questions & answers: general japan travel

help needed

Help Needed

Hi Team,

We are planning a 8-day trip to Japan in June Week-1. We reach Tokyo (Day-1) and have two kids; so our visit would be a little around children attraction. I wanted your advice to check and suggest fillers to our itinerary

Day-1 (Friday); Reach Narita and reach Tokyo by late afternoon. So only some simple sight seeing
Day-2: Sky-Hop train tour of Tokyo
Day-3: Sunday: Need suggestions
Day-4: Monday- Mt Fuji trip
Day-5: Tuesday- Disney Land
Day-6: Wednesday: KIdzania in 2nd Half (Wednesday is the English-speaking day); and leverage the advance purchase option
Day-7: Thursday: Need suggestions
Day-8: Friday evening is our return

Help Needed:
1. How do we manage the 7-day JR Pass and 8-day itinerary mismatch
2. I wanted to cover Kyoto or somewhere nearby from Tokyo. But need suggestions. We are OK to stay overnight if you recommend
3. Please suggest fillers for Day-3 and Day-7. Probably Kyoto or some other suggestions here. Would you recommend Osaka (not sure since its too far)
4. Other suggestions- which are must do

Thank you so much, Team. This is a wonderful forum. Look forward to your advice

Noddy
Noddy

Hello there,

1.) For now I would stick with buying normal tickets, unless you plan to visit Kyoto/Osaka using the JR Pass. Travel within Tokyo itself will not amount to a point where savings can be had with the JR Pass. That out of the way, you can make good savings if you do travel to Kyoto or Osaka.

2, 3 and 4.) Your trip seems to be oriented at traveling with kids. So a couple of cool idea's to include are, the Ghibli museum in Kyoto, a (day trip) to Kyoto using the super fast bullet trains and Universal studio and Harry Potter world in Osaka. Osaka is only 30 minutes away from Kyoto, so easy to add in as well.

Kyoto is also a nice addition as it adds a bit more traditional Japan to your itinerary. Places such as Fushimi Inari, the bamboo forrest and monkey park at Arashiyama and the streets below Kyomizudera are amazing visits for kids.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Thank you so much Daniel-san (i'm reading and learning how to respectfully greet people in Japanese :-)

Loved your suggestion of including Kyoto and Osaka. Can we include both. How much time does it take

Tokyo to Kyoto; and Kyoto to Osaka (30 mnts); and Osaka-Tokyo for the return. In this case we would have to take the JR Pass for 7 day; and hence for the 8th day, when we do our Tokyo hotel to Narita journey, we would not have a valid pass. Whats the best suggested way for this journey. Do suggest

rgds,
--shanker

Noddy
Noddy

Hello again :)

Getting from Tokyo - Kyoto takes about 160minutes with the JR Pass and from Osaka to Tokyo about 180minutes of train travel. This will feel shorter though, as time flies when you travel on the shinkansen ;) Ideally I would recommend at least 2 nights/3 days for Kyoto and Osaka. They are quite close, so you could stay in either city. Although 2 days/1 night would also work with a bit of planning.

In what area of Tokyo is your hotel located? Sometimes there's a shuttle bus service, otherwise the Narita Express makes for a great way to get into Tokyo.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Dear Daniel-san,

I have re-worked on your suggestions and wanted to check if this is a workable option. To include Kyoto and Osaka in our itinerary. Can we make plans like this.

Shinjuku Area (thats where we are staying) to Kyoto early in the morning. Cover the distance in 160 mnts; so we start early. At Kyoto, we see things that you mentioned- Fushimi Inari, the bamboo forrest and monkey park at Arashiyama and the streets below Kyomizudera. Can we move from Kyoto to Osaka the same evening; and stay the night at Osaka. (would this be do-able; or is it oo much to target).

At Osaka next day we just cover Universal and take a evening / night train to Tokyo. Again not sure if this is practical. Pls suggest.

The issue on JR pass gets solved. I think I'll purchase the 7-day pass- to cover all these trips (Kyoto; Osaka; Mt Fuji); and for the return trip from Shinjuku to Narita (I just found that there are airport bus shuttles).

Hope travelling is OK; and people do understand English (i know Japanese people are very courteous and helpful) so hoping things would be OK

Also suggest if we should stay at Mt Fuji for the night. Just read that the area around Lake is very picturesque and one should try Onsen. Do suggest

Daniel-san, sorry for so many questions. But have no one to turn to; and hence a long message. Thanks in advance

Noddy
Noddy

Hello there,

I am happy to help, so write as much as you like :) I am glad to hear that the issue for arrival got sorted with the Airport Shuttle bus.

Doing Kyoto is a single day, including travel from Shinjuku and later to Osaka feels like a challenge. I think it is possible but it will be busy for sure. Maybe you should limit yourself to Fushimi Inari and Arashiyama on a single day. You could then travel on in the evening to Osaka. I'd try to look for a hotel near Osaka station, so you don't have to travel more within Osaka. Doing Universal Studio and returning to Tokyo the next day should be no problem.

Visiting Fuji is done well as a day trip from Tokyo. An popular visit to make is to visit the Fuji Five lakes, from where you can have a beautiful view of Fuji. The trip there by train is also pleasant. The details can be found here.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi there,

The Five Lakes indeed sound so interesting and I just checked the link- awesome place. But the bus network / rail network appeared damn confusing; that I am a little apprehensive. Daniel-san, tell me is it OK to cover the entire Japan on your won, without a guide or tour. We generally prefer doing things on our own; but the language barrier seems a little intimidating.

Also, hope JR Pass is valid for all tours. Narita to Shinjuku; Tokyo to Kyoto; Kyoto to Osaka; Osaka to Tokyo; and then this leg of Tokyo to Mt Fuji and sightseeing there and return; and its a good value of money.

I loved and appreciate your suggestion of a hotel in Osaka close to the station.I shall search accordingly.

Where are good places to indulge in a traditional tea-ceremony; also wear a kimono and get pictures clicked. Also, can we get a Onsen experience somewhere in this itinerary.

Noddy
Noddy

Hi again!

I did not speak Japanese the first time when I visited Japan and had no problem getting around. People will go out of there way to help you, even without speaking your language.

The JR Pass is valid for nearly all of your travel. However you may have to use other transport (bus or non JR rail) when visiting Fuji. This however is very minor compared to the rest.

There are various places in Asakusa, Tokyo where you can wear a Kimono and try Japanese tea. -Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,

Super thanks. Now I am going to trouble you with some Kyoto specific questions. I have zeroed down with these attractions (by the way, the link that you shared is an amazing one- i think Japan-guide.com is probably the best resource):
Kinkakuji (Temple of Golden Pavilion)
Fushimi Inari (Bamboo Forest)
Arashiyama (Monkey Park)
Kiyomizudera

Now pls help me the following queries:
1. Assuming I reach Kyoto Main Station from Tokyo; and that too I think I'll have to take the Hikari Trail using JR Pass. Hope it starts from Shinjuku
2. From the Kyoto station, how do I cover these places. I have done some reading and can find that Fushimi Inari is on the brown track. Shall we target this first. And hope all these are covered by JR Pass
3. Similarly Arashiyama is covered through Brown line but opposite direction.
4. My trouble is with Kinkakuji, which has no connectivity. Shall we get down at Kitano Hakubaicho and take a taxi ? Or better take a taxi from Arashiyama itself; because the Kitano is on a pink colored Keifuku Line
5 Likewise Kiyiomizudera is not connected. Suggest how do we cover.
6. Finally can we get a locker at Kyoto Main Station; where we can leave our luggage. And which train to take from Kyoto to Osaka

Daniel, pls tell me if these long mails are getting too much. But sincere thanks coming your way

Noddy
Noddy

Hi again!

Let get right into your questions.

1.) To get to Kyoto, travel to Tokyo station first - from there take the Hikari to Kyoto.

2/3.) Fushimi Inari is only 6 minutes away from Kyoto station. Just ask a station attend what train departs next and you'll be fine. To get to Arashiyama take the train back to Kyoto station and from there a local service to Saga-Arashiyama. The route would look something like this.

4.) From Arashiyama, just use a taxi. This is the best way given the amount of time you have and the cost is not that much, especially if you travel with a couple of people.

5.) The same applies for access to Kiyomizudera. For the sake of time I would use a taxi here too. You can use a bus to travel back to Kyoto station from there.

6.) There are plenty of lockers around Kyoto station. To get to Osaka, take the JR Kyoto line...bound for Osaka. This is also called the Shinkaizoku service.

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hello Daniel,

Here I am again. We are now almost there; with tickets bought; hotels secured. This note was to seek your help and get some more details around Mt Fuji Excursion. I have got some absurd (read astronomical quotes) from travel agencies and each talks about a detailed itinerary (Mt Fuji and Hakone Tour; Mt Fuji 5th Station; Lake Ashi Cruise and a Ropeway Komagatake). You had earlier suggested a good 5-lake itinerary.

Can you please help me work on a detailed plan on this:
1. I want to leverage my JR Pass to the max while travelling from Shinjuku (Tokyo). Understand there are some patches where JR Pass is not valid (thats OK). I shall take JR Chuo Line from Tokyo's Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station (hope this is covered by JR Pass); from Otsuki, take the Fujikyu Railway Line to Kawaguchiko Station (this i understand is not covered thru JR Pass). Can I buy this ticket at Shinjuku station itself ?
2. But can you pls guide me step-by-step like you do. Since I am travelling with family; and don't plan to take these expensive excursions; wanted to be doubly sure
3. Can I still cover these Ashi Cruise; Ropeway etc on our own.

Pls do help Daniel

Noddy
Noddy

Hello again,

The train from Shinjuku to Otsuki is covered by the JR Pass, at Otsuki you can purchase a ticket for the Fujikyu line to Kawaguchiko. This is 1140yen for one way. You can purchase a ticket back at Kawaguchiko station.

The Ashi Cruise and ropeway are in the Hakone area which is on the otherside of Fuji. I would recommend visiting on a different day if you wish to visit them. In that case it may me smart to get a Hakone Free Pass.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Hi Daniel,

We are all set for our trip. I have even purchased a JR Pass. The question for you is how do i exchange this document to the actuall pass at Narita Airport. I have been given to understand that there are these Ticket Counters (hope they would be open). We land around 2 PM in the afternoon. And also how do we commute from Narita to Hyatt Regency Shinjuku using our new JR Pass.

rgds,
--shanker

Noddy
Noddy

Hi Shanker,

Here's how to exchange the JR Pass at Narita Airport in details:
http://www.jrpass.com/blogs/activating-the-jr-pass-at-narita-airport

2 pm is completely fine. Take the Narita Express from Tokyo to Shinjuku station. From Shinjuku it's easy to walk to your hotel. See map here.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

Thanks. How is Ueno and Asakusa. I want to take my kids to the Museum which houses that Robot Asimo; and then to Oedo Onsen at Monogatari. This would mean we would have to cut down on our Ueno and Asakusa trip. Pls recommend

Also suggest good shopping place in Tokyo. Something similar to a Walmart and Tesco.

Noddy
Noddy

Hi again,

Both are nice to visit but feel the feel of old Tokyo to them. Asakusa is especially nice. I guess you could cut out Ueno though.

For Shopping, Tokyo is gigantic and there's lots for shopping. Shinjuku is the largest area for everything. Shibuya and Harajuku are great for fasion. Omote-Sando is like fifth avenue, Akihabara is for all kinds of electronics and Ginza is for uptown, expansive brands.

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Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

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