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17 days Japan - Dream itinerary in progress - Advices?

17 days Japan - Dream itinerary in progress - Advices?

Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 03:39 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 3
17 days Japan - Dream itinerary in progress - Advices?

Hi all !

My friend and I are in our mid-twenties and are planning a first trip to Japan. We are extremely curious people and our interets are very broad. We love visiting museums, exploring big cities in depth, enjoying their nightlife, but we also like to hike and discover quiet sceneries. We already know we'll eventually come back to Japan but for this first time, we would like to draw out an itinerary that is as representative as possible of Japan's diversity. We've read quite a bit on the recommended itineraries for two-three weeks in Japan and here is what we are thinking of:

Nov 2-8 Tokyo (with day drip to Nikko, to see the fall colours)

Nov 8-9 Takayama - The aim of this detour is to get a glimpse of the mountains and enjoying a night in a ryokan. Should we stay around for longer? Is there a specific train line that offers iconic views?

Nov 9-11 Osaka (with a day trip to Nara) - Our main interest here is the castle, the food and the nightlife. It also seems like a good opportunity to have a daytrip to Nara.

Nov 11-12 Mount Koya - Any specific recommandations for temple lodging? Should we book in advance or should we book the day of, once we arrive? Many temples have japanese-only web pages which is making the selection a bit more difficult.

Nov 12-14 Hiroshima (with day trip to Miyajima)

Nov 14 Himeji (on the way to Kyoto, an afternoon to see the Himeji Castle)

Nov 14-17 Kyoto

Nov 17-18 Hakone - Would you recommend spending more than a day in Hakone to spend more time in the baths and enjoy the view? We read that Hakone can be quite busy at the end of the week/weekends. Is there a significant difference with weekdays, and thus should we aim to go earlier in the week?

Nov 18 - Tokyo - Back to Tokyo for a few hours before our flight departure at 5:00pm

Thank you all very much for shaing with us your thoughts and recommendations! We've drafted a potential itinirary but are very open to any gems you may have.

D & I
LleanaT is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 03:51 PM
  #2  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,984
Should be a great trip!

I’m a bit confused by your itinerary, as you seem to be double-counting days. For example, you don’t have the 8th in both Tokyo AND Takayama, although you might have a bit of a day in one or both. Remember that each time you propose to change locations, you must count time for transportation, add some time on either side for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting lost/oriented, etc.

If you mean to travel THIS year, you should probably book your rooms ASAP, as koyo season is very popular and many places book up months in advance.

Many people visit Nikko as a day trip; I was glad to spend a night there so that I could see Kegon-no-Taki and a bit of Lake Chuzenji.

I’m not sure how much time you actually have in Takayama because of the double counting of days, but FWIW, I regretted giving it only 1.5 days.

Many people visit Nara as a day trip; I was glad to have two full days there. note that you can also visit it from Kyoto.

I cannot imagine just showing up on Koyasan and expecting to find lodging. I was very pleased with Shojoshin-in.
https://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/...n=Shojoshin-in

It sounds like you have only 2 full days in Kyoto. That is VERY little time – many people give it 5 or 6 full days on their first visit.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to spend lots of time with japan-guide.com. It isn’t perfect, but it is an amazing resource.

Hope that helps!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 04:24 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 602
Hi.

I recommend arriving in Hiroshima and spending the late morning afternoon there at the memorial and peace park and having lunch, taking the 4pm ferry to Miyajima and staying in a Ryokan. Spending the next full day and night exploring Miyajima and then departing the next day after breakfast. And I agree, japan-guide.com is a fantastic resource. Good luck!
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Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 05:30 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
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For Koyasan temple stay, check http://eng.shukubo.net

Temple stay and onsen ryokans should be booked months in advance. Especially if you have your heart set on a specific popular one during peak season.

For Hakone, we actually got really bored just staying in our onsen ryokan. There's only so much bathing and eating one can do. Pick a ryokan where you can walk around in your yukata at night. Ours was in the middle of nowhere with nada to see.

Ryokans and temple stays are expensive. Run your numbers so you don't get sticker shock.

Make Osaka your Kansai base and visit Kyoto as daytrips, multiple days if you have to. The train ride is fast enough. I wouldn't check in and out of hotels so much. That way you can also play it by ears whether you want to spend more time in one city or the other.
Hnh6 is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 10:09 PM
  #5  
 
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Looks pretty good.

I think you would benefit from 3 nights in Takayama.

>>specific train line that offers iconic views?
The entire Takayama Line is scenic. Between Nagoya and Takayama a good bit of it is through a valley. Between Takayama and Toyama it is supposed to be one of the most scenic rides in Japan but I have not done it. You could go from Tokyo to Takayama via Toyama. This would avoid backtracking because the best way from Takayama to Osaka would mean taking the Takayama Line to Nagoya to get the shinkansen.

I think it would be better to go to Hakone on a weekday. It will be fall colors. But, that Friday night would be better than the following weekend which is a holiday. Your Friday could work if you can get the lodging you want. But I do remember leaving Hakone on a November Friday and seeing a long line of cars heading the other way, into Hakone.

The 28th will just be going from Hakone to the airport. Not much point for a few hours in Tokyo.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2017, 10:17 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Are you leaving from Tokyo Narita or Haneda airport?

I think you need a 14-day JR Pass. If you leave from NRT then you could start the pass on the 5th. Use it for Nikko. It would then get you to Narita airport.

Actually the 5th might be the best start date even if leaving from Haneda on the 18th. You definitely want it to be valid on the 17th when you leave Kyoto.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2017, 07:29 AM
  #7  
 
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Osaka airport (KIX) services international flights. You might be able to use a multi-destination search so you fly into KIX and home from Tokyo. Even if your original flight first lands in Tokyo, it will be more efficient to transfer to a domestic flight (booked as part of your ticket) and begin your touring in Osaka/Kyoto.
Southam is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2017, 02:46 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 364
A few observations...
For Nikko, a lot of the autumn colors are in October and you may be too late for a lot of the best. You should be able to see some in November, but you might be late for what the area is most famous for.
Unless you have some specific places to see or activities that would take up the time, I'd say 3-4 days are enough for Tokyo. You could see some nearby areas that are better timed for the autumn colors, like the Fuji 5 Lakes area or in Yamanashi the Shosenkyo Gorge makes a very nice day hike.

For Takayama, there are nice ryokan as anywhere, but if you haven't thought of it, you might consider staying in Shirakawago at a farmhouse for the night. It's a rare and many say an unforgettable experience. Seeing Shirakawago only take a few hours.
Given a choice, seeing Hakone on a weekday is a lot less crowded than a weekend. Your timing looks very good on average for the autumn colors there, so there will definitely be more people than usual.
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