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16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/9 15:09
Me and my partner have decided to go to Japan for holiday from 09/03/19-24/03/19, all the fights and accommodations have been booked. This is our first time visite Japan.

Here is our 16 days itinerary:
Day 1 – 09/03/19 – Sydney to Osaka (Evening)
Arrived Osaka, Check in Hotel. (Stay around Dotonbori)
- Explore the Dotonbori area and Dinner
Day 2 – 10/03/19 – Osaka
- Osaka Castle
- Museum of History
- Nakanoshima
- Floating Garden Observatory
Day 3 – 11/03/19 – Osaka
- Namba Yasaka Shrine (walk 8mins from Hotel)
- Tennoji Park
- Shitennoji Temple
- Kuromon Ichiba Market
- Dotonori
Day 4 – 12/03/19 – Hiroshima (Day Trip)
- Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and Museum
- Hiroshima Castle https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3402.html
In the evening, catching JR Pass Ferry to Miyajima Isaland
- Miyajima Island (big red shrine)
• Travel with the JR Pass Ferry.
• Day trip at Hiroshima and Miyajima Isaland, then head back to Osaka in the evening (last night at Osaka)
Total 4 nights in Osaka (09/03/19 – 13/09/19) – Hotel Kanade Osaka Namba – Location: Next to JR Namba Station
Day 5 – 13/03/19 – Osaka – Himeji – Kobe – Kyoto
- Himejo Castel
- On the way back to Osaka, drop by Kobe
- Then take the train from Osaka to Kyoto (Check-in Hotel at Kyoto)
Day 6 – 14/03/19 – Kyoto
- Ryoanji Temple
- Kinkaku-ji
- Kyoto Imperial Palace
- Nijo Castle
Day 7 – 15/03/19 – Kyoto
- Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine
- Sanjusangendo Hall
- Kiyomizu-dera Temple
- Yasaka Shrine
- Chion-in
Day 8 – 16/03/19 – Kyoto
- Arashiyama Bamboo Garden
- Tenryuji Temple
- Okochisanso Garden
- Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama or Otagi Nebutsuji Temple
Day 9 – 17/03/19 – Nara (Day Trip at Nara, then head to Kyoto)
- Kasuga-taisha
- Nara Park
- Todai-ji
- Isui-en
- Nara National Museum
- Kofuky-ji
Total 5 nights in Kyoto (13/09/19 – 18/09/19) – Ibis Styles Kyoto Station
Day 10 – 18/03/19 – Lake Kawaguchiko (Mt Fuji)
- Chueito Pagoda
- Oshino Hakkai (Popular with Ponds and Mt Fuji view)
Day 11 – 19/03/19 – Lake Kawaguchiko or Hakone
- Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village
Total 2 nights in Lake Kawaguchiko (18/09/19 – 20/09/19) – Hotel Mystays Fuji Onsen Resort
Day 12 – 20/03/19 – Tokyo
Morning check out at Lack Kawaguchiko, then head to Tokyo and check in the hotel and spend the rest of the day explore local.
Day 13 – 21/03/19 – Tokyo
- Ghibli Museum (Booked)
Day 14 – 22/03/19 – Tokyo
- Disneyland or Disneysea
Day 15 – 23/03/19 – Tokyo
- Hamarikyu Gardern
- Tokyo Tower
- Shinjuku Gyoen
- Meiji Jingu Shrine
- Harajuku & Shibuya (Popular shopping and restaurant district)
Day 16 – 24/03/19 – Half day Tokyo, Flight back to Sydney
Total 4 nights in Tokyo (20/09/19 – 24/09/19) at APA Hotel Higashi Nihombashi Ekimae

What do you think of my itinerary? Is there any recommendations on destinations to visit or things to do that I might miss out on my itinerary?
We really hope to see Cherry Blossom, is there any recommend spot to visit for Cherry blossom during our stay?
We also purchase a 14 days JR pass, when is the best to activate the Pass? Should I activate my pass on the arrival or commence from day 3? And also any suggestions on getting around with trains/bus?
We are really appreciated for any advises or suggestions.
by Ken (guest)  

Re: 16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/9 19:25
A 14 day pass wont pay itself off. Do not buy one.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/9 20:21
Hi Ken,

I think you've got a pretty good itinerary there and I only have a couple of suggestions based on my own experiences.

Hiroshima - I suggest doing something fun and uplifting after going to the peace museum, it can be a hard experience so do something good for your mental health afterwards. We hired electric boosted bicycles for the day and found we saw so much more of Hiroshima than we would have on foot and it helped after the peace museum!

Himeji - there are free bicycles for tourists to use in Himeji you just need to show your passport at the tourist office near the JR station. Also we came across a free tour which went for nearly 3 hours and was pretty great. There's a lovely garden next to the castle grounds where you can pay for participation in a tea ceremony too.

Kyoto - There's so much to see here I have so many ideas lol!
Get the one day bus pass when you're doing the temples it lets you hop on and off all day along select routes. I love the monkey park in Arashiyama and do recommend going also the bamboo grove won't take too long to walk through and there is a short train tourist train near the end that takes you along the river and is nice if you need a break from walking.

There's apps that you can download to access free wifi with reasonable ease as a tourist and saves you from signing up to lots of different sites for access.

So long as the JR Pass gets you from Kyoto to Tokyo before you fly out either day should be okay.

Transport advise as requested!
Use the Shinkasen often to get the best value out of the JR pass and for longer trips (particulary with luggage) book your seats ahead at the JR ticket office. There are carriages that don't require a booked ticket but its not a gaurantee you'll get a seat.

Japan has fare calulators in many train stations so if you aren't sure how much your ticket is you can check your ticket in the machine and it will tell you whether you need to pay more or get money back or the have the right amount! It's super useful in Tokyo which has sooo many train lines.

Pay attention at the stations and bus stops you'll often see marked areas where people get on and off.
Buses you get on at the front and off at the back/middle.

My last piece of advice is be flexible and have fun!
by Pigalek rate this post as useful

Re: 16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/9 23:57
I also think that overall the itinerary looks good.

1) The Hiroshima / Mijajima day trip day seems to be too full. Could you not spend the night in Hiroshima or Mijajima? Or skip one of the two destinations?

2) The Ghibli day is a bit too less for a full day. You could move Shibuya or Shinjuku destinations to the same day. The day with Hamarikyu in turn looks a bit too busy.

3) In Nara, try to start with the Todaiji as early in the morning as possible, it gets incredibly full later on. 9 am is the best moment probably. Overall for me your Nara day is too full, but it depends how much time you spend in the museum. (Note, I am a very slow traveller, I would need 2 - 3 days for what you have listed for Nara, but I know that a lot of other people would be able to accomplish at least most of it in 1 day).

Regarding the JR pass, I am no expert there, but a PP said that 14 day pass does not pay off... and that might be the case, because you dont go back, but only Osaka - Hiroshima - Tokyo with a few side trips here and there. It's about vacation, so I would not rearrange the entire trip just for a pass, but if you want to do that, you might do;
Osaka & Kyoto at the beginning
then Kyoto - Hiroshima - Tokyo all within 7 days (and buy a 7 day JR pass only, assuming that it would pay off for that trip, again, I am no expert, but there are fare calculators on this web page)
and Tokyo at the end.

But it would mean that you need to rearrange all your plan and accommodation. And I am not even sure how much of a discount it would be. The benefit of NOT using a JR pass is that you can buy tickets for the faster and more frequent Nozomi Shinkansen.

Regarding Cherry Blossoms, there normally appears a Cherry Blossom report on this web page when it gets close to the time. The exact date is every year different obviously, the places are the same. I would think that with your itinerary and time you should be able to spot some very nice Cherry Blossom somewhere along your trip.

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

Re: 16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/10 03:56

I think you might get some nice cherry blossoms towards the end of your trip but you are unlikely to get them earlier in the trip. Kyoto tends to get blossoms later than Tokyo and you're going to Hiroshima relatively early on.

Personally, if it were me, I would try to carve out a day to go to Mito. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6201.html

You will be there towards the end of the ume season and while not sakura, they're still really quite lovely.

I get wanting to go to Tokyo Disney but honestly both parks are going to be unpleasantly crowded while you are there:

I went on an orange day to Sea this Summer and it was just unpleasant. You're looking at red days in either park.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/12 01:30
I wouldn't worry about going into the daily activity for each day because you need to factor the weather.

I don't know how flexible your itinerary is but I would suggest the following:

- Get a JR Pass for 7 day
- Arrive Osaka and visit as planned
- Then go to Kyoto first and visit as planned
- Start of the JR Pass: Travel to Hiroshima/Miyajima. I would also suggest spending at least a night there, ideally two. You can stop at Himeji on the way - Frankly I would ditch Kobe, with the few hours you would have there you're not going to see much anyway, plus I wouldn't consider the town a priority for a first visit
- If you spent the night in Hiroshima or Miyajima, travel all the way to Tokyo (you could actually stop at Himeji there to break the journey) My reasoning would be that, that way you can be flexible and visit Hakone or Lake Kawaguchi once you know the weather will be good for this. If you still want to stop at Hakone first, you can also do that (I've done it the other way round with my parents) and then continue on to Tokyo - you will still be within the 7 days to do that

That was my two grains of rice... I mean salt
by Japanese Frog rate this post as useful

Re: 16 Days Itinerary for the 1st time visitor 2019/1/12 06:56
If you are already going to see Himeji Castle (and it's the best surviving castle in the country), then you can safely skip Osaka Castle and Hiroshima Castle. Hiroshima's is not bad, but it's not overflowing with a wow factor either. I suggest you consider going to see the Shukkeien Garden, and if you have time, there is the secret jewel of Hiroshima - the Mitakiedra Temple on the city's west side. Gorgeous and virtually unknown.

For Himeji, aside from the castle, be sure to see the Kokoen Garden next to it. Get the combination ticket for both to save money (you need to ask at the ticket office).

Instead of Osaka Castle, which is just a museum with a castle facade, you might go see Hikone Castle in Shiga instead. Like Himeji, it is one of the few original surviving ones - all the rest are modern reconstructions. The Osaka castle ramparts are very impressive and it is a nice park to walk through, but as a 'castle', it really isn't. The Genkyuen Garden next to Hikone Castle is quite nice as well.

As for Nara, there are 2 gardens in the Nara Park area - Isuien & Yoshikien. Isuien is by far the better of the two, but quite pricey. Yoshikien is very close by though and free for foreign tourists, so to balance it out, if you have time you might want to walk through it. The Todaiji Temple though is the crown jewel of the whole area - don't miss it.

For Tokyo, you didn't mention the Sensoji Temple, which is a curious omission since nearby everyone and their dog goes straight there. Your timing is very good though to also see the "secret" garden of Sensoji, Denboin, which is very beautiful. It's actually the abbot's private garden and only open to the public for a couple months of the year, so check it out if you like.

The Skytree is not far away either and gives a much better view than the Tokyo Tower. It is much more costly, however. There are also a number of places that are free.

Hamarikyu is definitely one of the better gardens of the city (and if you take the water taxi to it, so much the better). But the Kyu-Shiba Rikyu Garden is just 10 minutes away on foot and is just as nice. Shinjuku Gyoen is not bad either (the Japanese garden is easily the best, the French rose garden is not bad but not in season for you, and the English 'garden' is a joke) - but there are better places you could try - Koishikawa Korakuen, Rikugien, etc.

Speaking of which, if you are going to Meiji Shrine, don't miss the Meiji Gyoen garden in the middle of it also. Most people do and it's a shame - but then it is uncrowded and very worthwhile. If you are going to Harajuku, the best time is on a Sunday afternoon (assuming it's not raining). Takeshita St near it can get jammed on weekends though.
by Ken (not OP) (guest) rate this post as useful

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