I found Fodorites especially helpful on my last trip so I thought I'd turn to you fine folk again.
I'm a late 20's solo lady traveller planning my second visit to Japan.
Two years ago I visited Japan for the first time and had a marvelous 3 weeks. I did the first timers' special and spent almost a week in Kyoto (saw Nara as a day trip), a few nights in Hiroshima (saw Miyajima and Okunoshima, a real highlight), a night on Koyasan, a couple nights in Kanazawa and a couple nights in Takayama with a stop over at Shirakawago along the way, and ended with a week in Tokyo (day trip to Fuji Five Lakes). (see http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/japan-3wks-solo-kiso-valley-logistics-and-which-nights-where.cfm for the full low down).
This time, my time there is much shorter (tacked it onto a couple weeks in Taiwan because I really wanted to go back!) and with just 8 days I'll be both arriving in and leaving from Narita. I have 3 rough goals - explore Osaka (with maybe a day trip to Himeji since I didn't get to see it last time), cycle the Shimanami Kaido (this one is big for me - I'm a daily cycling commuter and I think it's something I'd really enjoy), and 'hang out' in Tokyo with the chance to see a few additional neighbourhoods.
So, here's where I need some help. Unfortunately I've got myself into a Golden Week situation again with the first week of May and want to book my accommodation asap. Given just the cost of Tokyo to Osaka it seems like the JR Pass will be worth it for my week. Here is how I was thinking of breaking it up.
3 nights Osaka, 2 nights Onomichi, 3 nights Tokyo
27 - Arrive Narita 5:30PM and head straight to Osaka (approx 4.25hr train) (sleep Osaka)
28 - Osaka (Himeji day trip?) (sleep Osaka)
29 - Osaka (sleep Osaka)
30 - Osaka - late departure to Onomichi, 2hr train (sleep Onomichi)
1 - Onomichi ('day trip' the Shimanami Kaido, maybe skipping to Setoda by ferry to make it poss in 1 day) (sleep Onomichi)
2 - Onomichi - Tokyo (somehow... long day :/ 6hr train so if I leave 8am, arr in tokyo for roughly 2/230) (sleep Tokyo)
3 - Tokyo (sleep Tokyo)
4 - Tokyo (sleep Tokyo)
5 - Depart Tokyo via 4:30pm flight (so will leave Tokyo around 1230/1 so I get that morning)
It might be best to just cut Himeji if I want to see Osaka... but maybe do-able as a half day trip? I've searched Hyperdia but going from Onomichi to Tokyo might be a bit... intense. I imagine it'll also be tight going from Narita to Osaka but I only travel with carry on and I'd rather do Tokyo at the end. At least i won't be suffering much jet lag coming from Taiwan vs North America.
Should I perhaps cut it up a bit differently? The one thing I cannot change is Narita as origin and departure, and my burning desire to cycle the Shimanami Kaido.
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