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misha2 Apr 5th, 2017 02:24 PM

Japan rough itinerary

I'm thrilled that we'll be going to Japan in July for about a week and a half (I know it's not ideal weather wise and it's a short time) However, we're working in a "Japan sampler" as part of a business trip.

Roughly, I'm thinking

4-5 nights in Tokyo (with a day trip somewhere)
3 -4 nights in Kanazawa (professional reasons)
3 nights in Kyoto
Return to Tokyo to fly out or fly out from Osaka if it doesn't change the cost too much.

What do you think?

kja Apr 5th, 2017 06:08 PM

It depends on your interests!

Since you must be in Kanazawa, you might consider adding a couple of nights for Takayama instead of visiting Kyoto. There are a LOT of ways in which I can't believe I just said that, as I adored Kyoto! But Kyoto is much easier to reach for most Westerners than Takayama (or Kanazawa), and Kyoto / Nara easily merits 5 or 6 full days for a first visit....

If you do retain Kyoto in this plan -- and there are a LOT of reasons to do so! -- be sure to consider the costs, in time and money, of returning to Tokyo for a flight. In most cases, I think you will find that flying out of Osaka is close enough in price to make sense.

Good luck!

misha2 Apr 6th, 2017 08:07 AM

Thanks KJA! I never even considered skipping Kyoto. Let me explore Takayama. Thanks for the tip about Osaka too.

misha2 Apr 6th, 2017 09:14 AM

I know it is on the other side of the country, but what do you think of replacing Kyoto or Takayama with Koyasan? It seems amazing.

kja Apr 6th, 2017 05:22 PM

Koya-san IS amazing -- but it takes a lot of time to get to and from. (The scenery is stunning, though, so I didn't feel like all of that time was "wasted.") I like to maximize the time I have on the ground while minimizing the time I spend in transit, so I would wait to see Koya-san until you are in that part of the country -- JMO. IF you decide to go there, note that the experience seems to be heavily depending on one's selection of temple. I had a great experience at Shojoshin-in, which still gets great reviews:
The other temple that I see getting routinely positive reviews is Eko-in. (That doesn't mean there aren't other great options -- I'm just commenting on my observations.)

Again, IF you go, I strongly recommend around Okuno-in, particularly around dawn or dusk:

The question you might want to ask yourself is how much of traditional Japan you wish to see. There's relatively little of that in Tokyo, mostly around Asakusa; there's some in Kanazawa. Takayama and Kyoto each offer a wider selection of traditional Japanese shrines and temples and other structures. Takayama also offers a great outdoor museum showing traditional buildings of the region and -- if you are interested -- an extraordinary small museum featuring art nouveau and art deco glass and interior design.

Koya-san will also offer you an experience of traditional Japan, but perhaps a more narrow one. Again, JMO.

misha2 Apr 7th, 2017 06:19 AM

Kja, I so appreciate your sharing your insight and wisdom. You were so right about looking into flying into Tokyo and out of Osaka. It is not that different!

There are so many great choices, I feel like the more I research the harder it is to narrow things down. How would you compare Takayama's outdoor museum to Hokane's?

Kavey Apr 7th, 2017 10:13 AM

Kja is spot on, and has given you great advice.
Like her, I adore Kyoto but agree that given your limited time and existing itinerary, Takayama may make more sense than Kyoto for this trip. Certainly it's often combined with Kanazawa because of proximity. And it's a wonderful place to visit, with some wonderfully well-preserved historical districts and lovely morning markets too as well as the attractions you'll have already looked up now.

Koyasan is wonderful but yes, I think combines best with an itinerary in Kansai - Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, maybe Kobe and Uji... and Hiroshima and Miyajima are easy to reach from there too. So you could readily leave this region for a future trip. In that case, I don't know whether you are better to fly home from Tokyo or Osaka, would need to investigate transport links.

It's so hard narrowing down for Japan, and the best advice I can give is not to try and cram too much in but to really give yourself time to experience and enjoy the places you do visit!

Wherever you choose, you'll likely love it!

kja Apr 7th, 2017 05:18 PM

Sorry, I can't compare the outdoor museum in Takayama to the one in Hakone, as I haven't been to Hakone yet. That said, I believe the one in Hakone is for art:
while the one in Takamaya shows traditional buildings, implements, etc.

QuestofJapan Apr 17th, 2017 07:04 AM

Maybe you should also think of how you would go from Kanazawa to Kyoto.. If using train, then maybe you might want to visit the places that you may pass through instead..

Kanazawa is called little kyoto and you might find geisha there too (just like in Kyoto)..

I personally like Gifu prefecture, which includes Takayama and the famous Shirakawago.. So going to these places could be another option..

misha2 Apr 23rd, 2017 01:08 PM

Sorry, I was traveling and haven't looked at this. So much to sort through. Should just work with a travel agent or local guide? The advice here is terrific. The more I read, the more I want to see and do.

kja Apr 23rd, 2017 03:52 PM

As you are learning, Japan has a lot to offer! You have some difficult choices to make.

No need to work with a travel agent unless that’s your preference. And no need to hire a guide unless that is your preference. You might, however, consider taking advantage of an occasional local “goodwill guide” – The Japanese National Tourism Organization coordinates free "volunteer guides who are knowledgeable and happy to guide you in return for practicing their English – which can be excellent!…
You pay any entrance fees and his/her meal if your time with the guide includes one. Do NOT tip these guides, or anyone else in Japan.

IMO, is the single best source of on-line information about traveling in Japan. JNTO also has some great information.

misha2 Apr 24th, 2017 08:43 AM

The volunteer guide sounds great! Thank you all for all your tips The Japan Guide is a great resource!

My husband really doesn't want to miss Kyoto and I know we'll only scratch the surface, but...

Revised itinerary mid July

Tokyo (five nights)--Hotel Claska which I know is far but I love the look and the idea of being in a cool little neighborhood. Flights into NRT arrive mid day and into HND around 10:PM. The price is close so I'm not sure which is better.

Activities- Fish Market Tour for sure--other things are still uncertain but perhaps Ginza exploration, Imperial Palace, with a volunteer guide,

Dinner with a local family? I've read about this and wondered if anyone here has participated in this program.

Hakone -- day trip or one less night in Tokyo and a night here in a ryokan with onsen experience? Outdoor sculpture garden

Kanazawa (three nights) Seems like it's much easier to get here from Tokyo than from Hakone. Is that true?

Kyoto-- (four nights) one night in ryokan if we don't do an overnight in Hakone. Other nights TBD.

Fly out in the evening from Osaka (KIX or ITM?)

I know it's not ideal, but what would you adjust?

So appreciate the way everyone's input has already shaped this trip for the better.

kja Apr 24th, 2017 07:05 PM

For your transportation options, you can check routes on hyperdia:
Here’s some information about how to use hyperdia:

If the Imperial Palace is a priority, consider making an advance reservation.

misha2 Apr 26th, 2017 08:26 AM


mrwunrfl Apr 26th, 2017 11:38 AM

That itinerary is fine.

>>Kanazawa (three nights) Seems like it's much easier to get here from Tokyo than from Hakone. Is that true

It is easier from Tokyo, but I would not say "much" easier. From somewhere-Tokyo you take train/subway to Tokyo and then the shinkansen to Kanazawa. From somewhere-Hakone to Odawara, then short shinkansen to Tokyo then Kanazawa.

HND or NRT? I'd prefer HND because it is faster/cheaper to get to Tokyo. But it would depend somewhat on connections and aircraft type.

ITM or KIX? This would depend on flight connections, departure times. From Kyoto, getting to ITM would be a shorter trip and less expensive than KIX. But the flight options from KIX might be better.

mrwunrfl Apr 26th, 2017 11:52 AM

So, do your flight search using TYO and OSA.

Oh, Hotel Claska, then it is Shibuya to Kanazawa, so you might get on the shinkansen at Omiya.

The Hakone you want at hyperdia is HAKONE-YUMOTO. Your actual departure point would depend on where you stay in the Hakone area (e.g. Gora).

misha2 Apr 26th, 2017 11:50 PM

Thanks! I'll have to figure out more about hyperdia.

kja Apr 27th, 2017 05:32 PM

I provided a link to information about how to work with hyperdia upstream....

misha2 Apr 27th, 2017 06:42 PM

Yes! Thanks. That's how I knew about it.:)

MinnBeef Apr 30th, 2017 01:25 PM

It may not be your intent but don't sell Kanazawa short as a travel destination by saying "business reasons". It's a beautiful city. 3 nights is sufficient for a very busy 2+ days. 4 nights allows for a much more leisurely place. Your business obligations, of course will dictate the needed time. But like I said, it's an upscale, sophisticated city.

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