Strategy on Schematic Japan Trip

Sunday, May 26, 2019 2:07 PM

I am hoping that some of you guys can give some overall insight and help narrow my direction on a “theoretical” trip to Japan that I am considering pulling the trigger on.

I have never been to Japan (or Asia). Do not speak Japanese.

Long story short. I am switching jobs and have a rare opportunity of 6 weeks off. The month of June through the holiday.

Basically, I am starting from scratch this weekend. Kind of overwhelmed by where to begin. So decided to focus around, what I know most tangible. Amusement Parks.

I would be traveling solo. Looking to travel between 15 and 20 days in the second half of June bleeding into July.

I would like to be spending about 25% within parks at the rough itinerary I laid out below. I am not a spend all day, in the park, ride every coaster type of person. More just walk around 4-6 hours, take one lap on the big and interesting rides absorb the atmosphere a bit and move on. At this point, I am focus on overall logistics vs. strategy within the individual parks. (Ex, last week, I spent 4-hours in the evening at Kings Island. Minimal lines. One lap on Banshee, Vortex, Diamondback and Racer. The godamn Beast (the reason I went!) was closed. So was Mystic Timbers, which I hadn’t ridden. Anyway, I was in the door around 5, done before the park closed as 8. Just an example of where my interest/allocation lies.)

So that in mind, I am looking for general feedback on the below routing.

Day 1 Fly

Day 2-6 Tokyo

Tokyo time includes full day at Disney Sea and ½ day to Yomiurland {Bandit}

Day 7 Mt Fuji Hike

Day 8 Recovery and 2/3 Fujikyu Highland {Eejanaika, Fujiyama, DoDodonpa, Haunted Hospital)

Day 9-10 Nagoya (Toyota Factory Tour)

Day 11 Nagoya, 1/2 Nagashima Spa Land {Steel Dragon, Hakugei, Ultra Twister)

Day 12-13 Kyoto

Day 14-15 Hiroshima

Day 16 Tokyo

Day 17 Depart

I really like Detroit and the manufacturing industry so would pick Nagoya over Osaka (save the latter for 2025, maybe) Kyoto for the ancient history, Hiroshima for the WWII history. I would also be very interested in seeing Professional Baseball. Professional Wrestling (both WWE style and Sumo) at some point.

Parks: Barring the obvious improbability with rides and crowds are there are any big unique considerations that come into play when dealing with times and days to hit or not hit the above parks/rides? Listed rides represent what I would want to at least ride once, and the reason to route through that park.

Hotels: Ideally, I would like to stay in the city centers of Tokyo, Nagoya, Kyoto and Hiroshima. I would be looking for comfortable, clean, private (secure) accommodations. Doesn’t have to be luxurious, or spacious. These pod hotels, even if bathroom showers are shared? It is possible to get under a $100, or $75 a night?

Transportation: Renting a Car vs the duration. Vs. relying on Trains? Does one come in significantly cheaper then the other? Even considering the parking in overnight cities? Considering the routing I want to do, does one make more sense then the other. Convenience of having a lockable trunk, vs. checking bags between destinations. Difficulty driving vs. train transfers. Really cost though… is one significantly more expensive and difficult then the other?

I have a pretty good sense of direction and adventure. Again, I have no understanding of Japanese, so figure to be struggling through both options. Maybe less on the roads, I am a confident driver and enjoy driving.

If any of the above seems way off or naive. Please all ideas- feedback welcome. This is all seriously just schematic at this point. I am all over the place. This is the grandest scheme I have but also considering Chillkoot Trail or Great Allegheny Passage instead. (Neither including roller coasters)

At this juncture, Airfare looks about $2500. Ideally, I would like to keep the rest of the expenses under $5000. Possible and able achieve all the above, with sacrificing comfort/convenience?

Again, I realize a lot of this sh-t, I could figure out with some deep dive on research. But don’t really have the time (yet) to really plan deep. So trying to get a sense direction from those with some previous familiarity since it is such a massive country and so foreign.

Thank you! And have a nice holiday.

-K

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Sunday, May 26, 2019 2:50 PM

I’ll respond more later but you will not get more than one or two rides in at Fujikyu unless you’re there at least an hour before the park opens and then rush to the stall where they sell pay to skip tickets for the major 4 coasters. Trust.

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Monday, May 27, 2019 12:32 PM

Tekwardo is correct; unless you are extremely lucky spending two thirds of a day at Fuji-Q will result in misery – you can expect two to three hour waits on everything. On the plus side, the Haunted Hospital is no longer in operation so you've only got three to do :) I'd strongly suggest getting there for opening.

Yomiuriland should be okay in half a day (though make sure you leave some time for the new area of the park with the spinning coaster and the ramen rapids – it's great).

Nagashima should again be okay with half a day. Ultra Twister should be walk-on, and the other two sell queue jump passes at the ride entrance so you can bypass any waits if time is tight.

I'd strongly suggest that you find a little time in Tokyo to ride Thunder Dolphin. It's not an amazing coaster but the setting is hard to argue with.

I've never been in a pod hotel so I can't advise there, but $100 a night might be optimistic for city centre particularly in Tokyo. I'd recommend the Shinagawa Prince in Tokyo for location. Otherwise I've used the Crowne Plaza chain, which again has worked for me.

Renting a car is not needed or recommended for a long trip; parking is a pain in the ass. Train is definitely the way to go; pick up a Japan Rail Pass before you go and it's economical too. You can get train information from Hyperdia. If you want to get somewhere where you need a car then you can rent by the day from the major train stations.

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Monday, May 27, 2019 1:18 PM

Hey there :) I done basically the same trip recently, except i climbed mount Fuji off season, and snowboarded down!

Get a japan rail pass, 7 days is fine as whilst you're in Tokyo you can use an IC card (Suica card) for the subways / trains there (Pick one up from the airport when you land - as for language, learn the basics; Please: 'Onegaishimasu' - the 'U' is silent), Thankyou: 'Arigato Gosaimasu'- same silent 'U', and the most important; Sumimasen: 'excuse me'. If you want things, point and say "Kore o kudesi" (This one, please.)

Second most important phrase - Tori Karaage. (Chicken nuggets) :P

I'm just uploading my mount fuji video, but i just released 4K pov's and a vlog from Fuji-Q highland, along with other parks coming :) check them out at LukeE94 on YouTube :)

also they dont let you do the haunted hospital alone, but people invited me to go with them so bear that in mind :)

Last edited by LukeE94, Tuesday, May 28, 2019 4:48 AM
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Monday, May 27, 2019 10:02 PM

Richard, is the hospital definitely not operating? They announced it being closed before the ACE trip, but it was opened then. There is a new walkthrough there though.

Ill make a longer post tomorrow. I did a trip that didn’t totally consist of coasters and have a lot of research I can share.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 4:40 AM

Here is the link to Fuji-Q highland in 4K:

(take the train from tokyo, its approx 2500 yen (not covered on the JR rail pass)

Also here is the video of me snowboarding MT Fuji (the REAL way to climb a volcano ;D):

Honestly, only grab the 7 day JR pass, that's what I did, and i'm so glad i didnt go for the 14 day option, as it really isn't needed in Tokyo.

Any questions get in touch, but i promise you, Japan has one of the best public transit infrastructures in the world - here's everywhere i went including Cosmoworld in Yokohama, as i ended up going there and having a beer in Chinatown with loads of other YouTubers!:

Everywhere I went: http://tiny.cc/u29d7y (Google maps)

Last edited by LukeE94, Tuesday, May 28, 2019 4:42 AM
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 6:52 AM

Tekwardo said:

Richard, is the hospital definitely not operating? They announced it being closed before the ACE trip, but it was opened then.

My source was the ACE info. If that's wrong, then great :)

Last edited by Richard Bannister, Tuesday, May 28, 2019 6:52 AM
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 9:30 AM

Yeah I know Craig Knor and a few others got to do it while there on the ACE trip, which surprised me because it had been announced maybe a month before that for was closed. I hope it stays open. It was a neat attraction.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 9:57 AM

I'll add in my two cents while trying to avoid redundancy with what's been shared. I'll also caveat that I didn't hit a single park in Japan and have zero regrets about that.

- Language barrier should not be a problem. That said, it is helpful to be transit-savvy or city-savvy. Trains are the way to go; don't rent a car.

- Assuming you are flying in from the States, consider some jet lag in your planning. I'm not usually affected but Japan hit me more than other travels, including several other Asia trips. Waking up early is great but I would get tired around dinner than a huge second wind after a power nap (ideal for Tokyo nightlife anyway).

- Given your itinerary and depending on your interests, I would allow more time in Tokyo (considering your DisneySea day) and Kyoto. Tokyo is arguably the greatest city on earth and it warrants exploration to uncover its many layers. Kyoto is charming and home to some great walks.

- Skip Fuji-Q and hit up a local onsen (natural hot springs bath) instead. I stayed at a traditional ryoken hotel with a private onsen on a balcony overlooking Mt. Fuji. Incredible. The next day we bussed it back to the bullet train and our shuttle made a stop at this dumpy looking park. Hard pass. Which leads me to my next point...

- This is my own personal philosophy so feel free to ignore. But since you mentioned this was your first trip to Asia and asked for advice, I can't help myself: There's more to life than bad coaster credits, and certainly more to Japan. If I only have a limited number of days in a place, I want to try and experience the essence of that place. Have fun, yes, relax yes, but I want to be immersed in the culture and try to understand it a little better. Why go to Japan and ride a bad Arrow coaster when there are so many in the States?

Go experience something truly different - crazy cities and peaceful zen gardens, quiet temples and loud fish markets, a maximalist embrace of futuristic technology with a deeply spiritual grounding in nature. Whatever you do, I hope you give yourself permission to wander a bit outside your comfort zone. And have fun, Japan is one of my favorite countries.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 2:46 PM

Nice planning!

I second what Richard is saying and I would find an hour or two to get to Tokyo Dome City. It's quite close to the Akihabara area and you can buy individual tickets to ride Thunder Dolphin and the new Panic Coaster Back Daaan at the bottom of the Geopolis building. Speaking of pro wrestling, this is also the location of the legendary Korakuen Hall sport arena. NJPW has events there on the 16th and 17th and they have a particular way of doing tickets: tickets went on sale May 10th and all tickets are sold in advance at convenience stores in Japan (automated machines, ask the sales staff for advise), the NJPW store in Suidobashi near Tokyo Dome City and the ticket office at Korakuen Hall. On the day of the show, if any sitting tickets are still available, they will sell those along with standing room only tickets on the balconies starting at 4pm at the same day ticket counter on the bottom floor of the non descript office building that house Korakuen Hall.

Beside NJPW, Korakuen Hall has a large schedule and here it is for June: https://www.tokyo-dome.co.jp/en/tourists/hall/events.html then click on June 2019. If you look at the 16, you will see that they are running two events that day: Stardom, which is Joshi wrestling (women wrestling in Japan) in the afternoon and NJPW at night.

I've had amazing luck with Fuji-Q Highland where Eejanaika was a walk-on, but that was in the middle of January with a fresh coat of snow. They now sell line cutting tickets from automatic ticket machines as well, so budget for that as well. Nagashima is the same for the big rides.

For Tokyo DisneySea, this is the crowd calendar I follow: http://www15.plala.or.jp/gcap/disney/ Click on the blue tab at the top to show Tokyo DisneySea and use google chrome automatic translate feature to figure out the approximate waiting times. It is quite accurate and your first target for Fast Pass should be either Tower of Terror or the new Soaring Fantastic Flight if you're into flying theater attractions. Get a fast pass, then quickly make your way to the middle of the park for Journey to the Center of the Earth. As soon as you can take another fast pass, grab one for either Tower of Terror (if you did Soaring Fantastic Flight first) or Journey to the Center of the Earth (if you grabbed Tower first as Soaring will be out of fast pass then). Raging Spirits and Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Crystal Skull feature very efficient single riders lines, so it won't be an issue to get on those. Raging Spirits has a 1m95 (6'4) maximum height restriction as well.

I did a few trips around Japan and one that was a blast was when I did a solo trip from Fukuoka back to Tokyo, stopping at major cities along the way and doing it all with a Japan Rail Pass. When I went to Parque Espana, home of the famous Pyrenees, I stopped on the way back in Matsusaka for amazing japanese BBQ. I started the trip with a flight on ANA from Tokyo Haneda to Fukuoka (look up the airport code) as they were running a 100$ US tourist only special fare on domestic japanese routes back in 2017.

Have a great trip!

Last edited by Absimilliard, Tuesday, May 28, 2019 2:49 PM
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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 3:03 PM

Thanks for the feedback thus far. I definitely JS agree. Part of the reason, I haven't previously done this trip, is because I never felt I had a block of time to do it well enough. Now I don't have the block of time to plan it : )

I was just starting with the parks, because it was a tenable point of reference I understood. But yes I am definitely looking at more of a sprinkle here there there a theme park focus trip. The one day at Disney (I worked corporate at WDW for a few years, I have to see the Sea Park) plus maybe a couple half days at other parks sprinkled over 18-20 days focused on the unique and marquee rides I've seen pictures of since I was a teenager.

Definitely going with train. And realize the dumb mistake I made with my initial airfare search.

Still with haven't figured out hotel (or ultimately made a decision on the trip, but leaning toward doing it in some capacity). Ideally if I can keep it at $50 USD ish a night. Is that realistic? I haven't found anywhere I would want to stay for that price point yet. Since I am traveling alone, just need clean secure and central city locations. These capsule hotels sound intriguing but it sounds like more then a single night stay check in/out, storing a baggage becomes difficult?

When I typically travel for business I use Hampton Inn, HGI level accommodations. Won't be comfortable settling for less in cleanliness. Space and luxury, not an issue this time though. I want to be outside.

But yeah looking at something like 5 nights in Tokyo, 2 somewhere on the north side of Fuji accessible to Yoshida Trail, 2 in Nagoya, 2 in Kyoto, 2 in Hiroshima, 1 back in Tokyo.

I haven't watch the videos yet Luke, but I look forward to it.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2019 9:26 PM

Japan (including Tokyo) is far less expensive than you might think, but in my experience, yes, $50 USD a night for lodging is unrealistic.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019 2:21 AM

Jetsetter said:

There's more to life than bad coaster credits, and certainly more to Japan.

That's true. But it sounds to me like the OP has taken that on board. Had this been my post it would have been weighted 90%/10% towards coasters :)

Everyone is different. For me coasters have been my means towards visiting tourist hotspots like Colombia and Uzbekistan. I have no regrets in that regard.

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Wednesday, May 29, 2019 3:27 AM

My average budget for hotels in Japan is around 90-100$ US a night. In Tokyo, I stay at a Comfort Hotel for 70$ (with workplace discount) and it includes a great breakfast buffet. The amazing Comfort Hotel Higashi-Kanda is 10 minutes away by foot from Akihabara and a few subway and trains stations depending on where you're going.

Did you find a wrestling event that was convenient for you among the Korakuen Hall and NJPW schedule? Japanese wrestling is quite an experience as they still treat it like a real sport there and has a presentation like boxing.

Last edited by Absimilliard, Wednesday, May 29, 2019 3:28 AM
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019 3:30 AM

I have a similar philosophy to you Richard. Through coasters, I've discovered amazing places around the world and like I tell travel snobs who lift their nose at amusement parks: you still need to go to a country and explore it to find the coasters.

I'll be doing a lot more Indonesian travel in the future too.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019 1:01 PM

Check out Hotel Mystays. We got very nice rooms for around $35USD IN asakusa, Tokyo.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019 4:54 PM

I visited Tokyo twice to visit my boyfriend, who was in Entertainment at DisneySea (possibly the most gorgeous theme park).

Thoughts:

Don't rent a car. It may seem convenient but will only bring you heartbreak. And, Japan Rail is efficient, everywhere and cost effective.

Don't worry about the language barrier. Many of the folks, especially in urban centers, can communicate in English. When not, we got business done by pointing at pictures on menus or signs. (Side note, ATMs are everywhere, I found them handy to check my checking account balance as I used my Visa-branded debit card often.)

Take some time to explore Tokyo. It's an amazing city.

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Sunday, June 2, 2019 12:39 PM

Ok I booked it! Mid June til the holiday and have the schematic in place.

Now into the deep logistics.... I figured out lodging for Tokyo, Nagoya where I'll be staying in western style hotels. My wife is joining me for the very tail (Nagoya and baseball in Tokyo). But the first portion is going to be more budget oriented and I am traveling solo (Tokyo, Fuji, Kyoto, Hiroshima).

I haven't worked through Kyoto or the Mt Fuji pieces. So any recommendations toward lodging in that specific would be helpful.

Kyoto, I am looking for a more traditional experience (Ryokan) well located in the city and again on the affordable side. 3 nights

Mt Fuji: I see a two night stay in the area and am thinking Kawaguchiko ?

Basically looking for an easy place to base and move back and forth from train, the hike from Yoshida 5th Station, and get a few early morning hours (and the skip passes) for Fuji Q. Scheduled along the lines of:

Day A: early train from Tokyo, find hotel drop bags, Mt. Fuji hike, Night at hotel. Which may be a late check in, depending how the hike goes.

Day B: Finish hike... recovery and relax (or rain date for hike) Ideally be cool to be somewhere with an Onsen, a hotel/resort that is nice enough to hang out

Day C: Fuji -Q half day at opening (leave bags at hotel? or Fuji Q locker?) Double back for bags, train to Kyoto.

^This is the most complicated piece of the trip.

(I see a Mystay across from Fuji Q, it is coming in at $120 a night over the dates I need. Anything better in the area or is there another area, I should consider for the price point or better $ to achieve all the above?)

DisneySea: What is the cheapest way to get a one-day, one-park pass to Tokyo Disney Sea?

Thank you again

-K

Also Ab, I missed your earlier post, thanks for the wrestling info. That is really helpful. Yes those NJPW wrestling shows are on my radar. Thanks for the insight on ticketing.

Last edited by Kstr 737, Sunday, June 2, 2019 3:54 PM
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Sunday, June 2, 2019 9:16 PM

We stayed at a cool bare bones capsule hotel in Kawaguchiko. We took the bus from Shinjuku to Fuji Q the nite before we went and the round trip bus (it was about a 90 min ride) had an option to buy Fuji Q tickets included, which helped us not have to stand in line the next morning for tickets so that we could literally run in and get the skip the line passes for the 4 big coasters.

We stayed here one nite in Kyoto, a very cool Ryokan with great breakfast:

https://flic.kr/p/Z3zpAV

We stayed here a couple bites in Kyoto, was really great and walking distance to the main transportation hub, Kyoto Station.

https://flic.kr/p/XZa6DZ

Last edited by Tekwardo, Sunday, June 2, 2019 9:20 PM
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Sunday, June 2, 2019 9:32 PM

Also, unless you intend to spend some tine each day at a ryokan, I would suggest only one nite. It’s an experience in and of itself, and Then stay elsewhere while in Kyoto. That’s what we did and I’m glad. My only ‘regret’ is that it rained the day after our nite there and so we didn’t get to enjoy outside the ryokan as much.

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