questions & answers: itinerary check

draft itinerary for dec

Draft Itinerary for Dec

Hi,

I'm drafting a itinerary for a trip to Japan and would like to cover Kyoto, Tokyo, Mt Fuji (Hakone), not sure if there's enough time to cover more places. Would the JR Pass be the cheapest and convenient way to go around these places?
Drafted plan is
Day 1: Arrive Tokyo (take bus)
Day 2 - 3: Around Tokyo area using local pass?
Day 4: Activate JP Pass + Hakone Pass - to Mt Fuji and Hakone (stay overnight recommended?)
Day 5-8: Kyoto (Nara, Arashiyama, Takayama, Himeji, Osaka)
Day 9: Tokyo
Day 10: Narita

Should we opt for the JR Pass or purchase tickets?
Not sure if we should spend more time exploring around Tokyo or Kyoto or if there's any other places which would be nice to go in between. Any suggestions are welcomed since we're pretty flexible and just want to have a simple relaxing trip.

Thanks in advance!

mun
mun

Hi,
Yes, a 7 day pass would serve you quite well from Days 4-10. As for getting from Narita, you can get a cheap 1000 yen bus and 3 day subway pass or a Keisei/Metro package.

An overnight at Hakone at a hot spring place would also be a very nice experience.

The only real snag is you including Takayama. It'd take you almost 4½ hours to get there from near Hakone. From Kyoto it is less (about 3 hours 15 min one way), but would be a very busy day trip - you'd need to start very early in the morning to see what's in Takayama and Shirakawago. Instead you might consider: Day 5: Kyoto ½ day, HImeji ½ day; Day 6: Kyoto ½ day, Nara ½ day; Day 7 Kyoto; Day 8 Go to Takayama/Shirakawago and overnight there ( a farmhouse stay is highly recommended. Since you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the day. After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are terrific.

For your Day 9, you could go and see more of Tokyo, but you also could see some of Kamakura and Yokohama along the way. For Day 10, use the Narita Express back to the airport.

Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Hi Toraneko

Thanks for the advise. I'll look into Kamakura and Yokohama.
I read that Kinosaki is also well known for its hotsprings and attractions. Wonder which would be better for an experience between Kinosaki and Hakone?
Would we be able to do a Hakone day trip and make it to Kyoto in time? I'm concern about taking too much time for travel and not really enjoy the places themselves.
Are there any other place you would recommend to visit? We don't mind secluded and small towns and just want to experience the culture and daily life.

Thanks again for the advice

mun
mun

Hi,
Solely on the basis of hot spring experiences, I'd say Kinosaki is better. But in overall variety of things to see and do, Hakone is a better use of your time. Getting to Kinosaki is also extremely time consuming. Your next question is a bit unclear - make it to Kyoto in time for what? Seeing Hakone well takes up a full day. If you can do the traveling at night, then so much the better to maximize your sightseeing time.

I think your itinerary and my previous suggestions covers a lot of ground. The only other suggestions I can think of are, first for Himeji, be sure to see the castle but don't miss the Kokoen gardens next to it - they are very beautiful. For Nara, concentrate on seeing the Nara Park area - the Todaiji temple is a must, plus feed the deer around it and see Kasuga Shrine as well as Kofukuji Temple. Also don't miss the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens - they are normally ignored by the tourist stampedes so they are quiet and beautiful.

For Tokyo, it depends on your interests of course. Virtually everyone goes to see Sensoji though, plus the Tsukiji FIsh Market is amazing to see organized chaos at its finest - but you'd need to be there about 4:30 AM to get in line for the tour. If in Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon, be sure to see Harajuku for the youth and the wild fashions, as well as Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park next door. The Tokyo Sky Tree is also pricey but offers a killer view over the city - twilight is best to see the city change from day to night.
For other ideas, see:

http://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/regional/tokyo/index.html

http://www.ar.jal.com/world/en/guidetojapan/city_information/tyo/see/akasaka/

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2164.html

Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Hi Toraneko

Thanks for the advice and suggestions. It helps greatly with the information you provided. I'll probably go for a more relaxing free and easy in Hakone instead.
I read that in December they have the Illumination Festival also. So I'm hoping that will nicely fit into my trip.
I understand that for the Fish Market, we will need to stay one night around that area, because there are no trains/buses that operate at 4.30am?

Thanks

mun
mun

Hi,
It's true there are no trains or buses at that hour - you'd need to stay near by or take a taxi.

Bon voyage!

Toraneko
Toraneko

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