Initial ideas, here: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/japan-trip-3-initial-loose-planning.cfm
First itinerary drafts, here: http://www.fodors.com/community/asia/kavey-april-2016-japan-itinerary-planning.cfm
Here is where I'm at now:
Day 1 Land early morning Haneda, 2 nights in Tokyo or Yokohama (holding cancellable 2 nt hotel booking in Yokohama only)
Day 2 Overnight in Tokyo or Yokohama - may visit Kamakura during the daytime, as a friend is asking his aunt/ uncle whether they could show me around their surimi-making business, in which case I may need to review where we overnight these 2 nights.
Day 3 Hakone Ginyu (booked)
Day 4 Hakone Ginyu (booked)
Day 5 Nagoya or Hikone overnight (holding cancellable hotels in both locations)
Day 6 Rental car 1 drive to Miho museum. May also include Ninja Mansion in Koka and/ or Shigaraki ceramics producer. Overnight booked in traditional grass hut in Miyama, via AirBnB so locked in, however I need to check this - my understanding from AirBnB listing is that we book the house exclusively but found another website that implies otherwise.
Day 7-13 (Return rental car 1 on arrival into Kyoto, or outskirts). Overnight Kyoto (Holding cancellable hotel booking, good location but boring hotel, had perfect apartment booked via AirBnB but was taken off market and refunded. No activities booked except one confirmed dinner invitation/ reservation for evening of Day 8)
Day 14-17 4 nights in Kanazawa (booked Hotel Trusty directly via email)
Day 18 Pick up rental car 2 on leaving Kanazawa. Wajima (booked into Hotel Route-Inn Wajima)
Day 19 Hyakurakuso (holding option on either 1 or 2 nights booking, ocean view room, at Hyakurakuso)
Day 20 POSSIBLE Overnight near Namerakawa to see the Firefly Squid at night, finding it very hard to find anyone who's done this. Have website link for museum, where one books night fishing boat excursions, but nothing else.
Day 21 Overnight in Karuizawa (booked into Hoshinoyo resort, can't be moved)
Day 22 Overnight in Karuizawa (booked into Hoshinoyo resort, can't be moved)
Day 23 Visit Mashiko (pottery producing town) during day, overnight in Utsunomiya, for gyoza. (Holding cancellable hotel in Ustunomiya)
Day 24 Overnight in Nikko (booked into Kai Nikko, can't be moved)
Day 25 Overnight in Nikko (booked into Kai Nikko, can't be moved)
Day 26 Prob Tokyo (nothing booked)
Day 27 Prob Tokyo (nothing booked)
Day 28 Either Narita or Tokyo
Day 29 morning flight out of Narita
Would it be handy to keep the rental car in Nikko, especially given that Kai Nikko is down by the lake, not up by the temples etc? Or would trying to find parking near those attractions be an impossibility? We could either look to return the rental car once we get in to Nikko, or keep it until finish in Nikko, in which case I think we'd return it and train into Tokyo. Can't imagine wanting to drive into Tokyo, ever!!!
My first two nights are completely undecided. I had thought Yokohama, because we've not been.
Then I have an uncomfirmed invitation to visit a friend's aunt and uncle's surimi production business, traditional and sounds interesting, that's in Kamakura, where we've also not been.
Or I could stick to Tokyo, as I do have more I want to see there, though we have 2, potentially 3 nights there at the end.
I think Day 5 overnight stop is pretty much decided on Hikone over Nagoya (fodorites rock), which will put us closer to Day 6 daytime activities including Miho, plus making our way to Miyama for Day 6 overnight.
The Firefly Squid thing is proving tough to find out much about. For example, I'd like to know whether one can easily drive to / walk onto the beach along most of the bay, so one could see them washing up even if we fail to get onto a night boat excursion. But I saw a suggestion somewhere that much of the beach is walled off. Can't find that reference now and struggling to find much else. Lots of internet photos but very little info.
Then it's where to return rental car 2 before, during, or after Nikko. Depends on whether it's useful in Nikko environs, or not. And if we did keep it, where best to return it before heading into Tokyo.
And last one is whether it's worth splitting the last 3 nights to have one in Narita, or better to stick to Tokyo 3 nights to give me more time in Tokyo. I'm leaning towards the latter as thinking to visit Ghibli museum which would take one full day and there's other Tokyo stuff left on my list too.
Appreciate your thoughts, as always!
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