Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (https://www.fodors.com/community/)
-   Asia (https://www.fodors.com/community/asia/)
-   -   Thoughts on my itinerary (https://www.fodors.com/community/asia/thoughts-on-my-itinerary-1672575/)

Dreamweaver21 Oct 6th, 2019 08:59 AM

Thoughts on my itinerary
 
Hello Fellow Travelers,

I will travel to Japan in mid-late November for 9 full days and I would love to have some feedback from you for my travel plan. My current version of it is as follows:
4 Days in Tokyo, including 1 day trip to Nikko (take the last train from the previous day and stay overnight to save time in the morning and skip crowds). Overnight bus to Kyoto
3 Days in Kyoto
1 Day in Nara-Uji
1 Day Himeji (just the castle) and as much time I can spend in Osaka

I am mostly interested in culture, architecture, and food and, as my time is rather limited, I'm trying the get most of my journey.
My main concern about my plan is Nikko, as, although it is absolutely stunning, the almost 3-hour long journey using the Tobu line, on top of all the busses I will have to take to get to Tosho-Gu and then Kegon falls, is rather brutal and a bit pricey. My alternative would be Kamakura-Enoshima on a day I could get a good view of Fuji, which also offers some extra time in Tokyo. Also, I'm practically skipping Osaka, but apart from the food there, I don't think I will be missing much.

Thank you in advance for all your comments!

thursdaysd Oct 6th, 2019 11:25 AM

Not sure Osaka is worth it. Despite two lengthy trips I have yet to visit it.

There is no guarantee you will be able to see Mt Fuji, it is often hidden by cloud.

It is more helpful to count nights rather than days.

kja Oct 6th, 2019 11:47 AM

Given your interests, I'd focus on Kyoto and Nara, rather than Osaka. Himeji-jo won't take a full day, even if you also visit the wonderful garden there (Koko-en).

I"m very glad I spent a night in Nikko and I didn't find getting to Kegon-no-Taki "brutal." YMMV.

crellston Oct 6th, 2019 11:56 AM

I have just finalised our second trip to Japan for early January. We have 10 nights, so a similar amount of time to you. After much deliberation, changing of minds etc. I finally settled on 3nts Tokyo, 6 nights Kyoto and 1 night Tokyo. We usually travel for months at a time so I found this trip planning to be especially difficult. Factors I needed to consider were te early morning arrival and departure flights to/from Haneda and the use of a 7 day JR Pass.

We may use our time in Tokyo to do day trips, possibly to Hiroshima, Himeji, Nara and Osaka, all from Kyoto. I am consider an afternoon trip to Himeji and a nighttime flying visit to Osaka ( mostly for the food and nightlife) on the way back or possibly Hiroshima & Osaka.

I did look at Nikko, but didn’t want to lose a full day in Tokyo as we only have 3.5 full days there. Tours seemed amuch better use of time than trying to DIY.

I think the chances of seeing Fuji are better in winter than any other time so you could be lucky. Last time there we got some great views from the train from Tokyo to Kyoto.

Good luck deciding - hope it takes you less time than it took me!

Dreamweaver21 Oct 6th, 2019 12:08 PM


Originally Posted by thursdaysd (Post 16996874)
Not sure Osaka is worth it. Despite two lengthy trips I have yet to visit it.

There is no guarantee you will be able to see Mt Fuji, it is often hidden by cloud.

It is more helpful to count nights rather than days.

I probably would have skipped Osaka altogether, but Nara and Himeji are closer from there than Kyoto, plus my return flight from Japan is from Osaka, so I will spend some time there anyway, at least for the food.
I understand that it is not guaranteed that I will see Fuji, but considering that I will be traveling in November, I think that it will be more probable than in most other months.
My itinerary in terms of nights spent would be
2 Tokyo
1 Nikko (?)
1 overnight bus
3 Kyoto
2 Osaka

What are your thought on Nikko? Is Tosho-Gu alone, by skipping Chuzenji, worth it?

kja Oct 6th, 2019 12:24 PM


Originally Posted by Dreamweaver21 (Post 16996895)
What are your thought on Nikko? Is Tosho-Gu alone, by skipping Chuzenji, worth it?

There's MUCH more to Nikko than Tōshō-gū, but if the ONLY reason you are going to Nikko is to see it, I'm not sure that makes sense when you would be giving up so very much else to get there.
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3800.html

thursdaysd Oct 6th, 2019 12:30 PM

I wasn't convinced Nikko was worth the time to get there and back. It was very crowded when I was there.

If you use the Kintetsu line the journey to Nara is shorter from Kyoto, plus the station is more central. Kyoto - Himeji is 52 minutes vs. 30 minutes from Osaka, not worth changing hotels in my mind. Direct trains to the airport seem not much different, if we are talking KIX - see Hyperdia.

janisj Oct 6th, 2019 01:24 PM

That is what thursdaysd suggested counting nights instead of days. If you have
>>2 [nights] Tokyo
1 Nikko (?)
1 overnight bus
3 Kyoto
2 Osaka<< . . . you are stretching things pretty thin. 2 nights in Tokyo = 1 full day, and 3 nights in Kyoto (even using an overnight bus) will really only net a little more than 2 full days.

lcuy Oct 7th, 2019 02:27 AM

When we went to Nikko, we spent two nights (giving us two half days and one full day).
We saw a lot of the sights, including chuzenji, but I would definitely not try to squeeze it in on such a short trip as yours. It was nice in that we were on about out 10th trip to Japan, and it was cooler than many alternatives at that time of the year, but I really was not that awed by the temples as I have been by other Japanese sites.
I'd stop in Tokyo for your two nights, then head directly to Kyoto. There is lots to see there and Nara, Himeji, even some of the outlying neighborhoods of Kyoto are easy to get to from there and different enough to give your trip some diversity. The travel time difference from Kyoto vs Osaka is really not worth worrying about.

Adastra2200 Oct 7th, 2019 01:23 PM

Well, the first thing is that I hope you have no problem sleeping on planes, especially in Cattle Class, if you want to take an all night bus. The bus is little better - I could never sleep well like that, and arriving in the morning with a headache and being groggy all day is no way to travel. Are you aware that you could fly down there for just 7700 from Haneda to Itami?
You can see the shrine area of Nikko in a full day, with an early morning start. If you want to add Okunikko, then 2 days works much better (and worth it). And counting days & half-days is a lot more concise in my view.
Since you are going to Himeji, I would not just stick with the castle. It is the grandest original surviving one in the country, but adding the Kokoen Garden is well worth it too - it's less than a 5 minute walk away, and if you get the combo ticket for them at the ticket office, you can save even more money. You could also look into a 1 or 2 day Kansai Area Pass if you can include Nara for your second day there, or look at getting a Kansai Thru Pass for them. As noted above, particularly since you're visiting Tokyo as well, you can skip a lot of Osaka during the day. It's more of a clone, and for temples/shrines, Kyoto and Nara vastly outshine it. The evenings there are great though. Dotonbori & Shinsekai are fun, plus some great views from the Cosmo Tower, Umeda Sky Bldg, Abeno Harukas Bldg etc.
Kamakura-Enoshima are great too - but if you get lucky with any view of Fuji at all, it's just the cherry on top.

Dreamweaver21 Oct 7th, 2019 02:14 PM

First of all, thank you all for your answers!

Originally Posted by kja (Post 16996903)
There's MUCH more to Nikko than Tōshō-gū, but if the ONLY reason you are going to Nikko is to see it, I'm not sure that makes sense when you would be giving up so very much else to get there.

Well, by saying Tosho-Gu I meant all the nearby temples nearby. I am aware of lake Chizu and Kegon Falls, but I am not a huge nature fan and not terribly enticed to pay 2000 more Yen for them. I guess I could substitute them for Kanmangafuchi Abyss and the part of the river that is close to lower Nikko


Originally Posted by thursdaysd (Post 16996906)
I wasn't convinced Nikko was worth the time to get there and back. It was very crowded when I was there.

If you use the Kintetsu line the journey to Nara is shorter from Kyoto, plus the station is more central. Kyoto - Himeji is 52 minutes vs. 30 minutes from Osaka, not worth changing hotels in my mind. Direct trains to the airport seem not much different, if we are talking KIX - see Hyperdia.

When did you go to Nikko? Do you think it will be as crowded in mid-November?
Apart from distance to Nara and Himeji, accommodation costs played a role, as I am under the impression that Osaka is cheaper, particularly on Sunday 24/11 when prices skyrocket in Kyoto. After having a look today, I will probably stay for 3days/2nights in Kyoto and 3 nights in Osaka


Originally Posted by janisj (Post 16996935)
That is what thursdaysd suggested counting nights instead of days. If you have
>>2 [nights] Tokyo
1 Nikko (?)
1 overnight bus
3 Kyoto
2 Osaka<< . . . you are stretching things pretty thin. 2 nights in Tokyo = 1 full day, and 3 nights in Kyoto (even using an overnight bus) will really only net a little more than 2 full days.

I do not think presenting my trip in terms of nights spent reflects what I will be doing each day. For example, 2 nights in Tokyo is actually 3 days, as I will be arriving early in the morning, thus a full day, and I will be tanking the overnight bus, which is another one.


Originally Posted by lcuy (Post 16997118)
When we went to Nikko, we spent two nights (giving us two half days and one full day).
We saw a lot of the sights, including chuzenji, but I would definitely not try to squeeze it in on such a short trip as yours. It was nice in that we were on about out 10th trip to Japan, and it was cooler than many alternatives at that time of the year, but I really was not that awed by the temples as I have been by other Japanese sites.
I'd stop in Tokyo for your two nights, then head directly to Kyoto. There is lots to see there and Nara, Himeji, even some of the outlying neighborhoods of Kyoto are easy to get to from there and different enough to give your trip some diversity. The travel time difference from Kyoto vs Osaka is really not worth worrying about.

You know, your post tempted me to reconsider my plans. As I am not terribly interested in nightlife and huge cities, I guess 3 days in Tokyo will be just fine, and anything in terms of temples I could see in Nikko can be substituted in Kyoto and Nara, even if it is still an interesting outdoors destination. I will see if I could add some destinations around Kyoto, particularly around lake Biwa.
Which sites were more awe-inspiring for you than Nikko, are they close to Kyoto?


Originally Posted by Adastra2200 (Post 16997361)
Well, the first thing is that I hope you have no problem sleeping on planes, especially in Cattle Class, if you want to take an all night bus. The bus is little better - I could never sleep well like that, and arriving in the morning with a headache and being groggy all day is no way to travel. Are you aware that you could fly down there for just 7700 from Haneda to Itami?
You can see the shrine area of Nikko in a full day, with an early morning start. If you want to add Okunikko, then 2 days works much better (and worth it). And counting days & half-days is a lot more concise in my view.
Since you are going to Himeji, I would not just stick with the castle. It is the grandest original surviving one in the country, but adding the Kokoen Garden is well worth it too - it's less than a 5 minute walk away, and if you get the combo ticket for them at the ticket office, you can save even more money. You could also look into a 1 or 2 day Kansai Area Pass if you can include Nara for your second day there, or look at getting a Kansai Thru Pass for them. As noted above, particularly since you're visiting Tokyo as well, you can skip a lot of Osaka during the day. It's more of a clone, and for temples/shrines, Kyoto and Nara vastly outshine it. The evenings there are great though. Dotonbori & Shinsekai are fun, plus some great views from the Cosmo Tower, Umeda Sky Bldg, Abeno Harukas Bldg etc.
Kamakura-Enoshima are great too - but if you get lucky with any view of Fuji at all, it's just the cherry on top.

I am aware of the plane options, but I would prefer to save some money using the bus. I doubt I will have trouble sleeping, unless there is something particularly wrong with the bus. I will be using Willer Express.
I will definitely include the garden next to Himeji Castle and get the Kansai Area Pass, as will pay off even from the Himeji trip. Kansai Thru pass will not pay off for me
In Osaka, I do not plan to spend much time on anything but the castle and food-evenings
Kamakura-Enishima is definitely fine, but to me, it seems like a substitute for Kyoto if you cannot travel to the latter

kja Oct 7th, 2019 06:42 PM

FWIW, part of what interested me about Nikko is that the temples and shrines struck me as decidedly different in style than those I saw elsewhere in Japan. JMO. But again, it'll take a chunk of time to get there and back, and your time is exceedingly limited.

Dreamweaver21 Oct 8th, 2019 12:22 PM


Originally Posted by kja (Post 16997477)
FWIW, part of what interested me about Nikko is that the temples and shrines struck me as decidedly different in style than those I saw elsewhere in Japan. JMO. But again, it'll take a chunk of time to get there and back, and your time is exceedingly limited.

Yes, the temples in Nikko are unique and they are the main reason I would like to visit the town. Plus, my trip is kind of lacking in nature destinations, just Fushimi Inari and Sanago Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, so it could become an opportunity to squeeze in some more diverse destinations

kja Oct 8th, 2019 06:09 PM

In that case, let me suggest that you visit Fushimi Inari either at dusk or dawn. Unlike most temples in Kyoto, it's open 24/7, so you can visit it when other things are closed.

FWIW, I thought the Bamboo Forest seriously overrated. But then, I've been to other bamboo forests, so YMMV.


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:26 PM.