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Advice/critique of intinerary for Japan trip

Hi

Late September we are flying to Japan for 2-weeks for our first visit to Japan. We're flying into Narita from Newark and plan to travel Kyoto upon arrival because I've discovered it's best to compress all the travel so we get to our first base and relax. We have tickets for some rugby world cup games in Tokyo/Yokohama on the middle weekend of our trip. We have regular 14-day Japan Rail passes.

We love history, gardens, food, my wife has a laundry list of things from a friend to see in the Tokyo area, and I like fit in some photography. Some Ryokan and Onsen experiences are things we'd like to fit in on our trip. A combo of traditional and more modern would be ideal. We'd like to see Mount Fuji, but don't have climbing or hiking plans - but it's skippable if it's too much of a pain to get to/from.

This is the itinerary which I had in my head:

  • Arrive Saturday and travel to Kyoto.
  • Leave Thursday for Tokyo.
  • Leave Tokyo on Weds for Mount Fuji (Kawaguchi-ko?). Kozantei Ubuya looks like a luxurious place to end our trip.
  • Fly out of Narita 5pm Friday. Getting to Narita seems possible with bus and train, but it doesn't leave much time for any last minute souvenir shopping.

Questions:

  • Should I just skip Mount Fuji since it's quite far from Narita, or build it in nearer the start of the last week?
    • Is there a better way to visit mount Fuji on the way back to Tokyo?
    • Skip Kyoto? That's not a question I like to ask because it seems like an essential stop and well worth the tra
Posted by
24 posts

Do NOT skip Kyoto. It's the cultural heart of Japan and it's an absolutely beautiful city (once you get away from the train station). Given the things you want to experience-- ryokan, onsen, gardens, food-- it would be a tragedy to miss it. In fact, many travelers who are interested in the old and less the new prefer Kyoto to Tokyo. I spent 4 days there on my 2-week trip to Japan and could have easily stayed an entire week without getting bored. I'd do 4 nights in Kyoto and set aside one of the days to side-trip to Nara (30m away). Just do a little research and you'll have a great time. Tokyo is fun, but it's a concrete jungle and maybe you've already been to NYC.

The only other thing I'd say is that you have some time to add another stop in your itinerary. You could stay in Hakone, which is a popular destination for those looking to see Mount Fuji. There should be a bunch of onsen and ryokan options there.

Posted by
235 posts

I've been to Tokyo twice, and your itinerary looks a lot like what I have in mind for a return trip to Japan. I agree not to skip Kyoto, as it seems to be the highlight of everyone's trip. I enjoyed Tokyo a lot--yes, it is a big city, but feels so different from those in the US. You might cut Mt Fuji to one night, depending on the connections from there back to Narita--I like to be closer to the airport my last night, but I think train schedules in Japan are reliable.

Posted by
1653 posts

I would spend one more day in Kyoto and one day less in Tokyo. Also, from a transportation standpoint it might make more sense to visit the Mt Fuji area on the way between Kyoto and Tokyo - but I agree with the logic of finishing the trip in a more relaxing place, so I'm torn on this one.

Posted by
192 posts

What is your interest in Fuji? Do you want to be on the mountain or have views of it? Hakone has views of Fuji, so consider if that will meet your needs.

If you want to be on the mountain proper, you can take a bus from the base to the fifth station. The hike from there to the sixth station is fairly short (less than an hour). I thought hiking around the mountain away from the fifth and sixth station was more interesting. The path didn’t take much elevation, but I found the scenery more interesting that going up to the sixth station.

Visiting the mountain can be done as a long day trip from Tokyo. The bus from Shinjuku is faster than the train, but the train is fast enough for a day trip if the bus sells out.