Japan Intinerary Help

Old Sep 25th, 2010, 11:58 PM
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Japan Intinerary Help

Hi,

I'm new to Fodors.com (long time reader just haven't had a reason to actually post before!) and I'm looking for help with an itinerary of Japan.

We are going to Japan from 11 March to 27 March 2011. We are mostly interested in food, Iron Chef's and shopping (i know that sounds shallow but its true!) I'd like to see a few temples and other sites of cultural interest but really our main reason is to eat as much japanese food as possible.

I am struggling with the itinerary because the guide books make everything sound so fantasic and my friends all have their own opinions on where we should be staying.

It is just my husband and I going, and he doesn't like to move around alot. So we are trying to stay in each place for a number of days and then do day trips from there.

At present I have:
Day 1 Fly into Tokyo (arrive early am)
Day 2 Tokyo
Day 3 Tokyo
Day 4 Hiroshima
Day 4 Hiroshima
Day 6 Kyoto
Day 7 Kyoto
Day 8 Kyoto
Day 9 Kyoto
Day 10 Osaka
Day 11 Osaka
Day 12 Osaka
Day 13 Hakone
Day 14 Hakone
Day 15 Tokyo
Day 16 Tokyo
Day 17 Tokyo Fly home late pm

I have so many questions!! Should we be staying in Miyajima rather than Hiroshima?

We're looking at doing day trips from Tokyo to Nagoya and Takayama - is this feasible? And of course a day trip from Kyoto or Osaka to Nara.

A friend recommended to not stay in Osaka, but I am not sure where else we should be looking at going. Should we be going to Ise, Koya-San or Kanazawa?

Help! I've read so many forums and so many guidebooks that i am starting to feel as though I am going crazy. Can you Fodorites please help?

Thanks in advance.

Misslis
misslis is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2010, 06:43 AM
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I think three days in Osaka may be too much. Its a big city, but to me, not as interesting as Tokyo.

Day trip from Tokyo to Takayama and return is not really feasable. I did it once, and I seemed to spend all day on trains. Sure, you can so it, but, you would be better of going to Nagoya from Osaka. Stay in Nagoya and take a train to Takayama.

With regards Hiroshima, you could stay there and go across to Miyajima for the day. For Hiroshima, you obvously want to see the A Bomb Dome, Museum etc.

Kanazawa is mainly interesting for the world famous gardens there.

Seeing you plan to go to Hiroshima from Tokyo, and if you want to stay in Osaka, you should stay in Osaka, then move to Kyoto. This way, you are moving in one direction.
Saves doubling back.

Are you purchasing a Japan Rail pass , or just buying tickets as required?

BTW..I recommend a day trip to NIKKO from Tokyo. Cut back on the Kyoto / Osaka stay..Seven days may be one or two too many.
Kyoto is a real pain to get around in. Traffic is terrible , and take a bus to get around. Taxis will cost too much money

I lived in Japan from 1993 to 1997, and have been to Japan on numerous occasions. Not a fan of Japanese food at all !
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Old Sep 26th, 2010, 08:09 AM
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gearsau, did you read the OP's post?: our main reason is to eat as much japanese food as possible.

Osaka has, with good reason, the reputation as the culinary capital of Japan. I'm not sure that I'd want to redue the number of nights there.

I might suggest that you stay at a high-end ryokan, preferably for two nights, to get an especially good take on Japanese food. You will be served an exceptional, multi-course Kaiseki meal in your own room. Japanese standards and criteria (esp for Kaiseki) are somewhat different than Western cuisines: in addition to the taste and appearance of the food, great importance is also placed on the art of the presentation and on individualized service. Also, great emphasis is placed on the freshness and local-ness of ingredients, with less emphasis on seasonings and sauces.

Kyoto is a great place to stay at a top-notch ryokan, such as Hiiragiya.
DonTopaz is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2010, 01:36 PM
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Rizzuto

Yes, I read the OP's post
Just an opinion on the food, if thats allowed.
No need to reply in bold .
gearsau is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2010, 02:35 AM
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If you are interested in food you should definitely stay in Osaka, it isn't called the 'Kitchen of Japan' for nothing! Perhaps reduce it from 3 to 2 days though? Shopping is also good in the city so it might be prefect for your needs (not many 'old' sights to see). You can day trip to Nara or Mt.Koya easily from here - or even go to Kobe for famous Kobe beef!

Travelling to Hiroshima from Tokyo is a long journey. I would perhaps suggest putting it between your Kyoto/Osaka part to split it up, but you might want to do Kyoto/Osaka at the same time as they are about 20 mins apart, your choice!

Staying in a ryoukan on Miyajima will be a lot more picturesque than staying in Hiroshima, though central Hiroshima has some very good restaurants if you do stay there. In the Ryoukan you can experience some kaiseki food though, but you could do that in Kyoto.

There is a lot of choice for great places to visit in Japan, but tbh I have NEVER had a bad meal there and I've lived in Japan for a couple of years. The food is amazingly, consistently good, so just go where interests you!

Make sure you have a Japan Rail Pass to cut the costs of travel, I buy from here http://www.jrpass.com and they also have lots of travel tips you might find interesting and useful http://www.jrpass.com/travel-tips

Have a good trip
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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If you're into food, make sure you check out the foodhalls in department store basements. They offer a great assortment of ready to eat foods, from individual items to whole meals. I was like a kid in a candy store!
speckles is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2010, 08:11 AM
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I don't think a day trip to Koyasan makes sense if the OP is interested in food - you will get to have shojin ryori - typical Buddhist vegetarian cooking - if you stay overnight at a temple.....plus it is a long trip even from Osaka for one day...imo, of course. ;-)
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Old Sep 27th, 2010, 08:56 AM
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Ok, hoping not to offend I have an itinerary I would follow if I were a first timer who doesn't like to move much but appreciates good cuisine. Definitely keep Osaka in your plans.

Day 1 Fly into Tokyo (arrive early am)
Day 2 Tokyo
Day 3 Tokyo
Day 4 Kyoto
Day 4 Kyoto
Day 6 Kyoto
Day 7 Kyoto
Day 8 Hiroshima
Day 9 Miyajima
Day 10 Osaka
Day 11 Osaka
Day 12 Osaka
Day 13 Hakone
Day 14 Hakone
Day 15 Tokyo
Day 16 Tokyo
Day 17 Tokyo Fly home late pm

This way your day travels are short ones and you can enjoy more of your first day touring Hiroshima giving you time to spend the night in Miyajima which I consider more of a must than going to Hiroshima but thats just me.

Here is a good link for foodies in Japan:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e620.html

I would save Nagoya for another time unless you really wanted to see something there.

You ask: Should we be going to Ise, Koya-San or Kanazawa?

Should you? All are destinations with qualities all their own. Do some more research about those places and see if your interested enough in them to cut out some of the ones your already planning to see.

You should be aware that you will be traveling during a very busy time in Japan especially at the end of your trip so starting to get an itinerary down now is very smart imho

Aloha!
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Old Sep 29th, 2010, 12:50 PM
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I am surprised you are not including Mt Fuji in your plans...
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Old Oct 4th, 2010, 06:12 PM
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Hi All,

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply and the suggestions, it is greatly appreciated.

I like the look of your itinerary Hawaiiantraveler - definately not offended I was actually expecting a more brutal response! - so I'm off to do more reading and try and finally get the itinerary sorted!

kokiwebs2 - I thought you could see Mt Fuji from Hakone? From my understanding Mt Fuji would be closed for hiking at that time of year so we are only going to look at it from a distance (to sound terribly touristy I want to take one of those postcard photo's you always see!). Would you suggest a better place?

Cheers,
Misslis
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