Japan Trip 5/7-5/13

Old Apr 24th, 2003, 04:48 PM
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Japan Trip 5/7-5/13

I am arriving in Tokyo on 5/7 and planning to spend the first 3 nights in Tokyo then moving on to Kyoto for the final three. I am trying to keep the traveling down to a minimum because after reading all these messages on this board it seems to be the wise thing to do.

If anyone has any other ideas I would love to hear them. My wife and I love the outdoors and would love to see a lot of blooming flowers, gardens etc.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 07:38 PM
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Since you like flowers, here's some info on cheery blossom for you (however it looks like the season is over in Tokyo - but still going in northern parts of Japan):

http://gojapan.about.com/library/weekly/aa022403.htm
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Old Apr 24th, 2003, 11:14 PM
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Hit some of the gardens in Tokyo and I suspect there will be something in bloom. The mountains is another possibility for later blooms if you want to stay close, but that would add a day of travel time to get to the Hida district or other accessible areas. I was in Takayama in March and there was still snow on the ground. I suspect they are not yet at the peak for spring flowers. Hokkaido should be in full swing when you're here if you want to go further north.

I'm in Tokyo now, and the cherry blossoms have faded, azaleas are fading as well.

There will be other flowers blooming soon. Here's one page I found with some suggestions: http://members.aol.com/Sksworld/attjapan.html
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 12:19 AM
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Bonjour Clozerr,

You'll be in Kyoto for the Aoi Matsuri culminating on the 15th in a beautiful parade of historical costume.

A very good place for your interests in nature is the Botanical Gardens.

In addition to Arashiyama, there are lots of easy reached countryside destinations around Kyoto.

See Kyoto Visitor's Guide http://www.kyotoguide.com/index/index.html for details. Click on "Kyoto month by month highlight", then May for a preview. Free copies availables in TIC and most hotels in Kyoto.
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 07:44 AM
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Thank you,katkat,wandr and Florence for your responses.

Florence, with only 3 days in Kyoto what "can't miss" things should I see. I will probably stay at the Westin in Kyoto but not sure yet.

Should I do day trips to Nara etc or stay in Kyoto?

Based on this schedule do we need the Japan Rail pass?

Thanks!
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 08:23 AM
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Should we add Takayama to our schedule and would we overnight there or day trip from Tokyo or Kyoto?
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Old Apr 25th, 2003, 11:46 AM
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Bonsoir Clozerr,

3 days in Kyoto ... mmmmmh ... some suggestions.

Kiyomizu temple and surrounding area (Sannenzaka towards Gion). Have a meal in one of the traditional restaurants on the way (first one on the right just at the start of the stairs "Akebono" something has a fantastic lunch - "Susume" for Yen 3000). Then wander from Yasaka Jinja in Shijo-dori (the main shopping street) until you reach Kamogawa (river), turn right, and wander in the small streets on the right (follow the small canal towards Shinmonzen, Furumonzen) full of antique shops and galleries.

There's a nice little fleamarket on the 12th of each month at Myoren-ji temple, not far from one of the famous tea-ceremony school. It is easily reached by bus from the station and you can then go further North towards Golden Pavilion or Rioan-ji temple.

Board a bus (nr 28 I think) from the station towards Arashiyama (stop at Arashiyama Koen), cross the bridge and then wander along the river, have lunch in one of the inns overlooking the river.


Or, like my mom, get enthralled by the modern architecture of the station, or the Higashi-Honganji temple 3 minutes on foot from there, and spend a full day there
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Old Apr 26th, 2003, 08:06 AM
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I was able to find an excellent rate 17,000 yen at the Rihga Royal Hotel Kyoto. Has anyone stayed there? Is it a good hotel in a good location?

Thanks for all your help!

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Old Apr 27th, 2003, 03:00 AM
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The 7-day ordinary JR Pass costs 28,300 yen. The japanrail.com website has a fare look-up page, see below. If I'm reading it correctly, then it would be 26,440 yen for a shinkansen trip from Tokyo to Kyoto and return. A JR Pass, for 1860 yen more, would cover that (plus your seat reservations) plus the Narita Express train from/to NRT. Plus Takayama or Nara.

http://www.jreast.co.jp/e_charge/index.asp

Travel Segment Tokyo~Kyoto(for adult passengers)
Total amount 13,220 yen
[Basic fare: 7,980 yen + Limited-express Surcharge (during regular season periods): 5,240 yen ]
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 03:56 AM
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I was in Kyoto for the first time in November. Our favorite day was a walking tour with Johnny Hillwaker. The tour is in English. Johnny is very interesting ...the tour, which lasted approx 4 - 5 hours, was wonderful!

We found him on a web site, plus info is in most hotels. He would appreciate a call evening before to confirm ...but we just showed up and he was fine with us joining.
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 10:49 PM
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I have just returned today from an 11 day trip to Japan..my first. Thanks to Florence and others on this board for their advice. We did: 1 night Tokyo on arrival, 1 night at the Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita (Fuji-Hakone National Park)using the Hakone "Free Pass" to do the circuit tour of that area. Then 4 nights in Kyoto (with one day trip to Nara), 2 nights in Takayama, and final 3 nights in Tokyo. This was plenty exhausting for us.

If you can, consider an open jaw ticket arriving Tokyo and departing Osaka. You'll save time by not returning to Tokyo and might find that the 7 day JR pass is not actually necessary or that you gain an extra day of sightseeing. If possible, consider adding a few days and taking either a one day trip to Nara from Kyoto and or either Fuji-Hakone for and overnight or a day trip or overnight to Nikko. Takayama is a long trip up to the mountains (4 hours from Kyoto or 5 hours from Tokyo) to bother for less than 2 nights, in my opinion. Definitely not a day trip, but worth the visit if you can.

If you really only have 6 days, then I'd recommend just as you've planned with 3 days in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto and not do any other cities. However, if it's nature and gardens you like... you might consider skipping Tokyo alltogether so you can see more of Kyoto and include Nara and/or Takayama or even Hiroshima/Miyajima.

In our three days in Tokyo, we were able to see the East Garden of the Imperial Palace, the Mejii Shrine (Sunday morning traditional wedding was being held at the Shrine -beautiful!), Yoyogi Park & a lovely stroll along the Omotesando-dori, Ueno Park and Zoo, Edo Museum, the Ginza district (go at night for the lights!) and a performance at the Kabukiza Theatre. We stayed in Asakusa and enjoyed the water bus ride from Hinode pier (alternate: from Hama Rikyu Garden) on Tokyo Bay up the Sumida River to Asakusa. Definately visit Asakusa and the Kannon Temple area.

With 3 days in Kyoto (using public busses and subway) we were able to see the Kinkaku-ji and Roanyi Temples, the Ginkaku-ji Temple, the Chio-in Temple, the Heian Shrine, Nijo Castle, Gion district, Nishiki Market, and the lovely walk Florence describes up to the Kiyomizudera Temple. Wish we had time for more, but these sights are very spread out. We loved not being on a tour and being amongst the Japanese enjoying their own country, but I sure could see that a big bus tour of that city would be more efficient. Kyoto is much larger and more urban than you might expect.

Please note, that Japan also consists of many rather unattractive sights due to urban sprawl and lack of any really urban planning...so don't let that disappoint you. You might find that, like us, you went to see these old gardens, shrines, temples, and geisha, but that the memories you'll savor are the wonderfully kind, polite and helpful people. We were traveling with 2 young teens and worked hard to speak some Japanese and be very courteous. But we all agreed the people were delightful!
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Old Apr 28th, 2003, 11:39 PM
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We passed by the Rhiga Royal Hotel last week and it looked very unappealing to me and too close to the train station which is not the best nor most convenient area. I would recommnend you stay closer to the center of town - near Shijo Dori and the River or Gion District. There are countless restaurant choices and this is convenient to all the bus lines. One Fodorite recommended the Central Inn to us, but we didn't stay there.

We stayed in the Kyoto Kokusai Hotel across from Nijo Castle. The Hotel was nice but the location lacked restaurants so we overspent eating in the hotel - generally not advisable, but by the time was got back to the room with tired feet from walking all day, it was the most convenient.
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Old Apr 29th, 2003, 09:32 AM
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In Kyoto, I followed teh tour in the national geographic guide book...and I walked a lot.
We stayed at the 3 sisters Ryokan witch was walking distance from everything but the station. The landlady speaks english very well and recommanded a great place to have shabu-shabu.
The rooms where traditional with individual bathroom. We even got a present when we left !
It was in a very old inn.
We did a day trip to Nara to visit the big bouddah.

Celine

Some pictures : http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~celine/japan/kyoto1.html

(text in French)

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Old May 7th, 2003, 01:23 PM
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I just arrived yesterday in Tokyo and am staying at one of the nicest hotels anywhere in the world.

The Hotel Seiyo Ginza is a 5 star plus hotel! I have stayed in many 5 stars before and this is in the top 3.

Thanks to everyone for their help in planning my trip. I am having a great time!

I got a rate from Travelocity of 32,000 yen and it is well worth it. Much nicer than hotels much higher. That price was for a King Bed and a Suite. It is western sized not Japanese size.

The service is out of this world! Over 200 employees for 70 guests max. It is located minutes from Tokyo Station 700 yen cab ride or you could walk (1 mile or less). It is in the Ginza district convenient to shopping and everything else via subways and trains. The Hotel is very quiet also.
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Old May 9th, 2003, 02:06 PM
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We used a wonderful Japanese woman, Junko Matsuda as our private tour guide for the past 2 days in Tokyo. She was recommended by Frommers guide on AOL travel and she was great!

She is fluent in English and Japanese and really takes you to the best places and the neighborhood things you would never see in the guide books etc.

I reached her by email at [email protected] and she charged us 10,000 yen per day ($85 approx) which was a bargain. This rate was for 2, 8 hour days so it might be a little more for less time. She even pays her subway fares and entrance fees herself.

She will greatly enhance your experience of visiting Tokyo!
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