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Thanks Keith. Will the deers be out in Dec? (pardon my ignorance!)
The deer are always there.
There are volunteer guides available free of charge in both Kyoto and Nara should you feel the need. But honestly, and especially with kids whose interest level in things cannot be predicted, it might be much nicer and certainly much less expensive to plan your own day and have the freedom to spend as long as you like where you like.
Deers are almost in every place you get in. No worries. :)
Hope the weather will be so good you won't feel cold.
It could still be quite brisk. When visiting Nara, you will be walking in the exposed park area for an extended period of time so be sure you bring something that will keep you warm just in case.
These tips are useful as am also planning a trip this early Dec to Kyoto with my girlfiend. I will only have 5-6 days today. Have been to kyoto/osaka before but never Nara (my friend has not been to either).
To see Nara it is worth stay overnite, and if so for 1 nite or 2 or is just a day trip commuting from Kyoto. I've got 5 nites in Japan today, so probably 1 nite Osaka, then the rest for Kyoto and Nara.
Also is there any hotspring that is not too expensive but ok for a day trip from either Nara or Kyoto?
It sure would be nice for you to stay overnight here if you could wander into, in the crispy morning weather, large expanses of the lawn that overlook pristine woods on the hills (see my avatar) and liked to absorb in the total tranquility of the historical venue catching a sight of the deer roaming around more than a thousand year old cedars clustered in abundance... If among other things that's what you'd think you can bargain for, do come and stay a night.
If you were thinking of extending your trip to the Horyuji/Shigisan area, you'd be better off staying one more night.
As for a daytime genuine onsen hotspring experience, they can cater to your needs but the locations/time slot given/budget are a bit of a problem. The nearest possible from Deer Park is the one in Mikasa Hotel:
(Japanese-only site, rate: 6300/8400/12000yens, all including a meal set.)
Shot appreciate the feedback. I've decided to stay in Nara for 2 nites. 1 nite at Nara Hotel and 2nd at a Ryokan. Prob is that during that week all the good Ryokan's are fully booked but I can get a room at Matsumae Ryokan which rates high on Travel Advisor and good price. What do u think? I have zoned every possible site for other Ryokan options.
Shigisan looks amazing and just what I would like to see. To be honest looking at shrines and museums for 3-4 days starts to bore me so I like to see nature and beautiful landscape. How to get there and is it in between Kyoto also as I see place called "Shika Ken" in travel book but not sure if same place? How to get there.
Another option I saw on u tube in Shigisan area is Youngdueng Guesthouse - is that worth it or is there pretty much nothing at nite and too remote to stay overnite (this I started to explore given your recommendation and also lack of Ryokans in Nara during 1st wk Dec). Will not stay in Ryokan in Kyoto so kinda want that either at Matsumae or one out in Shigisan.
Horyuji - is that really worth the trip? May be on the way but just looks like temples. is it a beautfiul landscape / scenery like Shigisan seems to show,
I will be making some bookings for hotels and setting dates so appreciate very much your kind inputs.
Bill prob be asking more as the date draws closer.
I'd hate to say this, but compared to your hotel choice, the ryokan you mentioned will make a striking contrast… No, I don’t mean at all to criticize budget/backpacker-type accommodations, but if allowed, budget-wise, I’d suggest the following ryokans:
Kankaso (in the vicinity of Great Buddha Hall):
Edosan (right in Deer Park):
(Japanese-only site, but you can contact them via email/fax)
For Shigisan, Kakimotoya:
FYI, Shigisan is located about halfway along the JR line between Nara and Osaka Tennoji, so don’t think it is possible to directly get here from Kyoto. Mt Shigi is a locally well-known venue for autumn colors and onsen hotsprings as well, but the peak season will most likely be over if you come in early December, given its altitude: 432meters above sea level. Yes, it commands good views if you hike up to the temples. The drawback is logistics involved: you need to factor in a 10-15min cab ride from the nearest possible JR station, which you get to from JR Nara in about 20min. From here, Horyuji is 2stations back toward Nara on JR. It’s far more compact in scale with a different atmosphere. Um, if you are a Japanophile and appreciate its history and old culture, you’ll sure come to like what Horyuji has to offer even if it is done after Nara/Kyoto.
Not sure what you really mean by “Shika Ken,” but if it is Shiga Prefecture you are talking about, where Lake Biwa is located, Shiga-ken is right over there from JR Kyoto, just a couple of stations away. Deciding which one venue is more ‘scenic’ than another requires a good memory of your past experiences and depends totally on your likes/dislikes, IMO. To a guy like me, ‘scenic’ beauty is the one you’d get when you chance to see Mt Fuji from somewhere nearby, for instance; natural grandeur can be had when you access to Japan Alps; knock-out beauty is available in various places in Nara/Kyoto when it’s the peak time for cherry blossoms/fall colors. So it’s all up to you to decide which you can fancy most. But for overseas visitors, one thing to note is the proper seasonality pertaining to each venue they have in mind. Sadly in that sense, there won’t be that many people coming around to either Mt Shigi or Horyuji in early December ...
Back to your accommodation choices in Nara:
Though established in recent years, this pricey hotel looks to be a good competition against the time-honored one you say you have decided on.
From here, Dear Park (Kofukuji compounds) is just a stone’s throw.Edited: 30 October 2011, 04:48