November Itinerary - Feasible Options?

Jul 18th, 2008, 11:13 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 2
November Itinerary - Feasible Options?

Hi there - I am planning my second trip to Japan in November. I will be travelling with a friend for whom it is the first trip. We are looking at between 10-14 days.

(Last time, my travel outside Tokyo was to Kyoto, Hiroshima & Miyajima, then Takayama, all in four days. Naturally, I am happy to see all of the above "again"!)

Reading through the forum posts - especially the wonderful trip reports - I have developed some ideas about where we may travel.

First off, we're flying into Kansai Airport and heading straight to Tokyo, where we have free accommodation with family.

We will buy a 14 day JR pass, as we intend to cover a lot of ground. The problem is, it is looking like too much already, and I am seeking adice on how to make it feasaible and worthwhile ...

We're not exactly backpackers, but we are closer to that end of the scale than luxury. We are happy to do a lot of walking, especially in beautiful scenery etc.

Here's what I am thinking so far:

Trip 1 (Wednesday through Friday)
Shinkansen to Hiroshima in afternoon. See Atomic Dome and Park after dark.

Spend next morning at Museum, catch boat to Miyajima and spend afternoon/early evening there. We won't be scaling Mt Misen or catching the ropeway, so a half-day seems OK.

The next day, head back to Tokyo via Okayama to view castle as borrowed scenary in the park (last time I only saw the castle). Is Naoshima also feasible, or would we need an extra day?

Spend a couple of days in Tokyo (weekend)

Trip 2 (Sunday-Friday)
Sunday - Tokyo (am) to Kyoto (pm)
Monday - Arashiyama (am+) and Kyoto (remaining pm)
Tuesday - Kyoto (am) Fushimi Inari & Nara (pm) - overnight in Nara?
Wednesday - Kyoto (am) to Kanazawa (pm)
Thursday - Kanazawa via Shirakawago or Takayama
Friday - Takayama (am) via Nagoya to Tokyo
The Kyoto itinerary assumes some flexibiity given how much there is to see in Kyoto (Philosopher's Walk, Kiyomizu, Siler and Gold temples, Sansujendo), and they may take priority.

Questions:
Am I doing that second trip the right way round? I was trying to avoid a weekend in scenic Takayama and Shirakawago.
Should I be trying for the Shirakawago ryokan experience, or the Takayama Best Western?
Should we allow time in Nagoya?
How much time should we allow in Kanazawa? (Gold fleck production and windy laneways seem interesting)

Is there any way to squeeze in the Miho Museum? If so, what could it be combined with?

What sights are 'near' the JR station in Kyoto? (To consider combining with the days when we travel out of central Kyoto)

In Tokyo, we will hit Ueno for shitamachi museum and others, and Asakusa; Shinjuku, Harajuku area for cosplay, Takeshita Dori, Meiji and Omotesando, Shibuya.

Nikko looks more like a possible overnight trip from Tokyo than Hakone (as with the Misen, cable car etc not an option). Nikko also looks like a great place for the onsen experience.

Any suggestions much appreciated!
keentravla is offline  
Jul 18th, 2008, 11:45 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
You do want to see a lot, but with your limited time, I recommend you scale it back a lot or you will see not much more than trains and stations.

Comments...

It makes no sense to fly into KIX to go to Tokyo. Fly into Narita to be better positioned for starting in Tokyo.

The Hiroshima/Miyajima days sound fine, if a bit rushed.

Trip 2 is where you get into trouble I think.

Trip 2 (Sunday-Friday)
Sunday - Tokyo (am) to Kyoto (pm)

Sightseeing in the morning in Tokyo and then getting to Kyoto for afternoon sightseeing is packing the day too tightly...Leave Tokyo in the morning to get to Kyoto for lunch and an afternoon of sightseeing.

Monday - Arashiyama (am+) and Kyoto (remaining pm)
Tuesday - Kyoto (am) Fushimi Inari & Nara (pm) - overnight in Nara?

Sightseeing in Kyoto, then Fushimi Inari, then Nara all in one day? Possible but not fun.

Wednesday - Kyoto (am) to Kanazawa (pm)

If you sightsee in Kyoto in the morning, you will not be able to see much in Kanazawa in the afternoon...tourist places close, it is dark around 4:30 pm.

Thursday - Kanazawa via Shirakawago or Takayama

If you intend to see S-go en route to Takayama, you'll need to leave Kanazawa on the morning bus. With this plan, there is no point in having stopped in Kanazawa as you will only eat dinner and sleep there. You will arrive in Takayama in the evening.

Friday - Takayama (am) via Nagoya to Tokyo

Leave Takayama in the morning? You will have visited Kanazawa, S-go and Takayama and only seen S-go for a few hours between buses. You've allowed no time to see Kanazawa or Takayama.

In that whole itinerary as well, you have left little time for Kyoto, and there is enough there to keep you busy for weeks without even leaving the city.

There are not ryokan in Ogimachi gassho village in Shirakawa-go, but there are minshuku that are a great experience. Booking sites cannot reserve most of them, nor can travel agents, as they do not pay commission. You need to reserve directly or via the tourist information office.

Allow time in Nagoya? If something interests you there, and you somehow eliminate something else to give it some time.

Kanazawa, where I live, has enough tourist stuff to fill a couple of days. If you reserve in advance, you can make something using gold leaf at Sakuda in Higashiyama. Kenrokuen takes a couple of hours to see, and there are museums that are interesting. There is a samurai house you can enter in the samurai district, and a chaya (entertainment house) you can enter in the HIgashichaya. Omicho market is being redone so has lost some of the old fashioned charm, but the sushi is still the best. That is a couple of days right there.

Kyoto is rather spread out with not much right near the station. You will need to take taxi or bus or subway to get to sights.

I really recommend you get a guidebook and read about the options, or at least have a look at the JNTO website, so you can get an idea about what you want to see. As you have it now, you are doing a lot of moving around and seeing very little indeed. You mention that you went to Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima and Takayama in four days before and wanted to see them "again." You'll need to go back for a third go if you don't make some major cuts in your current itinerary.

www.hyperdia.com will help you with train logistics.
KimJapan is offline  
Jul 19th, 2008, 01:29 AM
  #3  
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Thanks for the local input! Especially on Kanazawa.

I could easily spend the full 10-14 days in any one of the destinations. I enjoy exploring and becoming familiar with a city.

I agree that we are not allowing sufficient time for the Kyoto/Kanazawa/Takayama part, especially as I find myself wishing we could squeeze the Miho Museum in as well! I am also aware that we have nowhere near enough time in Tokyo, either - but at least I have a fair idea of how to get around there, and what we will want to see.

That being said, I am happy to see a couple of key things that give us a sense of each place and its history. (In Kyoto proper, for example, I am hoping to see Kiyomizu and Sansujendo, and to do the Philospopher's Walk at an exploratory pace).

I think we will be snacking during the day - main meals at breakfast and night.

The late arrivals are about being able to make an early start for sightseeing the next day.

Based on the timetable, there is more flexibility going from Takayama to Kanazawa than the other way round, so that may become an option if weekend crowds aren't too bad. (http://www.japan-guide.com/bus/shirakawago.html)

We don't have choice about the flights in to Japan - they're about $700 cheaper to Kansai than to Narita, and after a long journey, we do need to 'land' in Tokyo for a night or even more, and leave our suitcases etc there before further travel with day packs.
keentravla is offline  
Jul 21st, 2008, 10:00 AM
  #4  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,077
Hi, keentravla -

I agree with KimJapan - you are trying to fit WAY too much in! I can understand your desire to see the various destinations you have selected, but I don't think you are being realistic about the time you will have in any of them.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Jul 21st, 2008, 01:15 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,343
Ok, I must be missing something here.

Why are you going to Tokyo first from KIX?

While you are south near Kyoto, I would do my Kyoto, Hiroshima part of my journey, then hit Kanazawa, S Go and Takayama on my way to Tokyo.

14 days would be better used like this imho

Kyoto 5 nights w/day trips to Hiroshima/Miyajima or Nara

Kanazawa 2 nights

S Go/Takayama 1 night each or just one night for both(that's what I would do)

Tokyo 2 nights

Nikko 1 or 2 nights

Tokyo 2 nights

I can't tell whether you are leaving from KIX or NRT?

Aloha!



hawaiiantraveler is offline  
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