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  • ChrisP 14 posts

    Greetings from a still very soggy West Lancashire!

    Just back from a fabulous 2 week trip to Japan.

    I had been in 2005 and always wanted to return but it was my partner’s first visit.

    During the 2 weeks you have to choose what to see and what to miss out but we think we did quite well.

    We had an introductory bus tour of Tokyo – walked over the Shibuya Crossing several times – but otherwise used a two week rail pass (loved the Shinkansen!) to visit Karuizawa from Tokyo then on to Kyoto for 4 nights. From Kyoto we visited Osaka (had the delicious octopus balls), the Toji Temple, Himejii JO Castle, Gion & the Philosophers Walk. We wanted to go into the Imperial Palace gardens but it was closed for a parade which in itself was fun to watch.

    We had a day trip to Nara and made friends with the bowing deer then had 3 nights near Hiroshima which we explored and another day went to Miyajima catching the cable cars then walking to the top of Mount Misen. Finally, back to Tokyo staying in Tokyo Bay and a last rail trip to Nikko.

    The two weeks went over far too quickly but it was all effortless. We arranged it completely independently and all worked really well – not bad for a couple of 68 year olds!!

    We used AVIOS to fly Business Class via Doha on Qatar from Manchester to Narita (all good but the A350 leg from Manchester best) and came back on BA vis Heathrow (the LHR to MAN crew great, less sure about the Haneda to Heathrow, but we kept saying, it’s only costing us taxes!!)
    We stayed at the Marunouchi Hotel (handy for Tokyo station with cases); the Miyako Hotel in Kyoto, (again, close to station); the Royal Prince Hotel near Hiroshima which overlooks the sea but has a free bus to Hiroshima station and the Intercontinental at Tokyo Bay (handy for the monorail back to Haneda). All hotels were lovely with fabulous views from the rooms, although the Kyoto one was very large and seemed to cater for large tour groups more.

    The price of the rail pass has risen in 2023 but we think we had good value from it.

    Finally, we were surprised at how reasonable the prices were – decent wine in restaurants (how I judge a country) around £17 a bottle. All in all, much cheaper than the USA.

    I am now dreading going back to the harsh reality of Northern Trains and Trans Pennine Express (surely inaccurate under Trades Descriptions!) after the bullet trains!

    ChrisP 14 posts

    Aviosnwebie23, having just returned from Japan (see this section 2 days ago) I can only say we did 3 nights in Tokyo, 4 in Kyoto (one day an easy train ride to Osaka for the day – do visit the canal quarter, and one to Miyajima island) and 3 nights at The Royal Prince Hotel on the coast a short hotel transfer from Hiroshima then a final 2 nights at The IC Tokyo Bay.

    We thought the later hotel was very good, clean, friendly and a “high floor classic river view” room excellent with an amazing view of…the river.We were returning from Haneda though so one reason we chose it was for the close access to the monorail which takes around 15 minutes to the airport.Incidentally, we found most hotels were showing no availability when we looked 11 months before our trip but it seems this is common practice as rooms are often not released more than 6 months in advance, so don’t panic!!

    NorthernLass 8,262 posts

    Good morning from a very grey but dry East Lancashire, and we are heading to a drizzly Manchester later, for some variation, lol!

    It sounds like you had an amazing time – we’re a few years behind you but hoping to be travelling for many years to come.


    @Rob
    /@Rhys – is there any possibility of creating separate forums now for this kind of destination – Japan probably being the most deserving. There’s a new poster asking for recommendations over on the daily chat and it would be really handy for them to be able to access the wealth of experience on here under one banner.

    meta 1,470 posts

    I posted my response to the new poster with the link to all of the various threads on the daily chat, but I guess it went into moderation.

    Yes, it would be really helpful to have separate subform for most popular destinations.

    Lyn 188 posts

    I’m glad you were able to create this as a separate topic. There seem to be a lot of people looking for planning advice, like @aviosnewbie33 this morning, and with so many Japan experts here, I imagine there will be quite a few additions to your very informative post.

    meta 1,470 posts

    There are many threads already with plenty of advice.

    This is the main thread so far https://www.headforpoints.com/forums/topic/japan-help-please/

    However, if you type site:headforpoints.com japan into search you will find many more.

    ChrisP 14 posts

    NorthernLass, probably more than “a few years”. 😂 I went to Japan 19 years ago & loved it but my girlfriend who otherwise loves travel didn’t fancy it. However, I had a heart attack & triple bypass 2 years ago so used emotional blackmail to say, as I lay in my hospital bed I thought I’d never see Japan again. It worked and she absolutely loved it!!

    Not sure if I’m allowed to mention suggestions but for anyone thinking about going to Japan there’s a really good YouTube channel with lots of tips on called Cakes With Faces. I’m not on commission from that nor the Japanese Tourist Authority, by the way.

    Alex G 465 posts

    Currently in Japan, where the Yen has fallen 28% since our last visit at the end of 2019, so everything is astonishingly cheap for foreigners.

    Had a week driving on Honshu, and currently doing the same in Kyushu. Driving here is very easy, and we are finally getting to see the spectacular Japanese countryside. Car hire and petrol are cheap. We are avoiding toll roads as much as possible.

    ChrisP 14 posts

    Yes, we were pleasantly surprised by the prices – the JPY is almost 200 to the £ as someone mentioned the other day.

    meta 1,470 posts

    Yes, also @ChrisP you mentioned alcohol prices. These are cheap because the taxes are low and many young Japanese don’t drink alcohol. There was Viva Sake campaign in 2022 that tried to encourage young people to drink more with lower prices.

    ChrisP 14 posts

    That’s very interesting, @meta. I didn’t know that but it’s a policy which our parties should put in their manifestos….definitely a vote winner!

    yorkshireRich 225 posts

    What about sub forums such as Europe/Asia etc.
    Surely that would work fine?

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