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3-week Japan itinerary: suggestions/feedbacks anyone?

3-week Japan itinerary: suggestions/feedbacks anyone?

Jun 20th, 2005, 05:56 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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3-week Japan itinerary: suggestions/feedbacks anyone?

Hello everyone!

I will be in Japan for a little under 3 weeks this summer and have thought of the following general itinerary:

Tokyo-Nikko-Kyoto(Nara, Osaka, Kobe?)-Shikoku(5 days)-Hokkaido(5-6 days)

I would be very open to any suggestions about where to go in Shikoku and Hokkaido, or even modifications to the itinerary such as whether it would be better to go to Kyushu instead of Hokkaido, etc. I am looking for a uniquely Japanese experience, things I will not see in other parts of the world (but I guess that is everyone's desire when they travel to Nihon!)

If you know of any good budget hostels, please do not hesitate to provide their names.

Thank you so much!!

Very excited.
marthame is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,199
Looks like (weather.com) it would be hot (90F) and rainy in Kyushu in the summer. Much cooler (72F) but still rainy in Sapporo.

Would you be using an airpass to get to Hokkaido?

On Shikoku, I recommend visiting Matsuyama to visit the castle. Maybe more important is to visit Dogo Onsen:

On Hokkaido, (among many other places) you could visit Noboribetsu Onsen. Go to the bath at the Daiichi Hotel, but you could stay at a youth hostel.

You can search for budget lodging here: http://www.itcj.jp/

Lots of info on Japan here: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 01:28 PM
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i second bill's suggestion on the noboribetsu onsen. great place, especially the rotenburo. avoid the pachinko palor in town, the machine gobbled up my 1000yen in less than two minutes.;-)

if you a chance, stop in hakodate on your way to sapporo for a few days, and stay at the nice day inn(minshiku). i spent a few days there, and mr. and mrs. saito(owners) were such great people. go to the asaichi(morning market). soooo much crab, and other great seafood.
kuranosuke is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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Thank you very much for your help. I will definitely go to Matsuyama.

I will not be flying to Hokkaido. I didn't realise how long a long train ride it was. Perhaps I can make stops along the way. For example, I can go from Takamatsu to Nikko instead of going to Nikko right after Tokyo. Then from Nikko to Matsushima and then to Hakodate. Any thoughts?

Once again, thank you for your help.
marthame is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 05:01 PM
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well, since you are going by rail, yes, by all means, go to sendai, and visit matsushima, a beautiful place. then up to hakodate. sounds like a great trip. i did this a few years ago using the japan railpass. well worth it.

if you are traveling in late july early august, think about going to the nebuta festival in aomori. summer in hokkaido is great.
kuranosuke is offline  
Jun 20th, 2005, 10:39 PM
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I'd suggest skipping Shikoku and instead going to Tohoku, a place not many travelers venture to. I'd suggest Akita and Aomori prefectures - lots of nature, onsen, and traditional culture. It would just make more sense with your itinerary, since you are on the way to Hokkaido. Northern Japan, and especially Hokkaido, will have the best weather this time of year. Also, as mentioned, some great summer festivals will be happening. If you're interested in castles, you'll find great ones in Tohoku too. For the "truly unique Japanese experience" that you said you wanted, go off the tourist trail and venture to the small traditional onsen villages in Tohoku. Some are really magical. I can tell you more details if you're interested.

I'd skip Kobe and spend most of the time in Tokyo-Kyoto-Nara-Tohoku-Hokkaido. There are lots of nice day trips from Tokyo and Kyoto too.
Mealea is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 05:04 AM
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Sendai has a has a big league baseball team now, so you may be able tatch a game, if you are interested.

I agree with Mealea that Tohoku would be a good place to visit. There is a nice, inexpensive JR hotel at the Kakunodate station on the Akita shinkansen line. There are some nice samurai houses in the town. I visited Nyuto Onsen (one stop east of Kakunodate and then a bus ride) which was wonderful.

Tohoku is definitely off the well beaten (western tourist) path, maybe more so than Shikoku, but it would be hard for me to recommend skipping Shikoku entirely.

Forgot to mention that there is a hydrofoil between Matsuyama and Hiroshima. It is a nice trip but not cheap & not JR.

I mentioned an air pass because it can save you a lot of time without costing a lot more money. You can get two flights for about US $220.

Here are a couple of itineraries involving two flights:
1) visit Tokyo, fly to Matsuyama, visit Shikoku, train to Kyoto, visit Kyoto, fly Osaka to Sapporo, visit Hokkaido, train back to Tokyo with stops in Tohoku.
2) Tokyo, train to Kyoto, Shikoku, fly Matsuyama to Sendai, Tohoku, Hokkaido, fly Sapporo back to Tokyo.

There are flights between Sapporo and Tokyo Narita airport to connect to international flights. There is air service to some of the remote places in Hokkaido like Nemuro and Wakkanai.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 06:24 AM
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Ok, thank you very much for your advice. I've taken note of everything and will do some research on Tohoku and airline tickets.

Mealea, you said you had some suggestions about magical traditional onsen villages? I would love to hear them...

Thanks again everyone!!
marthame is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2005, 05:53 AM
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Marthame, well I'm happy that mrwunrfl knows one of the best secrets! Nyuto Onsen in Akita prefecture. It's a wonderful and magical place. It's an area full of small rustic onsen villages and will give you a true off-the-beaten-path experience.

If you want to experience some of the best that Japan has to offer, forget the big tour books. Boring, in my opinion. For Tokyo, you only need one - the Luxe City Guide Tokyo. For everything else, get the wonderful Classic Japanese Inns and Country Getaways by Margaret Price. It's organized by destination and focuses on hidden gems. I've tried many of them and trust her opinions. Also, for Kyoto, get any book by Diane Durston for special walks through the city, focusing on the traditional.

My recommended Tohoku journey after Tokyo:
1. Aizu-Wakamatsu Castle
2. Shirabu Onsen, Yamagata Prefecture (Nishi-ya Ryokan) if you have extra time.
3. Kuro-yu Onsen, Nyuto Onsen village, Akita Prefecture
4. Tsuru-no-yu Onsen, Nyuto Onsen
5. Kakunodate for an afternoon visit to see the old samurai houses. Near Nyuto Onsen.
6. Aoni Onsen, Aomori Prefecture.
7. Hirosaki and Hirosaki Castle.

Then to Hokkaido.

If you go to Nyuto Onsen, you can drop in at many small onsen and take a bath or look around. Stay at either #3 or #4 or even both. They are near each other. If you get the book I mentioned, it will explain everything about all of these places.

Happy to answer other questions. Just ask.
Mealea is offline  
Jun 24th, 2005, 09:04 AM
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Thank you Mealea.

Unfortunately, I have had to cut my trip to Japan from 3 to 2 weeks. I will therefore have less time to spend in Tohoku and will pick the most feasible journey within the suggestions you have made. Thank you everyone!
marthame is offline  

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