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Planning trip to Japan in early 2013

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Aug 29th, 2012, 02:11 PM
  #1
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Planning trip to Japan in early 2013

Hey there. I am planning a 2-week trip to Japan in 2013. I've made some reservations in Tokyo and Kyoto for late Feb, early March. Part of the reasoning was going when it was off-season, taking advantage of some rollover vacation time, and hopefully successfully flying on a Buddy Pass a friend is getting for me (which will cut down on my budget).

I live in New York City, so I don't mind the cold . . . but I was wondering what the weather would be like that time of year and it it was worth it making it the first two weeks of March, rather than Feb-Mar.

I haven't set my itinerary in stone. I do know it makes more economic sense for me to fly in and out of Tokyo and take the train to Kyoto and back. I want to divide my time equally among both places, but my original plan was to spend more time in Kyoto than Tokyo. Not sure if it may be better to give myself more time in Tokyo to deal with jetlag.

I'm staying in budget ryokans I found on Booking.com. The Ryokan Kamagawa Asakusa in Tokyo and Nakomi Ryokan Yuu in Kyoto. Any experience with these?

I'd also love any advice as to what to do. I feel really overwhelmed with how much I see in the guide books. I do know I want to--see some Kabuki if there's any on, visit temples and shrines (I'm a Buddhist), hit a flea market in Tokyo (I collect fountain pens, and Japanese ones are my favorite, and I've been told there are some good finds here), and I love sake and tea (I have never done a Japanese tea ceremony). Any advice and budget savers welcome!
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Aug 29th, 2012, 02:44 PM
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I just found the Kangaroo Hotel in Tokyo. Any experience with that?
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Aug 29th, 2012, 03:47 PM
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We did not fly on a Buddy Pass, but we did an open jaw flight to save a little time and money. We flew into Tokyo-Narita airport and out of Osaka-Kansai airport. So, we only had one way on the shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto. From Kyoto, Kansai airport is a little more than an hour by train. Is that possible with your buddy pass?
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Aug 29th, 2012, 06:05 PM
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So much better if you could go in the first two weeks of March. You may see the plum blossoms and early blossoming plants. If you are there on 3/10 the March Sumo basho begins in Osaka, a short train ride from Kyoto.

Very good idea above about flying into NRT and out of KIX if you can would possibly save you train money depending on just what you actually are planning to see. There are all kinds of deals on rooms and transport. What is your budget for a room for a day?

Start by checking out the Japan information on this fodors site and also this very useful site and come back with more questions and answers

http://www.japan-guide.com/

Aloha!
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Aug 29th, 2012, 11:28 PM
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ooohhh.... this is so exciting... I really wanted to go to Japan but not next year...hmmm i dont know yet... Make it sure once you visit Japan you will the cherry blossoms...owww...so lovely..
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Aug 30th, 2012, 07:05 AM
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I did price an Open Jaw flight (sans Buddy Pass) and it was a lot more than the price of a one way ticket back to Tokyo on the train. I was planning on getting a 14 day JR Pass which looks like it'll be a money saver anyway (I can take the 2nd fastest bullet train to Kyoto with that pass . . . and get around Tokyo if I use the JR line ... not to mention any day trips I may want to take).

I am purposely avoiding cherry blossoms because I just don't want to deal with the hassle. A friend of mine who lived in Japan said to just avoid it because it's more expensive and everything is crowded.

I am wondering if February may be a little better for flying on the buddy pass. The weather will be cold and not many people flying which will mean greater chances of an empty plane.
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Aug 30th, 2012, 02:04 PM
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Our open jaw flight was actually cheaper than a Tokyo roundtrip. With prices always changing, you never know what you might find at any given moment.

We were in Japan for 13 days and spent a good bit of time in Tokyo. We bought a 7-Day JR Pass and activated it for the last 7 days of our trip when we were going to Kyoto and Himeji. We ended up buying the NEX/Suica deal at Narita. We liked it because the Suica works on both JR and non-JR transport in Tokyo, so we were able to get around without having to worry about finding a way somewhere on a JR train. We did have to refill the Suica at one point, but it was very easy to do. You might consider that, depending on your itinerary, of course.
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Aug 30th, 2012, 02:22 PM
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A 14-day JR Pass will not be any kind of a money-saver if you plan only to go between Tokyo and Kyoto, plus an occasional day-trip and travel around Tokyo. The 14-day pass costs 45,100¥ (about $574). Alternatively, you can get a 7-day flex-pass for travel between Tokyo and Kyoto for 21,000¥ ... and, you can travel on the Nozomi (fastest) trains. You'd travel in unreserved cars, but that should not be a problem in February. The 24k¥ that you'd save will buy you an awful lot of of subway fares, day trips, as well as a nice dinner or two.
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Aug 30th, 2012, 03:27 PM
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without knowing where you are going how did you think that your 14-day pass would save you any money? you might not even need a jr pass at all. all depends on your specific itinerary.
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Aug 30th, 2012, 03:29 PM
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are you visiting with your friend in Japan? that may be why they want to avoid the busy cherry blossom season.....something I find is a must for the tourist
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Sep 4th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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Just curious about the JR pass, because it seems like I would use it:

1. To get from the airport to Tokyo
2. To do a day trip from Tokyo (most likely Kamakura)
3. Maybe day trip from Kyoto (Nara? or Osaka?)
4. Round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto
5. And my hotel is off a JR stop and since there's that Yamanote line I figured I can try to use that as much as possible).

But if buying piecemeal and just getting the roundtrip for Kyoto is cheaper, then I'll go for it. If the Yamanote line is pointless and subway is faster, that's worth considering as well. I'll be in Asakusa and most likely going to Shinjuku and Chibuya.

Anyway, I am still trying to sort out my itinerary and piecing bits and pieces together from books.

Hawaiian, my friend lives here in the states and since I am on a budget and would like to do the buddy pass I need to go when tourists are NOT going to Japan and cherry blossom time seems like the opposite of what will be cheaper for me.
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Sep 4th, 2012, 08:19 PM
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If you are doing ALL of the travel airport to Tokyo, Kamakura, Kyoto, Nara/Osaka in a 7-day period then a 7-day JR Pass might be useful. If ANY of that travel is outside of a 7-day window then just buy the tickets. You do not need a 14-day pass.
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Sep 5th, 2012, 10:04 AM
  #13
 
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got it.

to figure out your train ticket prices and schedules you can use

www.hyperdia.com

Here are a couple of budget hotel chains I have used in Japan throughout the years

http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/

http://tiny.cc/yk95jw

http://www.ezchoicehotels.com/index.html

a good site for booking and checking out Japan hotel and ryokans along with train and hotel deals is:

http://www.japanican.com/index.aspx

Aloha!
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