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Japan Itinerary!

Old Jun 8th, 2017, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,993


kaiseki dinner at a ryokan

Here is an example of a traditional style onsen ryokan (see the guest photos).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2017, 11:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Here's a post I wrote about what to expect when staying at a ryokan:
Kavey is offline  
Old Jun 9th, 2017, 04:10 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Re: Day 10. Don’t go to Miyajima before visiting Hiroshima – there are luggage lockers, and maybe a luggage counter, at the train station in Hiroshima.

Since you are flying out of Tokyo, consider putting all of your time in that city at the end of your trip. You’ll probably be tired upon your arrival, but pushing on if the timing works might be worth it.

You have tons of options for dining, from boxed meals through kaiseki and everything in between.

kja is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2017, 04:01 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 401
Here are the Hiroshima recommendations:

Tan-tan-men(tan tan noodle)
Musashibo Honten(HQ)
Address: Ta-Building, 5-12, Fujimi-cho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-sho, Hiroshima
Tel: 082-578-7384
They have facebook

Okonomiyaki restaurant
Atomu (at Okonomimura)
Address: 5-13, Shintenchi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
Tel: 082-240-1639

Izakaya restaurant
Yabure Kabure (Fukuromachi-ten)
Address: 8-11, Fukuromachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi, Hiroshima
Tel: 082-249-5229

It looks like you got some answers already on what a ryokan and onsen are. Hope you get a chance to experience them and also definitely do a kaiseki meal.

For Kyoto, I recommend Monk restaurant (sadly I didn't get to eat there since I didn't reserve in time but a friend highly recommended and it's right on Philosopher's Walk). I loved two bars there, Rocking Chair and L'Escamoteur.

I've been in a depression since getting home last week. Japan got me good. Enjoy!
JenV is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2017, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
The answer to your questions 4 and 7 above are easy: wherever you da-n well please. Japan has more food purveyors per capita than the most restaurant-dense city in the US. Every single Japanese department store has at least 5 restaurants of various price points, and that's the smaller ones (e.g. in Himeji). The ones in Kyoto or Tokyo or Osaka will have about 10-12 minimum and a take-away shop in the basement. Add to that number all the hole-in-the-wall joints and regular restaurants, and shopping district restos and you can't swing a dead cat without finding food in Japan.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2017, 06:23 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 67
@mrwunrfl - Makes sense now. Thanks!

@Kavey - Very informative. Thank you!

@kja - Thanks for that suggestion. What would you suggest starting with if we put Tokyo towards the end? Do you think I'm otherwise hitting the right cities and sites there given our listed interests? Any must-sees we didn't include?

@JenV - Thank you! That all sounds great. Happy you had a great trip. We personally cannot wait!

@BigRuss - Thanks again!

We cannot wait for this trip! If anyone else has things that are must-sees, please include here! Still taking suggestions on the itinerary or HOTELS and other accommodations. Thank you all. Really very appreciative.
tonygabe is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2017, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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If you put all your time at Tokyo at the end, then I think your first destination would depend on the timing of trains; whether you are planning to use a pass and, if so, for what number of days; and personal preferences (e.g., do you want your time in Hakone toward the start or end of your trip). You should be able to identify the options yourself. I typically mark up a set of maps by drawing big arrows from place to place and labeling them with approximate travel times (so, for example, one map in which I go first to place X, another in which I go first to place Y, etc.) and for that rough planning, I would just use the estimates of travel times on, only checking the details on hyperdia once I've narrowed my options.

IMO, there is no such thing as a "must see" -- we all travel with different interests and preferences, and that's a very good thing, IMO. There are, of course, way more cities and sites than anyone can possibly see, so we all have to pick the ones that appeal most to our unique interests. Japan is delightful, so I'm sure you'll have a great trip!
kja is offline  
Old Jun 25th, 2017, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I suggest you go to a Shinto shrine on the 15th for shichigosan. Heian Shrine in Kyoto.

You should see some of that at Meiji Jingu on your Day 3. The 19th would be an option.

As mentioned earlier, the JP Pass is good for this itin starting on Day 5.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 11:35 AM
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Hi all - Thank you again for all the help your provided. Based on hotel availability in Tokyo, I have had to adjust my trip by basically pushing Tokyo to the back end of the trip, rather than the front. I also replaced Hakone with an additional night in Miyajami for two reasons - (1) Two single night stays right after I land coming from NY seemed exhausting and (2) two nights in Miyajami seemed like a nice way to relax in the middle of the trip before going back to Tokyo. Figured this way I can see more of Miyajami and do the hike there as well. I was back and forth between doing either two nights in Miyajami/Hiroshima or two nights in Hakone as we are city people but think we will get our fill of cities between Tokyo and Kyoto. Interested to hear your thoughts.

Here is what I have planned:

Day 1 - Arrive in Tokyo at 3PM from NYC

Day 2 - Leave Tokyo to Kyoto

Depart to Kyoto. Visit many of the popular temples and shrines. Perhaps Miho musuem. Happy to take tips for what we should see/do in Kyoto proper and good restaurants to eat. We heard the burnt ramen at Kyoto Gogyo is great.

Day 3 - Kyoto

Day 4 - Kyoto

Day 5 - Day Trip to Nara to see older temples. Night in Kyoto.

Day 6 - Day Trip in Osaka, Himeji or Kobe. We are between these 3 and nothing seems like a bad choice but please let me know if you found one to be especially nice. Night in Kyoto.

Day 7 - Leave Kyoto to Hiroshima to Miyajima. Forward luggage to Tokyo the night before and take an overnight bag for with two days/nights of clothing. Go to Hiroshima to visit the park, Hiroshima Peace Museum and dome. Spend late afternoon/night in Miyajima.

Day 8 - Miyajima
Hiking day and relax in the late afternoon and evening

Day 9 - Leave Miyajima early to Tokyo. We are staying in Shinjuku.
Mostly travel day and then Tokyo at night. Northern Tokyo. Visit Akihabara for electronics and anime. Go to fish market and visit imperial palace. For the next few days, please share things we should see, restaurants to visit, etc. We are using japan guide as well but I am sure people here know some hidden gems.

Day 10 - Tokyo

Go to western Tokyo to see Harajuku cosplay, Meiji Shrine and end with dinner either in Shibuya or wherever is recommended.

Day 11 - Tokyo

Last full day in Tokyo. No tentative plan yet.

Day 12 - November 20 - Tokyo to NYC

Regarding the JR vouchers: Was thinking the best bet is to the get the 7-day JR Pass and have it activated from Day 2 but I would be a day short as on Day 9 I am traveling back to Tokyo from Miyajima. @BigRuss - any thoughts?

What do you guys think of the revised itinerary? We love cities and night life but also love nature and relaxing so would like to get a healthy balance between the two. Also, we are big on food which doesn't seem like Looking fwd to your thoughts!
tonygabe is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 04:48 PM
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Should be good! For your interests, I think your plan to spend 2 nights on Miyajima makes a lot of sense.

With 3 days in Kyoto, you will need to be very selective – I would encourage you to think through your priorities in advance. FWIW, I thought that the itineraries for Kyoto seriously underestimated the time they take – I needed at least twice what that source suggested.

With a day trip to Nara, you can probably see EITHER Todaiji OR Horyuji / Chuguji, which is just outside Nara in Ikaruga. They are almost equally old, and IMO, both are wonderful. The Miroku Bosatsu at Chugiji is, IMO, particularly moving; and the statues in the treasure hall of Kofukuji in Nara (near Todaiji) are exquisite.

I have wonderful memories of a French kaiseki meal at Misoguigawa in Kyoto, and it steill gets great reviews.

kja is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 08:27 PM
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 364
If you go Tokyo-Hiroshima round trip, you do in fact make a 14 day pass pay off. With a 7 day pass you would of course get even greater savings, but that would mean jamming things together more or leaving something out to fit within 7 days.

For seeing the cosplay in Harajuku, the time to go is on a Sunday afternoon. You will see very little on other days. On Sunday in Yoyogi Park there are also the 50's-ish rockabilly dancing. All this assumes the weather cooperates.

If you want to look at various restaurants and cuisine, try
I would not waste a lot of time chasing down some specific restaurant though unless you really find it special.
For Tokyo, if you want a few more ideas, try Kappabashi for a mind bending look at Japanese artistic food display. They have it down to an art and you can buy various wax or other artificial food items you see in many restaurant's front displays. You can take home a few models of sushi that look ready to eat.
And despite Tokyo's rep as a concrete jungle, there are numerous good traditional gardens to see - many were a home away from home during Japan's feudal days with its sankin kōtai hostage system. There are some good listings on:

For other ideas, try the official city tourist guides - you'll often find great places listed nowhere else.

There are also many free places with good city views:
Adastra2200 is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 08:34 PM
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Day 9 is when you would need a JR Pass the most, unless you fly from Hiroshima to Tokyo.

Your Day 2, Tokyo to Kyoto is about ¥13,700 or less on the shinkansen.

But your Day 9, Miyajima/Hiroshima to Tokyo is about ¥19,000 on JR.

Days 7,8 are about ¥11,000. Which means that Days 7-9 pay for the pass (but days 2,7,8 wouldn't).

>>Osaka, Himeji or Kobe

Himeji is a standout among those three places in general, but it really depends on your interests (e.g. you like big cities so much that you would rather go to Osaka than to the magnificent World Heritage Site of Himeji Castle).

But Himeji does not have to take all day. It can. But you can visit there and either Kobe or Osaka on the same day.

That is, you can visit one or two of the three places on the same day trip.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2017, 08:48 PM
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The one-way Tokyo to Kyoto ticket plus a 7-day pass does get close to the cost of a 14-day pass.

What am I missing Adastra2200 Tokyo- Hiroshima- Tokyo would be about ¥39,000 on the shinkansen but the 14-day pass costs ¥46,390
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Old Sep 12th, 2017, 10:15 PM
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I should have clarified more.
The total trip is 12 days, and flying thru Narita, so I am including the N'Ex round trip, as well as the small round trips to Nara and from Hiroshima to Miyajima (train+ferry). It was still an open question of seeing Himeji, Kobe etc. Either way, according to my figures, the 14 day pass would pay off, but if going to Himeji, you'd get the most value out of the pass.
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Old Sep 13th, 2017, 06:59 AM
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Thanks, all! A few questions:

@Adastra2200 and @mrwunfrl - Assuming I do Himeji in the AM and then see Osaka or Kobe in the afternoon before returning to Kyoto, it seems like the best bet is to get the 14 day pass. If i understand correctly, my options are:

1. Paying for the Tokyo-Kyoto one way normally and then purchasing the 7 day pass beginning the day I leave to Nara, but that still would not cover the ride back from Tokyo to the airport, OR

2. Getting the 14 day pass to cover the entirety of the trip.

In terms of logistics, I believe someone mentioned finding a JR voucher in the US and then exchanging it at the mainline station in Tokyo at the JR office. Is there one at the airport? Would you suggest I take transport from the airport to the hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo? Trying to take full advantage of the 14 day pass and minimize/eliminate cab fare. Also, are some JR vouchers in the US better than others? Sorry for all the questions, but just getting these logistics down now will alleviate a lot of stress during the trip. Thank you!

Also @kja, @mrwunrfl and @ Adastra2200 - Thanks for the recommendations for food and sightseeing. I have added them all into my itinerary. So glad to see the itinerary finally coming together! Thank you!

If anyone has any HOTEL or traditional Japanese lodging recommendations in Kyoto or Miyajima, please let me know. Would love to solidify those soon. Thanks!
tonygabe is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2017, 09:35 AM
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Ok, I wasn't considering the NRT transfers. The Himeji/Osaka/Kobe day trip don't factor into this.

tonygabe, you can definitely use a JR Pass. Which one (7- or 14-day) depends on how you want to do the airport-hotel transfers.

There are a few ways to do it with different costs and convenience. The cost difference is only $15 pp, more or less, each way. Given that your lodging budget of $200/nt I assume that you are willing to pay for convenience.

If the airport limo bus goes to your hotel and the timetable works, then that might be best. If your hotel is next to a N'Ex station then that could work too. Or a non-JR rail option could work.

I see three pass options:

14-day pass starting on Day 1, but you would want/need to use the Narita Express at least one way. If you used the N'Ex both ways then you would save up to ¥3,000.

7-day pass starting on Day 5 for Nara. But a Kintetsu train might be more convenient that JR depending on where you are staying in Kyoto. Your NRT travel options would be open.

7-day pass starting on Day 6 to include the N'Ex on Day 12.

other ideas:

Fly NRT-Osaka on Day 1 for about $100 (maybe) and ground to Kyoto. For example, there is a nonstop on ANA to Osaka ITM at 6:15 PM or $104 pp.

Rail NRT-Kyoto on Day 1. You may have dismissed this idea, I don't remember.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2017, 09:43 AM
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I had my last post written before I say your most recent.

>Is there one at the airport?

Yes, you can do the JR Pass exchange at NRT.

You aren't going to be taking a cab to or from NRT. It is too expensive.

You have rail and bus options. A limo bus might go door-to-door. A rail option would involve navigating at least two stations and then finding your way to the hotel.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2017, 09:43 AM
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Miyajima lodging: Momijiso ryokan
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Old Sep 13th, 2017, 09:50 AM
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Your visit to Miyajima will be during the fall colors season and maybe at the peak. It is popular, can be busy, could be sold out.
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Old Sep 13th, 2017, 10:07 AM
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Momijiso shows no availability during your entire visit.

You can keep an eye on availability, there or elsewhere, as there might be cancellations. Some places have wait-lists.

But don't count on that, of course. A place on Miyajima might not even offer lodging to foreigners at peak time. They can fill with Japanese who know the rules/customs and who won't cancel at the last minute.

Book something in Hiroshima that you can cancel and be prepared (or offer) to pre-pay for Miyajima.
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