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memejs Mar 7th, 2018 10:14 AM

Japan 2-week itinerary advice
 
I'm thinking about a trip to Japan this July. (I know this isn't the ideal time to travel in Japan, but late June/early July is the only time that works for my schedule). Because it will be hot and because I'm most interested in traditional culture, I'm looking to spend a good portion of the trip in various mountain towns. I'm looking at about 14 days in the ground, but I haven't booked tickets yet, so I have some flexibility with the itinerary. I've spent a good amount of time on this forum and on japan-guide.com, and here's what I've put together so far. The part that I'm most unsure of is getting from Koyasan to Mt. Fuji.

Day 1 - Arrive Tokyo (or Osaka if I find a good fare), train to Kyoto
Day 2 - Koyoto
Day 3 - Koyoto, evening in Osaka
Day 4 - Day trip to Nara
Day 5 - Kyoto
Day 6 - Koyasan
Day 7 - Koyasan
Day 8 - Travel to Mt. Fuji
Day 9 - Climb Mt. Fuji
Day 10 - Hakone
Day 11 - Hakone
Day 12 - Tokyo
Day 13 - Tokyo
Day 14 - Tokyo (possible day trip to Nikko)
Day 15 - Tokyo, fly out

From what I've researched, it looks like the best way to get from Koyasan to Mt. Fuji is to take the various modes of transportation from Koyasan to Osaka, train from Osaka to Gotemba station and then bus to Kawaguchiko station. I'd spend the night at one of the hostels near Kawaguchiko station and then climb Mt. Fuji the next day.

Another option is to travel from Koyasan to Osaka on Day 7, spend the night in Osaka, get an early start traveling to Mt. Fuji on Day 8, start the hike in the late afternoon of Day 8, spend the night in one of the mountain cabins and summit to see the sunrise on Day 9. Then come back down the mountain and spend the rest of the day recovering at a hostel near Kawaguchiko station and continue on to Hakone on Day 10. Ideally I'd like to do the sunrise summit on Mt. Fuji, but I'm worried that hours of traveling plus starting the hike on the same day would wear me out.

Is there anything I'm missing to make traveling between cities more efficient?

kja Mar 7th, 2018 07:02 PM

Should be wonderful! Some thoughts:

Why fly into and out of Tokyo? Consider flying into Tokyo and out of Kyoto (or vice versa). The cost of such an “open jaw” flight is rarely more than a round trip ticket, particularly when you consider the cost in time and money of backtracking.

Your time in Kyoto / Nara – just 3 days? Seems very limited. I’m one of many who found 6 nights insufficient for this pairing .. but of course, it depends on what you want to see and do.

In contrast, 2 nights for Koyasan sounds excessive to me. JMO. But you’re right that there are some transportation logistics that complicate things. You might look into going from Kyoto to Koyasan to Nara or vice versa…. I’m not sure that would help, but it might be worth investigating.

mrwunrfl Mar 8th, 2018 08:22 AM

I think your other option for Day 7 is better, but you don't have to stop in Osaka. You could go further, even to Kawaguchiko (assuming that is a good embarkation point for the climb), depending, of course, on when you leave Koyasan that day.

There are better routes to Kawaguchiko than the one you described, going via Gotemba, and many places beyond Osaka where you could stop for the night. Gifu, for example, which you can get to in time for the ukai, cormorant fishing, held that night. Or Nagoya, if there is a baseball game that night. Or Yokohama. Or Shinjuku.

You don't necessarily have to book lodging for the night of Day 7 in advance. You could just travel to Shin Osaka and stop at travel agent there and, depending on time and energy, book a room somewhere down the line. Or, you just decide to stop at Nagoya and book a room with an agent there for a business hotel near the station. (or just book online)

You could move the Hakone visit to be before your Fujisan excursion. Your travel time on Day 7 c/should be shorter that way.

mrwunrfl Mar 8th, 2018 08:58 AM

So, the Day 7-8 part of your itin is the one part that needs some work, as you correctly pointed out. Here are a couple of other thoughts for you (including pointing out that it is Kyoto, not Koyoto, and it is two syllables: think of Kyo as Kyu which you would pronounce as Q, queue, and kyo is like that) :)

Day 1: you can fly to Osaka for less than the train fare. ANA has $75 one-way nonstop fares between Tokyo and Osaka. You could book it separately from your international ticket if there a savings. Your fare searches should use TYO for Tokyo and OSA for Osaka, initially for Narita/Haneda and Kansai/Itami airports, respectively.

Day 3 - that evening visit to Osaka doesn't add much to your trip vs spending the evening in Kyoto unless you have a specific interest in something only in Osaka.

Am thinking that you might not need a JR Pass. You probably want a Koyasan World Heritage Pass. If you make Nikko a definite and move it up in your itinerary, then a Tokyo Wide Area Pass might be something to think about. There are a couple of Fuji/Hakone passes to consider as well. The time you have for Kyoto is fine, imo.


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