Need help setting up itinerary for Kyoto, Nara, Himeji, and Osaka
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Nov 24, 2012 7:28 PM Last Post By: shakester
Nov 18, 2012 12:12 AM
Nov 18, 2012 1:24 AM
Hi, We will spend 5D/5N in Kyoto in late December,
What exact dates? What exact times are your flights? Which airport(s)?
Himeji is being renovated and is behind scaffolding so I'd go to Hikone Castle instead as a half day trip from Kyoto.
Koyasan I would spend one night there in a temple.
Don't underestimate the time taken to get to Koyasan and back (2-2.5 hours from Kyoto).
I'd spend the rest of the nights in either Osaka or Kyoto or maybe a split of the two. I'd pick Kyoto for all of them.
Osaka can be done as a day trip from Kyoto
Nara can be done as a day trip from Kyoto
The rest of the time I'd spend in Kyoto.
Which JR Pass? Most of them would be a waste of money given your itinerary assuming you arrive and depart from Kansai Airport.
Nov 18, 2012 1:27 AM
2Do you want to see more urban areas or more historical sites? If you only have five days, I would skip Himeji - the castle is covered up for repairs right now, and there's not a whole lot else to do nearby.
As far as Kyoto goes, you'll probably want to spend a couple days there. Hitting the most famous spots will probably take at least that long. There are a ton of temples and shrines you could visit, but some of the really famous ones are Kiyomizudera, Ginkakuji, Sanjusangendo, Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, and Fushimi Inari ... don't feel like you have to visit them all, or you'll wear yourself out. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2158.html
Central Nara makes a really great day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. You can see several famous spots within walking distance of Nara station, including Todaiji, Kofukuji, and Kasuga Shrine, and still have time to get back to Kyoto or Osaka in the evening.
Koyasan is easily accessible from Osaka, and if you want to you can even spend the night in the temple - I really recommend this! Then you could catch the train back to Osaka the following morning and spend a few hours there before you have to fly out.
Rather than the JR Kansai Area Pass, it might be a good idea to look at the Kansai Thru Pass, since a lot of places you're looking to go aren't covered by JR (Kyoto's buses, trains to Koyasan, local trains in Osaka and Kyoto, etc.) You can also buy this pass at Kansai airport after you arrive, unlike the JR pass which has to be purchased before you leave for Japan, and which doesn't cover a lot of local lines and buses in the Kansai area. Info here:
Whichever pass you buy, remember that you'll probably encounter some transportation that isn't covered, and budget a little extra for it.
Nov 18, 2012 2:39 AM
3+ in late December+
If it is really late this might apply: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2276.html
Nov 18, 2012 4:47 AM
Nov 18, 2012 7:06 AM
5Hi, we will land in Tokyo Narita on the afternoon of 23 dec, and will take bullet train to Kyoto we will stay in Kyoto 5 full days/nights there, the last 3 nights we will spend in Tokyo, so we will be spending 8 D/N in Japan, from what I gather from your comments, I will skip Himeji due to renovation work, so that leaves us with 2 full days exploring Kyoto, 1 day trip to Osaka, and 1 day trip to Nara, what should we do with 1 last day in Kyoto.
Nov 18, 2012 7:26 AM
Nov 18, 2012 4:35 PM
7For your last night in Kyoto, I think a day trip to Koyasan is still a good idea if you want to see a slightly more rural side of Japan. You could also visit a couple of the temples that are a little farther away from the city center in Kyoto - Fushimi Inari and Byodoin are both really beautiful. There's also the possibility of staying overnight in a traditional Japanese hotel; I would recommend this to anyone visiting Japan.
When I stayed in Kyoto, I took a half-day trip to the nearest hot spring in Kurama, which has a nice hike to the top of the mountain temple and outdoor baths.
I like Osaka, but I don't think of it as an essential tourist spot. It's not as easy to navigate as Tokyo, and a lot of what Osaka is famous for requires knowledge of Japanese to understand (theater and comedy, the local dialect, etc.) If you really want to see a castle, Hikone will probably be more interesting than Osaka castle. If you want shopping and nightlife, Tokyo will have that as well.
Nov 19, 2012 12:25 AM
82 days Kyoto is not much and you will easily find things to do in Kyoto for the third day as well.
I agree with windswept321 that Byodoin is amazing (would make sense to see it on the way from Kyoto to Nara), however the main highlight, the Phoenix Hall can not be entered at the moment due to reconstruction works, so you might want to postpone a visit.
I am personally not too fond of daytrips to Koyasan as IMO the best things there happen around night and what you can see during daytime is not special enough (compared to other temple places) to warrant such a long trip there. As for rural side of Japan, I think somewhere around Kyoto such as Ohara would be more typical than Koyasan.
Nov 19, 2012 1:12 AM
9I completely agree with #7 re Osaka - I do like Osaka a lot, but it puzzles me why 99% of all itineraries posted here include full days in this city. There really isn't that much to see and do in Osaka that can't be found elsewhere, though the city's nightlife is great (much better than Kyoto's IMHO).
5 full days/nights
Nitpicking perhaps, but 5 full days = 6 nights, while 5 nights = 4 full days. Given that you arrive at Narita in the afternoon of the 23rd, need to travel to Tokyo station and then catch your shinkansen, it will be evening by the time you are settled at your hotel in Kyoto, so you can basically write that day off for sightseeing.
I would spend all days in Kyoto with possible side trips to Nara, Hikone, an evening in Osaka and/or the mountains or countryside around Kyoto (Takao, Kurama + Kibune, Ohara).
But it would certainly help us enormously if you could answer Glenski's questions in #4 - perhaps you're obsessed with aquariums and fake castles with elevators inside, in which case it does make sense to spend at least a full day in Osaka.
Nov 19, 2012 7:06 AM
10Hi we have visited Japan long long time ago and pretty much can't remember anything, we are tired of modern cities, we like to explore nature, culture, and Japanese food, that's why we decided to base most of our stay in Kyoto.
I think we'll skip Osaka, so we're left with Kyoto, Nara, now we need help deciding how we will best spend the 5 days in Kyoto & Nara, lets start the itinerary on early morning of Dec 24th and go from there, many thanks to you all for your valuable input.
Nov 19, 2012 7:32 AM
11now we need help deciding how we will best spend the 5 days in Kyoto & Nara
A few of us already mentioned Kurama, Takao, Hikone, Ohara etc. Did you already look those places up, and if you did, did you find them appealing enough to include in your itinerary?
What sights in Kyoto do you definitely want to see?
Nov 19, 2012 8:27 PM
12Hi acc, many thanks for the pdf links, the itinerary from Sugared and Spiced was a starting point as we had no idea where to start from our hotel location at Kyoto Train station.
Nov 23, 2012 12:01 AM
13There is far, far more to do and see in Kyoto than you expect. We just got back from a trip to Japan in which every other place we stayed only 1 or 2 nights, but on recommendations from friends, we booked 5 nights in Kyoto. We thought it might have been a bit excessive, but it turns out we still could have used another couple days!
That being said, I wouldn't rush through Kyoto. No point visiting all these gorgeous temples, and missing out on all the best stuff because you have a schedule to follow.
Being autumn/winter (in our case, November, and your case, December), days are not very long. It starts getting dark at 5:30, and most temples were closed by 4:30/5. The weather can be dodgy - we had a day and a half of rain when we were there - and if its raining, you never get as far as you think.
We were out of the hostel before 10 in the morning, and didn't usually get back until 6-ish, but we managed, consistently, to see only about 3 temples per day. We were not racing through, but neither did we spend hours dawdling, either. The gardens are massive and the temples are gorgeous. You want to spend some time wandering through them and appreciating them.
If you were very efficient with your time, knew exactly where and what you were doing (difficult for a tourist), got out of the hostel an hour or two earlier, I would hazard that you could manage 4 temples a day. Any more than that and you'd be deliberately missing stuff.
That being said, I'd recommend:
Also FYI, Kiyomizu-dera had some construction work going on when we were there, so there wasn't much actual temple you could go see. The view is lovely, but IMO there are many other better temples to go see.
I would probably not bother with any day trips, on your short schedule. Kyoto has more than enough to keep you occupied, and the sights are probably more worthwhile, too.
Koyasan I wouldn't bother with unless you have an overnight there, it's not a short trip.
Nara is worth doing in a day trip, because you can stop off at Tofuku-ji and Fushimi Inari (maybe Uji if you're really efficient) on the way there.
Nov 24, 2012 7:28 PM
14Hi, regarding Kyoto plans, we just got back and I like the sound of this for three days in Kyoto
1- Southern Higashiyama side- Kiyomizudera, and could do any/all of Chion-in, Shorenin, Maruyama Koen and Nanzenji & maybe Eikan do and Path of philosohpy (this would be a packed day!)
2- We managed to combine Arashiyama (Tenryu-ji, Bamboo grove and walkaround, skipped the rest) with Kinkakuji, which was lovely in the afternoon light.
3- Northern Higashiyama- Ginkakuji, Hoen-in (small but lovely), Path of Philosophy. We went to Fushimi Inari in the afternoon which I would definitely say you should include!
Of course, it does depend what your pace is, but I found this to be reasonable for us. Also I dont know what the weather and light will be like in Dec/Jan.... enjoy your trip!
Edited by: shakester
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