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12 Day Japan itinerary

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Going to Japan for around 12 days in September, looking for some advice on our itinerary...
7 years ago, June 27th 2012 No: 1 Msg: #158088  
Hi all,

We are planning a 12 day trip to Japan as part of a longer trip to Asia and need some advice on the below please...

Itinerary so far is as follows -

Arrive to Narita Airport, Tokyo, 9am on 25th September (from London)

(Have heard about the NEX & Suica deal, worth it?)

- 5 days Tokyo, inc a day trip to Nikko and a day trip to Hakone/Mt Fuji.

(Best area to stay in Tokyo for less than £60 a night per room? Have found 1-2 places in Shinjuku, which seems busy at night, or it looks like Asukusa is a cheaper area with some cool hostels but not so much to do at night? What is the best way to see Mt Fuji? How do we get to Hakone from Tokyo, what is the train station called in Hakone?)

- 3 days Kyoto, inc a day trip to Nara

- 2 days Hiroshima inc a day trip to Miyajima

- 2 days Osaka inc a day trip to Himeji

Fly to Hong Kong from Osaka around Oct 7th.

We can make this trip a couple of days longer and fly to HK on the 8th or 9th Oct if you think there is too much planned in for 12 days, or if we are missing anything important?

With the JR Pass, it seems worthwhile to get a 7 day pass, to activate it upon leaving Tokyo for the Tokyo-Kyoto journey, then use it around Kyoto, then for Kyoto - Hiroshima, Hiroshima - Osaka and around Osaka and to the airport (if going for 12 days this is possible). Does this make sense?

Any advice and suggestions greatly appreciated!

Thanks 😊 Reply to this

7 years ago, June 27th 2012 No: 2 Msg: #158107  
From Narita, I usually avoid the NEX as it involves alot of walking with your luggage, and expensive taxis from Tokyo station. I usually take the airport limousine, which is what they call the buses that go from the airport to all the major hotels, including some in Shinjuku and Asakusa. For Tokyo, I would do a day trip to Disneysea (next to Disneyland), and an overnight stay at Takarazawa Onsen (in Nakano, take the train from Ueno Station). The Onsen (hot springs) are better in Nakano than Hakone, which is a bit run down. But if you are doing Mt. Fuji, then Hakone or Atami are more convenient. If you want to splurge on a nice Onsen, try Gorakadan. The changing colors should be beautiful in Nikko during your stay in autumn. But I would rent a car and do Nikko yourselves. The JR pass is the way to go. In Tokyo, make sure you spend a couple of hours doing Harajuku. I think Shinjuku is a bit of a dive. Try to see a sumo stable, or a tournament, if the timing is right. Reply to this

7 years ago, June 28th 2012 No: 3 Msg: #158123  
B Posts: 11.5K
Hi Victoria and Scott,

Where to start? ;-)

- The orange airport limousine bus will cost you around 3000 yen. More expensive than local trains, but you'll get there a bit quicker and the guys that organise you into the right queue speak English.

- This is the English version of a site I often used for general train travel around Japan. (really simple to use)
http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/norikae/

- A good chain of hotels is Toyoko Inn. They're always walking distance from main train stations, and include free breakfast and free internet. The optional loyalty card will cost you about 500 yen, but is worth getting even for the short time you're there, if you stay there at all. English available.
http://www.toyoko-inn.com/eng/

- Mt Fuji. I highly recommend climbing it overnight to see the sunrise from the top. You can get the bus from Shinjuku to the 5th station where most people start climbing from. Would avoid using any of the 'rest' huts on the way up, I don't think they're worth the price.
You can buy a plain walking pole before starting the climb, and get souvenir stamps burned into it at each station for a few hundred yen each. One of my favourite travel souvenirs :-)
The mountain is pretty plain up close in daylight, so suggest either climbing it or just admiring it from a short distance away.

- Nikko is definitely worth an overnight stay, and is easy to get to using the trains.

- Kyoto. You can hire a bike from next to the railway station and get round to all the attractions. I've done it walking, but was pretty tired by the end of it.

- Hiroshima. Two days would be about right. One for the peace memorials and one for Miyajima. I think you can use the JR pass for the ferry to Miyajima, but would need to double check. (They can be used also on night buses in case that's relevant).
Highly recommend eating at Okonomimura one night in Hiroshima :-P
I wouldn't go to Hiroshima without my okonomiyaki fix!

- One of my favourite 'sushi train' restaurants is in Kyoto. The dishes that you order (as opposed to taking off the conveyor belt) are delivered by a bullet train on a track above. The train stops at your seat, you take your order off, then the train takes off again. If interested I'll look up the name and directions. (I could take you straight there if I was in Kyoto!)

- I was disappointed with Disney Sea (Disneyland was better) - but each to their own :-) If you want to get a taste of peak hour craziness or neon overload, then Shinjuku fits the bill.

- If you have half a day in Okayama a good time filler would be Korakuen gardens. Nice example of Japanese gardens, and walking distance from the train station.

- If looking for anything electronic, a good chain is Yodobashi Camera.

- JR Pass. You can also get regional ones which would be cheaper. I'd decide on the places you're going to, work out what individual fares would add up to, then decide if it's worth it. You may prefer the convenience of not having to buy individual tickets, but if unsure about a fare you can always just buy the cheapest ticket, then use the fare adjustment machines before exiting at the other end.

Check out my blog entries between 2006 and 2009, or ask other questions.

Reply to this

7 years ago, July 1st 2012 No: 4 Msg: #158220  
Thanks guys this info is great!

Great China Roadtrip, where would be the best place to catch some sumo? It doesn't look like there are any tournaments on whilst we are in Japan but we would still like to see Sumo (trainign etc) if possible.

Jo, this is great! Thanks for all the tips and advice here. Can you climb Mt Fuji on your own or do you need a guide/join a group?

Have looked at the Toyko Inn chains but they are a bit above our budget, ideally we will spend no more than 6000 yen per night together on a room! What is Ikebukuro like as an area to stay in? Seems good as it is on the JR line, easy to get to other areas and has its own bars and restaurants etc. I have found a place there called Ikebukuro House to stay in which looks nice and quite traditional, also within our budget...

What is okonomiyaki, a type of food? Sounds intresting! The Sushi train restaurant also sounds cool, where abouts is it in Kyoto? Also which area should we look to stay in in Kyoto?

Thanks for all your advice, this is so useful when planning a trip to Japan! Reply to this

7 years ago, July 1st 2012 No: 5 Msg: #158221  
B Posts: 11.5K
I've stayed here a couple of times; Khaosan Tokyo Ninja
- good free wi-fi and computers in reception also, walking distance from sumo stadium, and convenient for transport (can get train direct to airport).

I think I stayed in a Toyoko Inn when I was in Ikebukuro.

The Yamanote is a useful train line too - the green loop one. Technically you can buy a ticket for only one stop, but get on the train heading in the 'wrong' direction before getting off at the station your ticket is for...... :-)

No need for a guide to climb Mt Fuji overnight, but recommend a head torch with spare batteries, layers of clothing and a raincoat (didn't need one, but better to have in case).

Will look up the sushi train restaurant details later.

[Edited: 2012 Jul 01 20:12 - Jo Trouble:16935 ]
Reply to this

7 years ago, July 1st 2012 No: 6 Msg: #158222  
B Posts: 11.5K
I've stayed at this hostel in Kyoto too;
J-Hoppers Kyoto Guest House Reply to this

7 years ago, July 2nd 2012 No: 7 Msg: #158256  
For Sumo, you can either have someone Japanese call up the Sumo stable one or two days in advance to book an appointment to see the wrestlers do their morning training. Ringside space is very limited. Or you can book a tour. A list of stables can be found on : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sumo_beya#Active_stables
All the good stables are located in the Ryogoku area of downtown Tokyo. Just having a walk around that area, you can often see huge Sumo wrestlers on tiny bicycles going about their daily life (buying groceries etc).
Some stables are more accomodating than others. I would elect a stable that has a number of foreign wrestlers. If you are willing to shell out a rather large some of money, you can have certain tour groups organise a Chanko Nabe lunch with a famous wrestler, but this usually involves a "tip" which should be given directly to the wrestler in a special envelop. For wrestlers of Sekiwake rank or above, the tip can be as high as JPY 1 million. I was fortunate to be part of a corporate event where we had lunch with Akebono.
For a more reasonable option, you can organise tours through companies like : http://www.japan-tours.jp/tokyosumostable.html
This particular tour includes a Chanko Nabe lunch (the staple food of Sumo Wrestlers). Reply to this

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