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First Trip to Japan - help with planning please

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My wife and I hope to be traveling to Japan in September of 2018 for 21 days. We've received great help from the forum on trips to Europe and Africa and are hoping for more of the same! Dates are flexible as they will be dependent on using air miles. We have the ability to fly R/T into NRT or fly in to Hiroshima and out of NRT. We are seniors (late 60's) but still active. Our interests are gardens, food, culture, history, art/architecture and, of course, beautiful scenery.).. We have no specific goals other than to experience other cultures and foods

Would you suggest R/T to one airport or start and end in 2 places? How would we best amend this planned trip to make it better? What's the best way to split our time? What other areas should we prioritize or ignore? Will we be intimidated by the transport? Any suggestions will help.

Our next door neighbor is from Japan and helped us plan the below itinerary 4 years ago (with hotels) after we did loads of research at the Japan planning site and already had flights but then we cancelled. WE CAN ADD DAYS and change arrival and departure airports The below itinerary might have been a bit aggressive as my Wife really prefers to not have any one nighters (nor even 2 nighters). Please critique and improve this plan. Thank you.

19 day and 18 night Japan Plan
Day 0 Arrival day in afternoon TOKYO
day 1 "TOKYO - Hato Bus Tours 1/2 day? Rikugien Garden and/or Asakusa, the Meiji Shrine and/or Hama Rikyu garden "
day 2 TOKYO - day trip to Nikko
day 3 TOKYO - Do the classis "round course". Hakone Tozan Railway: y train, cablecar, ropeway, boat and bus. Purchase the free pass. Maybe add an extra night and stay in a Ryokan so Hakone Round course is less rushed?
day 4 Bullet train to NAGOYA. Check bags in locker. Then take train to Ise + also see Hikone Castle and Genkyuen Garden in Hikone
day 5 Leave Nagoya early towards MATSUMOTO. Get off at Magome and hike to Tsumago, about 3 hours or so. Then on towardsMatsumoto
day 6 MATSUMOTO - Matsumoto castle
day 8 "Go to KANAZAWA - Use bus and stop at Shirakawa-go
day 9 KANAZAWA - See Kenrokuen garden in the morning
day 10 Leave for KYOTO - Daitokuji Temple & Zen Gardens
day 11 KYOTO - Katsura Imperial Villa & Garden and/or Nijo-jo
day 12 "KYOTO - day trip to Mt. Koya? Or not and/or Daigoji Temple & landscape garden"
day 13 Leave early for HIROSHIMA via Kyoto on bullet train. Stay in Miyajama (Shukkeien Garden)
day 14 KYOTO - Miho Museum in a.m. then Kokedera (Moss Temple) in afternoon
day 15 KYOTO - day trip to Nara (Isuien Garden and/or Yoshikien Garden)
day 16 KYOTO - Ryoanji Temple & Rock garden or Heian Jingu Garden
day 17 KYOTO - Day trip: Osaka Castle / Temmangu Shrine (Nakanoshima) - Minoo Park
day 18 "Leave for Osaka airport in the morning. (be there by noon…) for 2:30pm flight home"

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