Japan trip feedback

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May 13th, 2009, 01:07 PM
  #1
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Japan trip feedback

Hi everyone.
My wife and I are planning our first trip to Japan this October and would appreciate some feedback, etc.
It would be for 11 nights (divided almost equally between Tokyo & Kyoto). Like many travelers, we would arrive in one city and depart from the other. Our intent is to use the cities as "home bases" while doing day trips to surrounding areas.
Is it realistic to expect to be able to find above-average accomodations (like 3-star ryokans/hotels) for about US$150/nt? Any suggestions? Safety & close proximity to public transportation are pretty important to us.
We will probably get a Suica or Pasmo card while in Tokyo. Given the above, is it worth getting a 7-day JR pass?
Thanks for your time.
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May 13th, 2009, 01:45 PM
  #2
 
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Oakwood Apartments -- they're business traveler apartments and cost about 160/night when we stayed in Tokyo last year. Tokyo has a bunch, Kyoto unsure. Apartments small, but clean and you're not going to Japan so you can sit in your apartment. And Tokyo has public transport throughout the city if you are in a center of town (i.e. near the train stations linked by the JR Yamanote line).

You need to determine what your day trips are, when they are, and how you intend to get to each to decide if the JR pass is worth it. If you're going Tokyo-Kyoto by Shinkansen and plan to have a day trip to Himeji or Hiroshima from Kyoto, the answer is likely yes. You don't need your Narita Express ticket covered by JR if you buy a Suica at Narita upon arrival (assuming you arrive Tokyo and depart Kansai) -- the Suica card you'll buy at Narita should cover the N'EX and about 1500Y worth of train fares in Tokyo.
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May 13th, 2009, 02:15 PM
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You will not get above-average accommodations in Tokyo/Kyoto for $150/night. However, the very good news is average or even slightly sub-average places in Japan are still going to be ultra-clean and ultra-safe: they'll just offer smaller rooms with fewer amenities. Staying in the apartment-type hotels as suggested in previous post will save money, though these places are often a good hike from public transportation. You can find hotels in that price range that are closer to subway stations, but the trade-off will be room size.

With 11 days, I'd really encourage you to get out of the city for a few days. It's one thing to take a day trip, but that will inevitably feel rushed. A 3-day visit to a relaxing area in the middle of your trip will be a welcome respite.
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May 13th, 2009, 02:40 PM
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OK, rizzuto's post is ridiculous on this level: the Oakwood Shinjuku is only a few blocks away from Shinjuku station. Shinjuku Station is the busiest train station in the world with local JR lines, intercity JR trains, Tokyo Metro and independent train lines operating in the station. If that's not close enough to public transportation, nothing is. Plus that Oakwood was ranked #5 of more than 300 hotels in Tokyo on Trip Advisor when I stayed. I don't know what average or sub-average means. The rooms were small, clean, had fridge, TV, full bath, full washer/dryer and a small stove top. Other Oakwoods will be close to transport because they are for business travelers. And they have good concierge service desks.

As for room size -- dinks, if you want a big room, go spend $350/night at a Hyatt. Rooms in Japan are small. The Ryokan rooms won't be large either, especially not at the $150 range. And unlike the Oakwood, they won't have many amenities.

Also, you can get ryokan style accomodations in Kyoto, perhaps with a computer and TV, from Kazuya at http://www.vrbo.com/125525.

We stayed in his apartment in Kyoto. It has two rooms on two floors and a full bathroom. It was within easy 20-minute or less walking distance of Gion, the main train station, Nijo Castle, a plethora of temples and the busy Shijo-dori area. He's very nice and will try to make you comfortable. And the bathroom has full facilities and a Western toilet, not a Japanese one (go Googling if you don't know the difference). He's dropped his prices too -- we paid a lot more.
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May 13th, 2009, 06:29 PM
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3 star accommodations are average places worldwide imo, that said, I have seen the Oakwood Shinjuku Apts and they are very nice for what they are, business accomodations. They are not 4 or 5 star places but they are very nice and clean and have amenities not found in 4 and 5 star hotels. 160 per night in such a location in Tokyo is a steal imo.

Shinjuku is my favorite area in Tokyo so of course I also agree and it is true that you can get anywhere in Tokyo from Shinjuku Station with no problems. You can also get anywhere in Japan from there with no problems. The problem is that the size and crowds in that huge station usually confuse the first time visitor. It did to me. Just give yourself a little extra time to navigate the station and after a few times there you will be alright.

You won't need a JR pass unless you take some long day trips but you can check prices on www.hyperdia.com press the English button.

Aloha!
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May 14th, 2009, 09:51 AM
  #6
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Hey. Thanks for everybody's input.
I contacted Oakwood Shinjuku directly. It seems they give priority to business travelers who stay minimum 30 days, as they asked me to check back about 2 weeks before going to Tokyo for availability. We intend to spend a week in Tokyo.
For those who have stayed there, does this sound accurate?
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May 14th, 2009, 10:00 AM
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I had less fuss from them about the short stay and they should know further in advance than that. I'd ask again in about a week or so, although they do give priority as you noted.

Asian Oakwoods are more accustomed to short stays than Oakwoods in other countries (they're all over the place) and I even heard from a British Oakwood more than 30 days out from my trip to the UK. We nailed down our Oakwood reservation in Tokyo further in advance than that.

And given that you're essentially sticking to Tokyo and Kyoto, I'd split the time differently -- more Kyoto, less Tokyo.
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May 14th, 2009, 09:51 PM
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Hi

My wife and I did 2 weeks in Japan a few years back and we went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima etc. Here is a trip report with photos and links http://gardkarlsen.com/japan_tokyo.htm . Maybe you can find some useful info there . Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
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