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Thoughts on 2 week itinerary for a 1st timer to Japan

Thoughts on 2 week itinerary for a 1st timer to Japan

Old Jan 8, 2024, 5:03 am
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I agree with LapLap -- this is way too much and way too ambitious. I would recommend a "less is more" strategy -- enjoy your time here, get to know the culture, enjoy the extra time to just linger at a shrine or park -- instead of trying to hit every famous thing in the tour guide... Honestly -- I'm surprised that the Mario Go Cart Tokyo tour experience wasn't on the list lol - for those that don't know you get dressed up in your favorite character and then get in a go cart and take a tour of Tokyo -- driving on the roads - honestly it looks fun!
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 5:17 am
  #17  
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Originally Posted by LapLap
[MENTION=271796]GodAtum[/MENTION]

Please get a map and really look at what you are planning to do in and around Tokyo. There is a LOT of criss crossing and back tracking that isn’t necessary.

Go back onto your spreadsheet and write down which area the restaurants and food tours are taking place in.

Figure out how much travelling time it will take to get from one point to another and include that as part of your itinerary, think of it as a destination in itself. As an example, after the Ghibli museum in Mitaka that you are counting on getting a 10am ticket for, you will need to factor AT LEAST 1hour and 30 minutes between leaving there and getting to a pre-decided restaurant in Asakusa. Lunch time in Tokyo is between 12 and 2pm. Personally, I think this is crazy.

Get a grip on how long everything is going to take. Your itinerary says you’ll be in Shibuya-Ebisu/Shinjuku between 6:30pm and 9:30pm on day 3 but that you will also be exploring Roppongi Hills from 8pm.

You’re going to Ginza on day 3 and day 5. Sure you’re not staying too far from Ginza so planning to be there from 4pm on day 5 makes sense. However…

LOOK at day 3: Ueno/Nezu to Yurakucho to Akihabara to Ginza to Shibuya-Ebisu/Shinjuku to Roppongi Hills

As I said, get a map or print one out, figure out travel times.
Originally Posted by bmwe92fan
I agree with LapLap -- this is way too much and way too ambitious. I would recommend a "less is more" strategy -- enjoy your time here, get to know the culture, enjoy the extra time to just linger at a shrine or park -- instead of trying to hit every famous thing in the tour guide... Honestly -- I'm surprised that the Mario Go Cart Tokyo tour experience wasn't on the list lol - for those that don't know you get dressed up in your favorite character and then get in a go cart and take a tour of Tokyo -- driving on the roads - honestly it looks fun!
Thanks this is exactly the help I need. All i'm doing is following the recommendations from online, but they don't take into account journey times. This website kind of did so maybe it'll be easier to follow her exactly? On her day 3 plans, she goes to Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi.

My 1st trip anywhere is all about ticking off the tourist list. Subsequent trips will be more flexible and about exploring.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 5:42 am
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Originally Posted by GodAtum
Thanks this is exactly the help I need. All i'm doing is following the recommendations from online, but they don't take into account journey times. This website kind of did so maybe it'll be easier to follow her exactly? On her day 3 plans, she goes to Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi.

My 1st trip anywhere is all about ticking off the tourist list. Subsequent trips will be more flexible and about exploring.
The best advice I have ever received in my professional life -- and personal - is to "Be Present" -- you have two weeks to enjoy a new culture -- when will you enjoy the food, the feelings, the peacefulness, the people?

Do less -- experience more!
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 5:53 am
  #19  
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Originally Posted by GodAtum
Thanks this is exactly the help I need. All i'm doing is following the recommendations from online, but they don't take into account journey times. This website kind of did so maybe it'll be easier to follow her exactly? On her day 3 plans, she goes to Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi.

My 1st trip anywhere is all about ticking off the tourist list. Subsequent trips will be more flexible and about exploring.
Here is how I would tweak your messy day 3 itinerary:

day 3, freestyle start at Ueno and wander across to Nezu temple. Close to Nezu temple is Yoshibōrin, a highly regarded soba restaurant. As Yoshibōrin is popular, either get there by 11:30am (you can see Nezu Temple afterwards) or be prepared to queue. https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1311/A131106/13018408/
From Nezu Temple, get the 茶51 Bus to Akihabara (if you can’t use Google maps to find the bus stop there is one right next to Exit 1 at Todaimae station) it’s a 15 minute bus ride.
Akihabara station to Higashi Ginza station is a 15 minute journey on the Hibiya line
Personally, I think you should leave out Ginza/Yurakucho and go straight to Shibuya for the 6:30pm food tour from Akihabara (30 minutes on the Yamanote line). Instead see Ginza/Yurakucho on day 5.

It is REALLY easy to figure out travel times now. You find your starting point in Google maps, press the “destination” button, put in your destination (check the date and time to ensure you aren’t looking at an unsuitable 3am suggestion) and it will give you journey times. Always add at least 20 minutes.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 6:04 am
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[QUOTE
Travelling in June, I'm a bit concerned about the rainy season, especially doing a lot of walking and public transport./
QUOTE]

I was in Japan in June last year. A tsunami was coming in from the S.E. So I switched up my plans to give some distance from it till it passed - took a bullet train. Even the couple days of a bit of rain/humidity did not do anything to dampen my spirits. And I took public transport and walked alot. You can be anywhere in Japan and enjoy the culture and the food. I was amazed at the number of people that had a of grasp of English. English is taught at an early age in Japan.
Btw, I am going back this May/June for 1 Month.

Last edited by bundubasher; Jan 8, 2024 at 8:37 am
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 8:15 am
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Go shopping in one of the Department stores in Tokyo. A definite experience. Enjoy.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 8:22 am
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Originally Posted by LapLap
Here is how I would tweak your messy day 3 itinerary:

day 3, freestyle start at Ueno and wander across to Nezu temple. Close to Nezu temple is Yoshibōrin, a highly regarded soba restaurant. As Yoshibōrin is popular, either get there by 11:30am (you can see Nezu Temple afterwards) or be prepared to queue. https://tabelog.com/en/tokyo/A1311/A131106/13018408/
From Nezu Temple, get the 茶51 Bus to Akihabara (if you can’t use Google maps to find the bus stop there is one right next to Exit 1 at Todaimae station) it’s a 15 minute bus ride.
Akihabara station to Higashi Ginza station is a 15 minute journey on the Hibiya line
Personally, I think you should leave out Ginza/Yurakucho and go straight to Shibuya for the 6:30pm food tour from Akihabara (30 minutes on the Yamanote line). Instead see Ginza/Yurakucho on day 5.

It is REALLY easy to figure out travel times now. You find your starting point in Google maps, press the “destination” button, put in your destination (check the date and time to ensure you aren’t looking at an unsuitable 3am suggestion) and it will give you journey times. Always add at least 20 minutes.
Thanks I've tidied it up a bit. My main priority are the museums.

I've also created a map with lines to help me visualize where everything is. Day 1 is yellow. Day 2 is green. Day 3 is pink. Day 5 is purple.
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Last edited by GodAtum; Jan 9, 2024 at 3:29 am
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 8:36 am
  #23  
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Originally Posted by GodAtum
On her day 3 plans, she goes to Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi.
Ive now had a chance to look at the itineraries you are basing yours on

Day 2
10am Ghibli Museum, Mitaka - until 1:30pm
1.5 hours journey
3pm Asakusa - until 5:15pm
15 min walk
5:30pm Sky Tree - until 7:30pm
Oshiage station to Shimbashi station - 20 mins
8pm Shimbashi area

Day 3
10am Ueno area - depart from Ueno station at 12:50
the blogger mentions Nezu temple but its a 30 minute walk between Nezu Temple and Ueno station
this actually means that out of the allotted 2 hours and 50 minutes for this area, more than half of that time would be spent walking to and from the attractions
ITINERARY WARNING - NOT REALISTIC
10min journey time Ueno to Akihabara
1pm Akihabara - depart 3:45pm
Is two and a half hours enough time? Hard to say, if you hate Akihabara it is too long, (or maybe not if you have lunch there), if you love it, not nearly long enough.
4pm Yurakucho and Ginza. Not mentioned is the Tokyo International Forum nor Tokyo Station. The newly opened Yaechika underneath the West side of Tokyo Station is also proving to be a very popular tourist destination. Hardly matters as the suggestion is to spend a paltry 1 hour and 40 minutes in the area. - depart 5:40pm. Again:
ITINERARY WARNING - NOT REALISTIC
20 mins journey time Ginza to Roppongi
6pm Roppongi Hills

Day 4 is fine once you get to Shimokitazawa. My own experience of Tsukiji Market is from years ago before it moved to Toyosu Market.

Day 5 - Odaiba and Tokyo Tower. No and no.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 11:00 am
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Is the Ghibli Museum small? According to Reddit, it should only take up to 2 hours?

I've started to pencil in travel directions too.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 11:04 am
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For my first trip to Japan I spent 5 nights in Tokyo, 5 nights in Kyoto and 2 nights in Osaka.

I would not spend any more time in Osaka than that
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 11:09 am
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Originally Posted by tattikat2
For my first trip to Japan I spent 5 nights in Tokyo, 5 nights in Kyoto and 2 nights in Osaka.

I would not spend any more time in Osaka than that
Unfortunately the St Regis Osaka is cheaper then the Mitsui Kyoto, plus it's nearer Universal Studios. I would love to spend more nights in Kyoto but can't afford it.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 12:20 pm
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Originally Posted by GodAtum
Is the Ghibli Museum small? According to Reddit, it should only take up to 2 hours?

I've started to pencil in travel directions too.
It is quite small and if I recall when I went about 10 years ago around 2 hours is sufficient. There is usually a mini movie of about 15 min.

However, for a point of reference I go to many museums etc abroad, and many much larger than the Ghibli Museum and I spend about as much time at those other museums (at my desired pace) as I did at the Ghibli museum which was also at my own pace.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 3:19 pm
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Originally Posted by GodAtum
Is the Ghibli Museum small? According to Reddit, it should only take up to 2 hours?
It all depends on your level of interest and attention to detail. The telling part of that Reddit thread is how many contributors said that they had made repeated visits.

Size of the building and how long it takes to walk through it doesnt address the fact that there are rooms in the museum that are crammed with things to take in.

Its like comparing Londons Royal Academy in the 18th Century

To visiting the same building for a contemporary exhibition:


Last edited by LapLap; Jan 8, 2024 at 3:28 pm
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 3:23 pm
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Otemachi station is the nearest to Hoshinoya Tokyo according to Google Maps.

For arrivals day:

After clearing customs and immigration at Haneda, I would look into using a same day Takkyubin service to ship your luggage to your hotel. Otherwise head to the hotel to leave your luggage with them as I'm not sure if the Hoshinoya offer early check in or if they are like most hotels and insist on 3pm onwards.
Rather than then heading across Tokyo to Shibuya for afternoon tea followed by a further 30-40 minute journey to the cat bar for drinks, I would venture out to some of the areas close to the hotel - the Imperial Palace, Tokyo Station, Ginza, Yurakucho and Shimbashi. That way when tiredness hits you are relatively close to the hotel and it also lets you get acclimatised to an unfamiliar city. It would also maybe allow you to re-jig your itinerary to provide more time on other days to explore other areas.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 9:26 pm
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Originally Posted by GodAtum
Thanks this is exactly the help I need. All i'm doing is following the recommendations from online, but they don't take into account journey times. This website kind of did so maybe it'll be easier to follow her exactly? On her day 3 plans, she goes to Ueno, Akihabara, Ginza, Roppongi.

My 1st trip anywhere is all about ticking off the tourist list. Subsequent trips will be more flexible and about exploring.
Here's two relevant points to know about Japan:
  1. They love making ranked lists and checklists. Seriously, they have stamp rallies. This also means those with limited time might want to see if their interests align with a random tourist list (or even those from tourism agencies and guide companies). If it exists, it is on some list.
  2. Tourism is very well developed. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka all have a lot to do depending on your tastes. Many English checklists for the "Golden Triangle" won't be 100% accomplishable even if you had over 2 weeks. Japanese salary workers don't get that many days off per year so they tend to stick to 2-4 day itineraries of fast paced checklists.
It isn't just the journey time some day itineraries don't account for, it is pacing over multiple days in addition to not accounting for weather.

Here's my advice as someone who has taken her share of pajama whistlestop bus tours, has designed & carried out a few group day trips in destination locales, and also travels solo to Japan (repeatedly)

How to plan a checklist trip with less heartache and muscle pain:
  1. Be pragmatic and also at times, ruthless. If you go on a group pajama tour (nicknamed such as you basically have so little time to make it through the tourist checklist, you might as well not change) then the packed itinerary is set for you at the cost of choice and sleep. If you set your own itinerary, be honest about what you want to see. There's plenty to see in Japan and skipping something on someone else's checklist doesn't mean you necessarily "missed out"*. Don't know what you want to see**?
  2. Set your priorities. Go through the interests/itinerary and label them P1-P4, P1 being the highest. On the fence about skipping something? Throw it into P3, go look at a few photos later, and see if you want to upgrade the priority.
  3. Move lower priority items off the "schedule", noting their general area. This gives you the some room in your schedule to hit the fixed timings and higher priority sights. Add nearby low priority items back while you're already there if time allows. As LapLap mentioned, some of the transit schedules can't be worked around your current fixed timings for tours and reservations. The food tours at slightly earlier than dinner times require the rest of the day to be more flexible. If your schedule is too full, you will be late for fixed timings. Japanese culture is generally very punctual. Late = They'll keep your money and you won't get to go on the tour.
  4. Schedule your down time AND be-present-time to wander if you really follow schedules. Maybe you have your checklist and socials to post (FOMO), but even pajama tours know to schedule "free time" or guests will end up sick and too tired. Plus out of clean clothes and unkempt/athleisure isn't the every day style in these cities. Some people physically can't handle 4 days of 15-20+k steps in the heat. Others feel really socially isolated and would greatly benefit from a video chat home or "comfort tv show" or food. I'd suggest at least 3 hours every 2.5-3 days at the pace you have planned. You know your physical limits better than people on the internet. Some people like the whirlwind to the point of needing a vacation to recover after vacation like Agneisse but knowing your limits and interests is important to avoid actual disappointment. Not having any be-present time to wander would definitely be missing out, IMO. That's my own learned experience. There's FOMO due to peer pressure but actual regret from missing experience memories as that's what my (not-great) memory and feelings retain the longest.
  5. Review your next day or two itinerary at the end of a day. Be ok with adjusting things based on what you did like. Do more of that. Defeated feeling due to planning failures multiple days in a row? Book that day trip tour and follow the guide (shift the responsibility, I won't tell) or just do 1 P1 thing and treat yourself to something happy. We're not the ones spending your money, enjoying your vacation
* Things I have not done which are on various peoples 1st time visitor must checklists - a lot, actually. Tokyo Tuna markets, climb to top of Mt. Fuji, just about everything Ghibli, Pokemon, and Disney. I have been to probably 60% of Japan's prefectures? Do I regret trading them for sleep, travel outside the big cities, or onsen time? Not really. Perhaps will accompany friends and their families to these places on a future visit.

**Don't know what you want to see - easy mode is to look at paid group tour itineraries with some pictures and try to duplicate it if your interests align, allowing some variance for non-guided public transit vs their chartered vehicles or guided local transit. These are actual attraction checklists which people have generally paid to see and their peers also accept as "must see destinations", though personal experience says to check for "shopping time" and odd "why is this an attraction" which may be bio break bathroom stops.

Look for a few other tourism related videos from YouTubers you don't normally watch Japan YouTuber thread I enjoy some of the channels but logically know I won't be replicating all of their trips (Solo Travel San is a car ferry otaku and Suit Train can sit longer than I can, which is impressive)

Klook Day trips is a booking portal with local operators Klook - Has Anyone Used Recently? which specializes in Asia. Asians do checklist travel well (see limited time off again and checklist travel is also cultural)

Sample Kyoto & Nara - https://www.klook.com/en-US/activity...ay-tour-kyoto/ We see this is an 11 hour trip. If we look at the afternoon portion of the schedule
13:40
* Fushimi Inari Taisha
[Time at location] 1 hour(s) 20 min(s)

// Infers drive time from 15 - 15:30. It is actually 45 min - 1h 10 min based on Google Maps with Car at that time of day.
15:30 / 15:50 on tour with lunch
1 hour(s) 20 min(s)
*
Nara Park
* Tōdai-ji Temple

Drop off -From 18:00
Sample Tokyo Highlights https://www.klook.com/en-US/activity...kId=07887b9bfd
10:10
* Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center
* Kaminarimon
* Sensō-ji Temple
* Nakamise Shopping Street

11:30Lunch
45 min(s)

13:00
15 min(s)
Guided tour
* Shibuya crossing
* Hachikō Memorial Statue

13:30
2 hour(s) 30 min(s)
Guided tour

* Takeshita Street
* Omotesando
* Meiji Jingu Shrine
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