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Help with Japan - 22 days

Perth, Australia
7 posts
1 review
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Help with Japan - 22 days

Hi guys,

My wife and I will be travelling to Japan for 22days next April 2010. I was wondering if I can get some info from people, mainly things a tourist might not know normally (something not from website as there are heaps of people who have posted stuff on the forum here but a lot are repeats and we would like to avoid this if possible).

We have briefly researched some stuff and here are some of places we may visit (sorry for typo if there are any):

Himeji

Hiroshima

Nara

Yokohama

Hakone

Hakuba

Kyoto

Takayama

Kanazawa

Miyajima

Mt Koya

Maybe Nikko, Kamakura, Shitakawago & Matsumoto

Also how far in advance should be book accommodations? We are still trying to do where the main places to stay then work off from there to smaller places as one day trip (i.e. base in Tokyo and work around the surrounding province or Osaka and work around Kyoto Himeji etc)

If I could get some input about individual places and opinions, that would be great. (Please do not post the same info as it will greatly help us compile our research, thanks in advance).

Narooma, Australia
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977 posts
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1. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

Sorry, but I'm not sure exactly what you're wanting. You don't list Tokyo or Osaka, the two major cities in Japan and probably one will be your point of arrival; are you asking which of the places listed can be visited as day trips from places like Tokyo and Osaka? If it were me, I'd fly into Kansai and immediately head to Kyoto and use that as a base for visiting Kyoto, Nara and Osaka, and then move elsewhere from there. Takayama and Kanazawa are worth a couple of nights each. Hakone, Himeji and Hiroshima/Miyajima at least a night each...

Book accommodation, once you've decided on your itinerary, as early as possible. However, please note that many ryokans and business hotels will only start to accept bookings 3 months in advance.

Illinois
Destination Expert
for Chicago, Illinois
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2. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

You also might want to consider flying on an open jaw ticket. Fly in to Osaka and out of Tokyo, or vice versa. This will eliminate a train trip back to your original arrival city.

Kyoto and Osaka are only 30 minutes apart by train. Base yourself in one of the two cities.

Philadelphia...
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5,446 posts
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3. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

Just a couple of random comments:

Yokohama is not a must-see. If you plan on a few days in Tokyo, you can decide then which day trips to make. I like Kamakura. Nikko is essential. Hakone is fun, especially the many modes of transportation--switchback railroad, cable car, ropeway, funny boat.

Himeji can be done on your way to or from Hiroshima, as a three-hour stopover. I do like to stay overnight in Kurashiki.

I've only been to Shirakawago once, staying here. japaneseguesthouses.com/db/…magoemon.htm It was memorable. You can go from Takayama to there by bus, stay overnight, then continue on to Kanazawa. I would stay three nights in Takayama, two in Kanazawa.

Non-tourist things: Most of these destinations are everyday working cities or towns, as well as tourist destinations. Wander the neighborhoods and shopping streets. Take a local train to a random small town for a couple of hours.

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Tohoku, Hokkaido
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4. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

Himeji Castle is undergoing major restoration and will last for 4-5 years. By April 2010, it will most probably be completely covered by a roofed scaffolding like a giant tent. The interior will still be visited though.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g298564-i2712-k286…

Late March to early April is cherry blossom season in Kansai area. Consider doing a side-trip from Osaka to Yoshino which holds a Sakura Festival during mid April

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294232-i525-k2450…

Takayama holds a Spring Festival in mid April. It is very popular, accommodation gets booked out months in advance.

www.hidanet.ne.jp/e02/ematsuri/eharu.htm

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5909.html

Nashville, TN
Destination Expert
for Himeji, Kobe, Osaka
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5. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

I think your plan is pretty solid. I'd try to work in an onsen town/area (Kinosaki, Arima, Gero, Hakone) if possible. My personal favorite is Kinosaki, but i'm partial to that region in general. You might also consider Shikoku; it's a bit off the beaten path for most foreign tourists, and you'll have plenty of time. You can get to the island by train (via Okayama) or ferry (multiple points of origin). There's a lot to do on Shikoku; it's famous for the pilgrimage route through some very old, very cool shrines. Another place to consider is Matsumoto, near Nagano; you could easily do one of the many onsen in that area, and the castle in Matsumoto is quite nice. Finally, while in Hiroshima make sure to see Miyajima; you might even consider staying there rather than the city itself.

As for booking accomodation, I'd book it as far in advance as you can; a month is probably enough time, but if you can do earlier I would, especially if you know where you'll be because the beginning of April is still Sakura (cherry blossom) season, and the last week is part of the Golden Week holiday.

Here are some really good web sites to use in planning in addition to this forum:

www.hyperdia.com - good for planning train travel; note that the JR pass is not used on the Nozomi (fastest) shinkansen, so make sure you check the appropriate box.

www.japan-guide.com - A really good resource with lots of information.

www.jnto.go.jp - the Japan National Tourist Organizaiton. You can find some pretty obscure stuff here.

www.google.com - It's obvious, I suppose, but there are thousands of web sites with information; each prefecture will have at least some information in English, as will many towns.

Good luck!

John W.

Perth, Australia
7 posts
1 review
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6. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

Thanks all. Our entry point is Osaka airport and I guess we're trying to figure out the best way to plan our trip as it is our first time and we have 22 days to plan it.

There are a lot to cover and I have read through tripadvisors but found too many repeated info which is quite frustrating to read through.

I think we will base ourselves in either Osaka or Kyoto as well as Tokyo and travel to the other province as a day trip. Just wondering there are any places where we should stay overnight.

Also does anyone know much about the Hakuba skiing, where to stay and how long we should spent there? What's the best route to go there? And also the Takayama festival, i heard it is good but haven't fully read up on it yet.

Perth, Australia
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7. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

Hi 60yoAussie ,

Thanks for letting me know about the accommodation. This will put me at ease a bit as we I wasn't sure if I have to rush to get the accommodation side of things out of the way first.

Our first entry point is at Osaka and we're just trying to figure out what's the best way to plan this 22days trip. I'm sure you're away Japan is so big and there's so much things to see.

Not to mentioned that everyone has different opinion about where to stop, how long to stay etc which makes the planning hard also.

What I was trying to get out of this forum is also about the little things local knows about that we foreigners might not know and I was hoping some local Japanese would rpely to this post.

At times there are some really good inn that only locals knows about or may have referred to a tourist who can recommend it to people like us on the forum and it's not something you can read about on website. I know when I was in Thailand i learned a few things here and there which could be shared with people others probably won't know. This is what I was trying to get out of pretty much. =)

Las Vegas
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8. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

Hi Bigmao - I'll throw in my two cents as a professional who plans Japan tours for a living. You didn't mention if your 22 days covers cherry blossom time in Kyoto. If so, you'll want to be booked for your time there at least 3 - 4 months out to get the location and hotel price you want - much later and hotels at the lower end are totally sold out and it's hard to get a number of days in a row without paying a premium. High season prices are in effect in any event for the first two weeks of April.

I'd also suggest that you may not find the local residents quite as knowledgeable about some interesting places to stay as you might expect, since their style of travel may be very different from yours. It is a cultural difference in that the Japanese do not regularly travel in the same independent style as westerners do. So they look for different things when traveling - for instance, they prefer twin bed rooms to double beds. It's just one example, but it can lead to some misunderstandings when you are looking for something special and the suggestions are from locals. Since you didn't want repeats, the only thing I would add would be to decide the focus of your trip in order to narrow your options (e.g. traditional Japan, nature & sports, contemporary art, trolling the inland sea, etc.) Oh, and, whatever you do, figure out exactly how much time you want to spend in Kyoto and then double it and do whatever you need to do to stay that long. Most everyone regrets that they didn't plan longer there.

9. Re: Help with Japan - 22 days

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