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5-week trip in May/June: advice needed on tentative plans


Feb 1st, 2011, 02:16 PM
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5-week trip in May/June: advice needed on tentative plans

My husband and I have plane tickets for a 5-week trip to Japan, leaving New York May 11 and returning to San Francisco June 16. We also have hotel reservations for the first week , at the Hotel Niwa Tokyo in Chiyoda-ku. Now comes the hard part--deciding on what to do the rest of the trip!

That's where I need your help. We want to enjoy the local culture, arts and crafts, and historical sights, walk and hike, eat good food, kayak?, the list goes on.

We first visited Japan in April 2005. Had a fabulous time visiting Kyoto, Nara, Uji, Hiroshima, Miyajima, the Kiso Valley, and former stations along the Nakasendo Highway (the latter done as part of a 12-day Walk Japan tour). Didn't get to Tokyo, so that's why we're devoting a week to our visit there this time.

As much as we loved the places we visited on the last trip, we're going to skip them this time so we can concentrate on other parts. I understand May and June are often be rainy, warm, and humid, so we want to go north after first exploring a little more of central Honshu.

So, here's an outline of our tentative plan for the 28 days post-Tokyo, starting May 19:

Nikko -- 1 night
Hakone -- 2 nights
Takayama/Shirakawago -- 3 nights
Kanazawa -- 2 nights
Tsuruoka -- 1 night
Atsumi Onsen --1-2 nights (read Fodor's write-up of Tachibana-ya and can't resist!)
Akita or Morioka -- 2 nights
Hokkaido (haven't figured this out yet, advice welcome) -- 10-12 nights
Sendai -- 2-3 nights (daytrips to Yamagata, Matsu-shima)
Tokyo area -- whatever's left

Does it make sense? Should we spend more (or less) time in particular places? In a different order? Less time in Hokkaido? Are there other places we should be sure to include? Specific lodging recommendations? When we travel for extended periods to Europe, we usually base in a particular location for a week or two at a time, but that seems less common in Japan travel. But I really don't want to be moving every day or every other day for 4 weeks. How best to avoid that--are there locations where it really would make sense to reserve a place (ryokan, hotel, whatever) for several days and do day trips in and around the area? Our budget is moderate, though we know a place such as Tachibana-ya will be a big splurge.

We fly in and out of Narita. We'll rely on trains and buses for most of the trip, though we are considering renting a car for at least part of the time in Hokkaido. I'm using Rosetta Stone to learn at least a little Japanese before we go.

Advice will be much appreciated.
aprillilacs is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2011, 03:23 PM
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Sounds like a great trip!

Of the places you list, I've only been to Nikko, Takayama, Kanazawa, and Tokyo. I think your allocation of time for these places makes sense. I visited these places in mid to late May. It was rainy and/or humid on occasion, but the flowers and flowering shrubs were glorious to behold!

As for moving about, are you familiar with the luggage delivery services in Japan? I found that it made moving around much easier.


Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
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Feb 2nd, 2011, 03:59 PM
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If I were doing this trip I would fly from Tokyo to Sapporo and work my way down via the train. 10 to 12 days in Hokkaido is about right. You can rent a car and drive to Furano and Daizetusan which would be beautiful and in bloom at that time. We did a trip to Hokkaido in the fall which you can read about here if your interested:
Form Sapporo you can catch the train down to Hakodate for a night then on down to Sendai. I would prefer a night or two in Kakunodate or Tazawako at here http://japaneseguesthouses.com/db/ak...unoyuonsen.htm
than in Akita(which is a big city).
You can work your way back to Tokyo via Nikko then on to Takayama and so forth. Rain might be a factor at that time of year on Honshu though which makes Hokkaido and Northern Tohoku look even better.

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
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Feb 5th, 2011, 09:41 AM
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Thanks for your replies--very helpful! HT--I hadn't run across your trip report in my research so I'm glad to have it. Really informative, especially with all the details and the helpful links. We hadn't considered flying to or from Hokkaido, but now we are investigating a one-way flight and taking the train/bus the other way.

We're thinking it would be best to do the overland route on the way up, allowing us to arrive in Hokkaido a littler later, and fly back. That would also allow us to get just a 2-week rail pass rather than a longer pass. What do you think?

We used Japanese Guest Houses on our previous trip and found their services extremely reliable and useful.
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