Japan Alps -deciding between plans

Jun 9th, 2019, 03:52 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2019
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Japan Alps -deciding between plans

Hi there -we are putting the final touches on our plan for Japan. Our fear is that we are trying to do too much! We are planning on the Japan Alps Oct 7th -Oct 11th . The Kiso Valley looks so nice and we want that village feeling. But I have heard some say that it's not worth it. We don't want to spend all of the time on buses and trains. We are from western Canada and so I wonder if Kamicoche is too much like Jasper/Banff where we go quite a lot! Thinking we need to pick and choose. I know that overnight at an onsen (we like the Okuhida Region) and Takayama for the fall festival (Oct 9th and 10th) are must dos for me. Then we have choices. We are not driving so reliant on buses. Options below -love any advice -
Oct 7th –Tokyo –Magome –hike and overnight in Kiso Valley
Oct 8th –Kiso Valley to Okuhida (long trip but doable) overnight in Okuhida
Oct 9th –Okuhida -Takayama –all day festival (overnight in Takayama)
Oct 10th –Takayama and bus trip to Shirakawa-go or more Takayama if we feel like it (overnight in Takayama)
Oct 11th –to Kyoto
Cons with this plan -we miss Matsumoto and Kamicoche
OR
Oct 7th –Tokyo –Matsumoto - Okuhida
Oct 8th –Okuhida --Kamicoche -Takayama
Oct 9th –Takayama –all day festival
Oct 10th –Takayama –Magome-hike overnight kiso valley
Oct 11th –Kiso Valley to Kyoto
Cons -we miss Shirakawa go
OR
Oct 7th –Tokyo –Matsumoto - Okuhida
Oct 8th –Okuhida --Kamicoche -Takayama
Oct 9th –Takayama –all day festival
Oct 10th –Takayama –Shirakawa-overnight or back to Takayama
Oct 11th –to kyoto
Cons -we miss Kiso Valley

tough to find that right balance between seeing a lot and just running from place to place!
Thanks for your help
jacqui44 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2019, 10:05 PM
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Posts: 15,366
The third plan is best. The first plan is the worst, toss it and don't look back. Kiso Valley and Takayama are a bit redundant - unless you really want to walk the Nakasendo. But you can walk in the mountains at home. You can't visit a gassho zukuri at home.

I think you have some stops, Okuhida and Kamikochi, out of order. It should be, from west to east:
Takayama - Okuhida Onsen - Kamikochi - Matsumoto.

Kamikkochi is pretty. You only need a couple of hours to take the easy, short walk around, have lunch, But you can skip it. It complicates the day and you won't have to worry about getting reserved bus seats to/from there. And you will need to get to Okuhida Onsen by a certain time to check-in (I assume you are staying at a ryokan).. And yes, Kamikochi is nice but maybe you will find that you can get better back home.

I see that you have done some planning but I don't know how far you have gotten and maybe have done all that I am about to suggest, but just in case: You need to book your Okuhida lodging and find out about check-in and meal times. Find and check the bus schedules, of ciourse, but also - important - where and when to get bus tickets. You won't be the only ones headed towards Takayama on those days and there will be more than normal because of the matsuril. All of this also applies to the Shirakawago part of your trip..

On the 10th, your better options are to 1) stay in Takayama all day (no day trip) and enjoy some of the 2nd day of the festival and/or visit Hida no Sato (to see some of what you would have seen in S-go) and/or visit the old time merchant street (to see some of what you would have seen in Magome) - the regular Takayama sightseeing. You should have an easy time getting a train from Takayama on the 11th to get to Kyoto.
or
2) move to Shirakawago and next day bus to Kanazawa and train to Kyoto.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 05:41 AM
  #3  
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thank you for your help. Yes the first plan is not smart is it?

We have booked accommodations Yarimikan in Okuhida for Oct 7th and Aubergeg Hida No Mori in Takayama for Oct 8 -10th (all can be cancelled) and have looked preliminary at bussing/train schedules.
You suggest Takayama - Okuhida Onsen - Kamikochi - Matsumoto-why is that?

I think you might be right about Takayama and Kiso being a bit redundant and also out of the way somewhat. Especially if redundant.

We will skip Kiso Valley and simply spend our time in and around Takayama and Okuhida and play Kamikochi and S-go by ear depending on the weather and if we feel like we've seen enough of Takayama proper.

Others have suggested renting a car-thoughts?

Thank you again!

jacqui44 is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 08:58 AM
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>> You suggest Takayama - Okuhida Onsen - Kamikochi - Matsumoto-why is that?

That was in west-east order, not visit order. I was trying to point out that Okuhida is between Kamikochi and Takayama. You plan for the 8th would involve some backtracking: Okuhida- Kamikochi- Okuhida- Takayama.

I don't like backtracking, so when I commented about a Kamikochi stop I was assuming that you would stop there after Matsumoto and before Okuhida Onsen. That would mean Kamikochi on the 7th.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 09:51 AM
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I've never rented a car in Japan. A car would make life easier from Matsumoto all the way across to Kanazawa. I see that your lodging is over two miles west of Takayama, so I assume you have free parking. Do the owners of your lodging have a shuttle to/from town during the festival?
Kamikochi has a restriction on cars.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 10:20 AM
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I took a look at the webiste for your Okuhida lodging. Considering that Okuhida is a must-do for you,, you could just go directly there from Tokyo. Saving Matsumoto and Kamikochi and Kiso Valley for another trip would give you more time for your must-do. But, yes, you can play it by ear - you can't go wrong (unless the bus you want is full and you don't have a ticket).

That website reminded me that there is a ropeway at/near Okuhida. I think there is a ropeway on the other side of the mountain that terminates in Kamikochi. Maybe you can use those ropeways not just for the views but for transportation between Okuhida and Kamikochi.

By "Matsumoto" I think you mean that your plan is just to spend a couple of hours there to visit the castle and then continue on your way, nothing more. Is that right?

Last edited by mrwunrfl; Jun 10th, 2019 at 10:26 AM.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 10:51 AM
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Ship a bag from Tokyo to Takayama. Carry only what you need for an overnight when you leave Tokyo. Optionally, stash the backpack in a koin rokka at Matsumoto station and visit the castle. Get your bag and go on by bus to Okuhida. Next day, an option is to send the back to Takayama to arrive the next day, maybe same day. Take the Okuhida ropeway up and the Kamikochi ropeway down, then bus to Takayama station. The bus station is next door to the JR station. Taxi to your lodging.
Or something else.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 10th, 2019, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mrwunrfl View Post
I've never rented a car in Japan. A car would make life easier from Matsumoto all the way across to Kanazawa. I see that your lodging is over two miles west of Takayama, so I assume you have free parking. Do the owners of your lodging have a shuttle to/from town during the festival?
Kamikochi has a restriction on cars.
thank you - yes the lodging has shutttke service that gets good reviews. We will certainly use baggage service too! And I didn’t think of the rope way as transportation hmm.
Yogagoddess40 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 09:48 AM
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"important - where and when to get bus tickets. You won't be the only ones headed towards Takayama on those days and there will be more than normal because of the matsuril. "

We are also going to Takayama for the festival in October. How does one buy bus tickets in advance? How far in advance is needed? Thanks
yestravel is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 11:58 AM
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I don't know.

I mentioned that buses have reserved seats because I went by bus from Takayama to Matsumoto via Hirayu Onsen and Kamikochi one day, not during a festival. I was surprised I had to buy a seat in Takayama (the bus was mostly empty), but that led me to ask, when I arrived in Kamikochi, about the bus to Matsumoto. There was one seat available on one bus and none on the next bus. I think that the supply they had when I bought my ticket might not have included the jump-seats that folded out into the aisles, so maybe I could have had one of those seats at the next-to-last minute.

On another trip, I planned to go to the spring festival in Takayama with kuranosuke. He was going to have his son in Japan buy a couple of limited express train tickets for us from Nagoya, but kuranosuke could not make the trip. I arrived in Nagoya (there were nonstops from LAX at the time) about a week before the festival. I got the train seat reservation when I arrived in Nagoya.

Getting a train seat from Takayama the day after the festival would have been easy. I think everybody left in the evening of the second day of the festival.

All of that was several years ago, maybe 10 or more, when Japan was not as popular a destination as it is today. There is only the one train line that goes through Takayama and not many roads.

Last edited by mrwunrfl; Jun 12th, 2019 at 12:06 PM.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 12th, 2019, 12:55 PM
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mrwunrfl -- I had been looking online and couldn't figure out a way to buy the tickets other than going to the ticket office in the town. Maybe I'll ask my hotel in Matsumoto and see if they might get them for us.
yestravel is offline  
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