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Planning a big holiday (we usually go to Europe) in a couple of years to japan.
Apart from wanting to go to Tokyo and Kyoto (which I definitely want to go to) there’s simply too many other things to choose from to do.
Has anyone got any suggestions for itinerary?
I would recommend you look at Inside Japan who have a lot of suggested itineraries. They are listed as Group holidays but they give you a great overview of the best of Japan. Also have a look at Lonely Planet because they suggest interesting itineraries too. Obviously the length of time you are there makes a difference to the itinerary and the depth you can go into. Kyoto is fantastic though and you can add Nara into the mix easily. Rail journey is brilliant and I really recommend Japan. We have done a few areas and cannot wait to go back to see more. I also recommend walking from Magume to Tsumago (or longer) on the Nakasendo Highway. Also avoid summer. It’s hot and humid. Spring and autumn are better.
If you have time Naoshima is well worth a visit
Following - we just booked flights for November! Wondering about getting to the hot springs in Hakone
We tried to go to them! We got out at the cable car stop and were engulfed in low cloud and the overwhelming stench of rotting eggs (sulphur). So, watch the weather. We had to abandon the trip.
We're going in the summer and I've just finalised our itinerary. I already want to go back and I haven't even been yet as there's so much I want to do that we can't fit in this trip!
Here are our plans
Days 1-5 Tokyo
Day 6 Tokyo - Hiroshima
Day 7 Hiroshima - Kurashiki
Day 8 Kurashiki - Himeji
Day 9 Himeji - Koyasan (staying in a temple)
Day 10 Koyasan - Kyoto via Nara
Day 11-14 Kyoto
Day 15-16 Hayama
Day 17 Hayama - Tokyo Narita
There's a company, Inside Japan, who will send a lovely brochure with some great ideas and itineraries. I hadn't realised that Narita was so far away from Tokyo and where we are heading so next time I'd fly into Haneda or Osaka.
There are some very helpful people on here who have given some great suggestions. Do a search for Japan and there will be loads to think about. Next year is the Olympics in Tokyo so might be best avoided.
Have fun planning!
Ooooh where are you staying on Koyasan? I really want to do a Temple up there with the kids
IJumped - Shukubo Koya-san Eko-in Temple. I booked via bookings.com, using TopCashback. Quite a few were already booked. It's by the cemetery which is amazing apparently (lantern building etc). Can't wait.
We stayed in a ryokan in Hakone. Well worth it.
I usually take all my itinerary ideas from the selective asia website. Definitely add Nara to a Kyoto trip, it's about 30 mins on the train.
We are going to Korea and Japan this summer, not ideal for weather but where we live is also very hot and humid in the summer so we are used to it. We are spending four days in Osaka and are planning a day trip to Hiroshima.
Itinerary might depend a bit on what time of year - do you have an idea yet?
How long will you have?
Definitely have a look online and think about what your interests are. Japan is amazingly varied, we love the contrast between the cities and the stunning mountain scenery.
We went to Tokyo and Kyoto, plus the Fuji Five Lakes region, travelled around the Japan Alps, down to Hiroshima and Miyajima and around Kyushu. Next time we’ll go to Hokkaido.
My favourite area was the Alps, so many pretty villages and amazing scenery. The Alps are accessible from Tokyo and Kyoto so doable if you have time and are set on Tokyo and Kyoto.
Hiroshima is very interesting and Miyajima beautiful. Not far from Kyoto so again doable for you.
Kyushu might be too much for this trip unless you have longer than a couple of weeks, if you can make it that far it’s lovely and different from Honshu.
Hokkaido and Okinawa would again be too much if you only have a couple of weeks but an option if you’re going for longer. Depending on what time of year you’re going.
General tips - stay in a Ryokan at least once. We love Ryokans and stayed in several and the whole experience is amazing.
Plan to try lots of food and do some research on where to eat as there are amazing options.
Plan a mix of city and countryside, as I mentioned it’s really diverse.
Try and get away from some of the busier spots in Kyoto. Kyoto’s most famous sites we found to be extremely busy with coach loads of tourists so we were glad to have day trips to places like Nara which, although busy, wasn’t as bad as other spots like Arashiyama.
So we’re now starting to build our itinerary, we will have 15 nights in November. Would anyone be willing to give feedback on the places we want to see and if it’s doable and how you would divide up the time:
A night on Koya-San
Would love to also do Miyajima mainly because apparently it provided inspiration for Spirited Away (we’re Studio Ghibli nuts!) and it looks like it’s close enough to Hiroshima to make it work....
We did all of that but not Hiroshima, along with three nights in Ryokan. We had three weeks, but I think it is doable in two.
Nara is an easy day trip from Kyoto, or even Osaka, so you don't need to stay there.
Osaka is really only a couple of days of food and shopping, unless you want to go to Universal Studios and/or the aquarium. City Museum very good too. I personally had enough of Kyoto after 3 days: there are only so many temples you can see.
Also if you are Ghibli nuts, try and book into the museum - very limited tickets, available three months in advance.
But I would also second the recommendation for Inside Japan - they did an amazing job for us (and now for my friend too who is going next week) and I was so glad we used them as we ended up in all sorts of special places (including the Ghibli Museum).
Great, thankyou! I think we’ve landed on the following itinerary:
Tokyo - 6 nights (with day trips to Kamakura and Nikko)
Hiroshima/Miyajima - 2 nights
Koyasan (via Hemiji Castle) - 2 nights
Kyoto - 5 nights (with day trip to Nara so 3 full days in Kyoto itself)
Now to figure out where on earth to stay in Tokyo. I think we’re going to try for Ryorkan on Miyajima
XJapan resident here. Unless you love temples, I wouldn't do Kyoto and Nara. You'll be templed out. There's plenty more to do in Japan.
Wha would you do instead?
We stayed at the Asakusa Via Inn in Tokyo - slightly for Japanese business men, but great location by the temple, and has family rooms as well.
5 nights in Kyoto is a lot, you could look at coming back from there via Hakone where there are loads of Ryokan and then on to the airport.
@onsen that seems like a good plan
We’ve changed it a little, I think we’ll go from Hiroshima to Kyoto and then in the middle of Kyoto go to Koyasan, leaving our luggage at a guesthouse, because trying to get to Koyasan from Hiroshima AND fitting in Himeji Castle on the way (with 2DC in tow) was starting to look a little mental....a night in the springs before getting on a plane does sound lush!
You do know about the Japan Rail Pass, don't you?
Also there is an amazing luggage forwarding service in Japan, so you don't have to take everything with you all the time.
How old are your DC?
Yup read all up about the JR pass and the Suica card - DC aren’t super young, 11 and the 7 yr old will turn 8 while we’re there and both seasoned travellers
We went to Japan this year and visited Tokyo and Kyoto. We found this was enough for the time we were there.
1. Get the bullet train travel passes, you can go a lot of places on a day trip with them as they are super fast, clean and regular. From Kyoto it's possible to visit just about any place on the main island as a day trip
2. DO NOT MISS the digital art museum in Tokyo borderless.teamlab.art/ This was the highlight of our trip. Buy tickets before you go as they sell out fast and there is a limited number of visitors per day
I was just thinking in terms of what we did that they might like - DD was 11 when we went. Are you going to do one of the theme parks - we did Universal Studios from Osaka, but there is also Disney in Tokyo.
The shops are fantastic fun at that age, particularly Daiso, which is a 100 yen store and sells all sorts of wonderful souvenirs as well as ordinary things. (we gave DD an allowance of 500Y a day to spend in places like this). Also Tokyu Hands, Don Quixote (for all the amazing flavoured kit Kats and other sweets.). We had to buy another suitcase there and I am still regretting lots of things we did not buy.
Manga Museum in Kyoto has all its displays in English as well. Tokyo Skytree, and we did a 1-hour ninja experience which DD totally loved.
Another hotel to look at in Tokyo might be Hotel Gracery Shinjuku as that is the one with Godzilla on the terrace (we stayed there too at the end of our trip).
Finally, it is really worth having a couple of half days with guides; I understood a lot more of what was going on having done that.
Watching this thread closely! We're in Japan in October for the rugby world cup - hope to see something of the country at the same time.
@onsen that’s super helpful.
We won’t be doing any theme parks - we live in LA with Disney and universal on our doorsteps and none of us are massively into theme parks in any case (thank god! More time for other stuff)
Also watching this thread as going in April next year. Praying I'll be there at the right time for Sakura!
I really want to do an Onsen, however I have to do far more investigating to find one that is happy to take tattooed people. I know they are few and far between .
I'm glad I'll be home before the 'lympix' tho. Can't imagine.
I'm gonna go for about a month.
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