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Japan Critics Please: tell me what's wrong with this itinerary

Japan Critics Please: tell me what's wrong with this itinerary

Old Sep 21st, 2010, 10:58 PM
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Japan Critics Please: tell me what's wrong with this itinerary

Hi All,

DH and I (2 Aussies in our late 40s) went to a charity function and bought a week skii trip plus airfares to Japan. So its off to Niseko we go in February. Our dates are set for the ski week. We want to take one extra week to visit Japan, having never been there before. Our youngest son is in his last year of high school and school commitments and guilt about 'being there' for him in his time of need and stress mean that we really only have a little over one more extra week. We have stolen a couple of extra days from the weekends either end.

We are keen to visit Tokyo and Kyoto, have a night in Hakone in an onsen, a night at Mt Koya and a day/night in Hiroshima/Miyajima.

So this is what I have come up with so far for the itinerary (Depart 17th Feb arrive home 8th March)

Thursday Fly Sydney Tokyo (leave 10pm)
Friday Arrive early Morning Tokyo Sight See
Saturday Fly Tokyo Sapporo car to Niseko
Sunday Ski Niseko
Monday Ski Niseko
Tuesday Ski Niseko
WednesdaySki Niseko
Thursday Ski Niseko
Friday Ski Niseko
Saturday Fly Sapporo to Tokyo 11:30 to 14:00 Tokyo sight see
Sunday Full Day Tokyo
Monday Travel to Hakone/Onsen Stay Ryokan Onsen
Tuesday Hakone to Kyoto -leave11:40 arrive 14:15 Kyoto
Wednesday Full Day Kyoto
Thursday Full Day Kyoto
Friday Kyoto to Mt Koyo 12:30 arrive 15:03 Koyosan
Saturday Koyasan to Miyajima Arrive Miyajima by 3pm
Sunday Miyajima to Hiropshima. Leave Hiroshima by 5pm to Osaka
Monday Osaka to Narita - Travel to Tokyo for Plane home (departs 8pm)

So whilst my first 10 days are quite relaxed we are on the move over the last few days. we are quite fiit and happy to travel quickly but am I doing this right?
Is it recommended to travel by train from Osaka to Narita on the last day? - BTW I know I could fly out of Osaka but there is no direct flight to Sydney from there so travel time home will actually be longer..
At the moment I have a booking at Hakone Ginyu for Monday 28th Feb which is governing the itinerary somewhat. Is this worth it? Should I see if I can change the date there?

If we were to drop one thing in your opinion what would that be?

Please weigh in with all your thoughts on how this itinerary can be improved.
aussiefive is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:05 AM
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Well, unless you want to see something specific in OSAKA, you could easily take the train from HIROSHIMA to TOKYO in the one day. That would give you more time at Miyajima and Hiroshima.
(may have to change in Shin Osaka if you are travelling Hikari )

Hiroshima to Tokyo on Nozomi is 4 hours or so, and probably 5 hours by Hikari.( Including transfer at Shin Osaka)
Arrive in Tokyo, and transfer to the Narita Express ,which takes one hour from Tokyo to Narita.

Its very pretty in the Hakone area, and, at that time of the year, FujiSan should have a good snow covering.

Question: Where is Mount Koyo?

BTW, I lived in Japan for 5 years and covered it pretty extensively for work. In fact,once I went Tokyo to Hiroshima ( Nozomi), train to Kure , had business there, back to Hiroshoma (dinner with work mate), then Nozomi back to Tokyo and home. 2,000 km by train in a day.
Plane was impossible due to work schedule.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:22 AM
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I don't see anything particulary wrong with your plan, other than it being a bit rushed overall.

I'd certainly keep your reservation at Hakone Ginyu...it is supposed to be an amazing place to stay. One thing to consider is that you won't have much time in Hakone itself to see the area, even if you leave quite early in the morning. Check in to Ginyu by 4 at the latest so you can enjoy tea, a bath, a massage if you like that, and relax before dinner. In the morning, enjoy another bath before breakfast, have a leisurely breakfast and then it will be time to get your train to Kyoto. Ginyu is a bit away from Odawara so be sure to factor that time into your schedule.

Your 2:00 arrival in Tokyo puts you in your hotel at 3:00 at the very earliest if you arrive to Haneda. Then you'll have another 1 1/2 hours of daylight or so, not much time.

I know that many enjoy Koyasan, but with your rushed schedule, I'm wondering if that should be the thing that goes. The reason I say so is the late February early March weather is fickle at best, with lots of grey, overcast and even rainy days. It can even snow, even in Kyoto, at times. There won't be much in terms of green and few, if any flowers, that time of year at Koyasan, and I'm afraid it might not be as beautiful as at other times of year. It is a bit of a trek to get up there, and perhaps you could better spend your time with another day in Kyoto, as 2 days there is very little indeed.

If you have your heart set on each and every stop, I recommend that you move your travel times from mid-day to early morning or late afternoon, so you can salvage some of that travel time for sightseeing.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 05:16 AM
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Well, as long as you asked:

Suppose I had a long week to see Australia. After I landed in Sydney, I could spend maybe 2.5 days there (including time to see some kangaroos and koalas), then head up to the Blue Mountains for a night, and surely make time to see the Gold Coast, and also a day to visit Ayers Rock.

See what I mean?

With Japan, very much like most countries, more is less, at least that my view. For me, it's not what I see while traveling, it's how the traveling makes me feel. And I don't get all that much of a feeling when I change hotels every 2nd night.

So, if I were counseling someone taking a first trip, I'd limit them to 2 locales (day trips are ok!). At one of the locales, they could change accommodations as long as it's staying in a hotel for a couple of nights, then staying in a nice ryokan for 2 nights. (Really, a huge part of the ryokan experience is to feel the relaxation of it all. And that cannot happen when you're arriving at 3pm one day and packing up to leave by 11am the next morning.)
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 06:56 AM
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By all means, keep Koyasan in. I've been there twice, and it's entirely unique. Once the top tourist destination in all Japan.
But consider travelling through to your destination on your arrival and departure days, eliminating the overnight stop in Tokyo and Osaka. It's a long flight from Oz, but you might as well get it done rather than ruining two days.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 08:06 AM
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I love the little town of Hirafu, you will see.....
Yes, you should change your air travel to be direct or with transfer from OZ to Sapporo. Then change your domestic air tickets from Sapporo to Hiroshima. You will probably have to change planes at Haneda but will save you lots of train hours and don't have to double back.

You can save on domestic flights within Japan utilizing their yokoso fares averaging about 11,000 yen per segment that are only available for tourists, it depends on what airline you travel to Japan on.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2364.html

At that time of year you shouldn't have too much of a problem with rescheduling Hakone Ginyu(I hope).

If I were to drop one thing it would be Koyasan this time around but that's just one persons opinion. I have been in Kyoto and Tokyo in Feb and March and we have experienced snow in both so I know that KimJapan is right, Koyasan at that time will be downright frigid.

Aloha!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 09:26 AM
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Much as I loved Koyasan, I'm with KimJapan on this one: I was there in May and it was COLD at night. Given the time it takes to get there and back, the idea of skipping it for this trip and adding the time to Kyoto is well worth considering.

Hope that helps!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 12:36 PM
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Well, I agree now about passing up Koyasan. My stays there have been in May and June, and I wasn't thinking about what February could be like. (Those temple rooms can't be very well heated!) An extra day in Kyoto would be a great alternative.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 12:58 PM
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Try something like this:

Thursday Fly Sydney - Tokyo-Sapporo(leave 10pm)
Friday Arrive early Morning Tokyo transfer for flt to Sapporo arrive Sapporo noon car to Niseko
Saturday Ski Niseko
Sunday Ski Niseko
Monday Ski Niseko
Tuesday Ski Niseko
WednesdaySki Niseko
Thursday Ski Niseko
Friday Fly Sapporo to Hiroshima via Haneda
Saturday Hiroshima/Miyajima
Sunday Leave Hiroshima afternoon for Kyoto
Monday Kyoto
Tuesday Kyoto
Wednesday Full Day Kyoto
Thursday Kyoto
Friday Leave Kyoto early for Hakone
Saturday Hakone to Tokyo
Sunday Tokyo
Monday Tokyo for Plane home (departs 8pm)

You would have more days now so you can add or subtract where you want and your not backtracking.

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:01 PM
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should have included this link

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2365.html
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 02:22 PM
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I like that plan a lot HT. Much mire time to enjoy rather than be on the move.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 02:27 PM
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KimJapan, I learned it all from you.

Aloha!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 02:34 PM
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Funny. I learn from you.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 03:14 PM
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WOW - you guys really are experts! Thank you for your thoughts.

HT I had actually played around with an itinerary somewhat like your revised one but gave it up when I got the Hakone Ginyu booking. I will persevere and try to chnage that booking first.

Looking like consensus is to drop Koyasan. I will have to think about it but I do see your point(s). I had not considered the weather in my plans (silly me).
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 03:15 PM
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Good, but rushed. Its more fun imo this way.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Yes, I think HT's revision is really elegant.
Imo, the amount of time you would have had for Koyasan is insufficient - when I went, I got there in the middle of the afternoon, stayed two nights and left early in the morning - but I was coming from Miyajima and going to Tokyo - and I didn't get to see everything - you can go there next time.
Enjoy!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 07:20 PM
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One of my Japan trips was much like the plan that ht gave. I flew nonstop from Sapporo CTS to Hiroshima HIJ. It was on JAL. I recommend taking the bus from HIJ to Hiroshima and not taking the JR option.

As for the original plan, I also would drop Koya-san.

You can fly from Hiroshima to HND or NRT.

Here is a thread with links to air passes and route maps:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ine-passes.cfm
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 07:51 PM
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Now that I am at work I have more time to consider this properly (and I wonder why I have not finished writing my reports LOL).

Our ski dates are set - must go from Saturday to Saturday. We also would like to leave on Thursday 17th as the 18th is a special day for us. I am still leaning towards overnighting in Tokyo on the 18th. I can't see any reason to go Sapporo for a night but please feel free to tell me otherwise.

Don't worry about whether we will be tired from our overnight travel and might waste a day in Tokyo. DH and I are both from the school that to omuch sleep is a waste of time. We have many times flown to Europe from Sydney and had a full day sight seeing on the day we land. Having said that, if the jet lag were to catch up with us we will not be precious about what see and do that day in Tokyo.

Given that the skiing is Sat to Sat we would have to move the second week HT itinerary by one day. But we still will have to leave Japan on the Monday 7th March evening flight. So I think we may have to drop one of the days from Kyoto. We will still have more days there than my original plan.

My one spanner in the works is the Hakone Ginyu. KimJapan you seem to think it is really worth hanging onto this booking and from what I have read from you before, I trust your judgement. Since I definitely have 28th available, if I can't get the the new day (4th) I would be tempted to go back to plan A minus Koyasan.

I think the air pass will work for us. We will be flying from Syd - Tokyo by Qantas which is part of Oneworld. Thanks for the links HT. Flight vouchers were included in the original package so I am hoping I can include the domestic and international as part of the package.

I will have to run some numbers but since you all seem to know these things off the top of your heads - should we get a 7 day JR pass?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 07:53 PM
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Thanks for the thread link mrwunfl.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 09:03 PM
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Your new plan of rearranging around Hakoke Ginyu sounds like a good one. If you can change it to later, fantastic, but if not, I do think it is worth working around the date you already have.

JR Pass...general rule of thumb is that if you will make a round trip Tokyo - Kyoto - Tokyo within 7 days, a 7 day pass will likely be a good deal as the round trip fare is almost the cost of the pass.

You can check fares on www.hyperdia.com. You need to consider the total price, as the seat fee is not optional, and is actually a mistake in a way of translation. It is actually the additional money required for riding any trains other than locals...a charge for speed and niceness in effect.

With JR Passes, you cannot ride Nozomi trains, so be sure to uncheck that box in the search options at the bottom of the results page and search again to get results without Nozomi.

For some reason, hyperdia hasn't yet loaded new schedules for October forward. No worries. Not much changes, if anything at all, in October, so just search using September. The only thing to be aware of is that weekend/holiday schedules are different so search your schedule for the same day of the week that you intend to travel.
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