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Japan Itinerary & JR Schedule Timetable Help

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Feb 26th, 2006, 12:35 AM
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Japan Itinerary & JR Schedule Timetable Help

Hello! I'm going to Japan in March and thought I'd ask my fellow travellers for their opinions on my itinerary. Comments and criticism is welcome. I haven't figured out all the sites I want to see in Tokyo yet.

I also had a question about the JR schedule. Using the grace.hyperdia.com website while trying to figure out timetables from Hiroshima to Takayama for April, I could only get the Nozomi trains to display for the morning schedule. Since I'm travelling on the JR pass I need the slower trains. Can any of you Japanese readers help me find the schedules?

Thanks!

Sun March 26 arrive 16:35 in TOKYO

Mon March 27 TOKYO

Tue March 28 TOKYO Nikko

Wed March 29 TOKYO Hakone

Thu March 30 depart TOKYO for KYOTO check in at hostel, sightsee & walk around Gion district overnight in KYOTO

Fri March 31 KYOTO 10:15-15:30 walking tour with Johnnie Hillwalker late afternoon sightsee overnight in KYOTO

Sat April 1 KYOTO early morning take NARA line train to INARI station see Fushimi Inari Shrine then continue to UJI see Byodi-in Temple continue to NARA see Todaiji Temple & Kasuga Shrine & deer overnight in KYOTO

Sun April 2 KYOTO early morning depart for Hijemi Castle sightsee castle continue to HIROSHIMA take train then ferry to MIYAJIMA sightsee hike Misen overnight in MIYAJIMA

Mon April 3 morning sightsee MIYAJIMA see Itsukushima-Jinjya shrine see Gojyu-no-tou (5 level tower) late morning depart for HIROSHIMAget okonomiyaki for lunch see Peace Park Museum Dome overnight in HIROSHIMA

Tue April 4 early morning depart for TAKAYAMA sightsee overnight in TAKAYAMA

Wed April 5 morning go to Jinyamae Morning Market or Miyagawa Morning Market see Takayama Yatai Kaikan (festival float exhibition hall) see Sanmachi Sujisee (old town) see Hida Folk Village overnight in TAKAYAMA

Thu April 6 morning depart for TOKYO

Fri April 7 TOKYO observe sumo stable

Sat April 8 leave TOKYO for US
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Feb 26th, 2006, 01:02 AM
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For Hiroshima to Takayama, you need to break the journey into portions to outsmart hyperdia. Then, when you get any result, even Nozomi, click on the clock/book symbol to get the trains for the day.

You can take the Hikari Railstar 440
depart Hiroshima at 6:44 arrive Shin Osaka 8:20.
Change to Kodama depart Shin Osaka 8:23 arrive Nagoya 9:31.
Change to Hida depart Nagoya 9:43 arrive Takayama 12:11.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 01:13 AM
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Thank you so much for the help. I hate it when websites are smarter than me.

Now that I've almost figured out my itinerary, I've seen a couple comments that Takayama is too touristy and only looks really traditional on one street. I had seen some pics of the traditional street and thought I really wanted to see it, but now I'm not so sure. Any Takayama defenders out there?
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Feb 26th, 2006, 01:19 AM
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I like Takayama just fine...but it is a small city with a preserved area. If you are looking for more old style, try Shirakawa-go or Gokayama. S-go is more easily accessible by bus from Takayama or Kanazawa.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 01:35 AM
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I had thought about spending one day in Takayama and then going to Kanazawa for a day, but didn't think there would be enough time to travel there and sightsee. Do you agree?

Or should I keep 2 days in Takayama and do a daytrip to Shirakawa-go? If so, is there an english website for bus timetables? I do want to see historic traditional Japan with the roofs as it would be a nice contrast to the shrines and temples that I will be seeing elsewhere. That and I have watched too many samurai movies.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 06:35 AM
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"Fri March 31 KYOTO 10:15-15:30 walking tour with Johnnie Hillwalker...."

phantasm - I am planning to take his tour then also
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Feb 26th, 2006, 09:15 AM
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I like Takayama. Definitely visit the government house there. It was a tax assessment office in Edo times, IIRC. The morning market on the river didn't have anything of interest to me, but YMMV. There is a temple walk in the hills on the east side of Takayama.

You could do some site seeing on the 4th, day trip to Shirakawago on the 5th, and see more Takayama sites on the 6th. You could skip Hida no Sato if you go to Ogimachi, Shirakawago.

You've got a great itinerary. I'll point out that the Hiroshima to Takayama trip is 5 hours. I did that trip, actually coming from Miyajima, and it can be a bit tiring with connections at Shin Osaka and Nagoya. So maybe moving the Nara day to after Hiroshima would break it up. It would break it up OR drag it out, depending on your perspective, and my take is that you would prefer to make as few hotel changes as possible.

BUT, you could get to Kanazawa from Hiroshima by noon. Then get a bus up to Shirakawago, getting there by 3PM. Stay overnight at a gassho zukuri minshuku, site see in the morning and then bus to Takayama.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 01:11 PM
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We'll be in some of the same spots as you. Is the Johnny Hillwalker tour a good one? WE were planning on it either 3/27 or 3/31, too. We've been recommended to do the Nijo castle by tour, since it may be hard to get in otherwise. Is that true? How about the geisha tour? I sent an email and got no response. Also, we're planning on stopping at Shirakawa-go on our way from Kanazawa to Takayama. Are there enough other things to do in Takayama, assuming we don't do the Hida village?
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Feb 26th, 2006, 09:29 PM
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mrwunrfl -

I was going to head for Takayama from Miyajima until I realized just how long of a trek it would be to get there. I decided instead that I would stay overnight in Hiroshima to save time especially since it looks like I'll be starting that day really early.

I'm now rethinking my 2 days in Takayama. I had thought to see Kanazawa as I wanted to see Ninja-dera, but it was suggested that I spend more time in Takayama since it is more rustic. Now I'm not sure... I've also since learned that you must reserve a tour for Ninja-dera which is only in Japanese and I don't know the language.

I think it will be a much more interesting & unique experience to see Shikawa and stay at Ogimachi before going to Takayama. Anybody agree with me?

Regarding Johnnie Hillwalker...pretty coincidental that many of us are thinking of taking it on the same day. I'm rethinking it since I took a day away from Kyoto stay to accomodate the longer travel time to Takayama. I had thought to do it as I've read good reviews about him (although I hear he sticks to a script and doesn't like to interupt it to answer questions). Since I've less time in Kyoto, I might skip it and go it on my own in order to cram in more sights and temples.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 10:13 PM
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Yes, I agree about going to Shirakawago, as that was my last suggestion. Getting there from Hiroshima would still be a bit of a trek.

You could go from Hiroshima to Kanazawa and be there by noon. Would you then be able to catch the Ninja Dera tour that day? I wouldn't let a little thing like not knowing Japanese keep me away from taking the tour. Spend the night in Kanazawa and then bus up to Shirakawago, stop there for a few hours and continue to Takayama for the night. Not sure I would call Takayama rustic but it is quite a bit smaller than Kanazawa.

Where were you planning to stay in Hiroshima? You could travel further on April 3.
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Feb 26th, 2006, 10:53 PM
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I hadn't picked a place yet to stay in Hiroshima yet. I had thought of staying there to allow Miyajima time in the morning of April 3 and Peace Park Museum (it is open on Mondays, right?). That is a good suggestion of travelling further before staying overnite to break up the travel. What city would you suggest to stay overnight in?

My hesitation with Ninjadera was that tourbooks say it requires advance reservation. And depending on the schedule for buses from Kanazawa to Shirakawago it might not work timewise. Anybody know the times?
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Feb 27th, 2006, 09:28 AM
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Oh, so you are thinking of traveling to Kanazawa, visiting Ninja Dera, and continuing on to Shirakawago the same day? That would be a bit much.

There is a Hikari shinkansen departing Hiroshima 19:47 that goes thru Shin Osaka to Kyoto arriving at 21:10. You could still have okonomiyaki in Hiroshima and spend the night in Kyoto. At the Granvia Hotel at the station, for example. The next morning you could catch the first Limited Express Thunderbird to be in Kanazawa before 10AM (the Raityou limited express is 45 minutes slower).

Or, you could take the Hikari shinkansen to Shin Osaka and catch the LEX Thunderbird from there to Kanazawa. For example depart H at 19:10 arrive S O at 20:44, depart SO at 20:57 arr Kanazawa at 23:24. Or depart Hiroshima 25 minutes earlier to have plenty of time to catch that last T-bird of the day to Kanazawa.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 09:29 AM
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The good part of the plan to go from Hiroshima to Ninja Dera to Shirakawago woiuld be that you would have to spend the night in S-go. Definitely worthwhile. That is rustic.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 09:50 AM
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I found out that there are only 2 buses from Kanazawa to Shirakawago daily (assuming the schedule stays the same). One around 8:40am and another one at 14:40am. I'll have to rethink this one - it might be doable if I travel as far as possible from Hiroshima. I know hotels in the US are quite used to late check-ins - are Japanese hotels quite so accomadating?

Only way this looks like it'll work out is if I get to Kanazawa early to so I could sightsee in the morning and catch the 14:40 to Shirakawago. Or simply skip sightseeing in K to see S-go. Is Ogimachi walkable from S-go? It looks really close in the map, but the tourbooks aren't often drawn to reality.

Would there be enough time to sightsee in S-go in the morning after an overnite there before heading to Takayama in the afternoon? And would I have enough time in Takayama with most sightseeing in the morning after an overnite there?
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Feb 27th, 2006, 12:04 PM
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Yes, the hotels are accomodating. Some individual places have curfews so you could check for that (but I think those curfews are more like 1-5AM). But the Japanese chains don't, so generally it is like in the US. I stayed at the APA Kanazawa-chuo and it was good. Small room, as expected, nice bath on the roof. There is a Tokyu across the street and a couple doors up, I think. Short taxi or bus ride to those places. There are other hotels close to JR Kanazawa station.

When people are discussing Ogimachi or Shirakawago they are basically referring to the same place. My understanding is that "ogimachi" means, approximately, "home village". The gassho zukuri are in the home village of the larger entity, the "-go" of Shirakawa-go. The -go is something like a township.

If you see a map that shows the "outdoor museum" at one end (north/east) of the village and a viewpoint at the other (up a windy road on a hill) then that distance is a bit far to walk (in deep snow it sure is) but there is a shuttle between those two points.

Yes, arriving on the 14:40 bus, seeing some sights, spending the night, seeing more sights in the morning, bus to Takayama in the afternoon, overnight in Takayama, sightseeing next day in Takayama and going to Tokyo that evening is doable. Just depends on how in-depth you want to go. I think a Fodorite just did this, actually.

Getting the 8:40 bus from Kanazawa means that you can move everything up a few hours. Get to Takayama by noon the next day, maybe, instead of 4-5PM. Better make your reservation now for Shirakawago.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 09:14 PM
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If I were to take the 8:40 bus to S-go I would have zero time to sightsee in Kanazawa. I think it's a shorter trip to Takayama from Nagoya. IF so it might be easier to overnite there, do a little sightseeing the next morning go to S-go. Overnite there and return to Takayama the next day and stay overnite before going to Tokyo the day after.

Does this Tak/S-go trip sound like a better trip than a lightning fast Kan/S-go/Tak trip? I'm starting to get so confused that I thought that my problems were solved with the Shirakawaguchi stop on the Takayama JR line.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 10:29 PM
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Yes, you're right. Not going to Ninja Dera would mean that your original plan would be just as good. With the improvement of going further than Hiroshima on the 3rd. It is a bit confusing, with all of the options you have, but it basically boils down to this:

One night in Nagoya or Kanazawa
AND either
one night in S-go and one night in Takayama
OR two nights in Takayama.

If you go to Ninja Dera then that forces the plan: one night in Kanazawa and taking the afternoon bus to S-go which means overnighting there and one night in Takayama then on to Tokyo. If not Ninja Dera, then that opens up your options.

I wrote some more after this but deleted it. You've got a plan and now you know several options. You can hardly go wrong however you decide.
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Feb 27th, 2006, 11:47 PM
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mrwunrfl,

Thanks for all your help and advice! You really are wonderful. I can hardly comprehend how people travelled before the internet or before there were guidebooks.

I think it's more realistic for me to travel as far as Nagoya and overnite there. Any recommendations for a place near the JR? If I wake up early enough, take a look around Nagoya before catching the train to Takayama. Once there, have lunch or buy a box lunch at the station and catch the bus to S-go and overnite there. Next day sightsee a little before going back to Takayama and overniting there. Next day head to Tokyo.

Since you suggested overniting in S-go, do you have any recommendations for inns? I found this website http://www.vill.shirakawa.gifu.jp/e/stay/
but none of the inns have email or an english speaking booking agent. Since it's a small village I find it might be unlikely that I'll get an English speaker to answer the phone and I do not know Japanese. Since I'm unfamiliar with the area it's also hard to figure out where the inns are.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 12:00 AM
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Just found this site http://www.japaneseguesthouses.com/d...wago/index.htm which has some inns listed for S-go and has a booking service. Hopefully I'll find one I like and it will be available.
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Feb 28th, 2006, 12:31 AM
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Your schedule doesn't leave much room for missteps--nor serendipity. Some of the finest sights in Nara are the really ancient temples out on the East side (Horyuji is the oldest wooden building in the world). The nigatsu-do and sangatsu-do up the hill behind Todaiji are very fine (the latter looks like a shack to the untutored eye but is about 1150 years old and houses very fine statues).

If you are a photographer, beware that you will be at Itsukushima at low tide. From the tide link at http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3450.html

Itsukushima, Hiroshima, Japan
3 April 2006 - 4 April 2006

34.3000 N, 132.3170 E

2006-04-03 00:18 JST 3.22 meters High Tide
2006-04-03 05:55 JST Sunrise
2006-04-03 06:11 JST 1.12 meters Low Tide
2006-04-03 08:49 JST Moonrise
2006-04-03 11:51 JST 2.95 meters High Tide
2006-04-03 18:22 JST 0.27 meters Low Tide
2006-04-03 18:32 JST Sunset
2006-04-04 00:12 JST Moonset
2006-04-04 01:03 JST 3.01 meters High Tide
2006-04-04 05:54 JST Sunrise
2006-04-04 06:50 JST 1.39 meters Low Tide
2006-04-04 09:41 JST Moonrise
2006-04-04 12:23 JST 2.76 meters High Tide
2006-04-04 18:33 JST Sunset
2006-04-04 19:04 JST 0.46 meters Low Tide

For Shirakawago, check out "The Honest Photographer" tab on the Quirky Japan page at http://www.quirkyjapan.or.tv/

The Hida museaum in Takayama has some gassho houses:
http://www.hida.jp/e-kankou/e-point/e-point.htm
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