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  • Lady London 2,117 posts

    For exploring the region it’s best to stay somewhere close to Shin-Osaka. HI & Suites Shin-Osaka is a new very cheap hotel (I can see some dates in February and March at £45 per night). Unless fully booked, as a IHG Platinum and Diamond you are pretty much guaranteed upgrade to the King Studio which has fully equipped kitchen/washing machine so you can travel light.

    It’s 10-min walk from Shin-Osaka and you can take either normal train for £3-4 or rather take shinkansen for £16 return and be at Kyoto Station in about half an hour.

    There is also Courtyard which is connected to the station, but it’s substantially more expensive.

    Love Kyoto and been there a number of times and stayed there. But for visiting Osaka and travelling by train on day trips to Kanazawa, Himeji, Miyajima and Hiroshima we also stayed within 10 minutes walk of Shin-Osaka and would definitely agree it’s good to stay close by.

    What do you love about Kyoto @LD27?

    Aston100 1,423 posts

    Behold my first go at an itinerary.
    Don’t need help filling the days yet, I may come back for opinions much later.
    What I’m looking for is whether there is a better way to do this.

    Mandatory = Cherry Blossoms in very early April, hence heading straight up to Sendai on arrival day (day 1). Is there a better/faster way than taking the Shinkansen? <— need guidance here please.
    The next evening (end of day 2), take the last flight to KIX.
    I had considered flying to Hiroshima and overnighting, doing a full day (day 3) and catching a late Shinkansen (post 21:00) to arrive into Osaka around midnight (on day 3). But I think doing a day trip from Osaka might be better? <— need guidance here please.

    Currently, got 7 nights in Osaka and 7 nights in Tokyo. Did consider taking a late night Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo at the end of day 8 which would have given us 6 nights in Osaka and 8 nights in Tokyo, but I’d likely miss the views of Mount Fuji. Am I making the right choice here with a 7/7 split and a morning Shinkansen on day 9 rather than a 6/8 split and a late night (day 8) Shinkansen? <— need guidance here please.
    I don’t like changing hotels much, but am open to suggestions about doing an additional night in Sendai and/or overnighting in Hiroshima and removing a day from Osaka and/or Tokyo.

    Finally, I love it when a plan comes together, but if BA misbehaves, I may have to go with Qatar into KIX and out of HND/NRT (and abandon Sendai)
    In that scenario, what are we thinking about the state of Cherry Blossoms in the Osaka area in early April?

    Thanks in advance.
    Japan

    KevinC 76 posts

    If you are in Sendai then you may want to stay an extra day to do the trip to Matsushima. I think we stayed at The Westin in Sendai.

    HampshireHog 125 posts

    For exploring the region it’s best to stay somewhere close to Shin-Osaka. HI & Suites Shin-Osaka is a new very cheap hotel (I can see some dates in February and March at £45 per night). Unless fully booked, as a IHG Platinum and Diamond you are pretty much guaranteed upgrade to the King Studio which has fully equipped kitchen/washing machine so you can travel light.

    It’s 10-min walk from Shin-Osaka and you can take either normal train for £3-4 or rather take shinkansen for £16 return and be at Kyoto Station in about half an hour.

    There is also Courtyard which is connected to the station, but it’s substantially more expensive.

    Love Kyoto and been there a number of times and stayed there. But for visiting Osaka and travelling by train on day trips to Kanazawa, Himeji, Miyajima and Hiroshima we also stayed within 10 minutes walk of Shin-Osaka and would definitely agree it’s good to stay close by.

    What do you love about Kyoto @LD27?

    I’ve never got Kyoto, yes the US famously spared it the atom bomb but subsequently the locals have pretty much trashed what was there in building a very large modern city where the attractions such as they are are very spread out. For instance the very famous ‘old’ street much featured in advertising is almost completely faux modern constructions.
    Kyoto was the only disappointment in two fab trips

    Alex G 454 posts

    I agree that Kyoto is overrated. Which is why I would recommend staying in Osaka and doing Kyoto on day trips. Two days was enough for me.

    meta 1,451 posts

    Kyoto can be great when there are no crowds, especially Higashiyama area at sunrise or sunset. If you have sweet tooth, it’s also really a heaven and probably has more interesting and quirky dessert shops than any other cities in Japan, including Tokyo. To find best ones, you do need to ask locals or have some knowledge of Japanese as some are showing only in Japanese on Google Map.

    Other than that, I actually like staying more on the edges of Kyoto. Nara is also a good base.


    @Aston100
    This year cherry blossoms are late. The first blooms are only expected next week and the full bloom in the first week of April. You are usually good for a week after full bloom. It was snowing in Kyoto yesterday and the snow is expected in Tokyo tomorrow.

    meta 1,451 posts

    @HampshireHog actually there is a ban in Kyoto on building any high rise buildings. There is a lot of conservation going on. The city wasn’t trashed by locals, but by politicians who mismanaged the city finances so much that Kyoto has been bankrupt for number of years. They thought that mass tourism would save them, but the opposite happened.

    PeteM 737 posts

    @PeteM thanks for the tip about Teamlabs. We visited this morning and loved it.
    We avoided researching in advance, as per your instructions, and found it to be absolutely delightful.

    Just seen this – delighted to hear! 🙂

    Aston100 1,423 posts

    @Aston100 This year cherry blossoms are late. The first blooms are only expected next week and the full bloom in the first week of April. You are usually good for a week after full bloom. It was snowing in Kyoto yesterday and the snow is expected in Tokyo tomorrow.

    Thanks, so with unpredictability in mind for 2025, would it make sense to fly into Osaka, from where I can organise a flight further north east and back? possibly even fly to Sendai (if I’ve missed Sakura in Osaka) after finishing my Osaka itinerary and then train it down to Tokyo (See my screenshot above)?
    Hotels will be fully flex.

    Or is there a way to fly in and out of Tokyo but have the flexibility to immediately go to Osaka and do a week there if the cherry blossoms are still knocking around when I turn up?

    Frustrating to plan this.

    yorkshireRich 205 posts

    Hi all, following itineraries closely as looking at around 3 weeks in May 2025.
    I will read every post closely but so far the plan is looking like 5 days in Tokyo and then Osaka for 5 days to use that as a base. The infant will be almost 2 years.

    Thinking of possibly flying on Qatar and flying into Tokyo Narita as I’m not sure I like the look of BA flight times and I’ll probably fail at snapping those tickets up as sounds like Japan will be very popular that time of the year.

    meta 1,451 posts

    @Aston100 This year cherry blossoms are late. The first blooms are only expected next week and the full bloom in the first week of April. You are usually good for a week after full bloom. It was snowing in Kyoto yesterday and the snow is expected in Tokyo tomorrow.

    Thanks, so with unpredictability in mind for 2025, would it make sense to fly into Osaka, from where I can organise a flight further north east and back? possibly even fly to Sendai (if I’ve missed Sakura in Osaka) after finishing my Osaka itinerary and then train it down to Tokyo (See my screenshot above)?
    Hotels will be fully flex.

    Or is there a way to fly in and out of Tokyo but have the flexibility to immediately go to Osaka and do a week there if the cherry blossoms are still knocking around when I turn up?

    Frustrating to plan this.

    You can do a day trip to Osaka from Tokyo and vice versa. It’s ‘only’ 2h30 on the shinkansen. Also Hiroshima usually has them first, but it’s progressive. It starts with a first bloom which is nothing like on the photos, then takes a week for a full bloom then another week to ten days to fall off fully. I’ve been to Fukuoka in Kyushu mid-April a while ago and the full bloom just started. It’s like weather you can’t plan for it. And tbh this is not the best thing about Japan. So I’d plan to be around the time, but not chase it actively.

    meta 1,451 posts

    Hi all, following itineraries closely as looking at around 3 weeks in May 2025.
    I will read every post closely but so far the plan is looking like 5 days in Tokyo and then Osaka for 5 days to use that as a base. The infant will be almost 2 years.

    Thinking of possibly flying on Qatar and flying into Tokyo Narita as I’m not sure I like the look of BA flight times and I’ll probably fail at snapping those tickets up as sounds like Japan will be very popular that time of the year.

    May after Golden week (after 5th May) is not that popular. You should be fine.

    xefo 54 posts

    Hi all, following itineraries closely as looking at around 3 weeks in May 2025.
    I will read every post closely but so far the plan is looking like 5 days in Tokyo and then Osaka for 5 days to use that as a base. The infant will be almost 2 years.

    Thinking of possibly flying on Qatar and flying into Tokyo Narita as I’m not sure I like the look of BA flight times and I’ll probably fail at snapping those tickets up as sounds like Japan will be very popular that time of the year.

    May after Golden week (after 5th May) is not that popular. You should be fine.

    Do hotels tend to be cheaper after Golden week as well (compared to GW and Sakura season?)

    cin3 168 posts

    I agree that Kyoto is overrated. Which is why I would recommend staying in Osaka and doing Kyoto on day trips. Two days was enough for me.

    If you’re into food there are enough good restaurants to warrant at least 4-5 days in Kyoto. I would definitely spend longer in Osaka though.

    Alex G 454 posts

    I agree that Kyoto is overrated. Which is why I would recommend staying in Osaka and doing Kyoto on day trips. Two days was enough for me.

    If you’re into food there are enough good restaurants to warrant at least 4-5 days in Kyoto. I would definitely spend longer in Osaka though.

    Osaka is considered by most to be the food capital of Japan. Although I have travelled from Osaka to Kobe for dinner on a couple of occasions.

    cin3 168 posts

    I agree that Kyoto is overrated. Which is why I would recommend staying in Osaka and doing Kyoto on day trips. Two days was enough for me.

    If you’re into food there are enough good restaurants to warrant at least 4-5 days in Kyoto. I would definitely spend longer in Osaka though.

    Osaka is considered by most to be the food capital of Japan. Although I have travelled from Osaka to Kobe for dinner on a couple of occasions.

    Hence saying spend more time in Osaka.

    Kobe is very poor compared to Osaka and there are even more trappy places than Kyoto.

    The food scene is incredible in Osaka but you’ll miss a lot sticking to only two or three areas. And arguably you’ll do better in Tokyo.

    Aston100 1,423 posts

    After doing 2 days in Hiroshima ending around 4pm – 5pm on Miyajima Island, I will need to get to Tokyo.

    I seem to have 3 options, all of which present some challenges:
    1. Fly from Iwakuma IWK (last flight around 19:40 on ANA) – not sure how to get there from Miyajima but it looks very closeby. What to do with my luggage after checking out of the hotel? take it with me to Miyajima? is there a locker there?
    2. Fly from Hiroshima HIJ (last flight 20:45 on JAL) – this means backtracking to the hotel to pickup luggage and then a lengthy (in excess of an hour) taxi to HIJ airport. Sounds like a lot of travelling from late afternoon to way past midnight.
    3. Shinkansen from Hiroshima Station – again backtracking but station is closeby to hotel (where luggage will be left upon checking out), but don’t fancy a 4 hour train journey. Will I need to head to Hiroshima station in the morning anyway to get to Miyajima? if so, I suppose I could take my luggage and leave it at the station?

    I’ve heard there are luggage forwarding services, but I don’t know if they are appropriate in this scenario, given I may need my bags later that night, and definitely by next morning.

    Appreciate any thoughts or alternative suggestions.
    My international flights are already booked to KIX, and I’ll start my trip with 5 – 7 nights at the Holiday Inn Shin Osaka prior to taking the train to Hiroshima for the above.

    AFKAE 142 posts

    After doing 2 days in Hiroshima ending around 4pm – 5pm on Miyajima Island, I will need to get to Tokyo.

    I seem to have 3 options, all of which present some challenges:
    1. Fly from Iwakuma IWK (last flight around 19:40 on ANA) – not sure how to get there from Miyajima but it looks very closeby. What to do with my luggage after checking out of the hotel? take it with me to Miyajima? is there a locker there?
    2. Fly from Hiroshima HIJ (last flight 20:45 on JAL) – this means backtracking to the hotel to pickup luggage and then a lengthy (in excess of an hour) taxi to HIJ airport. Sounds like a lot of travelling from late afternoon to way past midnight.
    3. Shinkansen from Hiroshima Station – again backtracking but station is closeby to hotel (where luggage will be left upon checking out), but don’t fancy a 4 hour train journey. Will I need to head to Hiroshima station in the morning anyway to get to Miyajima? if so, I suppose I could take my luggage and leave it at the station?

    I’ve heard there are luggage forwarding services, but I don’t know if they are appropriate in this scenario, given I may need my bags later that night, and definitely by next morning.

    Appreciate any thoughts or alternative suggestions.
    My international flights are already booked to KIX, and I’ll start my trip with 5 – 7 nights at the Holiday Inn Shin Osaka prior to taking the train to Hiroshima for the above.

    You’ll definitely be able to leave your luggage at Hiroshima station and you can use your Suica/Pasmo card to pay to avoid faffing about with change. The train to the ferry point is about 1/2 an hour from Hiroshima and the ferries at this time of the year run virtually continuously and take about 10 minutes.

    One thing to note is that luggage forwarding from Hiroshima to Tokyo is 2 days rather than the normal 1 day. The Shinkansens are a pleasant way to travel and a 4 hour trip is not really a chore.

    We stayed at the Daiwa Roynet Ekimae hotel which is a 2 minute walk from Hiroshima station.

    Can’t comment on options 1 or 2.

    meta 1,451 posts

    @Aston100

    Two questions
    1. Why are you going to need luggage the next day in Tokyo?
    2.How are you going to travel with luggage to Hiroshima from Osaka?

    I’d actually send all the luggage to your Tokyo hotel from Osaka and ask the Tokyo hotel to store it. Every hotel will do it for you (if staying in an Airbnb or serviced accommodation, you can do it to nearby Yamato storage or konbini).

    All stations have lockers, but beware a) there are not many large enough coin lockers b) they may be occupied, especially at peak periods.

    Aston100 1,423 posts

    I’d actually send all the luggage to your Tokyo hotel from Osaka and ask the Tokyo hotel to store it. Every hotel will do it for you

    So obvious now you mention it!
    Yes, I’ll get my large suitcases forwarded to the Tokyo hotel.
    So now I’ll probably just take a small trolley or maybe even a duffle bag or something like that, for the two nights in Hiroshima.

    @BJ
    seems to manage with one of those for a fortnight so I’m sure I’ll be fine.

    I’m also considering a way to do Miyajima Island on (Hiroshima) day 1, and doing the usual stuff that day trippers do, on (Hiroshima) day 2. This allows me to be near my (Hiroshima) hotel and the Shinkansen. So I can bring a cabin sized trolley in case I need more then just a change of underpants.

    Thanks Meta.

    Aston100 1,423 posts

    The train to the ferry point is about 1/2 an hour from Hiroshima and the ferries at this time of the year run virtually continuously and take about 10 minutes.

    Thank you for this info.

    The Shinkansens are a pleasant way to travel and a 4 hour trip is not really a chore

    You’d choose the train over the plane, despite it costing more and taking longer?

    meta 1,451 posts

    For sake of completeness, for longer storage needs (and shorter but might not make sense money-wise as you can just use coin lockers) you can download ecbo cloak app through which you can reserve storage at various places like shops/konbinis, etc. It’s very convieniet as it shows map with nearby storage places. Very reliable, used several times on long trips.

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