Japan - where to first?

Old Feb 4th, 2010, 06:34 PM
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Japan - where to first?

Hi there,

I am having trouble working out the best order for our upcoming trip to Japan. I keep holding off with booking accommodation because I'm afraid I'll be organising it the long way around.

We arrive in Osaka on 1st March in the evening and then depart in the evening of 9th. Our list of must see places is as follows:
Kyoto - Just about all that it has to offer so want at least 3 full days here,
Kobe (worth going?),
Mt Koyasan
Tokyo but maybe for just one night.

Can anyone recommend which order we should do in terms of reducing our time spent travelling? Obviously our first night should be in Osaka just for convenience but is it easier to base ourselves in the one place at say Kyoto and then travel to Nara, Himeji, and Mt Koyasan on individual 'day trips'? or should we look a night or two here and there?

Also if we skip Tokyo, could we do without the JR Pass and still do the rest of the places on our list, or will the cost of transport still outweigh the cost of a JR Pass?
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 06:51 PM
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Kyoto is only about twenty minutes further than Osaka so you can just as soon go there your first night in Japan. If you don't go to Tokyo, you would not need a JR Pass at all - the fare to Himeji is around 10000 yen rt. There is a JR West pass that may work better for you.

Here's a list of them all:


Himeji and Nara can certainly be day trips. I know some people do Koyasan as a day trip. When I went I stayed two nights - to me the essence of going there is to stay at a temple at least one night....
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Old Feb 4th, 2010, 08:10 PM
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Your first night could easily be spent in Kyoto as in Osaka and then using Kyoto as your base.

Using Osaka as a base has the advantage of probably being a lot cheaper in the hotel dept. and easier access to Koyasan.

Skip Tokyo this trip if you can only give it a night....just not worth the extra travel expense for one night.

Yes, Kobe is definitely worth a visit! Shop in Sannomiya and eat the steak!

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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 04:01 AM
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best desicion, kyoto nara osaka koyasan tokyo. must see places in japan. you can base in osaka and visit each them one by one from osaka. tokyo check out hypedria. you will get best time tables and fares.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 09:24 AM
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Hypedria is a great planning site. You have 7 days plus most of the deparure day. It is very easy to get to Kyoto from the airport by train the evening you arrive. No point in stopping in Osaka then moving again the next day. It is a waste of your time.

We based ourselves in Kyoto and took day trips to Himeji, Nara and Hiroshima. The trains are great, fast and so easy to use. Kobe would also be an easy trip from Kyoto.

Kyoto is a wonderful base to come back to each night. We really enjoyed walking around at night finding a different place to eat each night. You could easily spend 4 or 5 days just exploring in and around Kyoto.

If Tokyo is a must do this time, you could spend March 1 - 5 in Kyoto (4 full days) then March 6 & 7 in Tokyo (1 full day) then back to Osaka for the last night and day. Though skipping Toyko and spending the time in Kyoto and maybe Osaka with day trips to the other places of interest would be my pick. We have been to Japan three times and have yet to do anything but change planes in Toyko but then we are not big city people.
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Old Feb 5th, 2010, 03:26 PM
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Thanks for all the hints everyone. I'll jump on hyperdia and check out the prices. I'd rather base ourselves in the one place for the entire (or at least the majority) of our time to save carting our luggage everywhere.
So staying in Kyoto looks like the best plan and doing our day trips to the other places. Happy to skip Tokyo this trip as it's more the 'old' Japan that we are interested in.
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Old Feb 12th, 2010, 02:50 AM
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Yep I would use Kyoto as a base the first few days to get to Nara, Himeji etc. If you want a nice convenient hotel (it's right on top of the main train station), try the Hotel Granvia.
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