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Help! Where should I begin my Japanese adventure?

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I just booked award tickets for late September, starting in Seoul and ending in Tokyo. After reading the forum, I'm having second thoughts about spending any time in S. Korea. We will have 20 full days and probably want to end in Tokyo, since we can fly non-stop back to Dulles. This is our sixth trip to Asia, but we have never been to Japan (or S. Korea for that matter).

I have not started building my itinerary, but assuming we spend 5-7 days in Kyoto and 4 (or thereabouts) days in Tokyo, what city would you recommend starting our trip? Fukuoka? Kumamoto? We like nature, however not really trekkers, but do like to get off the beaten path. Takachiho looked interesting to us.

With 20 days, I think we can get a real taste of Japan. Thank you in advance for any insight you could provide.

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