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Back to Japan -- ideas for different places to visit.

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So, as I dropped into the conversation on ShelleyK's Tokyo thread, yesterday my husband and I agreed for definite that we're going to prioritise a return trip to Japan.

We're already sorted for a trip for this spring so we're considering either a second autumn trip (our first trip to Japan was last October) later this year or a spring trip next year. (If we go for spring 2014, I'll plan something else for this autumn, no idea what yet).

Last year our itinerary included overnights in Tokyo, Takayama (for the festival), Nara, Kyoto, Koyasan, Osaka and Miyajima (with a short daytime visit to Hiroshima).

We know we definitely want to return to Kyoto, probably for 5-7 nights. We'll definitely include Tokyo again too, though as before, less time spent there than in Kyoto.

I'm RIGHT at the beginning of thinking about the trip, but would love some ideas on where we might consider outside of the previous itinerary.

We loved using the trains but are more than happy to drive for a different perspective / to tour areas better served by road.

We (read I) probably still won't have the confidence to strip in front of others to use the single sex onsens, so whilst I'd love to do that, I can't see it happening really. Likewise, we do have a need for en suite accommodations, so a few experiences such as overnighting in the traditional houses in Shirakawa-gō are probably not ideal for us either. And we're not big walkers (by which I mean hiking... of course we walk around to view the sights).

We love food and drink producers and visiting specialists of any kind in this area, so would be happy to learn of your experiences visiting tea, sake, whisky, rice or any other producers.

And just generally, ideas.

Of course, I'll be doing loads of reading and planning, I'll find lots of ideas myself as I start. But I know from reading the many many many Japan threads at the moment that there are people here who've been to Japan many times, and who've strayed off the beaten track, or at least, the first-time visitors' circuit and who can give me some initial ideas.

Many thanks in advance,
Kavey

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