Kyoto or Takayama/Kanazawa

Old May 29th, 2006, 09:05 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 91
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Kyoto or Takayama/Kanazawa

These boards have been really helpful in planning my trip, so thanks to all who have posted. As I am making plans, a question has surfaced... do we really need to go to Kyoto? We only have 10 days in Japan, and there are 5 of us plus a 16 month old baby. Kyoto sounds fascinating, but trying to coordinate the logistics and timing has become a challenge. I am wondering if others think that a Tokyo/Takayama/Kanazawa/Nikko trip might still give us a pretty good taste of Japan? My recent thoughts are that if we do Tokyo and Kyoto, it will leave time for very little else and rather than spending all of our time in 2 big cities, I might rather see more of the countryside. For us, I think a perfect trip might be 5 or 6 days in a big city, a couple days in a mountainous area and then a couple days in a "fishing village". If anyone has any recommendations for other smaller cities to visit that might give us a real taste of Japan, I would love to hear ideas.
ronjrich is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 09:18 AM
  #2  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There are those who say that you really need to go to Kyoto. But if you plan your places (like you are doing) to give yourself the experiences you want, I think you'll have a perfectly happy trip and can expereince some old Japan without Kyoto. And that is coming from osmoen who has spent a total 10 days in Kyoto on two trips.

With the baby, the distances you will travel within the city you are in become important I think (it woudl have for me when my kids were 16 months) as you might like to retreat to the hotel in afternoon for a nap or down time. Going to Nikko and Takayama you might have an easier time doing that than in Kyoto, where sites can be spaced realtively far apart sometimes.

Nikko offers many great temples- I researched it extensively and wanted to go there on the last trip but the rain put a damper on that. Everything is outside in Nikko, so I would say have a backup place to go in case what happened to me (3 solid days of hard rain) happens to you, you have a backup plan.

Many people here have been to Takayama and love it (and Shirakawago also), and Kanazawa gets rave reviews also as a nice smaller city. I have not been to either so hopefully others will chime in on their experiences there, esp. KimJapan who has lived through raising a child in Kanazawa.

mrwunrfl once said to me that he really likes getting out of the big cities in Japan bc the peopel are so much happier in the country and smaller towns. I have seen what he means when I visited Ohara, outside of Kyoto, and recently Takamatsu, a smaller city on island of Shikoku. Even getting out a bit from Kyoto to Fushimi Inari is more relaxed and people are smiling more than in the city itself.

I think you know what you want to experience and should just go for it- forget about whaat peole say about having to see Kyoto.
emd is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 09:20 AM
  #3  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
oops, that is "someone" in para. 1
emd is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 04:19 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Our daughter, now 8, was born in Kanazawa. We have travelled a lot with her. At just around 16 months, we did two trips in Japan with her, one to Tokyo, and another extended trip around Japan when my parents visited.

Tokyo was easy to get around, but we used a Kelty backpack carrier for her rather than a stroller...too many stairs and too much uneven pavement and crowds for a stroller to be comfortable. She happily napped in the backpack every day, and my husband and I enjoyed some sightseeing (and I presented at a conference one day while they played in the hotel pool and walked around Shinjuku).

The next trip, with my parents, was all by van (I drove). Kanazawa to Osaka to Kyoto to Hiroshima/Miyajima to Osaka to Kanazawa to Takayama. Again, the backpack was key.

Personally, I think that you'll get a more balanced view of Japan if you get out of the big cities. Tokyo is unique and great, as it Kyoto. But to limit yourself to those 2 big cities is, well, limiting.

You ask if Tokyo/Takayama/Kanazawa/Nikko might still give you a pretty good taste of Japan...I think it would give you a better taste of Japan than Tokyo/Kyoto.

From either Takayama of Kanazawa, you can easily get to Shirakawa-go by bus or car...a lovely World Heritage Village with thatched roof houses. It's one of my favorite places.

Kanazawa, of course I'm partial to, as we've chosen to live in Kanazawa for the past 11 years and don't intend to leave. You can easily tour a samurai house, wander narrow curving streets, see the inside of a traditional chaya (tea house or geisha house). Kanazawa has an active geisha association so if your timing is right you could see some traditional performances. Kenrokuen is one of the top 3 gardens in Japan. There is a nicely reconstructed castle. We live in the temple district, and wake up every morning promptly at 7:00 am due to the morning drums. Every afternoon, the kids know when to go home by the ringing of the 5:00 gong. There is a still a lot of tradition. Every night, someone walks the neighborhood streets banging two wooden clappers together, reminding residents to put out fires/turn off gas.

Takayama is a smaller city than Kanazawa, but city still. It has a nice old preserved area, where you can see the old style black storefronts and rickshaw and temples.

If you were thinking mountains, within easy reach as well is Tateyama, which is a really picturesque area and reachable by public transportation. Even now the snow is piled up high on the sides of the access road. Views are stunning.

For a fishing village, about 2 hours by car from Kanazawa is Wajima, at the top of the Noto Peninsula. It has a morning market that is not specifically for tourists but for locals...selling fish, veggies, fruit, and a handful of tourist items for the few that go there. You could rent a van for a day and drive up there. The coast is lovely, the road beautiful and never crowded and toll is reasonable (maybe 2500 yen). The same day, you could also go to Notojima (a small island on the inland side of the Noto peninsula). There is a so-so aquarium there, that has a great program where you can get into the water with dolphins, touch them and see them up close and personal for I think 1000 yen per person - you must reserve this activity, which can be done by telephone.

emd is right about the general feel of things...outside the big cities, it's more relaxed, more personal. When we go to Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto...we can feel anonymous and no one will talk to us. In the smaller places, people make an effort to talk to you, if only to figure out why you are there, rather than in a big city on the tourist trail.

With a child, you will be welcomed everywhere. Don't be surprised if in the smaller places old women try to take your baby from you...they really love to hold the babies for some reason. At 16 months, your little one is quite mobile and while in the cities it's just too crowded to let little ones wander, in places like Shirakawa-go and Wajima and Notojima, you can easily just follow behind and let the child lead the way.

So, when is your trip?
KimJapan is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 04:22 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Now I've found your other post that says late June. If you are interested in more about Kanazawa, need help with hotels, restaurants...you can send me e-mail to teaghanmackenzie at mac dot com (for no spam I wrote it that way)
KimJapan is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 05:21 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,168
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
No, you don't have to go to Kyoto or Tokyo. And if you did you would not have to spend 5 days in each.

You listed Tokyo, Takayama, Kanazawa, and Nikko. I think, that might be improved by dropping Nikko. Improved more if you could added Shirakawago as suggested above.

Am not sure how adding more destinations would improve the logistics and timing challenges, though. To get to Shirakawago would require travel by infrequent bus, unless you rented a car and drove the winding mountain roads.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 08:23 PM
  #7  
mjs
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,488
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was just wondering if osmoen was a new Japanese slang term. Was unfamiliar with it. Thank you for clearing that up.
mjs is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 09:09 PM
  #8  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
haha mjs! That is why I always explain those mistakes. I type faster than I can think, and I hate to proofread my posts (probably bc I do so much writing and editing and proofing in my work). BTW, you were the one who suggested the Westin Ebisu in Tokyo to me last year. I owe you a big drink or something similar to thank you. I loved that hotel again on my recent trip...
emd is offline  
Old May 29th, 2006, 10:32 PM
  #9  
mjs
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,488
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I am unsure as to how to answer this question for I too agree that the countryside in Japan is different than the cities as it is anywhere on this planet. Having said that I also find that it takes some time to really get the feel the countryside and the more you move, the less you experience. It is also more difficult to travel as five and with 10 days I am not sure that I would want to make too many moves. I also cannot give you any thoughts about where to go as my experience in the country or shores is limited by our driving there as opposed to taking public transportation. Perhaps a compromise might have you with a base in Tokyo and Kyoto with a few day trips?
As for EMD, I am glad you have enjoyed your stay at the Westin Ebisu. It is a really nice hotel.
Found it through alot of research after the 4S wanted $1400/ night for 2 rooms for my family.
Very good comments from Flyertalk among other websites. Have to be careful sometimes about board recomendations as not everyone has similar tastes. Endured a horrid stay at the Scala house in London which appeals to some on this website.
Wonder what the N. America board would say about the perfectly mediocre Cambridge Hyatt I stayed at last week. Tonight I am contemplating which hotel in Prague we should stay at next month. (agony) Have narrowed it down to several after about 30 e-mails and much web search. Dubrovnik and Trogir are next. While I would never turn down a drink from a lady I am just glad that my hotel recommendation was helpful to you.
mjs is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2006, 06:11 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 91
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for all of the thoughtful replies. I am constantly amazed at the genrosity that is provided out here. My apologies for not responding sooner. I have not been able to focus too much on our upcoming trip due to work and now I find myself about a week away from leaving. So far I have 4 nights reserved in Tokyo and we have 5 remaining nights to work with.

I really like the idea of dividing our time between a big city experience (Tokyo) and a more personal experience by visiting 1 or 2 smaller cities or areas. Kim, Kanazawa sounds like a perfect place to settle in for a few days (or years in your case!), and Noto and Shirakawa-go both sound interesting. My main concern is so much moving around with our baby. As emd and mjs have pointed out, it probably makes sense to keep things as simple as possible. From what I have read on this board, these are not necessarily easy places to get to (not very difficult, but just not that easy). I had hoped to just stick with train travel. Is it possible to get to these places via trains (with minimal connections)?

If not, any recommendations on accomplishing what I hope to do... visit some less populous areas to experience Japan outside of the big cities, and doing so within a 5 day timeframe?
ronjrich is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2006, 06:32 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,168
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
no train to shirakawago. maybe Kiso Valley would be good for you. Or Takayama
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Jun 17th, 2006, 08:23 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Noto and Shirakawa-go are both accessible by bus or by car. Renting a car might be a nice option. Driving in this area is not difficult, and having a car would give you the freedom to stop and go as you please. Toyota/Hertz rentals also have very good childseats available.

You can fly from Tokyo to Komatsu, which is 30 minutes or so by car from Kanazawa. The train from Tokyo to Kanazawa involves at least on change of train and at least 5 hours. We always fly to Tokyo after taking the train once when our daughter was about 18 months old. She's a champion traveller and always has been, but for me, 5 hours on a train was worse for some reason than the transpacific flights. Not sure why though.

When exactly is your trip?
KimJapan is offline  
Old Jun 19th, 2006, 10:17 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 4,282
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Personally if I only had ten days, I'd spend 7 of them in Kyoto and the other 3 in Tokyo. You could easily spend all 10 in Kyoto.

Takayama was the one disappointment of my trip. Very touristy -- yes the restored homes are nice but it has more of a disneyland feel to it now -- everything is selling souvenirs.

Kanazawa, on the other hand, I loved. It is a lovely city and the historic buildings there seem much more "real" and there are hundreds fewer tourists. The garden is spectacular.

But Kyoto is truly incredible -- on a whole different level and is, to me, the must see in Japan.
glorialf is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
misha2
Asia
30
Jun 24th, 2017 09:23 PM
spasari
Asia
5
Jun 26th, 2011 12:10 AM
AmyH
Asia
16
Aug 13th, 2010 08:40 AM
missmoo
Asia
6
Feb 12th, 2010 03:50 AM
jenandstephen
Asia
8
Sep 23rd, 2009 08:35 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:43 AM.