Please Help with Japan Itinerary

Mar 16th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 4
Please Help with Japan Itinerary

Please help with our Japan itinerary. We are going to Japan for the first time May 1-14, and we’ll have 12 full days. We came up with a list of places we would like to cover, but there’s no way we can make it to all of them in 12 days, so we need help with trimming down the itinerary. We are husband and wife in our late twenties, pretty fast paced when it comes to traveling. Out of all the places, Kyoto and Tokyo is a must, but we would also like to see the villages and experience the culture. We are arriving and leaving out of Narita. Here’s our current itinerary, which would take 14 full days when we only have 12. What do you think we can eliminate or change? Thank you so much for your help!

Day1 Arrive Tokyo @4pm + Train to Kyoto
Day2 Kyoto
Day3 Kyoto
Day4 Narra (daytrip)
Day5 Mount Koya (daytrip)
Day6 Kyoto
Day7 Hiroshima
Day8 Miyajima Island (overnight) + Himeji Castle
Day9 Takayama/Shirigawa go/Kanazawa (overnight)
Day10 Hakone (overnight or daytrip)
Day11 Tokyo
Day12 Tokyo
Day13 Nikko (daytrip)
Day14 Tokyo
Day15 Kamakura (daytrip)
misslenka is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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You'll be arriving at the peak of the Golden Week holidays, when trains and esp Kyoto will be extremely busy and accommodation hard to book. Better to stay in Tokyo area until 5th/6th, and then go to Kyoto when it's quieter. Then return the day before your departure to Tokyo. The rest of the itinerary looks OK to me. Nikko during GW will be very busy, though.
Alec is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Alec, thanks for your reply. We'll move it around, and go to Japan first. But what do you think we should eliminate since we only have 12 days? I know everyone has different tastes, but we can't fit all of this in (although we really want to), so something will have to go. What are the "must-see" in your opinion out of the places I listed and what can we skip?
misslenka is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 12:27 PM
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Hi, misslenka -

Koyasan is wonderful, but I'm not sure it makes sense as a day trip. It takes a fairly long time to get there, and the most special thing about it (at least for me) was staying overnight in a temple.

Takayama/Shirigawa go and Kanazawa are also wonderful, but they really deserve a minimum of 3 nights. Since you are looking to cut your itinerary, that might be one thing to consider dropping.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 03:45 PM
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Misslenka, I would also query doing a day trip to Koyasan. I have not been myself but from everything I have read the experience is about staying overnight, not to mention making for one very long day trip. This is why we decided to give it a miss whilst we were in Kyoto - didn't want to add in another overnight destination.

I assume that you intend to do Himeji on the way from Kyoto to Hiroshima. It doesn't make sense to go to Hiroshima, then backtrack to Himeji before going to Miyajima. I would also consider spending 2 nights on Miyajima rather than two one night stops (Hiroshima/Miyajima). You would have plenty of time to look around Hiroshima before catching a late night ferry to the island. You could easily leave your luggage for the day at one of the large lockers at the train station and pick it up when it is time to catch the train to the ferry.

We really enjoyed Kanazawa, Takayama and Shirakawa. I'm not quite sure how you are intending to do that bit, but it is simply not worth doing if you are trying to cram them all into the one day. You could the train from Hiroshima to Kanazawa (about 4 1/2 hrs) and overnight there. Next day take the bus to Takayama, via Shirakawa (stopping off for 2-3 hours) and overnight in Takayama. This adds another night I know and I would drop the night at Hakone out of the trip. Or may be one less day in Tokyo dropping out the day in Nikko as it would likely be extremely crowded at the time of the year. First thing you could do the morning markets before taking tain from Takayama to Tokyo. Another alterative is you could catch the bus over the mountains to Matsumoto (fabulous scenery) and then train to Tokyo. You would still have time to go to Matsumoto castle if you like. Plus it won't be covered in scaffolding which possibly Himeji will be as restoration has started I think.

Anyway, something to think about.
shandy is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 06:22 PM
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Thanks for your replies everyone. After looking over our itenerary again and your responses, we see that we have to skip 2 places out of the following:
-Mount Koya
Which ones do you think we can skip? Which ones you liked the least out of this list? Thanks!
misslenka is offline  
Mar 16th, 2009, 06:37 PM
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Skipping Mount Koya and Takayama will make your trip more manageable imho.

Staying in Tokyo at the beginning is a great idea to avoid the Golden Week crowds, by the time you are heading out everyone else will be heading into Tokyo.

When you do head out from Tokyo go all the way to Hiroshima first, then work your way back east(you'll think it's north but remember your in Japan) to Tokyo through Kyoto to maximize your travel time.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Mar 17th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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Drop Kamakura. Don't stop in Kanazawa.

Tokyo then Hiroshima (night) (agreeing with ht on this) then Miyajima (night)stop at Himeji enroute to (two options below):
1) Kyoto. Couple nights in Kyoto a night at Koyasan. Night in Nara, then go to Shirakawago for a night. Takayama, then Nikko or Hakone or Tokyo, but in any case for two nights.
2) Koyasan. Then Kyoto with daytrip to Nara, then S-go, Takayama, etc.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 17th, 2009, 09:13 PM
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I agree with those who say to do Koya-san only as an overnight. It was the temple stay and early morning Buddhist service which made it memorable. I also would skip Nikko as a daytrip in Golden Week. We went as a day trip in high travel season of November, got there around noon surrounded by many others. In retrospect we would as a daytrip only leaving very early in the morning (and not with bus tour), preferably not in high season.

Hakone was wonderful. Although it also is known for crowds we lucked on even at the peak of autumn foliage. The Open Air Museum is spectacular. Whereever you go starting early will help with crwds.
cmstraf is offline  
Mar 18th, 2009, 08:05 AM
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Thank you so much for all your suggestions. We are getting close to finalizing the itinerary, but we have one more question. We have to skip 1 of the 3:
1) Hiroshima and Miyajima (stay overnight in Miyajima)
2) Mount Koya (stay overnight)
3) Takayama and Shirigawa (stay overnight in Shirigawa)
From what I've been reading all 3 are very interesting places to stay overnight, but how would you rank them? Which one was your favorite? least favorite?
misslenka is offline  
Mar 18th, 2009, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Each is wonderful and each is unique. Pick what most interests you! The good news is that you'll have an amazing trip no matter which you choose.
kja is offline  

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