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Leaving for Japan on Monday... some thoughts...

Leaving for Japan on Monday... some thoughts...

Mar 19th, 2005, 06:02 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2
Leaving for Japan on Monday... some thoughts...

So I just stayed up all night reading your posts - wish I'd found this site earlier.

Wondering if the collective brain trust would share some thoughts with me. I'm flying into Tokyo, staying there for a while (boyfriend has a conference). Looks like this:

March 22 Tokyo, Hotel Okura (that would not be us paying for it, obviously)
March 23 Tokyo
March 24 Tokyo
March 25 Tokyo, Akasaka Prince (130,000 yen - decent last-minute deal, I think)
March 26 Tokyo
March 27 Tokyo
March 28 Hakone (Fujiya Hotel)
March 29 Kyoto
March 30 Kyoto
March 31 Kyoto
April 1 - ?
April 2 - Tokyo

The boy would like to spend quite a bit of time in Tokyo, while I'm pushing getting out into the countryside. Originally, I thought countryside meant Hakone, but now I'm thinking that maybe it's too kitchy/touristy. Perhaps an overnight in Takayama, or Kanazawa from Kyoto would be best? Can anyone tell me if it's not a good time to go to these towns - perhaps too cold? I'm even thinking I could go somewhere whil he's at work - not Nikko, or Kamakura(since I'll be in Kyoto and Nara). And there's a bit of debate as to which one is best, I have gleaned - I'm understanding Takayama might be easier to get around, while Kanazawa might be less touristy. yes?

I'm even thinking I could go somewhere whil he's at work - not Nikko, or Kamakura(since I'll be in Kyoto and Nara). So any thoughts on Hakone, takayama, Kanazawa would be appreciated. if i do go to Hakone, i'm thinking I might try to stay at one of the onsens instead of Fujiya, as nice as Fujiya sounds. What think you?

Also, out of Tokyo, planning on a day trip (or overnight? might be worth it) to Nara and or Himeiji or Ohara... Nara might also be crowded, i think - not sure if it's a good idea for an overnight now or not.

Kyoto reservation have been, er, rather difficult to get at the last moment during cherry blossom season, since I was dead set on a nice ryokan. But I just got 2 nights at the Westin Miyake via expedia (we'll see how the room is), and am planning the last night at a ryokan -

last question: what do you think of the Hatanaka in Gion (recommended by a Japanese friend) (30,000 pp), the Hiirayaga (with a lower-end room - not the Bekkan, though - just a room with a 'little garden view', (35,000 pp,) or the Seikoro Inn (27,500 pp). I like that the Hatanaka is in Gion, sounds lovely, but I feel liek if I'm doing this, I might as well go all the way. Does anyone know what the smaller rooms ('little gardn view' at the Hiiragiya are like - will i kick myself for not just splurging all the way?

Yikes - I'm sorry, that's a long couple of questions. (I blame it on the lack of sleep, which I blame on you all... grin.) So thanks for any thoughts anyone has on any part of this long rambling question...

Will report back.
ellsbells is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
You are in Japan during the school vacation time. March 24 is the last day of school for the year and the new school year begins April 7 (that's in Kanazawa, other cities may vary by one or two days). What that means is that many places like Nara, Kamakura, Hakone, Kyoto will be crowded, especially on the weekend. You'll need reservations if you plan to spend the night somewhere.

Kanazawa and Takayama are both 4 hours from Tokyo, as is Hiroshima/Miyajima. If you want to take the time to go so far, then I can recommend all three. Since you just read all the posts, I won't go into the why.

Nearer to Tokyo you might look into the Nagano area and the Matsumoto area. The Kiso valley is lovely I hear.

The only thing I wouldn't do is take time away from Kyoto to go somewhere else...You've only got 3 -4 days there, and there is just so much to see, you'll wish you had more time.

Tokyo Akasaka Prince hotel....are you serious 130,000 yen???? That's about $1,300 US. You MUST mean 13,000 yen, right?

You are right to want to get out of Tokyo. There is so much more to Japan than the big cities...the cities are great, but outside of the cities can be lovely.

Maybe get a rail pass...you'll have to get it in person at this late date...and do some exploring on your own while he's working. It's simple to use trains, they are clean and safe and wonderfully on-time. You could have your own adventure.
KimJapan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 07:22 PM
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So he is going to be working until the 25th and then he is free? Or is he working on the 29th-31st. I don't understand why you are saying you would not be day-tripping to Nikko or Kamakura.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Mar 19th, 2005, 10:13 PM
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mrwunrfl, sorry I was unclear (tired, was rambling a bit). He's working for the first 3 days - and yes, I am thinking of adventuring off on my own, but I thought not kamakura since I was told that if I went to nara I could skip Kamakura (no?), and not Nikko - well, I don't know why - perhaps I should reconsider. Was thinking I could do Takayama as a day trip, potentially, but it might be too cold yet in the mountains.

KimJapan, thanks so much for the warning about school holidays. No wonder reservations have been tough. makes me think I should really get out into the (potentially) less touristed countryside... (Kamakura?) I did pick up a 7-day rail pass on friday (somewhat prepared), and I'll have to be judicious about when I start it.

Fyi, guys, there's an article in tomorrow's sunday new york times travel section on the nakasendo highway trail and kiso valley, specifically talking about where to stay in magome, tsugamo and narai.

(free registration required)

And KimJapan, what? you think 130,000 yen a night is expensive?? Grin. Yes, you're right, of course, I added a zero. It's 13,000 yen.

OK, given that I'm not concinced there will be hordes of families and schoolchildren descending upon kyoto while I'm there, I'm just gonna pick one of the ryokan (Seikoro, Hiirayaga, or Hatanaka) in kyoto for a night and finally make a reservation before all get booked up completely. if anyone has any guidance, let me know!

Thanks for your comments!
ellsbells is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 10:35 PM
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At this late date, book whatever you can in Kyoto. It's also the very start of cherry blossom season...if you are lucky you'll see some. At the very least you'll see lots of plum blossoms that bloom a bit earlier.
KimJapan is offline  
Mar 20th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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Takayama would be too far for a day trip.
You JR Pass would be economical if you used it for travelling both ways between Tokyo and Kyoto.
Kamakura is not in the country.
Thanks for the tip on the NY Times article.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Mar 20th, 2005, 07:03 AM
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Hi, I'm new to Fodor's. My wife and I will be in japan from April 19- May 1. We are all set in Nagoya until April 23, then we use our JRP to travel to Kanazawa for 3 nites, Kyoto 2, and Takayama 3 nites. I'm looking at the japanguesthouses web site, and hope to have ryokans the entire way.

We leave May 1 from nagoya back to SFO; and I see I can't book a seat from Takayama to Nagoya. There are 3 early morning HIDA's that would get us there in time. Any help with knowing if that will be a problem or not, would be appreciated.

nepallarry is offline  
Mar 20th, 2005, 07:26 AM
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nepallarry, you can't book a seat online, you mean? You will have plenty of time to get the reserved seats once you get to Japan.

If I figured your itinerary correctly then you would be travelling from Kyoto to Takayama on April 27.

I think that April 29 is a major holiday as are May 3,4,5. It would Golden Week, so people will be travelling that day and probably the day before. Definitely would book hotel rooms now for that weekend.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Mar 20th, 2005, 07:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8

Thanks for the reply. I thought I couldn't reserve a seat at all during Golden Week. THanks for clarifying that - I'll book once I'm Nagoya on the 20th, and hope there are still seats. I have not bought my JRP yet: would I have a better chance getting reserved seats witha green or ordinary pass?

I'm worried about getting to the (Nagoya)airport on May 1 (from Takayama).

Thanks for your help,

nepallarry is offline  
Mar 20th, 2005, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Seat reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance of the date of travel. You can make them all at once if you like at station you activate your pass in.

A green car pass would give you access to the "like first class" car in the trains. With a green car pass you could also ride in the regular cars as well. During Golden Week, you should make reservations. If you don't have a reservation, it's not a tragedy...you can still go on the train, but you need to ride in the cars designated non-reserved. Often, the seats are totally taken and you have to stand...but if the train originates in the same city that you board, you have an excellent chance of getting a seat.

KimJapan is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 06:09 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 8
Hi Kim,

Thank you; I see that there are 3 early morning HIDA's from Takayama to Nagoya, which I believe all originate in Nagoya. I'll make all my res's when we arrive in Nagoya on April 19. I assume I can do that at the JR station there. Thanks again for being so helpful. We are very excited about our trip to Japan. Oh, my wife just asked me about reserving non-smoking train seats, is that possible?

[email protected]
nepallarry is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 12:09 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
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When you make seat reservations, you reserve seats in either the non-smoking or smoking cars. Seats always sell out in non-smoking cars first. There are also both non-smoking and smoking non-reserved cars, so if you can't reserve a seat, you can try for one in the non-reserved non-smoking car.
KimJapan is offline  
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