I have two weeks in Japan, flying in and out of Osaka.
I am toying between staying mainly in the Kansai area - Kyoto, Nara, Kobe, Osaka, Koya-san.
or else buying a JR Pass and also visiting Tokyo and Takayama.
The latter is a considerably more expensive option, so I am wonderinging:
How distinctive is Tokyo? Is it VERY different from Osaka, and is it worth the extra expense? Is Takayama worth the trip? (I am there in mid summer, so the mountains SOUNDED appealing...)
Also, I noticed there is a much cheaper rail pass available for travel during the period I am there, but only for local and rapid trains. Does anyone have any idea how long these would take to get from eg. Tokyo to Kyoto or to Takayama. Is this worth considering instead of the JR Pass, or would it just not be worthwhile? (The Aussie dollar is pretty weak at the moment, so everything looks pretty expensive!!)
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
Hi im also planning on visiting Japan next year and to behonest think you'd be mad not to visit Tokyo.. I've heard it is amazing and a complete culture shock. Just my opinion GL
I spent a month in japan I flew into Tokyo and got the ferry to China from Osaka. The two cities are entirely different and I would deffintely reccomend getting to Tokyo if you are in Japan. I think you can get the Nozomi train on the Japan Rail pass and it is very quick about 2 1/2 hours. There is tons to see in tokyo but it is a bit more expensive than Osaka.
I would reccomend staying in a ryokkan in stead of a hostel if you can, they are Japanese gust houses and you sleep in tatami mats and have to wear a different set of shoes for each room - I still have nightmares about sticking my feet in the 'toilet shoes'. but they are usually a bit cheaper and much better value for money. Most of them also have an onsen (communal bath) for washing which is so relaxing - essepssially if it is an outdoor one. Or if you are a guy the capsule hotels must be fun I couldnt stayin them as they didnt allow women.
You should also try to get the Hakkuba/Nagano 'the japanese alps' its where the winter olympics were held, and although you are going in the summer months and there wont be much snow you can still see all the snow monkeys and thermal streams. also there is a real country feel to the place with stretches of rice padis.
Hope this helps a little
Mokeypod, please tell me about your boat ride from Osaka to China (Shanghai I assume). I was looking to take that trip myself this fall. How was it? Thanks.
I used the Shanghai Ferry Service and it cost about £30 (but this was in 2005) I just booked it about 2 days before at a local travel agent and we opted for shared sleeping berths as it was the cheapest, but you could also book cabins.
its an overnight trip and women and men sleep in seperate rooms on a big tatami mat, you get a brick pillow and a blanket. there was a sort of caffeteria thing onboard but we had lots of pot noodles & snacks. There was a ping pong table a TV (in japanese) and lots and lots of kids that was about it for entertainment - but it was nice sitting out on the deck.
I would do it again as it was more scenic and cheaper than a flight. However you should get money before you leave japan as there is no cash point or money exchange at the shanghai dock and the taxis are bloody expensive, luckily we met some guys going to the same hostel so we shared a taxi and paid them back. Otherwise we would have been pretty stuck.
...soz for the highjack of thread jackymorri