Japan - Nippon yes!

Jul 27th, 2011, 01:57 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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Japan - Nippon yes!

Hello travel friends!

My boyfriend and I are living in Shanghai and decided not to go home to the states the summer. Consequently, we felt we could lavish ourselves with one expensive trip this summer: we will be spending 9 days in Japan August 8-17.

We have been living overseas for the last year and both of us are pretty adept travelers - we do our research!! We are young and active - we recently ran a half marathon on the great wall. So an intense itinerary is OK with us! We have a lonely planet guide for Japan and several of my international students have helped me to make a list of essential phrases for if I get lost - or I can just call them to help me translate if I'm in a real pickle - so that's nice!

But, we are trying to create an itinerary that is very dynamic - We have been living in a big city for a while so we don't want to only be in cities. The flight to Okinawa was way too expensive to make it down there, so that was out. We also don't only want to see temples, because we end up seeing a lot of temples in China! But we do like art and music (I am a music teacher) and food (he is a chef)..... and we like doing water activity things as well as taking in culture.

We will get a Japan Rail Pass for 7 days.

So, we're looking at two options -

Arrive in Tokyo Monday afternoon, immediately hop on a train(s) to (I know you'll think this is crazy) KAGOSHIMA.... sleep there, take the two hour ferry to Yakushima. Hang out in Yakushima exploring for 3 days - onsen, waterfalls, beaches, hiking, cedar trees, outdoorsy stuff. On Thursday evening or Friday morning go back on the ferry and take the train to Kyoto. Friday and Saturday stay in Kyoto and explore temples, maybe take a biking tour. Sunday morning head back to Tokyo. (This way we won't need our rail pass any longer for the last two days) Explore Tokyo a bit Sunday evening/night and Monday go to the fish market. For our last day .. Tuesday, we'll go hike to the top of Mt. Fuji. Wednesday morning we go home! Yay!

Same as the last one except go more local to start - begin in Takayama/Kamikochi and hike around/camp in the alps for 2/3 days... then kyoto, then fuji, then tokyo.

Both of these itineraries are also possibly reversible, we just feel safer getting to tokyo last so we don't have to worry about getting stuck somewhere.

What do you think? Also, a list of onsens that are okay with tattoos would be fabulous!
gnalie is offline  
Jul 27th, 2011, 06:55 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Wow.....I'm out of breath just reading this. Ohhhh to be young again,lol.

#2 is a better idea as you will be in Japan during the dog days of summer and it will be very hot and humid the times you are there. Staying at elevation in the Japan Alps is actually a good idea to avoid the oppressive heat.

If you do that you can fly from Shanghai(PVG)into Komatsu(KMQ) non-stop flight and start there as a base for your foray into Takayama, Kamikochi, etc. But I do see that PVG/NRT flights are cheaper during your time frame.

Have only been to the base of Fujisan but have never done the climb. You can find information at this site about Mt. Fuji and about all of Japan if you take a look around the site.....


Got to leave for work now but I'll be back with ideas about your plans for Kagoshima.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 27th, 2011, 10:35 AM
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Sorry, maybe I didn't explain properly for choice two. We are going to Takayama but Kamikochi is in that same region - the gateway to the alps.

Also, our flight is going to Narita no refunds... so no Komatsu. Thanks!
gnalie is offline  
Jul 27th, 2011, 03:15 PM
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Ok regarding plan 1, according to www.hyperdia.com if you don't leave NRT by at least 1:30 pm you won't make it to Kagoshima by train till the next day. If you leave by 1:30 you should make it to Kagoshima by about 11:30 pm. That's because the shinkansen do not run 24hrs. After 1:30 or so at Narita you would have to make your way to Tokyo station and catch the sleeper train after 10:00 pm to get to Kagoshima by 11:55 am paying the supplement but saving the overnight hotel charge in Kagoshima.

A better option would be a cheap domestic connection from Narita or Haneda to Kagoshima. See here for details on how to get cheaper domestic Yokoso or Star Alliance fares. You could also fly from Narita to Osaka or Fukuoka and then fly directly into Yakushima via ANA.


How big are your tattoos? If they are small enough to cover with a band-aid or plaster you will be alright. I have a small tattoo on my arm and have been to many onsen without any problems. The only places I was told to cover them up was in the spa at the Sheraton Sapporo and the baths in Odaiba Tokyo. Most places are cognizant about other cultures and will turn their eyes from foreigners tattoos(as long as they are not too big) knowing they are not yakuza. That said older more traditional places might not let you in their baths if you have one that cannot be covered.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 27th, 2011, 05:38 PM
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I think we'll stick to the train... if we go that way... we're trying to stay cheapish! This website is very helpful though... thanks!!

With the overnight train if I have a rail pass do I just pay the difference or do I pay for the whole thing plus the extra?

My tattoo is probably like as big as a grapefruit in the middle of my back, my boyfriends is a sleeve.. around his upper arm... (quite big) which is why I think we have to go to one where they say they openly accept tattoos..

Do you think Yakushima is do-able at all or is it way too crazy?
gnalie is offline  
Jul 27th, 2011, 05:54 PM
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night train with JR pass info:


Like I mentioned above...really check out this site

Do you think Yakushima is do-able at all or is it way too crazy?

Doable, yes....crazy, yes. You will need a vacation from your vacation which is why I suggested going with your plan 2.

Your tats, especially his are too big. You could get away with wearing a towel in the baths and he may be able to wear a compression bandage on his arm but if any one complains when you are bathing they might not let you in. Let us know what your final plans are and I'll check if there are any liberal onsen around.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 28th, 2011, 05:10 AM
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Ok, I think I've finally taken my medicine and decided not to go down to Yakushima. Even though it makes me sad I think it'll take up so much time we could be doing other fun things.

So we are going to set up camp in Kyoto and Tokyo like the typical Japanese tourists, but I'm still considering my other options:

Hiroshima/Miyajima: Not that interested.. feel weird as Americans going there.

Takayama/Kamikochi: Nervous about transportation situation, but very intrigued.. I feel like buses will be confusing. And not sure how the camping situation works in Japan though here: http://outdoorj.japan-adventures.com...-shizuoka.html it says it's doable, or seemingly doable.

Izu peninsula: Looks beautiful but same problem as Takayama... buses. Would rather use my JR pass.

Osaka: boyfriend is a chef... so generally like this idea. Maybe there is like a cooking class or food tour or something?

Koyasan: Seems so cool. Like the idea of hanging out with monks, but feel skeptical it might be over touristized.

Nara: We're tired of temples.

Did I miss anything super awesome? Ideas?

Still working on the onsen. Will they be suspicious if he has a big wrap around his shoulder? I'm not that worried about mine. I'll just bandage it and keep my back to the wall as much as I can. Look like a spy!

Hawaii guy how come you know everything!? Thanks for the help!!
gnalie is offline  
Jul 28th, 2011, 07:03 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Not everything but have been there a few times.....

Have you seen this site for your Kamikochi/Takayama bus schedules yet?


There is a hostel on Koyasan if I am not mistaken.....maybe Mara will chime in. Here are some ryokan in Koya if your interested.


You might want to peruse the JGH site for ideas on an onsen stay in the areas you are thinking about.

Don't know much about camping in Japan but I know you will be the peak season when all the college kids go camping and campgrounds will be full. Have you seen this?


You idea to base in Kyoto and Tokyo is a good one. You can use your pass to day trip to many places from those two locations. Nikko is a nice daytrip from Tokyo and you can use your JR Pass. The shogun used to have his residence in Nikko during the hot summer months to escape the heat. There are temples there but also a lot of natural beauty. The bus ride up to Lake Chuzenji along the Irohazaka Highway is one you won't forget in your lifetime with spectacular vistas and hair raising turns.


Your BF will love Osaka if he is a foodie. Head to Namba in Osaka and the Dotombori area. You will be amazed.


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jul 28th, 2011, 08:16 AM
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Well, since ht asked me to chime in I'll try to be helpful. I went to Koyasan for two nights in April of 2009. I stayed at a shukubo - regular temple lodging which included dinner and breakfast - at the time it cost about 10,000 JPY a night for one person.
There is a hostel there but I can't find any links that work for it.
I also remember this inn being mentioned as less expensive:
I would certainly want to stay at a temple where you could go to the early morning service as well as having the typical temple food, veggie, mostly tofu.
Here is the main site for lodging - if you search some of them have English websites.
Mara is offline  
Jul 29th, 2011, 12:11 AM
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Here are some photos of Koyasan (we stayed at the Eko-in temple:


Early morning service not to be missed. the veggie food was absolutely out of this world (and I am a confirmed carnivore!)

In Takayama we stayed at Sumiyoshi Ryokan, a traditional place run by two sisters. again the food was really excellent:

crellston is offline  

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