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Old Dec 27, 14, 12:00 am   #1
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Opinion on itinerary in Kyoto/Osaka?

I am heading to Japan and this is my tentative itinerary for the Kansai region. What does everyone think? Do you think I set aside enough time in each place or am I rushing things/spending too much time? I am the type that likes to walk and see as much as I can in one day if that helps.

2 nights in Osaka at HR Osaka since it is close to Universal Studios Japan:

Day 1: Osaka - Check in hotel. Then, Osaka Castle (just taking a pic outside. won't be going in), Den Den Town, Amerikamura, Shinsaibashi Shopping Area, Dotonbori. (Am I missing any other must see's in Osaka?)

Day 2: Osaka - Universal Studios Japan

4 nights in Kyoto:

Day 3: Check out/half day at Osaka Aquarium + Kyoto Station + nearby shrines. Check into hotel in Kyoto and Nishi Market + Downtown Kyoto in the evening.

Day 4: Hiroshima/Miyajima (I know the train from Kyoto is about 30 min longer to get to Hiroshima versus traveling from Osaka on the hikari, but HR Osaka has such bad reviews so that is why I am thinking of only doing 2 nights in Osaka versus 3. Should I do 3 nights instead to save on traveling time?). Maybe Downtown Kyoto again in the evening.

Day 5: Eastern Kyoto (I am thinking this will be a full day trip? I have a list of places to see.)

Day 6: Northern Kyoto + Arashiyama (I am thinking this will be a full day trip? I have a list of places to see.)

Day 7: Southern Kyoto + Nara (I am thinking this will be a full day trip? I have a list of places to see.)

Day 8: Check out and head to Tokyo (I've got Tokyo down since I've been before). (Maybe stick around a little longer if I missed any other musts in Kyoto/Osaka? I don't necessarily need to leave on day 8 to go to Tokyo since I have some more time in my schedule.)

Thanks in advance for taking out your time to respond and give me your opinion Any other helpful info would also be appreciated Should I throw in a night in Hakone?

Last edited by cruisingmickey; Dec 27, 14 at 12:09 am
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Old Dec 27, 14, 1:13 pm   #2
  
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I think it's sensible to divide Kyoto into quadrants. It all depends on how many places you want to see and how quickly or leisurely you want to travel between them.

I don't know of any major shrines around Kyoto Station, but Kyoto Station itself is interesting in a modern architecture sort of way, and there are some famous temples in the area.

You can buy bus passes in 24-hour increments. There's a cross-shaped subway system, but it's not particularly helpful for sightseeing unless you want to move from one side of the city to another quickly. The buses go everywhere, however, and there are maps that show which routes pass near which sights. A lot of the sights are within walking distance of one another within each area, though.
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Old Dec 27, 14, 1:26 pm   #3
  
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Originally Posted by ksandness View Post
I don't know of any major shrines around Kyoto Station, but Kyoto Station itself is interesting in a modern architecture sort of way, and there are some famous temples in the area.
+1 Perhaps the OP meant temples rather than shrines.
Toji temple - within walking distance of the station is worth a visit. Probably the only Kyoto site south of the station that a short-term visitor is likely to visit:
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3919.html

Higashi Honganji on the north side of the station is also easily walkable from the station, but not as interesting to a casual visitor, IMHO.
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Old Dec 27, 14, 2:35 pm   #4
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Thanks for the responses! Yes, I meant temples, not shrines. jib71 is on point! Those are two of the three I saw. Along with Toji Temple and Higashi Hongan, I also saw there is the Nishi-Hongan. These are not a must, but if I have time, why not. We'll see!

If anyone is interested, I read if you are in the area around Toji Temple on the 21st of the month, they have the Kobo-san market. From what I saw, it is held on the temple grounds and is best to go early in the morning for the best selection.
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Old Dec 27, 14, 4:04 pm   #5
  
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These are not a must, but if I have time, why not.
You really won't have much time if you're planning to visit Osaka aquarium that morning. I think you're probably better off heading to your hotel, dropping bags there and seeing something in that neighborhood.
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Old Dec 27, 14, 9:53 pm   #6
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You really won't have much time if you're planning to visit Osaka aquarium that morning. I think you're probably better off heading to your hotel, dropping bags there and seeing something in that neighborhood.
Thanks jib! I appreciate your feedback. It's helpful for my planning

Have you been to the Osaka Aquarium? Is it worth it to go?

I am also thinking about hitting up the Cup of Noodle museum in Ikeda, Osaka. I was going to hit up the one in Yokohama, but wondering if the one in Osaka is better. I read the one in Osaka has free admission, but is smaller than paid admission Yokohama one. Have you been to either? Do you recommend going?
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Old Dec 28, 14, 3:15 am   #7
  
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Have you been to the Osaka Aquarium? Is it worth it to go?
No. People who like aquariums seem to think it's a good one.
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Old Dec 28, 14, 3:16 am   #8
  
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Originally Posted by ang2383 View Post
Have you been to either? Do you recommend going?
I've been to the ramen museum in Yokohama. Sure, it's kitschy, but it's quite well done for what it is. Kind of a rip off to pay admission to eat ramen, but ... I guess it's a "done it and bought the T-shirt" type of experience. During a short trip to Japan, I'm sure I wouldn't put it at the top of my list of things to do but YMMV.
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Old Dec 28, 14, 3:44 am   #9
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I really have nothing bad to say about the HR Osaka, but you do need to know that the location is a bit remote. And the hotel is visited by tour groups that have breakfast included, so that can be a bit crowdy as well. But quality is decent for the rates you normally pay.

I would try to do the aquarium when you are traveling and not spend to much time getting to and back the hotel. It's nice but nothing really great in my opinion. I visited in the evening when I was at the HR.

The HR is also an easy bus or train ride from KIX if you arrive there (i would take the bus and avoid having to take the hotel shuttle). But why are you flying out of Tokyo with such an itinerary? Wouldn't a return to/from KIX not be a lot easier?

I would make the most of the Kansai region and not do a night in Hakone (even though I like it there). If you are looking for something different a night at something like Mt Koya or a night at a ryokan at Miyajima might be nice. You could leave most of your luggage in Kyoto.

Extending your stay is even better, plenty to see in Kyoto.

Last edited by RTW1; Dec 28, 14 at 3:54 am
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Old Dec 28, 14, 4:53 am   #10
  
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Have you been to the Osaka Aquarium? Is it worth it to go?

I am also thinking about hitting up the Cup of Noodle museum in Ikeda, Osaka. I was going to hit up the one in Yokohama, but wondering if the one in Osaka is better. I read the one in Osaka has free admission, but is smaller than paid admission Yokohama one. Have you been to either? Do you recommend going?
I've been to the Osaka Aquarium and it's worth a trip if you like aquariums. There's also an aquarium in Kyoto, but I have no idea if it's any good.

I've heard that the Cupnoodles Museum in Yokohama is better than the one in Osaka (I've only been to the one in Yokohama) - it's bigger, and it's located in the middle of an interesting neighborhood with lots of tourist attractions, rather than in the middle of nowhere. And it has a restaurant area that serves noodles from all over the world.

(Note that Yokohama also has a ramen museum, which I think is what jib71 is referring to above - it's also a fun side trip, although it's not that close to the Cupnoodles Museum.)
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Old Dec 28, 14, 4:43 pm   #11
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Thanks for the feedback on the Cup of Noodle museum. I think it sounds like the Yokohama one will be better so I will do that one instead. I could possibly fit in the Yokohama Chinatown as well. I also read about the Ramen museum in Yokohama, but I will probably skip that.

I will have to see on the aquarium. It sounds like it's a toss up. I guess maybe if it's raining on the day I want to go, I will go to wait out the rain or something. We'll see. I am Japan for 11 days and finalizing my trip.

I was originally going to make this a Tokyo trip only, but there was a mistake fare a few months ago going to Tokyo so I booked that since the price was too good to pass up after I booked this trip. I am back from the mistake fare Tokyo trip and did most of Tokyo already. I figure since I just did Tokyo, I should do something else and came up with visiting the Kansai region. I wish I could change my plane tickets, but I can't without paying penalty fees. I don't mind traveling out of Tokyo. It will give me an excuse to visit Tokyo Disneyland again!

Thanks again everyone for your helpful suggestions and opinions!
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Old Dec 30, 14, 1:03 pm   #12
  
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1) How soon are you going? If you are going late march 2015 or later, you should spend at least a half-day in Himeji to see the castle. Before then the interior will still be closed for renovation.

2) Nara can be done in a half-day if you stick to a schedule and don't wander around. But Nara is one of the best places in Japan to wander around, so it depends on your style.

3) Sounds like you really want to cover Kyoto completely. If so, that itin looks good. If you think you might get "templed out" or want to hit more of Kansai, then consider lopping of a Kyoto day for Kobe - it has a different vibe to Osaka or Kyoto.

4) It sounds like you have a clear mission to spend a day at Universal Studios there. I'm curious as to why? This is not an attack, just an honest question. It might be my Los Angeles bias, but to me the biggest lure is the studio "backlot" tour to see actual sets of famous movies. I know there are rides as well, but is it worth it to you to spend a day there vs see more of Kansai?
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Old Dec 30, 14, 8:03 pm   #13
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Hi Pureboy!

I am actually going to Seoul first in mid Feb and then finishing off with Japan at the end of the month. I actually switched around my itinerary and I will be dong Kyoto first and Osaka last. I also read about the Himeji construction. I saw some pictures of the construction and it looks like the outside coverings have mostly been taken off and I would be able to snap a picture. Although I am not sure if going there to snap a picture of the outside only is worth it.

Nara is definitely on my list! I am doing Nara + Southern Kyoto (Fushimi Inari) in one day. I am really excited to visit Fushimi Inari.

Haha, yes you've read my mind! I plan to cover Kyoto completely or as complete as I can. It's good to know you agree that I've got Kyoto mostly covered. I was afraid I would be missing something. I have Kobe on my maybe list, but don't think I will have enough time. We'll see.

As for Universal Studios Japan, I am a big Harry Potter fan. I haven't been to the one in Orlando yet so a visit to USJ is a must for me. I know the Orlando one is much better especially since they just opened up the new part, but I won't be going there anytime soon. I agree, looking at the list of rides at USJ, none seem to be appealing and some look a bit outdated like Jaws/Backdraft. Our theme parks here in the US are much better imo. I am hoping it won't take an entire day and I can use the evening to walk around Osaka and do some shopping.
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Old Dec 30, 14, 8:41 pm   #14
  
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Ah, okay, I can see why you'd want to go to USJ, then. If you don't know, US Hollywood will have it in 2016.

I don't think its worth going to Himeji just to see the outside of the castle and some of the keeps, but since it just past Kobe on the bullet train, you could stop for 2 hours on the way south (or the return) if you were going to Hiroshima. An alternative is Hikone castle, which would likely be a day trip from your Kansai base.

Can you believe I've been to Kyoto twice and haven't made it to Fushimi Inari or Kiyomizudera?
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Old Dec 30, 14, 8:53 pm   #15
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Oh wow! I had no idea they are building one in CA! That is awesome! I haven't been to Disneyland in years so it'll be a good excuse to visit the two during my next trip to the West Coast. I'm based in NYC.

I haven't planned out Hiroshima yet so I didn't even know Kobe/Himeji are both on the way to Hiroshima. Do you think if I leave early enough from Kyoto I will have enough time to head to Hiroshima/Miyajima and then Himeji/Kobe on the way back? I don't mind a jam packed day or lots of walking. Haha, I am used to it having lived in NYC my entire life.

Oh wow! Twice in Kyoto and you haven't been to Fushimi or Kiyomizudera! You need to go back! It's funny because I've been to Tokyo twice and I haven't done Tsukiji Market or Meiji shrine yet. I won't make it this trip either =(.
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