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puddinggow Oct 10th, 2006 08:28 AM

Trip to Tokyo, Takayama, Gero, Shirakawago & Kyoto in early Nov
Hi, I have been checking out this site for a couple of weeks now since I have been planning my trip to Japan & it has provided me with so much info that I certainly would not have found elsewhere. Thank you!

I am going to Japan from 4-11 Nov and my itinerary is as follows:

Day 1 (Sat 4) Staying in Toyko

Day 2 (Sun 5) Going to Takayama by Japan rail pass. I am planning to take the earliest Hikari from Tokyo station Do you think 16 mins is enough time to reach the platform from the JR line?

I found my ryokan on the Hida-Takayama accomodations website which I found to be pretty good.

Day 3 (Mon 6) I will go to Gero-Spa in the afternoon after walking around Takayama. Gero seems to be pretty full on the Monday -I guess maybe people are taking an extra day off due to the 3 Nov holiday? Again Gero town has a excellent website for accomodations. I saw it is one of the 3 famous towns for onsen but have not seen much info on the town or accomodations on the forum.

Day 4 (Tue 7) Gero-Takayama-Shirakawago-Kanazawa. Does anyone know if I can pay for the bus for the whole journey from Takayama-Shirakawago-Kanazawa in Takayama and on the day before the trip? I did found out that you have to pay for the 2 separate bus trips if you stop off at Shirakawago but not sure if you have to buy your ticket at each stop of the journey?

I have booked the APA Ekimae (front of JR station) - has anyone stayed there before? I was originally going to stay at the Chuo but was worried about going to and fro with my bags. I read that the bus starts from the station and I can leave my bags at the hotel. I did find out that there is a big difference in price when you book in Japanese - English site quoted 13,500 yen without bfast, I got a twin room for 9,450 yen with bfast!!! Thanks to people who posted tips on this previously :-)

Day 5 (Wed 8) Will spend the day in Kanazawa before heading to Kyoto in the late afternoon. For some reason most of the hotels are close to being sold out on 8 Nov or are extra expensive? Anyone know why? I reserved my room at the Hotel Granvia Kyoto for 20,000yen per night thru Japan Hotel Pass. I think this is reasonable as I couldn't find this rate at all afterwards and even the same website said the twin rooms are full on 8 Nov after I made the booking. But anyway they are very helpful at Nippon Travel and I believe it is a reputable agency!

Day 6 (Thu 9) Spend the day in Kyoto but as there are so many places to go I am a bit confused. I definitely want to go to Kiyomizu temple but other than that not sure. As I have a Japan Rail pass is it worth to buy the Kyoto sightseeing pass or will the Kyoto City bus pass suffice? I saw that the Arashiyama area is not covered by the bus pass but is it worth going there given I have only 2 days in Kyoto?

Day 7 (Fri 10)Spend the day in Kyoto and probably shopping in Isetan before heading back to Tokyo in the early evening

Day 8 (Sat 11) Leave Tokyo

Do you think I will get a chance to see any fall colours in early Nov? Do you have any idea about rainfall averages in Nov? If anyone has any thoughts/tips about any of these places that would be much appreciated and I would love to contribute any experiences I have especially when I have returned from my trip!

mrwunrfl Oct 10th, 2006 12:59 PM

Day 2: what 16 minutes? If you are asking if that is enough time to transfer at Nagoya station from the shinkansen to the WV Hida Limited Express train to Takayama then the answer is yes. But I see on hyperdia that the earliest Hikari arrives Nagoya at 8:22 and you would have 21 minutes to connect. It is enough time, not need to rush, but don't dawdle until you have found the track. It is on a concourse not far from the shinkansen tracks.

Where are you staying in Takayama?

I stayed in Gero at an onsen hotel. The one with baths on the top floor. There was a man with a van waiting at the station when I arrived who drove me over. But, there is a nice onsen bath at the Green Hotel in Takayama, so you don't have to go to Gero. The Monday problem might be due to the holiday, but could be because the ryokan will close on Monday. They'll be full over the weekend and take the day off on Monday.

Day 4 There are thru buses from Gero to Shirakawago, so you might just need one ticket. You could probably get the tickets the day before, but I wouldn't worry about it at all. The bus is probably the kind that has a board with the stop number board up front. You take a ticket that shows what stop number you got on yet (or just look at the board). Then pay the fare into the machine when you arrive. The machine would take 1000 yen notes and give change.

APA Ekimae. Am sure that you mean in Kanazawa. The name means it is at/near the train station so you should be able to walk to it. Yes, you can leave luggage there, but you'll be checking in late in the day so your bags would go to the room.

But, what do you mean by BAGS? You mean ONE bag, don't you? One small rollerbag that you can put in an overhead bin. Those buses that you are taking across Gifu-ken are basically city buses with forward facing 2-seat benches on either side of an aile. Not a nice big limo bus with storage underneath.

Your JR Pass is useless in Kyoto (except for getting a discount at the Granvia Hotel).

You very well might get fall colors in the mountains. Probably no rain, not necessary to take an umbrella since they are cheap.

mrwunrfl Oct 10th, 2006 01:06 PM

You are planning to change hotels every day for the first 6 days you are in Japan. Each move takes a few hours of travel (except for Takayama->Gero). That is a bit much.

mrwunrfl Oct 10th, 2006 07:08 PM

Don't take the bus from Gero to Takayama. Use your JR Pass. You can walk from the JR station in Takayama to the bus station in 6 seconds.

harsha Oct 11th, 2006 01:05 AM

Dont miss the Funaoka Onsen in Kyoto.
No trip to Japan is complete without a soak in a hot tub at a local public bath. If you're in western Kyoto in the late afternoon and want to freshen up before dinner, why not drop your inhibitions to experience skinship, or the kinship that develops through communal bathing. Funaoka Onsen, on the corner of Sembon and Imadegawa, several blocks north of Kitano Tenman-gu, was established in 1923. The spacious, communal bathing area has been renovated but the changing rooms still have their original wood-relief ceilings and beautiful tiles. There are gender-separate indoor baths, as well as two outdoor baths made of cedar and rock, respectively, that are open to men and women on alternate days. Towels, soap, and shampoo are for sale. COST: ¥350. OPEN: Daily 3 PM-1 AM.

Address: Sembon Imadegawa kado, Murosaki no Minami, Funaoka-cho, Kyoto, Japan
Phone: 075/441-3735

puddinggow Oct 11th, 2006 07:38 AM

Mrwunrfl - you are always so helpful!

Day 2 - I meant the connection from the Yamanote Toyko JR station to Toyko Station shinkasen platform. Is it close by?

I was concerned it was a really full schedule & was considering dropping Gero but really want to try out a onsen town and found a ryokan with several baths to try - anyway we are really early risers so we usually make the most out of the day to see a lot. I have a feeling this will be a trip which will give us a taster for the area & we will come back again. I've been to Tokyo about 20 times but not really anywhere else so far that I have planned myself.

In Takayama staying at the Kotoyume - mainly chose them as it seems to have a lot of character (it is a small ryokan) and their website is excellent in English too. It's 15,090yen per person.

Staying at the Yunoshimakan in Gero - 19,050yen per person - they only had a few rooms left. I think the ryokans are open as they have 1 or 2 rooms left at the high end.

I will defintely take the bus from Gero to Takayama and then the bus. We will bring 1 small rollerbag each which hopefully can fit in the lockers in Shirakawago.

Yes I do mean the Ekimae Kanazawa - I saw most people stay at the Chuo but the hotel will let us leave our bags in the hotel while we walk around the town during the day after we arrive so thought that will be convenient with it just next to the station.

Would it be worth going to the Arashiyama area in Kyoto the 2 days I am there? If not, will just get the bus pass or if Arashiyama is worth going to should I get the sightseeing pass for the bus/train?

Thanks Harsha!! The Funaoka Onsen in Kyoto. I will ask the concierge how to get there and it I can plan it into my itinerary will definitely try it.

KimJapan Oct 11th, 2006 03:39 PM

Kanazawa station is not really near to sightseeing, so you will need to take a taxi or bus to go anywhere. Taxi from the station to Kenrokuen or the shopping area Kohrimbo or the geisha district Higashi-chaya should be under 1000 yen per trip and take under 10 minutes. The APA Chuo I recommend because the price is right, the bath on the top floor is excellent, and the location is excellent as well. It is a newer hotel than the one near the station as well. You did the absolutely right thing booking in Japanese...much better deal this way. Perhaps the new shopping center in the station will be open when you get advertised, it has lots of restaurants and shops, but I can't remember the opening date...sooon though, as there are ads for opening staff every week in the paper.

With only 2 days in Kyoto, you will have more than enough to fill your time without adding Arashiyama. I would skip it for this trip.

mrwunrfl Oct 11th, 2006 05:15 PM

Yunoshimakan looks nice.

I am certain that somebody on this forum asked about that place. Probably two years ago. I don't think we ever got a trip report about it. (hint) Looks like the place is on a hill and it is not walking distance from the JR station. Will they be picking you up at the station? Having picked this place I would not want to drop Gero either (and definitely wouldn't).

Yuno (water's) shima (island) kan (building). Or is it Yunoshi (water city) ma (??) kan (building).

I hope that you meant to write: &quot;will defintely take the <u>train</u> from Gero to Takayama and then the bus.&quot;

Would be a good idea to just take a taxi to the Chuo hotel. The bath on the roof is really nice and it has a rotenburo. There is a coffee shop (starbucks or starbucks-like) on the ground floor. Very small room, as expected. Just a couple of doors down there is a place that has computers to rent with internet access. I think it is worth the not-much trouble to go there, tho the new shopping at the station might be nice.

So you need to figure out your day's plan for Day 4. What time do you think you will arrive in Kanazawa that would give you some sightseeing time there on that day?

I want to say that bus numbah 2 from JR Kanazawa station would take you down the avenue to the APA Chuo hotel is, but I could be wrong. #6? Easy enough, though.

I am advocating the Chuo hotel, but OTOH it does make sense staying near the station on your short trip. One consideration is your touring on Day 5. I forget where the tour bus goes, but that might be a good way to get around Kanazawa. Probably leaves from the station. If staying by the station then on that morning I would put my luggage into a locker AT the station and then go sightseeing.

KimJapan Oct 11th, 2006 08:29 PM

A good number of buses go to the Kohrimbo/Katamachi area from the station. The Flat bus and the Loop bus are the easiest to spot, but run infrequently. There is a big bus terminal outside of the station, quite a distance from the APA hotel...there is a bus terminal on APA side, too, but those buses don't go anywhere a tourist wants to go, so you've got to go through the station to get the right buses.

If you stay at the eki APA, I definitely agree w/MrW - leave your bags in a station locker, as getting back to the station, then to the hotel, then back to the station again, could eat up 20 or 30 minutes easily.

puddinggow Oct 12th, 2006 08:31 AM

mrwunrfl &amp; KimJapan

I will definitely post a trip report after my trip - hope I can help someone else as you have all helped me so much!!!

Although the Yunoshimakan's website is in Japanese they have someone who replied to my e-mails in good English &amp; they will pick us up from the station. They said they will even take us back to the station even though we are taking the 8am train (sorry yes I did mean to write train) back to Takayama in time for the bus to Shirakawago. I hope the place is as good as it looks and as helpful as it has been already!

The Kotoyume's website is very good - it won me over - can't wait to stay there too!

Oh dear! My sis-in-law chose the APA Ekimae for us so I wonder if I dare trouble her to change the booking. Well if I do stay at Ekimae I think I might be the first person to post a report on it :-) I won't arrive in Kanazawa on day 4 until 6.20pm (the last bus)so only time to first check the bus schedules &amp; then get some dinner before bed (hope the mall is open for a place to eat!) and will be up early morning to go to Kenrokuen first.

Thanks for the advice about Kyoto - I will just buy a 2 day bus pass. I'm sure I will probably spend most of a day in one area.

KimJapan Oct 12th, 2006 02:38 PM

If the mall isn't open yet there are a few places in and around the station. Norio dining restaurant is casual and reasonable and is nearby.

puddinggow Oct 18th, 2006 08:16 AM

Hi! Is there any tourist pass that can give us discounts to the admission fees for temples in Kyoto? I was thinking of purchasing the 2-day Kyoto bus pass but read that the sightseeing pass provides discounts but have not found any information on what it provides. Thanks!!!

Reely Oct 29th, 2006 06:12 PM

FYI the web site if you are
not familiar gives detailed historical records for thousands of cities worldwide. Look in the section titled &quot;trip planner&quot;, and you will be taken to the history almanac which will provide amount of precipitation for specific days as well as temps. etc.Invaluable resource when traveling the world.

Clark55 Oct 30th, 2006 02:44 AM

We just got back at the weekend from Japan &amp; as soon as I get time I will write a trip report. However I would like to say a couple of things regarding the Takayama - Shirakawago - Kanazawa route. Firstly we went straight to the bus staion when we arrived in Takayama to reserve bus tickets for Shirakawago the next day &amp; to our dismay unfortunately there were no seats left from Shirakawago to Kanazawa on the bus so we didn't get to spend the day there it was a Saturday so that was probably the reason why there were no seats left but in any case I would look into reserving the seats in advance if thats possible, maybe Kim or mrwunrfl can help you with this.
Secondly regarding the APA Chuo in Kanazawa, it is in a great location &amp; the coffee shop downstairs is extremely handy as is the bath on the top floor although it was too busy when we were there even late at night so we didn't bother but the rooms are tiny as in minute, we booked a double room which was a big mistake as a twin room must be bigger. Our double bed wasn't really a double it was more a single and a half &amp; it's against the wall so to get out the bed you have to climb over your partner, also the space between the television table &amp; the bed is no more than a foot so if you're not Nicole Ritchie you have to side step to get to the bathroom, there's no room for a wardrobe only 3 or 4 hooks on the wall opposite the bathroom &amp; we had to put our overnight bag against the door as there was nowhere to put it without falling over it.In the evening while my husband had his shower I went to the shops because the room was just too cramped for 2 people to stay in it at the one time. I did'nt see the twin rooms but if you do decide to stay here don't book a double.

puddinggow Nov 1st, 2006 05:48 AM

Thanks a lot for the info - I had a Japanese friend help me with making the bus reservations by e-mail. They suggested we pay in advance but didn't but go a confirmation number so hopefully it will be ok. It's not a weekend so fingers crossed.

Will only be staying at the APA hotel for 1 night &amp; planning to get up early so should be bearable - as long as it's clean, small is ok.

All set for the trip in 3 days time :-)

emd Nov 1st, 2006 05:56 AM

Have a great trip, puddinggow! Please come back and tell us about it when you get back.

puddinggow Nov 2nd, 2006 07:16 AM

Thanks a lot! Definitely will write a trip report when I return - my notebook is already packed.

Elainee Nov 3rd, 2006 05:20 AM

I wanted to stay at Yunoshimakan two years ago, but found that going to Gero took me out of the way and added an extra day to my trip. I did not want to give up anything else so we never got there. It is important to cut down the number of places to stay. Not worthwhile to spend all your time on transportation.

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