Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Asia
Reload this Page >

Planning my first trip to Japan (and Asia!) and would love some advice....

Planning my first trip to Japan (and Asia!) and would love some advice....

Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:19 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,036
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Planning my first trip to Japan (and Asia!) and would love some advice....

Hello everyone! DH and I are planning our first trip to Asia. We finally settled on Japan and have our tickets booked. We will be in Japan October 20th - 28th (I know, not very long) and are flying into/out of Tokyo.

I just purchased my first guidebook on Japan over the weekend and am already quite overwhelmed. I would absolutely love some advice. I know many of these questions have probably already been asked so I apologize in advance. I've already done some fodors searching and plan on doing more. Okay, now to my questions!

First of all, I have absolutely no idea where to stay in Tokyo. Just the mere thought of visiting Tokyo is a little intimidating for me. We don't want to pay for a taxi to our hotel because the price is outrageous, but I have a not-so-lovely imagine in my head of us walking around Tokyo, totally jetlagged, with our luggage, and lost because we can't find our hotel. I'm really hoping to stay somewhere that either offers a shuttle service from the airport or that is very easy to find from a subway station.

Which comes to my second question: will traveling by subway with our luggage be a horrific experience? I don't think it was very fun at all doing it in some of the Europe cities (Rome and London come to mind!) with our luggage so I can only imagine what it must be like in Tokyo. Is there any alternative without spending a small fortune? Are hotel shuttles very common?

Our itinerary right now is to basically break the trip up and spend 3 nigthts in Tokyo and 4 nights in Kyoto. Our flight leaves from Tokyo at
tcreath is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:23 AM
  #2  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,036
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yikes! Sorry about that...I posted too soon!

Anyways, our flight arrives at 3:30 on the 16th and leaves at noon on the 28th. Would it be a good idea to just hop on the train and go straight to Kyoto? If we didn't do this, and did Tokyo at the beginning, could we catch the train in the morning and get to the airport in reasonable time before our noon flight out of Tokyo? This kind of makes me nervous (I've been through the whole missed flight thing before and it wasn't fun) but I don't relish the idea of breaking up the trip and spending the last night in Tokyo if I don't have to.

And finally, what exactly is a ryokan and is it a good place to stay? We are looking into hotels in Kyoto and ryokans keep on popping up. Is there a preferred place or neighborhood to stay in Kyoto?

Sorry for all of my questions!
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:24 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,036
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry once again; I don't know if I made myself clear. In my first paragraph (in the second post) I was trying to figure out if we can catch a train from Kyoto to Tokyo Narita airport in the morning and be able to make our noon flight in adequate time.

Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:33 AM
  #4  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you take the limosine bus from Narita to your Tokyo hotel, they wil lhandle your luggage and put it under the bus in the storage area and get it off at the hotel stop. Limo bus is about $30 each way. Well worth it. I've used it both times I've goen from narita to a hotel, even though I could have used my JR pass on the JR train lines, because I did not watn to deal w/luggage on the trains and getting luggage up/down stairs in the stations.

Here is the limo bus site:

http://www.limousinebus.co.jp/en/
emd is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 11:08 AM
  #5  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,983
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You can find lots of information about Tokyo, Kyoto, ryokan, luggage storage and forwarding options, and all sorts of other things at www.japan-guide.com

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 11:29 AM
  #6  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What is your budget for a hotel in Tokyo? I do not think any of them have their own shuttles to Narita. It can be a two hr or more bus ride depending on where your hotel is and the traffic. They rely on the limo bus service for their guests.

Tokyo has great subway systems and also a Japan Rail train that loops all the way around the city. For that reason there are many convenient locations to stay all over the city. I like staying close to one of the stops on the JR loop. I find it very convenient and if you are using a JR pass then you just flash your pass and go right through the gate to get on the train. I find the JR stations in Tokyo are somewhat more user friendly than the subway stations, which can have lots and lots of stairs and there are about 10 different subway lines onwed by different entities, so all have their different ticket machines, etc.

Re getting from Narita to Tokyo hotel, for me the most convenient way to do it is to stay at a hotel where the limo bus stops. That way, the limo bus person gets your luggage off the bus, the bellman tags your luggage and gets it to yoru room, and you can walk right in and check in.

I checked your departure date on hyperdia.com, the site for train schedules. The only way for you to get to Narita airport from Kyoto in time for a noon flight on departure day is to take the 1st shinkansen out of Kyoto, Nozomi #100, leaving Kyoto at 6:15 a.m. and arriving at Shinagawa station at 8:22 a.m., then swithc to the Narita Express train #13, leaving Shinagawa at 8:49 a.m. and arriving Narita at 9:59 a.m.

9:58 is really on the late side for a noon flight. I prefer getting to the airport earlier, but if everything goes ok and you hustle to security and get through pretty quickly and get to your airline counter and gate, you might be ok. Personally, I would not do it, too many things could go wrong, eg. if you miss that one shinkansen nozomi at 6:15 a.m., you are cooked.

You would need reservations on that Narita Express #13 ahead of time (you MUST have a reservation for Narita Express, you can't just go unreserved on taht train), but you could make that reservation when you land in Tokyo at the Narita JR office.

Also, you can't use this option if you are getting a JR rail pass, as the Nozomi trains are not included on the pass.

I do not see any way to get from Kyoto to Nairta airport on departure day using a Kodama Shinkansen (Kodama can be used on the JR pass plan), because the 1st Kodama train leaves Kyoto at 6:25 am (#400), too late to catch a Narita express at Shinagawa or Tokyo and that train arrives too late at those destiantions to then connect w/a Narita Express and get to the airport by 10 a.m.

Other and safer option is spend the day in Kyoto on day before departure, then go to Narita the evening before and stay in a hotel near the airport, like the Hilton or one of the others that offers a short shuttle to Narita aiport.
emd is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 01:33 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,498
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with emd, I'd travel to Narita - whichis a good hour and a half to 2 hours from Tokyo - and stay overnight there before my flight.

Both emd and I have trip reports that we posted about (not quite) a year ago.

I never told you abour that last night at the hotel in Narita. It was a very nice hotel and I wanted to get sleep - we'd traveled all the way from Hiroshima that day and left our son behind for another 5 months. But DH wanted to go downstairs for drinks.

The crowd was mostly pilots and flight staff and much louder than I been used to after two weeks in Japan.

Anyway, I ended up seated in sort of a alcove, where part of the room could not see me. There was a guy making eyes at DH for over an hour, until I got up to go to the bathroom and the guy realized DH was with a woman. DH was very uncomfortable, but I laughed. I told him he's still got it.
angethereader is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 02:04 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
... DH and I are planning our first trip to Asia. ...
Really? When do we leave? Just kidding!
I lived in Tokyo many years, wrote a book on the subway system, and I stay at an inexpensive hotel just 1-minute from a large train station when I go back.
If you e-mail me I will get you started with detailed info.
Dick H.
DickH is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 03:01 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,501
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi

My wife and I went to Japan for the first time in May a couple of years back. I have posted a trip report with pictures, links, maps etc on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/japan_tokyo.htm . Maybe you can find some useful information there to start with Get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 03:37 PM
  #10  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
OOPS, in the 2nd to last paragraph of my last post I menat to say I can't see any way to do the train from Kyoto to Narita aiprot on departure day by HIKARI shinkansen, not Kodama.
emd is offline  
Old Mar 19th, 2007, 10:21 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,384
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A ryokan is a Japanese inn. Go to:
http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com
and click on "About Ryokans" and then read "Ryokan Styles".
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 06:35 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,036
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you so much for all of your kind replies! I'm reading my guidebook and quite overwhelmed at this point. Time to start looking for a "Japan for Dummies" book!

We wanted to fly out of Osaka but we used ff miles for our tickets and there weren't any available awards flights from Osaka. I do like the idea of staying near Narita on the last night and I think we will do just that.

I did find a hotel that looks decent. Its the Royal Park Hotel and its supposed to be adjacent to the dropoff location for the limousine bus. I'm just trying to figure out if this is a convenient area of not. Any comments?

Ryokans look like an interesting option, especially for the experience. We;ll have to do some more research and see what we come up with.

Thanks again!
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 07:46 AM
  #13  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tracy, Royal Park Hotel looks very nice. Have you read the tripadvisor reviews? They are consistently glowing. It is the very first stop on the limo bus after you leave Narita so it will only be one hr. to the hotel. It is on the eastern side of Tokyo, pretty far east, has a view of the Sumida River on the upper floors. So you will be close to places like Senjosi temple, which you will certainly want to see on your 1st trip, fairly close to Ginza, etc. And for places in central, western, and northern Tokyo you will just take the subway to Tokyo station and either switch to another subway or take the Yamonate loop JR train abound to where you need to go. The hotel it is on top of a subway line that goes straight to Tokyo station. It sounds like there is an underground entrance to the subway in the hotel. I had this in the hotel I stayed in in Kyoto and it is very convenient, esp. if the weather is bad and rainy.

I'd say this is a convenient location, although you won't be in the middle of the attractions (which are really spread out all over Tokyo so there is no one central area), you can easily get to them. One of the reviews said the hotel is in a nice old neighborhood. This would appeal to me personally, coming out of the hotel and being able to walk in some quiet area w/some old architecture, because much of Tokyo is not like that.

It sounds from the reviews like it is very worthwhile to upgrade to the executive floors where a great breafast is included, access to drinks all day, evening food, etc. all included.

You don't need a Japan for Dummies book. Just use www.jnto.com, www.japan-guide.com, and ask question here. There are a lot of nice Japan dummies here who will try to help.

Eileen
emd is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 07:49 AM
  #14  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
ut oh, that is not the right address for JNTO (Japan National Tourist Org.). Use this one instead:

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/
emd is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 10:54 AM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,036
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Eileen, thank you for being so helpful!

I did find the hotel through tripadvisor, and it appealed to me because of the walkway from the limobus stop, which sounds nice especially after a long flight and dealing with our luggage!

I will definitely look at the websites you listed above. I'm in my beginning stages of planning now so I haven't seen them yet, but research is always a good thing and I am looking forward to checking them out!

Thanks again!!
Tracy
tcreath is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 11:11 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 207
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
hi
in Kyoto, this place had a breakfast as good as the one at our $500+/night ryokan, and it's a 10 minute walk from the main Kyoto train station. VERY clean - typical Japanese room. With luggage, we took a cab - only $5 (Kyoto cabs are not as scary $$$ as Tokyo

http://www.kyotowa.jp/english/index.html
(about 16000 yen/night for 2 with japanese breakfast - a feast!)

with private bath
lilipad is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 11:19 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 207
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
also for book, you want either japan Lonely Planet or Eyewitness Guide (i think that's the name - the one with the pretty pictures).

Eyewitness guide led us to our Tokyo hotel near Asakusa (good shopping area)

BUT, since you need to get to narita early in the morning, chose a hotel by Ueno area - there's an express train for 1000 yen that takes 1 hour 15 minutes from there every hour (vs. the other express that takes 15 minutes less but charges 3 times more)
lilipad is offline  
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 12:37 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,384
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I recommend that you check again, maybe once a month, with your airline FF program to see if seats are available from Osaka. Have them search for flights from ITM or KIX that connect to your existing flight from Tokyo. Also look for new return itineraries from KIX.

You might also be able to return from Nagoya. The Nagoya airport is much closer to Kyoto than Narita. It has good rail service (non-JR but not expensive) and it is also not a very busy airport
mrwunrfl is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Hira
Asia
14
Mar 2nd, 2016 10:22 PM
knoxnick37919
Asia
13
Oct 8th, 2015 08:12 AM
khlvay
Asia
4
Aug 2nd, 2007 08:17 PM
ILuvNegril
Asia
12
Jan 29th, 2007 01:21 AM
Leslie
Asia
14
Jun 9th, 2002 10:01 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:17 PM.