Finally made the decision to visit Japan, pointers needed

Actually tickets were as cheap as I have found them and me, my mom and sister will be visiting Japan this year in October. I will stay 13 days so I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice on places to visit and things to do I’m building my schedule while over there we will arrive at Tokyo. I will try to make my Wani Kani Overlords proud while surely sounding like a neanderthal trying to speak Japanese to the locals.

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You’re spending all 13 days in tokyo? I would recommend maybe looking at visiting somewhere else as well like Kyoto. The longest I have ever stayed in Tokyo was 9 days, and I think thats more than enough.

Personally, my favorite thing in tokyo was the sensoji temple/nakamise. Oh also when we went to the imperial palace and went to this huge open field they had there and had a picnic thingy. Was nice. In terms of a thing to do, rent those docomo electric bike things and just ride around the city. Soooooo fun. May be a bit cold if you are going in oct.

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Sorry if my post was misleading, no I’m staying 13 days total in Japan starting in Tokyo thanks for your advice its greatly appreciated.

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Fair warning, after using these electric bikes, you’ll never want to go back to normal ones.

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Oh super, thanks

Oh boy. I have a massive list of things I’d like to do in Japan, and I’m not sure I can narrow them down for you at all. Himeji Castle, Koyasan, Matsumoto Castle, Kamakura, Onomichi, and pretty much all of Kyoto are high on the list.

General stuff:

  1. Get a Japan Rail Pass, if it’s worth the money - you can use https://www.japan-guide.com/railpass/ to get a rough calculation. You need to order it before you leave your home country, so you’ll need to at least have a rough itinerary worked out.
  2. For when you can’t use the JR Pass (or if it turns out to be not worth the money), get an IC travel card. In Tokyo, they use Suica (http://www.jreast.co.jp/e/pass/suica.html). The card varies from city to city, though these days they’re all interchangeable.
  3. Use Hyperdia for route planning - it’ll also tell you what it’ll cost you, and has options to include only results where you can use the JR Pass: http://www.hyperdia.com/
  4. You don’t have to be fluent in Japanese, but it helps - my first trip way back in 2010 was done before I started learning Japanese, and I pretty much managed with a phrasebook I picked up from a secondhand bookshop, some half-remembered phrases from anime, and charades. My second trip, just last month, with several years of Japanese under my belt, went off just as smoothly. Actually even managed to have some conversations with people. :smiley:
  5. Invest in slip-on shoes. You’ll frequently need to take your shoes off, and having to sit down and undo the laces all the time is tedious.
  6. 100 yen coins - you’ll need them for coin lockers and coin laundries, so save them up.
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recommendations for Tokyo:

Ghibli museum- get your tickets a few months in advance
Omoide Yokocho bars and restaurants
Tsukiji Fish Market - go around 830 am
Tokyo Disney Sea
Hibiya Park, Yoyogi Park

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Wanna add to this: Golden Gai - it’s just past Kabukicho on the other side of the tracks from Omoide Yokocho.

For Tokyo:
Shinjuku Gyoen (a beautiful park that I think is my favourite place in Tokyo and is super cheap), Meiji Shrine, and Shimokitazawa (cool cafes, vintage shops, and just a generally interesting area.) I also loved Disney Sea and Land, but it depends if you wanna spend a day on that or not… If you do I’d probably go with Sea over Land just because it’s unique to Japan, and also the set design is absolutely breathtaking (and the fireworks show at night made me cry…)

I 100% recommend Ishikawa prefecture, but I’m biased because I live there… Kanazawa is a really cool city to visit(Kenrokuen, Oyama Jinja, plus tons of other cool stuff.) Natadera temple in Kaga is fab.

I recently went travelling and Himeji castle is beautiful. If you’re near that area then I’d suggest going there for a day or half a day even. The outside is definitely better than the inside, but it’s still cool to go in. The gardens are also stunning.

In Kyoto I recommend Arashiyama. The bamboo forest is super cool to see if you go early in the morning and there’s an awesome Monkey Park in the area too. Kiyomizudera is also really cool. If you go there make sure to go in Zuigugo hall. You go into a pitch black room with only a rope on the wall to guide you towards a glowing stone that you then touch to give you good luck. It’s super quick but awesome and terrifying in equal measures.

Nara is also good for a day if you like deer and wanna see the massive Buddha statue!

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I agree with Yoyogi park. If you’re in the area it’s a lovely place to walk around!

As someone who has lived in Kyoto and now lives in Tokyo, I feel like my first instinct is to tell you where not to go but I wont because maybe I didnt like something youll love haha

When I lived in Kyoto I visited Kiyomizu-dera three times, so I recommend it. If you are walking around Kyoto, its fun to do Kinkaku-ji, Ryoan-ji, and Nina-ji because they are all on the same road. Also please take the Randen while in Kyoto! Its a little tram that connects to Arashiyama, and Ryoan-ji as well as other stops. I also really love Maruyama Park. Also as @izzysophia said, Nara is a great day trip from Kyoto.

As for other places, if you can I would recommend visiting Hiroshima. I spent a weekend there with friends and it was a great experience. I recommend the peace museum and memorial, as well as Miyajima which is an island off of Hiroshima with the giant tori gate in the sea (this is where I took my profile picture!) This island also has deer!

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I used an online trip planner from a site called Odigo. It creates the itinerary for you and even incorporates transportation modes and time etc.

Although the learning curve might be steep, it was worth it for me. I’m sure there are other trip planners that are less complicated than this, but I really liked having it all online, with a map showing travel times and areas, and it also lets you print it into foldable brochures! In fact, here’s my itinerary for my trip last year during Sakura season.
The site, in general, also has some good stuff for current Japanese events/going-ons.

The only other advice I can give is do all the research you can asap. Don’t be scared to start booking things, as it will be cheaper the earlier you do and you (mostly) don’t get charged until you arrive, so no hassle reservations.

As for places, if you have any interest in sake and you’ll be in the Mt. Fuji area, I highly recommend an Ide brewery tour. For 500 yen you get a one hour tour, a commemorative sake glass and sake tastings.
The Suntory distillery tour in Yamazaki (between Kyoto and Osaka) is also quite amazing and one of my husband’s favourite experiences.

Matsumoto is worth the trip, for the castle and the amazing views of the mountains surrounding the city.

You can’t really go wrong with any shrine, but I particularly enjoyed Sanjūsangen-dō in Kyoto famous for its 1000 Kannon. If you are planning on seeing lots of shrines, get a shuinchou (Japanese seal book) and collect the seals as you visit. It’s a unique way to remember where you’ve been and watching the writing of the seal never gets boring.

Sorry for the essay! You’ll have a great time because there’s so much to do!

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MariCar - dress up as Mario Kart characters and go-kart through the streets of Tokyo. (International drivers license required)

If you spend some time based out of Kyoto, in addition to what the others have suggested, I’d add a half-day trip to Uji if you’re into tea or the Tale of Genji. Byodoin is the temple on the back of the 10 yen coin, so that’s neat.

If temples are your thing, I’d get a goshuincho, a special stamp-book, and get stamps at all the temples/shrines you visit. You can buy one at most majpr temples/shrines/stationery stores. There’s like a zillion temples/shrines in Kyoto. The Big 3 shrines are Yasaka in Gion, Heian, and Fushimi Inari Taisha. All three are really cool. Heian’s got a GIANT torii near it, and Fushimi Inari Taisha has about ten thousand of them, not joking.

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If you’re not adverse to being too “tourist-y,” you can always book a bus tour. Hato Bus is one of the more famous tour bus companies in Tokyo, and they have a variety of tours.
I live way down south in Nagasaki and rarely get to leave Kyushu, so when my mom and brother came to visit last October, I didn’t really know where to go or how to get there while we were traveling Tokyo and Kyoto.
So the bus tours really helped save me the stress of chauffeuring my fam around for an extra two days. You can go see a variety of historical places without having to worry about missing trains or getting lost. And there’s a lot geared towards English speakers too.

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why

I may be mistaken, but as of last year, the temple itself is being renovated and has a lot of ugly scaffolding around it. The area on the bottom is still open and nice to walk through, but the famous shot of Kiyomizu-dera overlooking Kyoto isn’t really possible as renovations continue.

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Oh no! I lived there two years ago so I didn’t know :frowning: If nothing else, the area around kiyomizu dera is also interesting with shops and such

Here is a general trip that I suggest for two weeks; it’s one I’ve done twice and leaves plenty of time to do everything, minus Hiroshima. I’m hoping to go there this year.

Tokyo (four days; two days in the actual city, one day to Kamakura, one day to Yokohama. Both of these are about an hour by train.). If you have an additional day, you can go to Hakone or Nikko. You may be able to see Mt. Fuji from Hakone, but I’m told it’s a pretty rare right. I went in the beginning of April and there was a snowstorm, but you might get lucky in October.

Take a shinkansen down to Osaka and set up your homebase here. Osaka is in the middle of everything and all the major things are about an hour away. The city itself doesn’t have that much in the daytime, but comes alive in the night, which is why I recommend that people stay here overnight to get the most out of it. You only really need a day or two in the actual city. Spend 2-3 days in Kyoto, leaving Osaka in the morning and coming back at night, or stay in Kyoto overnight too. Just know that most shrines/temples close at 5:00-6:00 PM. Spend another going to Nara, one day in Kobe, and one day in Himeji.

Next, take a bullet train to Hiroshima and hang around there for 2-3 days. There is plenty to see down there and you might have enough time to go to Nagasaki/Fukouka.

So here is a rough outline:
Day 1: Land in Tokyo, do things. Eat and drink. Japan has something called nomihoudai, which literally means all you can drink. Most places charge 1,000-2,000 yen for 2 hours of all you can drink.
Day 2: Tokyo sightseeing. Eat and drink.
Day 3: Tokyo. Eat and drink.
Day 4: Day trip to Kamakura, come back to Tokyo in the night-time. Eat and drink.
Day 5: Hakone/Nikko (if time permits). Eat and drink.
Day 6: Shinkanen early in the morning to Osaka (buy your railpass at this moment) and walk around Osaka, go to Dotonbori/Namba and eat and drink a lot.
Day 7: Day trip to Nara, leave in the morning. Come back to Osaka. Eat and drink.
Day 8-9: Go to Kyoto. Eat and drink.
Day 10: Shinkansen to Hiroshima. Hang around there. Eat and drink.
Day 11: Hiroshima and come back to Osaka in the night-time. Eat and drink.
Day 12: You maaaaaybe have time to do Kobe, if you leave early enough. Take the night shinkansen straight to Tokyo in the evening (should be about 2-3 hours). Eat and drink.
Day 13: Go back home. Eat and drink.

This trip more than covers the cost of your JR pass, so you don’t have to worry about costs. You’ll ride the shinkansen four times, on top of all the trains too. Get yourself a bus-pass in Kyoto, which can be bought in front of Kyoto Station, as bus is pretty much the best way to get around the town. It costs 500 yen is an all-you-can-ride in 24 hours. Pays for itself in 2 bus rides, you’ll be taking it a lot. This is pretty much the “quintessential” trip to Japan, you see all of the major and most popular spots. Might be a little rushed, and unless you’re really keen, Hakone/Nikko can be omitted, giving you an extra day somewhere else (probably Kyoto).

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I can confirm this since I am living in Kyoto now. I just went 3 weeks ago and they still plan to be doing works the next 10 months at least.