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Seeking expert comments on my March-April Japan itinerary.

Seeking expert comments on my March-April Japan itinerary.

Jan 23rd, 2011, 06:57 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 120
Seeking expert comments on my March-April Japan itinerary.

Hi:

I am planning on visiting Japan in the last week of March so we could see some Cherry Blossoms. I have posted a HIGH-LEVEL and a DETAILED itinerary for the three of us (me, my wife and our 5-yr old son). I know there is a lot more to see in Tokyo and Kotyo, but I have deliberately been selective with which temples/shrines and gardens to see so all of us have a good time rather than do something which could be immensely boring for our 5-yr old. Because we are traveling with a 5-yr old, we have minimized short stays and have settled on Tokyo and Kyoto as our home bases for making day trips. We plan to buy the 7-day JR pass. My questions are after the itinerary, towards the end.

HIGH-LEVEL:
Day 1 (Sat): Arrive in Tokyo
Day 2 (Sun): See Tokyo
Day 3 (Mon): Day trip to Kamakura
Day 4 (Tue): See Tokyo AND Leave for Kyoto in the evening
Day 5 (Wed): See Kyoto
Day 6 (Thu): Day trip to Nara
Day 7 (Fri): Day trip to Hiroshima
Day 8 (Sat): See Kyoto AND Leave for Tokyo in the evening
Day 9 (Sun): See Tokyo
Day 10 (Mon): Depart for Hong Kong
Day 11 (Tue): See Hong Kong
Day 12 (Wed): See Hong Kong
Day 13 (Thu): See Hong Kong
Dau 14 (Fri): Depart for US

DETAILED:
March 26 (saturday)
- Arrive in Tokyo in the evening

March 27 (sunday)
- Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Ueno Park
- Tokyo National Museum
- Walking the Imperial Moat
- Higashi Gyoen (East Garden)

March 28 (monday)
- Kamakura (day trip)
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
- Daibutsu aka Great Buddha (in Kamakura)
- Hase Kannon Temple

March 29 (tuesday)
- Tsukiji Fish Market
- Sumida River Boat Cruise (cherry blossom viewing boat)
- Nakamise Dori &
- Sensoji Temple
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG) [ONLY IF CLEAR SKIES]
- leave for Kyoto in the EVENING

March 30 (wednesday)
- Sanjusangendo Hall
- Kiyomizu Temple (Kiyomizudera) (also, see three-story pagoda and Otowa Falls)
- Jishu Shrine
- Nijo Castle (Nijojo)

March 31 (thursday)
- Nara (day trip)
- Kofukuji Temple's Treasure House
- Todaiji Temple with its Great Buddha
- Kasuga Grand Shrine
- Horyuji Temple Area (if time permits)

Apr 1 (friday)
- Hiroshima (day trip)
- Peace Memorial Park
- Peace Memorial Museum

Apr 2 (saturday)
- Ryoanji Temple &
- Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion)
- Kokedera (Saihoji)

Apr 3 (sunday)
- Depart for Tokyo in the morning
- Walk in the Ginza district
- TBD

Apr 4 (monday)
- Depart for Hong Kong in the morning
- See Hong Kong

Apr 5 - 7 (tuesday - thursday)
- See Hong Kong

Apr 8 (friday)
- Depart from Hong Kong

My questions:
1. Do you think we are missing any absolutely must-see attractions?
2. Are there any attractions on the list that you think I should drop or replace with something else?
3. Since I am not aware of travel times between attractions, do you see this itinerary as a hectic one or is it leisurely-paced?
4. Given what we want to see in Tokyo and Kyoto, which areas within the cities would you recommend that we book our hotels?
5. Any other word of advice as I am preparing/finalizing this itinerary?

Thanks,
D
dukkar is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 11:56 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 465
I'm trying to imagine those two successive day trips to Nara and Hiroshima with a 5-year-old. And whether you'd have any gas left in the tank to "see Kyoto" and return to Tokyo the next day. (Your itineraries conflict about return to Tokyo.)
Horyuji is 12 km outside Nara and takes a minimum of 30 minutes by train and bus/walking to get there. Probably not realistic to include in a day trip from Nara with that additional coming and going. The other sites in Nara are easily got to.
You might think about making the trip to Hiroshima on Day 8, and then travelling through to Tokyo from there, either that night or the next morning.
WillJame is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 12:25 PM
  #3  
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Posts: 120
WillJame:

Thanks for your comments. I corrected Day #s 8 and 9 in the High Level itinerary:

HIGH-LEVEL:
Day 1 (Sat): Arrive in Tokyo
Day 2 (Sun): See Tokyo
Day 3 (Mon): Day trip to Kamakura
Day 4 (Tue): See Tokyo AND Leave for Kyoto in the evening
Day 5 (Wed): See Kyoto
Day 6 (Thu): Day trip to Nara
Day 7 (Fri): Day trip to Hiroshima
Day 8 (Sat): See Kyoto
Day 9 (Sun): Leave for Tokyo in the morning, and see Tokyo
Day 10 (Mon): Depart for Hong Kong
Day 11 (Tue): See Hong Kong
Day 12 (Wed): See Hong Kong
Day 13 (Thu): See Hong Kong
Dau 14 (Fri): Depart for US

You are correct about Horyuji. It probably won't happen since we don't want to do anything tiring. Based on your suggestion, I could easily switch Day #7 and 8 so that way we get a day to rest (in Kyoto) between day trips to Nara and Hiroshima. And then leave for Tokyo on Day #9 after a good night's rest (having returned from Hiroshima).
dukkar is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 01:37 PM
  #4  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,430
> Horyuji. It probably won't happen since we don't want to do anything tiring.

I agree with WillJame that Horyuji is too far to make sense for your day in Nara. You should be able to see the other three sites you've targeted in Nara in one day. BTW, I'm glad to see that you're planning to visit the Kofukuji Temple's Treasure House - it holds some of the most beautiful statues I saw while in Japan.

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:12 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
Way too many places for the short time you are there. Skip Kamakura and see more of Tokyo.

Leave for Kyoto in the morning and see some of Kyoto that afternoon

The day trip to Hiroshima will be a long one. I would do an easy trip to Arashiyama instead

You are in the midst of cherry blossom season and only allow for one view day in Ueno? Makes no sense to me. Good luck!

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:13 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
At that time of year the Philosophers Path in Kyoto is a must on my list.....
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 02:56 PM
  #7  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,430
> At that time of year the Philosophers Path in Kyoto is a must on my list.....

Good point! I agree!
kja is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 03:11 PM
  #8  
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hawaiiantraveler:

You wrote "You are in the midst of cherry blossom season and only allow for one view day in Ueno? Makes no sense to me. Good luck!"

What attractions would you recommend for viewing cherry blossoms in Tokyo while I am there?
dukkar is offline  
Jan 24th, 2011, 05:21 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
Don't know about attractions but I know a few venues like Shinjuku Gyeon Park,Chidorigafuchi and Koishikawa Korakuen which are my favorites with a few more mentioned here:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3050.html

a few pictures of 2010 sakura in Tokyo

http://hawaiiantraveler.smugmug.com/...28929183_XFxEW
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 07:35 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 47
I was in Osaka for the Saturday at Peak Cherry Blossom season and went to the park where the Temple of the Sun statue is with some fellow travelers. I would highly recommend doing a Hanami (cherry blossom picnic) on a Saturday. Every city has parks that must draw thousands upon thousands of families. Your child would love to run around in a park for awhile, I'm sure. Pack a picnic and relax one of the Saturday or Sundays wherever you are. (April 2nd in Kyoto sounds ideal)
I don't know Kamakura, but I agree with skipping it for more Tokyo.
I also skipped Nara in favor of Hiroshima, as its a long train ride to Hiroshima.
katlake is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 03:35 PM
  #11  
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Posts: 120
Based on the replies, it appears another option for me is to cancel my Hong Kong trip and spend those days in Japan. What do you think of the above itinerary (plus, a few more sights) spread out over 12 days rather than 8 days?
dukkar is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 04:14 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 45
good idea.
early april ambience is fabulous.
extend your stay, and enjoy the fleeting beauty of yozakura!
http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&q...og&sa=N&tab=wi
kanazawan is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 04:15 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 465
Dukkar, 12 days in Japan sounds better to me. If possible arrive at Narita and depart from KIX.
WillJame is offline  
Jan 25th, 2011, 06:29 PM
  #14  
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 120
Thanks everyone for your responses. How does this 12-day Japan-only itinerary look? I added a few new sights, but I stil want to keep this at a leisurely-pace.

HIGH-LEVEL:
Day 1 (Sat): Arrive in Tokyo
Day 2 (Sun): See Tokyo
Day 3 (Mon): Day trip to Kamakura
Day 4 (Tue): See Tokyo
Day 5 (Wed): Day trip to Nikko
Day 6 (Thu): See Tokyo AND Leave for Kyoto in the evening
Day 7 (Fri): See Kyoto
Day 8 (Sat): Day trip to Nara
Day 9 (Sun): See Kyoto
Day 10 (Mon): Day trip to Hiroshima
Day 11 (Tue): See Kyoto and Leave for Tokyo in the evening
Day 12 (Wed): Day trip to Hakone
Day 13 (Thu): See Tokyo.
Dau 14 (Fri): Depart from Tokyo.

DETAILED:
March 26 (saturday)
- Arrive in Tokyo in the evening

March 27 (sunday)
- Walking the Imperial Moat (easy 3-mile; 1 hr walk)
- Higashi Gyoen (East Garden) (1 hr)
- Walk in Ginza
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG) (1 hr) [ONLY IF CLEAR SKIES]

March 28 (monday)
- Kamakura (1 day)
- Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
- Daibutsu aka Great Buddha (in Kamakura)
- Hase Kannon Temple

March 29 (tuesday)
- Tsukiji Fish Market (1 hr)
- Hama Rikyu Garden (1 hr) and then take the
- Sumida River Boat Cruise (cherry blossom viewing boat)
- Walk through Nakamise Dori &
- Sensoji Temple (1/2 day)

March 30 (wednesday)
- Nikko (1 day)
- Rinnoji Temple
- Toshogu Shrine
- Futarasan Shrine
- Nikko Tamozawa Imperial Villa
- Taiyuin Mausoleum

March 31 (thursday)
- Tokyo National Museum (plan 2 hrs)
- Viewing Cherry Blossoms at Ueno Park
- leave for Kyoto in the EVENING

Apr 1 (friday)
- Kinkakuji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) &
- Ryoanji Temple (visit early morning) (2-3 hrs)
- Nijo Castle (Nijojo) (2-3 hrs) OR Kokedera (Saihoji) [depending on reservation]

Apr 2 (saturday)
- Nara (1 day)
- Kofukuji Temple's Treasure House
- Todaiji Temple with its Great Buddha
- Kasuga Grand Shrine

Apr 3 (sunday)
- Nijo Castle (Nijojo) (2-3 hrs) OR Kokedera (Saihoji) [depending on reservation]
- Ginkakuji, the Temple of the Silver Pavilion
- Philosopher's Pathway
- Heian Shrine and Garden (weeping cherry trees)

Apr 4 (monday)
- Hiroshima (1 day)
- Peace Memorial Park
- Peace Memorial Museum

Apr 5 (tuesday)
- Sanjusangendo Hall
- Kiyomizu Temple (Kiyomizudera) (also, see three-story pagoda and Otowa Falls)
- Jishu Shrine
- Maruyama Park (for lit Cherry Blossoms in the night)
- Kokedera (Saihoji) [depending on reservation]
- leave for Tokyo in the EVENING

Apr 6 (wednesday)
- Hakone (1 day)

Apr 7 (thursday)
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office (TMG) (1 hr) [ONLY IF CLEAR SKIES]
- See lighted cherry blossom trees in Chidorigafuchi

Apr 8 (friday)
- Depart from Tokyo


Based on this new itinerary, in which areas within Tokyo and Kyoto would you recommend that we book our hotels?

Thanks,
D
dukkar is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 05:21 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 33
Kokedera is in the west end section of Kyoto, while Ginkakuji and Heian Shrine is in the East side. So on the day you visit Kokedera I would suggest visiting nearby Arashiyama area instead, such as Ohkochi-sanso and Daikakuji temple.
seahopper is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 06:02 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,342
Your schedules look a lot better but I would still cut out Kamakura as you'll see better temples and sights in Kyoto but that's just me.

I would also recommending an overnight in Hiroshima, Nikko and Hakone if you can to try and cut down the daily commute times. It will also give you more time to enjoy the places rather than rushing to see everything before you catch the train back. A night in Hiroshima will probably cost you less than your night in Kyoto and the same for Nikko and Tokyo. Hakone may be a different story,lol.

The areas you stay may depend on whats available. If you haven't made your hotel reservations yet you are late and need to take care of it today if not yesterday! This is a very busy time of year in Japan and the places you want may already be gone. In Tokyo look at Ueno, Shinagawa,Shinjuku, Shibuya in Kyoto look in the Shoji Doi area or the Kyoto station area which I love and others here don't like too much. The Hyatt is my favorite in Kyoto but pricey. Good luck!

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 09:19 AM
  #17  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,430
Much better!

HT's suggestion to stay overnight in a few of the places you now plan as day trips is worth considering, IMO. I'm glad I saw Kamakura and think it should be lovely when the cherries are in bloom, but I suspect it's a matter of preference.

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 09:50 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 120
Everyone: Thanks you so very much for all the feedback.

In Tokyo, I am staying at the Century Southern Tower Hotel (in Shinjuku) for the first part, and the Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku for the second part.

I am still debating whether to stay in a hotel or ryokan in Kyoto. If it's a ryokan, we would want one with a private bathroom; no exceptions! Let me know your thoughts on a ryokan v/s a hotel in Kyoto.

In my personal experience, single night stays get hectic when traveling with a 5-yr old. Having to pack, then check out, haul your luggage to the new destination, check in and then again check out the next morning puts an unwanted dampener on our traveling. Which is why I decided to do day trips so we have one city as the home base that you can just come back to anytime and relax and get up late the next morning without having to worry about checking out. I hope this works out for us as it has worked out elsewhere. But I honestly appreciate all your comments.

Thanks,
D
dukkar is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 09:58 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,563
Fushimi Inari shrine in Kyoto -- far better than Kinkakuji or Kiyomizudera and your son will get a kick out of it too. Its two stops from Kyoto station on the Nara line.

The kid will be exhausted on this itinerary, just realize that. You're packing a lot into few days, especially in Kyoto.
BigRuss is offline  
Jan 26th, 2011, 10:35 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 465
BR, apart from 100s of torii gates and stone foxes, what's the attraction at FI shrine? I've happened upon a Shinto priest purifying a car there, and shrine maidens doing a sacred dance, but overall I'd say Kiyomizudera is more spectacular in its architecture and for its views, and the likelihood of something happening. Cherry blossoms are great too--my vote for Kiyomizu. The 5-year-old could try walking with eyes closed between the love stones at Jishu Shrine.
WillJame is offline  

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