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Traveling to Japan (I know it's way beyond Europe)

Hi, I'm looking for some assistance. I realize this site is primarily for European travel but the advice I've received from here the best I get. So I'm going to take a leap of faith and hope someone out here has thoughts on this non european trip.

Travelers 4 (2adults, 2teenagers)
Destination: Japan (first time visiting)
Time of year: END of August 2018

Initial plans are:
Day 0 = Arrive Tokyo (NRT) - Staying in SHINJUKU [Hotel Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku]
Day 1 = Tokyo - Staying in SHINJUKU
Day 2 = Tokyo - Staying in SHINJUKU
Day 3 = Travel to Kyoto - Staying in Sanjo [Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Sanjo]
Day 4 = Day trip - Travel to/from Hiroshima - Staying in Sanjo
Day 5 = Kyoto - Staying in Sanjo
Day 6 = Travel to Hakone (Mt. Fuji) [Hotel needed]
Day 7 = Travel to Tokyo [should I stay in Ginza?]
Day 8 = Depart Tokyo (NRT)

1) On day 7 I was thinking of staying in Ginza (to see a different part of the city)
-- my departure airport is NRT
-- Is this easy to get to NRT from Ginza

2) I'm having trouble finding a "hotel" in Hakone
-- Recommendations?

3) Rail pass
-- Should I buy the rail pass for 7 day's
-- Or should I just buy daily tickets

4) What are your thoughts on my itinerary
-- Recommendations on making it better

Thank you for all the wonderful help.

Posted by
7207 posts

You have a lot of travel there for a week in Japan.

For Tokyo, I recommend of course, a city tour, but also a trip to Nikko. You have three nights in Kyoto, but are using a full day to visit Hiroshima. We spent 2 1/2 days touring Nara (near Kyoto) and visiting Kyoto. I am not sure how many places you will visit in Kyoto, but you need two full days there. You might want to skip going to Hiroshima.

We stayed at a nice hotel right next to Tokyo Station and it was great. We could walk to Ginza or take transportation from the station.

Here is my review of our Japan trip and cruise.

Posted by
6411 posts
  • Stay in Ginza?

Can't help you with Ginza, I've always stayed elsewhere. But we generally stay in Ueno, you might check it out. Convenient to many neighborhoods, well connected (well, everyplace has the subways). There's a direct train to Narita that leaves from Ueno, making it super convenient to depart from there.

  • Hotel in Hakone?
    Do you have any stays booked in a traditional ryokan? If not, you should consider it - it's a great "real Japan" experience. We stayed at a ryokan at Kawaguchi-go - there are many there.

  • Rail pass?
    You will need to run the numbers and see if it makes sense. the JR railpass is expensive, but then again, there's nothing like riding the Shinkansen (high speed trains) - they're amazing!

  • Your itinerary?
    It looks ambitious but doable. I agree with geovagriffith above, Nikko is definitely worth a side trip from Tokyo. We didn't do Hiroshima (we decided to save that for another trip where we go further south) - remember, like Europe, Japan is too big to see in one trip, so plan to return. Nara is worth a side trip from your Kyoto base.

Sounds like this trip is coming up very quickly, better get cracking.

Japan is amazing, you will have a great time.

Posted by
132 posts

This is a pretty busy itinerary. But it's doable with modifications. On a short trip like this we have learned to minimize wasted time spent on trains and buses. Focus on the key areas are really see them in some depth.

As previously suggested I strongly recommend skipping Hiroshima and spending the time in Kyoto. There is much to see in Kyoto. It is both pretty and historic. The proposed trip to Hiroshima is not particularly remarkable en route and really the only thing to see there is the Memorial (which is very moving) and that should only take an hour or two. Long way to go when there is so much to see in Kyoto/Nara.

The Ginza definitely has a different "vibe" than Shinjuku. I would expect that it is more expensive for both lodging and food if you stay there. You know that it is only a subway ride away from Shinjuku? I don't know about transportation to Narita.

In Hakone you should really try a traditional inn.

Good luck and enjoy your experience!

Posted by
11294 posts

I was there in 1997, so I don't have up to date information for most of your questions. But when we went, a trip to Hiroshima was a non-negotiable for my father, and we did see it as a day trip from Kyoto. It worked very well, and for the late afternoon we went to Miyajima before returning to Kyoto. It was a long but very rewarding day, and with the JR Rail Pass, almost all of it was completely covered (trains between cities as well as the boat from Hiroshima to Miyajima); this day would have been about $200 otherwise.

At the time I went, the "rule of thumb" was that a one week JR Rail Pass cost about the same as a round trip from Tokyo to Kyoto, so if you do any other travel in addition to this, it was worthwhile. Again, I haven't looked at costs more recently, but if you are sure you are going to Hiroshima, it's almost certainly worth getting.

Posted by
327 posts

For your second stay in Tokyo, you may wish to consider The Royal Park Hotel - located near the Ginza district, Akihabara and Asakusa shopping areas (easy 20 minutes by subway) and across from T-CAT (Tokyo City Air Terminal), where you can check in for flights and take the Limousine Bus direct to Narita Airport (55 minutes ride). I stayed at this hotel a few times on different business trips to Japan and always found it convenient, comfortable and good value (for Tokyo).

Posted by
3561 posts

Recommend including Hiroshima as you have planned. There’s no place in the world like it. The trip over to Miyajima is very quick, and the island is beautiful. There is a large temple, and a folk culture museum, both lovely and worth seeing.

Posted by
1987 posts

The Sunroute Plaza had shuttle bus airport connection when we stayed there. The bus pulls up to the front door. Several departures, convenient schedule. We reserved our spots with the front desk. If you like the hotel you may consider returning for your last night, but I guess other hotels offer the service as well; I really don’t know. The train was also an option, but this was too easy to pass up. The Sunroute was well located for easy transportation access and walking. The large front desk was fully staffed everyday with knowledgeable friendly folks who answered all our questions, highlighted maps and helped us on our way. Breakfast was very ! expensive....we walked 30 seconds each morning for coffee at a restaurant that begins with McD.
Haven’t visited Hiroshima, but we have been to Kyoto twice. There is so much to see, if you could squeeze more time there I would certainly suggest that. More to think about, but Fushimi Inari is 20 minutes away and Nara a bit farther, but both extraordinary.

We rode the train from Yokohama to Kyoto and from Kyoto to Tokyo; just a bit under the price of the rail pass.
We took the subway one evening to Ginza and walked around window shopping and people was enough for us. Looks like a pricey neighborhood if the store windows are any guide.

Have a wonderful trip...Japan is fascinating.

Posted by
127 posts

Thank you everyone for your suggestions/recommendations. I just wish I could turn the short amount of time into a longer amount of time.......

Posted by
127 posts

I truly LOVE the way that Rick Steve's books contain helpful direction/hints/tours...... But sadly he does not have a book for Japan (Tokyo/Kyoto).

Does anyone recommend a travel book for these locations?
OH - and NO I'm not a "lonely planet" person. For some reason I just can't get into that travel book.