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)
- 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.
- 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.