Japan – Rail Trip

10 days trip to the ‘Land of Rising Sun’

We spent time travelling to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hakone, Nara, Nikko, Hiroshima and Miyajima

Holiday Snapshot:

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  • Day 1 – Travel to Kyoto and evening in Dotonbori, Osaka
  • Day 2Kyoto attractions including Fushimi Inari Temple, Kinkaku-ji temple, Kiyomizu-dera temple, Kyoto Imperial Palace, and Gion
  • Day 3 – Day trip to Arashiyama in morning and Nara in afternoon
  • Day 4 – Day trip to Miyajima island in morning and Hiroshima in evening
  • Day 5/6Hakone attractions including volcanic mountain Owakudani and Lake Cruise
  • Day 7/8Tokyo attractions including Akihabara, Ueno park, Imperial palace, Odaiba, Sensoji temple, Shibuya, TMG observatory, and Disney Sea
  • Day 9 – Day Trip to Nikko – Ryuzu and Kegon falls, Lake Chuzenji and Toshogu shrine
  • Day 10 – Return back home

Click on cities for detailed day wise itineraries…

If you have extra time, stay longer in Kyoto and see things at a more leisurely pace…

Travel

  • We took a 7 days JR Pass – you need to order the voucher online in advance and exchange it at airport for JR pass once you land. Pass includes the bullet trains (however excludes Nozomi which is the fastest one) and was definitely worth it for our itinerary. The bullet trains (called Shinkansen) have reserved and non-reserved cars. Suggest you finalise your trains and get seats booked at one the stations as early as feasible (no extra fee for reservations for JR pass holders)
  • Refer HyperDia for train timetables (www.hyperdia.com/en/) – they have an option to show JR routes only and most importantly they show platform numbers (it’s a big deal when you see the size of their stations!)
  • In Tokyo, we bought 72 hour Tokyo subway ticket which gave us unlimited access on key metro lines – this is available at discounted fare for tourists from airports and select places only (Refer www.tokyometro.jp/en/ticket/value/travel)
  • Buy a Pasmo/ Suica card at airport– it is a prepaid card which you can use for buses, metros and where JR pass isn’t available.
  • For Hakone, buy Hakone Pass at the station for unlimited use on Trains, Buses and Lake Cruise.
  • For Nikko, buy the Nikko All Area Pass at Tokyo Skytree mall which round trip from Tokyo and unlimited bus rides in Nikko.
  • Taxis are  expensive – but we never needed them thanks to the amazing public transport

Hotels

As I don’t like to drag my Suitcase too much, we reduced the number of Hotel changes and did day trips from Kyoto and Tokyo

  • Kyoto – 4 nights in Sakura Terrace. Very close to Kyoto Station, so it was easy to access all tourist places in and around Kyoto. Room size was average but the evening entertainment, free drinks, onsen experience made up for it!
  • Hakone – 1 night in the historic Fujiya Hotel. Lovely hotel with spacious rooms. Book well in advance to get a good rate for rooms at this spacious place. Take the Tozan train (walking distance from station) or bus (bus stop right opposite hotel) from Odawara to access this place

Fujiya hotel room

  • Tokyo – 4 nights in Richmond Tokyo Oshiage. Right outside Oshiage/ Tobu Sky Tree station. The hotel is modern with spacious rooms and standard amenities. Lovely views of Tokyo SkyTree which is right outside!

Tokyo Richmond Oshiage Room

Food

  • For vegetarians, finding restaurants with tasty food is not always easy. However, thanks to happycow.com it was convenient to find places in every Japanese city
  • We binged on the superb desserts which were there at every street corner!
  • Trying traditional noodles and okonomiyaki (omelette) is a must
  • Out of habit, we always carry a lot of snacks to munch while travelling

Miscellaneous

  • Difficult to get a sim card with normal voice call features.  So get roaming activated on home phone upfront (if needed)
  • Internet connection was required to find our way around,  search for places to eat, stay in touch,  social media and other things… We rented pocket WiFi from Softbank at airport and used it to connect our phones while on the move. If you are traveling in peak season, order WiFi devices in advance (multiple sites online). You can also  book along with JR Pass (convenient)
  • Carry some Japanese Yen currency in cash for paying at attractions, street food and souvenir shopping. You can get foreign currency exchanged at airports, banks or post offices. Typical forex places were however few in number
  • Refer to Japan-guide.com for attraction details. Very Good site for research
  • People are absolutely amazing – when in doubt just ask and they will help you out with a smile!

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