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7 Days - Tokyo and perhaps Kyoto?

7 Days - Tokyo and perhaps Kyoto?

Old Apr 9, 18, 10:35 pm
  #1  
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7 Days - Tokyo and perhaps Kyoto?

Hi All,

Our family will be travelling to Japan in the summer. We will be there 7 full days including the day when we will arrive (we will be arriving early morning) but not including the day we leave. We will leave in the morning of the 8th day. We are flying into HND and flying out of NRT. I am not sold on the idea to spend all 7 days in Tokyo. I was thinking for us to visit Kyoto on Shinkansen and visit Arashimaya and some other temples. We will be travelling with small children so we are planning on taking it easy and not trying to pack everything and being rushed. The plan is to get Japan Rail Pass.

When I looked at major hotel chains (Hilton and Marriott), they all pointed to stay in Osaka. I am planning on using points, hence the search for the chains. I realized that it's about 60 minute train ride from Osaka to Kyoto.
How many days would you advise we split Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto? Do you think 3 days/2 nights including travel is enough? That would mean we only have 1 full day in Kyoto. Is this trip even worth it? Or should we just stay in Tokyo and do a day trip to Hakone?

Any input is greatly appreciated.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 12:28 am
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I would counsel against staying in Osaka. You are right, everything is cheaper there than Kyoto. But it is a big boring city, and the people who recommend Osaka aren't first-timers (probably like tenth-timers). All the stuff you want is in Kyoto. So stay there.

But you can also just do everything in Tokyo and surrounds. I'd recommend an overnight trip to Hakone, but I'm not sure if there is anything for your Hilton and Marriott (there is a Hyatt Regency which is nice).
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Old Apr 10, 18, 1:18 am
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Originally Posted by FlyHighDude View Post
... I realized that it's about 60 minute train ride from Osaka to Kyoto.
....
With a Rail Pass, it is much less than an hour on the shinkansen. It all depends on where you are staying. .

I'd agree with the comment about staying in Kyoto over Osaka, assuming you can find someplace to use your points. There is no Hilton in Kyoto, which is why they try to steer you to Osaka. The Kyoto Hyatt Regency is a great property but might be hard to get at this late date. I might be tempted to stay at one of the better business hotels like the Hearton or one of the APA hotels and just pay for it. Many are offering low summer rates.

Be aware that Japan in high summer is horridly hot and muggy. Plan ahead for that, especially with little ones.

Last edited by abmj-jr; Apr 10, 18 at 1:27 am
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Old Apr 10, 18, 3:24 pm
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Originally Posted by FlyHighDude View Post
Hi All,

Our family will be travelling to Japan in the summer. We will be there 7 full days including the day when we will arrive (we will be arriving early morning) but not including the day we leave. We will leave in the morning of the 8th day. We are flying into HND and flying out of NRT. I am not sold on the idea to spend all 7 days in Tokyo. I was thinking for us to visit Kyoto on Shinkansen and visit Arashimaya and some other temples. We will be travelling with small children so we are planning on taking it easy and not trying to pack everything and being rushed. The plan is to get Japan Rail Pass.

When I looked at major hotel chains (Hilton and Marriott), they all pointed to stay in Osaka. I am planning on using points, hence the search for the chains. I realized that it's about 60 minute train ride from Osaka to Kyoto.
How many days would you advise we split Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto? Do you think 3 days/2 nights including travel is enough? That would mean we only have 1 full day in Kyoto. Is this trip even worth it? Or should we just stay in Tokyo and do a day trip to Hakone?

Any input is greatly appreciated.
Everyone who travels to Japan for the first time should visit Kyoto so you should definitely try to fit it in your schedule. That said, if you do go, I have to agree with the others in saying that itís better to stay in Kyoto if thatís possible. 3 days/2 nights is probably enough time to see most of the major sights on your own, but plan your time wisely. There are guided tours that will take you to various spots like Kiyomizudera, Kinkakuji, Nijo Castle, etc. so thereís that option. And if you have any time to spare, Nara is only an hour or so away.

Unfortunately, as you have found, there arenít many chain hotels there so you may need to look around. Using Kyoto Station as as base would be a good idea since itís easy to find transportation for your day trips.

Lastly, as someone noted, itís going to be hotópossibly oppressively hot and muggyóso be prepared.


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Old Apr 10, 18, 3:32 pm
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Tokyo has far more stuff than you can hope to do in 7 days by itself, but if you want more of a variety of what Japan has to offer, then it's definitely not a bad idea to split 7 days between Tokyo and Kyoto. The two cities have a much different feel.

Think about whether you really need rail passes. You can get a round trip Tokyo-Kyoto e-voucher from Japanican that comes with a 1 day subway/bus pass in Kyoto for •21,000. This is a little more than half the cost of a rail pass. Would you use another $170 (approx) per person in JR train fares? Maybe, but it depends on what you plan on doing. I think it's difficult to spend that much in 7 days without another trip outside the city. The final difference per person may end up only being $50-$75 or so, but multiplied by all the people in your family, that adds up.

But weigh that too against the costs of staying in Osaka vs. Kyoto. If you can stay in Osaka on points, then the rail pass may still be worth it because the shinkansen is only a 15 minute ride from Osaka to Kyoto, and the rail pass would cover that. But you could save your points and end up coming out sort of even by staying in Kyoto and not getting rail passes.

Anyway, the rail pass is definitely a nice convenience, but financially I have found that it's just rarely worth it. You really usually need to be going either on two medium-range trips, or one really long trip (longer than Tokyo-Kyoto) to come out ahead financially.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 4:09 pm
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It will be hot - we almost melted last July. Be prepared.

Another common hint, which I agree with, is that it is entirely possible to make the trip from Kyoto to NRT in a single day, negating the need to spend the night in Tokyo, this can save some time for sightseeing. A big tip is to change to the Narita Express at Shinagawa instead of Tokyo Station. It is a MUCH easier transfer.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 5:22 pm
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Unless you come from the tropics, you might not believe how awful Kyoto can be in the summer, mostly because it's in a basin, surrounded by mountains on three sides, with no air moving. The heat doesn't even go away much at night. Be sure to schedule frequent cold drink breaks, and don't try to do too much in one day.

If you decide to stay in Tokyo, which has the advantage of making you unpack only once, lots of places are accessible as day trips: Hakone, Nikko, Matsumoto, Sendai, even Nagano.
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Old Apr 10, 18, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by basscadet75 View Post
.... You can get a round trip Tokyo-Kyoto e-voucher from Japanican that comes with a 1 day subway/bus pass in Kyoto for •21,000. This is a little more than half the cost of a rail pass. ....
Nope. The 7-day JR Rail Pass costs a little over 29k yen. If OP uses it for Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka-Tokyo plus Narita Express on the last day, it pays for itself. Add day trips to Osaka, Nara, Himeji, Kamakura or others and it is a good deal.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 10:08 am
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Totally agree with previous post. The 7 day Japan Rail Pass would be perfect. General rule of thumb is that the 7 day pass will generally pay for itself after a round trip Shinkansen ticket between Tokyo and Osaka/Kyoto. After that, a few day trips on any JR lines (e.g., the ubiquitous Yamanote line in Tokyo), youíll be in the black.
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Old Apr 11, 18, 4:20 pm
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
A big tip is to change to the Narita Express at Shinagawa instead of Tokyo Station. It is a MUCH easier transfer.
+100
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Old Apr 11, 18, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by abmj-jr View Post
Nope. The 7-day JR Rail Pass costs a little over 29k yen.
Sorry, you're right - was looking at the price of the Green Car pass (which is also what I've bought the two times I've done it).

I personally think doing Tokyo-Kyoto *and* a bunch of day trips within 7 days is a waste of time, though, but to each their own. There is more to do in both of these cities than a week in each would be sufficient for. I have been going to Tokyo about twice a year for 7-10 days at a time for the last 18 years and I haven't done all the things I want to do there as a tourist yet. And I'm usually worn out by the end of these trips - it's not like I'm sitting on my butt. New fun stuff just keeps popping up every year.

I would recommend most people on their first trip to Japan to explore Tokyo for at least 3-4 days. Kyoto's good for 2-3 days at least. Especially in summer, because you'll want to be taking lots of breaks and may even want a change of clothes now and then (I've gone in July a few times, and I sometimes make up to three changes of clothes in a day.) And that's a good way to get both modern and historical Japan on one trip too. I think trying to do much more than that on the first trip ends up just keeping you on the train too much and actually takes away from other cool stuff you could be doing with that time. But again, that's just my opinion and advice. I'm sure there are people for whom Tokyo is just less interesting than it is for me.
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Old Apr 12, 18, 11:53 am
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The Tokyo area offers more of traditional Japan than you might think (Kamakura, Nikko, little pocket neighborhoods), and the Kyoto area offers more of modern Japan than you might think (Osaka and Kobe are just short train rides away).

To avoid that rushed feeling, read up on both Tokyo and Kyoto, pick one area, and stick to it. Both areas offer so much to see and do. Like one of the posters above, I have been traveling to Japan for many years, including some time living there, and there are still things on my bucket list in both regions.
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Old Apr 14, 18, 5:51 pm
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Just got back last week from 2 weeks over there.

With small children and just 7 days? I'd totally skip Kyoto and just stay in Tokyo. In Osaka and Kyoto, according to fitness apps, we were walking 8-12 miles a day. It was a lot better in Tokyo. Especially in Kyoto, strollers don't fit anywhere unless you've got a small umbrella one.

Had 6 nights in Tokyo. Still only hit half of the main stuff and felt rushed about it too. Stuff just takes way longer than you expect. Went into Yodabashi and thought it would be a quick in and out. Ended up in there for over 2 hours, before staying longer and eating lunch in there (another hour) for convenience and to save time trying to find a place outside.
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Old Sep 8, 19, 9:05 pm
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7 days in Tokyo with a one day trip to Kyoto

Hello Flyertalkers. Sorry to bump a year plus old thread but figured it was better than starting a new one.

Have seven full days in Japan next July (just me and Mrs. K, no kids) and while we are committed for five of those days, we have an open 48-hour stretch where we would like to go to Kyoto for an overnight.

I was planning to catch the early morning Shinkansen to Kyoto and return to Tokyo the following evening. We will travel pretty light as most of our stuff we will leave on Tokyo. Kyoto is bigger than I realized and we realize that one day will not do it near justice. Add to that, we would like to stay in a Ryokan. Even though I have read that there are better places for Ryokan visits we will try to do it in this trip.

Main questions:
  • What part of Kyoto should we target to visit to get a good traditional view of Japan (we tend to like areas that are like a marketplace, and pretty walkable)?
  • With the above, does anyone have a couple Ryokan recommendations? We donít mind spending a little money for a place that caters to first timer westerners, but would still like it to still offer some traditional insight.
We would probably sightsee until about 3pm and then subway, bus, or taxi to the Ryokan after that to enjoy what that has to offer (tea/bath/dinner,etc). Then next day after breakfast , we could spend a few more hours exploring before catching the Shinkansen back.
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Old Sep 9, 19, 4:54 am
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Originally Posted by Klarity7 View Post
Hello Flyertalkers. Sorry to bump a year plus old thread but figured it was better than starting a new one.

Have seven full days in Japan next July (just me and Mrs. K, no kids) and while we are committed for five of those days, we have an open 48-hour stretch where we would like to go to Kyoto for an overnight.

I was planning to catch the early morning Shinkansen to Kyoto and return to Tokyo the following evening. We will travel pretty light as most of our stuff we will leave on Tokyo. Kyoto is bigger than I realized and we realize that one day will not do it near justice. Add to that, we would like to stay in a Ryokan. Even though I have read that there are better places for Ryokan visits we will try to do it in this trip.

Main questions:
  • What part of Kyoto should we target to visit to get a good traditional view of Japan (we tend to like areas that are like a marketplace, and pretty walkable)?
  • With the above, does anyone have a couple Ryokan recommendations? We donít mind spending a little money for a place that caters to first timer westerners, but would still like it to still offer some traditional insight.
We would probably sightsee until about 3pm and then subway, bus, or taxi to the Ryokan after that to enjoy what that has to offer (tea/bath/dinner,etc). Then next day after breakfast , we could spend a few more hours exploring before catching the Shinkansen back.
Kyoto has a Nishiki Market thatís pretty well located to several shrines / temples and Gion, so maybe try finding a place around that.

Note that a ryokan experience will take up most of the afternoon and much of the next morning - and this is if you stay centrally - so consider how it fits into your sightseeing plans and how your tolerance is like for long days. Within Kyoto I suggest choosing a couple of representative temples, not try to see everything, and plan out your entire day including approximate bus / train schedules to check that everything is achievable and to avoid wasting time or backtracking.
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