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Transport logistics: Kyoto, Hiroshima/Miyajima, Kyushu

Transport logistics: Kyoto, Hiroshima/Miyajima, Kyushu

Jan 24th, 2014, 06:26 PM
  #41  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
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IMO, the scenery for the last few legs of the trip to Koyasan was spectacular - unlike anything else I saw in Japan (of course, that may simply speak to what I saw). I don't remember the main area with temples as being all that scenic, but it was certainly pleasant, with lots of lovely trees about. In contrast, I remember Okuno-in as being hauntingly evocative. I thought I would spend a bit less than an hour around dusk. I spent about 1.5 hours at dusk and went back at dawn for another 1 hour or two. Kongobu-ji, one of the temples you can visit (but not one at which one would stay, as I understand it) has some of the most beautiful Kano-school screens I saw anywhere in Japan.

As you know, I haven't been to Korea yet, but the descriptions I've read of temple stays there seem quite different than a temple stay in Koyasan. My impression is that a temple stay in Korea is about exposure to Buddhism and the life of monks. My experience of a temple stay at Koyasan was that it was about exquisite food, a chance to spend a night in this amazing place, a chance to see parts of a temple that are normally off limits, and -- if one wants -- a chance to join the monks in their early morning prayers. There is no "program" of activities for the guests, or at least there wasn't one at any of the temples I considered at the time I went.

I found my night at Shojoshin-in a highlight of a highlight-filled trip.

BTW, I fully expected to get "templed-out" during my trip. Granted, I did some planning to ensure that I selected temples to visit that were known for different things, but I never tired of seeing a Japanese temple, and OMG, I saw a LOT of them!!! For one thing, I found substantial architectural variation across the temples and shrines I visited. For another thing, many temples in Japan include spectacular gardens, landscaped in various styles and in different natural settings.

I hope this helps you with a difficult choice. As you know, I'm struggling with similar decisions. I keep trying to remind myself that none of the choices I'm considering are bad ones -- it's more a question of which icing to put on my already very rich cake.
kja is offline  
Jan 25th, 2014, 12:29 AM
  #42  
 
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Kja has said it all perfectly.
Kavey is offline  
Jan 25th, 2014, 01:26 AM
  #43  
kja
 
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@ Kaveh - thanks!
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Jan 25th, 2014, 02:04 AM
  #44  
kja
 
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@ Kavey - Do you dislike autocorrection as much as I do? You (Kavey) become a location in Iran (Kaveh), or perhaps a mythical Iranian blacksmith (also Kaveh). I often become "kia," and no matter how long the KIA car company is around, those letters will always mean "Killed In Action" to me. Sometimes, I dearly wish for the old days!
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Jan 25th, 2014, 10:01 AM
  #45  
 
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I've been to Japan eight times. I visited the Kansai area three or four times. On my most recent trip, I spent four nights in Osaka. I've visited Kyushu four times.

I have never been to Koyasan. I do not know what I missed by not visiting Koyasan, but I do know that I very much enjoyed the places that I did visit. Had I visited Koyasan instead of one of those other places then I am sure that I would have enjoyed it.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 12:24 AM
  #46  
 
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Kja, Kaveh is much better than what the first-generation mobile phone autocorrect used to do. When my friends tried to save my number as Kavey Home, it would autocorrect to Latex Good. To my embarrassment, it amused some of them to leave it in under that label!

Mr Wunrfl, I think you hit the nail on the head when you point out what everywhere we have all visited between us, we have enjoyed.

That said, I am intrigued by your four nights in Osaka. This time, we spent 2 nights there, as I wanted to discover that Osaka that so many people tell me they love. I liked Dotonbouri well enough, and I did absolutely love the food market. I was utterly disappointed by the Sakai knife museum. I sadly didn't make it to the wholesale food/ fish market, as I'd hoped to, as dates and timings didn't work out. But I am wondering what your itinerary for your 4 days there was.

Whenever we next go to Japan, I know we'll return to Kyoto and area, so Osaka is easy to include. What is it I'm missing?
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Jan 26th, 2014, 08:15 AM
  #47  
 
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My visit to Osaka was a function of my arrival in Japan being KIX at night and great rates at the Westin.

Osakajo was at the top of my interest in Osaka. I arrived at Osakajo-koen station and left from the main entrance. Better would have been the other way - enter from the main entrance southwest corner and leave by by that station. Near the station entrance is an arena. There was an event going on, and though I did not understand what it was, I bought a ticket and went in to get out of the rain. It turned out to be a school marching band competition which was quite enjoyable and amusing for a couple of hours.

Osakajo was quite interesting. Like other Japanese castles, it offers: a nice park, impressive castle architecture, a nice view from the top, and exhibits. The museum inside was not just arms & armor and artifacts from back in the day, it included history of the city. The one thing I remember was a shoji screen which included a depiction of Portuguese visitors. This castle, though, offers something that others don't: the castle played an important and dramatic role in Japanese history. Am struggling to describe the meaning it has, to me, of being there in that place.

I went to the National Bunraku Theater for a performance. Good thing I got the ticket for the short program as my jet-lag affected my ability to enjoy the show. I did get to see what that Japanese performance art was like, to have that experience, and to understand that I don't need to repeat it.

Spa World: I would go there at least once a week if I was an Osakajin.

Okonomiyaki!!! I didn't realize how much I would LOVE it. I went to a place recommended by the Westin in a nightlife area not from from Osaka eki. I don't remember the name of the small place. Nor do I know the name of the area, but I think it is the well-known one.

I visited the America town in Osaka. Looked interesting but it was not lively when I went.

Also, I made a day trip to see Hikone castle. Nice! There is a good tourist info center in front of the station that is hard to miss and just a block away is the origin of a tourist loop bus. There is more to see there than the castle. I stopped in Kyoto for dinner on the way back to Osaka. My other choices for the day trip were Arima Onsen (there is a bus from Osaka station) and Koyasan. Am happy with my choice of Hikone.
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Jan 26th, 2014, 10:37 AM
  #48  
 
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Aah wonderful!

I had Spa World bookmarked but didn't visit this time, but maybe next time as it does appeal!

Great to know your Osaka itinerary! Thank you/
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Jan 27th, 2014, 05:57 PM
  #49  
kja
 
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"I went to the National Bunraku Theater for a performance. Good thing I got the ticket for the short program as my jet-lag affected my ability to enjoy the show. I did get to see what that Japanese performance art was like, to have that experience, and to understand that I don't need to repeat it." -- LOL, I saw a 20" banraku performance in Kyoto and loved it! Who knows what I would have thought if it had been much longer, though.
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Jan 28th, 2014, 06:55 AM
  #50  
 
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On another day I might have enjoyed it more. I did rent a headset that had an English narration but it was not easy to follow, so not knowing the story meant it was mostly action without much meaning. That is how I remember it. When I went to the Takachiho jinja to see the kagura performance I understood the Japan creation myth going in which made it much more entertaining. Read before going to the bunraku (read to some depth about both the story and the form).
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Jan 28th, 2014, 02:22 PM
  #51  
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OK, so Koyasan is a must-do. Maybe I should cut the time short in Miyajima? No overnight stay there?

For Kyushu, a lot of guidebooks recommend Beppu, as the ultimate hotspring vacation spot for Japanese. But a lot of Fodorites seemed to skip it. Is it really not worth it? It sounds touristy, but a place is touristy because there's something unique and worthwhile about it to begin with. Skip it or stay? It actually sounds more authentic than Yufuin from the description.

Thanks
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Jan 28th, 2014, 03:51 PM
  #52  
kja
 
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"Maybe I should cut the time short in Miyajima? No overnight stay there?"

Your current plan is one night in Hiroshima and one night in Miyajima? If so, cut the night in Hiroshima and stay on Miyajima. Being able to see the torii there in both low and high tide is wonderful, the views from the top of Mt. Misan are memorable, and it is a very pleasant place to roam. I really enjoyed staying at Momiji-so, which is much more affordable than most ryokan. And I was very glad to have a quiet, peaceful evening in which to reflect after an emotional visit to Hiroshima.
http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/r...yokan=Momijiso
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Jan 28th, 2014, 04:36 PM
  #53  
 
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When I went to Kyushu two years ago I flew from Haneda to Oita then took the airport bus to Beppu - I left my luggage at the train station and went for a sand bath at Takegawara Onsen and then took the train to Usuki, which is a cute little town with quite a bit to see. The next morning I went to see the Usuki Stone Buddhas and the following morning took the train to Yufuin where I spent two nights.

I had read that Beppu was very commercial, and I had no interest in seeing the 'hells.' To me Yufuin also was commercial but in a quieter, countrified way, and I took a long round about walk where I saw almost noone - so I would recommend Yufuin over Beppu....

Concerning Koyasan, I stayed there two nights but that was on a different trip and then I did go directly from Miyajima to Koyasan - a long day trip....
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Jan 28th, 2014, 05:07 PM
  #54  
 
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>>OK, so Koyasan is a must-do.

If you say so then it is.
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Jan 29th, 2014, 01:17 AM
  #55  
 
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For me, Koya-san was definitely worthwhile. Whether it's a must-do for every visitor is harder to say but certainly, I think it's something different to experience and see and I appreciated having it in our itinerary.

Regarding Hiroshima / Miyajima, you don't need 2 nights here. We left Kyoto area early one morning, got to Hiroshima in good time, spent a few hours at the peace park and museum (and dome) and then travelled over to Miyajima for our overnight. We got to Miyajima mid-afternoon and didn't leave till late the next morning, which gave us some time to enjoy it, and to see the floating torii at different times / tides. We could have enjoyed more time here to explore further but we were happy with the time we had.

We stayed at Auberge Watanabe (a ryokan) - location was excellent and very good for visiting Daisho-in, which was just next door.

Both these were on our first trip in 2012.

Last year, we spent 8 nights in Kyushu. We trained from Osaka to Kumamoto, where we spent 2 nights. We booked a rental car from the morning we left. We drove to Takachiho Gorge and then headed up to our home for the next two nights, Sanga in Kurokawa Onsen. The next day, we pootled around Mount Aso, in the car. That night was in Sanga again. On leaving Sanga, we went to Usuki to see the stone buddhas before heading to Yufuin Onsen. We had the afternoon there. The next morning we went to Beppu, just for a few hours, and visited two of the hells that we had most interest in, we didn't want to visit all of them. I particularly liked Umi Jigoku, which was an extensive space and had a lovely glasshouse with pond and lilies, the dragonflies were in attendance. That night we were in Yufuin again. Beppu wasn't an attractive town, in my opinion, so I'm glad we visited briefly and stayed in Yufuin. After Yufuin, we drove to Fukuoka (with a stop on the way to see the giant reclining buddha at Nanzō-in) and returned the car right by Hakata station. We were staying just by Canal City, also in Hakata. We were there 2 nights, before leaving early the 2nd morning on a domestic flight back to Tokyo. I could happily have spent more time in Kyushu but didn't have it to spare. There is much more I want to see in this region.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 10:40 AM
  #56  
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Hi again, I was busy with friends and family visiting for the past weeks, so didn't have any time to do any more planning. But they all have left and now getting back to more planning for the trip in earnest as we'll be leaving in less than 2 1/2 weeks!

Q: How to check if the train from Beppu to Kumamoto will be running? A guidebook I was looking at said it was washed out by some flood in 2012 and the track was closed.

Q: Is the 5 day rail pass (regular, not for foreigners) valid for bus travels, esp in Kyushu?

We now decided to do Koyasan first before my meeting since we're flying into Osaka. Looks like we'll buy a 5 day train pass and rent a car for 3 days in Kumamoto.

Our tentative itinary as follows. Please suggest any changes.

* 3/15 (Sat)Fly into Osaka from US (overnight in Osaka)
* 3/16 Train from Osaka to Koyasan. (Buy world heritage tickets from Namba station. Always available?). Overnight in Koyasan.
* 3/17 Spend 1/2 day in Koyasan. Train back to Osaka and then Kyoto.
* 3/18-3/21. Kyoto for conference.
* 3/22 (Sat). Buy 5 day train pass ($240 USD). Arashiyama. Late afternoon train to Hiroshima on rail pass. Overnight in Hiroshima.
* 3/23 (Sun). Half day at Peace Memorial in Hiroshima. Afternoon ferry to Miyajima. Overnight in Miyajima.
* 3/24 (Mon). Half day in Miyajima. Train to Beppu. Overnight in Beppu.
* 3/25 (Tue). See maybe 2 hells in Beppu, and check out a public onsen (Hyotan?). Overnight in Beppu? Or maybe train to Kumamoto in evening?
* 3/26 (Wed). Morning train to Kumamoto on pass. End of 5 day pass. See Kumamoto. Overnight in Kumamoto.
* 3/27 (Thur). Rent car from Kumamoto airport (possible? haven't checked). Drive to Mt Aso. Hike around. Maybe afternoon drive to gorge. Stay somewhere.
* 3/28 (Fri). Drive to Kurokawa. Check in ryokan. Sanga is sold out. Others are quite expensive too. Maybe we opt for something not too expensive. Main interest is onsen. Overnight in Kurokawa.
* 3/29 (Sat). More onsen in Kurokawa until late in evening. (or other scenic places to check out by car?). Drive back to Kumamoto to return car at airport. 8 p.m. flight from Kumamoto to Hanenda (Tokyo). International flight home.

Really appreciate your knowledgeable advice!














































































































































































































































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Thanks, all, for your great suggestions!

I'm doing a bit more researc
JC98 is offline  
Feb 27th, 2014, 04:19 PM
  #57  
kja
 
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Hmm... you might want to contact the editors to see if they can eliminate some of the extra space!

I know very few of the locations you plan to visit -- just Koyasan, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Miyajima. I think you'll enjoy them!

I'm envious of the rest of your trip, but will have to let the experts comment.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 06:50 PM
  #58  
 
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http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4503.html
According to above page the train is now running again after the 2012 flood interruption...

Not sure which is the five day pass you refer to? The JR Sanyo Shikoku Kyushu Pass at 22,000 JPY. That should be a good buy for your routing.

Also the ropeway to Mt. Aso may still be closed:
http://www.kyusanko.co.jp/aso/lang_en/
Not sure if this makes a difference to you.

Your itinerary sounds very nice!
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Feb 27th, 2014, 08:41 PM
  #59  
 
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Looks good. For Beppu to Kumamoto, hyperdia would have you go to Kokura to get a shinkansen to Kumamoto.

I took JR from Kumamoto to Beppu once and enjoyed it very much. That was before the shinkansen was operating in Kyushu beyond Hakata and it must have been the Hohi line. My memory is of taking a local train with no train change on a single line through pretty green country (hyperdia shows that trip would be on Ltd Exp Kyushu Odan). At one point, the train stopped, made a switch and then backed up, uphill, and then continued forward uphill. Sat in the first car of the train and cound see where were going. Fun. It was that trip that stamped in my brain that Kyushu is green and beautiful. So, if you take that route, I recommend spending a second night in Beppu to enjoy the trip. If you leave Beppu in the morning then you could posssibly visit Aso that day.

I've also traveled Beppu to Kokura to Hakata to Kumamoto and it was not memorable. It would be quicker tho, and you would be able to enjoy the Kyushu countryside during your car trip.
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Feb 27th, 2014, 08:57 PM
  #60  
 
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If you leave Beppu on the 25th in the evening then just go via Kokura and use the shinkansen.

I visited a couple of the hells in Beppu and then stopped at an onsen that looked good. It was very good. I would give the Hyotan a thumbs up after just a few seconds of looking at their webpage.

Thought about it a bit and realized that I have not taken the train between Hakata and Kumamoto.
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