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17 Night 1st Trip to Japan. Itinerary Advice Please

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Hi Everyone

I've been longing to visit Japan for many years. My husband and I finally have flights booked for next October, courtesy of my dad who has generously donated some of his airmiles to us!

Although I've done lots and lots of reading, I think I'm perhaps a little overwhelmed about how to start in pulling together an itinerary, so would really appreciate some advice.

Let me tell you a bit about us, our interests and our travelling styles and then would be really grateful for any suggestions you might be able to share.

We're both 40, experienced travellers, but not much travelling in East Asia. Physically, we're quite creaky - in particular I have arthritis in hips plus some back problems, so we're not into a lot walking/ hiking. We prefer a certain level of comfort, minimum being en suite bathroom facilities and comfortable mattress.

I'd very much like to experience the famous hot natural water baths in a traditional accommodation, but am nervous about sleeping on floor bed as would find it hard to get up and out of it. I'd find a way though... so recommend away.

We're both hugely into photography but that covers all subjects from people to markets to festivals to architecture to food to landscapes.

We have a particular passion for wildlife, so would love to include that in our trip.

I'm also an obsessive foodie (I write a food blog for fun) and so we want to fit in more sights and experiences along those lines than an average visitor may choose. Perhaps even some short cookery classes, extra visits to centres of specialist foods and so on. And some food shopping!

I also have an interest in history, particularly 20th Century, and would be keen to visit the main sites of interest, though it will not be the focus of our itinerary.

Added to all this is a conflicting point - we don't like to rush around, but to travel slowly, the equivalent to the slow food movement but for travel, taking time to experience a place rather than whizzing through it.

Tough ask, no?! :)

So I'm looking for:-
* ideas for itineraries
* suggestions for particular cities and attractions we should visit, given our interests
* recommendations for particular hotels and restaurants
* recommendations for cookery classes or specialist excursions or private guides that we might hire for an hour or a day
* tips on transport, money, language issues or anything else you think would help

THANK YOU SO MUCH!
Kavey

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