Me and my dear, both 21, are planning a 10 day trip to Tokyo Japan next summer.
We both live in Norway, and have some questions to ask someone who allready has been there
1) Is 10 days an ok amount of time to spend there where we plan to explore Tokyo, and take a trip to Kyoto too, just to experience it
2) Is the hostels in Tokyo allright? Price and standard?
3) Is it hard to get from Tokyo to Kyoto? How long will it take? How much will it cost?
4) Any other tips in general?
With regards from Tage and Sara
Thinking about taking a trip next year as well so have done some research as well...sorry, no experience myself yet.
I would base myself rather in Kyoto than Tokyo, as Tokyo seems more like one 32 million people big concrete piece of city than anything else, although if you are a big city lover this migth be different of course. Many different districts etc.
It's only 2,5 hours by train from Kyoto to Tokyo and with a week trainpass you can go for a few days to Tokyo and do daytrips from Kyoto to Nara, Osaka and Hiroshima just as easily. It seems that a 7 day trainpass would be good for you. It's just a bit more expensive than a return ticket from Tokyo to Kyoto and gives you unlimited excess to all trains (except one line I forget the name of...the fastest) of Japan Railways.
I would spend about 5 days in each city as there is loads to see in both.
Hostels tend to be of a high quality but expensive; some include breakfast and/or evening meal though which offsets the price a little. It's worth spending a night in a traditional Ryokan too if you can.
The Japan rail pass is a good idea - as well as the Shinkansen you can also use it on the train network in Tokyo which is really useful for getting around (you can't use it on the subway though). this must be purchased before you enter Japan and validated on arrival. Trains between tokyo and Kyoto are pretty regular if i remember rightly.
General costs are pretty high in Japan for the traveller, but it's possible to eat pretty cheaply if you buy sushi and hunt out some cheap noodle bars.
Wow, 10 days is short... time to make some serious decisions. If you really want to explore Tokyo you should go for it. It is a very cool place but huge, of course. It takes time to get around and find places. I would suggest you to go for the things that makes Tokyo such an amazing place, like the shopping and entertainment districts with all the sky skrapers (Roppongi, Shinjuku, etc), the Tsukiji fish market, sumo city if you like that, etc. If you are going to Kyoto I suggest you to skip everything that involves temples and shrines in Tokyo. Shinkansen trains run usually every 15 min between Tokyo and Kyoto and costs approx 13000yen (Noizumi) and takes 2.5h. Check out www.japanrail.com, there you can also read about rail pass. Rail pass does not cover the fastes train Noizumi. In Kyoto you need at least 2 nights to overdose on temples and shrines but there is also beautiful nature spots close by like Arashimya, Mount Hei, Kurama Onsen (outdoor hot spring, VERY NICE!) so if you are into that you need more time.
Of course Nara, Osaka, Kobe, Hiroshima is also very nice but to cover that you will spend a big portion of your time on trains and train stations. Depends on what kind of vacation you are after.
I am from Sweden and have been living in Kyoto for one year and travelled a fair bit in Japan, and I find Japan cheap (compared to Swe), so I guess it will be even cheaper for you guys:-) Shinkansen is expensive, but food and youth hostels are cheap. You will easy find good hostels in both Kyoto and Tokyo (check on internet or RG, LP). I agree that you should try a traditional japanese inn (ryokan), at least one night. Have fun!