Rookies in Japan

Old Mar 30th, 2017, 10:06 AM
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Rookies in Japan

Greetings all. We are two Americans who are experienced in European travel but this autumn we are taking our first trip to Japan. We have put together the following itinerary with the help of a travel agency. Some days we will have a guide but mostly we are on our own.

I'd love to have your feedback and thoughts on the one thing you love to see or do in each place. My own personal must-do is a day-trip to Hiroshima while we are based in Kyoto, otherwise we have a lot of flexibility. Many thanks!

0 - Depart USA
1 - Tokyo (Park Hotel)
2 - Tokyo
3 - Tokyo
4 - Tokyo
5 - Tsumago (Fujioto ryokan)
6 - Tsumago
7 - Kyoto (Vista Premio)
8 - Kyoto
9 - Kyoto
10 - Kyoto
11 - Osaka (Marriott)
12 - Osaka
13 - Fly to USA
Edward2005 is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2017, 10:15 AM
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One quick suggestion comes to mind.
While in Kyoto, if you have a chance take a side trip to Nara. Lovely temples as well as the feeding of Nara deer.

You can read on the internet about Nara and see if you are interested. A quick train ride is fun too.

Japan is a great country to visit. I especially enjoyed the local people as they are so very friendly and calm in nature. The shopping experience is memorable even in tiny stores.

Have fun planning.
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 12:40 PM
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Two websites:

Get familiar and fluent with them. They are both good. The former is indispensable.

You may want to do Osaka after Tsumago and end up the trip in Kyoto. You don't need to be in Osaka the night before your flight home if you're flying out of KIX.
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 01:13 PM
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Lots of great places in Japan, why pick Osaka? If you want somewhere else to stay near Kyoto I'd pick Nara.

Did you read some guidebooks before talking to a TA? I have not found guides necessary in Japan, although I did use a couple of volunteer Greeters on my first visit.
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 02:06 PM
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It all depends on what you're looking for. Food is a big draw for me so I always want to eat everything from street stalls to department store food courts to hole in the wall restaurants. And I love checking out the different neighborhoods - they have such different vibes and the people watching in some are a pastime itself!

Here's a travel blog post for our 10 days in Tokyo and Kyoto:

Happy trip planning!
lindygirl is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2017, 03:56 PM
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Many, many thanks to all of you!
Edward2005 is offline  
Old Mar 30th, 2017, 04:26 PM
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I'm not sure about two nights in Tsumago....are you using it as a base for something? There's not much going on there...

I walked from Magome to Tsumago and spent one night there...starting from Nagoya though....
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Old Mar 30th, 2017, 06:22 PM
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I’m not sure you would need a guide while in any of these locations. If you prefer to work with a guide, you might consider taking advantage of an occasional local “goodwill guide” – The Japanese National Tourism Organization coordinates free "volunteer guides who are knowledgeable and happy to guide you in return for practicing their English – which can be excellent!…
You pay any entrance fees and his/her meal if your time with the guide includes one. Do NOT tip them, and for that matter, do not tip ANYONE in Japan!

Hiroshima can make for a long day trip from Kyoto. Some of us choose to spend the night on Miyajima. If that interests you, you’ll have to see if it works for your timing – or perhaps someone else will work it out for you.

I’m not sure what interests you about Osaka. Many people choose to skip it on a first trip to Japan.

As ileen notes, do consider making time for Nara while in Kyoto – and not necessarily for the deer! Many of us think that 5 or 6 full days are reasonable for an initial visit to Kyoto / Nara; some visit Nara as a day trip, others spend a night or two there.

As BigRuss mention, do consult – it might not be perfect, but it is IMO, the best single source of information about travel in Japan anywhere.

Hope that helps!
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Old Mar 31st, 2017, 06:59 AM
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Ditto what's been said above...

More time in Kyoto is always wonderful, there's so much in Kyoto itself plus a plethora of possible half day and full day trips that are in close proximity. Nara is one of those, though like many others, I overnighted there and was extremely happy to have done so.

I echo too the suggestion to combine Hiroshima with an overnight on Miyajima. I did it from Kyoto, arriving to Hiroshima at the beginning of the day, spending a long morning there and then transferring after lunch to Miyajima for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We spent the morning there before heading back to the mainland and on with our trip.

The temptation though is as you research, you find more you want to see and try to squeeze more and more in until you are not really giving yourself enough time in the places you have... so am trying not to suggest other places you could see too!!!
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Old Mar 31st, 2017, 11:29 AM
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I've been to Japan twice. Never used a guide. Can't speak any Japanese except sushi, sashimi, arigato, yen and biru. Can't read a stitch of it.

Never had a problem.

And English is the second language in Japan for tourism sites, restaurants, transportation (trains), and the ubiquitous food courts in major train stations and department stores.
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