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crellston Feb 29th, 2008 07:58 PM

Japan - Help needed!
As part of our round the world trip I am trying to finalise our itinerary and would really appreciate some help/guidance. The basic outline is:
Tokyo - 3 night (booked)

Kyoto - 5 nights (booked) - side trip to Himjei

Koya-san - (not booked) 2 nights in a monastery

Nara - 2 nights (not booked)

Takayama - 2 nights (trying to book Sumiyoshi Ryokan)

Questions - Does this seem a reasonable itinerary (or am I missing anything major?

Any suggestions for places to stay in Nara, Koya-san (+ takayama) and where is the best place to book?

Any suggestions for Onsens in any of the above locations?

As this is part of a very long trip we are trying to keep costs down as far as possible (difficult in Japan!) and where possible would like top stay in Japanese style accommodation.

Any help would be much appreciated.

hawaiiantraveler Feb 29th, 2008 08:09 PM

Try checking these sites for budget accomodations

maybe you can book or get info on Koya san ryokan here


crellston Feb 29th, 2008 10:42 PM

Much appreciated hawaiantraveller - I will now spend another few hours in this BKK internet place!!

Paulo59 Mar 2nd, 2008 04:09 PM

Sounds like a fun trip. Japan is wonderful. I have no idea how much time you have altogether and whether you have worked out transportation between these stops but keep in mind that it takes a bit of work to get to Koya and then back out again. You have to switch to smaller train lines and then a trolley/tram I believe at the end. A lot of connecting in other words. I personally prefer Tokyo to Kyoto but I am sure many people on this site would say the opposite. So I would drop a day from Kyoto and add one to Tokyo. If you like people watching, shopping,unusual architecture, and just pure energy Tokyo is a great place to visit and vastly different from Kyoto and the other places on your list. Takayama is an incredibly charming but very small town so if you have to cut a night you might cut one night here. One full day or two half days are fine I think. But if you have the time by all means stay 2. Keep in mind it takes a bit of time to get here too as it is way up in the mountains. Search on this site under Koya and you will get all sorts of info on it and which temple inn to stay in. Sorry I cannot offer hotel recommendations as it has been so long since I have been to many of the towns on your itinerary. I also do not know what your budget is. Two moderate priced places to consider in Tokyo would be the Marunouchi hotel by Tokyo station or the Keio Plaza by Shinjuku station. Being near the train stations saves lots of money or lots of walking in Tokyo. And there will be lots of inexpensive breakfast options near or in the train station. Most hotel breakfasts are very expensive in Tokyo. Enjoy.

hawaiiantraveler Mar 2nd, 2008 04:35 PM

I have not stayed here but it is on my short list when I return to Nara

I have used Japanese Guest Houses with good success many times. They will answer you usually within 24hrs


kja Mar 3rd, 2008 08:38 AM

Hi, crellston -

I had a great experience at Shojoshin-in in Koyason. I booked it through JapaneseGuestHouses, where you can learn more about it and your other options.


crellston Mar 3rd, 2008 06:37 PM

All thanks so much for all your guidance!

However, I need a little more help . Does anyone have a direct email address for I have tried booking with them several times but get no response at all.

I managed to book Sumiyoshi Ryokan in Takayama and
in Nara direct

Paulo59 - your comments are noted re travel times which is part of the reason we are staying a bit longer than we would normally in each place.
I found the following website v. good for sorting out train times etc.

crellston Mar 3rd, 2008 06:40 PM

Hi kja, Thanks, I have just checked out Shojoshin-in it is exactly what we are looking for - if only I could book it through JGH!

Paulo59 Mar 3rd, 2008 07:44 PM

I always ended up booking direct. If you are having trouble finding a direct hotel website, try searching google for more sites or people writing articles about the place. I eventually always find a site that allowed me to email direct or call the hotel. The challenge when you call is that many of these ryokan do not have anyone that speaks very much english. But if you keep the words simple and ask for someone who can speak english to give you their email address or send you an email you can usually work this out. Most Ryokan will have someone who can read english. Good Luck.

Paulo59 Mar 3rd, 2008 07:51 PM

This site seems to allow you to book a room at Shojoshin-in.;area=KOYASAN

crellston Mar 3rd, 2008 08:41 PM

Thanks Paulo, I have just used the site to book Shojoshin-in. It takes 48 hours so will keep my fingers crossed and will let you know if I succeed in getting a reply.

janev Mar 3rd, 2008 11:42 PM

You can also book Shojoshin-in with Japanese Guesthouses - see
We booked here through them last year. Very much enjoyed Shojoshin-in.

crellston Mar 5th, 2008 02:12 AM

Paolo - japanhotels responded really quickly, unfortunately it was to say that Shojoshin-in is full on our dates!
Does anyone have any recommendations for a similar temple stay in Koyasan , or are they all quite similar?

akaw Mar 5th, 2008 09:09 AM

You might want to try Sekishoin which is right next to Shojoshinin. I faxed my reservation thru the Koyasan coop with my shukubo choices and they faxed me back the meal plan choices. At Sekishoin, dinner was at 5:30pm and prayer at 6:30am. I was supposed to stay at Shojo the second night but canceled at the last minute so I can't compare. Koyasan was beautiful and peaceful.

janev Mar 5th, 2008 09:44 AM

Also have a look at

in which Rengejoin is described - sounds good.

Very nice article here;pageNumber=11 on Koyasan too.

gard Mar 5th, 2008 12:31 PM


My wife and I went to Japan a couple of years back and we did Tokyo, Kyoto, Himeji, Hiroshima etc. Maybe you can find some useful info in my trip report with pictures and links :d Get in touch if you have any questions.

Gard - trip reports and pictures

crellston Mar 5th, 2008 05:56 PM

many thanks to all of you for your help. In repayment I shall post full details of our trip here and in our (almost ready) blog of our RTW trip. came up with an alternative booking at Eko-in which reads well on tripadvisor and in the articles posted by janev (thanks, the article were really helpful in providing an insight as to what to expect).
Gard, your blog is excellent and has a lot of useful tips for our trip in the rest of Japan (we are actually staying at the Andon Ryokan you mentioned).

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