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laurenggg Sep 21st, 2009 08:33 AM

8 day in Japan Itinerary help! Is the active volcano worth it?
Hi, I am visiting mainland Japan for the 1st time with my fiancé this November and I wanted to run my itinerary by someone who is somewhat familiar with Japan. We will be coming from Okinawa, so only a 2 hr flight.

Mon Nov 2- Arrive at Kumamoto at 10:15AM
Day-Mt. Aso National Park (to see active volcano)

Tues Nov 3-
D-Sumo practice

Wed Nov 4
D-Early train to Hiroshima, peace park, then ferry to Miyajima
N-Miyajima (Stay at Ryokan Momiji-so or Watanabe)

Nov 5 -
D-Miyajima (Itsukushima shrine at sunrise)

Wed Nov 6-

Thur Nov 7-

Fri Nov 8-

Sat Nov 9-

Sun Nov 10-
N-Tokyo- fly out last flight

What do you think about Himeji castle or Nara (to see the big buddah) as day trips from Kyoto? Am I trying to cram too much in? I wanted to see Kobe and Osaka too but I've run out of room! Appreciate the help!

lcuy Sep 21st, 2009 09:56 AM

I really like Himeji Castle, so if it were me, I might try to squeese it in on the way to Kyoto. I do remember hearing about a major renovation though, so I'd check to see if it will be covered in scaffolding or even closed, before I jumped off the train!

Other than than, i think you have a very nice trip planned.

hawaiiantraveler Sep 21st, 2009 12:20 PM

I agree with lcuy as your itinerary looks well thought out and like a nice trip. Mt. Aso is an active volcano but not erupting(luckily). I personally wouldn't go out of my way to see one unless it was erupting in which case it may be too volatile a situation to visit ;). If it were me, I would spend the day in Kumamoto visiting the great castle on the hill and trying to see some of the fall colors in the area before heading on to Fukuoka.

I am not a fan of Nara but others here on Fodor's love the place. I just can't get past the aggressive deer and the crowds of people that visit, sorry. Save Kobe and Osaka for another visit as you have enough on your place for a such a short visit. Himeji is on your route and a stop over on the way is a good idea. They will cover the whole castle structure while it is under repair with another building so the castle views will be obscured for years. See here for updates on Himeji:


kja Sep 21st, 2009 12:55 PM

Hi, laurenggg -

I'm a fan of Nara, but not the deer. What I enjoyed most were several of the temples and shrines and especially the statues in the treasure hall of Kofukuji - amazing! - and the national museum. With 5 days in Kyoto, it might be worth taking a day trip to Nara to see whatever it is that you most want to see there, but you'll probably find more than enough to keep you busy in Kyoto for the entire time.

I agree that stopping at Himeji is worthwhile if it is not under repair.


Fabio Sep 21st, 2009 03:04 PM

are you travelling togehter with hanker82 ??

I like your itinerary but I am afraid the big buddha is not in Nara but in Kamakura, near Tokyo.

I liked Kyoto and Nara very much: I also added the small village of Takayama, not too far from that area.
I loved Nagasaki beautiful setting and absolutey wanted to see Hiroshima memorial. I went to the summit of Volcano Aso from Kagoshima, where all streets are covered by dark ash. The top of the volcano has just some smoke coming from the crater but no lava at all. I also went to Sado Island, but I had 3 weeks while you have 10 days... !! so you have to make a good selection !! I love Japan !!

kja Sep 21st, 2009 03:19 PM

I believe the largest Buddha in Japan is in Nara - it is in the world's largest wooden structure, part of Todaiji. The second largest Buddha in Japan is at Kotokuin, just outside Kamakura.

Fabio Sep 21st, 2009 03:28 PM

thanks kja for this info. I have visited the one in Kamakura and not that one in Nara !! Bookmarked for the next trip !

laurenggg Sep 21st, 2009 07:57 PM

Thanks for the great info, especially about the reconstruction of Himeji. Has anyone ever been to any of the volcanos? I know there are several active ones, but are they pretty much a mountain unless actively erupting? Any favorites? I guess I am picturing a smoking mountain with some bubbling like the pictures online. I could fly into Osaka or Fukuoka just as easily if Mt. Aso is not the one to see, if any. Thank you!

Anthony7 Sep 22nd, 2009 07:01 AM

I obtained this info from JNTO website...

Renovation of Himeji Castle Main Keep <2009-2014>
This is a full-scale renovation work focused on replastering damaged plaster walls and replacing the roofing tiles on the main keep or dai-tenshu. The renovation period will be a full five years after the start of the scaffolding installation planned in 2009. The exterior view of the castle can be enjoyed until March 2010. The roofed scaffold structure and other scaffolding will be removed in 2014.
During this renovation period, visitors can get a close look at the repair process from inside the roofed scaffold structure or suyane that covers the main keep. In addition, the visitors' elevator helps elderly people and wheelchair users enjoy the scenery as if they were in the main keep.

Mirachan Sep 23rd, 2009 09:03 PM

I haven't visited any Japanese volcanos, but I have visited some other ones, so I'll tell you my impressions.

The first volcano I visited was Mt. Vesuvius in Italy. (It's the one that erupted and destroyed Pompeii.) As part of a day trip to see Pompeii, it was definitely interesting. But I wouldn't have taken a day or two out of a trip just to see it. Mt. Vesuvius was active but not erupting. We climbed to the top, where there was steam coming out of the crater, and ash was falling everywhere like little bits of snow. Definitely cool. But there are other cool things in Japan. (Other active volcanos may be different. Some have sulfurous liquids in their crater, etc)

The second volcano I visited was Volcano Arenal in Costa Rica. Volcano Arenal is extremely active, and it actually erupted while we were there. We were supposed to take a walk on the hardened, old lava flow, but since the volcano was erupting that area was covered in toxic fumes and we took a hike through some virgin rain forest instead. Still, at night we watched the top of the volcano burning red hot (it can be seen from a long, long way away). We could hear it hiss and hear/see huge boulders the size of our tour bus crashing down the sides of the mountain.

That was cool.

mrwunrfl Sep 23rd, 2009 11:47 PM

Hold on. You are in Fukuoka in November and going to sumo <i>practice</i>. The Kyushu Bassho grand sumo tournament is held in Fukuoka - oh but it doesn't start until the 15th. November 2 is when the sumo ranking is announced for the tournament. There might be some sumo special event that day at the Kokusai Senta.

You can get a bus from Kumamoto airport to Aso. There at the station (bus/JR) you can check on the status of visits up to Aso-san. If it is very active or if it is in clouds then you won't be permitted to go up. There is a sign in the bus station showing the status.

If you can't go up Aso-san then you can take JR to Kumamoto and visit the excellent castle and a garden. (Kumamoto airport is between Kumamoto and Aso). Actually, maybe you could get Mt Aso info at Kumamoto airport before you even head to Aso. Or go to Beppu. Or just go to Fukuoka. *of those three choices I rec Kumamoto*

mrwunrfl Sep 23rd, 2009 11:49 PM

Or stay in the Aso area for the night. There are lots of hot springs ryokan.

Check this out:

mrwunrfl Sep 23rd, 2009 11:51 PM

One more thing: you asked if it was worth it to go up the volcano. Am pretty sure it is but I don't know since it was not open on the day I tried!

kamorgans Sep 24th, 2009 05:08 AM

@kja: I read it as 5 days in Kyoto at first too... it's actually Kyoto and Tokyo.

To me, Himeji and Nara are worth it. Himeji more so than Nara, and the renovations will not spoil your trip at all. See it now before the scaffolding goes up on the outside. It's completely possible to stop at Himeji between Miyajima and Kyoto.

What do you really want to see in Tokyo? It doesn't have very many sights and it's not a really "Japanese" city. It's just like any other huge city. A trip to Osaka will give you a sense of what big cities in Japan are like. You could definitely add Kobe, Osaka, and Nara if you're willing to drop Tokyo. Or save it for another trip :-)

I have not been to Aso but I know it closes randomly (depends on how the volcano is acting that day) so keep that in mind.

Have you confirmed the sumo practice thing? It's a little too early for the tournament, plus I read that some stables are not allowing visitors anymore because of the swine flu outbreak.

mrwunrfl Sep 24th, 2009 11:34 PM

I don't recommend Kobe or Osaka for a first trip.

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