I'm planning on going to Japan for around 12 days in early May, probably flying into Tokyo and out of Osaka. This will be my second visit; the first time I went to Tokyo, Kyoto, Fukuoka, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so I don’t intend going to any of these places again, with the exception of Tokyo. So far I’m thinking of a day trip to Nikko from Tokyo and a day trip to Nara from Osaka. I’d like to spend a couple of days in Osaka as I’m passionate about Japanese food and I’ve heard it’s one of the best places in the country to sample it. Can anyone give me some other suggestions on places to go or a rough itinerary? Is it worth just basing myself in Tokyo and Osaka for a few days each and doing day trips? I like walking, love temples and the culture and as I’ve mentioned, adore the food! I’m not interested in beaches for this trip.
How long were you in Tokyo for last time? Ideally, I would suggest basing yourself in Osaka for as long as possible.
You're spot on about Osaka and the food; the city is really a culture capital and you could explore it for days without covering half of what it has to offer! There's a lot happening in the Kansai region so you could also happily make day trips to cities such as Himeji or possibly Kobe, though that might be best left for another time as it's not known for its culture.
The other thing to think about with day trips to small cultural locations is unfortunately that it's Golden Week and EVERYONE will be exploring with you.
Possibly for another time, is visiting *some* places on the 88-temple pilgrimage on Shikoku. Obviously the full pilgrimage takes time but it provides some beautiful walking, temples, and culture in spades!
Thanks Kellie. I only spent around 1.5 days in Tokyo last time and think I just wandered around in a jet-lagged daze for most of it! People have said that there's not actually lots to do there in terms of touristy sites but that it's a cool city to hang out in. What do you think?
Osaka sounds like a good plan then. Do you think I'm best avoiding Golden Week? I've just had a check on the dates and it looks like it runs until the 5th, so I'd be avoiding most of it as I plan to arrive on Friday 3rd. I wanted to go at this time of year mainly because it runs over a public hol here so it means taking less annual leave!
[ Edit: Edited on 08-Oct-2012, at 01:27 by bex76 ]
I was just going to start a new thread "things to do in Osaka?" lol..... Im there for a few days next year before heading up to Mt Fuji, then Tokyo. I've only just booked the flight and have no idea of what to expect from Osaka, or Japan for that matter!
I was also going to ask which mode of transport would be best to take from Osaka to Tokyo. Had a look at the JapanRail site but seems so expensive....
I'm like the idea of climbing Mt Fuji too, but I'm not sure it's possible/wise to climb it in early May when I'm planning on being there.
Last time I was in Japan I bought a JR pass and it saved me so much money, so I'll probably do the same this time. As you said, rail travel is really expensive and although the JR pass seems a lot to pay at the time, I reckon it was only around 50% of what I would have paid buying each ticket separately. Some people have said the long distance buses can be quite good between cities, so maybe that would be better for you if you're only in Japan for a few days.
I'd be interested to find out more about what there is to do in Osaka.
[ Edit: Edited on 08-Oct-2012, at 14:49 by bex76 ]
Haha, yeah i think it might not be such a good idea to climb in may (from what i've been told) Thats why i booked to leave Singapore at the end of June
Thinking now i might take the JR pass and use it as much as i possibly can in the two weeks im there. Stop off at some places i wouldn't have otherwise!
I found the JR pass useful on the local train in central Tokyo (the Yamonote line) too.
There are some cultural sites in Tokyo but most of it is spread out quite far due to the size of the city. Most of the must see locations are just cool city things - Harajuku, Ginza, Akihabara - geek, gamer, and electronic heaven.
Landing in Tokyo on the 3rd isn't so bad if you can stay there until Golden Week is over. There is a mad rush on the 5th to get back home so if you can avoid travelling on that day, you should be ok.
Absolutely, get a JR pass especially for travel between Osaka and Tokyo!! You can choose the pass that suits your time frame - 7, 14, 21 days - and use it for basically all JR line trains and buses. It doesn't include the Nozomi or Mizuho shinkansen to Tokyo but you still save using Hikari or Kodama shinkansen. More info here: http://www.japanrailpass.net/eng/en001.html.
You need to buy it before you get to Japan, then you can activate it from the exchange office at the airport train station and you can use it straight away for shinkansen, limited express and local trains or JR buses. You can use http://www.hyperdia.com/en/ to check out train timetables in English.
In Osaka you should have a look at Sumiyoshi Shrine, Shitennoji Temple and Shinsekai, Dotonbori for all the amazing food and the atmosphere at night, and Osaka Castle park. Hope that helps to start!
I think I'll spend 2-3 days in and around Tokyo then spend the rest of my trip in the Kansai region.