Sunday, April 4, 2010

So fickle! More help needed on day away from Tokyo city

I have gone from Kyoto, to Kamakura to Nikko to ';I am going to pull my hair out!';

We have one day available on the last day of our trip to spend all day sight seeing (after 6 days in Tokyo). I just cannot decide where to go! It seems every time I read something I change my mind. So let%26#39;s try this a different way. Let me tell you what we want to do and you tell me my options.

1. there and back same day

2. won%26#39;t break the bank too badly in transportation costs

3. (most important) we want to see beautiful countryside, nature or things that are typical Japan, but not typical Tokyo. Think opposite of Tokyo. We want to see things that will take our breath away, leave a memorable impression, be a high light of the trip, and be things we cannot see in Tokyo. We want to see ';normal'; Japan, not big city Japan.

If cherry blossoms are in bloom, great, but my side trip should not be based on them. We are local to DC, so we see beautiful cherry blossoms every year and a week in Tokyo will also give us many viewing opportunities.

So can you help me? Hurry, we leave tomorrow! March 14.

Thank you ever so much for all your help with this trip. You all have been amazing!

So fickle! More help needed on day away from Tokyo city

I vote for Kamakura. It%26#39;s only an hour by train.

So fickle! More help needed on day away from Tokyo city

How about a visit to the Nihon Minkaen (Japan Open-Air Folk House Museum), a collection of historic houses in a park just outside Tokyo? See It%26#39;s not spectacular scenery, but it will give you a picture of old rural Japan. And it won%26#39;t cost much for transportation.

Kyoto is fabulous, but probably too far for a day excursion unless you take an overnight bus.

Nikko is very very pretty, and it%26#39;s one of the standard side trips from Tokyo.

i%26#39;d like to know the answer myself, I still haevn%26#39;t decided between kamakura or nikko =)

Have you tried looking thru photos on flickr and elsewhere?

It seems like there is a lot more to see and do in Kamakura. A lot of shrines and statuettes of different varieties, also a lot more people. It%26#39;s also much closer and the trains I think run more frequently.

Nikko there doesn%26#39;t seem to be as much to see or do unless you also visit the falls and lake. It looks crazy beautiful, very much what I would imagine old, traditional Japan would look like. Ornate shrines embedded in beautiful forests it all looks very pretty. But the trip is twice as long, the nikko train station looks pretty rural and rundown with trains coming not all that often.

When you decide I%26#39;ll be curious what factor pushed you either way. I leave in a week ^_^

I think Nikko%26#39;s shrines are more impressive than Kamakura%26#39;s. It is also in a more natural setting and the trees are huge and give it a mystical air. Lake Chuzenji is a lake, the falls are a nice big falls, not so memorable in my opinion but that%26#39;s just me. Nikko can be cold, it%26#39;s further north. There is a chance of seeing monkeys though in four trips there I never have.

Other than those attractions there is not all that much there. It%26#39;s a tourist destination, for Japanese as well as foreigners, with the requisite tour buses. It%26#39;s not really what I%26#39;d think of as %26#39;normal%26#39; Japan.

Kamakura is quite an upscale little town, with lots of shrines and temples, none on the massive scale of Nikko%26#39;s. It%26#39;s also a tourist destination for both Japanese and foreign tourists, and it can get pretty crowded, but what I like about it is the range of shopping and restaurants available right there. People actually live there, so it%26#39;s closer to %26#39;normal%26#39; Japan, though it%26#39;s an expensive seaside town so not like...a small working village. There are hiking venues though I%26#39;ve never been hiking there, just done the Hachimangu and Bamboo Temple and Diabutsu and all that. It would be warmer there this time of year.

I didn%26#39;t answer your question, did I? If I had out-of-town guests I would pick Kamakura to take them to.

But I%26#39;d also encourage my out-of-town guest to take TWO day-trips and include Nikko too.

Where you have easy access, Japan is like a little Tokyo everywhere, houses after houses, people after people, shops after shops, restaurants after restaurants. You need to go at least 2 hours into mountains to see less dense housings. You need to go far away from any major cities to find what you are looking for. Or if you are vigilant, you may find something very Japanese culture unexpectedly, if you just go off the main busy streets right in the city center even in Tokyo. Having said that, you can still hike into some areas from busy touristy areas nearby and see the nature in a day trip from Tokyo.鈥?/a>

What Spendthrift said, I mostly agree except I liked Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls a lot because they are part of nature. Nikko%26#39;s shrines are certainly impressive, but the tourist element is very high because that is all there is to them. This is my third time repeating it, but to appreciate them fully, having some basic understanding of Japanese history is essential.

I liked Kamakura a lot precisely because of what Spendthrift said: people actually live there so the attractions are more integrated into the town itself. The area is very nice. I went during the late fall on a nice sunny cool day. We saw the Buddha and a couple other shrines, ate lunch at a little soba restaurant, walked around eating ice cream and visited some local small shops. We finished the day at the Enoshima Rail on the beach with a view to Mt. Fuji. It was just a nice relaxing day completely opposite from Tokyo.

Thanks for all the great advice!

Nikko (especially Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls) sounds really nice as we love forests, water, mountains, etc. I%26#39;m a little worried about how difficult it seems (to me) to get there and get around.

Are there direct trains from both JR Shinjuku and Asakusa? I%26#39;ve found a couple of sites where it appears this is the case.

Do you have to buy these tickets in advance? I was looking at the Tobu line web site and the different passes are ghosted until the 24th. We%26#39;d like to go tomorrow if we do this.

When we get there, are the buses, etc. well marked in English?

I guess what I%26#39;m trying to convey is that I don%26#39;t want the possible confusion of getting to and around Nikko and the surrounding area to take away from the beauty of it.

Thanks a bunch!

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