Japan: My Plans for 7 Cities!

Old Mar 28th, 2019, 11:52 AM
  #1  
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Japan: My Plans for 7 Cities!

Iím taking my first trip to Japan in two weeks and since Fodorites are such great resources, Iíd appreciate any info, suggestions, comments on my plans! Iím taking a cruise that circumnavigates Japan, round trip from Yokohama, stopping in 7 ports. I like to explore ports on my own (versus the shipís excursions), so Iíve done lots of research on this site, japan-guide, other web sites and paper guide books. My interests are gardens/nature, temples and old houses so Iíve identified the sites below to visit; I have zero interest in shopping and am not a foodie. I typically plan a fairly full day, realizing that once Iím there, I may opt to spend more time somewhere and eliminate another place from my list. But, if my ďto doĒ list seems crazily ambitious or would only allow time for a quick run in one door and out the other, please let me know Ė thatís not my intention! Re: museums: Iím intrigued by wood block prints and paintings, not so much armor, ceramics, fabrics. Also, joining other groups isnít really my style.

4/14: arrive @ Narita from JFK; NEX to Metropolitan Marunouchi hotel, which is above the Tokyo train station. (Chosen for ease, since Iím training to Kyoto the next morning). Either at NRT or the Tokyo train station, Iíll buy train tickets for the rest of my trip (Tokyo to Kyoto via Nozumi; Kyoto to Yokohama; Tokyo Shibuya to NRT via NEX).

4/15 Ė 4/19: Kyoto Ė I have several questions, so will post separately on Kyoto!

4/21: Hakodate: have emailed for a goodwill guide; will visit former British Consulate; wander the port area; red brick warehouses; and maybe a bay cruise/tour.

4/22: Akita: Selion Tower for farmerís market & Babahera Ice-Cream ladies; Senshu Park; Akita Museum of Art (since itís right at Senshu Park) and Akita Senshū Museum of Art

4/23: Kanazawa: this looks so interesting! From Fodorites posts, I see that many folks spend several days here and I can see why. But, I only have from 9-6, so will see what I can and if I return to Japan, will plan more time here. Kenrokuen Garden, Ninja House (maybe lunch at Godburger since I like the idea of going all the way to Japan for a burger Ė I donít eat seafood) and maybe Nomura Samurai House & Garden if time permits. The Ninja House sounded interesting, but maybe I eliminate that Ė thoughts?

4/24: Sakaiminato: I need help on this one! I really want to go to the Adachi Museum & Gardens, but thereís only one train an hour from Sakaiminato to Yonago which then requires a train, bus or taxi to Yasugi where I can get Adachiís shuttle bus. (Taxi from Sakaiminato to Yonago, Yasugi or Adachi is too expensive for just me.) I even thought about renting a car for the day, but the left-hand side driving isnít the easiest for me, so that would be dangerous. Iím trying to figure out if I can take the local Ichibata bus system from Sakaiminato to Yasugi, but when I google it, all the references are for Sakaiminato to Matsue which is a fair distance past Yasugi. Any advice would be appreciated! OTOH, if I canít make Adachi work, this is what I found to do in Sakaiminato: Daikon-jima Island and Yushien Garden.

4/26: Kumamoto (ship docks in Yatsushiro): Once I get to Kumamoto (via ship shuttle or train): Suizenji Garden; Kumamoto Castle (I know itís closed due to earthquake but would like to see exterior); Kumamoto Prefectural Museum of Art (since itís right near the Castle) and either Honmyoji Temple or Reigando Cave (and the 500 Buddha statues). Honestly, none of these thrill me so which of these would be your ďgood to seeĒ options (if any). Maybe this is a day to wander around Yasushiro and then relax on board ship?

4/28: early morning local train from Yokohama to Tokyo Shibuya; check into Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu. My plan is to visit Yoyogi Hachimangu Shrine, lunch at Arms, Yoyogi Park and Ōta Memorial Museum of Art.

4/29: NEX to NRT and flight home

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
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Old Mar 28th, 2019, 01:06 PM
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Have you checked cruisecritic.com for your cruise? If not, and it's listed, sign up for the Roll Call and see if anyone wants to share transport to Adachi.
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Old Mar 28th, 2019, 02:05 PM
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When we were in Kanazawa a few years ago , the talks at the Ninja Temple were in Japanese. Not a problem for us but something to consider. Walking through the samurai district was really interesting for me, old style architecture and not as crowded as the geisha area.
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Old Mar 28th, 2019, 02:38 PM
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Thursdaysd: Good suggestion - the Cruise Critic roll call for this itinerary is very quiet - i think because it's a segment of the Queen Elizabeth's round the world cruise; another CC poster mentioned that many passengers have already made arrangements on the world cruise roll call. I was hopeful that I could join up with someone but doesn't seem like that will work. I could wait until I'm on the ship and chat around to see if I can find someone else who wants to go, so that's a possibility if public transportation can't work.

Curiousgeo - i read that the Ninja Temple only offers guided tours in Japanese, but japan-guide mentioned they have a good English guide available. Did you use that? Good to know that the samurai district was an interesting walk & not too crowded.
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Old Mar 28th, 2019, 02:53 PM
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A few things that occurred to me.... for Hakodate, the crown jewel is the view from atop Mt Hakodate. If the weather is good, it is one of the country's best. Try and get there before sunset and watch the city turn from day to night. Fort Goryokaku is also a rare historical place for Japan.
If you only have one day in Kanazawa, do not skip the Kenrokuen Garden - it is truly exquisite. The castle reconstruction nearby is not bad either. With the rest of your time, the preserved old samurai quarter is worth some attention. Up to your interests though.

I don't see getting to the Adachi Museum as really problematic - there are 1-2 trains per hour to get you to Yonago. You can check schedules and fares on Hyperdia. If you have a whole day, there is nothing stopping you from seeing both Yuushien and Adachi. Yuushien actually has a very nice Japanese garden. As for Adachi, I have heard it called the most beautiful in Japan, but it's more of a 3D painting - you can only see it from outside; there is no walking through it at all. You actually have one other choice as well - the Tottori Flower Park, and it has a 25 minute shuttle bus from Yonago too.
You could fill up a day with Kumamoto, although getting to Unganji for the cave would be a pain. Another option would be taking the ferry and going to see Unzen.
For Tokyo, Yoyogi Koen is fine as a park, but if you are interested in ganrdens/nature as you say, Tokyo is loaded with several excellent traditional gardens. Your timing is also perfect to see the "secret" Denboin garden at Sensoji Temple just before it closes for the year - it's only open about 2 months annually. In Yokohama, there is also the beautiful Sankeien Garden.
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Old Mar 28th, 2019, 03:37 PM
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If you do go to Adachi by public transport, make sure to sign up for the return bus when you arrive - I didn't realize you needed to do that until I was ready to leave. It is a remarkable place. I ate lunch there and the food was fine.
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Old Mar 28th, 2019, 05:50 PM
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kja
 
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I agree that Kenroku-en is glorious!

I'm glad I visited the Ninja house and went despite the Japanese-only tour at the time (there was a hand-out in English) BUT it had to be reserved in advance when I went, so make sure you consider that.

Nomura-ke is worth seeing; you might consider Gyokusen-en as an alternative, particularly if it still offers a tea ceremony. Again, I believe that would have to be reserved in advance.

Enjoy!
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 06:04 AM
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Perhaps best to check with your hotel concierge if the English speaking guide needs to be arranged beforehand, or if they are on-site.
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 09:15 AM
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Great ideas everyone - thank you! I'm glad to hear that Yushien Garden is a highlight in Matsue (via Sakaiminato). Given the limited time I have there & transportation requirements, I've decided to omit the Adachi Museum and go to Matsue for Yushien, the castle and a wander around town. In Kanazawa, I'll focus on Kenrokuen Garden and will go to Nomura Samurai House & Garden, and will eliminate the Ninja Temple. I didn't think of Tokyo as having so many gardens (versus parks), so will research them. I think my draft day in Kumamoto is full, so won't bother with the cave since it's outside town. I appreciate all your comments!
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 06:08 PM
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In Kanazawa you may like to visit the 21st Century Museum. It's close to Kenrokuen Garden
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Old Mar 29th, 2019, 07:46 PM
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tt7
 
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Originally Posted by aanro View Post
In Kanazawa you may like to visit the 21st Century Museum. It's close to Kenrokuen Garden
..... as is the D.T. Suzuki Museum, worth a visit for the building alone. Regrettably it's closed a couple of days in April, one of which (April 23) is the day you're there.... oh well, next time.
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Old Mar 30th, 2019, 10:06 AM
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Oh yes - the DT Suzuki Museum would have been great to visit but, as you say, next time! Thank you for suggesting the 21st Century Contemporary Art Museum - they have an exhibit of Asian Landscapes going on when Iím visiting, so Iíve added that to my list for the day (glad itís near Kenruken). As I suspected when I was researching Kawanza, there are so many places that interest me - more than a dayís worth for sure. So, plenty of ideas for a next trip!
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Old Apr 1st, 2019, 02:29 PM
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Thursday has a good idea. I followed cruisecritic.com for a number of months before a trip to French Polynesia we had to cancel. Many of the posts were thoughtful and seemed knowledgable.
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Old Apr 2nd, 2019, 08:46 PM
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I just noticed that you are going to Matsue and don't know how much time you have but I suggest that you consider visiting nearby Izumo Taisha.

https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5804.html
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Old Apr 3rd, 2019, 12:33 PM
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Mrwunrfl - Izumo Taisha looks fascinating but I don't think I'll have enough time to get there if I visit Yushien and Matsue Castle. OTOH, I could skip both of those and got to Izumo since getting there seems fairly straightforward; i think this is a situation where I'll wait until the day before and decide if need a break from gardens. Thank you for the suggestion!
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