One week in Japan

Old Sep 6th, 2017, 02:08 PM
  #1  
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One week in Japan

Hello All!

I am seeking your advice on "must sees" and "must dos" in Japan. I will be traveling there at the end of Nov - 16-25, and will have 1 week on the ground. Not a long trip! Either way, we wanted to take advantage of a couple of days off work for US Thanksgiving holiday and we thought a quick visit would be worth the travel!

Knowing this, we don't want to pack too much in. There will be 4 people total traveling, all 30 or slightly younger. With only a week, we think our best bet is to do Tokyo and Kyoto. I know, I know - we could easily spend a week along in just Toyko, but we want to see more than 1 city. Additionally, if there are any day trips or towns that are a quick trip outside of Tokyo / Kyoto, we are open to that as well.

We are relatively adventurous with our travels and want to have a mixture of an amazing cultural/history experience, food experience, and just overall unique experiences.

Any recommendations would be much appreciated!

Thank you,
Rachael
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Old Sep 6th, 2017, 06:47 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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With only one week, you can see at most a few highlights of Tokyo and a few highlights of Kyoto. Only you and your traveling companions can decide which are "must sees" or "must dos" -- you simply don't have enough for even the most frequently mentioned highlights, and whether those would be highlights for YOU is an entirely different question. Same with a day trip -- it really depends on what you want to see and experience.

Although it is not perfect, IMO, japan-guide.com is the best single source of information for planning a trip to Japan. I strongly encourage you and your traveling companions to spend time -- a LOT of time -- exploring it.

No matter what you choose, you should be able to "have a mixture of an amazing cultural/history experience, food experience, and just overall unique experiences" -- Japan offers all of those things in abundance! You just need to do a bit of research.

Hope that helps!
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Old Sep 6th, 2017, 07:01 PM
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Or you can consider Tokyo and Hiroshima/Miyajima as you only need two days for the latter. You can explore Hiroshima in the late morning/early afternoon and then ferry to Miyajima in the early evening, have a great dinner and then spend the full day on the island when you wake up. Then get up the next morning and leave. Or Kyoto and Hiroshima/Miyajima. I only add this to the mix as you can really do it with 2 nights and feel very good that you have scene it all. It is also a nice contradiction to both Tokyo and Kyoto. Look it up on Japan Guide if you are so inclined. Whatever you decide you will have a great time and will not be disappointed. Good luck!
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Old Sep 6th, 2017, 07:08 PM
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There are no 'mut see' sights in Tokyo. It's a big modern city with very little history. There is of course a million things to do, but it's entirely up to you how you want to spend your time there.
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Old Sep 6th, 2017, 11:59 PM
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A couple things my 30ish daughter and her husband enjoyed on a recent trip with us:
-visiting Fushimi Inari shrine in the the sake town of Inari Fushima, about a 10 minute local train from Kyoto. Hike up the hill under all the torii, then tour a brewery and sample some sake.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3915.html
Or if you prefer whisky. see if you can get tickets -NOW- for the Suntory Yamasaki Distillery tour in Yamasaki, near Kyoto. Their whisky is rated one of the world's best. Reserve now. Tickets go months in advance. You can cancel later if your plans change!
http://www.suntory.com/factory/yamazaki/access/

In tokyo, they really enjoyed an evening in Piss Alley. It consists of lots of tiny bars and restaurants. They visited several places having a moveable feast and drinks
https://www.timeout.com/tokyo/restau...alleyway-guide.

I didn't know my daughter likes Anime so we were too late to get tickets once I found out:

http://www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/welcome/
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 12:42 AM
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Are your flights already booked into and out of Tokyo?

If not, consider open jaw tickets, into Tokyo and home from Kyoto, or vice versa, as that'll save you some travel time.

If I were doing just one or other of the two, I'd do just Kyoto, as there is so much in Kyoto PLUS it's very easy access to nearby excursions such as Osaka, Nara, Kobe, possibly Hiroshima/Miyajima or Koya-san. But for that, I'd skip Tokyo.
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 05:02 AM
  #7  
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Thank you all so much!! This is very helpful so far and points me in a good direction for some research. We are flying in/out of Tokyo based on maximizing miles that we booked our flights with, but appreciate the thought!

Thank you again!
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 05:43 AM
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No worries, totally understand.

I think then that if you want to do both Tokyo and Kyoto, it would be best not to try and add *too* many other destinations into the mix. If you only have 7 nights on the ground (is that correct?) and some of that will be lost to travelling Tokyo - Kyoto - Tokyo, you won't have that long in either city, certainly you will not run out of many things to see in do in each city.

You could easily spend a week in either one of these cities on it's own!

In Kyoto, my favourite destination place is Nara, for others it's Osaka (which I didn't warm to that much, though I visited on both my first and second trip to Japan).

I would suggest you try and spend 1 or 2 nights in a traditional ryokan, where you can enjoy the beautiful architecture and decor, and experience the magic of kaiseki dining. It can be expensive but it's a fantastic experience. https://www.kaveyeats.com/2012/11/st...se-ryokan.html
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 06:42 AM
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"In Kyoto, my favourite destination place is Nara"

That should say "my favourite nearby destination is Nara"
Oops!
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 07:49 AM
  #10  
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Hi Kavey!

Great info - and YES, a night or two in a traditional ryokan is definitely something of interest so I appreciate this recommendation and link!! Getting more and more excited !
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 11:30 AM
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Nov 23 is a national holiday, Labor Thanksgiving Day, so you can expect some competition for lodging starting at least as early as the 22nd.

Meiji Jingu is a must-see in Tokyo, especially at that time of year. The actual shich-go-san day is the 15th but you may see some celebrants at MJ on the first few days that you are in Japan, maybe up to the 19th. Or at a Shinto shrine in Kyoto.

>> a traditional ryokan is definitely something of interest

Then you should consider Hakone for an onsen ryokan stay and some natural beauty of Japan as a break from the big cities you are visiting. Best would be to do this mid-week (it is a popular place for a weekend visit for people from Tokyo, Yokohama, etc). Hakone would be a stop on your route between Tokyo and Kyoto.

The weekend after your arrival should be about the peak of fall colors in Kyoto.

It might be too late for the maples on Miyajima, though the island would be a good option for a ryokan stay at any time. Miyajima is about 6 hours, total, off your route between Tokyo and Kyoto.
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 11:58 AM
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>>maximizing miles

Ok, but you are not actually maximizing miles. You would be maximizing miles with the open jaw trip that was suggested if you had a connecting flight between Tokyo and Osaka. That would maximize the miles earned or used (as Osaka would have the same cost in FF miles as Tokyo).

If you can't change the ticket then a one-way ticket on ANA (and probably JAL) only costs US $102.20 (which is less than the cost of a shinkansen ticket). You would probably be able to check your bags through if you were flying on ANA (or JAL) or on a partner.

Or maybe "maximizing miles" means minimizing the cost per mile. Like getting pricing of $600 for a Tokyo rt vs an open-jaw for $900.
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 12:00 PM
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My intent above was not to argue but to suggest an option that you might not have fully considered.
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 12:19 PM
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I would do Kyoto and Hiroshima/Miyajima. Tokyo is fun- I liked it- but more as a food and shopping metropolis than a sightseeing city.

But you could easily spend the entire time in either Tokyo or Kyoto. And maybe you should do that. Then you have plenty of time to explore and fit in a few day trips that catch your fancy, and you don't waste time moving hotels.
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 01:04 PM
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I just got back from both Kyoto and Tokyo, less than 3 weeks ago. I had two, full weeks, on the ground, and spent 9 nights in Kyoto and 5 nights in Tokyo. I ended up liking Tokyo more than I thought I would and I absolutely loved Kyoto.

As for you mentioning not wanting to spend a week in only one city, I don't look at it that was as if you went to only Kyoto, for a week, then you would be spending it in that region and there are places to see outside of Kyoto, but in that region. Personally, I wouldn't put Tokyo and Kyoto into a one week plan, but to each his own.

Happy Travels!
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Old Sep 7th, 2017, 11:08 PM
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I'm going to counter mrwunrfl's suggestion on Hakone... I think with only 7 days it's just not worth diverting one or two nights of your week for a Hakone stay. But that's partly because we didn't love Hakone as much as many people do... as well as thinking that you just don't have enough time...
I would advocate that you incorporate your ryokan stay into your time in Kyoto, or Nara.
In Kyoto, we loved Shiraume -- expensive but beautiful, formerly a teahouse, now an inn run be 7th generation of the same family, high end, fabulous location in historical Gion, along a small stream, excellent accommodation and dining. In Nara, I already linked to Kankaso, just amazing.
If you do visit Hiroshima and Miyajima, the latter is another great place for a ryokan stay, but again, whilst this day/ night was a highlight of our first trip, I'm not sure it's the best option for you with just 7 nights.
A lot depends on how much you see / do in a day and how likely it is that you'll get back to Japan for further trips in coming years.
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Old Sep 8th, 2017, 12:06 AM
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Well, since you're fixed on entering/leaving Japan through Tokyo, you might as well see at least some of the city there. Personally, I think 3-4 days in Tokyo is quite enough for most people, unless there is something like an event you want to be there for.

The question I want to ask is if you think you will ever go to see Japan again. If so, you can be a lot more flexible and exclusive about what you go see. Leave the rest for a future trip. That would make going to Tokyo and then skipping Kansai in favor of Hiroshima more palatable.
Otherwise, 3 days for Tokyo and around 3 days for Kyoto is for the latter especially far from ideal, but better than seeing nothing at all if you don't think you'll be back in the near future, if ever.

Once you make your plans, you can decide the best way to get around - by regular tickets, some rail pass, or flying.
I would suggest you look also at the official city pages for tourism, like:
http://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html
http://www.kyoto.travel/

The JNTO page is worth looking through as well:
http://www.jnto.go.jp
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Old Sep 8th, 2017, 07:28 AM
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Kavey is right that many people do love visiting Hakone.

The absolute best advice that I could ever give about visiting Japan: try to spend some time outside of big cities. Get out into the country, a town, or small city. Tokyo and Kyoto are big cities.
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Old Sep 10th, 2017, 08:46 PM
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I would say to stick in Tokyo and kyoto alone. $ days in tokyo and 3 in kyoto. Enough to see all the necessary in kyoto, maybe you can sqqueeze a day in Nara or Horoshima before going to tokyo. tokyo is huge so you have a lot to see, as well as yokohama, not far and a good day trip for shopping and for the chinatown.
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Old Sep 10th, 2017, 09:12 PM
  #20  
kja
 
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"3 in kyoto. Enough to see all the necessary in kyoto"

I couldn't disagree more -- I think one needs MUCH more than that to even skim the highlights of Kyoto. But to each his/her own....
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