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Only one month until we leave for Japan!

Only one month until we leave for Japan!

May 27th, 2008, 05:08 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 54
Only one month until we leave for Japan!

Asking for suggestions, comments and advice on our itinerary so far. My husband and I are in our early 50s and we’re going with our 13 year old daughter and his 81 year old mother. This will be a highly interesting trip, to say the least.

First, thank you to everyone who posted trip reports here, especially emd, fourfortravel, joannecam and others. It really really helps those of us planning trips to hear about your experiences and opinions. Second, I have our JR Rail Pass & Ghibli Museum tickets & ordered Rentafone phones to be delivered to our hotel. Anything else we need to get/do before we leave?

We leave NYC on 6/29 and arrive in Narita on Monday, 6/30. Staying in Tokyo for 4 nights at the Ryokan Shigetsu in Asakusa. Besides Ghibli, one day is set aside for Disney Sea. Grandmother will not be going to Disney, instead visiting museums (if it’s rainy/hot) or parks (if nice).

I would like to visit Tsukiji but I don’t know about the rest of my family. It may be too smelly for them too early in the morning. Otherwise, we’ll walk around Asakusa since we’re in the neighborhood, eat at the Raumen Museum in Shin-Yokohama and maybe go to Odaiba if everyone is up for it. I’m saving the shopping for the 1 ½ days we’ll be back in Tokyo before leaving for home.

On the 4th of July, we leave Tokyo for Hakone for a one-night stay. Staying at the Prince Hakone, which is out of the way but we’ll see how it goes. I only want to do two things: the Open Air Museum and Yunessun. Thanks very much emd for cluing me in to Yunessun! I thought I would have to forego any onsen experience since both my daughter and husband refuse to get naked in front of other people but Yunessun sounds perfect. And thanks to your trip report suggestion, I’ll send our luggage ahead to Kyoto.

The next day we’re off to Takayama, staying at the Rickshaw Inn. There are really only two things I want to see there too – the Hida Folk Village and the Festival Floats Exhibition – other than walking around.

After one night, we leave for Kyoto for the next 8 nights. We are staying at a machiya found on vrbo.com. One whole day will be spent going to Himeji then to Hiroshima and back home. I would also like to do a mother-daughter kimono dress-up (I traded doing this for me with going to DisneySea for my kid). And going on a Johnnie Hillwalker tour.

Otherwise, the wagashi making class (from emd) sounded interesting as did some of the crafts classes through wakjapan. I would like to eat nagashi somen in Kibune for lunch. Cormorant fishing in Arashiyama? Maybe a Hanshin Tigers game (but I’m the only one who likes baseball and it may be too much of a pain in the neck to get tickets.)

As for the Kyoto sights, my daughter has little patience for most sightseeing. So I’ve tried to narrow things down: Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkakuji (Gold), Sanjusangendo, Nanzenji & Kitano Shrine. And skipping Nijo Castle (we’ll be going to Himeji Castle), Ginkaku-ji (Silver) and Ryoan-ji. Up in the air about Chion-in & Eikan-do. I would love any opinions about what shouldn’t be missed and what can be missed.

Then it’s back to Tokyo for 2 nights, this time at the Hyatt Regency in Shinjuku. Time for some shopping in Shibuya, Takeshita-Dori, Oriental Bazaar – anywhere else? I don’t think the shops in the Ginza are right for us.

Some other questions I have besides those above are: what’s the difference between Pasco and Suica cards? Is Nara worth a day trip? Did people make advanced reservations for their JR Rail trips or can you pretty much get on most trains? Are the trains for the most part smoke-free? And did you get most of your yen in the US, at Narita or in Tokyo? We bank at Citibank so we can use Citibank ATMs in Japan.

Thanks for everyone’s help in putting this trip together!
totorofan is offline  
May 27th, 2008, 09:08 AM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,019
Hi, totorofan -

> skipping Nijo Castle (we’ll be going to Himeji Castle)

Nijo-jo and Himeji-jo are nothing like one another. I wouldn't skip Nijo-jo just because you plan to see Himeji-jo!

http://www.japan-guide.com

> Is Nara worth a day trip?

I thoroughly enjoyed 2 days in Nara. There is a great deal to see there. Whether it is "worth" it to you depends on what you want to see!


> Did people make advanced reservations for their JR Rail trips or can you pretty much get on most trains? Are the trains for the most part smoke-free?

I did not reserve in advance. As I recall, most long distance trains had both smoking and nonsmoking sections.


> And did you get most of your yen in the US, at Narita or in Tokyo? We bank at Citibank so we can use Citibank ATMs in Japan.

Post offices throughout Japan have ATMs that are open during business hours and, in a few cases, into the evening or on weekends. You can probably use your Citibank card at those ATMs, but check to be sure!

Hope this helps. . . .


kja is offline  
May 27th, 2008, 11:24 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,344
site here explains the difference between the Pasmo and Suica cards....depends on where you want to use your card

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2359_002.html

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 27th, 2008, 07:45 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
As for the Kyoto sights, my daughter has little patience for most sightseeing. So I’ve tried to narrow things down: Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkakuji (Gold), Sanjusangendo, Nanzenji & Kitano Shrine. And skipping Nijo Castle (we’ll be going to Himeji Castle), Ginkaku-ji (Silver) and Ryoan-ji. Up in the air about Chion-in & Eikan-do. I would love any opinions about what shouldn’t be missed and what can be missed.


I am now in my ANA hotel looking out of my window at the bus loads of young students entering the Nijo Temple. We've been here 3 days now & Nijo was the first Castle we visited since we arrived in the hotel at 3 PM & the Castle closes to 4:30. As I was making the decision which sites to visit, both Tripadvisor & Fodor's entries had Nijo as a not to miss site to visit. I enjoy watching Japanese period TV show & this castle certainly takes you back to that era with its presentation. We were able to complete the tour in 1 1/2 hrs, walking leisurely through the castle & the gardens.

Just a quick run down of our long Temple/ Shrine run yesterday. Kinkakuji, Ryoanji,Yasaka, Kiyomizu, Toji (we only took photos of the pagoda & the main building) & finally Fushimi Inari. There was something very unique in everyone that we visited & would highly recommend them . If I could skip one of them, it would be the Yasaka, but I was interested in seeing the Chinese Influence in this temple.

We used the Y500 bus pass & we were able to use it in most of the trips to the different sites. We really enjoyed the Gion /Hanamachi areas walking through the old but very well preserved tea houses, restaurants. It was fun maiko spotting as well, We managed to come across a TV shooting & got my one good photo of my maiko. The tiny alleys of Pontocho was a real treat. There were rows & rows of restaurants to walk through all very interesting.

I'll post more of the details in my Reporting Live from Kyoto thread. We're checking out soon & head out for KT's only requested destination- The Kyoto Museum before we head back home.I'm sure you'll love your visit here. There is much to see & enjoy.
bmttokyo is offline  
May 27th, 2008, 09:35 PM
  #5  
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Aloha hawaiiantraveler and thanks for that link. Pasmo is just for Tokyo whereas Suica services more places. And yet within Tokyo, Pasmo and Suica seem interchangeable. So I'll get Suica cards.

And thanks to both kja and bmttokyo, I'll put Nijo Castle back on the list to visit. kja, did you go to Deer Park in Nara?

I love your trip report bmttokyo & will be reading future installments with interest. I definitely want to walk around the Gion/Hanamachi area. But the thing that really caught my eye in your report is....there's a Dean & Deluca in Tokyo??
totorofan is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 07:53 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 414
.....there's a Dean & Deluca in Tokyo??

YOu bet !!! It's in the basement of TKY station. I think I have a new favorite deli. The food was good too. It may take a while but I do have lots of photos of our yummy D&D "ekiben". I'll post it when I can.

Yeah, glad you're keeping Nijo in your list. I'm back home now so I'll work on the rest of my report.
bmttokyo is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 12:59 PM
  #7  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,019
Hi again, totorofan -

Yes, I did go walk through the deer park in Nara. The deer could be quite persistent with people who were feeding them or trying to eat. Fun! And there is much more to see in Nara - Kofukuji with its amazing treasure hall, Todaiji, Kasuga Taisha, the Naramachi district, the Nara National Museum, and (if you travel a bit outside of Nara) Horyuji, Chuguji, and other temples. If you decide to make the day trip to Nara - and it does provide a wonderful contrast to Kyoto - your difficulty will not be with finding things to do, but will instead be in selecting which wonderful things to see and experience! For more information, see:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2165.html

kja is offline  
May 28th, 2008, 03:32 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
We just spent two nights in Nara at the beginning of May and loved it so much we are going back in August. From July 1 they have light up, which is lovely. I'd encourage you to spend a night there so you can fully enjoy it. http://www.pref.nara.jp/nara_e/info/02.html


KimJapan is offline  
May 29th, 2008, 08:03 PM
  #9  
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Thanks for the Nara links kja and kimjapan. The photo of the sights lit up at night is gorgeous! I'll have to think about a visit there.

And bmttokyo, I went to the D&D website and jotted down all their Tokyo locations, for future reference. Also, it's great to know about the Tokyo Station store just for the reason you wrote - eki bento!
totorofan is offline  
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