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Travel April Trip - Tokyo & Kyoto

journeywoman

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Konnichiwa everyone!
I'm new here, so I apologize if these questions have already been covered earlier.
I need some advice on my trip to Japan - I will be arriving on April 12th and departing on the 20th. I hope to visit both Tokyo and Kyoto. I am purchasing a JR pass to help with travel within the country.
I will be travelling alone and cannot speak Japanese. Please factor this in when responding to me :)
My questions are:
1. Is the Oedo-onsen Monogatari onsen tacky since it's a theme park? I have never experienced an onsen before and would like to give it a shot. Being female and travelling alone, I am not sure about trying out the more far flung onsens although they seem more interesting. Thoughts anyone?
2. I hear Shinjuku Gyoen would still have some hanami spots in mid April (around the time I visit). Is there a better spot in Tokyo/anywhere else for viewing the cherry blossoms? I will have the rail pass, so I don't mind having to travel a little far.
3. I would really like to visit a cherry blossom park at night when it is illuminated. Since I am arriving after the peak in Tokyo I see that they are not illuminated anymore.. Any recommendations for a beautifully lit cherry blossom garden?
4. Is there a traditional Japanese village close to Tokyo where I can get a feel of rural Japan? Is Miyama a good candidate?
5. I have decided to visit Yoshinoyama during this time because of the good views. Is this a good idea?
6. I would like to make a day trip to a nice coastal town? Suggestions?
I'm sorry if I sound very ignorant. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!
 

thomas

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Welcome to the forum! :)

Here's my quick shot:

1. the Oedo Onsen in Odaiba is indeed more of a theme park, but perhaps a good starting point to familiarize yourself with onsen culture. While not really authentic, it's a fun place, there are lots of foreigners too. If you want to see a "real" onsen, you should consider a day trip to Hakone.

2. + 3. There won't be anymore cherry blossoms in Tokyo by mid-April, this year was a very short sakura season due to the low temperatures and heavy rain. You will have to travel north to follow the cherry blossoms. IIRC, they reach the Tohoku region and Hokkaido by the end of April/beginning of May, so it depends on how much time you have at hand.

hirosaki-03may2007.jpg
This picture (click to enlarge) was taken in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture.
We cycled in Golden Week from Tokyo to Hakodate, practically following the cherry blossoms.
Taken on May 3.


4. Isn't the Miyama you refer to close to Kyoto? And what exactly are you looking for?

5. I have never been to Yoshinoyama. Perhaps someone else has more info on that.

6. As for coastal towns that can easily be reached from Tokyo: I recommend you to visit Kamakura and Enoshima (lovely day trip) or if you prefer something more rustic, head down to Miura Peninsula. The town of Misaki at the southern tip is very scenic and offers delicious sea food (tuna, to be precise).
 

journeywoman

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Welcome to the forum! :)

Here's my quick shot:

1. the Oedo Onsen in Odaiba is indeed more of a theme park, but perhaps a good starting point to familiarize yourself with onsen culture. While not really authentic, it's a fun place, there are lots of foreigners too. If you want to see a "real" onsen, you should consider a day trip to Hakone.

2. + 3. There won't be anymore cherry blossoms in Tokyo by mid-April, this year was a very short sakura season due to the low temperatures and heavy rain. You will have to travel north to follow the cherry blossoms. IIRC, they reach the Tohoku region and Hokkaido by the end of April/beginning of May, so it depends on how much time you have at hand.

View attachment 13018
This picture (click to enlarge) was taken in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture.
We cycled in Golden Week from Tokyo to Hakodate, practically following the cherry blossoms.
Taken on May 3.


4. Isn't the Miyama you refer to close to Kyoto? And what exactly are you looking for?

5. I have never been to Yoshinoyama. Perhaps someone else has more info on that.

6. As for coastal towns that can easily be reached from Tokyo: I recommend you to visit Kamakura and Enoshima (lovely day trip) or if you prefer something more rustic, head down to Miura Peninsula. The town of Misaki at the southern tip is very scenic and offers delicious sea food (tuna, to be precise).

Hi Thomas!

Thank you so much for the response, this is really helpful! I appreciate all the help I can get with planning this.

I will consider a trip to Hakone for the hot springs. I love coastal towns so Misaki sounds awesome!

So all this I read about "late blooming blossoms" in Tokyo, are they not really worth much of my time? Or do you mean the variety is not sakura and not as pretty?
I am pretty desperate to view the cherry blossoms lol, and would be willing to follow them wherever (I'm hoping the trains are not too complicated and I can make a day trip with ease). I'm only going to be in Japan from the 12th to the 20th though.

As far as Miyama is concerned, I was looking up some villages that I could visit because I would like to get a feel of how rural areas are, maybe just walk around and explore the area. A non-intrusive glimpse into traditional life there. Lovely scenery wouldn't hurt. Something not too touristy - and a little off the beaten track.

If I did take the biking trail enroute to Hakodate, would I see some of that beauty (in your picture) in the week of April 14th - 19th? I see your picture was taken on May 3rd so I assume I wouldn't have to go as far as Hirosaki?

Thanks again Thomas!
 

thomas

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Hi again, unfortunately I'm a bit busy today and will answer your other questions tomorrow. I'll ask my wife about those "late blooming cherry blossoms", lol.

Don't get me started on cycling. Please refer to our sister site for more bicycle-specific info. ;-)

=> Tokyo Cycling Club
 

journeywoman

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Hi again, unfortunately I'm a bit busy today and will answer your other questions tomorrow. I'll ask my wife about those "late blooming cherry blossoms", lol.

Don't get me started on cycling. Please refer to our sister site for more bicycle-specific info. ;-)

=> Tokyo Cycling Club

I'll wait for your responses! I'm also checking out the cycling website. The Japan guide recommends SO many places, it's incredible and overwhelming for someone who has never been there. Not to mention the ratings "Best of the best", "Best of Japan" and "Outstanding". lol.
 

thomas

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I will consider a trip to Hakone for the hot springs. I love coastal towns so Misaki sounds awesome! If I did take the biking trail enroute to Hakodate, would I see some of that beauty (in your picture) in the week of April 14th - 19th? I see your picture was taken on May 3rd so I assume I wouldn't have to go as far as Hirosaki?

Another place not too far from Tokyo you should probably visit is Nikko (窶愿コナ津オ) in Tochigi. Lots of nature, lots of culture and onsen. And a chance to see some cherry blossoms.

Perhaps you can still make it after all. This photo was taken this afternoon close to Tokyo.

late-sakura.jpg
 

Dotanbatan

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I would also recommend a visit to Nikko .... probably Japan's most beautifully decorated shrine and the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu ..... then head up the mountain (actually a volcano) to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls.

Wonderful scenery all around with the added bonus of almost certainly seeing some cheeky Japanese monkeys on the way up there!
 

journeywoman

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Another place not too far from Tokyo you should probably visit is Nikko (日光) in Tochigi. Lots of nature, lots of culture and onsen. And a chance to see some cherry blossoms.

Perhaps you can still make it after all. This photo was taken this afternoon close to Tokyo.

View attachment 13023

Yay! Finally some good news..I hope the weather holds till I get there!
I see Hakone is to the South of Tokyo while Nikko is up north so that's good. Thanks for the recommendation. I will be staying in Shinjuku in Tokyo and was looking for a train from the Shinjuku station. This is what I read:
"Because the trains between Shinjuku and Nikko partially use the tracks of Tobu Railways, the Japan Rail Pass does not fully cover the expenses of the journey. However, thanks to a special agreement, the JR East Pass and JR Kanto Area Pass do cover the entire trip."

This is a little confusing, as it looks like the JR East & Kanto pass would work (because of the agreement) but not the JR pass!

I am a little apprehensive about making transfers, I fear I will be lost in the process which was why I was looking up the route with fewer transfers.
 

journeywoman

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I would also recommend a visit to Nikko .... probably Japan's most beautifully decorated shrine and the resting place of Tokugawa Ieyasu ..... then head up the mountain (actually a volcano) to Lake Chuzenji and Kegon Falls.

Wonderful scenery all around with the added bonus of almost certainly seeing some cheeky Japanese monkeys on the way up there!

Thank you Dotanbatan!

Added to my growing list of places to visit! It looked very picturesque and the walk along the Daiya seems like fun. I read about how people take a bus up and then hike down to the falls..
 
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