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Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

New York City, New...
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Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

My boyfriend and I are visiting Japan for the first time between Nov 19-29. We are flying in and out of Narita airport (too late to change that now). Our interests are food. photography and sightseeing (a little nature, a little culture).

We plan to spend our first 4 nights in Tokyo - we plan to eat plenty of delicious cheap Japanese food. Besides the usual popular sights, we have tickets for the Ghilbi museum and we plan to take a day trip to Nikko.

Then we will spend our next 2 nights in Kyoto. We plan to see the Nishiki market, Nijo castle, geishas in Gion, some photoworthy temples, and the monkey park and bamboo groves in Arashiyama. The Fushimi Inari Shrine also looks like a great place for photographs.

Where should we go next? We have already ruled out Hiroshima. Is Osaka worth visiting? What about Nara - the deer sound interesting. Or should we spend some more time in Tokyo?

Day 1: Travel from New York to Japan

Day 2: Arrive in Narita - stay in Shinjuku

Day 3: Tokyo

Day 4: Tokyo

Day 5: Tokyo/Nikko

Day 6: Kyoto

Day 7: Kyoto

Day 8:

Day 9:

Day 10: Depart Narita

Thanks for your help in advance --

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1. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

I would add extra time in Tokyo, others will tell you to spend more time in Kyoto. Osaka is a big city with plenty to do but Im not sure I would travel half way round the world to see it.

Nara is a nice trip and many people find it more to their liking than Kyoto which superifcially looks like another big city.

2. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

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Edited: 21 October 2010, 18:06
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3. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

1.12:06 pm by FatChris;".....Kyoto which superifcially looks like another big city..."

In mid-November, my Kyoto neighbourhood looks like


extremely rare to see tourists.

In the morning, I often wake up to the sound of the japanese nightingale Uguisu singing "ho-hokekyoh."

Edited: 21 October 2010, 18:08
Nashville, TN
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4. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

I'd spend day 9 in Tokyo, and day 8 in either Hiroshima or Shirakawa, or possibly Kinosaki or Matsumoto. Each of these places has a unique perspective. Hiroshima is more than the a-bomb stuff; stay in Miyajima for a nice change of pace. Kinosaki is a wonderful onsen town on the Japan Sea; it's about 2 hours from Kyoto and is well worth staying overnight, and splurge a little if you can. In Kinosaki your ryokan (inn) will give you yukata (light kimono) to wear around to the multiple hot baths in town; they also provide tickets so you don't pay an entry fee to each bath. If you arrive early in the afternoon you can take in the shops and maybe hike up/down the hill (also served by cable car) with a nice view and temple on top. Shirakawa is just a cool place to go and is well worth the effort to get there. Matsumoto is a nice castle town in Nagano; again, you'll have some great views from there of the mountains.

I suggest going to www.japan-guide.com for more information, and do a flickr.com search for pictures.

Another option is to take that extra night in either the Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka) or Tokyo regions. In Kansai you could do Mt. Koya and even stay overnight in a shukubo there, or just go for the hiking; and certainly Nara is good. Around Tokyo you have Kamakura and the Izu Penninsula is also quite nice.

Regarding spending another night in Tokyo: there are many opinions on this. Personally I think a trip to any foreign place should get you exposure to as much of the culture as possible. You'll find many inquiries here from people on their second/third/etc. trip to Japan. I suggest hitting the high points, with a few quirky things for variety. Don't just do the cities and don't over-temple/shrine yourself, either. Find places where domestic tourists are in the majority and you'll enjoy the trip much more than if you focus only on Tokyo and Kyoto. Remember: You can always go back at another time. :)

Good luck!

John W.

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5. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

It looks like a 7 day JR pass will work for you. Activate it on day 4.

For your arrival and stay in Tokyo - http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/suica-nex/ should work for you. Get the one-way version. Use the JR pass on NEX for the return trip to Narita.

Camas, Washington
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6. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

i agree, get the 7-day JR pass and use it for the last 7 days of your trip.

i would also spend one more day in tokyo and take a day trip to hakone, if that's something that interests you.

from kyoto, take a day trip to nara, really nice. stop at fushimi inari on the way there, all the red torri gates are amazing. osaka is also a nice big city, there's a JR loop line that stops at many of the main sights in osaka, could work for you.

New York City, New...
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7. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

Thanks so much, we purchased 7 day JR passes.

Kyoto, Japan
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8. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

You could do something that is a little different from the usual thing. A day trip to Shiga from Kyoto might be nice at that time of year. The Miho Museum is a cool building up in the hills. It was designed by I.M. Pei and won architectural awards when it opened 13 years ago. The area is beautiful and most likely the fall colors will be at their peak when you are here. From the Miho Museum you can take a bus to Shigaraki if you want to see a traditional Japanese pottery town. Or you can take the bus back to JR Ishiyama Station and go to Ishiyama-dera (temple). There are many maple trees around that temple so it will be nice if the leaves are red when you are here.

Or take a day trip from Kyoto to Hieizan. It's a mountain that has views of Lake Biwa and there is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage temple at the top called Enryaku-ji. At the base of the mountain you can take the Sakamoto Cable car up to the top. Near that cable car station down the street, at the base of the mountain is Hiyoshi-taisha Shrine and that complex of buildings in the forest is really cool. I've only been there in summer but imagine that the trees will be beautiful during fall foliage time. I was there a couple months ago and within the shrine complex, there was a place called Hiyoshi Sanso (villa) that had lunch and it was next to a stream and small water fall in the forest. We stayed for about 2 hours because it was so relaxing and peaceful.

Lots of options for an extra day trip from Kyoto...

9. Re: Itinerary Help - Tokyo/Kyoto plus side trips

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