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first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Miami, Florida
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first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Hello I am thinking of going to Japan Dec 31 to January 15. Here is my draft itinerary. If you can help and review, that would be great!

31-Dec Leave the US

1-Jan Arrive tokyo in the pm

2-Jan Tokyo all day (Sleep in Tokyo)

3-Jan Go to Kamakura for the day (Sleep in Tokyo)

4-Jan Tokyo all day (Sleep in Tokyo)

5-Jan Go to Nikko for the day (Sleep in Tokyo)

6-Jan Go to Kyoto in am (Sleep in Kyoto)

7-Jan Kyoto all day (Sleep in Kyoto)

8-Jan Go to Nara for the day (Sleep in Kyoto)

9-Jan Go to Osaka for the day (Sleep in Kyoto)

10-Jan Kyoto all day (Sleep in Kyoto)

11-Jan Go to Hiroshima in the am, Go to Miyajima in the pm (Sleep in Hiroshima)

12-Jan Go to Himeji in the am, Go back to Tokyo (Sleep in Tokyo)

13-Jan Tokyo (Sleep in Tokyo)

14-Jan Tokyo (Sleep in Tokyo)

15-Jan Depart from Tokyo

I will get the 14-day Japan Rail Pass which should get me to Kamakura, Nikko, Kyoto, Nara, Osaka, Hiroshima, Himeji and back to Tokyo.

Is this correct?

What do you think?

One more time I'm alone (female), never travelled alone, never been to Japan and don't speak a word of Japanese so I want to play it "safe" and vacationy :)

Thanks

Queenstown, New...
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1. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Good on ya for getting out there and giving it a go on your own. You should have no safety troubles in Japan, but continue to use your common sense!

Note that the main temples/ shrines will be PACKED with worshippers and domestic tourists the first few days (especially Kamakura on the 3rd). If you know and are prepared, it's pretty awesome to experience. I'm not 100% sure for Tokyo, but you may find most department stores closed on the 1st; opening early on the 2nd with 'fukubukuro' (lucky gift bags) available.

Itinerary looks good; I would recommend staying in Osaka on the 12th-13th, so you get to see that great city.

PM and feel free to ask any more qus!

Tokyo, Japan
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2. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Himeji is fine, but probably you know that the castle is being fully restored at the moment. I've read that the Egret's Eye viewing platform for restoration work would be closing after Janauary 15.

http://www.himejijo-syuri.jp/en/

You might perhaps see another castle (Inuyama Castle about 30 minutes away from Meitetsu Nagoya, or Hikone Castle [with the museum] 1 station away from Tokaido Shinkansen's Maibara stop), and see Kurashiki town with Ohara Museum of Art instead on 12 Jan.

http://www.kurashiki-tabi.jp/for/en

jcastle.info/castle/profile/46-Inuyama-Castle

jcastle.info/castle/profile/36-Hikone-Castle

Edited: 13 December 2013, 07:36
Tokyo, Japan
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3. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Your plan looks fine overall. You'll be safe and fine if you exercise the right amount of caution in Japan, don't worry too much. There are enough solo female travelers to the places you include in your list.

If you are a bit interested in castles, Nijo Castle in Kyoto is quite interesting as the Shogun's villa and magistrate office, with gorgeous old screens.

Edited: 13 December 2013, 07:51
Tokyo, Japan
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4. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Btw Kurashiki is a town on the way to Hiroshima from Kyoto/Osaka. Get off at Okayama and take the local train on conventional line to get there. It's worth visiting for a few hours.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5750.html

Miami, Florida
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5. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Thanks! I'm not into castle actually, I like big cities :)

Here is my reviewed itinerary if you can comment

31-Dec leave the US

1-Jan arrive tokyo 4pm Sleep Tokyo

2-Jan tokyo all day Sleep Tokyo

3-Jan Go to Kamakura Sleep Tokyo

4-Jan tokyo all day Sleep Tokyo

5-Jan Go to Nikko Sleep Tokyo

6-Jan Go to Kyoto in am Sleep Kyoto

7-Jan Kyoto Sleep Kyoto

8-Jan Go to Nara Sleep Kyoto

9-Jan Kyoto Sleep Kyoto

10-Jan Go to Hiroshima Sleep Hiroshima or Miyajima

11-Jan Go to Miyajima Go to Osaka Sleep Osaka

12-Jan Osaka Sleep Osaka

13-Jan Go to Tokyo Sleep Tokyo

14-Jan Tokyo Sleep Tokyo

15-Jan Depart Tokyo

If I get the 14-day JR rail pass, i can go anywhere of these cities without buying tickets?

Tokyo, Japan
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6. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

With JR Pass, you can ride on JR company trains, except for those noted on the official site (Shinkansen's Nozomi and Mizuho services would be relevant to you; you won't be able to ride on them). Not all train lines in Japan are run by the JR Group companies.

You may just wave the Pass at the ticket gate to board on the non-reserved car on Hikari (or Sakura) service on Shinkansen, but as a JR Pass holder you are entitled to ride on the reserved seats area. Reservation will be just a matter of few minutes, if not seconds, and can be done at any major JR train station up to the moment of departure, so for long distance trains you are recommended to reserve a seat. At especially busy hours, the Shinkansen can be packed with businesspeople.

Edited: 13 December 2013, 18:05
Miami, Florida
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7. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Actually reviewing the budget I might just spend a week in Tokyo mid-January....

Queenstown, New...
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8. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

Personally, I'd recommend spending the week in Osaka and Kyoto if you're only going to be able to make it for a week. Kansai is a beautiful area with so many different things to see and do.

I prefer Osaka as a city, wonderful people, great food and atmosphere. Kyoto is packed with stunning temples, UNESCO sights, countryside...

San Francisco...
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9. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

I agree with choosing one location and enjoy it. I know everybody has a budget but most likely you won't come back to japan in awhile. I would suggest somehow find a little more in your budget and go for 10 days. 3 in Tokyo and 7 days in Osaka/Kyoto. Get the 7 days jr pass. Fly into Tokyo and fly out in Osaka. From doing my research, some flights from Tokyo to the us have a stop in Osaka so the rate will be the same. GL

Miami, Florida
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10. Re: first trip alone, first time to Japan, 2 weeks January 2014

I just booked my trip, I will be in Tokyo January 16-23! So excited!!