Friday, April 2, 2010

a week in April

Folks, help!

Hubby, 2 kids under 5 and I will be in Japan from 5-12 April. We will fly in and out of Narita. It%26#39;ll be our first trip to Japan and we want to do as much sightseeing as possible. We have friends in Tokyo and will be bunking with them when we%26#39;re in Tokyo.

We do not mind taking domestic flights to save time and we%26#39;re also thinking of buying JR passes.

I%26#39;ve looked up various travel websites and the places and things listed below are of interest to me. Can someone pls suggest an itinerary? If you think I can skip something and add something else more interesting, pls do say.

Tokyo - Tsukiji Fish Market (for me this is optional), then Hama Rikyu Park, take ferry for cruise on Sumida River to Asakusa. Visit Sensoji Temple, hunt for souvenirs, Nakamise Dori, Ginza for shopping or window shopping, Kabuki play (maybe), sumo (maybe).

Train to Hakone Yumato, Izu National Park, see Hakone Open Air Museum, Mt Fuji?

Kyoto - Sanjusangendo Hall, Kiyomizu Temple, Heain Shrine, Nijo Castle, Kyoto Imperial Palace, Ryoanji Temple and Golden Pavilion, Gion.


Hiroshima - for the Peace Memorial Park and Hiroshima Castle.

Himeji Castle

Historic villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.

Also, where to view cherry blossoms at the time we%26#39;re there?

All suggestions are welcome. Thanks.

a week in April

In my opinion, you%26#39;ve got too much on your plate for one week%26#39;s time, especially with two kids in tow. You should probably stick to major sites first that are easy to access with Shinkansen trains.

I suggest you spend 3 days in Tokyo, 2 days Kyoto, then pick a day trip or two between Nara, Hiroshima, Himeji, Hakone or Fuji Lakes. These areas are either close to Tokyo with good train access, or they can be accessed conveniently via Shinkansen.

For this trip, drop Shirakawa-go, Gokayama, Izu, etc.

a week in April

As always, great advice from Sammyfloyd.

Here is a up-to-date cherry blossom forcast; I think you will just miss them:

If you go to Hiroshima, you can stop off and see Himeji castle in a couple of hours. Much more impressive than Hiroshima%26#39;s. Miyajima Island is easy to reach from Hiroshima, and is memorable.

For your itinerary, you are likely to find trains more convenient that airlines.

Tokyo: You don%26#39;t want to try navigating Tsukiji wholesale market with the young ones, but the nearby area of shops is interesting. The Sumida River Cruise is (in my opinion) uninteresting, but a different view of the city and a chance to relax. I love the unabashed tourism of Sensoju and Nakamise. Take some time to just wander back streets, perhaps in the area where you%26#39;re staying.

Be sure to get a view of the city some clear morning (and maybe in the evening or night). Tocho--the Tokyo Metro Gov%26#39;t Building in Shinjuku is one choice.

Kyoto: You have a good list, but don%26#39;t try to see everything. Considering the size of your posse, consider taking taxis.

Thank you very much for your replies.

Can you tell me how should I plan this trip? We get into Narita at 3pm on a Sunday and we fly out the following Sunday at 4pm. Our friends live in the Roponggi area. I thought we%26#39;ll spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday night in Tokyo, then Weds morning, use a JR pass to get to Kyoto and do the sights there. Friday, do Nara as a day trip from Kyoto, then in the afternoon take JR to Hiroshima. See Hiroshima and Himeji on Saturday and return to Tokyo Saturday night. Would this work?

Would I not be able to catch the cherry blossoms at Himeji?

Oh, I forgot to mention that I%26#39;m having a hard time finding a reasonably priced hotel in Kyoto. Most hotels are fully booked up. I don%26#39;t want to stay at a Ryokan incase the children cause damages. Any suggestions?

You don%26#39;t have to decide this %26#39;til the last minute, but consider skipping Nara and seeing Himeji enroute to Hiroshima. Will you see cherry blossoms there? Don%26#39;t know.

The last time I visited Kyoto, it was booked up--a dentists%26#39; convention or something. We stayed in Osaka, which has frequent trains to Kyoto, a half-hour ride. The hotel we stayed at is no longer there or has changed names, so I can%26#39;t help you with speciifics. Another time, I stayed near Shin Osaka (often listed as Shinosaka) station, the Shinkansen (';Bullet Train';) stop. It would be convenient, but my recollection is that it was out-of-the way as far as dining and the likea are concerned. But with two kids, that might not be a concern.

Thanks RogerR-Philla for your suggestions. I didn%26#39;t realise Osaka is only 1/2 hour from Kyoto. If I can%26#39;t find reasonably priced hotels in Kyoto, then I would definitely consider hotels in Osaka and the other place if we can use our JR passes for travelling. Thanks again.

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