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13 days in Kansai - first time - and many questions

Brisbane, Australia
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13 days in Kansai - first time - and many questions

Hi there,

we'll have 13 days in Japan - first time ever (first weeks of November). 3 days in Osaka with a conference and then holidays.

While we have travelled a lot and had a look at Japan guides etc, we are at a loss when it comes to organise this trip.

1) so the first question is: what to see and where to go?

We thought to stay in the Kansai region to have time to take it all in. We thought we leave right after the conference for Kyoto to spend most of our time there and do day trips. and then maybe travel a bit across the Kii Peninsula. Obviously we are interested in the temples / world heritage. But also in the autumn colours and some nature experience. (we love bushwalking back here in Australia. But I have no ideas about the hiking conditions in that region in November). I understand that this peninsula is the place to go when you like to see some nature in Kansai, but maybe you have better ideas. We thought not to go to the northern beaches because it's November and honestly coming from Australia, beachers overseas usually disapoint. :)

2) how much time should we allocate for Kyoto + day trips from Kyoto? how much time for seeing a bit of the peninsula? I was thinking maybe 3 days Osaka, 7 days Kyoto + day trips, 3 days pensinsula (we will be flying out of Osaka again)


Do you have a hotel recommendation for Kyoto? we like something in the middle price range and ideally rather a historic setting than in the main shopping area.

4) if we visit the peninsula, do you better hire a car or do we better go by train?

Thanks so much for your advise!!


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Tokyo, Japan
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1. Re: 13 days in Kansai - first time - and many questions

1) more info http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1105.html

2) 3 days Osaka, 7 days Kyoto + day trips, 3 days pensinsula is a good idea. Also consider a day trip to Hiroshima/Miyajima. Maybe you have time to visit Shirakawago via Kanazawa.

4) If you can drive in Japan with international driving permit, driving is better in Kii Peninsula.

2. Re: 13 days in Kansai - first time - and many questions

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Tokyo, Japan
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3. Re: 13 days in Kansai - first time - and many questions

I'd say 2-3 days for Nara, 5-7 days for Kyoto, 1 or 2 days for Osaka, and other days for Kii Peninsula. If you like old temples and nature, I'd recommend staying in Nara. Kinosaki Onsen is very recommended for 2 days, about 3 hours away by train from Osaka and Kyoto.

Japanese shrines and temples are quite usually located on a hill. The temples have nice landscape gardens, which is made of trees but manicured carefully to give the best effects. Therefore, the best places to see autumn colors are usually (not always) temples. Ex. Ohara Sanzen-in Temple; Kurama-dera, Kifune Shrine, Takao-san. Even Kiyomizudera is on a stage in the Higashiyama Hills. Arashiyama's yama means "hill". "Yama/San" can pass as "temple" in Japanese language. Ex Naritasan Shinshoji.

Please check this google-translated page and click on the pictures for some autumn color viewing spots in Kyoto.


Nara City's Todaiji, Nigatsudo, Wakakusa Hills, Kofukuji, Gangoji shouldn't be missed. But the most valuable and historic Horyuji monastery complex lies in bit west from Nara City in Ikaruga-cho.

Ise Shrine is the main shrine of Japanese Shintoism. Okage Yokocho next to it has been a tourist trap for many hundred years and is a nice and fun historic place. Toba has Mikomoto Peal Island. The pearls are in beautiful Ago Bay. Ise is known for Onsen hot springs and Ise Lobsters- eating it as sashimi rather than cooked with mayonnaise is a delight only in Japan.

But then southern Kii Peninsula extended from Ise Peninsula is one of Japan's most outlandish places. Kumano Kodo offers a spiritual experience going through woods and passing by waterfalls (Nachi Fall).

Southern Wakayama is also known as onsen place- and to the horror of animal loving and environmentally friendly Australians- port for hunting whales. Driving is better here, but trains are fine.

Osaka is great for shopping and dining, especially around Namba and Dotombori, but all historical buildings have been destroyed by the second world war. The only thing that survived the bombing was Osaka Castle's main tower- which was rebuilt in the 1930s from concrete. The impressive stone walls and mounds are original (from the Tokugawa era, and not from the Toyotomi era when the castle was in its most splendid form).

Beaches are not something where you swim in November in Japan. It's where nearby you dip into a natural hot spring bath in Southern Wakayama or northern Kinki (Amano Hashidate and Kinosaki area).

Kyoto is a large city. It was probably the largest city on earth for a certain time in history (with Kamakura near Tokyo as its rival), and over a million population in a cramped valley today it's part of the large Keihanshin (Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe) urban area. It's nice if you stay in a ryokan in Higashiyama area near Gion, like Hatanaka, or those in central Karasuma-Shijo and Karasuma-Oike, Gojo-Karasuma area. What is nice about Kyoto is that it is a modern city with lots of historic temples and old shrines with beautiful gardens throughout.

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4. Re: 13 days in Kansai - first time - and many questions

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