Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/10 20:49
Hi all

Would really appreciate a little assistance with our itinerary. It's our first time in Japan. We are a family of five - 2 x parents, 1 x adult son and 2 x kids age 10 & 12. We are trying to build a holiday with a focus on cultural experiences, food, nature, hiking, temples etc. We aren't really that keen on shopping, amusement parks etc. This is what I have to date. We are travelling in the last two weeks of May 2019 so it will be a Spring trip.

Day 1 (Sun) - Arrive Osaka pretty late at night.
Day 2 (Mon) - Day trip to Nara. Stay Osaka overnight.
Day 3 (Tue) - Himeji castle in the morning. Explore Osaka afternoon. Probably go driving the Mario Cart things in the evening for the adults. Stay overnight Osaka.
Day 4 (Wed) - Travel to Hiroshima. Explore Miyajima in afternoon. Stay overnight Hiroshima.
Day 5(Thurs) - Explore Hiroshima morning and travel to Tokyo afternoon. Stay Tokyo overnight.
Day 6 (Fri) - Tokyo - would like to see Sumo, Robot Restaurant and Shibuya crossing. Not really sure what else to do in Tokyo.
Day 7-8 (Sat/Sun) - Explore Tokyo
Day 9 (Mon) - Travel to Hakone early AM. Tozan train, full Hakone loop if we can. Stay overnight in Ryokan in Hakone.
Day 10 (Tue) - Explore Hakone in morning. In afternoon leave for Kyoto.
Day 11/12 (Wed/Thurs) - Kyoto - Arahiyama bamboo grove, monkey forest, Geisha, Fushimi Inari-Taisha.
Day 13 - Free day in Kyoto. Depart late evening.

My main concern is around Tokyo. I don't have a huge list of things that I want to do in Tokyo and am wondering if I should scrap one of the four nights in Tokyo and add another night in Hiroshima. It would look more like this:

Day 4 (Wed) - Travel to Hiroshima. Explore Hiroshima in afternoon. Stay overnight Hiroshima.
Day 5(Thurs) - Explore Miyajima full day. Stay overnight Hiroshima
Day 6 (Fri) - Leave early AM for Tokyo arriving mid day - would like to see Sumo, Robot Restaurant and Shibuya crossing. Not really sure what else to do in Tokyo.
Day 7-8 (Sat/Sun) - Explore Tokyo as above
Day 9 (Mon) - Travel to Hakone early AM. Tozan train, full Hakone loop if we can. Stay overnight in Ryokan in Hakone.

Would 2.5 days be enough in Tokyo??

Any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated. I tend to jam pack my itineraries and my family get a little exhausted on my "holidays" so I am keen to build in a little relaxation as well :)

Thankyou in advance! I'm going in circles with this now so any advice would be much appreciated.

Regards, Belinda
by beezee  

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/11 13:10
Your plans are not unusual and no real red flags, although going from Hiroshima to Tokyo in one shot will take 4¾ hours with a better connection (presuming you are using a 14 day JR Pass).
One day for Hiroshima and one day for Miyajima should be fine - I don't see any point in taking a day off of Tokyo and add more. Tokyo has loads to see and do - did you look through the site's page on the city, as well as the official city tourist guide, etc?
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2164.html
http://www.gotokyo.org/en/index.html
https://goo.gl/tAECfM

Seeing the Sensoji Temple and Meiji Shrine (and don't skip the Meiji Gyoen Garden there also) is pretty much de rigueur for any first timer. There are close to a dozen beautiful historic gardens in the city, some with a history going back centuries. Plus lots of places for great city views - the Sky Tree and Mori Bldg are some of the best but also rather pricey. If you want to save some money, there are also many good places that are free.
http://supermerlion.com/10-free-tokyo-city-views/
For your Day 2, you could see Nara Park, which has most of the best, in half a day, and then see Osaka if you like. For Day 3, you could see Himeji Castle and the nearby Kokoen Garden (get the combo ticket, and one is virtually free) also in half a day, and if you like, you could also go see Kobe for half a day as well.
https://goo.gl/65ZtRi
For Kyoto though, you can avoid the huge crowds at Fushimi Inari if you go very early in the morning or evening. Actually same thing for the Bamboo Grove, though the shrine is worse. It's not hard to get from the shrine to Arashiyama by train via Kyoto Station. But just going there for the grove (you'll be through it in 20 minutes or so) and the monkey park is kind of a waste. There are many other sights in the area that alone might not be worth the trip, but all together collectively make a good outing. The Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple at the end of the line is one of the best and unforgettable.
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3950_arashiyama_full.html
https://goo.gl/Neiowd
For your free day in Kyoto, you are missing lots of the big ones - Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera, Sanjusangendo, Nijo Castle, etc. Pick what interests you the most.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2158.html
https://goo.gl/knQtMg
As for seeing a geisha (most likely a maiko), the place to be in Gion in the evening - but no promises. If you want something definite, there are performances you can attend.
http://www.kyoto-gioncorner.com/global/en.html
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/11 14:30
Your trip looks good to me.
For Sumo I havenft looked it up, but if there is tournament in Tokyo on those days you need to buy the ticket well in advance. And they are expensive (specially if you go in 5). You can buy them online and then pick up at a conbini in Japan.

If you are not really interested in Tokyo I think that is fine. In that case I would travel back from Hiroshima to Kansai eg stopping in Okayama and /or Naoshima... there is definitely enough to fill a few days between Hiroshima and Kyoto. Or you could go south to Kyushu.

Wefre you traveling in early May? If so (sorry while writing I canft see your question) look up golden week days as the beginning and end of golden week sees much more traveling.

Enjoy your trip to Japan!
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/12 11:16
Thankyou for taking the time to respond. We're going to do the two nights in Hiroshima just so that we get to relax on Miyajima. :)
by beezee rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/12 12:24
For Tokyo, check out Kamakura & Kawagoe
by Coco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/13 05:44
I think you can't go gocarting anymore through the city because Nintento won a lawsuit against them. You should probably check.

Also, if you still need inspiration on what to do in either Osaka or Tokyo, you should check out this page: https://alovingladytravels.com/2018/10/06/11-day-itinerary-japan/
by kyra (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/13 07:54
I believe you can still go go-carting you're just not allowed to dress up like Nintendo characters.

https://qz.com/1404997/nintendo-wins-lawsuit-against-alleged-mario-kar...

Though honestly, they looked extremely dangerous and no one seemed excited or pleased to see them in Ginza when I saw them in July 2018.

There is a lot to do in Tokyo, it really just depends on your interest. If you like theme parks there is of course Tokyo Disney, there are superb museums, tons of anime things, several reconstructed temples and shrines, several impressive gardens, lots of shopping, and just many different options.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/13 09:55
I must admit the carts didn't strike me as the safest things - but I've only seen short video and still shots. I guess we'll have a look when we get there! We're going to do the carts in Osaka if we end up doing them - we've got two kids with us and the Tokyo branch currently has no capacity for kids. Osaka will take kids along in a spectator vehicle. As far as Tokyo goes, I've got 2.5 days and 3 nights in Tokyo so will do my research on what to fill it with. Robot Restaurant and Sumo tickets (if we can get them) are the main things we are keen on. We're staying in Shinjuku but I think we'll go to Asakusa one of the days as there are quite a few things there that look wonderful :) My 12 year old daughter is a big fan of anime so I'm sure she will love Tokyo!
by beezee rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/13 10:44
It's cheezy but my daughter loved the Pokemon Cafe in the Nihombashi Takashimaya. Odaiba can be a lot of fun. My daughter and I collect dolls so we went to a doll event in Japan. That's not for everyone, but depending on your interests there are lots of events in Tokyo.

I'm not going to lie, I do a lot of shopping in Tokyo. I really like Shinjuku Gyoen as well, but our last trip it was just so hot and humid.

I really liked the Osaka History Museum, though my daughter really only likes USJ and shopping there. She liked the aquarium, but not like more than 2-3 hours like. She enjoyed Nara a lot.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/13 18:04
Oh the Pokemon Cafe would be amazing!! Thanks for that. My 10 year old son was very excited when he saw that :)
by beezee rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/14 01:16
Go hungry, the serving sizes at the Pokemon Cafe were huge, and I am from the US and saying this. We got an Eevee Parfait, a Mimikyu Crepe, a Latte and an Eevee float. There were 2 of us and the only thing that was finished was the Latte. The food is not amazing, but it's better than I expected from a Pokemon Cafe. Pikachu comes for pictures, but no one could get separate pictures with him when we were there.

We got our hotel to book the reservations because I asked nicely. I think between the meal and shopping at the Pokemon Center next door we spent around 2-3 hours. I think you will find more to do in Tokyo than you would think.

Ikebukuro has a Pokemon Center as well I think that branch was having a lucky draw while we were there and my daughter won a huge backpack.

If you don't mind toy stores, Hakuhinkan Toy Park in Shimbashi and Kiddyland in Harajuku are always fun. Kiddyland gets crazy crowded. Since we collect Japanese fashion dolls we love the Licca Castle Little Shop in Nihombashi. We've been to Licca Castle proper but it's a really long day trip from Tokyo.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary first time in Japan 13 days 2018/10/14 04:26
Your plan looks great but is very packed.

When you are in Tokyo definitely do consider:
- Akihabara: lots of arcades and crazy collectible shops. Even if shopping is not your thing this is a great experience. Try to go early in the evening.
- Shibuya: go to the crossing. Also some great theme restaurants.
- New fish market - just opened, apparently also visitor spots exist.

Consider combining Nara with Uji.
by WJ (guest) rate this post as useful

reply to this thread