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Two Weeks in Japan!

Author: Deirdre Maloney
Date of Trip: September 2016



Just got back from two weeks in Japan and wanted to get some thoughts down before the blur of this amazing adventure got any…blurrier.

couple at kinkaku-ji

One of the reasons I feel compelled to write up a brief review and also some info/tips, is because I want to give back. After all, my “Japlanning”, as I called it, included a whole lot of information and links from lots of people who went there before me and took the time to write about it.

I’ll share one of those links now, as it was incredibly helpful in assisting Hubbie and me from the start as we figured out the cities we would visit and which ones we would use as home bases. Here it is: http://www.tofugu.com/japan/traveling-to-japan-for-the-first-time/

I also used a Fodor’s travel book to prepare for the trip.

After reading this link and doing other research, we decided to break up the trip in this way:
-Days 1-6: Tokyo, side trips to Kamakura and Nikko
-Days 7-11: Kyoto, side trips to Nara and Hiroshima
-Day 12-12: Mt. Koya
-Day 13-14: Back to Tokyo and our flight home to the U.S.

I’ve divided the blog about this trip into two parts. Part I contains information on Tokyo and the side trips to Kamakura and Nikko. Part II, which you’ll see if you scroll down, contains information on Kyoto, the side trips to Nara and Hiroshima, and Mt. Koya.

You’ll find that I don’t usually go into tons of detail about each specific sightseeing site, as I know there are lots of great books and websites that do this already. This post instead highlights the choices we made as far as our time, and how we squeezed in as much of what Japan has to offer into two short weeks.

One caveat…the info and opinions on this trip clearly revolves around the “world according to Deirdre”. You might have different priorities/interests and other people can certainly chime in with their own opinions based on their experiences.

To better understand our priorities, here are a few things to know about Hubbie and me:

-We aim to spend our travels gaining a sense of the culture, experiences and people. We definitely hit up must-see places, but try to skip the super-cheesy-touristy stuff if possible.

-We’re not big nightlife people...at all. Our idea of a fun evening is a good meal, an even better glass of wine, and back to the hotel early so we can have energy to explore the following day.

-We’re not big shoppers...at all. At the end of this trip we literally declared $25 worth of stuff when we got back to the states.

-We’re into walking a lot to explore an area, but not into great big nature hikes. If we’d gone to Mt. Fuji, for instance, we would’ve walked to where the great photo opp was, but wouldn’t have climbed the thing.

Part I: Tokyo and Daytrips to Kamakura and Nikko

Okay, now that we’re square, and before getting into the day-by-day itinerary for each day, a few more things…

Transportation: After LOTS of research, we decided to buy a set of 14-day JR passes: http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/ They weren’t cheap, but in the end the value was there because we could use them to and from the airport, to and from our day trips, and also around Tokyo and Kyoto on certain lines. Having it all taken care of allowed us to be flexible with our days and make changes based on weather and interests. One thing that was super helpful throughout the trip was the Hyperdia app, which helped us navigate both the rail and bus routes. It works on both the Android and iPhone. Here’s some info: http://www.hyperdia.com/en/

Tokyo Hotel: we stayed at the Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel in Ginza: http://www.gardenhotels.co.jp/eng/millennium-tokyo/ I would definitely recommend this place for its convenient location, friendly and helpful staff, and relatively spacious rooms.



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