Tagayama or Nikko

Old Mar 25th, 2016, 11:25 PM
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Tagayama or Nikko

I am going to Japan for 12 nights in May, and particularly interested in culture, scenery, gardens and food.

I'll have a 4 month old in a sling, so will enjoy gentle walks - but not so keen on long coach / car trips (just in case he gets sad and I can't walk around to smooth him).

We will spend a few days in Tokyo at the start with a day trip to mount takao. Then we have a 3 night gap, before 4 nights in Kyoto (thinking of a day trip to the gardens in Kanazawa during that time + a day in Nara and a couple of days seeing Kyoto), a night at koyasan and finally Tokyo again.

The question is what to do in the 3 night gap: I have heard that Nikko is worth visiting, and also tagayama.

We haven't yet booked a ryokan so it'd be nice to stay in one during that time.

Do you think Nikko or tagayama? Or somewhere else? And if so any tips on where to stay?

Thank you!
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 12:44 AM
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4 nights is not much for Kyoto / Nara -- you might want to add a couple of nights there.

Personally, I would not consider making a day trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa -- I believe it's 2.5 or 3 hours each way, and there is so much to see in Kanazawa that it would, perhaps, make more sense to wait until you can give it more time.

I'm not familiar with Tagayama -- do you mean Takayama? I enjoyed Takayama, and if you decide to keep your time in Kyoto short, it could be a reasonable option for a visit of 2 or 3 nights.

Nikko is lovely, although its main temples and shrines are uphill from the area town and train station. I was glad I spent a night there; many people visit it as a day trip from Tokyo.

I'm sure you realize that getting to Koyasan is a rather complicated matter, with several changes of transportation. Well worth it, IMO, but something to keep in mind. And for both your temple stay and for any ryokan stay, be sure that infants are allowed.

If you haven't already done so, please spend a LOT of time with japan-guide.com -- an excellent source of information on traveling in Japan. (Just one note of caution: IMO, it seriously underestimates the amount of time it takes to see sites in both Tokyo and Kyoto.) And read the MANY trip reports and planning threads on Japan on this board -- there have been several recent threads about traveling with infants and very young children.

Hope that helps!
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 12:52 AM
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I know it's only a little over 2 hours each way on the fast bullet trains between Kyoto and Kanazawa but not sure I'd pick Kanazawa as a day trip.

Assuming trains are a good way of travel for you because you can get up and walk around if need be...

I might do:

Your x nights in Tokyo, including day trip to Mount Takao
2 nights Takayama
2 nights Kanazawa
4 nights in Kyoto, including day trip to Nara

Or
Your x nights in Tokyo, including day trip to Mount Takao
3 Kanazawa
5 nights in Kyoto, including day trip to Nara (or an overnight)

I'm basing this on how much there is to see in these destinations, especially of the gentle walking around variety.

For my upcoming trip to Kanazawa, I'm going with a recommended hotel that several Fodorites have given a thumbs up, which is Hotel Trusty. Very good location.

For Kyoto, not sure, depennds what kind of place you are looking for. For my first trip, we split time between a traditional ryokan in Gion and the Granvia in Kyoto Station. For the second trip, we stayed at the Kyoto Royal Hotel and Spa (not as grand as it sounds but perfectly decent and super super location). For the upcoming trip, we've booked the APA Hotel in Gion, which is right next to Yasaka Shrine, another great location in its own right plus very good for local buses.
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 12:58 AM
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Oh I was writing my reply while Kja was and just saw her response, and realise I missed out Koyasan completely.

I think virtually all the accommodation there is temple stays, may be worth dropping a line to japaneseguesthouses.com and asking whether there are temples that accept small babies, it may be a non-issue but worth checking. And as Kja said, it's a slightly convoluted, though perfectly doable journey, so do take that into account too.

So I'd probably do:

Your x nights in Tokyo, including day trip to Mount Takao
3 Kanazawa
5 nights in Kyoto, including day trip to Nara (or an overnight)
1 night Koyasan
Back to Tokyo
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 11:26 AM
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>>not so keen on long coach / car trips

I'd assume that you would travel by train, not coach or car.

How long would "too long" be on a train trip? A comfortable train with good personal space.
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Old Mar 26th, 2016, 09:49 PM
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I would allocate the three nights to Takayama (I assume that's what you meant), and divide the rest of the days between Kyoto and Tokyo as you see fit. You can easily visit Nikko as a day trip from Tokyo.

Visiting Kanazawa as a day trip from Tokyo is not a good idea. Is it feasible? Yes. Are there lots of other nice places to day trip to from Tokyo that are closer? Indeed yes.

I am a big stay put in one place day tripper, but if I have to travel two hours each way, it sure as heck better be The Leaning Tower of Pisa quality, and Kanazawa is just not up to that standard.
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Old Mar 27th, 2016, 12:11 AM
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I am with CaliforniaLady. We spent three days in Takayama in Sumiyoshi Ryokan and loved it. Some photos and detail on our blog http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...ai/1/tpod.html entry #30
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Old Mar 27th, 2016, 11:15 AM
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>>Kanazawa is just not up to that standard

But Takayama is?

That is interesting because there was a poster here several years ago, I forget her name, who trashed Takayama. I enjoyed Sumiyoshi, didn't love it, but do recommend it because I know that others loved it.
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Old Mar 27th, 2016, 05:28 PM
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We did Takayama and Kanazawa on two separate trips. In both cases they were among our favorite places. For me, the deciding factor would be how many nights you have to work with. With only two nights I would do only Takayama; there is more than enough to see there for one very full day. For three nights I would do only Kanazawa; again, we filled up two full days sightseeing. You could conceivably do both with 4 nights, but it will be rushed.

The other factor is what you are looking for in a destination. I found the old town area of Takayama more enjoyable than any of the historic "chaya" districts in Kanazawa, so if we had done both towns on one trip, I think I would have found Kanazawa to be just a tad repetitive, but as separate trips, I loved seeing them both. For me the appeal of Kanazawa was the contrast of the old and the new, with the 20th Century Museum and the D.T Suzuki museums providing a nice counterpoint to the historic areas, my favorite of which was the was the Nagamachi samurai area. Of course, the Kenrokuen garden during sakura, well that was just stunning.

There are plenty of possible variations, but in your place, and using only the destinations you mentioned, I would allocate 12 nights as follows:

Tokyo - 4 nights (day trip to Nikko)
Takayama - 2 nights
Nara - 1 night
Koyasan - 1 night
Kyoto - 4 nights

If you wanted to keep moving around to a minimum, you could also skip the Nara overnight and add that night to Kyoto, doing Nara as a day trip; but this has the advantage of breaking up the trip from Takayama to Koyasan (we did this exact trip, but with Hakone between Tokyo and Takayama, and it worked out well). Whatever you decide, have great trip!
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Old Mar 27th, 2016, 09:13 PM
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mrwunrfl, You misunderstood my post, or perhaps I was not clear. The OP asked which one is best for a three day stop, Takayama or Nikko, and I thought Takayama would fit in better with the itinerary, since Nikko is close to Tokyo, and can be visited as a day trip.

Then, the OP asked a separate question about day trips from Kyoto to Kanazawa (I meant to say Kyoto, not Tokyo in my earlier post.) It's a two hour train ride each way, and to me, it would not make sense to backtrack for such a long day trip, if there is a Tokyo-Takayama-Kyoto itinerary. I merely stated that there are many day trips feasible close to Tokyo, or perhaps Kyoto, that are equally as fascinating as Kanazawa. It was not a contest between Takayama vs Kanazawa--one was posed as a three night destination, and the other as a day trip.

I never quote another poster (other than the OP), nor would I ever compare the quality of someone's post to another poster, but that's just me.
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 09:48 AM
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CaliforniaLady, you are right. I did misunderstand what you wrote. My question was an honest one at the time because I thought it was a comparison of a stay in Kanazawa with a stay in Takayama and that Takayama >> Kanazawa. I wasn't commenting about the quality of anyone's post, I wanted to understand why that would be the case for you. We all have different experiences, which I think is very interesting, and I did come to understand why that other person hated Takayama.

But, that is not the case and I agree with you about that day trip. I will remember that the LTOP is worth a day trip involving 2 hrs each way, so thanks for that.
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Old Mar 28th, 2016, 10:33 PM
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Sure, we're cool, mrwunrfl. I always enjoy your clever posts, and you know so much about Japan. No problem.
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Old Mar 30th, 2016, 12:22 AM
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Yes, of course you're right - it is Takayama indeed. My mistake. Thank you all so much for this - really helpful. Sounds like Nikko is out for overnight. Instead Takayama sounds perfect.

CaliforniaLady - love the Leaning Tower of Pisa analogy - brilliant. Good word of warning.

kja - yes, aware Koya-San is a bit hard to get to - that's helpful word of warning. I'll check for posts about travelling with infants

crellston - thank you for the tip - will check it out

I'd happy travel for 3-4 hours by train
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Old Mar 30th, 2016, 01:21 AM
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"Leaning Tower of Pisa quality"

if i have to choose between that Leaning Tower or Seisonkaku, i would choose Seisonkaku, as a matter of course. Sorry to be a bit snobbish w
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Old Mar 30th, 2016, 08:54 AM
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>>I'd happy travel for 3-4 hours by train

The reason I asked about that is because Takayama is about 4.5 hours via the most common routing via Nagoya. You would backtrack on your way from Takayama to Kyoto via Nagoya.

But you can closer to a 4 hour trip by going via Toyama. You'd ride the entire scenic Takayama Line getting to/from Takayama with no backtracking.

Takayama to Kyoto is a bit over 3 hours.

In any case, you'd make one transfer on each travel day but none of the individual train rides would be longer than 2.5 hours.

Kanazawa would be a good option for a 3-night stay. Tokyo to Kanazawa is 2.5 or 3 hours on a shinkanen. Kanazawa to Kyoto is just over 2 hours on a limited express train. No transfers involved.
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