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melissaeric Jul 8th, 2008 08:15 AM

Mt Koya and Nara --- help!
Hi Everyone,

My husband and I are going to Japan in August we are staying in Kyoto for 5 nights. We are thinking of spending our 3rd night on Mt. Koya instead of in Kyoto. What we would have to do is Go to Mt. Koya on the morning of day three in the most direct fashion, spend the night, then the next morning we want to leave mt. koya and go to nara for the day before heading back to Kyoto. Is this possible? We definitely don't want to miss Nara. Is it worth the travel time? If it is, how do I make that work on the trains? Thanks in advance!

kja Jul 8th, 2008 09:51 AM

Hi, melissaeric -

I loved both Mt. Koya and Nara, and felt they were well worth the time. Nara is easily reached from Kyoto - only about a 45 minute train ride - so you can get there even if it doesn't fit well with your plans for returning from Mt. Koya. You can check schedules at:

Hope that helps!

hawaiiantraveler Jul 9th, 2008 09:56 AM

If this is your first time to Japan and particularly Kyoto 5 nights are not enough'll know what I mean after you get there.

That said, Nara and Koyasan are great trips from Kyoto. Koyasan as an overnight and Nara as an overnight or a day trip.

Here are more detailed explanations of how to get to and transport from Kyoto both places.

If it were me, and I know its not, I would do a Nara day trip on one of my five days in Kyoto......In fact thats just what we did 2 years ago with 5 days in Kyoto :) Anyways have fun!


melissaeric Jul 9th, 2008 02:45 PM

Thanks for the tips! So if we have about 5.5 days in Kyoto, I want to spend one going to Mt Koya and then spending the night there and one stoping in Nara on the way back from Mt. Koya for half a day which would basically take up two full days leaving 3.5 days for Kyoto itself. With that amount of time should we also try to fit in a trip to Himeji Castle or just spend those 3.5 days in Kyoto itself?

hawaiiantraveler Jul 9th, 2008 03:00 PM

Depends on you....

Did you have any plans for Kyoto at all?

Do you want to use Kyoto as a base to see other Japanese cities in the area or do you want to see Kyoto?

The reason I ask is you keep wanting to cut days off Kyoto where most people want to add more days to their stay there. There is a lot to see and do there but that may not be what you want.

If you just want to use Kyoto as a base to see Nara, Koyasan and Himeji I would say stay in Osaka where its cheaper and just do day trips to Kyoto if you feel the need. That way you can save money on hotels and the transport to these other cities would be more convenient from Osaka.

Please don't take me wrong, I just wouldn't stay in Kyoto myself and take day trips elsewhere in such a short(3 day) visit. Kyoto is too expensive a city(hotelwise) to do that imho and has so much to offer that I personally would focus more of my time to Kyoto and less to the other places you mentioned.


hawaiiantraveler Jul 9th, 2008 03:18 PM

I just saw from your previous post that you plan to use points in the Westin Kyoto. The Sheraton in Osaka is a Cat 2 hotel and only charges 4000 points per night(3,000 on weekdays) compared to the 10,000 per night at the Westin Kyoto


KimJapan Jul 9th, 2008 03:30 PM

Nara has special events in August that, in my opinion, warrant spending a night. There are some good and cheap places to stay.

kja Jul 9th, 2008 03:57 PM

Hi again, melissaeric -

> should we also try to fit in a trip to Himeji Castle

It would take about an hour each way to get there and I'd guess that you would want at least 2.5 hours there, so visiting Himeji would take a total of about 4.5 hours. I enjoyed seeing Himeji - it is impressive and beautiful and fascinating and there are some lovely gardens next to it - but I had more time in that part of Japan than you have. I can't say whether you should give up 1/2 day of your remaining 3.5 days in Kyoto to go there - that really depends on what you want to see and experience. I would say that 3 days is not much for Kyoto itself.

BTW, like KimJapan, I am very glad I stayed overnight in Nara. It's one of those places that are even more magical after day-trippers have left.


WillJame Jul 9th, 2008 04:48 PM

Your initial plan of visiting Nara on the way back to Kyoto from Koyasan is a good one--and well worth doing. But I'd advise you to pass on Himeji this trip. As interesting as it is, it's not in the same league as Koyasan and Nara as a destination, and not worth your giving up more of precious time in Kyoto to go and see on such a short visit.

melissaeric Jul 9th, 2008 06:55 PM

OK, it's settled... we will do the trip to Koya-san and Nara, but skip Himeji to have our full 3.5 days in Kyoto itself. I am very interested in seeing Kyoto and everyone on this board seems to love it... so my next question... what should we do in Kyoto?? Since we are there in August I want to see the conmorant fishing, and absorb as much culture as possible :)

hawaiiantraveler Jul 10th, 2008 09:50 AM


See here for lots of sites in Kyoto

Get a guide book such as Fodor's or Frommers and see what interests you. It will be the best $20 you ever spent....considering what you will spend on your trip....


melissaeric Jul 10th, 2008 11:07 AM

If we add one more night to our trip (we are starting in Tokyo for 3 nights), should I add an extra night in Kyoto or spend the extra night in Hakone and then go to Kyto as planned?? I'm torn! This extra night in the middle would be on August 26 if that helps. Is Hakone nice at the end of August? Thanks!!!

hawaiiantraveler Jul 10th, 2008 07:18 PM

add two more nights and do both :)

mrwunrfl Jul 10th, 2008 11:41 PM

If you add the extra night in Kyoto then you would have more time to go to Himeji.

OTOH, 8/26 would be a weekday, better for visiting Hakone than a weekend, I believe.

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