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Itinerary check

Old Mar 5th, 2020, 07:58 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2020
Posts: 5
Itinerary check

Hi,

Im' planning a Japan trip at the moment for July/August. I know it'll be hot and humid, but as a University lecturer it's the only long break I can take. I'll be at Lake Kawaguchiko for 5 weeks to learn Japanese Woodblock Printing on an artist residency programme, but before that my partner is joining me for a two week trip. I've put together an itinerary and would love some feedback/input/tips/suggestions. I have been to Japan previously, but my partner has not. We love art/culture/music/nature.

I'm quite happy with the itinerary generally, but can't make my mind up whether to do 1 night in Koyasan and add an extra night in Kyoto to allow for a day trip to Nara or stick with the two nights in the Kiso Valley. It is also still absolutely open for changes!

Day 1-4 (3 nights): Arrival from UK to Fukuoka (we are visiting friends and stay with them for 3 nights), possible day trip to Dazaifu or elsewhere in Kyushu
Day 4 (1 night): Activate 7day JR Pass: early morning train to Hiroshima: Peace Museum - travel to Miyajima late afternoon for overnight stay
Day 5-7 (2 nights): mid morning travel to Naoshima Island
Day 7-10 (3 nights): Kyoto (night time trip to Osaka)
Day 10-12 (2 nights): Kiso Valley: Magome/Tsumago walk -- JR Pass finishes whilst in Kiso Valley, pay for train to Tokyo
Day 12-15 (3 nights): Tokyo -- departure to UK from Tokyo (I stay for another 5 weeks)

or

Day 1-4 (3 nights): Arrival from UK to Fukuoka (we are visiting friends and stay with them for 3 nights), possible day trip to Dazaifu
Day 4 (1 night): early morning train to Hiroshima: Peace Museum - travel to Miyajima late afternoon for overnight stay -- Activate 7day JR Pass
Day 5-7 (2 nights): Naoshima Island
Day 7-8 (1 night) Koyasan
Day 8-12 (4 nights): Kyoto (day trip to Nara and night time trip to Osaka) -- JR Pass finishes whilst in Kyoto, pay for train to Tokyo
Day 12-15 (3 nights): Tokyo -- departure to UK from Tokyo (I stay for another 5 weeks)

Burlo77 is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 12:56 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,991
You don't need a 7-day JR Pass for the second itinerary. A regional pass might do good. I doubt you need 7-day pass for the first itinerary, but am not sure

I haven't been to Koyasan or Kiso Valley but that is not going to stop me. Your choice is a matter of personal interest, of course. I will do two things that I don't usually do. First, say something good about Koyasan: it is fairly unique. There are old style towns and hiking in more places in Japan than Kiso Valley towns on the Nakasendo. Second, I will suggest you consider more time in Kyoto given your art/culture/music interests.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 01:14 PM
  #3  
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Thanks mrwunrfl! Yeah we're only gonna get a 7-day JR pass to cover travel from Fukuoka to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Naoshima, Kyoto, with day trip to Nara (poss) and evening trip to Osaka and on to Kiso Valley if that's where we'll end up going. I'll calculate it using Hyperdia, but I think having had a quick look it does work out cheaper. Then we'll just be buying a single journey from Kyoto or Kiso Valley to Tokyo as needed.

I did think about more time in Kyoto, but have been before and to be honest even though I liked it a lot, I also found it a bit overrun, and really enjoyed the time I spent on my previous trip in smaller towns like Takayama and also at Mt Aso and Kurokawa Onsen.

Koyasan, seems to be one of those places that divides opinion. I've heard from people who have said it's a must and others who said it was all a bit underwhelming and they wouldn't bother making the trek. I can't decide which camp I'd fall into. Maybe I should let my partner make that decision.


Burlo77 is offline  
Old Mar 5th, 2020, 05:17 PM
  #4  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 22,984
For me, a night on Koyasan was a highlight of a highlight filled trip. That said, not everyone feels that way, and it does seem that the temple makes a great difference. I stayed at Shojoshin-in, which still gets very good reviews, and I've also seen very positive comments about Eko-in. And for me, it wasn't just the temple experience or the exquisite cuisine or the incredibly evocative cemetery (Okuno-in), but some unusual and beautiful temples and the awesome scenery en route to the temples. As mrwunrfl says, it's unique.

Again, for me, I thought Nara very special -- I was glad to have 2 full days (about 48 hours) there. And for me, some of the highlights were outside of Nara in Ikaruga -- Hōryū-ji and Chūgū-ji. BUT I had 6 days for Kyoto + Nara, much more than you are considering, and I was there before some of the temples in and around Kyoto have been so inundated with crowds.

Hope that helps!
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Old Mar 5th, 2020, 09:00 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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I hear ya about the "overrun".
You can't really go wrong with either choice. They would both be enjoyable.
That is unless you stay at a place that doesn't have air conditioning.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2020, 12:53 AM
  #6  
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kja, thanks for your response. It's super helpful to know which temples are good to stay in in Koyasan and I'll check out those places outside of Nara too!

mrwunrfl, definitely air conditioning! We'll be staying with a friend for three nights who lives in an old traditional Japanese house with air con in one room only. I've stayed there before in July and it's quite a challenge to do anything unless there is a fan pointing right at you. Even six years ago I found some of the Kyoto sites super busy. I remember the Golden Temple and also Matsumoto Castle being the two places on my trip, where I felt a bit like cattle being herded through. Everywhere else was okay. I believe it has become much worse though in recent years.

I'll have another look at my itinerary!
Burlo77 is offline  
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