Japan 3 weeks - Arrive Osaka / Depart Tokyo (April 2013)
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jan 30, 2013 12:07 PM Last Post By: bamse
Jan 25, 2013 6:34 PM
This is my first time travelling to Japan and also my first solo trip overseas (have travelled overseas before but with friends). I have around 19 days to play with and I really want to explore as much as I can. I arrive on the 2nd of April and my basic itinerary is below. I have only booked my flights to Osaka at this stage so I'm pretty flexible on any recommendations.
2 - Osaka (land at 6am)
3 - Osaka + day trip to Nara
4-5 - Kyoto
6 - Hiroshima
7 - Miyajima
11 - Kanazawa
12 - Shirakawago
13 - Takayama
14-19 Tokyo (+ day trips to various areas)
Is there a better route I can take from Kyoto to Tokyo? I'm pretty flexible between days 9-14 so if anyone has any advice I would definitely appreciate it. And what JR pass durations would you recommend, I assume I'll have to activate it around this period to get to Tokyo?
At this stage I've probably missed a lot of the cheap hotels, but I'm pretty comfortable saying in any hostels if recommended.
Jan 26, 2013 2:03 AM
1I have only booked my flights to Osaka at this stage
Do you mean, you have only a one way flight? You should be aware that you are expected to have tickets for leaving Japan before you come to Japan. Otherwise the airline might refuse boarding.
I'd try to reduce the number of accommodations in order to minimize time spend on packing/unpacking, locating and getting to/from your accommodation. For instance I would combine those 2+2 Kyoto days and would consider not sleeping in Osaka (unless you want to sample the nightlife). If you wish, you could easily visit Osaka from Kyoto as daytrip.
Is there a better route I can take from Kyoto to Tokyo?
Looks like a good choice to me. Other popular places include Matsumoto or Magome/Tsumago. You could add those between Takayama and Tokyo if you wish and if you remove a day or two from Tokyo.
If you spend days 2-7 in or around Osaka/Nara/Kyoto you don't need a railpass for this time. Get a one week pass and use it for Kyoto-Hiroshima/Miyajima-Kanazawa and Takayama to Tokyo (JR pass is not valid for the buses from/to Shirakawago).
Jan 26, 2013 7:46 PM
2Do you mean, you have only a one way flight? You should be aware that you are expected to have tickets for leaving Japan before you come to Japan. Otherwise the airline might refuse boarding.
I meant I've only bought the 1 way at the moment, but I will get a return from Tokyo (just didn't know what date my trip would end yet).
So far I've refined my itinerary a bit:
2-3 Osaka + Nara (Arrive in Kansai at 6am - so decided to stay in Osaka for 2 nights)
4-7 Kyoto (4 nights)
8-9 Hiroshima + Miyajima (Activate JR pass on 8th from Kyoto which will expire when I get to Tokyo on 14th)
10-11-12-13 (Kanazawa, Shirakawago, Takayama, Matsumoto)
For days 10-13 I'm planning on staying a night at each of those places, should I instead have day trips to reduce accommodation?
Jan 27, 2013 1:44 AM
3Arrive in Kansai at 6am - so decided to stay in Osaka for 2 nights)
That's 6am or 6pm?
Matsumoto is a rather average city (with a great castle and ukiyoe museum) and you have connections to Tokyo until the evening (8pm at least), so I would not spend a night there.
Takayama is a very pleasant place to spend a night and has enought to keep you busy for more than one day if you wish (though one day is probably enough for the highlights). I'd spend one or two nights here.
Shirakawago/Ogimachi is a small village and something like 3-5 hours for sightseeing should be enough. So it could be easily covered on the way from Kanazawa to Takyama. However, if you want to stay in a traditional minshuku/ryokan type of accommodation this is a good place to do this. Haven't stayed overnight myself but heard good things about it. If you decide to stay overnight, try to arrange your itinerary so that you you don't have too much time in Ogimachi (i.e. not a full day).
Kanazawa is also good for a day or two depending on your interests, so spending a night or two would be a good idea.
Jan 27, 2013 1:45 AM
4As for the plane ticket, one way tickets out of Japan tend to be expensive, so if you see a half decent deal, go for it.
Jan 28, 2013 1:44 AM
5Hi. Ive just come home from 10 days in Japan with my family. I would highly recommend staying in K's house Kyoto - it is a backpackers that has some private rooms. It was a great place to stay, quiet and clean, friendly helpful staff, about 10 minutes walk to Kyoto station (with 3 kids and luggage!) and a decent cafe/bar next door. And a good price.
We found it was easy to do a day trip to Miyajima and stayed the night back in Hiroshima again- saves moving around with luggage - take the street car to Miyajima guchi then the 10 minute ferry ride (the JR ferry is free if you have your JR pass then).
If you are a non smoker - check your hotel bookings. There are non smoking floors - but a business style hotel we stayed in still smelt smokey in the non smoking rooms - not something we are used to at home in Australia But Japan is great. We loved it!
Jan 30, 2013 5:39 AM
6I think you're being a bit over-ambitious, by trying to hit too many places in too few days. The travel time and some fatigue needs to be factored in. If I were you, I'd drop Kanazawa from the trip. Time better spent wandering in Shirakawago or Takayama.
bamse is also right about Matsumoto. Ain't much there besides the castle. If you want to see a castle, visit Himeji on your way to or from Hiroshima.
You have the chance to check out a great festival from April 14-15 in Takayama, so why not just stay for an extra day instead of jumping around and actually see something special. The crowds will be plentiful and it may still be a bit chilly in the mountains.
Jan 30, 2013 12:07 PM
7Good point by bazzarooneyjp regarding the Takayama festival. That's really a good one and not to be missed by a day! Only problem could be to get (affordable) accommodation. I'd book now and also look outside of Takayama (e.g. in Furukawa).
As for Himeji castle, you need to be aware that it is under scaffolding, so you won't have the usual view on the main keep, but can view restoration works. See images at http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3501.html or http://www.city.himeji.lg.jp/s60/2851146/_21909/siro-weekly-photo.html
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