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foppishbum
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Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:11 pm

The last time I went to Japan was 12 years ago to visit my distant Japanese relatives so I don't really remember the details. I'll definitely need help to plan a vacation in Japan for this summer.   I bought a few books on Tokyo, Kyoto, and Japan in general so I will be doing some readings over the next few days. However, I'd also like to know your input about what tourist attractions are overrated and what's a real must-see.

We will be in Japan for 7 days (not counting first/last day for flying) and we are thinking about the below itinerary. Please let me know what you think about this and if there is a better way to travel to all three cities:

Day 1: LAX-NRT arriving at 3:55 PM, take Shinkansen Tokaido/Sanyo line directly to Kyoto from Shinjuku. We plan to make Kyoto our "home base" in the area and make day trips to Osaka and Hiroshima.
Day 2: use JR Pass to Hiroshima for a day trip. (Is it possible to see the major attractions in Hiroshima in a day? Is the Peace Museum worthy of a visit?)
Day 3: spend in Kyoto (Gion, etc)
Day 4: spend in Osaka (Any suggestion on what's overrated and what's a must-see?)
Day 5: travel back to Tokyo and stay in Shinjuku (Hotel Sunroute Plaza)
Day 6: spend in Tokyo (Imperial Palace, Meiji Shrine, Shibuya, Omotesando, Harajuku, etc)
Day 7: spend in Tokyo (spa day! onsen)
Day 8: spend in Tokyo (Tsukiji Fish Market, Odaiba, etc)
Day 9: NRT-LAX departing 3:55 PM

I have one other questions: what/where is the best onsen near/around Tokyo?

Thank you very much for your input/suggestions/opinion!!! If you'd prefer to e-mail me, it is listed on my Facebook badge on my A.net public profile. I appreciate all of your inputs!  

Wesley
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Loran
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Mon Jan 21, 2013 7:43 pm

Hi foppishbum,

Here is what I can recommend:

- Hiroshima: I was there a year ago and I think it was worth the trip. The peace museum is very impressive and a must. It is quite a feeling walking in the park where the bomb exploded. There is not much more to see than this, but because we had an extra day we toured the Mazda company which is as big as a middle sized city. And we also went to Miyajima Island which was funny, there is lots of deer sneaking around the town and you get great scenic views of the city and nearby coast. It also hosts a very famous shrine.
- Osaka: We have been one day only and I thought it was enough. The famous Osaka Castle is interesting and provides a nice view over the city. Also Kita entertainment area is quite interesting, although you will think you are on a different planet.
- Kyoto: You can easily schedule two full days, definitely one of the highlights of Japan.

Hope this info helps, enjoy the trip.
Regards,
Loran
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rwy04lga
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:36 pm

Your trip almost exactly parallels mine in 2004. The JR pass is great...it also include some subway lines in Tokyo, and, I believe the Narita Express. Peace Museum was interesting. Check out the Hiroshima Castle...nice views. In Tokyo, don't miss Akihabara...'electric city'. Try to get out to KIX...take the bus to the observation building. From Shin Osaka, take the local train south to Maiko, then the elevator to the bus stop on the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, then a bus across the bridge to the first stop on Awaji Island, then hop back on to return to Maiko. That's one big @$$ bridge.
Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
 
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Aeroflot777
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Tue Jan 22, 2013 4:12 am

A little over a year ago I made a quick 7-day trip out to Japan myself. Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo (in that specific order). Wanted to see Hiroshima, but it was a tad bit out of the way so I decided to save it for another trip. Looking at your itinerary, you seem to be headed to Kyoto right away. Why not fly to Osaka from the US? That might save money as well as time. After all of our rail trips were planned out, buying separate tickets for the trains between cities was actually cheaper than buying a JR Pass.

Just make sure the pass is worth it for the amount of travel you will do. Plenty of reviews online will point to the fact that it doesn't always add up. Hope that offers some advice. Enjoy the trip!
 
PHX787
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:21 am

Tokyo-
Odaiba, Shibuya, Kichijoji, Yokohama MinatoMirai
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babybus
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:25 pm

Kyoto: Fantastic.    I could spend a whole week there and not get bored. I love that place.There is always another temple or trip to do, like to Nara or Takayama.

Tokyo: Fantastic.    Just being there fills you with energy. When you run out of tourist sites there is always shopping.

Hiroshima: Sad.   I didn't realize that the scars of the bomb are still very real today. The museum is very interesting and the whole park area. It was worth seeing but depressed me a bit. The local people are still a bit funny with tourists coming to ogle at their bad fortune.

You have definitely planned your trip well. Base yourself in one town and use the fast trains to see the rest of the country on day trips.
and with that..cabin crew, seats for landing please.
 
MIAspotter
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:47 pm

Aerdingus and myself are also planning our trip to Tokyo.

We are aiming to go in August (11/20th) and I was also looking at the idea of going to Kyoto, but the trains are quite expensive and also accomodation.

Roughly how much will a train from Tokyo to Kyoto costs?

Is 4 days in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto enough?

Or should we ditch Kyoto and just concentrate in Tokyo and maybe add a sidetrip to Hakone?

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foppishbum
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:51 pm

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 4):
Quoting Loran (Reply 1):
Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 2):

Thanks for the suggestions and advice!

Quoting Aeroflot777 (Reply 3):
Why not fly to Osaka from the US? That might save money as well as time.

I looked at the tickets for HND to ITM/KIX and they are quite expensive. Moreover, because we have never experienced Shinkansen so we thought it would be a nice way to get to Osaka.

Quoting babybus (Reply 5):
The local people are still a bit funny with tourists coming to ogle at their bad fortune.

I was a bit concerned about that. My partner is Jewish and the grandparents died in Nazi concentration camp so he's very interested in visiting Hiroshima and see the event that led to the end of WWII. And thanks for your comment about planning, I try to have a "home base" while I travel so I don't have to pack/unpack/move too frequently.  
Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 6):
Roughly how much will a train from Tokyo to Kyoto costs?

~¥1,3500 JPY roughly $153 USD in today's Exchange Rate.

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 6):
Is 4 days in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto enough?

Judging from all the advices and the things I've read on the books, 4 days in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto are enough to see the main attractions. However, if you want to do a complete trip of both cities (including nearby towns/villages), I'm sure you can spend up to a week in each.

Quoting MIAspotter (Reply 6):
Or should we ditch Kyoto and just concentrate in Tokyo and maybe add a sidetrip to Hakone?

AFAIK, Tokyo is new Japan and Kyoto is old Japan and have completely different vibe and scenery. I guess it ultimately depends on what your interest is.  
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rwy04lga
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:59 am

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 7):
Tokyo is new Japan and Kyoto is old Japan

During WW2, Tokyo was obliterated and then newly rebuilt. Kyoto was spared bombing, and thus, retained its ancient culture.
Just accept that some days, you're the pigeon, and other days the statue
 
gocaps16
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:21 am

Quoting foppishbum (Thread starter):
Day 7: spend in Tokyo (spa day! onsen)

Highly recommend spending a day to the volcanic Izu Island chains of Tokyo in the Philippines Sea. These islands are famous for its hot springs and beaches. You can catch a flight from Haneda to Hachijo-jima or Izu Oshima and from Oshima they have helicopter jumpers going to Nii-jima, Kozushima, Miyake-jima or take the high speed ferry from Tokyo or Yokohama to Izu Oshima. Lots of beachgo'ers and surfers head down there in summertime.
 
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foppishbum
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Tue Feb 05, 2013 8:44 pm

Hello! First off, thanks for all of your suggestions/advices.     

It turned out that we will be landing at Tokyo-NRT at 3:50 PM and have to catch a flight from Tokyo-HND To Osaka-ITM at 7:20 PM Friday night.

I was considering the Limousine Bus from NRT to HND but at 5 PM, traffic will probably be horrendous in Tokyo Metro area. Now, I'm thinking the Access Express-Keisei/Keikyu train because it will at least eliminate the traffic congestion problem.

I got to Keisei's website but I can't understand the Timetable (see:HERE). I understand the left column is Hours and the numbers in the right column are minutes. I want to take the Access Express to Haneda so I should be looking for A H maybe around the 17h. However, the last A H is showing at 14h46. Does that mean there is no Access Express train from NRT to HND after 14h46?   

What would be the best way to transfer between NRT and HND? Preferrably the least amount of transfer/making connections because my partner has a little bit of travel anxiety, can't read/speak any Japanese...and doesn't like the idea of transferring/making connections in a foreign countries. 

Thanks in advance!

Wesley

[Edited 2013-02-05 12:46:11]
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MIAspotter
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:57 am

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 7):
Judging from all the advices and the things I've read on the books, 4 days in Tokyo and 3 in Kyoto are enough to see the main attractions. However, if you want to do a complete trip of both cities (including nearby towns/villages), I'm sure you can spend up to a week in each.
Quoting foppishbum (Reply 7):

Well, after much consideration and head scratching, Kyoto is sadly off the list (for now) we will spend 4 days in Tokyo, then move over to Seoul, found a cheap enough Jetstar Japan flight to KIX and then change to a Peach flight to ICN (all for less than 160€) we then spend 4 days in Seoul and fly out of there.

My tempted routing goes like BCN-DOH-NRT-KIX-ICN-DOH-BCN.

I´ll be like a zombie when I get back home but what the heck 

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gocaps16
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RE: Trip Planning: Tokyo/ Kyoto/ Hiroshima

Wed Feb 06, 2013 1:57 pm

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 10):
What would be the best way to transfer between NRT and HND?

You said it! Take the Narita Express from NRT to Yokohama. Take Keikyu Line from Yokohama to Shinagawa, hop off, and take the line to HND. That will be your best bet. The NEX trains runs very frequent, so in the afternoon shouldn't be much of a problem.

Quoting foppishbum (Reply 10):
It turned out that we will be landing at Tokyo-NRT at 3:50 PM and have to catch a flight from Tokyo-HND To Osaka-ITM at 7:20 PM Friday night.

You're cutting it very close. Remember, the line for custom and immigrations will be long as that is the big rush for most incoming arrivals from the US. You're looking at about a 2 hour train ride as well.

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