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A Week to Fill in Japan

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Due to a private hire of the NCL Jewel for 8 days in April-May 2018 we are looking for a land tour between two cruises; the first which arrives in Yokohama (28th April) and the second which leaves from there (6th May).

 

Any ideas please!

 

Thanks

 

Mike and Pauline

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We spent ten days in Japan after a cruise last November. We bought a JR Rail Pass for seven days and took the bullet train to Kyoto right after the cruise. We stayed there for five days and really enjoyed exploring the city and nearby Nara. Then we took the train to Hakone (we just took overnight bags and had our cases shipped to our Tokyo hotel) In Hakone we stayed in a traditional ryokan for one night and experienced an onsen mineral bath as well as taking the ropeway to Mount Fuji. We ended our visit with a couple of days in Tokyo. Travel was very easy because trains and buses have stops indicated in several languages including English, so as long as we sat where we could see the board we knew exactly where to get off. We hope to return to /japan for a longer visit when we can see more of the country. I would have no hesitation about travelling independently again.

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What cities do your cruises go to? I would spend a few days in Tokyo for sure and Kyoto as well. Itsukushima, Hiroshimo, and Nara round out my highlights. If your cruise stops in Kobe or Osaka you could do Kyoto on your land tour and Nara during your stop.

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What cities do your cruises go to?

 

We will arrive early before the first cruise so will have 3 days in Tokyo/Yokohama then.

Ports to be visited on 3 cruises are:- Shimizu (3), Kobe (Overnight +1), Kagoshima, Naha, Ishigaki, Aomori, Hakodate, Muroran, Sakaimimato, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Kochi

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What cities do your cruises go to?

 

We will arrive early before the first cruise so will have 3 days in Tokyo/Yokohama then.

Ports to be visited on 3 cruises are:- Shimizu (3), Kobe (Overnight +1), Kagoshima, Naha, Ishigaki, Aomori, Hakodate, Muroran, Sakaimimato, Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Kochi

 

We had a port visit to Hakodate and were able to get a Goodwill Guide there. He met us from the free shuttle provided to the train station and showed us interesting parts of the city. He was a retired English and History teacher so was well informed and easy to understand. We had a most enjoyable day and learned a lot about Japanese life. The only cost was for his lunch and tram fare. He took us to a very inexpensive local seafood restaurant and helped us to order from the rather confusing menu.

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Unless you are looking for a scheduled tour or booking a car I would agree that you should get the JR rail pass. Do a bit of traveling to different cities.

 

Also, I am envious as hell.

 

And according to NCL you should not be going to Muroran, it should be Sapporo, at least if you are talking about the May 6th sailing. I confirmed this with NCL directly.

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And according to NCL you should not be going to Muroran, it should be Sapporo, at least if you are talking about the May 6th sailing. I confirmed this with NCL directly.

 

Thank you I hadn't noticed that itinerary change.

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Unless you are looking for a scheduled tour

 

We would probably interested in a scheduled tour if someone would recommend a company. Any help would be most welcome.

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And according to NCL you should not be going to Muroran, it should be Sapporo, at least if you are talking about the May 6th sailing. I confirmed this with NCL directly.

 

Thank you I hadn't noticed that itinerary change.

 

Apparently neither has most online sites, which is why I called and confirmed directly with them. Sapporo is a much better port, although with your timing you will get to see plenty of the cherry blossoms!

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Many years ago, before I relocated to Japan, I wanted to see as much of the country as possible.

I would fly into Tokyo several times each year, with my JR Railpass in my hand.

Then I booked a hotel close to a major Shinkansen Station (Tokyo, Shinjuku, Shinagawa, Ueno, Yokohama).

Every morning I arose early and caught the first Shinkansen to the city I planned to visit for that day. I had a great breakfast (Shinkansen bento) on the train, read the Japan Times, and arrived at the day's destination around noon.

Then I had lunch at one of the local restaurants, did some sight-seeing, and a bit of shopping.

Later I caught the Shinkansen back to Tokyo, arriving back at my hotel around 9 or 10 pm.

This allowed me enough time to have a late dinner and a few drinks at an Izakaya near the hotel, and still get a good night's sleep before starting the entire process all over again - to another city - the next day.

 

Today the Shinkansen network is much larger, allowing you to see most any major city in Japan on a day trip. It is a very relaxing, inexpensive, and enjoyable way to see a country.

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That is just about what we plan to do on our next visit, Bruce. I think Kyoto was worth the several days we spent there, but other cities could well be experienced in day trips. Now we know how easy the rail system is to navigate we will have more confidence to maximize the value of our JR pass.

 

Sheila

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Unless you are looking for a scheduled tour

 

We would probably interested in a scheduled tour if someone would recommend a company. Any help would be most welcome.

 

When I went last month, I booked a 3-day tour to Kyoto (from Tokyo) which included the Nozomi bullet train, the hotel, the guides, and lunches for the first 2 days. I booked through JapanICan, but the tour was actually run by Sunrise Tours. They did a wonderful job and I would recommend them.

 

The tour I did was 3-days, Kyoto and Nara. On the first day, we met at the bus station, then were escorted to Tokyo station where the guide put us all on the Nozomi bullet train for Kyoto. We were met by another guide in Kyoto who escorted us to lunch, then got on a bus to Nara where we spent the afternoon. The bus dropped us off at the hotel around 6:00pm and we had the evening free. The next morning the bus picked us up and we had a morning tour of Kyoto, then dropped off for lunch. The afternoon tour bus picked us up after lunch at the restaurant and we had another tour, then the evening free. The third day was a free day, then we were picked up at 6:00pm and taken to Kyoto train station and put on the Nozomi bullet train for the trip back to Tokyo. If you are staying in Tokyo, the tour may pick you up and take you back to your hotel. We got off the bullet train at Shin Yokohama since we were staying in Yokohama. Yokohama is really convenient with easy access to the cruise port.

 

If you don't know where you want to stay, I recommend staying in Yokohama. Not only is it convenient to the cruise port, but you can get to Tokyo easily on the train. We checked in to our Yokohama hotel the day we arrived at Haneda airport, then left our large luggage with the hotel when we went to Kyoto. When we got back from Kyoto we checked into the same hotel before boarding the ship the next day. It was nice having the hotel hold our luggage for us and made traveling to Kyoto so much easier.

 

JapanICan/Sunrise Tours has several different tours including Mt Fuji, Hakone, tours around Tokyo, etc., so you might want to check them out for day tours as well.

 

We didn't get the Japan Rail Pass since we only had one trip to Kyoto and the bullet train was included as part of the package. Once you figure out what you want to do, you can decide it the Japan Rail Pass makes sense or not.

 

(BTW, BruceMuzz usually has great advice and my plans wouldn't have gone so smoothly without his suggestions and advice, especially with the train system.)

 

Donna

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I can't say much about their tours, but JapanICan was very useful for most of our hotels, and we are moving pretty much every night while there.

 

SamuraiTours offers some decent tours, know one person who used them and recommended them, but have never been on one myself.

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I've spent time DIY in Japan just using the JR passes and also on 2 occasions had time post cruise. I absolutely love Japan and the people are just so kind and friendly.

As said the shinkansen is a wonderful way to get around. I have taken several groups of friends to Japan over the years and consider the must sees to be Hiroshima and Miyajima, Kyoto and Nara, Hakone area and Nikko if time allows alternatively Kamakura. Over the years I have learnt to base ourselves at a hotel and go out each day by shinkansen. it saves so much time of packing up and moving on to the next hotel and trying to find your way from station to hotel etc.

Check out hyperdia.com it has the timetable for all JR trains, put in the date and destinations and uncheck the private railway and nozomi sections if purchasing the JR pass which I highly recommend.

Also be aware that there is a wonderful luggage delivery service all over Japan at a very reasonable price. There are several companies and all will transport your luggage quickly and easily. When we left the Diamond Princess we sent our luggage from the stand within the terminal to our hotel in Okayama. We then took hand luggage only to Gora for 2 nights, then on to our hotel in Okayama where we based ourselves for 5 nights. We also sent our luggage from 7 -11 store near our accommodation in Kyoto to our hotel at Narita airport and again took hand luggage only to Nikko for a few days. Your accommodation can also arrange the luggage transfer.

Lawsons, family mart and 7-11 stores are everywhere in Japan, the large supermarkets as we know them are not as common in Japan.

Have a wonderful tiime.

Edited by Tara Jane

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Very envious of your trip. I love Japan.

Kagoshima is very easy to do it yourself. Princess, for us organised a shuttle into the city centre and it was an easy walk to the ferry terminal, to make our way to Sakurajima (the volcano island). We purchased a multi purpose ticket that allowed the ferry trip, the hop on hop off bus sightseeing around the island, and on return we could use the hop on hop off buses (blue and red). We used the "blue" buses and stopped at a few places on the circuit.

Aomori, was our only ship organised trip as i wanted to go into the mountains,

but knowing your going in cherry blossom season, Aomori has a castle and gardens with hundreds of cherry blossom trees.... a very easy to do trip

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