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kelloo Jun 26th, 2006 04:14 PM

Japan Itinerary Help
Hi everyone! This is the second trip to Japan for my husband and me, our first being in April 2005 for our honeymoon. That trip was for 9 nights and we went to Kyoto and Tokyo. My husband's only request for this trip is that we again go to Tokyo, since the last time it rained quite a bit and we realized we didn't get to do a lot of what we originally planned. And, we are hoping to return to Japan every year or two for a while, and the next time we probably won't be going to Tokyo at all.

So, we have 10 nights this trip, and I've allocated 5 to Tokyo (we will daytrip to Nikko one day). This is the itinerary I have worked out:

Day 1: Arrive KIX, spend night in Osaka or Kobe
Day 2: Himeji Castle on the way to Hiroshima (stay at ?)
Day 3: Miyajima Island (stay at Momiji-so)
Day 4: Okayama and Kurashiki (stay at Tsurugata in Kurashiki)
Day 5: Hakone (stay at Ichinoyu Honkan)
Day 6: Tokyo (stay at Mercure Ginza)
Day 7: Tokyo
Day 8: Tokyo (Park Hyatt Tokyo)
Day 9: Tokyo
Day 10: Tokyo
Day 11: Leave through NRT

I put Okayama/Kurashiki after Hiroshima/Miyajima because I figured it would reduce the longest travel time, to Hakone. But, we have pretty set dates, October 25-November 5, and this schedule puts us on Miyajima Island on Saturday. Will it be a lot more crowded than on a Friday? I think we are too early for the fall colors, no?

kelloo Jun 26th, 2006 04:27 PM

Also, I'm looking for recommendations for hotels in Osaka, Kobe, and Hiroshima that are under $150/night ($100 range would be even better).

I've tried pricing out the trains on hyperdia and it seems that a rail pass won't save me money if I don't make any seat reservations. Will I need any? I don't mind not having a seat for one of the shorter legs, but I definitely want a seat on the ride from Okayama to Hakone.

Sorry for such a long post!

mrwunrfl Jun 26th, 2006 05:28 PM

First thing: hyperdia almost surely has misled you. What it shows as a "Reserved Seat" charge is actually the charge for a reserved seat (around 700 yen) plus the limited express surcharge. If you choose "Unreserved seat" on the search options page then you'll see that the ticket costs 5460 fare plus 3980.

You pay that surcharge on limited express and shinkansen trains.

For example, Hiroshima to Shinosaka June 30 at 10:46AM there is a Hikari train that costs 9950 with a reserved seat and it does the trip in 94 minutes. The fare is 5460 which you would pay if you road on local trains (and it would take something like 8 hours for the trip on local trains). The 4490 "reserved seat charge" includes the limited express surcharge.

You are right, your trip will be too early for the fall colors by at least two weeks, probably closer to three weeks.

The Rihga Royal is a very good choice for Hiroshima. You could get a twin for 16000 (about $138). The Granvia Hotel at Hiroshima station can be had for under 10000 and is nice enough and convenient for travel.

mrwunrfl Jun 26th, 2006 05:40 PM

last sentence, first paragraph, was supposed to be the last of the third.

Ok, here's the basic route:

12050 Kansai airport -> Miyajima
18350 Miyajima -> Tokyo

That's using Nozomi trains which have a 200 yen charge. So the Hikari fare with reserved seats is exactly 30000. Subtract off the reserved seat charges and you will be right around 28300 which is the cost of a 7-day JR Pass.

mrwunrfl Jun 26th, 2006 05:45 PM

The above ticket prices were to/from Miyajimaguchi and did not include the JR ferry to the island.

With the JR Pass you can get a discount at the Granvia hotel in Hiroshima.

kelloo Jun 26th, 2006 06:20 PM

Thank you so much for your help mrwnrfl. I didn't realize how the extra charges worked on the the train fares. So, I could get a 7-day pass and start using it immediately on arrival, and then pay separately for the Narita Express at the end. I wouldn't mind paying a little extra just for the convenience of having the pass.
The only problem with that is I would have to try to make the trip to Nikko on the second day in Tokyo, and I was hoping to keep that flexible in case of weather. Or, would I still be okay if I used the pass for the first part of the trip and then paid for Nikko and the Narita Express separately? I guess it will still come out about the same?

mrwunrfl Jun 26th, 2006 08:50 PM

Using the pass to go to/from Nikko (5880 to 10430 roundtrip) would be a better use than Kansai Airport to Osaka (1120 to 2620 one-way). So starting your pass on day 2 would give you three days of flexibility for Nikko (days 6,7,8).

The big price range for Nikko is the difference between using Tobu Rail at the low end to Japan Rail at the high end. The Kansai price range is from a JR Rapid train (no change of trains) at the low end to the faster limited express train (with change of trains to a local) at the high end.

BUT you would still be ok to use the JR Pass on day 1 and be totally flexible about Nikko. By "ok" I mean that you will get the full value of the pass and a bit more versus buying the tix separately. Just because you have the pass doesn't mean you HAVE TO go to Nikko, but I understand: on 7th pass-day it is free but on 8th day you pay.

For getting to Narita Airport you can use a bus, maybe directly from your hotel. There are train options too, including non-JR train that is less expensive than the N'Ex.

angethereader Jun 27th, 2006 04:59 AM

I don't know if you're interested in staying outside Hiroshima.
We stayed in Saijo and a great place called the Green Morris Hotel. A room with a queen was 10300 a night. That included those comfy night shirts and a Japanese soaking tub in the bathroom.
The lobby had a little alcove with coffee, tea and liquor vending machines.
There were 2 free computers in the lobby (handy for last minute check on train schedules).
It's about 30 minutes from Hiroshima.
I loved it and would stay there again. The area had lots of stuff in walking distance and it's about 4 blocks from the train.
If you're interested and need more info, let me know.
We arrived without reservations (my screw up) and the apologized and accomodated us. Got to love the service in Japan.

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