times to shop while still staying in Higashiyama. That hotel is in the center of a lot of activity and walking distance to a lot of activity. While in Higashiyama, I taxied into downtown which wasn't that far.

As for Tokyo, you will probably be fine in Shinjuku as it's all personal choice and preference. Different strokes for different folks. There are those who don't like Marunouchi as it's the business district and quiet at night. But, that's why I like it as after being out in other areas with lots of folks, I like going back to quiet. Plus, I can walk to Ginza in 15 minutes.

I'll get back to you later today as I need to do some work and then go to sleep. Smiles!

One week in Tokyo, where to stay

Happy Travels!
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Old May 7th, 2018, 07:00 AM
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No one can tell you what the most important things are for you to see and do in Kyoto - you need to do enough research (japan-guide.com is a great resource) for you to know what you want to see. Our favorite places were Arashyams, Fushimi, and Higashyama. We had twice as much time in Kyoto as you will have and we still didn't see all the places we wanted to see.

Do some research on what you want to experience in Japan, then come back and ask specific questions.

I expect you will find that it makes the most sense for you to buy individual train tickets, I doubt that the Japan Pass will save you any money as you aren't doing a lot of train travel.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 11:32 AM
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Some answers and advice.

1. Which are the best areas to stay in these cities. We normally like to stay in Airbnb rather than hotels to mingle with locals and experience the Japanese life. Depends on what you want to do. Because you've booked in Shinjuku, you can take in the view from Tokyo City Hall and go to the Meiji Shrine easily. You'll have to take a train to Shinagawa station to meet your shinkansen to Kyoto.
2. What are the most things to do since we don’t have that much time. Huh? If you're asking about the "BEST" things to do - go look at Japan-guide.com or google the question for each city. There are plenty of resources on the web. Can't tell you where you would like b/c you said nothing about your interests.
3. Do we need to reserve for visiting the Imperial Palace. Yes, if you're talking about the Palace in Kyoto. You cannot enter the Palace in Tokyo except on specific days.
4. Is buying the JR ticket to travel around the best way to do it. We are flying to Hiroshima. Flying from where? Your itinerary looks like you fly into Tokyo then take a train to Kyoto. When is the Hiroshima stay? Is it at the beginning and you then fly back to Tokyo? If you don't go to Himeji or any other major sites west of Osaka, and the main train rides are just Tokyo-Kyoto and Kyoto-Tokyo, you're better off without the JR pass.
5. Any day trips from Tokyo. Nikko.
6. Any other tips for the first time traveler to Japan. Such as? What type of tips? What do you want to know?

Last edited by BigRuss; May 7th, 2018 at 11:35 AM.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 11:46 AM
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There is a way to calculate whether a Japan Rail Pass saves you money. Go to the JP Rail website to find it. We saved several bundred dollars even though we only had a 7 Day Pass. Iam guessing with your itinerary that it would be a good value to buy it. It also covers the trains to the airports.
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Old May 7th, 2018, 06:06 PM
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Re post above which asserts: You cannot enter the Palace in Tokyo except on specific days.
That is not correct - you can certainly apply to visit the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo via the Imperial Household Agency: Imperial Household Agency Visit Guide > Sites > Imperial Palace I think the poster must be thinking of the special days (Emperor's birthday, oshogatsu) when the public is invited in to pay respects to the Imperial Family, quite different from touring the grounds. Note, the Imperial Palace East Gardens are open to public without reservation, every day except Monday and Friday.
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Old May 8th, 2018, 01:55 AM
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No reservation is necessary to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace....you can either go on your own with a fairly detailed brochure or take a free tour.
Public Opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace & Expansion of Guided Tour of the Sento Imperial Palace, the Katsura Imperial Villa, and the Shugakuin Imperial Villa - The Imperial Household Agency
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Old May 8th, 2018, 08:17 AM
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4. You wrote that you are flying to Hiroshima. I believe that means HIJ is the destination of your inbound international trip. In that case, your (efficient) route would be Hiroshima- Kyoto- Tokyo. But you also wrote that you will take the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto.

If you go Hiroshima- Kyoto- Tokyo then your need for a JR Pass depends on what side trips you take. The first leg, Hiroshima to Kyoto, is about 10,000 yen on the shinkansen and the second leg, Kyoto to Tokyo is around 14,000 yen and the total for those trips is less than the cost of a JR Pass. Side trips from that route, though, could make a JR Pass worthwhile.

If you are going to Kyoto from Tokyo and flying to Hiroshima from somewhere then I don't understand what your basic plan is.
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