Japan 15 night itinerary

Old Aug 5th, 2017, 01:56 PM
  #1  
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Japan 15 night itinerary

Hello! This will be my 4th time to Japan but my husband's first. I've been to Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima/Miyajima, and Nagano. I'd like to see some new spots on this trip but definitely want my husband to experience Kyoto + some of the surrounding sights. We are traveling in Sept.

Would appreciate any thoughts on the following itinerary, it is flexible and I'm not sure if I'm cramming in too much. We are particularly flexible on days 12-15. Thank you!

Day 1: arrive Narita at 1500 - overnight Tokyo (Shinjuku)
Day 2: Tsukiji fish market (try sushi breakfast) > Imperial Palace > Asakusa > Shibuya, Meiji shrine - overnight Tokyo (Shinjuku)
Day 3: Explore Hakone (onsen, lake Ashi, owakundani) - overnight Hakone
Days 4-7: Fushimi Inari shrine, Arashimya, Kiyomizu-dera, Nishiiki market, Jisho-ji garden, Nijo castle, etc - overnight in Kyoto
Day 8: overnight in Hiroshima/Miyajima
Day 9: travel to Mt. Koya, overnight in Mt. Koya
Days 10-11: Day tour to shirakawa, sake brewery tour next day - both nights in Takayama (stay in a ryokan)
Days 12: (input needed) options: either stay in Matsumoto and see castle & miso factory OR stay in Nagano and take bus to togakushi shrine, mirror lake, eat soba
Day 13: okutama (onsen, lake, valley) - overnight in okutama
Days 14 and 15: option to see Nikko on the way back to Tokyo, 2 nights in Tokyo (area?)
Day 16: depart
Nknows is offline  
Old Aug 5th, 2017, 02:57 PM
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kja
 
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As you undoubtedly know, 4 days is not much for Kyoto / Nara.

And 2 nights is not much for Takayama.

Many people visit Nikko as a day trip; I was glad to have spent a night there.

You might want to add a bit of time to Kyoto / Nara and/or Takayama rather than trying to visit so many places, but it really depends on what you want to see and do and at what pace.

You'll see some wonderful things no matter what you decide!
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Old Aug 5th, 2017, 06:17 PM
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Are you driving? Because if not I doubt you've allowed enough time to get from Koya-san to Takayama.
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Old Aug 6th, 2017, 01:41 PM
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A few observations -
For Tsukiji, if you want to see the tuna auctions and all the activity the place is famous for, you have to try to get one of the tours, and sign ups are around 4 AM. Not sure if you'll like that the first night of your stay - you'd also need a taxi since the public transportation doesn't run at that hour. If you just want the sushi breakfast, then anytime around 8 or 9 is fine. You can catch a sample of the market at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CURUcgQDF_k

For Hakone, I hope you know that while the ropeway is fully running again, the hiking trails at Owakudani are still closed due to poison gas emissions.

For Kyoto, there are some smarts in seeing Fushimi Inari and then Arashiyama, since you can take a JR train straight to both via Kyoto Stn. But a lot of what you plan to see is on the east side (Higashiyama) so to save time, group what you want in the same area for one day - don't waste time zig-zagging scross the city. Fushimi Inari is also open 24/7, so a morning or evening visit to avoid the big crowds can free up more time and make it more enjoyable for you.

If you're going to Koyasan, look into getting the Koyasan World Heritage Ticket.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2358_012.html
Getting from Koyasan to Shirakawago is going to be rather grueling. Expect it to take bare minimum 4 hours, and you'll need to pay for a bus there - from either Takayama or Kanazawa there's no rail access.

For Day 12 - it depends on your interests of course. Matsumoto Castle is one of Japan's better ones, but apples to apples I'd say Nagano-shi has more to offer. You mentioned Togakushi, but Zenkoji is also popular, and if you like, you could go see the monkeys at Yamanouchi (as well as get another good onsen experience, since you seem to like them).
For Days 14-15 Regarding Okutama, I presume you mean near Mitake, right? I hope you realize Nikko is not at all on the way back to Tokyo. Okutama is west of the city and Nikko is way north of it. Expect another 4 hours getting there, _by way of_ Tokyo.
September is mostly too early for the autumn colors, but since you'll be in some mountainous areas, with some luck you could possibly catch the start of a little at Nikko.

BTW you didn't mention anything about transport. A 14 day pass would pay off and cover most of your destinations.

HTH.
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Old Aug 7th, 2017, 09:11 AM
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>>Day 8: overnight in Hiroshima/Miyajima
Day 9: travel to Mt. Koya, overnight in Mt. Koya
Days 10-11: Day tour to shirakawa, sake brewery tour next day - both nights in Takayama (stay in a ryokan)

That is ambitious. It involves a good bit of travel time that squeezes the time you would have at your destinations.

The trip durations I give below are approximately the pure time on trains plus connection times. It doesn't include any time getting to/from the train stations or any time for waiting for the train.

Day 8 would be about 2 hours from Kyoto to Hiroshima, pretty easy, just two shinkansen trains. Miyajima would be about another hour: JR local, short walk, JR ferry.

- One way you could make that part easier would be to spend Day 7 in Kyoto but that night in Hiroshima.

Day 9 would be 4 or 5 hours of travel. An hour from Miyajima to Hiroshima (ferry, walk, local train). Four hours from Hiroshima to Koyasan (shinkanen to Shin-Osaka. There are several routes from Shin-Osaka to Koyasan. I will choose a route that doesn't involve walking between stations: JR local to Shinimamiya, Nankai limited express (or two Nankai locals) and cablecar up to Koyasan.

So, that 4 to 5 hours is a bit complicated. It is not like vegging on one shinkansen for that time.

Day 10 is a solid 6+ hours from Koyasan to Takayama. Again, there are several routes from Koyasan to Shin-Osaka. I couldn't find as direct route for this day. It could be: Nankai cable and two Nankai trains to Shinimamiya, one JR local to Osaka and another to Shin-Osaka, then shinkansen to Nagoya and a JR limited express train to Takayama.

Going via Kanazawa would be a limited express from Shin-Osaka to Kanazawa and then a bus to S-go and another bus to Takayama.
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Old Aug 7th, 2017, 08:47 PM
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So, Koyasan to Kanazawa is about 5 hours. Kanazawa to Takayama by bus takes a bit over 2 hours.

Those buses require reserved seats, so you would want to get them in advance somewhere, maybe online. See: http://www.japan-guide.com/bus/shirakawago.html

The last bus from Kanazawa leaves at 4PM and would give you 5 minutes in Shirakwago before heading to Takayama at 5:15 PM.

If you left Kanazawa on the bus at 12:40 then you would arrive S-go at 2:05 giving you only 3 hr 10 min in S-go.

You'd really want to get the next earlier bus at 11:10 and then you'd have 4 hr 50 min in S-go.

The first cablecar from Koysan today was at 5:36 AM. You could get to Kanazawa at 11:02, giving 8 minutes to get off the train and board the bus. I don't know if that is possible.
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Old Aug 8th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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Apart from Koyasan, you could experience temple stay in Zenko-ji (Nagano) or Taiyo-ji (Saitama).
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Old Aug 8th, 2017, 09:16 PM
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Interesting option, srsddan2017. I really enjoyed my quick visit to the amazing Zenkoji. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6001.html
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