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Japan holiday of a lifetime(38 Posts)
I’ve wanted to go to Japan my whole life. I’d really appreciate some advice about the following:
- how long to go for? 10 days? 2 weeks?
- ball park costs for family of 4?
- your unmissable things!
We won’t get to go for a few years but I need to save a realistic amount of money and I want to plan and get excited and look forward to it.
Any top tips really appreciated no matter how small!
There are a few japan trips on Longhaul.
Stay in a Ryokan
See the Sumo
We went for a week, it wasn't long enough!
We spent three weeks: a week in Kyoto (first few days getting over the jet lag) then a week travelling around Honshu, then a week in Tokyo. Unless you go for much longer than that, pick one island and do it well.
Our faves from that: Tokyo city museum, kappabashi, himeji, Matsumoto, hiroshima.
Go by train if you can. Learn some Japanese, but take pen and paper - many Japanese read English better than they speak it.
I would say definitely 2 weeks, there is so much to do! Kyoto is much more interesting than Tokyo. I had 4 nights in Kyoto and it felt rushed. If you want to see Mt Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi is better than Hakone. Matsumoto and Kanazawa are good to go to. You can do it on a moderate budget...dinners can be relatively cheap in noodle bars. Sushi for lunch. I stayed in back packer hostels when I went which were about £20 a night for a shared dorm. Look into a train pass, don't get individual tickets, it works out much more expensive.
Ooooh! Responses! Thank you!
Oh just reading this is making me feel more excited. I’ve read online about people visiting tea ceremonies. Did you do that? Worth it or a tourist trap.
Good tip about pen and paper (and I have sometime to learn some Japanese)!
We went for three weeks.
Naru, the ancient capital.
Kyoto, beautiful temples, geisha district tour, gardens.
The Seito islands of the the inland sea. They are "Art Islands" beautiful and rural and you can hire bicycles to explore them. We stayed 5 nights.
Shikoku, a less touristy region but beautiful coast, temples, mountains and villages, we hired a car and found driving surprisingly easy.
I spent almost 2 weeks there. It was not enough. Stayed 4 nights in Tokyo, 3 in Kyoto, 2 in Hakone, 1 in Hiroshima and 2 in Osaka.
I think the tea ceremony is overrated. The bullet train is amazing and Kyoto is better than Tokyo.
I can't wait to go back!
Kyoto vs Tokyo is about what you want out of it. Imperial history and tranquil beauty: Kyoto. Modern developed but not western city, shopping etc: Tokyo.
What time of year are you planning to go? It gets sticky in summer - if you are tied to school holidays, Easter might be best (at least if it’s not Hokkaido that you want to visit).
I am tied to school holidays so was planning around Easter time.
I have the bulletin train on my mental list!
In terms of what we like, I’m really into art, love literature and we’re all quite active. Will have primary aged kids with us.
2 weeks at least. I agree with what Mayhew and Spindelina have said. Kyoto and Naru in the spring are beautiful especially if you catch the cherry blossoms.Osaka is also lovely.
Depending how much travel you intend to do, you may find that a japan rail pass is more cost effective than individual tickets for the bullet train jrpass.faresassist.com/railpass/enquiry.asp
Tea ceremonies are a genuine cultural practice in Japan there are clubs dedicated to it. It’s a hobby for some. Do your research as to what is on offer for tourists, quality may vary.
In Kyoto, I thoroughly recommend going to see one of the authentic geisha performances ( not to be confused with the dinner and geisha show tourist packages )
Its definately worth visiting temples. You can collect stamps in a book, might be a fun activity for your primary aged children.
(btw, for when you get to this level of detail, when I said Tokyo city museum, I meant the Edo-Tokyo museum. Worth it just to look at the building!)
Oh you lucky lucky lucky person planning this!
Apart from the (very good suggestions) from others don't forget:
Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo ESPECIALLY with kids. We loved it without them and want to take ours to it!
There's an island off the bottom called Yakushima which is a totally magical place.
We’re planning the same!
If you have young children, then I’d try and fit in a day at Disney Sea in Tokyo, which I’m told is brilliant.
When I’ve been to japan in the past I’ve enjoyed all of it, but particularly enjoyed going up into the mountains- there are various resorts in the Nagano area that can be accessed by train. I love small things in Japan, like the local parks where you can play frisbee golf and they have play equipment that would be immediately stolen in the uk. The little restaurants in stations and side streets that specialise in one thing eg noodles, okonomiyaki, yakitori, curry. The niwaki trees in many urban gardens. The little tune they play at the stations when the train is due to arrive. The mind blowing patisseries. I love all of it- Japan is awesome!
Small tip, but to save money you can also get breakfast or lunch from the 7:11 shops that are all over the place. They sell buns, bread, lunch and snack things. We’ve used them a lot when we’ve visited in the past.
I think with children at least 3 weeks would be best, I found 2 weeks a bit rushed with just adults.
If you can go during the cherry blossom season around April, it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences. Incredibly beautiful.
Go to the Studio Ghibli museum in Tokyo. I would spend at least 4/5 days in Tokyo and Kyoto and then day trips elsewhere. Nara for deer and temples. Osaka has an amazing aquarium.
The trains are remarkably efficient and easy to use though the stations themselves are huge (like an airport terminal in size) with many different levels, shops and restaurants so can be a bit confusing. You can end up walking quite a long way underground to get to the correct platforms.
Also if you can go in April it’s the one time of the year where the geisha perform for the public in Kyoto. You will see lots of fake geisha/maiko walking around dressed up as you can rent the outfits for the day. There aren’t many real geisha left so it’s very special if you can see the Spring show, usually on for about 2 weeks.
Watching with interest, as when I’ve tried to make up a potential itinerary to estimate costs I’ve been overwhelmed and confused (usually good at that sort of thing and plan all our own big trips).
My guesstimates came out at around £10k for flights and accommodation for 2 weeks but may be way off.
We went to see Kibuki theatre in Tokyo which was fantastic
Small tip, but to save money you can also get breakfast or lunch from the 7:11 shops that are all over the place. They sell buns, bread, lunch and snack things.
Kare pan and a can of royal milk tea. Mmmmm.
OP, I’m properly jealous! Want to go back some time. Too many great little experiences to list.
Just avoid the melon pan 🤮
They also had these great currant buns with butter in the middle- so good when you’re in a hotel and dont have access to a kitchen! Ooh, and mille crepe 😍
If you take flights with a brief stopover (1-5 hrs), the cost can be considerably cheaper. This is not ideal with kids, however.
You can also look at ryokan (Japanese guest houses) and youth hostels, which are more likely to have a room to fit all 4 of you.
Oh wow so many good ideas! V pleased to read about the 711s (thought they may get be an option from murakami books...but they, of course, are fiction!)
Right! I’m going to read these in detail.
Museum gilhbi sounds ace and can watch all the films in advance!
I went for 2 weeks, mainly split between Tokyo and Kyoto. Also went to Hiroshima for the night. I can't recommend stuff for families as I was on my own staying in hostels. I bought the rail pass for a week which was worth the money. I would love to go back, maybe in a couple of years!
So far, I’m thinking Tokyo first and that we’d need at least 3-4 days there. Then head to Kyoto via somewhere in the countryside (a historic town maybe?) where we could stay somewhere more traditional. I was thinking near Fuji. Then several days in Kyoto at least 3-4 again.
Is there somewhere people would recommend visiting on the coast?
Is your preference hub and spoke (base with day trips) or stay a night and move on? I think you’ll want longer in Tokyo, unless you can’t abide big cities.
We did it the other way round - off the plane at Narita straight onto a shinkansen to Kyoto. If you can manage that journey (DH is still pissed off with me for falling asleep in the train) then Kyoto is a much smaller more peaceful place to get over jet lag, to practice your Japanese, and generally get your bearings.
Kamakura isn’t between Tokyo and Kyoto, but worth visiting at least as a day trip from Tokyo.
Stay in a ryokan and take a bullet train. Japan is AMAZING. I'm so envious.
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