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kdd Aug 2nd, 2012 07:42 PM

Japan itinerary - need your inputs

Please critique this Japan itinerary, planned for early April next year)

Day 1 - Arrive in Tokyo (flight from Singapore that arrives at 5 am or so)
Day 2 - Tokyo
Day 3 - Disneyland
Day 4 - Hakone-Odakyu area, stay the night in an Onsen resort
Day 5 - return to Tokyo
Day 6 - Travel to Kyoto
Day 7 - Kyoto
Day 8 - Kyoto
Day 9 - Mt Koya, stay night
Day 10 - back to Kyoto
Day 11 - Visit Nara or stay in Kyoto?
Day 12 - travel back to Singapore from Osaka

Questions - Should I include Nara in the itinerary? Keeping in mind that we would have visited a lot many temples by then, would Nara be just a place with more temples or is there something more to it? Would that day be better spent in Kyoto?

If we added a visit Hiroshima, where would this fit in the itinerary? I am guessing we would need to add 2 more days to the trip?

Please share your thoughts on this itinerary.

mrwunrfl Aug 2nd, 2012 08:31 PM

If you can add two days to a trip to Japan then you should.

I would stay in Tokyo on day 4 and go to Hakone on day 5. Am guessing that you are looking at the Odakyu train to Hakone-Yumoto. Take it one-way. Then Hakone to JR Odawara station to get a Hikari shinkansen to Kyoto.

Koyasan to Hiroshima is about 4 hours. Could do that on day 10. Hiroshima for the day on day 11 returning to Osaka (or Kyoto) to spend the night before your flight.

For that, because would be including Hiroshima, you would get a 7-day JR Pass for days 6-12, including the l'ex train to Kansai Airport.

mrwunrfl Aug 2nd, 2012 08:36 PM

If you added two days then you would want to return to Kyoto or Osaka or Nara on day 12 so that the pass covers the trip from Hiroshima. Spend those extra two days in Kyoto/Nara.

If you don't go to Hiroshima then you would not need the JR Pass.

mrwunrfl Aug 2nd, 2012 08:46 PM

Ok, a couple of other options, based on what others have done and suggested:

- Spend a second night in Fuji-Hakone, depending on what you want to do there. Then scratch Nara.

- Visit Hiroshima as a day trip from Kyoto. Others have done this but I like Hiroshima and advocate spending a night.

kja Aug 2nd, 2012 10:12 PM

> Should I include Nara in the itinerary? Keeping in mind that we would have visited a lot many temples by then, would Nara be just a place with more temples or is there something more to it?

I was well aware of the differences in the temples I saw in various parts of Japan, and was well aware that those in Nara were much older (in general) than those in Kyoto. But I can't say whether you would see those differences. I can say that Nara's museum, and the treasure house of Kofukuji, each had some of the finest (if not THE finest) sculptures I saw anywhere in Japan. And Nara and Kyoto are very different places; all the guidebooks I consulted before my trip gave at least some insight into those differences.

> If we added a visit Hiroshima, where would this fit in the itinerary? I am guessing we would need to add 2 more days to the trip?

You could, perhaps, visit Hiroshima as a day trip from Kyoto.

It seems to me that you are trying to see a LOT in little time. It might make sense to think through your priorities to be sure you want to fit all of these things into your time ... or find a way to add some time!

Hope that helps!

hawaiiantraveler Aug 3rd, 2012 12:37 PM

I agree with switching days 4 and 5.

Day 10 stay overnight in Nara, and day 11 in Osaka. No need to go back to Kyoto

With two more days you can definitely include Hiroshima....maybe even a night on Miyajima in a ryokan. If you do Hiroshima would be better to do when JR pass is active so might have to rearrange your scheduling a bit to be in Kansai area at the end of your holiday after all the long train trips are done. Have you taken into consideration cherry blossom viewing on your trip anywhere?


kdd Aug 7th, 2012 01:40 AM

Some questions based on the responses -

By switching days 4 and 5 in Tokyo, are we saying go directly from Odakyu-Hakone area to Kyoto? I am wondering how convenient it would be to do the trip from Tokyo to Odakyu are with all our bags. I understand there is a train, then a tram, then cable car etc to get to the lake to do the boat cruise. Are there places in any of the train stations where we can leave our bags?

Still undecided about Nara. Have an 8 yr old with us, so have to keep it interesting for her!

hawaiiantraveler Aug 7th, 2012 07:40 AM

The eight yr old will love the deer in Nara....unless you feed them the deer crackers then look out ;)

No one carries their own luggage in Japan except of course the gaijin :)
You can utilize the takuhaibin luggage forwarding service explained in full detail here:

We have traveled extensively all throughout Japan in the past several years for weeks at a time and always use the takuhaibin services. We send our heavy luggage ahead to the next stop the day before we leave a town and travel on the trains with a small wheeled carryon with our overnight essentials and meet up with the bags at our new hotel or ryokan destination. All that said yes there are lockers at the JR Odawara station. There is also a takuhaibin service desk right outside the ground level doors next to the taxi stand IIRC. You can send your luggage to your hotel from there if you want then do the tour(the loop) of Hakone without any bags and meet up with your luggage at your hotel/ryokan.


Mara Aug 7th, 2012 01:16 PM

I carry my luggage with me as I move around a lot and use a 21" wheeled carry-on - not a problem - of course with a family it is different - as a rule the takuhaibin is not same day service...

hawaiiantraveler Aug 7th, 2012 01:41 PM

The takuhaibin service is same day only in the your immediate area(ie Kanto) though they can deliver a bag from Tokyo to Kyoto same day but that would be at a premium cost and you would have a cut off time. Most service is next day.

The service from the JR Odawara station to the Hakone area hotels/ryokan would be same day service usually within a few hours.


mrwunrfl Aug 7th, 2012 08:43 PM

kdd, let's get your terms straight. You are traveling to Fuji-Hakone National Park, aka Hakone or Hakone area.

"Odakyu" is the Odakyu Electric Railway. They have trains that go from Tokyo to Hakone, to the town of Hakone-Yumoto which is a gateway to the park. Here is the Odakyu company webpage that describes their Hakone Freepass, which is not actually free :)

Scroll down on that page and see the map. Odawara is on the east (right) side. Odawara has a Japan Rail station. You can get a shinkansen there that goes to Kyoto. Many of the shinkansen that stop there would require a change of trains before Kyoto, and some are slow, but there are a few of the faster trains that stop there and go on through to Kyoto.

Southwest of Odawara on the map you will see Hakone-Yumoto and to the left of that, the towns/villages in the park (Gora, Hakone-Machi, etc).

Where are you staying in Hakone? Be specific, please.

mrwunrfl Aug 7th, 2012 08:46 PM

My question has to do with the possibility of taking a taxi to your lodging where you can drop off whatever luggage you carry and then take the other forms of transport to go around the park.

kdd Aug 13th, 2012 02:33 AM

Probably Gorakadan which I believe is at the end of the circuit.

DonTopaz Aug 13th, 2012 05:08 AM

Gora Kadan is roughly 1/4 or 1/3 of the way around the circuit if you do it in the traditional direction. I think the smartest thing to do in your case is to take the shinkansen (bullet) train from Tokyo (or Shinagawa, whichever is more convenient to your Tokyo hotel)to Odawara, then a taxi to Gora Kadan. Leave your bags at Gora Kadan -- you probably will not be able to check in until 3pm, but you can leave your bags. Take the pleasant walk from Gora Kadan to the center of the small town of Gora, and you can begin the circuit (the funicular) there. By the time you've completed the circuit, it will be time to check in. At the end of your loop, you can get off at the stop before Gora for Gora Kadan. If it's still too early to check in, spend some quality time at the nearby outdoor museum.

hawaiiantraveler Aug 13th, 2012 07:53 AM

Wow Gora Kadan! Let us know all about it when you get back kudasai.

Taxi from the Hyatt in Gora(a little farther than GK) to Odawara cost over 7,000 yen last time I did it. Takuhaibin for your luggage especially with your group.....once you do it your hooked. You will thank me for it when you return while writing your report on Gora Kadan ;)

If you have the time read a couple of my trip reports. They may be long winded but they do contain a few useful bits of info you are going to need in train stations and such on your first trip to Japan.


mrwunrfl Aug 13th, 2012 07:24 PM

Shinjuku to Hakone-Yumoto is 2020 JPY on an Odakyu Limited Express.

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