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Subject: ADVICE PLEASE planning for trip to Kyoto - Osaka - Kobe rss

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Golden Week 2017 TOKYO bullet KYOTO
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At short notice, I'm hoping to get to Japan for the TGM on 11th December 2016 . My plan is to fly into Osaka most likely, stay there, go to Kobe, go to Kyoto and then get the train over to Tokyo for a few days and fly out from there.

So my questions are:

what are the recommended districts to stay in Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe? (In Tokyo I stayed in Ueno twice and was very happy, close to walking to places and easy local transport further around).

what are the absolutely must-see things in each?

roughly how many days MINIMUM should I spend in each?

I'm pretty much decided on transferring to a hotel in Kobe instead of commuting from Osaka. I've made the mistake of commuting as a tourist before, it just doesn't work, especially getting back to the hotel at night. Transferring between 4 cities will eat time but I think it's a must. One option is is drop one city of the three.

I'll have some more questions soon, but if I can get these sorted I can book hotels and then the flights.
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Ben Kyo
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Depends on your priorities and budget. For instance, when I had to stay in a hotel in Osaka, I didn't book anything and used one of the dirt-cheap walk-in hotels that give you a little cube to sleep in (w/tatami and futon) and a shared bath on the top floor. Less than 2000 yen a night IIRC.

I would also drop one or two cities from your itinerary and aim to spend at least 5 days in each, but that's just me.

I reckon a little more detail about your budget, expectations, and what kind of stuff interests you would help make any recommendations a bit more relevant.
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Winston Smith
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I happened to be staying in Kobe for a week last year and can recommend the Sannomiya Terminal Hotel. It's not all that cheap but low by U.S. standards, about Y10,000/night including breakfast; and it's in an excellent location right in the train station and next to the downtown nightlife. Enjoy your trip!
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Jonathan Takagi
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Price is my first concern when traveling. It can't hurt to also stay in Kobe, but it is a very short train ride. Unless you plan to stay out really late, it is very easy to go back and forth. If you're able to catch a Hanshin Tigers game, it's a blast!

The amount of time depends on your interests, it is very difficult to dictate a minimum stay. Out of those three, you should budget the most time for Kyoto. You could spend a really long time there and not do it justice. I did a very cursory, whirlwind tour in 2 days, but I started both days around 5 am and went hard till late.

I don't think it matters much you stay in Osaka, since the public transportation is so good. Kyoto's metro is somewhat limited for tourists, but I used it to get to the train station. I highly recommend renting a bike there. The only reason I was able to see so much in such a short period of time was due to riding around on a bike. If I had to take a bus or taxi it would have taken so much longer. It's a great city to ride a bike, not only was it convenient, but it was a lot of fun - even in the rain!
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Douglas Gloag
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I would recommend just staying in Osaka and using the great (and cheap) public transport network to get you to Kyoto (2 days) Kobe (1 day) and Nara (1 day). I added Nara cause you can walk it! Kyoto you need to get to know the buses or rent a bike as the previous poster suggested. Lots of people in Kyoto, not so many in Nara! Osaka is great to come back to at night too!
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Bill the Pill
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On my last trip to Japan in March I found it cheaper to stay in Kobe (near Sannomiya Station) than Osaka or Kyoto. In Tokyo, I stayed by the Tokyo Dome in a great and cheap hotel as well (8,000 Yen a night).
Good luck!
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Curious Fu
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Everyone who has replied has had good ideas. I live in Osaka and personally believe that its not worth it to stay here or go to Kobe for that matter. Spend your time in Kyoto and maybe make a day trip to Nara if you haven't seen enough temples. The temples is Nara are quite different to those in Kyoto though.

You can catch the bullet train from Kyoto station to Tokyo and it will be slightly cheaper than going from Osaka. Stay anywhere in Kyoto, it has a decent public transport system.
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Kazumasa KYOYAMA
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I'll go to TGM From Kobe.
I want to guide you if I can make times.
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Golden Week 2017 TOKYO bullet KYOTO
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Thank you! Thank you!

Very good advice. You're right, three cities is too much in too little time (four including Tokyo, although I know that well enough now).

So Osaka is out now unless I day-trip there back in the frame. If Osaka is much like Tokyo, then I'm not hurting. I love love love central Tokyo, that's my kind of destination. It's so intense, so complex, it thrills me. But yes, I think I'm better off in Kyoto instead.

I'm thinking of flying in to Osaka but going to Kobe first, then switching to Kyoto, then Tokyo. Although a train ride between cities is say 30 minutes, just getting to a main station is 1 hour, and I walk cities everywhere miles and miles each day. So going home time, I'm knackered, and the idea of schlepping back to a station, riding a train, and then schlepping back to my hotel is too much. Day-trip yes, commuting tourist no.

I'm going to try flying KLM again (very much easier for me), and they go to Osaka direct. So I'm going to consider starting in Kobe. But I agree, Kyoto is the main goal.

Nara was not on my list! I'm going to look at that now.

Budget, I'm not a back-packer but I'm a cheapskate, so low budget hostel/hotel is fine. £40 a night is my target price. Capsules are out, I'll be bringing luggage. But I'm the type to sleep, get out, stay out, get back, sleep. So just a good bed and a nice bath is all I need.

I have a Tokyp Pasmo card, I'm guessing that's useless outside Tokyo of course. So would a Suica cover me for hopping around the area, or should I go for like a JR tourist travelcard thing?

Thank you for your help. I am REALLY excited.
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Ben Kyo
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I would skip Kobe and spend some time in central Osaka. As a resident there's not much there to excite me, but as a visitor I'm sure it's interesting. It's certainly different enough from Tokyo to be worth a look, and the slightly rundown area around Tsutenkaku is fun for unlimited beer and cheap eating. It's also the area where accommodation for around 15 quid can be found (lacking a "nice bed" though, if futon aren't your thing). Osaka is not at all like Tokyo, IMO.

Nara is good for a day trip from Kyoto. The temples and deer are a nice combination, and it's all walkable, unlike Kyoto.
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Kathleen Nugent
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I'm in Japan now. I was in Osaka from noon on Sept. 17 until noon on Sept. 18, and it was enough time to see everything. My favorite place in Osaka was Kuromon Ichiba market. I love the photo opportunities in markets, and this one has some good pictures. I went to Osaka Museum of History and Osaka-jo (castle). The former was better than the latter, though there are better castles and museums in other cities. Walking around the Minami area - starting at Shinsaibashi Station, crossing the canal, and wandering around looking at the huge crab, steer, piece of sushi, etc. etc. hanging from various buildings is fun, and there is great people watching.

I was in Kobe for only part of a day on Sept. 23. The observation deck of the city hall was suggested by the tourist office. It was okay. Right below it was the earthquake memorial (1995), and I thought the whole memorial park was very tastefully done.

Not counting Kyoto or Tokyo - which you're going to see anyway, my favorite city of those possible for you is Nara. I was there on Sept. 18 and 19th. The late afternoon of the 18th I had time for only Yoshiki-en garden, which is free for foreigners if you show your passport, and wandering around Nara-koen (park) taking pictures of the deer. There are 1200 deer, I was told. They come up to you looking for handouts. The next day I ran into a volunteer guide at Todai-ji temple, the one with the Great Buddha.

I HIGHLY recommend connecting with any volunteer guide in any city. They station themselves near the entrance of the main tourist attraction of the city and will show you as much or as little as you're interested in and have time for. There's no tipping in Japan, so a volunteer is really a volunteer. A "thank you" at the end is all that I've ever given. Often the volunteers are wearing a bright colored polo shirt and have a badge around their necks, though the man in Nara didn't have a special shirt. He took me through that temple and then we walked around the area seeing several more temples. After that he took me to a part of town, Naramachi, that is known for old merchants' houses. Besides the guide's knowledge of the sights, having someone lead you around is tons better than having to consult a map all the time and getting lost. So go to Nara.

I spent four nights in Kyoto and could have finished sightseeing with just three nights there. Just sayin'.

In Tokyo my favorite museums have been the National Museum of Nature and Science and the Edo-Tokyo Museum. I had a great guide at Edo-Tokyo; she told me different things than what I could read on the placards, and her English was very good. The science museum is so comprehensive that I'm going back tomorrow to finish it. I was able to see only the larger section - the Global Gallery - during the 4 1/2 hours of my first visit. Tomorrow I'm going to go through the Japan Gallery - many floors for each section.

I've already mentioned in a Japan forum posting that my favorite games store in Tokyo is Role & Roll. It's where I bought Yokohama.

P.S.: To make this Japan trip cost about the same as my trip last year to Morocco and Portugal, I'm staying in hostels for the first time in my life (I'm 69 years old.) It's working fine, and my average cost per night is less than US $30. I've used hotels.com to find the places. The best hostel chain, in my opinion, is called K's House. There are branches in most of the cities you're considering. You can go to their website and book directly. The hostels are very well run, very clean - I've watched them cleaning the kitchen area - and very close to public transportation or to the train station itself.
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Thank you.

My plan is shaping up now.

Fly into KIX.
Stay in Osaka OR Kobe (day-trip the other one, maybe twice).
Transfer to Kyoto.
Day-trip to Nara from (Osaka or Kyoto as best - maybe twice).
Transfer to Tokyo and fly home.

Now I have to decide between staying in Kobe or Osaka.
 
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Douglas Gloag
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Going to paint everyone with the same brush here but ... people in Osaka are SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING than those in Tokyo. They will talk to you and actually make conversation. Most people I meet in Tokyo are soulless and bland ... OK - there are great people in Tokyo but they don't seem to start a conversation let alone try and keep one going!! Also, Kobe doesn't have a castle!!
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Julien K
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Nara is a nice little city, but don't plan on going there twice. You'll have enough with one day to see almost everything worth seeing. Also, be aware that most of everything in the tourists areas closes at 6pm.
It's easy to go there both from Kyoto and Osaka.

As for Kobe, I love the city myself and would like to go there more. But this is maybe because I live around here and go in Kobe just for fun. If I were sightseeing, I'm not sure I would find the city that interesting.
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Bill the Pill
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dgbg wrote:
Also, Kobe doesn't have a castle!!

And Osaka's castle is only a postwar reproduction. Real castles are in Himeji, an hour west of Kobe, or Hikone, an hour northeast of Kyoto.
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Simon Lundström
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There's one in Matsumoto, too.

As for the OP, I can't recommend anything really, as I myself hate to keep moving all the time; I prefer to stay in one spot and get used to the surroundings. I've been to Kyoto quite a lot and I like the city very much, so if I were you, I'd just stay in Kyoto the entire time, except for when Game Market is. There's lots to see, and just walking around in the city is relaxing. Sure, you could rush through all the tourist attractions in 2 or 3 days if you wish, but if you haven't been there yet, you can easily be in Kyoto for a full week without having seen it all. Of course, there's the typical Kiyomizu temple, Ryoan temple, the Movie Village (eigamura), the manga museum, Nijo castle, the Gion-quarters, the part by the Gion-quarters, going up to Arashiyama, the Arashiyama monkey mountain, trip down the river (maybe not available in winter…?), not to mention the Inari Shrine, which is awesome. And that famous sento bath that I've forgotten the name of. Just strolling around in Kyoto is fun.

But as said, I'm not much for touristing. I like a few days of touristing, and then I always want to just do whatever. I can only digest that many temples at a time, so maybe my tips aren't what you want.
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Every suggestion one way or t'other helps me. I've not been to Kansai at all and these are just names on maps to me. But each suggestion gives me something to research and that's helping me a lot. The more suggestions I get, the happier I am.
 
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What's the weather like in the area roughly please? End of November, early December. Very cold? very wet?
 
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Bill the Pill
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Zimeon wrote:
There's one in Matsumoto, too.

As for the OP, I can't recommend anything really, as I myself hate to keep moving all the time; I prefer to stay in one spot and get used to the surroundings. I've been to Kyoto quite a lot and I like the city very much, so if I were you, I'd just stay in Kyoto the entire time, except for when Game Market is. There's lots to see, and just walking around in the city is relaxing. Sure, you could rush through all the tourist attractions in 2 or 3 days if you wish, but if you haven't been there yet, you can easily be in Kyoto for a full week without having seen it all.

Too true! I lived in Kyoto for five months and didn't see everything!
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Ben Kyo
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
What's the weather like in the area roughly please? End of November, early December. Very cold? very wet?

Highs of about 15 degrees and lows of 5, so not particularly cold, and not particularly wet either.

Here's an example forecast:
http://www.accuweather.com/ja/jp/osaka-shi/225007/december-w...
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Kazumasa KYOYAMA
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EYE of NiGHT wrote:
What's the weather like in the area roughly please? End of November, early December. Very cold? very wet?

It's about 10 degrees Celsius.
Wind is blowing well, and somewhat dry.

If you have several hours, can go from Kobe to Himeji.
There is Himeji Castle World Heritage Site.


From December 2 to 11, it has been held Kobe Luminarie.

Kobe Luminarie
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Luminarie

English guide for Kobe
http://plus.feel-kobe.jp/
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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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Some Suggestions:

1. Japan Rail Pass: 7 days (unlimited JR Train, bus and ferry usage) AWESOME!!! http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/

2. Phone App: Hyperdia (free for 30days) excellent for planning trains and times

3. I use Hotels.com to book my sameday hotels... I found a central no frills Kyoto room bed/toilet/shower for $45USD a night, easy walking distance to two subway stations, several bus stops and the Ponto-cho.

True story... Over this last summer we arrived late (930p) in shin-Osaka by train. My wife (is Japanese) found a hotel (the Prince George?) within walking distance of the train station for $200+ USD. As it was late she asked for a discount (she's never shy to ask) as we would be leaving by 9a. They gave the 4 of us (two kids) the room for $110.

As long as I pay hotel and dinner by credit card, ¥30,000/$300USD can last me 4-5 days... Breakfast, lunch, admission to parks/temples... bottled water, beers and snacks. I am a confessed shopaholic and must buy something everywhere I go in Japan... YMMV

Also, free wi-fi can be found in many places

[Edit]
Kyoto is my go to place
Osaka-jo and Himeji-jo are also must visit places
Don't be afraid to ask BGG'ers in Japan for the best/cheapest places to stay... I've met a few, they've all been good people
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Matthew Estelle
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dgbg wrote:
Also, Kobe doesn't have a castle!!



But they do have Tetsujin 28!


If you are planning on doing a lot of traveling during that time frame, I suggest you buy the Japan Railway pass. As it covers the bullet train as well as the JR trains, it will save you a lot of money. Occasionally, you'll still to spend a little money on transportation, but the Suica card is accepted throughout Japan now. You can even use it at convenient stores outside of Tokyo.

If you're really going to spend time here in Japan, I really suggest picking up a guide book and seeing what each of the areas has to offer first. Without knowing what your interests are, it's hard to give suggestions.

I enjoy Kobe for their Chinatown area, Testujin 28 statue, and even the port area.

Osaka, I tend to spend most of my time there during the nightlife but it is a great place to sample food and live comedy. Also, remember it is where you can see the Tower of Sun form the 1970 World Expo.

Kyoto, has a lot of wonder temples and shrines. It is also the best place to pick up a sense of traditional Japan. There's also TOEI Studio Parkwhere you can see where many of the old samurai movies were filmed. I enjoyed it.

Nara is perhaps the easiest of the bunch to visit in a day as the main tourist attractions tend to be in one area unlike the other cities.

Tokyo, it seems, you have a pretty good grasp of so no need to go into details there. However, if it has been a few years since your last visit, the biggest addition is the Skytreeso you're going to want to at least get a good picture of it.

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Kathleen Nugent
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I disagree about the Japan Rail Pass. Buying individual tickets between cities that are near each other is very cheap.

Examples:
Nara to Osaka - Y800
Nara to Kyoto - Y710
Kyoto to Kobe and then to Himegi - Y2050

A rail pass is good if you're traveling long LONG distances and using shinkansen (bullet train).

And keep in mind, you NEVER have to buy a reserved seat on ANY train. I was confused about that in the beginning of my trip and paid much more than I needed to, just for the reserved seat. There are cars on every train, including the shinkansen, for non-reserved passengers.

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StevenE Smooth Sailing...
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That is true... shop the prices before you go.

I use a lot of trains when I go... I visit family for a day or two then I'm gone.

This last trip we covered from Hiroshima to Sendai and up to Kami Suwa for the final fireworks display of the summer... I estimated about $1,000usd so got my money's worth from the pass.

Going non-reserved is ok until you hit a high volume time.
 
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