My plan is to head back to Japan next spring for our third trip, hopefully for at least three weeks, possibly for four. I'd very much love to see sakura at its peak but don't want to follow it for the entire itinerary as I think the crowds and the higher prices may get too much.
The most urgent aspect is to pin down dates, as I want to book airmile tickets again so need to book pretty soon, from previous experience. We could look at going into any international airport, or even open jaw. But want to pin this down soon, even if itinerary isn't sorted.
On our first trip we visited Tokyo (start and end), Takayama (for the autumn festival), Nara, Kyoto, Osaka, Koyasan and Hiroshima/ Miyajima. That was a 17 night itinerary in Sept/ Oct 2012.
On our second trip in Oct/ Nov 2013 we had 19 nights of which a couple were in Tokyo, 6 in Kyoto, a couple in Osaka and then an 8 night Kyushu trip starting in Kumamoto and self-driving. Our overnights were Kumamoto, Kurakawa Onsen, Yufuin and Fukuoka (2 nights each) but we also visited Aso, the Buddhas in Usuki, Takachiho Gorge and the reclining Buddha at Nanzō-in Temple near Fukuoka.
I think we'd like to go back to Kyoto, there's still plenty we haven't seen and I'm thinking maybe a self-catering apartment or a machiya...
We haven't been to either Nikko or Hakone. Or Kanazawa.
I've previously looked loosely at Tohoku / Hokkaido. Or we could look at Chubu & Hokuriku / Tohoku. Or maybe Shikoku / Chugoku. Or we could do southern Kyushu plus Okinawa, though we're not beach lovers so I'd need to research more on whether that would be a good fit for us.
I'm at that stage of needing some friendly nudging and maybe having some questions thrown at me that may help me narrow down.
I'd also appreciate thoughts on how to set the dates to hit sakura in one or two spots but avoid it / the sakura crowds for the rest.
THANK YOU so much!
I'd like to include self-drive again, provided it's in a similarly rural region with quiet roads, like Kyushu. Am happy to use trains for the rest.
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