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Part 2- My recent 3 week trip report in Japan: The Itinerary!

Part 2- My recent 3 week trip report in Japan: The Itinerary!

Apr 18th, 2019, 04:22 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 471
Part 2- My recent 3 week trip report in Japan: The Itinerary!

Our original ITINERARY for our 3 weeks in Japan

Sunday 3/10 Delta 10:57 AM/3:20 PM on 3/11
Monday 3/11-3/17 Hotel Century Southern Tower TOKYO Day trips: Kanakura and Hakone
Sunday 3/17-3/24 Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kyoto Premier KYOTO Day tripssaka +Nara
Sunday 3/24-3/26 Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel HIROSHIMA Day trips: Mijiyama
Tuesday 3/26 3/28 Hotel Nikko Kanazawa KANAZAWA
Thursday 3/28-3/30 Best Western Hotel TAKAYAMA
Saturday 3/30-3/31 Daiwa Royne Hotel Ginza TOKYO
Sunday 3/31 Delta Haneda/LAX 4:20 PM LAX 10:45 AM

Hotel comments/observations
Tokyo- Hotel Century Southern Tower. Location very close to the Shinjuku Station. Nice room and amenities. High floor. Did not have breakfast at hotel. Shinjuku is a very crowded area. The train station has almost 200 entrances/exits. I found a you tube video in which someone demonstrated how to exit the station and walk to the hotel! Very helpful. While hotel was good with lots of restaurant options nearby I would only recommend this hotel if you want to take advantage of the high energy night life that the area has. A bit too crowded for us, however, wonderful for train access.

Kyoto- Solaria Nishitetsu Hotel Kyoto Premier. Loved everything about this hotel!! The service, room, breakfast and location was wonderful!! There were nearby restaurants, close to a 7-11 and Lawsons, walking distance to bridges, walkways, Geisha district, subway. Also there is a laundry facility in the hotel that was very helpful and easy.

Hiroshima_ Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel. Another gem! Great location to train station, magnificent furnishings, excellent breakfast, wonderful staff! Nice room.

Kanazawa- Hotel Nikko. Great location next to train station and bus station. Didn’t eat breakfast here. Lots of dining options next to and inside train station. Nice room.

Takayama- Best Western Hotel. Good location. Small room. Did not eat breakfast here. Close to train and bus station. Nearby restaurants and easy walk to the Old Town district.

Tokyo- Daiwa Royne Hotel Ginza- Small room. Nice amenities. Breakfast good. Nicely located in the Ginza area with easy access to trains, restaurants.

Regrets: Our only regrets in the hotels we chose were that they weren’t traditional Japanese hotels in their look/style, however, the locations of each hotel and transportation access were wonderful. Perhaps we could have selected a different hotel rather than the one we chose in Takayama. Our room was very small and tight, staff not particularly helpful ( not rude) and the feel of the place just seemed off.

*** Please check out Part 1 which will identify the Tours we took in Tokyo, Kyoto and Kanazawa

Tokyo

We arrived by bus to our hotel in Shinjuku, threw our luggage on the bed and left immediately for a very spirited tour by a highly energetic and funny tour guide of the night life in Shinjuku. With very little sleep in almost 24 hours we went on a 3 hour tour of Kabukicho (red light district), Golden Gai and Omoide Yokocho (memory lane or Piss Alley) which has many Izakayas. Very exciting areas and for non vegetarians, drinkers and smokers it is a paradise, however, for us it was more exciting to observe rather than participate. Be careful in the Kabukicho area as our tour guide cautioned us to be well aware of individuals luring you into their establishments.

Day 2. Walked to Government Building, Observation Deck overlooking much of Shinjuku. Wonderful sculptures before you enter building in the courtyard. Train to Gyoen Park. Wonderful gardens.

Day 3. Train to Harajuku. Meiji Jingu Shrine, Yogogi Park. Only area we found street art under a bridge. Walked throughout Harajuku on Omotesando Street, Takeshita Dori. Train to Shibuya Station to witness the throngs of people crossing on all 4 sides at the same time. Great place to observe right in the train station. Also don’t miss spectacular art work called Myth of Tomorrow by Taro Okamoto 1969 in same area of station observing Shibuya Scramble. Outside of the station is famous statue of a dog named Hachiko. Took taxi to Nezu Museum and walked the grounds.

Day 4. Bus to Kamakura. Loved this side trip! Hokokuji Temple, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, Great Buddha, Hasedara Hase Temple. If you check out Tourist Office ask for maps and how to best see the sights in one day. Very helpful.

Day 5. Train to Asakusa. Nakamise Street to Sensoji Temple, Train to Ueno Park, visited wonderful Zoo and Tokyo National Museum. Beautiful park with different dining options here.

Day 6. Train to Akihabara also know as Electronic City. If you are into video games, Maid Cafes, Pachinko and vending machines selling cheap toys then you are in the right place! Not sure I would place this on a must do list of places to visit. From here we went to Tokyo Train Station and walked to Imperial Palace and fell into the East Garden Tour. It was a great tour however, it is not offered every day. It was free and the guide was really good.

Regrets. Not enough time to take another side trip which originally was going to be Nikko changed to Hakone. Needed perhaps 1 more day to do this. Oh well!

Suggestions: Get good maps, have lots of change, take advantage of Tourist Offices and at each JR entrance the staff is very helpful to point you in the right direction. Also take along a nice backpack as you will be out most of the day.

Kyoto
We took the early morning train to Kyoto and reserved seats on the right side of the train so we would see Mt. Fuji in the distance. We did and it was pretty amazing! Arrived at train station and took a quick taxi ride to our hotel. They stored our luggage while we met our student guide. This was a prearranged tour and Naho showed us around the city and spent the entire day with us and joined us for dinner! Our hotel was close by to the Kamo River where you can walk alongside for several miles and observe people walking, sitting on the edge of the river and many birds in the water. We even saw a guy walking his pet rabbit on a leash! We took a bus to Ginkakuji (Silver pavilion) and walked the Higashiyama District. Spent the evening celebrating the Lantern Festival or Hanatoro Festival in Kodaiji Temple Park where we saw Geishas perform.

Day 2. Today we had an early morning prearranged tour of the Geisha District. Absolutely wonderful tour. Next took bus to Kinkaku -JI Temple ( Golden Pavillion) and walked more on the Kamo Riover.

Day 3. Train to Arashiyama to walk in the Bamboo Groves, Okachi Sanso Villa, Tenryuji Temple, Monkey Park, the bridge and train station art. Loved it here in Arashiyama and suggest you arrive early in the day before it becomes too crowded. The walk up to the Monkey Park can only be accessed by walking—no elevators, ropeways. It is a very steep climb up and there are benches along the way. When you arrive at your destination ( approximately 20-30 minutes) you are greeted by many Macaque monkeys! They are free to roam!

Day 4. Day trip to Osaka. First we visited the Osaka Castle, took a Boat Taxi on the Aqualiner and explored Doutonbori Street. Visited the iconic running man sign, had ice-cream in one of the many restaurants, places to drink along the canal. While we did enjoy the day we were happy with our decision not to base in Osaka and stay in Kyoto.

Day 5. Walked along the river to take a bus to Kiyomizudera Temple. Along the way we explored a cemetery and ended up at the National Museum of Modern Art which featured a fabulous textile exhibit.

Day 6. Day trip to Nara. There are deer everywhere here! The deer come right up to you and even know to bow 3 times so that you can give them food. Visited the Kofukuji Temple,

Yoshikien Gardens, Todaiji Temple and Nara Park. Such a lovely day—just wished that it was warmer!

Day 7. Fushimi Inari. Wonderful shrine featuring many Tori Gates in all of their red orange splendor. You can walk for miles up to the top exploring or just do a shorter walk (which is what we did). Next took a bus back to where we were the first day next to Ginkakuji and walked on the Philosophers Walk. This is a very scenic walk along water and offers opportunities to eat, drink , sit and reflect.

Regrets- None really! Absolutely loved Kyoto!

Hiroshima. We left for Hiroshima on an early train, waited in the lobby of our hotel until we could check in. First stop was a bus to the Peace Park. We saw a slide presentation by someone whose mother was a survivor, walked throughout the park and observed the Cenotaph for the A Bomb victims, A Bomb dome, Children’s Memorial. We walked around the nearby streets and eventually headed to the Hiroshima Castle. We didn’t go into the castle —just inside the grounds and explored the nearby park.

Day 2. We took a train to a ferry on our way to Miyajima. If you have the JR Pass you don’t have to pay for the ferry. There is a different ferry for JR passengers. Loved Miyajima! There are deer all around, outdoor market places, plenty of booths selling food and souvenirs. We photographed the Torri Gate in the water, explored the Itsukushima Shrine, took the Mt. Misen ropeway ( cable car) to the top and returned back to Hiroshima by train.

Kanazawa

Day 1 This will be a much longer travel day as we take an early train from Hiroshima to Osaka and then another train from Osaka to Kanazawa. We were able to get into our room quickly and left soon to first explore the Omicho market place and walk to the Geisha Area ( Higashi Chaya District). Lovely old district! Had our first experience at a conveyor belt Sushi restaurant and loved it!

Day 2 Met with our Tour Guide Kumie who we walked with for several hours exploring the Kanazawa Castle and Grounds, Kenrokuen Gardens, Samurai District, DT Suzuki Museum.

Shirakawago and Takayama

Day 1 We took the bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawago, dropped off our luggage at a very safe room and took a guided tour of the village. Absolutely loved this tour and you can purchase tickets when you arrive at the bus station in Shirakawago. If you are planning to eat lunch here, I advise you to make reservations early as they will fill up quickly.

After a few hours here we took another bus ( after retrieving) our luggage to Takayama. Arrived at our hotel in Takayama, checked in and left to explore the Old Town. Wonderful town with really old buildings, very authentic, walkable bridges and many restaurants.

Day 2 We walked to local outdoor markets, Takayama Matsuri, Yatai Kaikari Hall, Takayama Jinga Government Offices and the Train Station. The train station has some wonderful pieces of wall art .

Regrets- No regrets regarding Hiroshima, Kanazawa and Takayama. We were glad to have explored these towns/cities/villages even though we never unpacked! Wish our hotel in Takayama wasn’t so cramped.

Tokyo- Our train ride from Takayama to Tokyo was long but easy. Arrived in Tokyo and this time stayed in the Ginza neighborhood. Very different from Shinjuku. Less crowded, many office buildings, high fashion area. Took train to Ueno Park as the Cherry Blossoms were in bloom!!

What a sight! Literally thousands of people picnicking, strolling, eating and drinking, and just loving the Cherry Blossoms and celebrating ! We walked for hours and finally returned to our hotel and packed for our flight home the next day.

Haneda to LAX
We walked with our luggage a very short distance and took a train from Ginza to Haneda Airport. It was a very easy drop off of our WiFi rental and then our flight home. As a result of some weather issues we had to wait on the runway for a long time before liftoff, however, once in the air it was an easy flight back to LAX.

Regrets and Final thoughts!
We loved our last day/night in Tokyo. Spending the day at Ueno Park and witnessing how the people celebrated the Cherry Blossoms was quite a sight to see. It was a Festival of Joy!! Everyone celebrating, laughing, toasting and relaxing. It was a wonderful way for us to celebrate our trip coming to an end.

As I have said before we loved our time in Japan. I haven’t mentioned restaurants as truthfully cannot really recall them, however, that is the fun part for each person coming to Japan. Some of our most memorable eating experiences came from places that we just happen to find at the moment. We ate in places that had no-one in the restaurant yet provided us with wonderful food. Everyone went out of their way to accommodate my Vegetarian wife, often preparing special dishes just for her. While I am sure there are those who do make dinner reservations in advance I want to encourage you to find your own places just by chance. Talk to the owners, diners, kitchen staff. Make your experience not just about the food.

Sayonara!
allyboy is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 07:44 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 60
Thanks so much for this - you mentioned some walking tours a few times, would you be able to recall which they were and who you booked them through?
mymatemarmite is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 11:53 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,844
Thanks, this was a fun read.

Our meals when traveling in Japan fall roughly into thirds. One third are favorite places we love and try to visit again. Another third are new places off a long list of restaurants we’ve read or heard about. The final third tend to be places like you that we find wherever we happen to be when hungry.

Interestingly enough, a few of our favorite places are those we simply stumbled upon while wandering and exploring.

Last edited by curiousgeo; Apr 19th, 2019 at 12:35 AM. Reason: Change wording
curiousgeo is offline  
Apr 19th, 2019, 07:20 AM
  #4  
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Hello i mymatemarmite!

Here is the info that I posted on Part 1 of this trip report: Regarding Tours we reserved spots for Tokyo Localized Free Walking Tour ( highly entertaining tour of Shinjuku’s night life), Ken’s Tour Kyoto ( exploring Geisha District), Good Samaritan Volunteers in Kyoto, KGGN Kanazawa Goodwill Guiding Network ( exploring main sights in Kanazawa). We LOVED all of our pre arranged tours and highly recommend them!
allyboy is offline  
Apr 19th, 2019, 10:14 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,396
Thanks allyboy, your report is informative and very helpful to me.
sartoric is offline  

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