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What to see in 11 days??

BeLehnherr

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Hello everyone!

In July/August 2017 I'll travel around the world in 34 days. In Japan I'll stay for 11 days. I arrive in Osaka on July 7th and leave in Tokyo on July 17th. Therefore, my question is: What do I visit and where do I go during this short stay? I already booked a Japan Rail Pass. I'm interested in getting a overview of Japanese culture and I know for sure that I can only see very little of Japan. However, I take it as a start and hopefully I can come back later.

Thanks for every help that I get!
 

thomas

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Hi, and welcome to the forum!

I wouldn't waste too much time in and on Osaka and spend a few days in Kyoto and perhaps Nara, then move to Tokyo. You could take one-day trips from there, Hakone, Fuji and Nikko are all popular destinations.

Which aspects of Japanese culture do interest you most?
 

PatrickNZ

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If you have booked your rail pass you have a problem - they need to be exchanged within three months of issue (ie April), so you had better check that. also, travelling Osaka to Tokyo (with side tips) is likely to be more expensive with a rail pass.

For 11 days, first, why did you add Japan into your trip and do that. If you don't know why you're coming to Japan, and we don't know what you like, then it is hard to provide advice. Typical short stays are Tokyo and Kyoto. Beyond that you might like to add some other scenic spots or mountain areas.

I'm in the throes of organising cooking and pottery classes for some of my guests in Spring, and have done samurai training, historical culture, and some other interesting remote spots over the last year. The variety is wide and depends on the person - hence my question.
 

BeLehnherr

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Thanks for the fast replies!

@PatrickNZ: I wasn't that precise - sorry! I pre-ordered a rail pass by my travel agency, they will buy it for me at the appropriate moment - I didn't get it already and I could even cancel it if necessary ;-) And I know exactly why I want to come to Japan! I'm really interested in their ancient culture, religious aspects and traditions, a lot more than in the modern culture. Although, I'm looking forward to see modern Japan as well. However, the focus should be on castles, temples and shrines with a few short trips into nature - I'm from Switzerland, so mountains and forests mean a lot to me.

@thomas: Thanks a lot for your helpful ideas! I think I'll do a little research on your suggestion - it sounds very interesting! Would you recommend buying the rail pass when following your itinerary? And about my interests: I think you will find the answer in my reply to PatrickNZ :)
 

PatrickNZ

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Culture religion and history then Kyoto and Nara are good spots to start with. I also think a trip to Nikko for its shrines and history as well as a day trip to Kamakura might be good as well. Lots of good museums for different artifacts and possible another aspect is to try to visit some craftsmen that carry on some of the long tradition. (Takayama might be worth a visit because it also has an interesting/long history.)

Japanese history is very interesting and some parts of it (from my study of it) get lost in some broad generalisations. Certainly the establishment of Nara as the first capital and the religious aspects in Government are quite intriguing and a visit is well worth while. Then there were all of the pre-Edo periods (up to warring states) and the long stable Edo period which was "cleansed" by the Meiji oligarchs (Meiji the Emperor didn't actually do much - played go, drank sake and did poetry).
 

johnnyG

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As others have said, skip Osaka. Arrive there, and get on a train for Kyoto/Nara.

I'm not sure what routes are included on your rail pass, but another nice city is Kanazawa--kind of the wabi-sabi version of Kyoto (which to me feels sterile/artificial). You might consider Kyoto > Kanazawa > Tokyo. The train line from Kyoto to Kanazawa is not shinkansen, but from there to Tokyo is.

Since your time is short, an alternative would be to bypass Kanazawa and stop in the next city/prefecture, Toyama (so Kyoto > (Kanazawa, train change) > Toyama > Tokyo). This is where you could get your nature and mountain exposure. Tho there are some train/cable car/bus transport changes involved, the tickets are sold as a package and it's pretty easy. You could make it up to Tateyama and spend a night at a lodge (e.g., Murodo History of Tateyama and the Alpine Route | Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route ) and continue on to Nagano on the package, or back down to Toyama again and then the shinkansen to Tokyo. (So this route could be Kyoto > (kanazawa, train change) > Toyama > Kurobe route > Nagano > Tokyo.)

I'm not sure this will come thru: Google マップ
Click on the places to stay up there, they have dinner/breakfast included, and they have pretty nice baths, too.
 
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Jeff3

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Hello everyone!

In July/August 2017 I'll travel around the world in 34 days. In Japan I'll stay for 11 days. I arrive in Osaka on July 7th and leave in Tokyo on July 17th. Therefore, my question is: What do I visit and where do I go during this short stay? I already booked a Japan Rail Pass. I'm interested in getting a overview of Japanese culture and I know for sure that I can only see very little of Japan. However, I take it as a start and hopefully I can come back later.

Thanks for every help that I get!
July/August can be unbearably humid on the main island, but in particular in Osaka and Kyoto so you may want to consider going up to Hokkaido where it is considerably more comfortable. If you do, I would suggest including 1or2 nights stay in Hakodate in your itinerary. Fukushima and Miyagi are also beautiful destinations with many wonderful onsens and fantastic views.
 

PatrickNZ

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IMO the humidity "stories" are blown out of proportion/perspective. There are plenty of places around the world that are worse, and Japan isn't that bad (including in the hottest months Aug/Sep in Tokyo or Kyoto).
 

Lothor

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IMO the humidity "stories" are blown out of proportion/perspective. There are plenty of places around the world that are worse, and Japan isn't that bad (including in the hottest months Aug/Sep in Tokyo or Kyoto).
I disagree, the summer climate in Kanto and Kansai is horrible, often the temperature does not drop below 25 degrees even in the early morning, and most Filippinos I know find Japanese summers extremely unpleasant.
 

PatrickNZ

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The Filippinos should/would also tell you that the Philippines is worse (based on my experiences there), and there are lots of worse/hotter places. I have had guests from Florida enjoy the weather because it isn't as bad. But I also spent a lot of time working in Melbourne where the temperature wouldn't dip below 30C and 40+ days are common. Different people react differently.

To illustrate, the numbers of visitors per month do not tell a story of people staying away with more then 2 million people per month in July (highest ever at 2.3M) and August 2016, even in the warmer months of 2016 (1.9M in September).
 
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Enjoy a summer festival of Japan.
Kyoto
July 1-31:Kyoto Gion Matsuri
Fukuoka
July 1-15:Hakata Gion Yamagasa summer festival
Osaka
July 25 from the end of June:Tenjin Festival (Osaka Tenman-gu Shrine, Kita Ward, Osaka City)
Aichi
Late July: Owari Tsushima Tenno Matsuri Festival (held in Tsushima City, Aichi Prefecture)
Summer festival of August
Tokushima
August 12-15:Awa Dance Festival
Gifu
August from July :Gujo-odori dance(Hachimancho, Gujo-shi, Gifu)
Welcome to Gujo Hachiman. Not far away but a world apart...
Tokyo
Around August 15:Annual festival (Fukagawa Jinmyo-gu Shrine, Koto Ward) (the grand festival is held every three years, and next will be in 2017)
Gunma
Early August: Kiryu Yagibushi Matsuri Festival (held in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture)
Akita
August 3-6 :Kanto (the festival with demonstration of long poles hanging many lanterns) (Akita City, Akita Prefecture)
English 秋田竿燈まつり-Akita Kanto Festival- 国重要無形民俗文化財
Miyagi
August 6-8:Sendai Tanabata (the tanabata festival in Sendai) (Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture)
Aomori
August 2-7: Aomori Nebuta (the nighttime festival in Aomori) (Aomori City, Aomori
Prefecture)

other
There are a lot of firework displays in Japan during the summer.
 

kurapan

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If you like nature and travel from Kansai to Tokyo by the northern route via Kanazawa and Toyama, maybe you could make a stop in Karuizawa, which is a popular mountain resort all year round. It boasts beautiful forestial nature surrounding the town and very nice atmosphere in the town.

I think the humidity/hot stories are exaggerated, too. It is indeed hot and humid, but I personally don't really mind it and prefer it over 30+ degrees Celsius weather in drier areas with low humidity as the sunlight hurts me as if it was piercing through my skin after spending some time outside. The humid air in Japan prevents this from happening. And I know other people who don't mind the Japanese summer or even enjoy it, so it's really a very subjective topic that depends on people's preferences.
 
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