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Need some planning information for Japan trip

Need some planning information for Japan trip

Apr 3rd, 2015, 09:23 PM
  #1  
Les
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Need some planning information for Japan trip

We're going to India (from Denver) in December, but we'd like to see some of Japan on the way there. We'd like to fly into Narita, and spend some time in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, before continuing on to Delhi. This is not intended to be a comprehensive tour of Japan; for this trip, we only want to see those cities.


We're thinking of taking trains between those cities. I could use your advice on a couple of questions:

How much time should we allot for each of those cities? We're locked into an arrival time in Delhi, but we're very flexible on time in Japan; we'll just leave Denver earlier if we have to.

We're considering flying into Narita, then after our time in Tokyo, taking the train to Kyoto and Osaka, and flying out of Osaka to Delhi. Does this make sense, or is there a better way to do this?

Thanks for any help you can provide.
Les is offline  
Apr 3rd, 2015, 10:12 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Honestly, it depends on YOUR interests, and none of us can speak to that! With that qualification, I would say -- based on MY interests -- that bare minimums for these 3 cities are Tokyo 2 days, Osaka 0 days, and Kyoto 3 - 4 days. And I note that I would find those times extremely frustrating, as I would be skipping SO many things that I would want to see! JMO.

I recommend that you consult japan-guide.com and get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together.
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Apr 4th, 2015, 05:30 AM
  #3  
Les
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Thanks, kja.

We will, of course, do our research on these cities. I should emphasize that this is a trip to India, and is not intended to be a "tour" of Japan, just a stopover on the way.

We've never been to Japan (other than passing through Narita enroute to somewhere else), and may eventually plan a more comprehensive visit, but we thought this might be a good opportunity to take a week or so to see these cities.

Interesting that you'd allocate 0 days for Osaka (again, we still have research to do) and only 2 days to Tokyo (we love cities, by the way).

Any suggestions about our travel within the country?

Thanks again.
Les is offline  
Apr 4th, 2015, 06:24 AM
  #4  
 
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If it were me, I would spend all five days in Kyoto, using one of them for a day trip to Nara, and possibly another to the Miho Museum by IM Pei. Since you want a taste of Japan, how about getting it in its most special city, giving yourself some time to see its temples and gardens, take the Philosopher's walk. We spent 8 nights there before going to Koya-san and Miyajima and another night and day before flying home out of Kansai. It was not too much time.

Just my thought...
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Apr 4th, 2015, 06:28 AM
  #5  
 
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I agree with Kja that your itinerary in Japan depends on what you like.

My advice is don't spread yourself too thin. For your first time travel in Japan, I would suggest that you spend either one full week in Tokyo (including a day trip to Hakone & Mt Fuji) or one full week exploring Osaka and Kyoto.

Tokyo and Osaka are fast-paced cities while Kyoto is more laid back. Kyoto is the perfect place to soak in local culture in Japan.

If you want to get the best of both worlds, I suggest you to split your trip between Tokyo and Kyoto. And like Kja's preference, I will skip Osaka too. I prefer to see historical places, nature and parks. Kyoto is full of history and nature while Tokyo is abundant in parks.

If you will be visiting both Tokyo and Kyoto, flying to Narita (or Haneda) and flying out of Kansai will make a lot of financial sense since you will only need to pay for one way bullet train ride.

These posts might help you in your travel planning in Japan.
http://asiatravelbug.com/blog/tokyo-...-japan-travel/
http://asiatravelbug.com/blog/my-fir...vel-itinerary/
http://asiatravelbug.com/blog/where-...t-area-family/
http://asiatravelbug.com/blog/pupuru...rental-review/
http://asiatravelbug.com/blog/mount-fuji-guide/

I hope this helps!
Tiffy
curli_topz is offline  
Apr 4th, 2015, 07:31 AM
  #6  
 
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If it was me (and it isn't) I'd just spend a week in Kyoto.

These responses should give you an idea of the rage of reactions travelers to Japan have to our question.
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Apr 4th, 2015, 08:22 AM
  #7  
 
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I agree with Kja -- the split will depend on your personal interests, but I assume you are asking us how we might split the time if it were based on our own interests?

If I had 8 nights:
5 Kyoto
1 Hiroshima/ Miyajima
1 Osaka
1 Nara OR Koya-san
(not necc in the above order, I'd probably split the Kyoto stay into two, to better spread the others)

If I had 10 nights:
3 Tokyo
5 Kyoto
1 Hiroshima/ Miyajima
1 Osaka OR Nara OR Koya-san
(again, that's not in any particular order)

If I had 14 nights:
4 Tokyo
6 Kyoto
1 Hiroshima/ Miyajima
1 Osaka
1 Nara
1 Koya-san
(again, that's not in any particular order)

If it seems like I've included too many one night stays, we found Nara and Osaka so easy to travel to from Kyoto that, although it did involve taking luggage with us, it wasn't much of a hardship.

If you are taking a lot more luggage for India, you might want to investigate luggage storage service at your international airport, and take only one shared case around for your Japan visit. Public transport is super easy in Japan but you won't want to be lugging enormous amounts of luggage with you.
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Apr 4th, 2015, 09:00 AM
  #8  
Les
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Wow. Lots of good info - thanks.

Just to clarify: This is not really a "Japan trip" (in spite of the thread title); it's an India trip with a Japan "front end".

That being the case, I don't think we'd be willing to spend much more than a week in Japan.

Based on your replies, I think it's best to divide the time between Tokyo and Kyoto (3nights in Tokyo, 4 nights in Kyoto).

India is taken care of, still in the research phase for Japan, but this advice has been very helpful. Thanks
Les is offline  
Apr 4th, 2015, 09:43 AM
  #9  
 
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>>Any suggestions about our travel within the country?

The basic plan in your OP does make sense. You can store luggage at Narita airport if you are leaving Japan from there or you can send it on to Osaka Kansai Airport.

From the airport to Tokyo you will take train or bus. Easy way is to stay at a hotel where the bus drops you off. The bus is a bit cramped for me and is subject to traffic, unlike the train, but it is a no-brainer. Having said that, I do recall wondering if the ride from NRT to Yokohama station was ever going to end.

Tokyo to Kyoto you will travel by shinkansen. You don't need a rail pass if you leave Japan from Osaka. If you leave from Narita then a pass might save some money, but not much. In both cases, if you add a destination, like Hiroshima, then the advice would change. But for what you have now: no pass for me.

You can take a train to Osaka Kansai from Kyoto or Osaka. There definitely are limo buses from Osaka hotels to the airport. Am not sure about buses from Kyoto to KIX - I know there are buses but don't know if they serve any hotels.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Apr 4th, 2015, 09:50 AM
  #10  
 
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An option to consider: Tokyo with a night or two at an onsen ryokan in Hakone.

Definitely do some research on Osaka to see what might be of interest to you. I could make a fun day there that included Spa World, Osaka castle, okonomiyaki, and maybe bunraku.
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Apr 7th, 2015, 06:32 PM
  #11  
Les
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mrwunrfl, thanks for your advice.

The plan now (based on the info you've all provided, and assuming I can get flights that fit my schedule) is to fly into Tokyo, spend 4 nights, take the train to Kyoto, spend 4 nights, then fly out of Osaka to Delhi.

Some obvious questions:

How long is the train ride to Kyoto?

How long would it take to get from Kyoto to the Osaka airport (more specifically, would it make sense to leave Kyoto for a morning flight from Osaka, or should I plan on spending the night in Osaka)?

Can you recommend some nice (meaning 3-star or higher) hotels in Tokyo and Kyoto (not ryokans, but western style) located so that the major points of interest are easily accessible? Chain hotels are fine (Sheraton, Hilton, Intercontinental, etc.).

Do we need to get visas in advance, or can they be had on arrival?

Thanks for your help. I'm sure I'll need more before this is finalized, but I'll be moving pretty fast now that I have the itinerary settled.
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Apr 7th, 2015, 06:35 PM
  #12  
kja
 
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You might consider shifting a day from Tokyo to Kyoto.
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Apr 7th, 2015, 06:36 PM
  #13  
kja
 
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Also: For transportation info, see japan-guide.com

For hotels, see booking.com
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Apr 7th, 2015, 06:37 PM
  #14  
Les
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Sorry, I forgot to mention that I am looking at the links you posted, Tiffy, particularly the blog about Tokyo hotels.

Thank you.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 09:33 PM
  #15  
Les
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Hi, again.
Well, I've roughed out a schedule and identified flights (but haven't booked them yet).

Here's what we have in mind:

Fly to Tokyo from Denver, arrive Tokyo at 3:15 PM.

5 nights in Tokyo.

Bullet train to Kyoto (haven't looked at schedules yet)

5 nights in Kyoto.

Bullet train back to Tokyo and flight from Narita to Delhi (I chose Narita rather than Osaka because the flight schedules to Delhi are better).

The Narita/Delhi flight leaves at 11:35 AM. How exactly would I get to Narita after the bullet train arrives in Tokyo, and will the bullet train and airport transportation schedules support my proposed flight schedule?

kja, as you can see, rather than shifting a night from Tokyo to Kyoto, I simply added a night to Kyoto. We actually love large cities (actually, cities of all kinds), and certainly Tokyo is a city worthy of at least as much time as Kyoto, being world-class city, is it not? (OK, personal preference play a lot in this decision).

Tiffy, the link to first-time hotels is full of good information, and we'll surely choose a hotel from that list.
Thank you.
Les is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 09:41 PM
  #16  
kja
 
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With 10 nights, I would add a night to Koyasan and a night or two for Hiroshima /Miyajima. And I would take those nights from Tokyo. JMO.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 10:08 PM
  #17  
 
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If you like the flights from narita to Dalhi better, why not fly into Osak, then out of Narita? But if it is definitely in & out of Narita, I'd go straight to Kyoto, then do Tokyo second.

I would not try to make it from Kyoto to Narita for an 11:30 am flight! Even by Shinkansen, it is between 2.5 and 3 hours from Kyoto to Tokyo, plus another hour to Narita. Add in transfer times, and the 2 hour advance arrival at the airport, and you will have to leave you hotel in Kyoto at Kyoto at about 4 AM. You will be in a fog by the time you get to Delhi!

I also vote for just visiting 2 cities, with maybe a short day trip or two. I like to be in top form when I get to India.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 10:23 PM
  #18  
 
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I would spend the last night in Japan at a hotel near Narita airpot.
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Apr 8th, 2015, 10:26 PM
  #19  
Les
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Icuy, I like your idea of flying into Osaka and staying in Kyoto first.

I've looked at the flights from Denver, and there's one that would get us in to Osaka (vis San Francisco) at 4:20 PM.

How long would it take to get from the Osaka airport to Kyoto (and how would we get there)? We'd like to spend the first night in Kyoto, rather than Osaka.

Thanks.
Les is offline  
Apr 9th, 2015, 01:51 AM
  #20  
 
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You can take the HARUKA express train from Kansai airport which will take around 75 minutes to get to the JR Kyoto station.

This Asiabugtravel's blog is useful:
http://asiatravelbug.com/blog/haruka...port-to-kyoto/

Happy trails!
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