Kyoto is a better option than Osaka for historical and cultural stuff. Osaka is pretty much only better for electronics shopping and host clubs. Kyoto is the old capital, so it’s got tons of historical stuff. I highly reccomend Fushimi Inari, a shrine area just south of Kyoto. You can take the subway there.
The best area for nightlife is the Roppongi disctrict of Tokyo. However, be very safety conscience there. While most of Japan is incredibly safe, drunk foriengers do get mugged alot in Roppongi.
I don’t know much about sumo.
The sumo competition should be seen in Tokyo, it’s in the Asakusa area where the sumo matches take place if I’m not mistaken.
Kyoto (and nearby Nara) is the place to go to for some traditional temple visits.
As for nightlife, Tokyo has it all, but Osaka people are more friendly and a little more laid-back than Tokyo people.
In short, Tokyo is huge and the city looks quite cool. Osaka is less impressive and has a more industrial feel but the people are nicer and more welcoming :)
Some of my pics of the different areas http://www.flickr.com/photos/sp05/collections/72157600052429279/
Have fun in Japan ;)
I got distracted on the way to Kyoto so I can not say from experience, but from what I understand, you could probably take a day trip there and see all the stuff you want to make you happy. Osaka is an amazing city with a lot of everything, and is your better choice for nightlife. Spend as much time as you want in Tokyo, you’ll never see everything you could and you’ll always want to spend more.
Sumo competitions don’t happen until September. You could spend all 7 days in Tokyo and still not see everything. If you want to see some historical and beautiful shrines and not spend so much time traveling that you miss out on seeing things, I would take the train to Kamakura which is about 2 hours away from Tokyo. Stay at a traditional Japanese inn called a ryokan and see the beautiful shrines. Osaka is quite a journey South and you will spend much time traveling. Kyoto is beautiful but if you are only going to be there 7 days I would stay in Tokyo for 4 days and do Kamakura for a weekend.
Enjoy!! I loved living there.
I agree with ThatFalafelGirl. You could spend a lot of time in Tokyo and still want to see more. I was there from May to June and saw Sumo, so maybe they have some exhibitions around that time. I also agree with Ally Lyba; Kamakura is beautiful.
I never visited Osaka, but Kyoto was incredible, and I wish I spent more time there. So much history.
I’m not much for night life, though, so I never have many suggestions on that.
Are you flying from Tokyo? If that’s the case, it might be difficult to get to Kyoto. I took an overnight bus on a three-day weekend from work and it was a lot to manage. If you are up for that, or can afford the Shinkansen (speed train. I can’t remember the western spelling) then go for it. Otherwise, Kamakura and the surrounding areas of Tokyo have plenty of history to satisfy for seven days.
Osaka is a great location because it’s right in the center of Kyoto and Nara and you can easily get to both by train. On top of that Osaka is know for it’s amazing food. I might be partial because I lived there, but I think it’s a great option for someone on a short trip. Osaka has a great nightlife and really is a great second best to Tokyo. If you are into historical, you must see Daibutsu in Nara and then spend several days in Kyoto. You can actually see quite a bit in one day. I recommend Kiyomizudera and Ginkakuji.
I really would spend my time in the Kansai (Osaka) area for history.
Before you go, look into getting a Japan Rail pass. You can then take the Bullet train all over Japan. That makes Kyoto only ten minutes from Osaka and Tokyo only three hours. You could also go to Himeji in only one hour and it has one of the most beautifully preserved castles in Japan.
Okay, I could go on and on. I had a lot of friends visit when I lived there so feel free to ask me any questions if you like.
As somebody else stated above, you could spend all of your time in Tokyo and not even scratch the surface.
Pics from Tokyo, Kyoto and Nara are here
I recommend not planning too much. Maybe decide on the Kyoto vs. Osaka problem once you’re there. Ask some locals. Or maybe make some friends and end up going somewhere totally different.
Ally is right, Sumo is on tour in August, away from Tokyo. Spend more time in Tokyo; ride the bullet train to beautiful Kyoto as a getaway.
Enjoy your trip! I’m so jealous…
Osaka is good, but you could really just go to Dotonbori, see the cool shop fronts, eat okonomiyaki, eat tako yaki, and be done with it. One day would be anough and it’s close enough to Kyoto that you could do that.
Kyoto is great for cultural temples and castles… you will wish you had more time to see them. I recommend Nijo-jo… the squeaky castle… not as popular but by far the most interesting think I saw in Kyoto
Tokyo’s great for the modern stuff… and much more nightlife. Make sure you see Harajuku, Shimokitazawa, Shibuya and Akihabara.
I’d do 3 days Tokyo, 3 days Kyoto and maybe a day tip/overnight in Osaka.
Get yourself a Japan rail pass, it’s totally worth the money.
I agree with most postings before mine. Would suggest Tokyo and Kyoto and skip Osaka because you will not miss much. Kyoto is no question the better option for temples and traditional japanese experience. For nightlife, you’ll have that covered in Tokyo. What I did was stop over Osaka for a few hour day trip, that should be plenty. You can leave and lock your backpack at the Osaka train station.
It all depends on how much you enjoy visiting temples/historical places. A friend of mine didn’t think highly of Kyoto because it’s boring to her, but I absolutely loved it because of the real “japanese” experience more than Tokyo because to me it’s just another big city.
But I also totally second MisterOL’s suggestion to visit Himeji if you can. Nara is close by as some others have suggested, take one day out to drop by Nara if you like Kyoto.
I have been to Kyoto/Nara.. and i loved it there.. as mentioned above, there are lots of things to see in Kyoto (kinkakuji, kyoto castle, etc).. i have not been to Osaka or anything but osaka is not close to tokyo compared with Kyoto…. i think this time kyoto would be a better choice since its only about 2 hours on a shinkansen. that way you get more time in both places :)
joie de vivre
Hundred Acre Wood
I would consider the following:
- 2 days Tokyo plus 1 day trip to Kamakura
- 1 travel day to Kyoto area
- 2 days Kyoto plus 1 day trip to Nara
With the day trips and travel day, you still have some portion of the day or evening available for nightlife and additional sightseeing.
This little itinerary could be your week, easy. For me, it’d be hard to spend just two days in Kyoto, just as others said it would be hard for them to just spend two days in Tokyo. We spent just two days in Kyoto when we were there last and we missed all sorts of things I really wanted to see. Then again, I’m very much into temples and gardens, and Kyoto is filled with them.
I recommend Nara for a day trip because it is even more ancient than Kyoto. I particularly recommend visiting Shinyakushiji, which is a little off the beaten path.
And it is good to get out of the big cities and go to smaller historical places like Kamakura and Nara – gets you out of the heat and the noise. If you had more time, I’d suggest a day trip from Tokyo to Nikko, too.
As with other posters, you should note that Tokyo is really the only place to see Sumo wrestling, but it’s also very limited to the right season. I’ve also heard that you can visit the Sumo “stables” if no match is scheduled.
Honestly, with that timeframe, I would omit Osaka. Osaka’s OK, but you’ll find everything that Osaka has in Tokyo. For historic stuff, you should definitely see Kyoto and/or Nara.
Good luck my friend… 7 days is very few to visit. Take into consideration that to visit Kyoto you must be in Osaka. Another place to visit is Nara which is also close to Osaka and it is a very nice experience. Osaka is more modern view of Tokyo and probably you’ll enjoy t as well.
If Sumo is what you want to do check at the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium if they have fights programmed on site…
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