Thinking about Japan

Old Nov 16th, 2012, 03:02 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,893
Thinking about Japan

I haven't discussed this with Jeane yet, although we are thinking about our next trip. The weather in Japan for the month of October looks good and that is when we are thinking of travelling next (2013). Jeane needs a shopping fix and I think we have had our fill of off-the-beaten-track destinations for the time being. I am thinking Japan would be different enough to be worth the long flight and perhaps offer us a very satisfying vacation. We would plan on spending 12 days on the ground there, ideally split between 3 locations. In addition to some good upscale (but unique to Japan) shopping, we would like to hike, visit gardens and zoos, see cultural sites and generally be outdoors. I favor a more rural experience but I know that there is much to be seen around the cities, including Tokyo. Good food is important and we would prefer to stay in ryokans rather than western-style hotels. I do have a copy of the 2009 Fodors guide but it is a little overwhelming.

Can anyone suggest itineraries that might work?
Craig is offline  
Old Nov 16th, 2012, 05:02 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Fabulous shopping for lacquer, pottery, textiles...some direct from the artist,,,if you send me e-mail I can help you with access,..in Kanazawa and the surrounding area, which is also home to Kenrokuen (one of the top 3 gardens in Japan), 3 working geisha districts (second only to Kyoto but way fewer tourists), samurai district with old atmosphere. Within 90 minutes you can be hiking the mountains of Hakusan accessed by the Super Rindo (super road through the mountains) and overnight in World Heritage village Shirakawa-go in a thatched roof house and enjoy local cuisine.

Tokyo 2 nights
fly to Komatsu
Yamanaka or Yamashiro Onsen ryokan stay 1 night (recommend Beniya Mukayu, Kayotei, Koorogirou)
Kanazawa 3 nights
Shirakawa-go 1 night
Kyoto 4 nights
Tokyo 1 night
KimJapan is offline  
Old Nov 17th, 2012, 05:06 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,420
Hi Craig, I was in Japan last year. We were there for 10 days not including travel time and spent 3 nights in Tokyo, 2 nights in the Mt. Fuji area, and 5 nights in Kyoto. I know that this follows a rather standard tourist circuit, but with limited time I couldn't have ventured further, say, Hokkaido. However, I felt that my itinerary gave me a good introduction to the country and leaving me wanting to come back for more.

Tokyo, in many respects, is the ultimate city lovers' city. However, you can still find tradition if you know where to look. My favorite area is Asakusa, which is centered around an old Buddhist temple. One of the ways to get there is by river cruise, which gives you a good overview of the city. Other areas we enjoyed were Ueno, a working class area where the National Museum (very good by the way) is located. And if you're looking for great sushi, you have to stop by the Tsukiji Market on one of your mornings in Tokyo. There are numerous restaurants tucked into the lanes and alleyways around the market that offer the freshest sushi you can find anywhere in the city.

My favorite destination in Japan, though, is Kyoto. The city oozes tradition and charm. We spent most of our time in the city wandering among the many Buddhist temples with their lovely gardens, Shinto shrines, unique shops, and streets and alleyways. Some must-sees in Kyoto are Kiyomizu Temple, Sanjusangendo, Nijo Castle, and Kyoto Imperial Palace. To visit the Imperial Palace (you are not allowed to go inside the buildings, but you get a good idea from outside and the gardens are great), you need to reserve tickets online months in advance - they're free though. I would recommend at least 5 nights, which would give you enough time to venture outside of the city to visit Higashiyama, Fushimi Inari Shrine, and perhaps Nara. And Kyoto is the place to be if you want to shop for unique handicrafts and find great food. Definitely go for a kaiseki dinner, which takes food preparation to a different levels in terms of artistry, and experiencing a tea ceremony is also worthwhile.

If you want to do some real hiking, perhaps look at Hokkaido, which has volcanoes, lakes, etc. I hear that it is a good place to see bears, but not sure when is the best time of year for that. Perhaps 5 nights in Kyoto, 2-3 nights in Tokyo, and the rest of your time in Hokkaido is the way to go.

Japan is unlike any other place in Asia. It will definitely look and feel very different from Southeast Asia, where you've travelled quite extensively.

Let me know if you have any more specific questions as you consider Japan. I'll do my best to help, as I'm sure others would too. Also, let me add that the Japanese are among the nicest people I've met, along with Thais, Arabs, and Australians.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 08:28 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,344
A question I have been waiting for for a while and all the thunder has been silenced by the fabulous suggestions of KimJapan's. Don't know if at first glance you realize what a fantastic suggestion she has made to you?

Her connections with the lacquer, pottery, textiles would help in satisfying a good part of your shopping hankerings I would wager.....

Her suggestions take you right into mainstream Japan and Tokyo for just a glimpse. Then you are off, if I read this correctly, from Haneda(HND) to Komatsu(and using a cheaper air pass to be explained in detail later) near her hometown where she throws you back a hundred years in time to Yamanaka Onsen to a gorgeous ryokan like Beniya Mukaiyu....OMG!!!

http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/is...niyamukayu.htm

Then ease back into this century as you visit her hometown of Kanazawa with its infamous Kenrokuen Gardens(where Jeanne's camera will be working overtime) but still have lots of the past in Kanazawa's Samurai and Chaya districts where the past culture is well preserved and there to experience as KJ says "without the crowds of Kyoto". And maybe with one of her goodwill free guides that she works with or......

Then an overnight in S-Go(a UNESCO village) at one of these would go a long way in satisfying your interest in hiking and a taste of rural life in Japan(along with all the pics).

http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...o/magoemon.htm

Then four days in Kyoto before heading back to Tokyo and your air trip out would make for a memorable first trip to Japan. You might want to try to get an open jaw flight and fly into NRT and out of KIX which would save you some in transit money and time(another day in Kyoto to visit Osaka, the kitchen of Japan). I had to get Osaka in there
I know it sounds like I just did the commercial for a travel agencies tour but what a great tour for you two.

Be sure to also use this site for your questions and just read it in general because it has so much valuable information on the practical end that you will need while planning and during your trip.

http://www.japan-guide.com/

I see closer to November as you can get to be the better time to go so last two weeks in Oct if can.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 08:31 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,344
Save Hokkaido for your next trip.......you will be back.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 09:25 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,893
Thanks Kim, tripplanner, & Peter for your helpful responses.

Peter, why is late October better? How would a late october - early November itinerary be?
Craig is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 10:25 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,812
I like KimJapan's itinerary. I might start by flying to Osaka and spend the first 4 nights in Kyoto, then 3 nights Kanazawa + 1 night Yama*, Shirakawago 1 night, then Takayama 1 night in a ryokan + 2 nights in Tokyo or 3 nights Tokyo.

You don't have to visit Tokyo.

Japan has an efficient and inexpensive baggage delivery service, so it is possible to travel lightly within Japan.

November is a good time to go to Japan. The fall colors arrive then. In November, I would definitely suggest visting Tokyo if only to go to Meiji Shrine for shichi-go-san, see a Shinto wedding procession, the beautiful shrine and tree-filled park.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2284.html

You could walk the Nakasendo in another location that might interest you:
http://www.japantravelinfo.com/adventure/hike_kiso.php
mrwunrfl is online now  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 11:53 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 11,334
< I think we have had our fill of off-the-beaten-track destinations for the time being.>

I wondered about that.....
simpsonc510 is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 12:11 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,031
Great suggestions from the usual suspects.

Because OP and his spoon-skilled spouse enjoy both outdoors and cultural stuff, I'll also throw out Naoshima Island and the Benesse Art Site -- a place to which I haven't yet been. Much of the island is devoted to contemporary art installations, as well as an upscale hotel (Benesse House). http://www.benesse-artsite.jp/en/about/history.html

Don't expect Japan to be a variation on the theme of the rest of east Asia -- it absolutely isn't. It's a place where everything works and where transportation always runs exactly on time.
DonTopaz is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 12:27 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,893
Don - a place where everything works and transportation runs on time? I'm not sure if I can deal with that...
Craig is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 03:44 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Benesse House is a treat and Naoshima is a great place to visit for art. If to could add two days to your trip you could add it without sacrificing anywhere else suggested.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 03:47 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Lao, the autumn leaves are gorgeous right now.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 04:21 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,893
We are shooting for last week in October and first week in November...
Craig is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 04:37 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 2,138
All these fabulous suggestions are making me consider a trip!
Femi is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 08:34 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,344
Craig, November is the better month of the two because of the autumn weather and colors but also more expensive and crowded so your choice of last and first week is a good one. Plus early indications call for a return to a more regular fall color schedule(maybe a week earlier than this year in places) but that is to be seen. Let us know what you can get air ticket wise when its time.

Yours is easy....try planning a Japan trip for Bob and all the pre-requisites needed, lol.
Hot showers in the morning and night are no problem but looking for an infinity pool in Kyoto is proving to be quite a challenge

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 10:02 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
St Regis will open in Kyoto and will have a pool I hear.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Nov 18th, 2012, 10:13 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
I also hear FS and RC in 2014. But not sure about reliability of source.
KimJapan is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2012, 01:16 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,040
peter and i left thailand with mutual instructions that he plan a 10 day trip in japan and i would plan 10 days in bali and we might do it next year... maybe we can catch up with you at some point.
rhkkmk is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2012, 06:01 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,344
Well one of us has left Thailand.....
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Nov 19th, 2012, 06:47 AM
  #20  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,893
I just booked our outbound flight to Tokyo using miles, for October 22nd (330 days from today). It is a United Airlines saver award, business class (180 degree lie-flat seats) on Air Canada: BDL to YYZ (Toronto Pearson International) to NRT. Will have to wait 15 days to book a return flight from NRT on ANA via Washington Dulles or Chicago O'Hare. Looked at connections from KIX but they just don't work.
Craig is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO