So, here is my new itinerary:
Day 1, Sat 29 Oct - leave Manchester via Turkish Airlines
Day 2, Sun 30 - arrive Tokyo. Overnight in Tokyo
Day 3, Mon 31 - Overnight in Tokyo
Day 4, Tue 1 - Overnight in Tokyo
Day 5, Wed 2 - Overnight in Tokyo
Day 6, Thu 3 - Overnight in Tokyo.
Day 7, Fri 4 - Early train to Nakatsugawa. Bus to Magome and hike to Tsumago. Travel on to Matsumoto. Overnight in Matsumoto.
Day 8, Sat 5 - Leave after exploring the castle and travel to Takayama on bus via a stop in Kamikochi. Overnight in Takayama
Day 9, Sun 6 - Overnight in Takayama.
Day 10, Mon 7 - Travel to Kanazawa by bus via a stop in Shirakowago. Overnight in Kanazawa
Day 11, Tue 8 - Overnight in Kanazawa
Day 12, Wed 9 - Overnight in Kanazawa
Day 13, Thu 10 - Travel to Miyajima. Overnight on Miyajima
Day 14, Fri 11 - Visit Hiroshima in morning and Himeji castle in afternoon. Travel on to Kobe. Overnight in Kobe
Day 15, Sat 12 - Overnight in Kobe
Day 16, Sun 13 - Travel to Mount Koya. Overnight on Mount Koya
Day 17, Mon 14 - Travel to Kyoto. Overnight in Kyoto
Day 18, Tue 15 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 19, Wed 16 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 20, Thu 17 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 21, Fri 18 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 22, Sat 19 - Day in Kyoto arriving at airport early evening for late night flight home
Day 23, Sun 20 - arrive home 11am and recover. Back to work Monday.
So the first main change is dropping Yakushima - it looks wonderful but even I recognise that this trip is better without it - it's only going to get even older when I do visit, trouble is so am I. The other main change is having as few one night stops as possible. The advice seems to be that one night on Mount Koya, on Miyajima and in Matsumoto are fine. I've kept Tokyo first - I think I prefer the shock of the new to being able to acclimatise. Day trips to Nara, Kamakura, Nikko and Hakone are all possible but we will decide at the time whether or not to do them depending on how much we are enjoying Kyoto and Tokyo. We have more time in Kyoto than Tokyo, but only just.
Kobe has been added as it interests me - much of it was destroyed after the earthquake in 1995. A significant part of Manchester city centre was destroyed by a bomb in 1996. As a planner I've seen how Manchester has been regenerated following the bomb - I think Kobe will be a fascinating contrast. I want a great steak too.
I still have a couple of tough days of trying to fit too much in but I hope this is balanced by minimising the one night stops and keeping them non-consecutive.
I'd love your opinions on how it looks and on how you might improve on it and thank you all for your wonderful help so far - I love this forum.
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Revised and improved First Trip to Japan itinerary - do you agree?
So, here is my new itinerary: