Tokyo and Kyoto Questions

Nov 14th, 2006, 10:53 AM
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Tokyo and Kyoto Questions

In early December, I will be visiting Tokyo, Japan for the first time. I will arrive at Narita on 12/8 4pm, and will stay in Japan until 12/14 10am before flying to Hong Kong. I will have 5 full days. Besides Tokyo, I would like to visit Kyoto since many of you have had memorable experiences at this city.

1. Do I have enough time?
2. Should I just stick to Tokyo and save Kyoto for next time?
3. Do I need JR pass if only going to Kyoto?

Thank you!
j_4tay is offline  
Nov 14th, 2006, 12:11 PM
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You have enough time to go to Kyoto. It is a smaller city, and has many of the sights that you will recognize from the guidebooks. Also very interesting to just wander the old shopping streets, temples and gion.

I'd be tempted to take the train directly from Narita to Kyoto. Spend three days, then take the train back to Tokyo on the morning of the 12th. No need for a railpass if you won't be going further that Kyoto.

With two days in Tokyo, you should have time to take a city tour, visit Asakusa Kannon, see a museum in Ueno Park, and do some shopping in one of the popular shopping areas,not to mention get in some good eating.

You'll have a great time!
lcuy is offline  
Nov 14th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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It's hard to say if you'll have enough time. If it were me I'd go to Kyoto just in case I didn't get back.
I don't know if I'd want to get on a train after that flight.

I'd do 2 nights in Tokyo - the first night and then get up early to see the fish market and do the above.

The next day I'd take the train to Kyoto (and no, it's not worth a pass) and stay there for 3 nights. If you leave early you can get half a day in that first day.

Because your flight is so early on the 14th I'd travel to Narita from Kyoto and stay at a hotel near the airport that last night.
angethereader is offline  
Nov 14th, 2006, 01:02 PM
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Agree w/previous posts re:how to split your stay between Kyoto and Tokyo. You should be able to stay in Tokyo on the last night and still make it to 10am flight to HKG if you stay somewhere convenient (ANA if taking limousine, Shinagawa if taking Narita Express) and don't mind getting up early. That way,you'll spend more time actually in Tokyo, and there are lots of things you can do at night.
W9London is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 02:20 PM
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oh - i'd say before foregoing the rail pass, check the one ways from narita to kyoto and back - my guess it's about the same as the current fare for a 1 week pass (end of september the going rate was $244 USD, and u give yourself ability to allow yourself a trip to Himeji, THE BEST CASTLE IN JAPAN IN MY OPINION, and we went to 3/4 of the heritage site castles). so double check if it's worth it or not.

having spent 2 weeks in japan in october, here's how i'd play it:

- go straight to Kyoto (4 hours or so from narita), just make sure your hotel will take you if you arrive late after flight/train, or spend 1st night in Tokyo and go enjoy the lively Ginza district at night
- 12/9 and 12/10 in Kyoto - don't miss philosopher's walk full day at temples, and Nijo castle/Gion-geisha area
- 12/11 check out Himeji in the morning (1 hour train ride) if u r into feudal castles, and afternoon in kyoto
- 12/12 kyoto and evening back to tokyo
- 12/13-12/14 try to check out a sumo stable if no tournaments are going on, or fish market, then ueno and asakusa area
lilipad is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 02:46 PM
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1) yes, you have enough time

2) yes, you could stick to Tokyo and save Kyoto for another time. You could spend all of your time in Tokyo. Or you could sightsee in Tokyo and a more local side trip like Hakone or Kamakura or Nikko. These short trips would be less time and yen consuming that going to Kyoto. You can save Kyoto for your next visit to Japan when you are not so rushed. But, going to Kyoto is a good idea too.

3) If you go to Kyoto then you will need a JR Pass if you also use the Narita Express. Roundtrip Tokyo-Kyoto shinkansen is about 26000. Each way NRT-Tokyo is 3100. So would be 29000 for Kyoto and one-way on N'Ex or 32000 for Kyoto and roundtrip on N'Ex. Compare that with the 28,300 yen for the 7-day JR Pass. You would also be able to use the pass on JR lines in Tokyo (and for an unplanned jaunt to see Himeji-jo if you should so desire).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 02:59 PM
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The savings with the JR Pass would be around 3500 to 4000 yen per person. That is low enough that you could consider just paying as you go as you would get somewhat better shinkansen service and it would leave your options open for the airport transfers.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 03:16 PM
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Hello, j_4tay!

I visited both Tokyo (4 nights) and Kyoto (4 nights) this past Spring 2006.

I certainly enjoyed my time in Tokyo, and would like to return; I would especially recommend the day trip to Mt. Fuji.

On the other hand, I feel that Kyoto was over-rated. Kyoto seems to be mostly a Japanese city for Japanese tourists; foreign tourists make up only about 15% of visitors. I felt extremely handicapped by my lack of Japanese. If I had to do it all over again, I would have simply stayed in Tokyo and visited Kyoto by rail for only a one-night overnight visit.

I hope this different perspective helps you make a good decision.
easywalker is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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I've been to Kyoto twice for a total of 10 days and have never felt handicapped by not speaking Japanese there. I found it easy to get around the city by taxi, bus, and subway. I was able to order in restaurants without any problem. I have shopped in both stores and at temple market days there without any problem.

Kyoto is a completely different city from Tokyo, which I have also visited twice. I would not miss Kyoto. If you feel you will go back, I can see saving it for next time, although after going to both Tokyo and Kyoto, I'd have a hard time skipping Kyoto. Personally, I much prefer it to Tokyo, although Tokyo is a great city.

emd is offline  
Nov 15th, 2006, 06:28 PM
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Mt Fuji would be closed in December, so I don't think it's practical to include that. You may have a glimpse (or a good view if the weather is good) of its silhouette on the bullet train.

Agree with emd--it would be a shame to miss Kyoto if you come all the way to Japan. It's a relatively quiet season, which should allow you to enjoy the city better.
W9London is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 04:42 AM
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Kyoto is built on a grid and I also ordered a city map before we left. We had no trouble getting around in Kyoto.
I cannot comment on not speaking Japanese. We were visting our son and his Japanese is very good.
angethereader is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 04:47 AM
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opps, I prefer Kyoto.
emd is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 06:58 AM
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If you want somewhere really lively & fun especially at night then choose Tokyo. It has all the trendiest clothes and fashions. But if you want somewhere with a lot of history & like to walk around the back streets & alleys then Kyto is the best place. Kyoto also has a lot of the large dept stores which you can find in Tokyo so you won't be deprived of a fantastic shopping experience. There are a lot of small & fantastic speciality shops including the most exclusive bag shop in the world! You could do both cities but it would be quite rushed & to be honest the first time I ever went to Japan - to Tokyo - I felt quite overwhelmed & unsure of my bearings (despite having studied some Japanese). I feel that one city would be enough for this trip and you could take a day trip from there. Just returning from Japan, I have fallen in love with Kyoto but think Tokyo is a better place to begin you Japan experience and a day trip to Kamakura would be great. Hakone might also be an option but the cable cars might not be operating then. I would also advise on finding a hotel in Narita (should be cheaper than Tokyo) & staying there the first night as you arrive quite late. Narita is very English friendly & there are quite a few places to eat as most of the airline crews layover there. If you can get up reasonably early you can take the Keisei Morning liner for 400 yen extra than the regular Keisei line at 1000yen (it's 920 yen for the Skyliner after 9am) into Nippori (an quick & easy transfer to JR Yamanote line)or Ueno which is more comfortable & somewhat avoids the crowds on the trains.
puddinggow is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 09:09 AM
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Arriving at Narita 4pm doesn't seem that late--assuming 2-3hrs from touchdown to central Tokyo, you're just in time for a dinner.
Though there are good number of hotels at Narita, your dining option would be rather limited unless you really venture out to Narita City.
Another drawback is you have to travel to Tokyo the following day, killing previous time you have for Tokyo/Kyoto.

PS. You'll need to request Kyoto Imperial Palace visit in advance.
W9London is offline  
Nov 16th, 2006, 09:29 AM
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Our flight arrived at 3:15 and we were to our hotel in Ginza in plenty of time to freshen up before going out to dinner.
angethereader is offline  
Nov 19th, 2006, 11:01 PM
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Thanks all for the help.

I will save Kyoto for the next trip because I really want to see Tokyo, the city within a city. And Kyoto deserves 3 full days.

Day trip to Kamakura. Any other day trip?

I will stay in the Shinjuku area. Can you recommend some good & inexpensive (below 2900 yens) restaurants?
j_4tay is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 12:16 AM
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Below 2900 per person for dinner is not hard to do. You will, however, likely need to leave the hotel. Therre are literally hundreads of restaurants in the Shinjuku area. Have a wander around and see what looks good to you...that's way easier than trying to find one particular place. Most restaurants have menus and/or plastic food models which show what they have and the prices...if you don't see prices it's probably not in your price range.

What is in your price range is just about any izakaya (casual restaurant), yakiniku (grill it yourself restaurant), yakitori (grilled meat on a stick), family restaurants, kaiten sushi (conveyer belt sushi), most places in shoppiing centers and stations.

Honestly, I think will just a little bit of looking around, you will find a place to eat that is good and within your budget. We typically spend 5000 yen for 3 people.
KimJapan is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 04:08 AM
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Additional day trip = Nikko

Personally I would not do Hakone as a day trip in Dec. w/only five days. But is is an option.
emd is offline  
Nov 20th, 2006, 08:21 AM
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Where are you staying in Shinjuku? Lots to do and see there.

Shinjuku, being one of the biggest and most diverse areas in Tokyo, can offer you, Shinjuku West, which is located out the west exit of the Shinjuku train station (which is Tokyoís busiest) home to the financial district of West Tokyo with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building at itís center. You can go up to the top of two of the towers here for free and have spectacular views of Tokyo. On a clear day you can see all the way to Yokohama and have picture perfect shots of Mt. Fuji that we enjoyed on our April visit this spring. Two of the hotels that we have used on our visits to Shinjuku are located in this area, The Keio Plaza Hotel and The Century Hyatt Hotel.

Right above the train station is where the major shopping area is. Shinjuku is a paradise for shoppers. It has more department stores than anywhere else in Japan. The most famous are Takashimaya-Times Square, Isetan, Mitsukoshi, Marui, My City and Odakyu.
Shinjuku boasts the biggest camera shops, such as Sakuraya, Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera. Only Akibara(sp) has bigger.
Music lovers will find their happiness at Tower Records and HMV.
Out the east exit of the station will take you to the Kabuki cho district which is entertainment district par excellence and one of the hottest places in Tokyo, with hostess bars, adult video shops, soap lands (massage parlors), strip bars and love hotels
And of course my favorite part of Shinjuku the Takadanobada District with all of itís cute, quaint, shops and restaurants which remind me of a time in the past.

Here are some links to hotels we have enjoyed in Shinjuku

And a favorite restaurant of ours in the area is:

Restaurant Le Coup Chou Ė 1-15-7 Nishishinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Opened 5:30 to 12:00 am Ph# 3348-1610

A little French restaurant with French and Japanese Menus only. No English menus but with my limited French and the head waiter who spoke some English we got through with little problem. The food here was fantastic. So good in fact that we went here 2 out of 3 dinners we ate in Tokyo. The Japanese owner, chef had trained in France for a few years and came home to open his own place. Has a really nice French influenced wine list. Gets really crowded after 8 pm so try to get there early or call for a reservation. Has a another little room downstairs with 6 tables which they use for there overflow which seems to happen nightly (though we were only there on 2 occasions we walked past the place nightly).

sorry for the rigidity of the advise but I just copied and pasted from previous reports. You will enjoy Tokyo!

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Dec 7th, 2006, 01:54 AM
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Finally, my flight to Tokyo is about 8 hours from now. I was very excited until I checked the weather in Tokyo on Yahoo. Rain, rain and rain.

12/8 - showers
12/9 - light rain
12/10 - mostly sunny
12/11 - partly cloudy
12/12 - showers
12/13 - Scattered Showers
12/14 - Showers
j_4tay is offline  

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