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Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/8 20:25
Hey everyone! With a lot of help from this website, I've finally come up with the [semi] final itinerary for next week's trip to Japan. I'd like to ask for any feedback or suggestions you might have that I could add in before I leave.

Some notes and things to consider:
1. I'm [27F] traveling with my 60yo mother. She can walk without help, but stamina is not too high. That's why I designate "rest days" or "semi-rest days" where the day's plans are on the light side, or wherein we just explore districts so we can sit around in cafes to rest. This also means no hikes, or even medium-difficulty trails.
2. This is not our first time in Japan. Mum has been to Tokyo+Fukuoka/Nagasaki+Okinawa, while I've been around Kansai+Fukuoka/Nagasaki+Chubu. Mum has been deferring to me in planning as this was originally a solor trip she just wanted to join, so I'm trying to balance famous tourist spots with lesser known places in Kansai to appeal to us both.
3. We like a good mix of old culture and modern Japan and nature (but paved) spots, though we do get temple fatigued too. My mum also loves to shop in those shopping arcades and take hours there sometimes, while I personally like exploring quaint (hipster lol) streets/districts that are photogenic.
4. Our general budget per day (excluding accommodations, shinkansen and the 2 theme parks) is about $100 or Y10,000 per person. Some days, we may spend more and on some days, we may spend less, but that should be the average.
5. We don't like rushing, but we also aren't "lingerers", if that makes sense. Based on experience, we usually just take about an hour for a decently-sized temple.

Okay, thanks!

[[Tokyo Arc]] -- Hotel: Near Nippori/Ueno Stations
--- Early Afternoon: Arrival at NRT
--- Early Evening: Ikebukuro [my mum is arriving later in the evening, so I'm getting my anime desires out of the way before she arrives :D]: Junkudo Ikebukuro + Tokyu Hands + Pokemon Center + Animate + Durarara!! Sites

--- Morning: Meiji Shrine + Yoyogi Park
--- Afternoon: Harajuku + Takeshita Street + Omote-Sando + Shibuya Area
--- Evening: Catholic Mass [6pm] + Roppongi

--- Morning to Lunch: Shimo-kitazawa Area [until about after lunch]
--- Afternoon: Kichijoji Area + Inokashira Pond [just walking through] + Ghibli Museum [4:00PM entry]
--- Evening: Kichijoji Area

--- Morning to Early Afternoon: Hakone Classic Loop: Hakone Shrine, Sightseeing Cruise, Ropeway, Owakudani, etc.
--- Mid-Afternoon: Hakone Open Air Museum

--- Morning: TeamLab Borderless Exhibit + Picture with the Gundam and Statue of Liberty
--- Mid-Afternoon: Shinjuku Area

--- Disney Sea

DAY 7: YOKOHAMA [Semi-Rest Day]
--- Morning: Yokohama Chinatown
--- Afternoon: Minato Mirai + Yokohama Pier: Red Brick Warehouses, Marine & Walk, Cup Noodles Museum
--- Evening: Ramen Museum for Dinner

--- Morning: Asakusa: Kaminarimon + Nakamise + Senso-ji + Asakusa Shrine + Sumida Garden [just for photos]
--- Lunch: Tsukiji Outer Market
--- Afternoon: Ginza Area
--- Early Evening: Transit to Kyoto

[[Kyoto Arc]] -- Hotel: Near Kyoto Station
--- Morning: Fushimi Inari Shrine [Mum just wants to see the orange Torii]
--- Afternoon: Ninna-ji + Daitoku-ji

--- Morning: Arashiyama Bamboo Forest + Tenryuji
--- Afternoon: Sagano Scenic Railway
--- Evening: Around Kyoto Station

--- Morning: Kiyomizu-dera + Higashiyama Preserved Historic Streets
--- Afternoon: Kodai-ji + Maruyama Park + Yasaka Shrine
--- Evening: Gion + Transit to Osaka

[[Osaka Arc]] -- Hotel: Near Temma Station [note: taking into consideration we're probably already super tired by this time]
--- Morning: Tenjinbasi-Suji
--- Late Afternoon: Umeda

--- Universal Studios Japan

--- Morning: Kasuga Taisha + Nara Deer Park
--- Afternoon: Todaiji + Yoshikien Garden + Kofukuji

DAY 15: NAMBA [Rest Day]
--- Morning: Osaka Castle
--- Lunch: Kuromon Ichiba
--- Afternoon: Shinsaibashi + Dotonbori + Orange Street

--- Morning: Flight out
by The Elsewhereist  

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/9 11:46

I just wanted to check you used the TDR and USJ crowd calendars, right?

I would move things around to make sure you go on a nice empty light blue day rather than an orange week end day. I went on an orange day last year and found it very unpleasant.

Again try to avoid an orange day in USJ:

I would do my best to move things around if possible to not be in a theme park on a crowded day because it just won't be fun. On quieter days there are many places to sit and relax in between rides.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/9 12:06
Hi @rkold! Yes, I checked the calendar and good light blue days for both, which is probably the best I could hope for as there aren't any white days this month. :D Thanks for the reminder, though!
by The Elsewhereist rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/9 16:36
Overall I like your plan. Well thought through.

For Nara if you can be there in the early morning (ie at the opening) I would start with Todaiji. At that time it is just a normal temple, but later on during the day it gets quite crowded. It is large so it is still nice to see, but if you have the possibility to see it with less people you can take it. The other spots in Nara donft get that crowded.

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

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/9 17:23
Hey @LikeBike! Thanks for the advice. Should be easy enough to move the schedule around to accommodate that.

by The Elsewhereist rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/9 22:40
Blue should be fine. If rain is expected, go any way lol I went to USJ last year in the rain and while leaving USJ for Kyoto was a miserable experience the park was completely dead. We went on the Harry Potter ride 5x and could have gone on it more. We also had good luck at Disney in the rain in 2017 lol We're also doing Sea on a blue day this year. We tried an Orange in 2018 and it was so incredibly miserable and I say this as someone who regularly goes to the US parks. Depending on what you want to ride get the Express Passes. We used them in 2016, but didn't need them in 2018, so I was glad I didn't buy them. Unlike Disney, all the wilder rides have really nice little waiting areas nearby the entrance/exit to the actual ride vehicles, so if your mother wants to keep you company say waiting for the Jurassic Park Water Ride but doesn't want to ride it, she can sit in the waiting area while you ride.

I went to Ninnaji in 2016. It was lovely and pretty empty. The places on everyone's list: The Bamboo Forest, Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji, Nishiki Market, Fushimi Inari, get crazy crowded, but lots of other temples seemed much quieter like Ninnaji and Kodaiji. Kyoto has a lot of really cute cafes to sit and relax in. My daughter loved the cloud coffee one near Nijo Castle.

Enjoy your trip!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/9 23:29
@rkold Thanks for the info on the theme parks! I just realized USJ is green, but it seems that's the best I can get with it. I guess it makes sense that it's more crowded than Disney, coz at least Disney crowd gets split up between Disney Sea and Disney World. I'm a little bit ambivalent on USJ but mum likes theme parks even though she doesn't go on rides. Hehehe but welcoming the chance to visit the Wizarding World again. I was at Universal Studios Florida with my parents a few years back, and we got the 2-Park ticket so we were able to see both Diagon Alley (way better!) and Hogsmeade, which was a total treat. I heard though Fast Pass is free in Disney for most rides?

I've been to Fushimi, Nishiki, Arashiyama, and Kiyomizu before (Kinkakuji doesn't appeal to me at all), but going back for mum. I've also actually been to Kodaiji and loved it! That and Kenninji are my two favorites in Kyoto so far. Totally looking forward to Ninnaji, and will see if I could sneak in Daitokuji too. I haven't been to both and wanted to include some sites I haven't seen this time around.

I reworked my Kyoto schedule a little just to streamline transportation and this is what I came up with:

Day 1: [Rest Day]
Morning: Fushimi Inari
Lunch: Nishiki Market + Shinkyogu Area
Early Afternoon: Daitokuji
Evening: Kyoto Station

Day 2: Arashiyama
Morning: Sagano Scenic Railway
Lunch - Early Afternoon: Bamboo Forest + Tenryuji Temple + Arashiyama Park
Mid-Afternoon: Ninna-ji

Day 3: Higashiyama
Morning: Kiyomizu-dera + Higashiyama Preserved Historic Streets
Afternoon: Kodai-ji + Maruyama Park + Yasaka Shrine
Early Evening: Gion + Transit to Osaka
by The Elsewhereist rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary: 2 weeks in Tokyo, Kyoto & Osaka 2019/5/10 17:58
I've traveled to Japan with my mother when she was 59, 63 and 70 years old. Looking at your itinerary, I don't think it's light. I'd be tired if I were to do it myself without my mother (I'm in my mid-30s)
by ami (guest) rate this post as useful

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