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6 nights in Japan: Osaka and Kyoto

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Isochronous

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I arrive in Osaka on the AY flight from HEL and have 6 nights to spend in Japan before getting QF NRT-SYD. I want to split my time between Osaka and Kyoto. How many nights should I spend in each: 4 in Osaka and 2 in Kyoto? Or 3/3? I'm not a rush traveller who likes to pack a lot into a single day; I prefer to go a bit slower and get to really appreciate a city and the landmarks I do choose to visit.

Also has anyone stayed at the ANA Crowne Plaza in Kyoto? IHG is offering a rate of 9,000 Yen a night including breakfast for my dates.
 

Denali

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I wasn't thrilled by Osaka but wow, I loved Kyoto. Apparently we are "temple people" and we are planning on going back in about 3yrs time.

The train between Osaka and Kyoto is either 40mins (slow standard train) or 12mins (shinkansen or bullet train), so there really isn't reason to change hotels unless you want to.

Sadly 6 nights isn't enough time but personally I would pick Hiroshima over Osaka but that's because Ive seen both.
 

mickeymouse

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I have a trip coming up in September. 6 days to do Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagoya and then 6 to do Tokyo surroundings and Mt Fuji. I'm staying very close to the shinosaka station in Osaka for pure convenience of using the Shinkansen to get everywhere. Any tips on how much time to spend in each place? I can possibly move my stays around.
 

drron

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On the other hand we just loved Osaka.But then we like observing the Japanese and their everyday life.Interesting shopping streets,good restaurants and food.Loved the crab restaurant where we had crab sukiyaki.Then okonomiyaki and takoyaki.
But if you are into temples etc Kyoto is the place and do a day trip to Nara is a must.Also the Zen rock garden in Kyoto should be seen.If so I would spend 4 nights Kyoto and 2 in Osaka.
As we have had many trips to Japan and have already been to Kyoto and Nara we would spend the 6 nights in Osaka and do day trips.But then we are not your usual traveller.
We use the Japan Guide to see what we might want to do.Here is the Osaka section with links to Kyoto and Nara-
Osaka Travel Guide
 

SeatBackForward

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I found Osaka to be more typical major city, while Kyoto was more "provincial", and also has the history etc, depends on what aspect of Japan you want to see. The two are well connected by trains and you can easily travel from one to another so don't let that be a reason for one over the other.


Ginkaku-Ji Villa Kyoto


Ginkaku-Ji Garden Kyoto


Kiyomizu-Dera Temple Kyoto



Dotomburi Lights, Osaka

If you do go to Kyoto, get out to Arashiyama, you can get there by train and then return by boat


Togetsu-kyo Bridge, Arashiyama, Near Kyoto

 

smit0847

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I wasn't thrilled by Osaka but wow, I loved Kyoto. Apparently we are "temple people" and we are planning on going back in about 3yrs time.

The train between Osaka and Kyoto is either 40mins (slow standard train) or 12mins (shinkansen or bullet train), so there really isn't reason to change hotels unless you want to.

Sadly 6 nights isn't enough time but personally I would pick Hiroshima over Osaka but that's because Ive seen both.
I had exactly the opposite experience to you! LOVED Osaka (possibly my favourite city in Asia) but didn't like Kyoto.

Osaka
Big enough that there's plenty to do, small enough to be fairly easy to get around (compared with Tokyo).
Very few tourists I think because fewer foreign airlines fly into KIX vs NRT and most tourists don't venture 'all the way south'. It's a very surreal feeling to arrive into the main train station during rush hour, see literally thousands of people streaming past and realise you are the only non-Japanese people in the entire station!
Food capital of Japan - lots of really interesting food options.
I agree with the comment that its where to see the real Japan. I had local school girls asking to have their photo with me because blonde hair is so unusual there.
Osaka castle and aquarium were great. Again, big enough to be interesting, small enough to be manageable.
I think we had 3 nights there which was just right.

Kyoto
In comparison, it was overrun with tourists. They were everywhere.
Seemed quite spread out and more difficult to get around (many people rent bikes for this purpose).
Seemed much more expensive and a lot more tourist-orientated options (tacky souvenirs, western restaurants etc).
We joined the hordes of tourists trying to get a glimpse of a geisha in the backstreets one evening. Don't bother. The back-streets are so weirdly clean and new they feel like a movie set and the closest thing we saw to a geisha was american tourists who had payed hundreds of dollars to be made up to look like one (very, very tacky).
We had 2 nights here and I was pleased to leave.

Mickeymouse - 6 days to do Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Nagoya is going to be far, far too riushed. I would definitely drop Nagoya (I can't think of anything to do there) and choose between Hiroshima and Kyoto. Hiroshima is actually quite a charming little city - I'd lean more towards that. I would do 3 nights Osaka and 3 nights either Hiroshima or Kyoto if I was you. 6 days in Tokyo may also be a little rushed - I had 9 there and still didn't do everything I wanted to do!
 

Daver6

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If you are going to land up getting a 7 day JR rail pass, then stick to just one city. As someone mentioned, its a seriously quick trip on the shinkansen between Osaka and Kyoto. This gives you the flexibility to day trip to Hiroshima and your travel back Tokyo for your trip home is covered.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Kyoto for six nights and thought it was a pretty decent hotel. We just booked the cheapest room, but were invited to the bar for managers drinks one night. Was expecting a cheap cocktail and thats it. Was sit as long as we wanted and order what we wanted. Was a lovely experience with super friendly staff (although that sums up most of Japan from my experience).
 
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Denali

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We joined the hordes of tourists trying to get a glimpse of a geisha in the backstreets one evening. Don't bother.
We walked a few streets back from the main Gion street and found a house the ladies lived in and they were leaving for their evening appointments, no other people/tourist were around and we didnt get in their way or speak to them, other than to say hello. You hear them before you see them and no need to be part of a hoard of tourist upsetting the locals.








We ended up spending 9 nights in Kyoto, 3 in Hiroshima, 4 in Tokyo and it still wasn't enough time. I regret not getting to Koyasan so that's on the return trip list.
 

jetlagger

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We walked a few streets back from the main Gion street and found a house the ladies lived in and they were leaving for their evening appointments, no other people/tourist were around and we didnt get in their way or speak to them, other than to say hello. You hear them before you see them and no need to be part of a hoard of tourist upsetting the locals.








We ended up spending 9 nights in Kyoto, 3 in Hiroshima, 4 in Tokyo and it still wasn't enough time. I regret not getting to Koyasan so that's on the return trip list.
Gorgeous pics! Thanks for sharing.
I have managed to discreetly view many of Geishas in certain back streets in parts of Japan. It is always an adorable experience, with or without camera.
 

kevrosmith

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Stayed in Osaka for 10 days back in December 2011 and loved it. Did a couple day trips to Kyoto. It is only a short train ride and very easy to get around.

Stayed at Fraser Residence across the road from Namba Station. Osaka Serviced Apartments | Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka | Osaka Kansai Hotels
Very comfortable and good size (for Japanese accommodation, I understand). Can get a good price if buying 60 days in advance.

Namba has great connections to KIX airport, multiple train lines and subway.

Highly recommend getting the Kansai Thru Pass (KANSAI THRU PASS (English) | Ticket&Goods | SURUTTO KANSAI) and Osaka Unlimited Pass (OSAKA UNLIMITED PASS - Go Japan Go and http://www.osaka-info.jp/osp/en/index.html). Provided all the rail and subway tickets we needed to get around everywhere and free entry into lots of the tourist attractions and things you will want to do and see. You can buy multiple days, but one of the passes is consecutive days (I can't remember which) so just make sure you work out which combination of one or the other you may want to buy.
 

LACE

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We walked a few streets back from the main Gion street and found a house the ladies lived in and they were leaving for their evening appointments, no other people/tourist were around and we didnt get in their way or speak to them, other than to say hello. You hear them before you see them and no need to be part of a hoard of tourist upsetting the locals.

We ended up spending 9 nights in Kyoto, 3 in Hiroshima, 4 in Tokyo and it still wasn't enough time. I regret not getting to Koyasan so that's on the return trip list.
Koyasan is amazing, I only spent a night there but saw so much. I would definitely recommend it to anyone, very few tourists and accessed in a few hours from Osaka. If you are heading on the shinkansen to Hiroshima stopping off at Himeji is worth it. You can leave your luggage at the train station and walk to Himeji castle I think the restorations finish soon but it was still worth the stop even when the main keep was out of action.

One of the best things about japan is the luggage delivery service, very handy as there isn't alot of space on some trains in Japan.
 

Denali

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One of the best things about japan is the luggage delivery service, very handy as there isn't alot of space on some trains in Japan.
Yes for luggage forwarding service! Renting a wifi, hyperdia for public transport info and luggage forwarding no doubt saved my husband from a few of my meltdowns.
 

cosi

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My recommendation would be to purchase a 7 day rail pass prior to arriving in Japan.


I would then stay at ANA Crown Plaza KOBE for three nights (about 1 hour by bus from Osaka -it is a really interesting road trip around the Osaka bay and buses run very frquently)


The Shinkansen station is at the rear of the hotel, which makes day trips super convenient.


For example, you can easily make a day trip to Hiroshima.


Another day trip could be back Osaka or the hotel will make a recommendation.


In Japan they have a fantastic luggage service, where you can inexpensively send you bags from one place to another place. The hotel will take care of all the arrangements and the cost is minimal about $20 for 1 suitcase. You bag will then be delivered to your hotel in Tokyo


So, with an overnight bag, you can then spend 1 or 2 nights in Kyoto before heading to Tokyo.


In Kyoto, you must stay in a Ryokan a traditional inn.

Then you can have 1 or 2 days exploring Tokyo
 

Isochronous

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So all the hotels know about the luggage forwarding service? I would be keen to get everything sent from OSaka to Narita Airport when I need to get to Tokyo to catch QF home without having to lug my bags on the train personally.

Also:

1) which rail passes to use - within Osaka; for Osaka-Kyoto; for Osaka-Tokyo; or even Osaka-Hiroshima? Based on what was said in this thread I might take the lazy option and stay the whole 6 nights in Osaka to avoid the pain of switching hotels.
 

Denali

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Most hotels have luggage forwarding service but ask the hotel to be sure and be prepared that its usually next day delivery so ask to make sure your bag will be there for when you depart.

Japans train/subway system are owned by different companies and sometimes you go from a train to a subway without realizing it, I found the Suica card handled both. We also had a JR Pass for the Shinkansen but depending on your plans, it might be cheaper to buy your trip tickets as you need them. I quite liked the "green" (first class) seats but the normal seats were very good as well.

I rented my mifi from Global Advance and recommend them. It was at the hotel on checkin and worked everywhere, including on the bullet trains and they included a self addressed/stamped envelope to return the mifi, just put it in a post box.
 
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SeatBackForward

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Just be aware that a JR Rail pass may exclude you from going on some of the Shinkansen services - especially the fastest services. Mind you the next fastest service will only be a handful of minutes slower.

My favourite anecdote about JR Rail was when we were using our JR Rail pass at the ticket counter to go from Osaka to Kyoto - "sorry you have just missed a train".."oh how long will we have to wait?".."four minutes".
 

LACE

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Just be aware that a JR Rail pass may exclude you from going on some of the Shinkansen services - especially the fastest services. Mind you the next fastest service will only be a handful of minutes slower.

My favourite anecdote about JR Rail was when we were using our JR Rail pass at the ticket counter to go from Osaka to Kyoto - "sorry you have just missed a train".."oh how long will we have to wait?".."four minutes".
You aren't supposed to use the 'Nozomi' express services but if you don't reserve seats and get in one of the non-reserved cars they don't check your ticket. Well at least they didn't when I got on one or two by 'accident' :p

If you are planning on doing a lot of travel the JR pass is great. You can set your watch by the Japan Rail system, it's that efficient. Definitely better than the eurail pass.
 

kevrosmith

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Denali

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... You can set your watch by the Japan Rail system, it's that efficient.....
One day we had 3 trains and 2 subways to catch and at some point I said to hubby, "At this stop, we stand at the doors and if the doors open at 10.08am, that's our stop and yep, perfectly on time.
 
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SeatBackForward

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One day had 3 trains and 2 subways to catch and at some point I said to hubby, "At this stop, we stand on the doors and if the doors open at 10.08am, that's our stop and yep, perfectly on time.
We did Hiroshima to Kawaguchiko (northern side of Mt Fuji), 7 trains in one day, the greatest deviation from timetable for any one of them was 25seconds.
 
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