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Hikone or Nara 2016/7/7 06:38
Hi All,

My two girl friends and I are headed to Japan this fall. We are looking at checking out either Nara or Hikone. We like both castles and temples. We are planning to see Nijo-jo and Himeji-jo, so Hikone castle would be our third castle.
We are also planning to also see temples and shrines in Kyoto, Tokyo and check out Hakone.
I am curious what everyone would suggest between Hikone and Nara...and why?
by Anne (guest)  

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/7 11:10
Argh, what a choice! It is between two of my favorite places in Kansai!

Hikone is a nice little town, touristy enough to make it fun and with good food. The castle has good grounds and brilliant views over Biwako, though as castles go it isnt anywhere near as impressive as Himeji (which personally I would skip because it tends to be crowded, though it is nice to look at, so in my view it isnt worth the trip).

Nara has a number of significant temples, and the great park, pagoda, and deer. It is geared up for tourism and is a great place to spend overnight because it is much greener than most Japanese towns. We far prefer it to Kyoto and go every time we are in Kansai.

If I had to recommend it to someone who was only going once, it would be Nara over Hikone. And stop off at Uji on the way back for an hour or two, and Fushimi Inari as well.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/7 11:18
Personally preferred Nara as well. Each time when I in Osaka/Tokyo area will certainly make a trip to visit Nara as well. I like the peaceful atmosphere and it is just my personal choice.
by ElbertPoh rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/7 14:16
Nijo-jo is not as impressive a castle as Himeji-jo or Hikone-jo. And even Hikone-jo and Himeji-jo are very different!

I've been to both places, and while I enjoyed both I liked Hikone more. The town has a really lovely feel, the area around the castle is gorgeous (I went in spring) and it was interesting to walk through the castle area. I loved the town mascot too!

Nara also has a lovely feel, more spiritual than Hikone. The deer are lots of fun, Todai-ji is very impressive and the museums had some great stuff. I visited in autumn and loved the colours, particularly in Yoshikien Garden.

In the end, though, I felt like Nara was crossing something off a tourist map, while Hikone felt more unusual. Everyone says go to Nara, and fewer people say go to Hikone.

Do you really have to choose between the two? Nara does really need a full day, but you could get away with half a day, and go to Hikone for the other half.
by sq (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/7 17:54
Agreed on Nijo-jo, though the grounds are very nice.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/8 07:40
Hikone - haven't been there for a while, but a really good example of castle design. The gardens and other buildings that make up the grounds are also worth looking around.

The day I went we also took a trip to one of the shrines on Lake Biwa which was pretty unusual (Tsukubusuma Shrine on Chikubushima Island) So if you combined those two it would be more interesting that the routine trip to Nara (which is still a really good place to go).
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/8 17:26
If you make an early start, you can see some of both, I believe. Hikone and Nara are not that far apart if you use shinkansen between Kyoto and Maibara. It will be a bit rushed, but the castle in Hikone is worth it,you can tour the adjacent garden and then spent the afternoon and evening in Nara: Todaiji temple is open until the evening,and you can still enjoy a stroll through the Nara park and the pathways around Kasuga taisha after the other attractions have closed.
by hikooki (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/9 02:59
Thank you so much for all the help. I think I will try to see both with my friends. I was under the impression that Nara needed a whole day or it was not worth seeing (too rushed). I will be back to Japan, but for my friends this is their first trip and may be their only trip. We will try to be there when Hikone castle opens and see the Genkyuen Garden before heading to Nara.

Any advise on where it would be best to have lunch (Hikone or Nara)? Dinner in Nara or Kyoto?

Thank you to everyone for your help in planning our trip!
by Anne (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/9 04:09
If you can see both, so much the better.
Hikone has a beautiful small castle that is overshadowed by Himeji, but it too is an original and not so many tourists.

If forced to choose between Nara and Hikone, Nara is by far more interesting and historically significant. If you could only visit one historical temple in Japan during your whole visit, then the Todaiji Temple should be it, hands down.

You could make a full day out of it, but for half a day you can see the Nara Park area, which has many great places - Todaiji, Kofukuji, Kasuga Shrine, the Isuien & Yoshikien Gardens, and of course feeding the hungry deer.
As far as dinner goes, it's all up to your budget and interests. Going to Gion or Pontocho for a truly traditional Japanese dinner would be unforgettable though.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Hikone or Nara 2016/7/9 08:28
Best place for lunch - on the train. Better use of time :)
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

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