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Japan trip 2021/11/18 04:09
Hello All!
Flying to Japan - hopefully - on July 2022.
Family of 4.
What do you think of these itinerary? I picked these cities as base locations from where to do daily train trips. Any recommendations more than welcome.
Day 1: Very early arrival in Tokyo. (14.7-19.7)
Day 2: Tokyo (15.7)
Day 3: Tokyo (16.7)
Day 4: Tokyo (17.7) -> Day trip to Nikko
Day 5: Tokyo (18.7)
Day 6: Tokyo (19.7) -> Night in Hakone
Day 7: Hakone -> Kyoto (20.7)
Day 8: Kyoto (21.7)
Day 9: Kyoto (22.7)
Day 10: Kyoto (23.7) -> Day trip to Nara
Day 11: Kyoto -> Day trip to Osaka
Day 12: Kyoto -> Hiroshima (25.7)
Day 13: Hiroshima (26.7)
Day 14: Hiroshima (27.7) -> Day trip To Miyajima
Day 15: Hiroshima (28.7)
Day 16: Hiroshima flying to Tokyo (29.7)
Day 17: Flying back home (30.7)
I would really appreciate feedback.
Thank you!
by Japan2022  

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 14:38
Seems okay.

3.25/3.5 days in Hiroshima seems 1 too many. Unless you have other plans that pass the city and Miyajima?
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 15:18
Hi!

Your profile says you are from Switzerland. Just be aware, Japan in July can be excessively hot and humid. I've noticed a lot of people from Europe in particular find the weather overwhelming, so, especially with children (depending on their ages) or older people (if that is how your party is divvied up), give yourself plenty of time to move slowly or take breaks.

Since you also didn't mention whether it is a family of 4 two adults and two kids or a family of 4 two older people and their two adult kids... depending on the ages of those involved Hiroshima may need less time. If the children are younger, make sure you don't try to squish in too many temples at once in Kyoto. You might be better off doing your two days in Kyoto, then Osaka then Nara, just to change things up a bit. My daughter is doing better with temples and shrines now, but when she was younger she got tired of them quicker.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 15:21
From a trip point of view this plan seems to be okay.

Just be aware that Japan in July is very hot. The temperature might only be around 30C but the problem is the humidity. 30C in Japan feels much hotter than anywhere in Europe at that temperature. Some people can tolerate this or even enjoy it. Other people are just miserable.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 18:00
Thanks all for your answers.
We do live in Switzerland but I am Spanish and my kids (10&9) are used to +40 degrees summers since they were babies. Also very used to travel and adapt to the place. Humidity hope we can handle it.
So 2 full days in Hiroshima is too much?
Give an extra day to Kyoto?
Any other places to do daily trips from Tokyo/Kyoto/Hiroshima?
by Japan2022 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 20:04
In general - the times you gave given yourself is fine. I agree that you have a bit too much time on Hiroshima, but it might be good to have a flexi day in Hiroshima in case you like the city or look for a few potential day trips from Hiroshima if you change your mind.

Now onto the weather - July tends to be hot and humid but it's also the wet season. I've lived in Japan for 3 years and have also visited Spain multiple times in summer including a heat wave in 2018 I think.

Japan is tourable during July - but I tend to suggest visiting North where the weather is milder, the crowds are smaller and the rain occurs less. Visiting Tokohu and Hokkaido in July is the perfect season specifically if you love nature.

Have you thought about spending 1 week in Tokyo (visit Kamakura + Nikko to get your temple fix) and then head north for a week?
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 20:06
You could make day trips to:
- Kamakura (from Tokyo)
- Oosaka, or Kobe(from Kyoto).
- You could also stop by Himeji (I highly recommend) or Okayama when travelling from Kyoto to Hiroshima
- Iwakuni (from Hiroshima)
by Vienna Logan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 21:41
Looks like a nice, simple, and manageable plan, without being overly ambitious but organized in such a way that you can do many cool things. It does seem like arguably too many days in Hiroshima given the total length of the itinerary, although you wonft have any trouble finding things to do. Being there for several days could give you an experience of the place that goes way beyond what it is most famous for.

If it were me, though, I would head back to Tokyo one day sooner and here is why: I always allow at least one full day (i.e., two nights) at the end before flying out of Tokyo, which I use for shopping. Your domestic flight from Hiroshima will probably limit how much luggage you can check and carry on, but your international flight out of Tokyo will probably give you more allowable checked bags. Itfs possible that you and your family are not into buying things, but there are so many neat things to buy in Japan that it can be hard to say no. Anyway, I always leave time at the end to finally be able to give in to all those urges, and pack my allowable bags full. So with your itinerary I would add an extra day in Tokyo for that, and spend one less in Hiroshima. Of course this may not be of any interest to you. You may pride yourselves on not being big consumers. But you still may be surprised at how many things you will want to take home with you. Ifm not talking about tacky souvenirs, but about useful home/school/office items, arts and crafts, all sorts of wonderful foods and beverages you canft find where you live, gifts for people, etc. Tokyo is a great place to shop, as there are countless department stores (the basements have marvelous food emporia), 100-yen shops, Tokyu Hands (wide range of home goods) and much more. It even has a few huge grocery stores, although they are somewhat limited in number in the city itself. But even a medium-size grocery store may present you with all sorts of items you will really enjoy after you get back home. (I always hit at least one big supermarket during my trip-end shopping spree.)

Not everyone shares my enthusiasm for buying lots of items in Japan, but for me, it is a way of making the trips last longer. Durable items such as vases, linens, and kitchen accessories, and art prints that I bought many years ago still bring back pleasant memories of being in Japan. And the gifts I bring back (generally very inexpensive, but distinctive, quirky, cute, and/or really delicious) are always received with great pleasure.

Alternatively, if you find that you have accumulated more stuff than you can take on your domestic flight, you can always ship a box or a suitcase from your Hiroshima hotel to your last Tokyo hotel. Japanese parcel and luggage delivery, called takuhaibin or takkyubin, is fast and fairly cheap. You do have to pay attention to the pickup deadlines to make sure the item will arrive at your hotel in time at the end, but this is not hard to do. (Next-day delivery is standard, as long as you make the pickup deadline.) Your hotel can handle the arrangements and help you with the paperwork.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 22:42
You made a plan where you say where you are going to stay, but not what you plan to do in each place, so, itfs hard to tell if you are spending too much time in a particular area. One of the eBunny Islandsf is near Hiroshima, and I think that might be an enjoyable day trip for a 9 and 10 year old. If your family enjoys cycling, then the Shimanami Kaido is also near Hiroshima, and I donft think you have time allotted in Hiroshima.

Japanese schools will let out around mid July, and this is festival season in Japan. You didnft include any festivals in your plan. Should you include any festivals, make sure you book hotels early in those places.

There is a Dragon Festival in Amanohashidate, which is near Kyoto, on July 24th. Lanterns are put out to sea, there is a dragon dance, and fireworks after. I think a 9 and 10 year old would also enjoy this.

Osaka has a very good Aquarium, and also has Universal Studios, which would again be places that I believe a 9 and 10 year old would enjoy. You might not be even planning to go to these two venues.

I think your plan is very relaxed, but without knowing what places that you plan to visit, I cannot really say how much time in each location you should spend.

Good Luck, in planning your vacation.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 23:26
I've traveled for 3 weeks in July/Aug 2019 with kids.
The Japanese humidity really is different from the Spanish Sevilla/Granada 40C dry heat, i've experienced both :)

You will probably be sweating from the very second you step out of your air conditioned hotel, so make sure to bring enough water with you.
Your travel plans seems to be relaxed enough.

I would agree with most that the Hiroshima part could be shorter or changed a bit.
You could consider the following destinations:

In between Tokyo & Kyoto is Kakegawa, with 2 things great for kids (and adults)
There you can find a great Flower and Bird Park (Kakegawa Kachoen) and Kiwi Fruits Country farm (~10 min by taxi) where you can pick tea and kiwis. Very educational and tasty! (kiwicountry.jp)

In between Kyoto and Hiroshima you could add a stop?
Recommended places:
Himeji - visit the big castle (visit as early as possible)
Okoyama - Korakuen garden + castle
Kurashiki - Canal town

You could consider staying the night on Miyajima island, most places offer a Ryokan stay?
That way you can visit the shrine at night at ease, very recommended.
Going to Miyajima you can take the cable car to the top of Mt. Misen and walk down if you have the time, the view is spectacular. And dont forget to visit Daisho-in temple, its about 5 minutes walking from the center of town.

***some general things ***
You could view Kyoto as having 2 parts.
The east side (to the right of the Kamo river) has a lot of temples that can be visiting in one day just by walking. You can walk in a straight line almost from Ginkaku-ji to Kiyomizu-dera for example.
For the northwest part of Kyoto I would recommend renting an electric bike if the kids are old enough. (https://kyoto-option.com/)
By bike you can hit all the highlights of that part in a day.
One maximum temple route could be Kinkakuji, Ryoanji, Ninnaji, Daikaku-ji, Otagi Nenbutsu, Gio, Arashiyama Bamboo, Tenryu/Shigetsu, Togetsukyo bridge. Skip some temples to save time and prevent temple burnout :)
Otagi Nenbutsu is a bit out of the way, but special, so try and visit that one.

Fushimi Inari is quite the hike if you want to go to the top, so its probably better to visit at night?
Could even be spooky fun for the kids!

--When visiting Tokyo try the Cup Noodle Museum in Yokohama. You must make reservations in advance or arrive really early!
MORI Building DIGITAL ART MUSEUM in Tokyo is also great interactive fun with the kids.
The Tokyo Metro building is the best free observatory.
And if you really want to visit a Disney park then go for Disney Sea. Tokyo Disneyland is the same as the one in Paris :)
by sid1920 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/18 23:26
So actually I did not plan yet what we will do on those days.
I have booked the flights and pre-booked the hotels. Basically the trip is a draft a this point so I know that we have a place where to drop the luggage and start exploring.
Now I can start reading and checking what to do while in Tokyio, Kyoto, Hiroshima ...
I have some trips in mind: Nikko, Nara, Hakone ...
But not all. I will write down all your nice recommendations.
We do not do things particularly for the kids. Our drive is discovering new cultures and FOOD.
by Japan2022 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 00:17
I hope your flights are cancellable as there is no guarantee that tourists will be allowed in in July, I really hope we will as I'm desperate to go back.

When you're in Hiroshima, there are cool day trips to places like Tomonoura and Onomichi so I think you could easily enjoy your three days (unless you're the type who rushes around everywhere, "seeing" as much as you can at 100 miles per hour).

Himejo Castle is stunning, I would definitely fit in a visit if you can.
Before staying in Kyoto, I would think about what you want to do there and in Osaka. Osaka is a foodie paradise and has great stuff for kids such as the aquarium, theme parks etc. some people prefer to use it as base and day trip to Kyoto. No big deal as it's so easy to travel between the two cities and you can go to Nara from either. Depends on which of the two cities has more of what you want to do.

Japanese food will blow your mind, it's spectacular, it's the only place better than Spain for fish and seafood :)
My other half is Spanish, we love eating well and have travelled a lot but for me, the quality of food in Japan is better than anywhere, it's no place for vegetarians though...
by Denis C rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 01:12
Thank you so much for your feedback.
My question is: If we make stops during our journey in between the big cities where our accommodation is... What happen with the luggage??
I would love to make stops in between Tokyo to Kyoto or from Kyoto to Hiroshima but we will have probably 3 medium size suitcases to carry around ...
Another thing: Would you rent a car or train is the way to go?
If Japan does not opened to tourists then the airline will have to cancel our flights ... If they do that: we get a full refund.
by Japan2022 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 01:32
Hi!

I've not been to Spain, but I've been to Utah in the Summer multiple times and it is regularly over 43 C in the Summer and can get to 51. But there is no humidity and it just feels different than someplace with high humidity. I'm from New York, and people think of the leaves and the snow, but in the Summer it gets very hot and humid and very few people have central air. I've also been to Florida in August and spent a year living in Houston, TX. Japan is just very humid and a lot of walking can be exhausting. My then 8 year old just rebelled when I wanted her to walk more of the Yamanobe no michi with me, because it was too much. I personally am less bothered by rain I also invested in fancy raincoats when I moved to the PNW. When we were in Japan Summer of 2019, the problem with Kansai was it didn't rain. It just got more and more humid. But there are definitely places we went that were ruined because it was so rainy in Summer 2018. If there aren't specific things you want to do in Kyoto or Hiroshima you might be better off heading North, like @Mfedley suggested. There is a lot to see and do there. Assuming Japan is open for tourists, I am planning to spend more time there my next Summer trip. I'd really like to go back to Osorezan, but this time by rental car! There are some great temple towns like Hiraizumi and I would like to go back to the Dewa Sanzan, as only Haguro-san was open during my visit.

I am fine walking in the Summer, but I would be a lot less keen to bicycle in the Summer. I would also be careful depending on the size of your children because not all bike rental places carry bikes that fit children. My child is quite petite and this has definitely been an issue with bike rentals.

I am in no way saying go to the aquarium or go to a theme park, you know your family and interests best. But Nara and Kyoto both tend to be places people go to see temples and shrines and even for adults it can get repetitive which is why it makes more sense to do the 2 sightseeing days in Kyoto 1 Osaka and then 1 in Nara, since it is doubtful you are going to Osaka to see its temples or shrines. (Though I once did a walk looking for sites related to the Siege of Osaka Castle and visited lots of small temples and shrines. ) I think the Osaka History Museum is quite nice.

I would personally stay in Kyoto over Osaka. Unless you are on a tight budget or are planning to stay in 5 star hotels, Kyoto has better prices and a better range of accommodations than Osaka. I don't know where you've booked, but I've seen more places with rooms appropriate for families in Kyoto unless you are planning to stay in the Four Seasons, in which case you might want to consider Osaka? But it's easy enough to return to Kyoto from Osaka. It's more what you want in accommodations and location.

Himeji is great addition or if you don't mind backtracking, there is Hikone.

Like @Kim, I too like to shop in Japan, though I buy a lot of less classic things, though I have some Japanese prints. Personally rather than sending my suitcases from Hiroshima to Tokyo via delivery service if you can't take them on the plane, I would pay attention to deadlines and send them directly to the airport you plan to leave from. Heck, you might want to consider that regardless since it just means less bags to transport in general. For bag forwarding I would do: Tokyo to Kyoto (take a small day bag for Hakone and if you arrive in Hakone-Yumoto by noon, send that bag for same day to your hotel.) and then even consider sending any big bags directly to the airport. I believe the shinkansen now charge for non carry on size bags and you must make a reservation for them.

@Denis C., as a vegetarian... I've been to Japan over 30 times. There is plenty to eat and even more to do. There are certainly some places that are harder than others, but Japan has changed a lot since my first trip in March 1999 and it is much much much easier. You're welcome to eat meat, but don't make it sound like a vegetarian can't have fun or enjoy food in Japan. I might need to be more careful than you but Japan is certainly a place vegetarians can enjoy. As some examples, Team Lab just opened a vegan ramen shop in Tokyo and Irohado which sells traditional oyaki dumplings, now has lots of signs up about how their oyaki are vegetarian (I believe they are actually vegan.)

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 03:52
You were asking about your luggage if you stop along the way. There are two solutions :
- In train stations, you will find luggage storage.
- You could also use luggage delivery services

You can look at this page, it explains everything : https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2274.html

I used both. If you are travelling with a lot of luggage, I would recommend luggage delivery services since it is sometimes hard to find large lockers. If you use lockers in large stations, make sure to remember where exactly you left your suitcase ! Sometimes there are lockers all around the station...
by Vienna Logan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 03:58
Another thing: Would you rent a car or train is the way to go?
For your itinerary, the train is the best. A car would be slower (max 100 km/h) and expensive (toll roads and parkings are extremely expensive in large cities). Moreover it is difficult to park in large cities. Unless you want to go in the deep countryside, a car will not be helpful. If you do want to explore areas not served by trains, you could rent a car for a day or two, but I would not use it for the whole trip.

If Japan does not opened to tourists then the airline will have to cancel our flights ... If they do that: we get a full refund.
Be careful, the flights will not necessarily be cancelled if tourists are not allowed in Japan. Other people are allowed in Japan (Japanese nationals, permanent residents, business people, students, etc), and the airline may not cancel the flight. I would recommend that you buy a refundable/modifiable ticket !
by Vienna Logan (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 05:04
Yeah but we are talking about direct ZH - Japan on a Wednesdayc That flight canft survive without tourists :-)
Anyways Swiss Airlines has a pretty generous rebooking option. Not concerned. I got away with international flying holidays in 2020 and 2021 :-) Optimistic for 2022.
I am do to get Covid19 vaccine booster anytime. Can anybody tell me how long does the Japanese Government give to a covid vaccination certificate? 6 months? 12 months?
Thank you all for your time and concerns. I appreciate it deeply.
by Japan2022 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 05:13
Nobody knows what the conditions will be next summer, but besides the question of whether Japan will allow you to enter the country, there could possibly be a mandatory quarantine period, which could essentially make you not want to go. But if you already have your tickets, there isnft much point in worrying about that now. If it turns out that restrictions for entry are too onerous, hopefully you can at least postpone the trip without paying major change fees. Most airlines are offering at least that much flexibility at this point.

With your itinerary, it makes no sense to rent a car to get from Tokyo to Kyoto or Kyoto to Hiroshima. (The drives are not interesting in themselves and the costs are very high when you figure in gas, expressway fees, and huge one-way drop-off fees, plus assorted other expenses.) Take the shinkansen. A 1-week JR pass might possibly be worthwhile (to get from Tokyo to Hiroshima plus some day trips). Youfd have to do the math and also consider the non-monetary pros and cons of the rail pass. Volumes have been written on this subject.

Volumes have also been written on luggage management, and people have surprisingly strong opinions and preferences. But it is something that can make your life miserable and waste a lot of precious time if you donft plan in advance. Something to keep in mind is that it can be hard to find temporary storage for large or even medium pieces such as suitcases. For smaller pieces you can generally find coin lockers. At major stations such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka there are places where you can check bags for a day, but youfre going to want to research that in advance and know exactly where these places are located and what their hours of operation are. Luggage forwarding (takuhaibin) is effective but the costs add up (although if you only use it a couple of times it shouldnft wreck your budget). Anyway, over the years I have gotten so that I plan out every detail of how I will handle my luggage at every point in a trip, and I choose my luggage accordingly. (It can be helpful to have some pieces such as folding duffle bags that can be broken down and folded up, rather than just hard luggage that wonft fit into lockers.) I use a combination of mainly station lockers and takuhaibin. And I do occasionally take suitcases on the train (just not big ones on local trains at rush hour). Also note that you can generally leave your bags at your hotel when you check out and pick them up later in the day, and you can drop them off at your new hotel prior to check in (and then go out and do other things). But a few budget hotels do not offer this service, so itfs best to confirm in advance (the hotelfs web site might state their policy clearly, or you can send them a message).

As for sending your luggage directly to the airport, it is good advice. I personally donft do it that way for a number of reasons, but in fact it makes it a whole lot easier to get to the airport at the end of the trip. Also, if Ifm not mistaken, the new JR luggage policy for the shinkansen still allows bags under 160 cm total dimensions (l+w+h) to go without a reservations. I never bring suitcases bigger than this anyway. (My usual airline doesnft even allow checked bags bigger than 158 total dimensions.) But itfs worth noting the rules for JR, if you happen to have a large suitcase.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 11:55
@Kim, thank you for that, I think I assumed that the new size limits for reservations was more like 120 cm aka normal carry on size for bags. I've had a few bags on the shinkansen that just did not fit well, but not since my JET friends taught me about takkyubin in ~'04.

I also agree with you about planning and thinking about luggage ahead of time! I got to Osaka Station at noon on a week end in June in 2018 or 2019 and despite their electronic locker system, I could not find a locker for our two carry on sized bags. It was miserable, we spent a good 30-40 minutes trying to find an open one, before we finally found a left luggage counter. They charged more, but it was so much easier. Some stations it is easy to find a locker (Matsumoto and Nagano come to mind) but a lot of big stations it can be a surprising pain in the butt, unless there is a paid left luggage counter which has space.

Unless you are staying at Hakone-Yumoto or planning to go directly to your hotel or ryokan, I highly recommend even with a day pack thinking about same day forwarding to your accommodations. The local buses can get VERY crowded and they don't have much room even for something like a backpack.

Also be aware, if planning to do laundry, Japanese dryers are for some reason just awful. I don't know if it's just US dryers are good, but Japanese ones are VERy slow at drying, and trying to hang dry in the Summer takes an awful long time because again humidity.

I use to send my luggage to the airport a lot (and if I bought more souvenirs before I left just pick up another suitcase lol Most airlines to the US allow two check ins per passenger. I don't do it as often now, because I stay at the Tokyo Station Hotel, and they have a seeing you off to the NEX program, so I don't have to do anything until I get to Narita (and then there are free luggage carts right up the escalator.) I've only used Haneda once because most of my flights are out of Narita still.

BTW, is your ticket: Switzerland to Tokyo and then Hiroshima to Tokyo (layover which happens to be overnight) Switzerland or is it Switzerland to Tokyo roundtrip? If the latter, I agree with @Kim, about maybe heading back to Tokyo a little earlier depending on your Tokyo flight time. I've had late flights (18:00 pm, where I have plenty of time to get to the airport) but I've also had early like 8:30 am flights, and if your flight from Hiroshima for any reason gets canceled you will have a very hard time making it back to Tokyo on time if your flight is before noon the next day.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan trip 2021/11/19 21:53
I think the thing with Japanese clothes dryers might have to do with venting. They generally take a very long time, but Ifve come across plenty that arenft too bad. Of course if the machine keeps rolling your damp clothes around in hot air, the moisture wonft go away unless that hot air gets vented out. But I had one dryer in a Tokyu Stay in-room dryer that took me by surprise and practically fried a pair of jeans so that they went down at least a full size in fit. Such problems we facec Anyway, for me, the laundry plan is an integral part of the luggage management plan, because when you use takuhaibin you have to be especially strategic about where you do your laundry.

On the subject of vegetarian food in Japan, I am not vegetarian myself but on my last trip I did some gscoutingh in advance of a planned trip with a vegetarian, and I was blown away by how good the plant-based meals that I ate were. In particular, I had set meals (teishoku) in three different restaurants that were just brilliant (and quite moderately priced). If you want something fancy like vegetarian kaiseki you definitely have to make arrangements in advance (you even have to be cautious about shojin ryori, as I have seen a restaurant throw all sorts of animal products in), and in general if you want substantial meals you may need to do a little research ahead of time, but I could eat very happily in Japan as a vegetarian, and I will definitely seek out more vegetarian cafes and restaurants there in the future. They do seem to be growing in number. (And as a side note, it is getting easier and easier to find a range of non-alcoholic drink choices in Japanese izakayas. Progress on two major fronts for people who are watching what they eat and drink even while traveling.)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

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