Need help to plan itinerary in Japan!!

Sep 20th, 2005, 10:40 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 7
Need help to plan itinerary in Japan!!

My fiance and I are going to Japan in January 2006 for 9 days/8 nights. We have actually been to just Tokyo beginning of this year. Now, we are planning to visit other places such as Osaka, Kyoto, etc in Japan for this trip as well.

We are planning to stay in Tokyo for the first 3 days and last day to do some shopping and we need some advise where we should go, how long the trips will be, and what we should do between that period. I have read some reviews in Fodor's and it seems that Ohara in Kyoto is a must-see place. Any other places worth going? Would be great if you could please share your experience and help us with the question marks below.

We also need feedback about which hotel/japanese houses (onsen?) we should stay in each place. For tokyo, we want central location eg Shinjuku or Shibuya and close to the train station. Our budget is around 100AUD or cheaper a nite. Also, Is it worth getting a JR pass?

Day 1 : Tokyo (arrving 9am)
Day 2 : Tokyo
Day 3 : half day Tokyo/half day ???? (or full day Tokyo)
Day 4 : ????
Day 5 : ????
Day 6 : ????
Day 7 : ???
Day 8 : Tokyo or ???? (should we stay a night in Tokyo so that we can leave our luggage in the hotel the next day as we wont be departing until 10pm the next day. Or is there a place where we can put away our luggage for half a day)
Day 9 : Tokyo (departing 10pm)

Looking forward to your input =)
scaryoctopus is offline  
Sep 27th, 2005, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
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I only have time to answer some of your questions: Ohara in Kyoto is a "must-see" place during the Fall when the leaves change colors and in the early Spring during the cherry blossom season. But in January, it can be cold, dreary and even snowed in. But then it won't be very crowded, either. It's a one hour bus ride from Kyoto Station, too. I'd say skip it.

On the other hand, Kyoto is FULL of must see places - all of the famous historic or scenic sites are worthwhile. If you want a bit of a rural feeling go to Sagano/Arashiyama. Wherever you go, you won't be disappointed. But you need at least 2 days there. Nara and Himeji Castle in Himeji are also very much worth seeing and easy to get to. Each is an easy day trip from Kyoto. So how about this idea using Kyoto as your base?
Day 3: Go to Kyoto.
Days 4&5: Kyoto
Day 6: Nara - Kofuku-ji Temple, Todaiji Temple (Great Buddha) & deer park.
Day 7: Himeji Castle
Day 8: Return to Tokyo.

DEFINITELY get a Rail Pass. It's the BEST deal in Japan. I can't emphasize this more!!! The cost of a one week pass is the same as just 1 round trip on the Shikansen between Tokyo and Kyoto. And it's good for ANY train to ANYWHERE. WOW! You tourists are SOOOOO lucky!

Have a great trip!
xinghuo is offline  
Sep 27th, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Oops! Sorry! In my last paragraph, "Shikansen" should be Shinkansen (the bullet train) and the cost of a one week pass is close to that of a round trip between Tokyo and Kyoto, not exactly the same.
xinghuo is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 04:21 AM
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Thanks Xinghuo. Your input was definitely helpful for us to fill in the blanks in the itinerary. Since we spent 10 days in Tokyo in the last trip, I must agree with you that we should go for that rural feeling. You sound very familiar with Kyoto =) Any suggestion where we should stay in kyoto? "You tourists are SOOOOO lucky!" - do you live in Japan?? =)
scaryoctopus is offline  
Sep 28th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Posts: 574
Bonjour Scaryoctopus,

Why don't you go directly to Kyoto on day 1 from Narita airport and end your stay with 2-3 days of shopping in Tokyo ?

If you stick to your original plan, consider sending your luggage from Kyoto or elsewher to the airport, keeping only a light pack for the last 2-3 days (ask at your hotel for "Takkyubin", about 1-2 days in advance).

In Kyoto, try to stay in the central ward (Nakagyo-ku) so you can walk to quite a lot of places while being close to most transport hubs. Have a look at the Kyoto Visitor's Guide for an outlook of things to do and see (look under Kyoto highlights for January).

Florence is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2005, 05:47 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 12
Dear Scary,

I agree with Florence that going straight to the Kyoto area after your arrival and ending up in Tokyo for your last few days is a good idea. It means you only need to change hotels (and lug luggage) once. In that case, I wonder if you can arrive in Osaka (Kansai International) and leave from Narita? Or you could cut Tokyo all together and focus on the Kansai region (Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Himeji). Just a suggestion...

Anyway, as for your hotel, I suggest staying near Kyoto Station. Then you are only a few minutes away from the JR lines, the subway and the bus stops for all the major routes. There are hotels and ryokan there to suit any budget.
I've lived in Kyoto for 15 years... Japan for 23.
xinghuo is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2005, 06:10 AM
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Posts: 6,267
xinghuo: I know you live in Kyoto but I am puzzled by one thing in your post. You said Ohara was a must-see during fall leaf changing and spring for cherry blossoms. I was in Ohara at end of last March and I met a young woman who lives in Ohara but went to school at University of Chicago and spoke perfect English. I had a cup of tea with her as I was buying an obi sash at her Mother's shop. She told me that Ohara is not crowded in spring because there are no cherry blossoms there, and that it is a good place to go to get away from the Kyoto sakura crowds.
emd is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 03:04 AM
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Hi all, thanks for your suggestions/feedback. They are great.
Hi Florence and Xinghuo. Now that I have read all reviews, I think its a good idea to fly directly to Kyoto instead. However, I have paid for my tickets and because I got a special package, the flights can't be changed anymore - unless i pay extra for a maximum of 2 changes.
I will definitely read through the reviews again and fill in the blanks in my itinerary. Wil let you guys know how I go!
scaryoctopus is offline  
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