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Japan itinerary and tips-any help appreciated

54 replies

CocoKoko123 · 10/12/2019 07:20

Have 10 night trip to Japan booked for spring next year.booking everything independently.have so far booked flights (to Haneda) and accommodation-have 4 nights in Tokyo,4 nights in Kyoto and then 2 nights in Tokyo.
Have an idea of the attractions we want to see (cherry blossom, my Fuji,including 1 day at Disneyland, a day trip to Nara from Kyoto and to the bamboo forest from kyoto).. there is no way we could fit in a day trip to Hiroshima in to such a short time is there? Also not sure if Osaka is worth a look given the sort time frame? We will have dc 9&12 with us.

My questions are are there any particular not to be missed attractions or restaurants etc (I am getting confused with how many shrines/temples there are and can't visit them all!)

Also I have heard there can be issues getting uk phones to work out there and have heard someone mention about getting a portable WiFi pack-does anyone have any advice on how to go about this?phone would be useful for WhatsApp calls/messages and looking up directions when out and about there.

Do I need to buy tickets over here in advance for attractions or just turn up?does anyone know the official link for the Ghibli museum as I've heard that needs booking online months in advance as books up quickly?

For transfers to/from airport am I best booking these in advance online (eg a taxi) or best getting a train when there?

Finally, for transport (mainly train/bullet train I guess) do I just buy tickets for this once there? I've heard mention of a rail pass....

Thanks in advance, any help appreciated

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CocoKoko123 · 10/12/2019 07:28

Oh and is it worth booking any guided tours/excursions to any of the attractions, or just doing it all ourselves?! Thanks

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User478 · 10/12/2019 07:55

Get JR passes, they are vastly cheaper than buying individual tickets.
There is a train connection between the airport and Tokyo.

Go to Disneysea rather than Disneyland.

We had a portable WiFi hotspot thing, we booked it online and collected it from the airport.

I don't think I would do Hiroshima for 1 day, the peace museum is heavy going (really good, but very intense.)

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BHouse19 · 10/12/2019 07:58

No advice but I'm very very jealous. It's on my bucket list. It would be amazing OP if you wouldn't mind posting the answer to your questions after your holiday! Have a lovely time

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Peony99 · 10/12/2019 08:02

I would absolutely prioritise Hiroshima over the (nice, but not epically special) bamboo forest.

Hiroshima is an incredible place and will make a lifelong impression on your kids. It's an easy day trip from Kyoto.

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Inniu · 10/12/2019 08:06

Go to a good onsen and spend a night in a good ryokan. If you are going to look at Mt Fuji you might be near Hakone is good for both of those.
If you are there for cherry blossom you might be there for the geisha dances in Kyoto.

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xoxoluna · 10/12/2019 08:28

I actually recommend booking a kimono experience when in Kyoto (if you and your DC are into them). Choose one temple/shrine to visit and rent a package nearby.

Ghibli Museum:
www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/tickets/

I think you can get discount tickets from Klook, but you can't book yet so far in advance.

Better to get passes for the trains, just much easier.

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Maydayredalert · 10/12/2019 08:30

Your trip sounds amazing o/p! Will you update your thread when you are back and tell us all about it?

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CocoKoko123 · 10/12/2019 08:32

Thank you for responses so far everybody.
user do I just get the JR passes once there?where do I book the WiFi thing from? And out of interest why would you recommend disneysea over Disneyland? (Wanted a picture in front of the castle lol!)
bhouse of course I can report back!
Mixed feelings on Hiroshima then - will have a think.
innui we are already staying in a total of 4 different accommodations (including a night in a pod hotel,2 nights in a robot hotel, a Japanese town house in Kyoto and a hotel in Tokyo) and couldn't figure out which properties were ryokans online but the Japanese town house looks to be in that style. Do you know where to look to book in to see Geisha dancers in advance?
Thanks all

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CocoKoko123 · 10/12/2019 08:38

mayday of course I can report back

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Swiftier · 10/12/2019 08:39

Tokyo:

Don’t get a taxi from the airport, the train will be quicker.

Obviously it’s a massive city so stay somewhere well connected/near to one of the subway stations.

The Ghibli museum can be booked online, in advance www.ghibli-museum.jp/en/ All the details are on their website. You’ll need to get up in the middle of the night to book as they go on sale at something like 9AM Japanese time. They sell out very quickly. It is worth it though.
I would also recommend TeamLab exhibitions www.teamlab.art/e/?type=pickup again these definitely need to be booked in advance.

Are you planning on a day trip to Fuji? Fuji is notoriously difficult to see as it is often covered in cloud. If the weather isn’t clear it may not be worth the trip as there is so much else to do and you only have a short trip. When you can see it, it is often in the early morning so you may need to stay overnight to get the best chance if you are really set on trying to see it.

In Tokyo your kids might like to wander around Harajuku for an afternoon.

Kyoto:

Worth staying near the station as a few of the sights in Kyoto are a train ride away. Or stay in Gion, the historical district, but be prepared for a bit of commuting.

Day trip to Nara is definitely worth it IMO. One of our favourite days.

In terms of prioritising temples, my favourites were Kinkakuji (the golden temple) and Fushima-Inari (with the many Torii gates).

@Peony99 I agree that Hiroshima would be much more interesting than Arashiyama. Arashiyama was the busiest place we went and we didn’t enjoy it much. If you go to Hiroshima, visit Miyajima island.

Osaka might not be doable in such a short time but you could go for an evening (and it isn’t far at all from Kyoto).

Train costs:
The rail pass may not be worth it, if the only longer journey you’re doing is Tokyo-Kyoto. But once you have your itinerary you can use an online calculator to compare the costs of single tickets vs a rail pass.

Pocket WiFi:
Definitely worth it, easily booked online and can be collected at the airport.

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KittenVsXmastree · 10/12/2019 08:40

Osaka Castle is pretty impressive, but I'm fairly sure you can fill your time in Kyoto (and visit Nijo castle) without a day trip there - unless you could do it on the day you left?? Bullet Kytit - Osaka, then back straight through Kyoto to Tyoko?

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Nightmanagerfan · 10/12/2019 08:44

You can only buy the rail passes when out of Japan so do it before you arrive. You then get a voucher that you take to an office at a main station with your passport to exchange for the pass. 7 day passes will be fine for you as you start in Tokyo.

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CornishMaid1 · 10/12/2019 08:47

The only 'tip' I know for Japan is that if you have a tattoo you need to make sure it is covered in public (that was courtesy of Guy Martin's show on Japan last week).

Other than that, I cannot help (bar suggesting watching some of the recent shows about Japan to give inspiration) but I am quite jealous as it is somewhere that I would like to visit.

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1000umbrellas · 10/12/2019 09:00

If you're planning on visiting a few temples/shrines, buy a shrine book in the first one you go to. It's a little concertina book and you can have it stamped at each shrine you go to, they also write the name of the shrine in calligraphy so it makes a lovely souvenir to take home.

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1Micem0use · 10/12/2019 09:07

It might be really touristy but I enjoyed the hop on and off tour bus

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1Micem0use · 10/12/2019 09:07

In Tokyo! Sorry shouldve mentioned that! And find a cheap ramen place, better than a fancy restaurant if you ask me

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KittenVsXmastree · 10/12/2019 09:21

Sorry, has to go to school.
Yes, the rail pass MUST be bought before you get to Japan.
We had a fabulous week in Japan, and only touched a fraction of it. The food is out of this world. Enjoy!

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Namechangeforwhat · 10/12/2019 09:59

Hi OP

I live in Japan, on 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo with Japanese DH.
Regular poster but used namechange as this is outing.

Kyoto: gorgeous place with amazing food and atmosphere. Arashima forest is beautiful but very touristic. Worth a visit though. If you have seen the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, visit Gion too. It instantly transfers you back in time!

Hiroshima: Mijayima is very beautiful and definitely worth a visit. The island has a beautiful shrine and lovely shops. And very cute deers wandering around the streets!
The monument for the atomic bomb victims is very impressive and worth a visit.

Don’t forget to pick up some of the momiji manju cookies, they are a regional specialty from there and delicious!

Tokyo: since you have teens, it’s a nice idea to visit the gorgeous Meiji shrine and explore Harajuku with them afterwards (Sangubashi station or Harajuku station). Shibuya is also real nice for teens and if you like sushi, the Standing Sushi Bar there is highly recommended!

I also love Asakusa for the retro atmosphere (again very much tourists though). Ueno is also popular with tourists but not very nice IMO, very shabby.

Re transportation, as others have said get a Japan Railcard. Shinkansen trains are very expensive and I believe even a return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto already costs more then the rail card!
Order them before you leave since they are only available outside Japan and make sure you take your passport on the train with you as they want to see that as a proof you are using them as a non - resident.

Re going from Haneda to Tokyo, I always take a bus (Friendly Airport Limousine Bus), from Narita you can take the Narita Express to Shinjuku station at least, I think also to Tokyo Central Station.

Re things to do around Tokyo: consider Hakone as well, gorgeous village on a steep mountain hill surrounded by nature and famous for onsens. Go on the ship at the lake to see the beautiful nature around the lake and if you are lucky and it’s not foggy, Fuji san.

Kamakura, an old city near the coast is also worth a visit. Beautiful shrines and temples, devoted to Samurai families. Very very impressive.

Enjoy Japan and if you need any more advice, please PM me.

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WhatTheFronti · 10/12/2019 10:03

//www.thetokyochapter.com is a very useful blog especially travelling Japan with kids. Her Insta is great too.
Have fun!

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CocoKoko123 · 10/12/2019 13:11

Thank you so much to all for all your recommendations - given me lots of foot for thought and I will get my head down this evening trying to cobble together an itinerary. I believe the accommodation I have booked is all close to transport links (left it a bit late to book tbh so went for best combo of price and location from what was available!).

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CocoKoko123 · 10/12/2019 13:12

And namechange thanks for your kind offer of pm - I may well take you up on that once I've got plans a bit more cemented!

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BobbyGentry · 10/12/2019 13:40

Peach Airlines maybe cheaper than the trains?!

Nara from Kyoto is super easy and super fantastic; easily spend a whole day in Nara; weather permitting.

I know you’ve organized accommodation but cannot recommend this family room in a traditional Ryokan enough in Gion, Kyoto:

Q-beh Kyoto
Name/address in local language
Local name:
祇園旅館 休兵衛
Local address:
〒605-0072東山区鷲尾町505-3

Arashiyama (Sagano Bamboo forest) is a trek on the bus but worth the travel time. Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple is spectacular - 1200 carved stone statues, bus stop otagidera-mae. Nagano Scenic Railway and River boat Is loads of fun too if you’re in the area.

My personal favourite temples were
Kodai Ji temple
Ginkaku ji temple Silver Pavilion
The walk from Gion, via the The keage incline, and path of philosophy was magical.

Mores the pity but we never got to see Saiho ji Temple (troublesome application procedure to visit during blossom season.)

The best photo I took was at Nijo jo Castle.

In Tokyo, we stayed in Ginza which was a great location. The Edo Museum is excellent. Tokyo Disneysea was preferable to Disneyland.

Osaka was awesome for Universal Studio Harry Potter Wizarding World - with magic wands you can activate spells! 💫

Have a great time, I’d go back in a heart beat

Japan itinerary and tips-any help appreciated
Japan itinerary and tips-any help appreciated
Japan itinerary and tips-any help appreciated
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BobbyGentry · 10/12/2019 13:52

Q-Beh-Ryokan-Gion

Gion is where you ‘may’ see maiko, close by Kodai-ji temple & excellent blossom-lined street food lit by firelight.

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AlexaShutUp · 10/12/2019 13:53

Yes to getting the rail pass before you go, it's definitely worth it.

And yes definitely to squeezing in a visit to Hiroshima (and nearby Miyajima if you can). I wouldn't bother with Osaka personally. I'd probably skip Disney too, there are much better things to do in Japan.

Onsen in Hakone is a good suggestion.

In Tokyo, I love the Odaiba area - Tokyo Bay. Senso-ji/Asakusa are also worth a visit.

My dd's favourite place when we took her was the Fushimi Inari shrine in Tokyo. Personally, I find Kinkakuji a bit overrated. I do like Tenryu-ji/Arashiyama (bamboo).

Have a lovely time!

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newdeer · 10/12/2019 13:57

Good choice of Nara and Kyoto.

If you go to the bamboo groves it's worth heading up Arashiyama hill (steep climb for 20-30 mins) to hand feed the wild monkeys with apple and peanuts. (Wild in the sense that they roam the mountains freely and humand stand in a cage to feed them. Ingenious and great fun if you like that sort of thing.) Also, if you like that sort of thing, there's a shop at Arashiyama that sells Miffi cakes - very cute.

Afaik, you can only book Ghibli tickets one month in advance and they sell out on the day. So if you want to go on 10th May you'd need to book them on 10th April, which is the earliest they are released. they are cheap though., so might be worth paying an agency to do this on your behalf as their website is all in Japanese.

I wasn't smitten with Osaka (though if DC had wanted to go to Harry Potter maybe I would have been) -not worth a trip in hits own right.

Kyoto Golden Pavilion and Fushimi Inari absolutely wowed us all. DC loved writing wishes on the fox-head charms at Fushimi, and lighting candles and incense and banging gongs. Also, feeding rice cakes to the deer at Nara is fun but some of the deer are very pushy so stay close to DC.

We got a portable wifi that allowed up to 10 devices so it linked to all our phones and to my I-Pad. It was invaluable. DC were translating signs just by holding their phones up to the Japanese symbols and like something from Harry Potter, it took a photo of the sign but with the characters translated into English alphabet. We also used Google maps to get everywhere so we were neve rlost and DC found us some incredible restaurants - all because we had great Wifi. We used Japan Wireless as they were the cheapest at the time.

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