Itinerary for Second Visit to Japan

Nov 17th, 2014, 06:54 AM
  #1  
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Itinerary for Second Visit to Japan

We want to return to Japan - our first visit being 11 years ago with kids. Now just two adults. Do not want to re-visit the same places other than Tokyo and Kyoto. Have already been to Nara, Takayama, and Hakone/Fuji/circuit.

Will fly open jaw to Osaka, home from NRT or vice versa. Can you suggest a 12 day itinerary with 3 days Tokyo, 3 or 4 nights Kyoto plus some or all of these or others? I think this is too much so we need to make a realistic plan. Which are the best among these choices for a May or Sept/Oct trip: Will be using trains:
Himeji Castle
Kurashiki
Kanazawa
Miyajima
Hiroshima
Tsumago
Ogimachi
Shiragawa-go
Gifu
LeslieC is offline  
Nov 17th, 2014, 09:01 AM
  #2  
 
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To me I see two different areas: Himeji, Kurashiki, Hiroshima, Miyajima in one and Kanazawa, Tsumago, Ogimachi, Shiragawago and Gifu in the other. I don't think you can do all in six nights and really see much of anything of course so you sort of need to narrow it down.....imo, at least.

I did each of those two areas in two separate trips - going open jaw will help but all would be too much....can you pick one or else eliminate.....
Mara is offline  
Nov 17th, 2014, 09:13 AM
  #3  
 
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Forgot to mention - re: time of trip....part of May is Golden Week which can be crowded:
http://www.japan-guide.com/event/ Pick the month in the calendar and see the days for the holiday.

October can have typhoons....
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2117.html
Mara is offline  
Nov 17th, 2014, 05:20 PM
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Just came back from a 4 week trip and agree with Mars. Can't do both in your time frame. Pick one.
ceezee is offline  
Nov 17th, 2014, 05:43 PM
  #5  
kja
 
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Mara has (of course) given you excellent advice.

With the time you have, I would think the Himeji (a few hours to 1/2 day) / Kurashiki (1 or 1.5 days) / Hiroshima / Miyajima (2 days + for the pair) option makes most sense.

IMO, Kanazawa deserves at least 2.5 days; I haven't seen the other places in this cluster except for Gifu, which I visited specifically for cormorant fishing after a day in Inuyama. I'm not sure that I would make it a priority unless you have a very specific interest in it.

Enjoy!
kja is offline  
Nov 17th, 2014, 10:06 PM
  #6  
 
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Ogimachi and Shirakawa-go are the same place, aren't they? That is, Ogimachi (old/home town/village) is contained in the -go of Shirakwawa-go. Something like that. The place you want to visit is Ogimachi, Shirakwa-go, Gifu-ken.

Anyway, you are interested in 8 destinations in 12 days (counting Ogimachi, Shirakwago, as one destination). That sounds like a lot but it is all central and western Japan. There are many ways that an itin can be constructed based on your destinations of interest.

Some of those stops can be part-day visits. Like kja, I visited Gifu on the same day that I visited Inuyama.

Ok, I just realized that I misunderstood (and am not willing to edit the above). My new understanding is that you already are using 6 of the 12 days for Tokyo/Kyoto and that the other stops would be for the remaining 6 days. That won't all fit.

So, you have 8 places-of-interest and 6-days to spend. I have visited all of those places. While I only spent a few hours in Himeji to visit the castle, I recall one fodorite who enjoyed spending the night there and seeing more.

What is your traveling style? Do you enjoy moving around or basing in one place? Do you want to spend more time to "get a feel of the place" or are you happy in sampling the high-points?

You have listed several interesting place, but why are you interested in those? I could tell you what I would throw out, but that would be based on my interests (Gifu was for the castle and cherry blossoms for me, cormorants for kja). I want to get a sense of whether you are just picking places on a map or have specific interests in each place.

And then you have to weigh your interest in each place. Are Tokyo and Kyoto must-visits for this trip or can you toss one or both out? Why Tsumago, or Gifu, or ...?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2014, 11:51 AM
  #7  
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Thank you all. We are not limited to 12 days. I was just thinking of Japan being an expensive destination and we work. We make one big trip international trip per year of 2 - 3 weeks. We might make it 14-15 days to Japan. I MUST return to Kyoto because we hunger to see what we missed on the first trip. I might be able to skip Tokyo if logistically impossible or just a couple nights there for a "re-taste" - given our ages and other travel goals, this will be our last trip to Japan.

We love cultural experiences. Have always found those aspects of travel to supersede merely "looking at" temples and other sights, albeit beautiful. Whatever country we visit, we always want the variety of small towns and countryside to balance out big cities.
LeslieC is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2014, 02:04 PM
  #8  
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I should add this in answer mrwunrfl's specific questions: We don't like retracing our steps and so do not tend to base ourselves in just one or two locations. On the other hand we like to have at least two or more nights in any one location to minimize the packing/unpacking, check-in/checkout process. Gifu was for the cormorant fishing. From our first trip we came to realize there are plenty of unattractive places in Japan, so I like the small old style villages where one get's a flavor of the aesthetic Japan free of power lines and train tracks. Yet, we like to get a true sense of a country and have variety, so modern Japan (ala Tokyo) adds that. I have never heard of Inuyama.

I'm thinking of skipping Hiroshima and Miyajima just because they are such a far reach and I don't want to forfeit the other locales. I've also got to see at least one castle to remind me of "Shogun" the mini-series I loved so much. Himeji's is what came to mind and Kurashiki is described as a great place for strolling. I admit I don't know much about Kanazawa except that it seems to be included in many tour itineraries (we don't need a tour by I do look at them to get ideas)- that's how I discovered Tsumago.
LeslieC is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2014, 02:51 PM
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I think you could explore the Chubu area:
http://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1104.html

I haven't been to Gifu but I have done the Nakasendo walk between Magome and Tsumago as well as visiting Gujo Hachiman, Takayama, Shirakawa-go and Kanazawa plus you can go to Matsumoto for the lovely castle there...I did the Takayama Kurobe Alpen Route also.

From what I have seen of that area it seems more in line with what you are looking for.

If you don't want to do Hiroshima and Miyajima, Himeji and Kurashiki aren't that far but I think Kurashiki is over-rated. I just had a discussion about that with a friend yesterday - she actually left earlier than planned. I stayed there three nights but was using it as a base for day trips.
Mara is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2014, 03:30 PM
  #10  
kja
 
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"I have never heard of Inuyama."
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3350.html

You can visit Himeji-jo from Kyoto.

"Kurashiki is described as a great place for strolling"
I enjoyed Kurashiki, but even my fairly extensive exploration took less than a day. It might make sense to try to see it on the way to Hiroshima and Miyajima.

"I admit I don't know much about Kanazawa"
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2167.html
kja is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2014, 04:09 PM
  #11  
 
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I agree, kja, Kurashiki itself can be covered in less than a day.

Also I re-read the original post and see that she already has been to Takayama. Also I miswrote the name of the Alpen Route - it should be Tateyama Kurobe....sorry for the confusion....
Mara is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 10:29 PM
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Thanks for the reply, LeslieC. Do either of you have physical limitations, like walking uphill or stairs or a distance?

What kind of cultural experiences have you enjoyed (in Japan in particular but elsewhere)?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 24th, 2014, 11:18 PM
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>>this will be our last trip to Japan.<<

We have had posters here who were planning their first trip to Japan or a return trip. Some were planning their one-time-only trip to Japan, but I/we figure they will be bacck. But here you are, I think the first, planning their last trip. So, I've given you more questions (above) than answers.
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Nov 25th, 2014, 04:37 PM
  #14  
kja
 
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"Some were planning their one-time-only trip to Japan, but I/we figure they will be back." - interesting. No matter how much I would welcome return visits to ANY of the locations I have been sufficiently fortunate to visit, I never ASSUME that I will return -- the world is so full of places I want to see that I once figured that, if I can continue taking a 3- or 4-week trip once a year, I won't make it through my A-lst until I'm 105. So, in the classic existential sense, I plan EACH trip I take on the painful assumption that I will not return. (And that does make it painful! -- but also exciting.) To each his/her own!
kja is offline  
Dec 11th, 2014, 07:37 AM
  #15  
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Thanks to all - We are 62 and 68 and still working. As to physical limitations, nothing significant though we won't be climbing Mt. Fuji. Kja expressed my thoughts exactly, except for the one additional limiter which is financial. Money IS an object so I for one believe people who say this will be their only trip somewhere. I have a bucket list of travel destinations a mile long and not enough time or budget to do it all.

Cultural experiences, hmmmm, well many times these are just unplanned people experiences like all the school kids in Kyoto who approached us with our two teen kids and wanted to practice their English and take photos. Also, the very kind young man on a bicycle who helped us find the bus stop and then personally toured us through the Nishiki market and translated for us at the box office to buy tickets for the Sakura/Geisha performance at the Gion theatre (I'm not normally so trusting but something about him and Japan felt very sincere, not trying to sell me anything nor pick my pocket). Even staying in a Ryokan, sleeping, eating and bathing Japanese Style, riding the Shinkansen, or taking one night to buy our dinners from all those wonderful department store food stalls, or seeing wedding processions at the Meiji shrine. Admittedly those are hard to plan in advance. We are not big 'tour people' but our "once-in-a-lifetime" trips to Israel and Tanzania with Overseas Adventure Travel provided some great pre-arranged cultural experiences like home-hosted meals, meetings with journalists, dancing with the Masaai, and school visits. We're off to Southeast Asia with them in January. But for Japan, like Europe, I don't want to be on a tour surrounded by Americans because that sets you back from the locals and we found Japan to be so safe, an easy country to navigate and no real language barrier - in fact trying to speak a little Japanese was part of the cultural fun. In a small café in Takayama the shop owner got out his English dictionary and I used my Japanese dictionary and we understood each other perfectly! My husband found no language barrier watching Japanese baseball on TV. He is now a Nagoya Dragons fan - I'll have to take him to a baseball game on our next trip.

All of your comments have been very helpful.

We've decided to eliminate Miyajima and Hiroshima and keep Kanazawa, Kyoto, and Tokyo and see Matsumoto, Gifu, Tsumago, Shiragwa, which is less of a stretch and probably take 14 days total since the dollar to yen rate is pretty good right now.
LeslieC is offline  
Dec 11th, 2014, 07:49 AM
  #16  
kja
 
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I'm sure you'll have a wonderful time - enjoy!
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