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Please Critique my First Draft Japan Itinerary for November 2013

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Nov 27th, 2012, 04:46 PM
  #21
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Mara-

BTW...thanks for the suggestion on Kamakura. Yes, I can anticipate temple burnout after 4 days in Kyoto + an earlier day in Kamakura. My main reason for including Kamakura at this point is to visit the giant Buddha in Hase, particularly since I don't plan to visit Nara. Do you feel a day trip to Kamakura to primarily see the Hase Buddha (along with a few temples, of course) is worth the day if I'll later be spending 4 days in Kyoto?
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Nov 27th, 2012, 06:05 PM
  #22
 
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MB - I am a budget traveler so I always figure out my transport costs to the penny or yen as it were...lol....I make up a spreadsheet to keep track...lately I have started flying more domestically - depending on your itinerary that can work sometimes......but it is really early in your planning to worry about which rail pass you may or may not need...

Well, as far as Kamakura, when I went it was my only day trip during my week in Tokyo. It really depends on your time frame and how your itinerary ends up - I think Kamakura, a small town, is a very different experience from Kyoto of course and the Daibutsu is cool to see...
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Nov 27th, 2012, 06:47 PM
  #23
 
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You would have the 7-day pass activated to start on Day 10, the day (I assume) that you would leave Kamikochi for Kyoto.

You would have to do the exchange in Tokyo before you leave for Matsumoto. On Day 10 you could go back to Matsumoto. Or you could take the bus on to Takayama, spend a few hours there, and then travel to Kyoto. Going via Takayama would add an hour to the travel time.

You could move the Hakone trip to the end of the trip. Just go from Tokyo to Matsumoto. OTOH, if you leave Hakone on the Odakyu train to Shinjuku you could just connect there to the L'Ex to Matsumoto.

If you skip Kamakura you could leave Tokyo a day earlier. If you want to spend a day to see a big Buddha then you can do that from Kyoto to see the big guy in Todaiji in Nara. It would be a much more rewarding day. The only issue with this is that you would need to add an eighth day for the JR travel.

Or skip Kamakura and leave Tokyo/Hakone a day earlier. Then after Kamikochi, spend a night in Takayama or Shirakwago, and Day 10 go to Kyoto.
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Nov 27th, 2012, 07:59 PM
  #24
 
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You can do it without the 7-day or 14-day JR Pass if you fly home from Hiroshima, Fukuoka, or Osaka.

Osaka is probably your best bet. You can fly from there to MSP with one stop in Seattle.

The other option is to fly from Hiroshima to Tokyo the day before NRT-MSP.

This would give you a lot of flexibility by not having to fit into a 7-day pass but still be less expensive than the 14-day pass (45,100 JPY).
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Nov 27th, 2012, 09:13 PM
  #25
kja
 
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> If you skip Kamakura you could leave Tokyo a day earlier. If you want to spend a day to see a big Buddha then you can do that from Kyoto to see the big guy in Todaiji in Nara.

True enough, but I personally would not choose between Nara and Kamakura based solely on big Buddhas. I thought Kamakura's Daibutsu much more to my tastes than the one at Nara's Todaiji, but there were other things at Nara that appealed to me - its 2 magnificent collections of sculpture, Kasuga Taisha, the temples in Ikaruga.... (I'm so glad I didn't have to choose between them! And I had 2 full days in Nara, in addition to my 4 days in Kyoto, so the context in which I was making decisions was quite different.) I would think its a matter of weighing out priorities and timing and transit....

> Day 3: Yokohama to Hiroshima via shinkansen train
Day 4: Hiroshima - what you didn't have time for yesterday
Day 5: Miyajima
Days 6 to 10 - Kyoto

For what it's worth, I spent only an afternoon in Hiroshima. I visited the Peace Park and Peace Museum (I won't try to put either in words), and I walked around a bit (but not much). I know I missed much that Hiroshima offers, but given my priorities, I was willing to forego the other sites in Hiroshima. Of course that means that I don't know what I missed. I reached Miyajima by late afternoon in plenty of time to check in to my ryokan. The next day, I had time to see what I wanted to see on Miyajima before leaving for Nara - I walked through some woods and around the shore at low tide, took the cable car to the top of Mt. Misen and walked back down, visited Itsukushima Shrine and Daisho-in, and strolled through town. So I spent just one night on the island. BTW, I visited Miyajima early in my trip, so I was still getting up REALLY early when I was there.

> I can anticipate temple burnout

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I don't remember hearing that you ran into "mosque burnout" in Turkey, so I'm not sure you would run into temple burnout in Japan - I think it all depends on which places you select and your personal interest in them.

> When I travel, my evening entertainment (most evenings anyways) involves dining at a good restaurant and then walking the neighborhook back to my hotel for the night.

Then in Kyoto, you might want to look into options for lodging in/around Kawaramachi-Dori to the west of Pontocho.

> BTW-are you planning for a 2013 trip of your own?

Of course! But I'm still struggling with even the most basic decisions....
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Nov 28th, 2012, 02:33 PM
  #26
 
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Great restaurants in Japan abound and I am sure they do too in Yokohama being Japan's second largest city. With that said we rarely go for the expensive places and usually will check out the sushi bars or local Japanese offerings in the area. If there are izakayas around they would be our first place to go to. Not knowing your budget its hard to recommend an area to stay in but as I mentioned above the Sheraton Yokohama gets good marks and is right next to the train station which in Japan means more eating venues. Larger train stations in Japan will have a bevy of restaurant and food vendors galore and the JR Yokohama station does not disappoint in that area. There are a plethora of eating venues inside and outside of this station along of course with the choices right inside the Sheraton hotel itself. There is also a mall attached to the train station with even more places to eat and walking the neighborhood would acquaint you with still more places to dine out if you preferred.

Aloha!
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Dec 26th, 2012, 07:43 PM
  #27
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So I've pretty much decided that my itinerary will include:

- 3 days Tokyo
- 2 days Hakone
- 1 day Kamakura
- 1 day Matsumoto
- 1 day Kamikochi
- 4 days Kyoto
- 2 days Hiroshima and Miyajima (including an overnight stay at a ryokan on Miyajima)

I'm still debating the relative pros and cons of starting my trip in Tokyo and ending in Hiroshima/Miyajima vs. starting in Kyoto, heading south, and then back north, ending in Tokyo. I will definitely check back with the experts on this board to get some final input there. Here is the current question I have though...

My schedule should be flexible enough that I can travel just about any 16-17 day period between mid-October and American Thanksgiving (late in November 2013). Many of you have mentioned that fall colors will peak in Japan in November-I'm guessing perhaps the first 10 days or so of November in Tokyo and perhaps about the 10th-20th in Kyoto?? However, what about in the Japan Alps (Matsumoto and Kamikochi)? I am greatly looking forward to a day of hiking in Kamikochi-ideally amid spectacular fall colors. With the mountain elevation, will the colors typically peak much earlier in the Japan Alps (late October?) or also November? I do know that Kamikochi closes for the season Nov. 15th.

As the J-Alps are only 2 days of my 16/17, I don't want to worry too much about perfect fall color there. Considering my overall itinerary, what would you all say is the best 2 week period to maxmize fall color viewing between Tokyo and Hiroshima?

Thank you all !
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Dec 26th, 2012, 08:34 PM
  #28
kja
 
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Have you seen the japan-guide guide to fall colors?

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014.html

You're going to have a great trip!
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Dec 27th, 2012, 06:07 AM
  #29
 
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Considering my overall itinerary, what would you all say is the best 2 week period to maxmize fall color viewing between Tokyo and Hiroshima?

Nov 8 - 22nd

Aloha!
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Dec 27th, 2012, 11:00 AM
  #30
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kja and HT-

Thank you both. Those are big helps to me, as I found myself struggling with selecting dates to then begin researching flights. I will check out the fall colors website, with the date range that HT has recommended.
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