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Japan - where do I start

(29 Posts)
Therugbymum Thu 12-Sep-19 20:21:47

DH has a big birthday next year and we are looking for somewhere special. I have suggested Japan but where do I start?
We would probably go for at least 2 weeks between the beginning of July and mid August.
We have experience of booking DIY flights and hotels in the USA but are out of our comfort zone with Japan.
Could you please recommend places to stay, to visit and things you’ve seen which you feel are a must.
We will also have our 15 year old DS with us.
Any other information you think would be useful.
I will be the main researcher and DH will sit back and enjoy my efforts.

OP’s posts: |
DustOffYourHighestHopes Thu 12-Sep-19 20:24:30

Use insidejapan. Value for money, made all the trains a breeze.

DustOffYourHighestHopes Thu 12-Sep-19 20:24:55

Try to go at the least hot time. It will be v hot

unwravellingagain Thu 12-Sep-19 20:26:53

We did Japan in spring of last year, for 3 weeks with 11 year old DD.

We went to Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, along with a few days up in the mountains in a traditional inn (which was amazing). It was the best trip we have ever done and although it was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime, we all want to go back as soon as we can!

Am happy to answer any specific questions at all, but our tour was organised for us by a company called Inside Japan, and I really cannot recommend them too highly - it would have been so difficult and so bewildering without them. They can sort everything for whatever you want - we had a few half days with guides which was really good and a special anime tour of Tokyo for DD. But their website will give you an idea of all the different things they can sort.

CandyLeBonBon Thu 12-Sep-19 20:28:39

@unwravellingagain what sort of ballpark expenditure did that entail?

safetyzone Thu 12-Sep-19 20:31:35

Just to warn you that it will be really hot in the summer.

GreekOddess Thu 12-Sep-19 20:37:17

Marking my place.

butteredbarmbrack Thu 12-Sep-19 20:37:49

Watching with interest as we are also hoping to get to Japan this summer, with DDs aged 12 and 15. Ideally along with tickets for the Olympics or Padalympics, but the information on how to get tickets from the UK is appallingly bad and I missed round of sales back in July despite having been stalking the Team GB website for months. Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka sounds fab as a combination.

DrinkFeckArseGirls Thu 12-Sep-19 20:40:18

Find on FB a Japan Travel group. Do not go in the summer - extremely high temperatures plus monsoons. There’s loads of walking and tourists can’t cope with the heat.
I haven’t been yet but been reseraching too.

terraform Thu 12-Sep-19 20:43:49

Go at a different time of year for a start - it will be boiling and very uncomfortable. I used to work in East Japan where it would usually be about 35 degrees and extremely humid. Do check out the seasons as it will make a big difference to your experience.

I'd also avoid Obon as accommodation, travel etc will be packed and very expensive. 13-15 August.

Consider a JR pass for the trains - they are excellent value and you'll see a lot of the country - far better than internal flights and just as fast.

unwravellingagain Thu 12-Sep-19 20:44:27

@CandyLeBonBon - about £5k each, but could be done for less - we had 2 hotel rooms in most places, and rented a small house in Osaka.

Stuffofawesome Thu 12-Sep-19 20:48:32

I'm going in a few weeks Tokyo Kyoto Hiroshima Takayama found some lovely looking Airbnb places which work out economical with 6 of us travelling.
Going to get Japan rail passes.

Ambidexte Thu 12-Sep-19 20:48:38

Another vote here for going at a different time of year. Either spring (preferably avoiding Golden Week, when everything will be booked up) or autumn.

It really will make a big difference.

Therugbymum Thu 12-Sep-19 21:25:06

Thank you all for the replies. I have joined Japan friendly discussion group on Fb. I may have to rethink this as we are tied to school holiday times. The longest period, apart from summer holidays DS would be off is 2 weeks at Christmas and 2 at Easter.
Darn.

OP’s posts: |
terraform Thu 12-Sep-19 21:50:23

Easter would be really nice! And it would probably coincide with cherry blossom season which would be a fantastic experience, Japan at its most Japanese (er!) You can see a lot in 2 weeks. It's a really easy country to travel around.

RainOrSun Fri 13-Sep-19 07:30:12

We went independently for a week - and just stayed in Kyoto with a day visit to Osaka.
For a fortnight, I'd agree that splitting with Tyoko, via a stop in the mountains would be good. And since you are going in high summer, maybe extend the mountain time, and decrease the city time?
Web searching, and booking was relatively simple. If you can do that for the US, you can do it for Japan!

DrinkFeckArseGirls Fri 13-Sep-19 08:33:29

Easter is best. And you’ll get to see the cherry trees blossoming with any luck.

LuckyBitches Fri 13-Sep-19 16:41:14

We went to Japan for 2.5 weeks over Christmas. We spent 5 nights in Tokyo, then split the rest of the time between Hakuba (skiing) and Osaka and Kyoto. If I did it again, I would sacrifice Osaka for more time in Tokyo, which I loved. Osaka just felt like a smaller version of Tokyo to me. Tokyo is huge and diverse, I could easily spend a fortnight there which is unusual for me. I found Kyoto a bit boring, but everyone else seems to love it, so it must just be me! I only want to see so many temples. Nara, which is nearby, I found much more interesting. Osaka can also be done as a day trip from Kyoto.

exexpat Fri 13-Sep-19 17:14:04

July/August next year (2020) is the Tokyo Olympics. Flights and hotels are going to be much more expensive and harder to find, not to mention that it is the hottest, stickiest and most unpleasant time of year to travel in Japan (it also rains a lot in the summer).

I would highly recommend going in spring, autumn or winter instead.

(I have been going back and forth to Japan for 30 years, lived there for more than a decade and just got back from a few weeks unavoidably there in August, which reminded me why I don't usually choose to travel there in summer).

WrongKindOfFace Fri 13-Sep-19 17:34:59

I would be a little careful with air b&b or private rentals as it’s strictly regulated there - check any property is properly licensed. I think air b&b only list licensed sites but others may not be as careful.

Easter is a great time weather wise, but it can be busy if it coincides with cherry blossom season or spring break.

WrongKindOfFace Fri 13-Sep-19 17:39:17

Oh and a rail pass isn’t always cost effective unless you doing at least one long distance round trip. It can be easier to fly into one airport and out of another say arrive in Tokyo and out of Osaka.

I’d start by each picking a couple of things you’d really like to do and building the trip around that.

Therugbymum Fri 13-Sep-19 18:34:26

Oh, thank you everyone. I’m really glad you told me the summer would be too hot and sticky. I ended up in the medical centre in Cedar Point with heatstroke, even though I was doing all the right things.
I’m thinking Easter now.
Do you think 2 weeks is too long or would it be easily filled? The things DH has talked about are Tokyo, Mount Fuji and Kyoto. Not sure about distances. DS is into theme parks/rollercoasters. For me I’ll go with the flow, although the cherry blossom would be on my list.

OP’s posts: |
WrongKindOfFace Fri 13-Sep-19 19:43:01

You can easily fill two weeks. You could start in Tokyo, travel out towards Mount Fuji and stay in a traditional onsen for a couple of nights, then travel down to Kyoto with a side trip to Osaka to go to USJ.

If ds wants to go to universal studios then you can pre book fastpasses online but only on the Japanese website - there are instructions online on how to do it. It’s much easier than it looks. Or you can buy via one of the approved travel agents - but I think that’s rather more expensive.

unwravellingagain Fri 13-Sep-19 21:38:03

We filled 3 weeks and didn’t want to leave! That sounds good though.

Universal Studios is in Osaka which is why we went there, although the food is also excellent.

Celeriacacaca Fri 13-Sep-19 23:09:51

We went in July. It was fab but very very hot - sweat running down your back hot. In Kyoto it got up to 40° which was too hot to function really. Go in spring. Don't pack your itinerary too much.

I planned and booked our three weeks and we ranged from 6 days in Tokyo to Hiroshima to a night in a Buddhist temple and plenty in between. PM if you'd like any advice.

Airbnb's are great. Much better than hotels. Especially as we'd take our clothes off and wash and dry them when we got back each day (I'm a light packer - took 4 dresses only.) we saw so much but there's so much more to see. Can't wait to go back! It's an incredibly easy place to travel around and has a culture that's so different from anything I've experienced before.

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