Japan itinerary..help please

May 7th, 2010, 01:23 PM
  #1  
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Japan itinerary..help please

We are going to Japan the end of September.
So far our itinerary is tentatively as follows:

Sept. 27 Fly from USA arriving in Osaka the following day
Sept. 28 Overnight at hotel in Osaka
Sept. 29 Osaka sights
Sept. 29:: Visit Kobe..stay in Osaka
Oct. 1 Kyoto
Oct..2: Kyoto
Oct. 3: Kyoto
Oct. 4th: Visit Nara..stay in Kyoto
Oct. 5th: Kanazawa (activate 7 day JR Pass)..stay in Kanazawa
Oct. 6: Kanazawa in morning. Train to Tokyo afternoon..stay in Tokyo
Oct. 7: Visit Nikko
Oct. 8: Visit Hakone (avoiding the weekend)
Oct. 9: Tokyo sights
Oct. 10:Tokyo sights or ????
Oct. 11: Fly at 2pm to Shanghai (and the World Expo!)

Questions:
1. Should we go from the airport in Kansai to Kyoto and just go to Osaka, Kobe and Nara on day trips, thereby staying 7 nights in Kyoto?
2. Does an overnight in Kanazawa make sense?
3. Should we overnight (one or maybe two nights in Hakone??
4. Is one day enough to see the sights of Tokyo?
5. Is the 7 day JR rail pass the one I need..and green I assume??
6. What am I missing or should substitute for any of the above?
7. I read that there should be fall colour in Kanazawa..any idea?
8. For fall colour should we just spend a day going on the train to Yamagata? Or if not any other suggestion of a locale?

Thanks for all the help I've already found from posters on other Japan posts.
Philbill is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 02:01 PM
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Osaka and Kyoto are really close so you can stay at either city and visit all of the nearby sights. You can check the hotel prices and see which is more cost effective for you. We had to stay in Osaka because all of the hotels in Kyoto were booked during our desired time frame. I would add Himeji castle from Osaka or Kyoto. I think they are currently remodeling it and don't know if they will be done by October, you may want to check.

As for Kanazawa, it is definitely worth staying overnight. Find a nice Japanese ryokan there if you can. One day for Tokyo sights is definitely not enough, I would just do a day trip to Hakone and add an extra day for Tokyo sights.

You don't need to get the green JR rail pass, just the ordinary one is fine, save the money for a nice ryokan in Kanazawa instead.
panda2ac is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 02:27 PM
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I'm wondering why you're going to Kobe. I love it and it's my second home, but I can't say it has any 'sights'. Maybe you know people there?
It's perfectly doable as a day from Kyoto . Get the Hankyu train, faster and cheaper unless you have a JRPass.
gertie3751 is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 02:49 PM
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gertie: for the life of me I can't find the reason why Kobe (looking through my copious notes!!)except that one of the tour companies does go there for the shopping arcade and the park. I can certainly omit that.
panda2ac..Hotels in Osaka are certainly less expensive as I have found today doing more googling. I don't know the cities, but had just read that Kyoto is beautiful and more pleasant than big city Osaka. Having written that, I have no personal experience.
Would two nights be preferable in Kanazawa?
Would you stay in Hakone or do a day trip from Tokyo?
I read that Himeji is closed until January.
Philbill is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 04:10 PM
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Depends how much time you have. Hakone is perfectly doable in a day from Tokyo. It's always nice to have an overnight though.
Yes, I heard that Himeji jo is closed for a while.
gertie3751 is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 04:54 PM
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1. I will be in the minority but I would say take the train straight into Osaka and if you can stay here with direct train service to and from KIX:
http://www.swissotel.com/EN/Destinat...%20Description
There are of course other places much less expensive to stay at in Osaka.
Osaka has arguably the best shopping and eating in all of Japan so it is not to be missed imho. Kyoto hotels are probably the most expensive in Japan so I make my time there count. If you do stay in Osaka and Kyoto it would be well worth your while to check out the Kansai Thru Pass which is very useful for train, bus and subway transport throughout the Kansai area:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357_005.html

2.Yes, two would be what I would do.

3. Yes, another place under rated on this board. Hakone is worth at least two nights imho. Lots to do there and very beautiful scenery though most just do "the loop" and are out of there.

4. NO

5. Yes, the green would be your preference and travel style. That said I usually use the green.

6. Looks like a full plate to me for a first visit.

7. Maybe in the upper elevations but don't think around Kanazawa at your time although fall will be earlier than usual in most of Japan this year. Don't ask how I know. Here is a site that you can see what might be happening fall color wise while you are there:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014.html

8. See #7

The covering and scaffolding surrounding the keep of Himeji-jo will be on till the spring of 2015, when the current renovations are scheduled to be completed.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 10:31 PM
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So, Hawaiiantraveler, would you say divide the time, as initially scheduled, between Osaka and Kyoto...or stay all of the nights in Osaka and travel in to Kyoto for maybe three days' sightseeing??
I read online not to bother going to Himenji with the renovations; do you agree?
Both you and panda2ac say one day in Tokyo is not enoough to see all the sites there. Two days??
Shall we cut a day in Kyoto and spend an extra day in Hakone or Kanazawa????
I will look up the hotel suggestion. Do you recommend for location or service or??
Philbill is offline  
May 7th, 2010, 11:07 PM
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I would split time evenly between Osaka and Kyoto.

I would not bother to see Himeji-jo until after the restoration work is completed. Easy for me to say as I have already been.

No do not cut a day out of Kyoto rather a day out of Hakone or eliminate Hakone or Kanazawa completely from this trip. Odds are you will be back,lol

The Swissotel Osaka is for location, location, location.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 05:13 AM
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If you'll be staying in Osaka and traveling to Kyoto, see if you can find a hotel close to the Shin-Osaka station, that way it's easy to hop on the Shinkansen to Kyoto. Otherwise, you will first need to take a local subway to Shin-Osaka. There are also local trains that go directly to Kyoto as well if you don't mind the crowds. I think if you can find a reasonable price hotel in Kyoto, it might save some time and hassle to just stay in Kyoto.

Yeah, it's unfortunate that Himeji is under renovation right now, you can save it for a future trip. I personally think one day in Kanazawa and a day trip to Hakone is sufficient, but it all really depends on what you like to see and how much time you want to spend.
panda2ac is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 06:00 AM
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I'm leaning towards splitting the time right now after the suggestions from both of you.
I think I would like to see Hakone and Kanazawa. The day trip sounds good (although I read an early start is necessary!).
Is there more than one station in Hakone? I think that is the place that I was finding the train website a little confusing.
Philbill is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 06:24 AM
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When you arrive at Hakone JR station you will find a series of directions for your entire route. As I remember there are buses, cable cars, little private railways.... It all flows in sequence!
gertie3751 is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 07:37 AM
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Odawara is the JR station stop for the Hakone region.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html

Arrival at Odawara basically goes like this, you arrive at the JR Odawara shinkansen station and walk out of the gate into the station and if you don't already have one proceed to buy your Hakone Free Pass which will be used for transport and discounts all throughout the Hakone region

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_008.html

You would then proceed either onward with your journey wherever you want to go via bus,train, walk whichever you choose. This is a good site for finding out what to do and how to do it in Hakone.

http://www.hakonenavi.jp/english/index.html

You don't need to be near Shin-Osaka if you utilize the Kansai Thru Pass I mention and leave a link for up-thread. The JR Pass is not very good for transportation within the Kansai area especially throughout the cities and towns. You won't have to worry about that anyway as you don't activate yours till you leave the Kansai region. Why I suggest the Swissotel is for location and convenience. It is located right on top of the Namba Station. When you arrive on the direct train from the KIX airport there is a phone on the platform which you can call the hotel from to send someone to help you with your bags if you need. You can catch a train to Kyoto, Mt Koya, Kobe,Nara and access the subway system virtually right downstairs. The hotel is also surrounded by famous shopping centers and tourist attractions, such as Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, DenDen Town and Takashimaya so there is a lot to do right outside your door. See here for sights and things to do in Osaka:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2157.html

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 07:54 AM
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Sorry, I meant Odawara. We used to live just down the road from there!
gertie3751 is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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You can go to the hyperdia.com site and see what are the train times for the day you want to go to Hakone.
http://www.hyperdia.com/

You should definitely get the Hakone free pass, here's another link that will give you more information on the pass.
http://www.odakyu.jp/english/freepass/hakone_01.html
panda2ac is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 05:18 PM
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The Swissotel does look convenient 'above Namba station on Nankai Railway'.
If I pay in advance I can get a classic room for around $137 or a larger 'Classic Plus' room for $152.
The Ana Crowne Plaza ranks a little higher on Tripadvisor, but doesn't seem to be quite as convenient.
Is this the station used to travel to Kyoto and Nara?
Do you have a suggestion for a hotel in Kyoto or Tokyo? They don't have to be grand but a good location.
We usually stay 'lower end' price wise, but I am starting to enjoy a higher star level experience!! I also like brekfast included even if it is minimal. Paying $25 plus each for breakfast seems a lot. Then I wonder about paying for a 'Club' room.
(Thanks, now I know Odawara and Hakone Yumoto I can work the timetable!)
Philbill is offline  
May 8th, 2010, 09:41 PM
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There is absolutely NO need to get a green JR pass. The regular class is very nice, clean, and roomy. You will NOT be stuck with cattle class airplane seating in the regular JR class - it's much better than that. Save the money.

And you need to check out if a JR pass makes sense on your itinerary OR if you're activating on the right day. Osaka-Kobe, Osaka-Kyoto, Kyoto-Nara and Kyoto-Tokyo all are JR routes that will be fastest on shinkansen if available (not Kyoto-Nara, but the other three) but shinkansen cost more if you're buying separate tickets not covered by a JR pass. Your Tokyo side trips to Hakone and NIkko are better reached on non-JR train lines (Tobu for Nikko from Asakasa station, Odakyu for Hakone from Shinjuku station) and those are NOT covered by the JR pass. Do the math and figure it out (www.hyperdia.com). But the JR pass may actually cost you more money.
BigRuss is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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Thanks for the extra input on doing the math! BigRuss, i will do that later today using Panda2ac's hyperdia link. I think I just made an assumption after reading on the boards about people getting the pass who were doing similar itineraries.
Has anyone input on Arashiyama as a day trip, and is it doable by public transport once you arrive there? I haven't seen the place mentioned.
By the way, the links all of you have posted are great. Japan-Guide is awesonme.
Thank you!
Philbill is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 12:02 PM
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Help: From the Hyperdia site I got this as a sample:
Kyoto to Kanazawa:
Take time: 133 Minutes Transfer: 0 Times Distance: 224.8 km
Total#165; 6,510(Fare#165; 3,890 Seat Fee#165; 2,620)

Is the 'seat fee' for a reserved seat?
Is it mandatory to reserve a seat?
Is reserving a seat recommended?
Can I only do this 3 months in advance?

With a quick calculation I think I would benefit, but not greatly, from the rail pass.
Philbill is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 03:02 PM
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Is the 'seat fee' for a reserved seat? yes

Is it mandatory to reserve a seat? some shinkansen have unreserved 2nd class seats but not all

Is reserving a seat recommended? I would

Can I only do this 3 months in advance? only if you know someone in Japan who will make a res for you or 60 days in advance if reserving on the JR East line only on website only

Tokyo/Kyoto hotel recommendations for your budget;

http://www.sunroute.jp/HotelInfoSVE

http://www.wh-rsv.com/english/index.html

http://www.jrhotelgroup.com/eng/index.htm

Aloha!

http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 9th, 2010, 03:25 PM
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I agree with BigRuss, a green pass is really not necessary. All of the shinkansen that I rode on had unreserved cars so reserving is not a must especially if you're not sure which time you want to travel and want to stay flexible. If you have specific time trains that you want to travel on then it is highly recommended to reserve seats which is free with the JR rail pass. You can just get your reserved seats when you exchange your pass.
panda2ac is offline  

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