Japan Itinerary - Please Review

Old Feb 25th, 2013, 07:26 PM
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Japan Itinerary - Please Review

We will be traveling to Japan for 9 full days (54 year old mom traveling with my 19 year old son) in August. Coming up with an itinerary has been very difficult. Every time I think I'm close to having a final draft of my itinerary, I read more posts in the Fodors.com forums and end up changing it. I know we can't see it all. I also might point out that we (meaning me) don't really do any hiking (No more than a couple miles), We will be traveling via public transportation only.

This is the LATEST "final" itinerary:
Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo about 6PM
Day 2 - Kamakura Day Trip
Day 3 - Nikko (spend the night) - Buy World Heritage Pass
Day 4 - Nikko (returning to Tokyo late afternoon)
Day 5 - Mt. Fuji Day Trip
Day 6 - Train to Kyoto in AM.
Day 7 - Day trip to Hiroshima
Day 8 - Viator full day tour to Kyoto and Nara (only way to see a lot in short amount of time)
Day 9 - Train to Tokyo
Day 10 Tokyo
Day 11 Return flight to the USA

I tried to build in a couple lower key days. We will activate our Japan Rail Pass on day 5. Has anyone taken the full day Kyoto and Nara tour? I know its a bit pricey but its probably my best option to see the main sites in Kyoto and Nara. Haven't decided on what to do in Tokyo. Looks like we have one full day and a couple half days.
Any suggestions/comments on this itinerary? Any suggestions on what do see/do in Tokyo?
Thanks.
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Old Feb 25th, 2013, 07:39 PM
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It really depends on your priorities! Much as I enjoyed my day in Kamakura, I personally would not give up time in Kyoto or Nara for it. And I'm not sure I would go to Nikko if it meant so little time in Kyoto, although it might be a wise choice for August.

Is an open jaw flight an option?

> I tried to build in a couple lower key days.

Sounds like a good idea, but I'm not sure which days you mean. I think any of these days could be VERY busy days or more quite ones!

> Any suggestions on what do see/do in Tokyo?

I trust you've seen the japan-guide:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2164.html

And I trust you have given at least some consideration to weather and travel patterns in August:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2273.html

Hope that helps!
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 08:44 AM
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Thanks for your input. Unfortunately we are locked into the specified time frame. Is Nikko worth while for just a long day trip? We selected Kamakura because we are both fascinated with Buddhas.

I did look at japan-guide but I totally forgot to consider weather and travel patterns when we are there. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

I will see what I can do to maybe give us a little more time in Kyoto. Besides being a Metropolitan area, is there anything in Tokyo that fits into the "not to be missed" category?
Thanks.
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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Following is my 2 cents, IMHO
I'd leave off the trips to Hiroshima and Mt Fuji.
Just too much travelling around with too little time.
With eleven days minus the two arriving and departing the nine remaining could go Tokyo-Nikko-Kyoto-Tokyo.
Three full days in Tokyo, four in Kyoto with one in Nikko give you an extra days for Tokyo (Kamakura) or Kyoto (Nara).
This is just my take on a 11 day trip. Plenty to do and see in Tokyo and Kyoto plus Nikko gives you mountains and rural Japan. Could do just one night in Nikko , nice to get up early and see the sights before the crowds build.

Your 19 yo may be more into Akihabara (check out the seven story Yodobashi Camera Store) and anime/manga stores surrounding, also the Takeshita Dori area of Harajuku with a side trip to the Meiji Shrine for some cultural balance.
The Miraikan ( Museum of Emerging science and Innovation) in Odaiba might be an interesting outing, its also close to the Gundam statue.
Getting there via the Yurikamome line can be a fun experience in itself
If you want to see what Japanese teenagers are into check out the La Foret Building in Harajuku
and the 109 Building in Shibuya.
Hope you have a fun time!
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 09:12 AM
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I don't see any low key days until days 9, 10, 11! I'd give up one of these: Kamakura, Nara, or Hakone (I'm assuming you mean Hakone for Fuji?), most likely Kamakura as it will be hot and packed in August. I'd also go to Hiroshima straight from Fuji area instead of going back and forth to Kyoto.

My itinerary:
Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo about 6PM
Day 2 - Nikko (spend the night) - Buy World Heritage Pass
Day 3 - Nikko train to Hakone in afternoon
Day 4 - Hakone cycle, then shinkansen to Hiroshima in late afternoon
Day 5 - Hiroshima. Late afternoon train to Kyoto
Day 6 - Kyoto
Day 7 - Kyoto with day trip to Nara
Day 8 - Kyoto
Day 9 - Train to Tokyo either morning or afternoon, depending on progress in Kyoto
Day 10 Tokyo
Day 11 Return flight to the USA

I've suggested afternoon trains so that you can have some flexibility in Nikko, Hakone and Hiroshima. Plus after a day of sightseeing, a train ride is a nice way to rest & reflect. Arrive in new city, check into new hotel and have dinner and a walk in the new location. There are trains all day long between Hiroshima, Kyoto and Tokyo. Only Nikko & Hakone may require careful connections, depending on the dates.

The Viator tour might be an easy way to see things, but everything you want to see in Kyoto can be easily done by local bus or taxi, and you can take a train to Nara. Especially in Kyoto I'd trade quantity for quality and have time to savor sights at my own pace.

Pack light and plan on doing any shopping in Kyoto or Tokyo so you only have to be weighted down at the end.
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Old Feb 26th, 2013, 05:21 PM
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what lcuy said

shellyk, I hope you see the above itinerary (for its lack of days/nights in Tokyo)

Mid-August is a peak travel time for Obon:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2286.html

"In 2013, the peak of the Obon travel season is anticipated to take place between August 10 and August 18. The busiest days are expected to be around August 10 with people leaving the big cities, and August 17-18 with people returning to the big cities."
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Old Feb 27th, 2013, 12:03 PM
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I guess I need to rethink my itinerary (again) to consider all suggestions/comments posted. Could think I still have time. Does anyone know of a decent place to stay (modestly priced) in the Nikko area?
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Old Feb 28th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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http://www.turtle-nikko.com/
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Old Feb 28th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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I stayed in their annex:
http://www.turtle-nikko.com/hotori-an/index_en.html
for two nights - I felt it was convenient to get to the shrines - walking distance - and the main street where the bus to Lake Chuzenji runs in one direction and the station in the other direction. I was in a Japanese style room....
Enjoy your visit to Japan!
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