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David's First Draft Itinerary for Sakura 2017

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Hi everyone. I'm excited to be able to share my first draft itinerary with all of you to go back to Japan next March/April for sakura season. As many of you know, this will be my second trip to Japan, having been there for koyo season in Nov. 2013 and having the most incredible time I've ever had on any trip, prior to or since!

To refresh everyone's memory, during my first trip, I spent my initial 3 full days in Tokyo, then 2 days in Hakone, 2 days in Matusmoto/Kamikochi, followed by 4 days Kyoto, 1 day in Hiroshima, 1 day in Miyajima, and then back to Tokyo for one final day which was ultimately spent going back to Hakone to see the now visible Fuji-san. In terms of my interests, I really loved all aspects of Japan but in particular, the jaw-dropping awesome of seeing Mt. Fuji with his snowcap, staying in ryokans and soaking in outdoor rotenburos, temples, culture and of course, the food.

Here is my first draft itineary for next spring. Nothing is locked in flight wise and only the Kyoto and Kansai dates are locked in due to my reservation at Hotel Mume:

4 overnights in Tokyo:
Day 0/1: fly from Minneapolis to Tokyo. Land late afternoon day 1
Days 2 and 3: Tokyo. sakura viewing around town (if I've timed it right); re-visit Tsukiji; and then spend more time in the modern city-Shibuya, Shinjuku, etc. that I didn't see last time
Day 4: day trip to Kamakura

5 overnights at Hotel Mume in Kyoto
Day 5: train from Tokyo to Kyoto. Arrive early-mid afternoon.
Days 6-8: 1/2 day trip to Himeji to see the castle that was under renovation in 2013. + Kyoto (sakura viewing, revisit a few favorites like Kiyomizu-dera and the Philosopher's Path. Spend time where I didn't get to before. Full day Arashiyama, Gion geisha district, etc
Day 9: day trip to Yoshino if sakura are in bloom there. Else Plan B TBD

2 overnights in Nara
Days 10/11: Nara (probably 1 1/2 days of useable time after factoring in travel)

Day 12: Travel to and overnight in Koya-san at a temple TBD. (I know there's one that kja and kavey really like)

3 overnights in Kanazawa
Day 13: Heavy travel day. Koya-san to Kanazawa, with a stop at Hikone castle along the way. I will have already used luggage forwarding to have sent my roller bag from Nara to Kanazawa, so will only have a backpack for traveling to/from Koya-san
Days 14/15: Kanazawa (all new as I did not get there on first trip)

2 overnights Kawaguchi-ko
Day 16/17 Travel from Kanazawa to Kawaguchi-ko, so 1 1/2 days of ground time. Hiking, Fuji viewing/jaw-dropping; Arakura Senjen shrine (classic photo of pagoda, cherry blossoms and Fuji)

Day 18: train back to Tokyo in the morning and take the afternoon flight to Minneapolis

I am open to adding one more day to the itinerary. If I could find a guided day trip to Noto Peninsula to see the terraced rice fields, coastal scenery, etc, that would be cool. I know most of you love Takayama. In researching it, I'm just not grasping the attraction-so maybe I'm missing something.

Thoughts?

MB

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