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First time vacationing in Japan - Kyoto and Tokyo


We will be arriving in NRT at 5pm June 25, 2016. Ideally we want to go straight from NRT to Kyoto the same day of arrival.

June 25 - 28 Kyoto
June 29 - July 2nd Tokyo
Fly to Seoul July 3rd

Please suggest best option to travel from NRT to Kyoto and Kyoto back to Tokyo.

Also recommendation of places to visit is appreciated. Site scene and Foody.



  • You can make a 7 day JR Pass pay off with using the Narita Express round trip as well as the round trip to Kyoto and back. You can also make it into Kyoto after arriving at Narita if you don't delay and get over to Tokyo Stn as soon as possible. The last bullet train you can take leaves around 8 PM or so. You might feel extremely tired if you just flew around the world and then rush for the train though.

    If you can, I suggest you add one more day onto Kyoto and take it off of Tokyo. Three to four days in Tokyo are quite enough, but there is no amount of time that's enough to see things in the Kansai area. You should, bare minimum, put in at least half a day for Nara - it has some of Japan's best sights. Since you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the day. After the temples of Kyoto close down around 5 PM, you can zip over to Osaka for the evening. At night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg and Abeno Harukas Bldg are terrific. On another night you could also go visit Kobe after Kyoto, if you have the energy.

    For food, I suggest you look at http://www.bento.com
    But I wouldn't waste too much time chasing down some restaurant. The sights are more important.
    Regarding Kyoto, the three best sights though are the Kinkakuji Temple, Kiyomizudera Temple, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. Fushimi is the most time consuming; you could spend a couple of hours to over half a day if you want to romp over all the trails. Kinkakuji could be done in just 30 minutes without rushing. But it is not in the same area of the city, so going there the same day is maybe not the best idea. The other 2 are linked fairly closely using the Keihan main line (non-JR). Also since you'll likely be trying to squeeze in as much as possible, please note that Fushimi Inari is open 24/7, so you can avoid the crowds by going very early in the morning or evening (plus in June you'll have much more daylight) and if you are extra ambitious or energetic - get up really early and go visit the Nishi-Honganji and Higashi-Honganji temples - they are very close to Kyoto Station, and free. They open at 5:30 AM & 5:50 AM, respectively. Most tourists just ignore them which is a terrible shame - they are some of the biggest wooden structures in the world and have a fantastic appearance.

    There is a 500 yen bus pass for Kyoto that can help you. But if there are 3-4 in your group, taking a taxi becomes a very good option as well - they are quickest and with more people, more economical.

    I'd also suggest you break up your itinerary with some different sights, otherwise only seeing 8 temples or shrines in a day just turns into a blur at the end. What to see is up to you - look at:
    For Nara, most of the best is in the Nara Park area.
    You can see some previews of many places there on:

  • Hi, that sounds good. This might be helpful for you and for others also, to know about the place of where you can keep your luggage while travelling japan. You can try to use ‘Tebura’ for keeping your luggage. You can have a look. Search by ‘tebura ninja’ another good point is, you get all other luggage locker location information from there.
    Have a great time!
  • Hello, Nicholas!

    I'm sorry to tell you this, but you've missed your flight by more than 2 months!

    In all seriousness though, the best option for Kyoto is to take the Shinkansen via Shinagawa Station. You can get to Shinagawa directly on the luggage-friendly Narita Express. The Nozomi is the fastest train to Kyoto and there are services well into the evening. You should be arriving at Kyoto Station at around 10 p.m. at the earliest.

    Should you take the N'EX at Narita, make sure to take advantage of the promotional fare for round-trip tickets.

    Hoping this helps!
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