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basing ourselves in Osaka

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Brisbane, Australia
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basing ourselves in Osaka

Our daughter is currently working in a school in Osaka and we're thinking of going to Japan to see her and for a sight-seeing trip (first visit).We are a couple and 17 year old son. We will probably go from 22 June to 2 July. I know it's not the best time for weather but we are restricted by Uni holidays.If we based ourselves in Osaka (Cross Hotel if possible), then could we see most of the interesting sights , except for Takayama, Tokyo and Hakone, on day trips? For example, 4 nights in Osaka with day trips to Kyoto, Nara and Himeji, then 4 nights in Tokyo, Hakone and Takayama before coming back to Osaka for 2 more nights. With such a limited time and so much we want to see, I'm finding it difficult to work out the best itinerary.

Nashville, TN
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for Himeji, Kobe, Osaka
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1. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

That sounds like a good plan. You should look into getting the JR Kansai Area Pass:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html

It's a pretty good deal for regional travel.

John W.

Brisbane, Australia
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2. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

Hi John

Thanks for your reply. I thought we'd take 7 day JR rail passes with us as we'll be going to Tokyo and back. Should we also get Kansai passes? I thought the JR passes would cover most of our trips.

Also, I wonder if we're trying to cram too much into our time in Japan. Maybe we'll have to miss Takayama.Can you tell me what you'd do in our situation.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

If you are doing longer trips to Takayama and Tokyo, then yeah the JR Pass is what you need.

If you were just sticking to the area around Osaka then the Kansai pass would have been a cheaper alternative.

Osaka is a good place to be based.

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

I should have added the things we are interested in seeing: castles(husband), Tokyo and Mt. Fuji (son) and scenic old towns and beautiful peaceful places (me).

I also don't want to rush about so much that I end up needing a holiday when we get home. I'm 55 and get tired easily.

Cambridge, UK
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5. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

From Osaka, Himeji (for the castle) and Kyoto and Nara (for some beautiful streets, gardens and temples) are fairly easy day trips. There's so much to see, particularly in Kyoto, but it can be just as rewarding to pick one or two places of interest and enjoy them at a relaxed pace.

Spending a few nights in Tokyo and/or the surrounding area also seems like a good idea. Japan is so well organised, that travelling doesn't tend to be too stressful, though the huge train stations and a lack of information in English can sometimes cause confusion. However, with a good guidebook and a bit of planning, you'll have a wonderful time. If your daughter is working in a school, you may also find that some of her students will be keen to meet you and a little local knowledge can be very helpful, particularly when it comes to eating out.

Philadelphia...
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6. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

Be forewarned: Fuji is often invisible, wrapped in clouds, fog or haze. I personally don't regard Hakone as a must-see, but you do get to see evidence of volcanic activity--an area of hot springs and sulfurous fumes--and the lake sits in a caldera left by the collapse of a previous volcano. Also, the trip up--switchback railroad, cable car, ropeway--is fun.

One of my favorites is an overnight stay in Kurashiki, seeing the old Bikan district in dusk, and visiting the little museums (closed Monday) before the daytrippers arrive. Himeji castle can easily be seen on the way down or back.

Melbourne, Australia
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7. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

Another thought. How badly do you want to see Tokyo?

Tokyo is all Big City. Shopping, big buildings, crowds, but maybe not what you want to see the most.

On our trip the Tokyo section was perhaps not the most interesting bit.

Osaka supplied the "Japanese Shopping" thing for us just fine, and more time in places like Kyoto and the Alpine area around Takayama would have been time better spent.

Especially if you don't want to over exert yourself, see more in the Kansai region with less rush.

Brisbane, Australia
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8. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

Thanks Emjoi, Pob and Roger for your thoughts.

I could easily miss Tokyo myself, but my son has expressed an interest in it and Mt Fuji, so to keep us all happy I think we need to go there. He'd also like to see the snow monkeys, but I think we'd have to go in winter to see those.

I am a bit worried about huge stations. I find the main station in Sydney confusing enough - the one with the country and city trains - and everything is written and spoken in English there. Our daughter has just started her job, so probably won't be able to get time off work to go with us anywhere, except perhaps on the one weekend we're there.

Sometimes I think it would be a lot easier to just go on an organized tour, although they seem to be pretty expensive, and departure dates don't always fit in with the time we can take off.

Melbourne, Australia
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9. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

The stations are all posted in English, but I wont lie to you, hitting Tokyo station for the first time is a "Holy *Swearword*" moment. Thousands of people, dozens of platforms and corridors and exits.

Sydney is a toy station in comparison.

You do need someone in your group with a level head and a sense of direction who can say "Everyone stay here, and I will figure out where we have to go".

However, the signs are clear and in English, the gate staff are friendly and helpful.

Cambridge, UK
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10. Re: basing ourselves in Osaka

It's almost inevitable that you'll get a bit confused at the larger Japanese stations, however, it's such a safe and unthreatening country that there's nothing to really worry about (other than missing a train, but with it being Japan, there'll be another one within minutes anyway!).

As a tourist in other countries, I'm often paranoid about being ripped off or having bags stolen, but there's absolutely no need to feel like this in Japan, and you're likely to find that locals will come and help you out if you look lost and confused. I'm not suggesting you leave your luggage unattended while you go for a wander, it is a very safe place though, and as long as you're not in a rush to get somewhere, you'll find your way eventually and probably meet some very kind people along the way.