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Japan: 3 month countdown begins -- and many question ensue!

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Sep 14th, 2015, 07:27 PM
  #1
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Japan: 3 month countdown begins -- and many question ensue!

Sorry to have been off the map for the greater part of 6 months--and I wish I could say it's because I've been traveling the world--but, alas, work has gotten the best of us for quite some time.

I've missed you guys!

So the trip countdown alarm has officially rung and the panic is starting to set in. Lots of work, unfortunately, hasn't translated well to trip planning. And, to those of you who know me well, you know my compulsive need to plan out every last detail well in advance is...well, compulsive. Well, that neuroses has just been shot to hell this year whether I like it or not.

We leave for our Japan/Thailand combo trip (or as I like to call it the 'Freezing Cold/Boiling Hot World Tour 2015') in just a 3 short months. So it's time to get down to brass tacks.

As you know, we've been to Japan once before...but, alas, on the main tourist circuit (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Osaka). This time we get a bit off that circuit. I'm hoping to use this thread to enlist the help of you experts out there who have been so invaluable to us in getting this trip initially planned to help see us through some of the final, nitty gritty details.

So, first things first: our JR Pass. I've got to get that in order and I'm guessing a 7 day pass would make the most sense. To recap, here's the Japan portion of our itinerary:

DEC 16 Depart from LAX
DEC 17 Arrive Tokyo
DEC 18 Tokyo
DEC 19 Kanazawa (train from Tokyo)
DEC 20 Kanazawa
DEC 21 Kanazawa
DEC 22 Osaka (train from Kanazawa)
DEC 23 Naoshima (train/ferry from Osaka)
DEC 24 Naoshima
DEC 25 Kumamoto (ferry/train from Naoshima)
DEC 26 Kurokawa Onsen (bus and/or train from Kumamoto)
DEC 27 Kurokawa Onsen
DEC 28 Fukuoka (bus and/or train from Kurokawa)
DEC 29 Fly to Bangkok

I'm guessing--but really need validation here--that getting the 7 day pass makes most sense. I'm thinking, for the most value, maybe it makes sense to buy our tickets outright from Tokyo to Kanazawa, then activate on 12/22 on the way to Osaka? That should, theoretically, carry us all the way through to Fukuoka and the end of our Japan portion of the trip. Or am I thinking of this wrong?

Anyway, look forward to your input...and so happy to back in the land of the living!
filmwill is offline  
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Sep 15th, 2015, 11:06 AM
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Am pretty sure that starting a 7-day pass on Dec 19 is the most economical way to do it.

Tokyo to Kanazawa = ¥ 13,920
Kumamoto to Aso and Hita to Hakata ~ ¥5200

So you would save ¥8700 each by starting the pass sooner.
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Sep 15th, 2015, 11:31 AM
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A pass starting on the 22nd would save some:
Kanazawa to Uno ¥ 12,460
Uno to Kumamoto ¥16,820
Kumamoto to Aso and Hita to Hakata ~ ¥5200 (¥2000+3200)

I understand that you are willing to pay the extra ¥5710 for the Gran Class seating to Kanazawa. But you would be paying a premium of ¥8700 to do it.
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Sep 15th, 2015, 11:43 AM
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Thanks, HT! Not sure I'm completely following. Can you clarify?

You are correct in that we do want to upgrade to Gran Class on that one leg.

So, are you saying that it makes most sense to use it starting from Tokyo > Kanazawa (and then pay the 5710 to upgrade) -- and then just eat the cost of the tickets from Kumamoto to Kurokawa and back to Fukuoka (because they're so low-cost in comparison to the other legs)?
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Sep 15th, 2015, 12:06 PM
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You won't be able to upgrade from the JR Pass regular seating to Gran Class.

What I am saying is that if you start the pass on the 22nd then you pay cost of the pass + ¥ 13,920 for regular reserved seating on the Hokuriku shinkansen. You could pay an extra ¥5710 to get Gran Class.

29,110 cost of pass Kanazawa ... Hakata
13,920 regular fare to Kanazawa
======
43,300
5,710 Gran Class premium
======
49,010 total for what you want

If you start the pass on the 19th, you pay:
29,110 cost of pass, travel Tokyo ... Kumamoto
5,200 Kumamoto ... Hakata
======
34,310 but you can't get Gran Class
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Sep 15th, 2015, 12:19 PM
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>>You won't be able to upgrade from the JR Pass regular seating to Gran Class.

I should say that I highly doubt that you can upgrade. But, IF you can then you would almost certainly have to pay the ¥5,710 plus the ¥6,260 surcharge. Plus the ¥5200 in Kyushu.

So you can pay JR 49000 to include Gran Class on that 3-hour trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Or you can pay 34,000 without that Gran Class. per person
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Sep 15th, 2015, 12:36 PM
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one more explanation

it makes most cents to use it starting from Tokyo > Kanazawa (and then pay the 5710 to upgrade) in regular reserved seats -- and then just eat the cost of the tickets from Kumamoto to Kurokawa and back to Fukuoka (because they're so low-cost in comparison to the other legs)?
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Sep 15th, 2015, 01:40 PM
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I know, I know. You're very anti-Gran Class. Too many businessmen reading newspapers.
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Sep 15th, 2015, 05:28 PM
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I'm not anti-Gran Class for you!

I made a big mistake by misreading hyperdia.

On Dec 19, a ticket with regular reserved seat costs ¥14,120 and a ticket with a Gran Class seat costs ¥26,970.

So the difference is ¥12,850, not ¥5710.

26,970 Tokyo-Kanazawa in Gran Class
29,110 7-day JR Pass
======
56,080

29,110 7-day JR Pass
2,240 Kumamoto-Aso
1,650 Hita- Kurume- Hakata
======
33,000


That trip from Hita departs at 11:41 and connects to a Rapid train from Kurume to Hakata.

Or that 11:41 train from Hita connects to a shinkansen at Kurume at a trip cost of ¥3,600, while saving 3 minutes total travel time.
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Sep 16th, 2015, 10:24 AM
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just saw this thread o.o lol

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Globa...o-erupts-video

Just erupted again yesterday. I hate to burst your bubble but Asosan is not cooperating with your schedule
Kurokawa Onsen should be ok though this is a live volcano....

If you keep this schedule then starting your 7 day pass on the day you leave Tokyo to Kanazawa the 19th makes most sense to me.

We leave Japan on 12/12 so will just miss you guys
But we will take in a ryokan in Jigokudani (snow monkeys)so will report to you about them
Looks like a fun trip gambatte kudasai!!

Aloha!
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Sep 16th, 2015, 10:56 AM
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I know this thread isn't about Bangkok, but I'll be in BKK until Dec 30th and then again after the new year for a couple of days. How long do you stay in BKK this time?
Carol
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Sep 16th, 2015, 05:07 PM
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HT, hasn't it been "erupting" for well over a year and change? Not sure why this eruption would make December more of a risk. I mean, I get that being near any volcano is a risk -- but Hakone has been erupting often as well, so I guess it's all a risk. One we'll live with too. If worst came to worst then we'd just stay in Kumamoto/Fukuoka an extra 2 days.

Thinking we may just stick with the Green car and forego the Gran Class. Kim informed me there's no JR Pass or Pass upgrade fee to attain a GC ticket. You just have to pay outright. So we'll stick with our Pass and activate it in Tokyo on the way to Kanazawa.
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Sep 16th, 2015, 05:09 PM
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Hi Carol!

While we're in Thailand for a decent chunk of time, our Bangkok time is limited. We'll be there overnight at the airport on the 29th, then heading to Ko Lipe for 5 days...but back in Bangkok from the 3rd to the 5th.
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Sep 17th, 2015, 05:21 AM
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Hi all, following the thread for all insights for our trip in May (busy prepping now for AUS/NZ starting in 3 weeks). HT - - which ryokan in Jigokudani? We will have one night there.
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Sep 17th, 2015, 11:51 AM
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we will be at Yoroduya

http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/r...yokan=Yoroduya
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Sep 24th, 2015, 10:26 PM
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Okay well we have our Green Pass and it looks like we'll activate it on our way to Kanazawa and skip the Gran Clas (oh well--next time...there will be one!)

Okay, so next things next. WEATHER.

We're there the last 2 weeks of December and it seems from what I can tell that weather will be somewhere in the 30s and 40s...maybe higher if we're lucky. Guess it all depends on that pesky El Niño, which from what I've read, will affect Japan with warmer temperatures than usual.

I know I'll need a "winter" coat. But HOW winter are we talking? A down jacket seems perhaps a bit extreme for December...maybe more for late January? Anyway, having a hard time figuring out of a lighter synthetic down/North Face kind of thing is better than a heavier down puff kind of jacket.

Any thoughts?
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Sep 25th, 2015, 10:30 AM
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We used one of those ultra-light down jackets from Uni-Qlo (which you can find in most Japanese cities, but which we have on the east and west coast of the US as well). It was too warm until we got to Kanazawa and Matsumoto, where it was in the 30's and 40's. The best part is you can stuff it into the tiniest pouch when you want to take it off, so it is super easy for travel. Add a layer with fleece hoody if it's not quite warm enough. I'm sure North Face has their version of the same thing as well.
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Sep 25th, 2015, 11:16 AM
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We were in Tokyo for New Years weekend several years ago. It was in the 40s during the day and the 30s at night. Russ is correct: The lightweight down 'sweaters' from Uniqlo or Patagonia would have been perfect for the day, but they weren't around then. We used fleeces during the day and added a windproof hooded shell at night. You will also want a cashmere for layering and warm socks.

If you're out a lot at night, you might want your puffy northface as well as the lighter uniqlo, because neither takes up a lot of room. We managed our whole trip (Thailand, Cambodia, Japan) with carry on.
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Sep 25th, 2015, 11:18 AM
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To clarify, I meant the uniqlo down sweater during the day, and the puffy northface at night...not both at once!
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