Japan Itinerary Help Needed

Old Feb 15th, 2007, 08:19 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 5
Japan Itinerary Help Needed

Hi All,

I'm planning a trip to Japan from May 4 - 25 and need help with my itinerary and ideas for hotels.

Here's what I have so far:

May 4 Toronto to Tokyo
May 4 - 8 Tokyo (need hotel recos)
May 9 Train to Kanazawa (need hotel recos)
May 10 Train to Kyoto (need hotel recos)
May 10 - 14 Kyoto (2 days); day trips to Nara, Osaka, Kobe
May 15 Train to Matsue (need hotel recos)
May 15 - 16 Matsue; day trip to Izumo
May 17 Train to Hiroshima (need hotel recos)
May 18 Train to Nagasaki
May 18 - 23 Nagasaki .. any good day trips?
May 24 Train to Tokyo
May 25 Tokyo to Toronto

For hotels I'd like mid-range options ... no hostels or ryokans.

Also, I'm travelling by my Self ... any tips.

I know I'm asking a lot but this is my first trip to Japan and from the guidebooks looks like I could spend a lifetime there and never see all the "must sees".

Thakns for your help.
SenayJ is offline  
Old Feb 15th, 2007, 08:57 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
May is a great time to be traveling. You are arriving at the last weekend of Golden Week. Airport will be busy. Hotels in Tokyo should not be a problem though. If you leave Toronto May 4, you will arrive in Tokyo on May 5.

Though the places you have chosen are wonderful, you have given yourself very little time to enjoy any of them. You are spening a huge amount of time on trains going from place to place. Most of your train trips are over 3 hours, and as such, you will take 1/2 of a day to check out of the hotel, get to the station, ride the train, go to the next hotel and check in.

Don't go to Kanazawa for 1 night from Tokyo then go "back" to Kyoto. It would be much more efficient to go straight to Kyoto. In fact, unless you could give Kanazawa another night, there is really little point to travel 5+ hours from Tokyo or 3 hours from Kyoto to go there...just not a good use of time.

If you wanted to include Kanazawa, I would put it after Kyoto (more efficient travel). And I would give it two nights. You could also add another night in Takayama or Shirakawa-go.

You only have 4 days in Kyoto, so 3 day trips are not reasonable...there is enough to see in Kyoto to fill a month.

Kyoto to Matsue is about 4 hours by train, and Matuse to Hiroshima is also about 4 hours by train. You will have at best, an afternoon to look around there if you take a day trip to Izumo on your only full day there. You have very little time in Hiroshima, which is too bad as the city is a nice one, and nearby Miyajima will be lovely in May.

Hiroshima to Nagasaki will take 3 1/2 hours, and Nagasaki to Tokyo a long 7 hours...basically all day.

Travel by yourself will be no problem at all. You can relax and enjoy yourself. People will likely talk to you on the train and in restaurants.

For hotels...what is mid-range to you? An amount of money per night is easier to work with, as mid-range to me might be very different than mid-range to you. There are hotels for every budget in Japan, but you need to be clear on what you expect the place to be...what is important to you in a hotel? Room size, facilities such as a pool, restaurants in the hotel, English speaking staff... A really neat night might be spent in Shirakawa-go or Gokayama in a Gassho house...very old Japan, World Heritage sites, and just lovely places, and in early May you just may catch cherry blossoms there (every other year I'd say you could for sure, but this year has been very, very warm so they may be very early). But a night there would mean sleeping on a futon and sharing the bath/toilet with the family and maybe other guests. It's no problem, clean and privacy very respected...is that what you are worried about when you say no ryokan?

With 14 days of such heavy travel, you will likely get good use out of JR Pass. A 14 day pass will be best for you unless you pare down the beginning and end of your trip, enabling you to use the pass just outside of Tokyo...meaning 6 days would be spend in Tokyo.

I'm sure you will find www.hyperdia.com useful. Your journeys are basic ones, so you can just plug in the city names and dates and get train schedules and fares. Know that if you are paying for tickets (rather than using a JR Pass), you pay the total fare + charge that is shown. The fare is only the price from point A to point B. The charge is the extra you have to pay for riding any train other than the locals...which will take forever to get you anywhere as they stop at every station.

You might consider reworking like this....
3 nights Tokyo
4 nights Kyoto
bus to Shirakawa-go
1 night S-go
bus to Kanazawa
2 nights Kanazawa
2 nights Nagoya
2 nights Hiroshima
2 nights Matsue
2 nights Nagasaki
2 nights Tokyo

KimJapan is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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Thanks KimJapan!

I thought my plans might be a bit intense. What I wanted was to find a "base camp" and then take day trips vs. moving around a lot. I did that in China and it was grueling.

But I see your point about the train travel time eating into my day trip. I'd planned to buy a 21 day JR pass just to have the flexibility of day trips in Nagasaki. I have a friend in Nagasaki, so wanted to spend some time there.

As for mid-range hotels, I'd like to keep it $100-$150 per night. I don't mind sleeping on a futon, just need a room to my Self with a lock, a clean bathroom (okay sharing) and an English speaking staff. I guess I'd feel safer in a hotel vs. a Bed and Breakfasdt type place.

Your thoughts on the revised itinerary:

3 nights Tokyo
5 nights Kyoto
1 night Shirakawa
2 nights Kanazawa
5 nights Nagasaki
2 nights Hiroshima
1 night Tokyo
SenayJ is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 08:40 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,501

My wife and I went to Japan in May a couple of years back and we went to places like Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima etc. I have posted a trip report with pictures, links, a Google map etc on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/japan_tokyo.htm . Maybe you can find some useful info there

http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 01:58 PM
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The new itinerary is better. You could put Hiroshima before Nagasaki and then fly from Nagasaki to Tokyo. You would then only need a 14-day JR Pass.

Both JAL and ANA fly from Nagasaki to Tokyo Haneda airport.

Nagasaki is a nice place to visit. Does your friend have a car? With that amount of time in the area I would want to visit Unzen onsen and the Shimabara peninsula. Might take more than a day trip, tho.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 03:27 PM
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Agree. Much better. And I agree about putting Hiroshima before Nagasaki and flying to Tokyo from Nagasaki. Makes the travel time more reasonable.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 03:34 PM
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In Shirakawa-go, the places are all the same price, around 8000 yen per night dinner and breakfast included. Reserve directly or through the tourist info office. http://www.vill.shirakawa.gifu.jp/e/ is useful.

Tokyu Excel or APA Chuo have best location for sightseeing, and they are the nicest of the downtown area hotels. APA Chuo should be around 6000 - 8000 per night...reserve a twin/double or semidouble room, as the singles are tiny. Don't use a booking site, as the direct booking price is always cheapest.

Hiroshima...The Rhiga Royal is nice, but above your budget likely. I can say do NOT stay at the ANA hotel there...lousy. There is a place called the Sunroute that is located near the Peace Park if I remember correctly that should be 10,000 yen or less/night.

I'll let someone else recommend for the other places.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Feb 17th, 2007, 11:24 PM
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The JR Hotel at Hiroshima station is about that price, maybe 9600, with the JR discount. I think it is a Granvia.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Feb 18th, 2007, 06:41 PM
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Thanks so much for all your help and feedback! My plans are coming together and I'm getting really excited.

Does anyone have any info about these hotels in Tokyo ... Shinjuku New City; Shinjuku Prince or Nishi Shinjuku?
SenayJ is offline  
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