Itinerary help: onsen choices etc

Oct 9th, 2005, 04:46 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 511
Itinerary help: onsen choices etc

I have gotten so much information from this forum -- Thank you all very much for the wonderful advice which has allowed me to start planning this far.

I will be going to Japan for 16 days: 8-23 April.

Fixed dates: 13-15 April Takayama
21 April: Kyoto flea market
Cherry Blossums: hopefully in Kanazawa and Takayama.

- I would appreciate advice regarding the circuit I have in mind: is it the most efficient time-wise, etc and do you have any suggestions for adding near-by sites?

8 April: Paris to Tokyo flight
day 1 Tokyo (Sunday flea market)
day 2 Tokyo
day 3 Tokyo
day 4 Tokyo to Kanazawa (JR pass)
day 5 Kanazawa via Omigichi to Takayama (bus)
day 6 Takayama (festival)
day 6 Takayama (festival)
day 8 Takayama to Gero? Gifu? Onsen
day 9 train to Kyoto (or direct to Himeji)
day10 Kyoto
day11 Kyoto
day12 Kyoto
day13 Kyoto
day14 Kyoto flea market in am then train to Tokyo or Hakone?
day15 Tokyo
day16 leave Tokyo

Any help with the following would be greatly appreciated:
1. Should I try to leave from Osaka instead of Tokyo (200$ fee)?
2. Should I go to MATSUMOTO (ie modify my time in Kanazawa)?
3. Since I am getting a JR pass (still don't know if I can trim the trip to get by with a 7-day on) should I go to Beppu or Hiroshima before Kyoto?

Thanks!
moxie is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 05:24 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 21
I'm not sure how helpful this response will be, but here are some thoughts...I'd definitely try to get Hiroshima in, especially if you're at all interested in history. I lived just east of Tokyo for 9 months and took some random trips, and missed other tourist hotspots. I do know that the trains are fairly expensive, especially compared with Thailand or Korea, so I'd suggest the full JR pass (depending on how much you plan on travelling...but shinkansen tickets are about $100US one-way). I'd also suggest Shinjuku Garden to check out the cherry blossoms. Ueno is a hotspot, but Shinjuku is more park-like/garden-like. Have fun!
girl_on_the_move is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 05:53 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
If you want to see cherry blossoms in Kanazawa, I'd go there first. They are consistently in bloom for the first day of school, first week in April. In Takayama, you are likely too early for them.

You might consider an open jaw actually into Kansai (KIX) and out of Tokyo (NRT). Nagoya (NGO) is another option to consider for your flights. It really shouldn't cost you $200.00 for the open jaw. Shop around, because most of the time it doesn't cost any more at all, though some fares do have a no open jaw restriction, most do not.

I would try to include Hiroshima, and from there, Miyajima. Also, Shirakawa-go, south of Takayama, or Gokayama, nearer to Kanazawa, are World Heritage villages that are favorites of mine.

Matsumoto...a city with proximity to the Tsumago and Magome in the Nakasendo area. Lovely area that we haven't made it to yet, but highly recommended. I would try to stay in a small minshuku in Tsumago or Magome area, but that's an entirely personal choice. Matsumoto has plenty of standard hotels.

Onsen - what kind of place are you looking for? Where? There are places where you can use the bath for the day for a charge. There are also onsen hotels, which are destinations in and of themselves. Whatever you are looking for, there is certainly no shortage of places. There are also public baths in every city, town and village. You can use the bath for a small fee - between 300 and 500 yen. Some are nice, some are not. Some see lots of foreigners, some do not.

Gero Onsen is a famous onsen town. There are a number of onsen hotels and ryokan.
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 08:58 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,621
Where is "Omigichi". I will assume that you mean Ogimachi, the village in Shirakawago.

Are you planning to see some sites in Kanazawa? I guess you have some time on day 4, if you get there early enough. You'll want to leave as early as possible on day 5 to see the gassho zukuri houses in Ogimachi and continue on to Takayama on the same day.

Here is an educated guess at the cost of the rail travel on your basic itinterary:
17000 Tokyo- Kanazawa
8000 Takayama- Kyoto (rough guess, check this)
13500 Kyoto- Tokyo

That's 38500, about 6500 less than a 14-day JR Pass.

Notice though that the train travel that gets you to Kyoto is about 25000. Add about 3000 to get from Kyoto to Kansai airport and you would be paying about 28000, about 17000 less than the 14-day Pass.

But then 28000 is about the cost of a 7-day JR Pass. You can use a 7-day pass starting on day 4. On day 9, go to Kyoto and spend the night then visit Himeji as a day trip from Kyoto on day 10, the last valid day for your 7-day Pass. Bus from Kyoto hotel to Kansai airport. Add it all up, uzing a 7-day pass, and you won't be spending that much more to return from KIX. The 7-day pass would reduce your options, though.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 10:34 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 511
Sorry for the misspelt city name, yes I mean Ogimachi.

Thanks for the train fare info; since the bus and northern lines are not all JR, I will have to do multiple scenerios.

If I switched the main cities around and visited Kyoto first, would I have a better chance to see full cherry blossum blooms? I would then miss the flea market there on the 21st though!

Rumor has it that Miyajima is not all it's cracked up to be, is this true?

For Onsen, I'd like to stay at a place which has outside baths. The Kaisekiyado Suihouen (Gero area) has this plus private baths. Does anyone know anything about it?
moxie is offline  
Oct 10th, 2005, 11:17 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
Can't recommend a place really in Gero as I haven't been. Outdoor baths - rotenburo - are not uncommon in onsen hotels. The very nice places have large bath rooms with a wide variety of tubs of varying temperature, chemical content, jets, no jets, indoor and outdoor. A stay in a place like this is to be enjoyed commpletely...check in at check in time (between 2 and 4), have tea and a sweet, take a bath, have a drink, mayb take another bath, have dinner served in your room, take another bath, sleep, wake up, take a bath, have breakfast, take a final bath, buy souvenirs in the hotel shop, check out (usually by 10). The stay will revolve around eating and soaking (and drinking if you do). Note that there are very, very few places that do not have co-ed baths...meaning if you go as a couple, you will spend your bath time alone. A bath in the room will be a tub, either indoors or on the balcony. Not even close to the facilities in the big public bath.

I've been to Miyajima twice, and loved it. However, the boat landing place and small town there is unremarkable. The temple in the water is lovely, and the hiking paths up the small mountain are also lovely. There are some very nice ryokan on Miyajima, as well as some ryokan/hotels that are not special at all. I suppose whether it's somewhere you want to go is personal. As I find Hiroshima unremarkable aside from the Peace Park and museum (it is just another city to me really, just one that's laid out on a perfect grid due to being bombed flat), Miyajima is nice I think. Both times we were in Hiroshima, we went to the Peace Park and museum for a couple of hours, then went to Miyajima for the rest of the day.

Cherry blossoms in Kyoto are typically the last week of March. If you do a google of Japan cherry blossom forecast last year's forecast will come up.
KimJapan is offline  
Oct 11th, 2005, 08:08 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,621
KimJapan, I think you mean that few places have coed baths meaning baths that permit both sexes. The great majority of baths are gender-separated.

I stayed at an onsen hotel in Gero. The hotel was very close to the train station. They sent a driver with a van to pick me up at the station. Small room, large dining hall, baths in the penthouse and a rotenburo or two. Also, they had "big size" yukata that was just an inch or so short of being perfect length and big size shoes that actually fit. In onsen towns, in addition to the activities Kim described, you might also go out for a stroll in your yukata and geta. Gero town looked a bit large for this (or hotel was not in the right area for it) but the hotel itself was large enough for the stroll.

I don't know what you mean by "northern lines". All of your rail travel will be on JR. The bus from Kanazawa to Shirakawago is not JR. The through bus from S-go to Takayama is not JR. I think that "ogimachi" means "home village" or something like that. Have seen the place you want to go to referred to as "Ogimachi, Shirakawa-go".

I think that the buses that you want to take will be packed and that you will want to get tix in advance. KimJapan do you know how to get reservations far in advance?

IIRC the cherry blossoms were at their peak this year on April 8-9. A bit late, I think. You could search this forum for "cherry blossom forecast" and probably will find some links.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 11th, 2005, 02:06 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 5,034
You are right about what I mean about the baths...they are divided by gender in almost all cases. There are a FEW, very, very few, that have "everyone together tub soaking" - but I've only heard of their existence, never actually seen one.

Buses/trains can be reserved 30 days ahead. Shirakawa-go buses probably won't be too bad...you can reserve when you arrive in Japan...just go to a travel agent, and they can probably help you. Cherry blossoms in S-go have consistently been peaking during Golden Week....the end of April beginning of May, and at that time, the place is a zoo.
KimJapan is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:29 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 511
Thanks for your help; I cannot yet find the cherry blossom forecast for this year.

Do you think the following is feasible:
21 April: Kyoto flea market in the morning; leave on train and take off from Narita at 10 pm?

In Paris I would never ever do this due to train strikes etc. ARe the trains in Japan more reliable or am I inviting disaster (ie high stress and missed flight).
The reason I am considering this is to have Saturday and Sunday to recuperate from the trip -- and to pick up my cat
moxie is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:58 AM
  #10  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Moxie: I think you can do that on the 21st, go to Toji and get to NArita. I'll look at my train schedule later today and post back w/some times to give you an idea. The trains are VERY reliable, esp. the shinkansen- they remind me of th Swiss trains, you need to be standing there right when the train comes as it only stops for a minute! They keep to their schedules.

I will also be at Toji w/my daughter on the 21st. Maybe we can meet by the okonomiyaki stand for a bite to eat.

Regarding the cherry blossoms, I think mrwunrfl posted the link to the forecast this year. I'll try to find it for you today. I am landing at Narita the same day as you - I think we have a good chance of seeing them.
emd is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 05:00 AM
  #11  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
Are you going to Harajuku/Yoyogi park to see the cosplay kids and Rockabilly guys on Sunday the 9th?

emd is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 06:28 AM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 511
I'm not emd...
Yes, it would be great to meet at the flea market though I hope to be there very early...
moxie is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 08:44 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,621
I agree with emd that you will be able to be in Kyoto in the morning and make a same day 11PM flight from NRT. That's not saying that you won't be stressed as that is up to you. Maybe you should plan on taking the trains (shinkansen and Narita Express) from Kyoto to Narita Airport that are the ones before the trains that would get you there before 8PM.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 08:58 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,621
Hikari shinkansen Kyoto departure - arrival Tokyo:
15:00 - 17:43
15:36 - 18:13
16:00 - 18:43

Narita Express Tokyo departure - arrival at airport:
18:03 - 18:59
18:33 - 19:33
19:03 - 20:04

So if you plan to leave at 3PM you will arrive at 7PM and you have two backups if you miss either train. The trains will be there.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 08:59 AM
  #15  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
moxie, I took the shinkansen the morning of my departure flight from Kyoto to Shinagawa and changed to Nartia Express (with like 20 min btwn them) and got to Narita at noon for my 2:45 pm flight. And I am not a worry wort but I like to be sure I am on good ground. If i could do that, you can get to Narita from Kyoto for an 11 pm flight. Just have your schedule planned and don't miss your shinkansen and the change to the Narita Express. You'll be fine. Like you, I'd choose to enjoy the last day in Kyoto.
emd is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 12:22 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 511
Thank you all for your help!
Everything is reserved and my final schedule has been changed to:

Day O: Paris to Tokyo flight
day 1 Tokyo (Sunday flea market)
day 2 Tokyo
day 3 Tokyo
day 4 Tokyo to Kanazawa (train)
day 5 Kanazawa via Omigichi to Takayama (bus)
day 6 Takayama (festival)
day 7 Takayama (festival) JR pass starts: night train to Beppu
day 8 Beppu
day 9 Beppu train to Hiroshima, JR ferry to and from Miyajima then high speed ferry to Matsuyama
day 10 Matsuyama train via (Okayama -maybe) Himeji to Kyoto
day11 Kyoto
day12 Kyoto
day13 Kyoto
day14 Kyoto flea market in am then train to Tokyo, night flight home

moxie is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 06:38 AM
  #17  
emd
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,267
moxie, my daughter and I are still planning on being at Toji early on morning of the 21st (early, because we are going from the market to Fushimi Inari that day). If you are still interested in trying to meet up briefly at the market (we could easily set a time and place - I know that market and the landmarks there) for a quick chat-break from the shopping (hopefully we can compare places we enjoyed sakura!) post back here again to that effect and I will then have the editors put us in touch by email.

BTW, I am on a work assignment in California and last night as I was browsing books I found the neatest book called The Way of the Japanese Bath by MArk Edward Harris. It's a wonderful book of black and white photos of Japanese people enjoying onsen. There are some amazing onsen in this book, esp. the ones in wonderful outdoor environments. The photo of Beppu is of a woman in a sand bath at Hyotan Onsen, and also a photo of the milky blue/white outdoor bath at Kannawa-en ryokan. Also some pictures inside of Dogo onsen. The cave bath at Urashima hotel in Katsuura looks very cool. I want to go there in 2007.
emd is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
bniemand
Asia
11
Jul 20th, 2016 04:59 PM
SShprints
Asia
6
Feb 19th, 2010 10:41 AM
chl
Asia
8
Feb 27th, 2004 06:31 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:43 AM.