Japan Itinerary Help

Mar 19th, 2005, 09:49 AM
  #1  
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Japan Itinerary Help

Hi,

I'm going to Japan for the second time for 14 days and need advice. My itinerary: Tokyo (March 30-April 2nd), Kanazawa (April 3), Takayama (April 4 and 5), Magome (April 6), Tsumago (April 6), Okayama (April 7), Kurashiki (April 7), Miyajima (April 8) and Kyoto (rest of April 8 and April 9-10) and Tokyo again (April 11-12).

***V. important - any information on the bus service between Kanazawa and Takayama and Takayama and Tsumago and/or Magome (not sure which is easiest to get to from Takayama) is MUCH appreciated - like schedule and pricing. Finally, I am considering the following accommodation (pls note I prefer more traditional places and would like to keep a budget of no more than $180 per person:

Kanazawa: Murataya, Yogetsu, Notoya, Nakayasu or Kanazawa Excel Tokyu.

Takayama: Sumiyoshi, Yamakyu, Minshuku Sosuke, Hakuun or Rickshaw Inn (would it be better to stay closer to gero? I do love hot springs but I don't want to go to an over-commercialized place)

Magome: Tajimaya or Magomechaya
or Tsumago: Shimosaguya, Hanaya Ryokan or Matsushiroya

Kurashiki: Kurashiki Tokusan Kan, Kamoi Minshuku, Toyoko Inn or Kurashiki Kokusai

Kyoto: This is the hardest choice! Where is best to stay (east, west, etc.)? I'm considering Yuhara, Matsubaya, Heianbo, Murakamiya and Tour Club.

Thanks a bunch!!!
CandyG is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 01:20 PM
  #2  
 
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Bus schedules
Kanazawa - Takayama
One way price 3,300 yen
Depart K 8:40 Arrive T 11:45
Depart K 14:40 Arrive T 17:45

Takayama - Matsumoto
One way price 3,100 yen
Depart T 7:50 Arrive M 10:10
Depart T 10:50 Arrive M 13:10
Depart T 14:10 Arrive M 16:30
Depart T 1640 Arrive M 19:10
From Matsumoto you can get to Tsumago/Magome...I can't find a bus directly from Takayama to Tsumago/Magome...doesn't mean there isn't one though. You could ask at tourist info.

But why don't you just use the trains? With all the travelling around you're doing, you must have a rail pass, right? Why pay extra for the bus when the train will get you there faster and be included in the price you already paid?

Your budget of $180 per person is generous. You could do cheaper places some nights and splurge on others. Miyajima should be a splurge, and Takayama is a good splurge too.

In Kanazawa, you've only got one day, so I'd recommend either the Tokyu Excel or the APA Chuo...you won't have time to enjoy a nice ryokan if you want to sightsee as well...they are located in the downtown area, walking distance to the samurai district, Kenrokuen and Oyama Jinja and Omicho market...which is about all you'll be able to see in one day. Murataya is a so-so kind of place...you'll get better value at the hotels that can be had for under 10,000 yen per night for 2 using internet special price (all in Japanese though so you may need a translator program...no credit card required though). Yogetsu might be a nice choice, as it's in the Higashi chaya which is very pretty. You'll need a taxi to go sightseeing elsewhere from the Higashi chaya though. Notoya is not even in Kanazawa but about 30 minutes outside of downtown in Awazu, which is the nearest local onsen town. It's a nice town and Notoya is popular...it's the kind of place where you check in at 3 and leave the next morning at 10 and take baths and eat the night away. Nakayasu's location looks nice, but I've neither seen it nor heard a word about it.

In Takayama, stay in Takayama. Gero is an onsen town, which is great for onsen...that means stay in the onsen hotel and don't leave it. Onsen are for enjoying the various baths and relaxing, having a fine meal...not sightseeing. If you want to sightsee in Takayama, stay right there. Some places in Takayama that are very nice...
http://www.ryokan-seiryu.co.jp/
http://www.takayama-koto.co.jp/
http://www.hoshokaku.co.jp/
http://www.hida-kiyoharu.com/page1.html
http://www.ryokan-hakuun.co.jp/
http://www9.ocn.ne.jp/%7Ekaminaka/

I'll leave the other cities to someone else who has been recently.

If you reverse the order of your trip, you might see cherry blossoms almost everywhere you go.



KimJapan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 02:02 PM
  #3  
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Thanks Kim! Re taking the bus - I do have a JP Rail pass for 7 days but I've heard that it's better to take the bus from Kanazawa to Takayama (more time efficient) and that the trains between Takayama and Nakatsugawa are very difficult (and time consuming) to take. Is this true?
CandyG is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 02:47 PM
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You are right...the train to Takayama from Kanazawa is a bit of a nightmare with 2 - 4 changes. We've always driven, so never actually checked train schedules...when I just checked now I found it IS in fact much faster and easier to take the bus. Learned something new and useful today! Thanks!
KimJapan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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Thanks again. This is hard, trying to fit lots of stuff in at the right time. Btw, I've decided to book the Tokyu hotel in Kanazawa and splurge on other places (I stayed at an onsen ryokan in my first trip and ABSOLUTLELY LOVED IT). Also, you mentioned if I did the trip backwards I would probably see sakura in almost all the places I would go - is this correct? To be honest I don't remember why I started from Kanazawa down but now I'm thinking maybe I should do Tokyo (3/30-4/2)-->Miyajima and Kurashiki (4/3)-->Okayama and Kyoto (4/4)-->Kyoto (4/5-4/6)-->Tsumago and Magome (4/7)-->Takayama (maybe skip Gero - I do love hot springs though..)(4/8 and 4/9)--->Kanazawa (4/10)-->Tokyo (4/11 and 4/12).

What do you think?

I just really want to get the most out of this trip and I guess when I think about it, I would like to see sakura as often as I can. Also, any recommendations for a nice onsen ryokan in Takayama and Kanazawa (and maybe Kyoto) that is not insanely expensive (more than $200 for two) or is that asking for too much?

Thanks again - you're the greatest!
CandyG is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 03:58 PM
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Honestly, I think it'll be difficult if not impossible to find a nice onsen/ryokan for $100.00 per person. Don't forget that the nice places include dinner and breakfast. All the places I gave you links to in Takayama are nice. Kanazawa isn't a ryokan kind of city to be honest...while there are couple of very nice ones, they are very exclusive operations and don't come cheap. Outside of town are tons of onsen towns with hundreds of great ryokan and hotels...these are destinations in themselves and would not allow you any sightseeing time in Kanazawa. If you want that kind of place, I'll be happy to give you a few links.

Also, consider the season...cherry blossoms and school vacation. You should make a reservation right now...Actually, I just checked Hakuun for you and it's sold out for the 8th and 9th. I didn't check the others though. At any rate, make your reservations.
KimJapan is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 06:12 PM
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Looks like Kanazawa to Takayama would be by limited express to Toyama and then the Takayama line south. Looks like there are two stops: 13 minutes hanging out at Inotani station and another 68 minutes at Hida Furukawa. About 4.5 hours depending on transfer time in Toyama. Those stops must be little stations, so I would guess that you would get off the train and wait on the same platform. Maybe up and over to another platform, but it is not like navigating Shinjuku station. The train trip would be free with your JR Pass. How long is the bus trip?

The best way to travel between Takayama and Nakatsugawa (on your schedule) would be on JR. I've ridden the buses from Takayama to Kamikochi to Matsumoto and the JR beats them, comfortwise. But, if you were interested in spending a few hours in Kamikochi for a walk and a soak, it might be worthwhile. Connecting from the bus to train in Matsumoto is a short walk.

Taking JR, you would make two changes at Mino Ota and Tajimi. Both changes would be easy to make. The train trip might be a half hour shorter than the bus.

I recently saw a transport map that showed a bus route between Gero and (I think) Magome. I stayed at a tourist hotel in Gero that I can recommend, but it is a high-rise mass-market place. Nice bath in the penthouse, though, and they will have a van waiting for you at the station.

I stayed at both Sosuke and Sumiyoshi in Takayama. Sosuke is ok for budget travel, but it is not a good location. Sumiyoshi is in a good location, and I would suggest it over the Sosuke. But on your budget, I would take a look at Nagase (I haven't been there).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 19th, 2005, 06:28 PM
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Oh, it's only 3 hours by bus from Takayama to Kanazawa. You would want to stop in Shirakawago enroute for a few hours at least.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 20th, 2005, 07:51 PM
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I just got Japan by Rail by R. Zarifeh. It describes the line from Toyama to Takayama as "one of the great rail journeys in Japan".
mrwunrfl is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 04:48 AM
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mrwunrfl, tell us more about Japan by Rail. I am very interested in how a book with that title would be structured and what it has to offer. Will you do a review after you have had a look at it?
emd1 is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 06:54 AM
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I've used Japan by Rail for some planning in the Japan Alps and Shikoku. It is really good and the fares and schedules he gives are accurate as far as I could see.

It is structured by regions and gives good itineraries, plus it lists a lot of really small lines that are not often covered in other guides.

It is the book for train lovers on a budget, though. His advices on sightseeing once you're off the train are a bit short.
Florence is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 01:13 PM
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Thanks everyone! I've almost finalized my plans...except for the lodging in Takayama & Kyoto! Can't figure out whether I should stay @ Sumiyoshi, Sosuke or Nagase (is it really worth the extra $$ over the other two?) or head to Gero for one night and stay @ the Yunoshimakan (any comments on this place? I can't find a price range on their website). I just would LOVE to stay at an onsen ryokan at least one night, but there are not many (at a reasonable budget) in Takayama. Then for Kyoto, I can't decided btwn Yuhara @ Heianbo and again, I would love to stay @ a ryokan with hot spring facilities. HELP!
CandyG is offline  
Mar 21st, 2005, 02:04 PM
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Yunoshinakan homepage http://www.gero.jp/yunoshimakan/www/

If I try to make a reservation on-line I get rates of between 30,000 and 40,000 yen/night for 2 people, dinner and breakfast included. Some nights are already sold out.

http://211.125.65.180/_/00c2ea/index...ontent=selplan will give you room availability for April. There are 3 plans available...they are the blue links to the left of the calendar. You have to go through the process of selecting the day you want to check in, how many nights, how many people to get a price.

Since staying at an onsen ryokan is something you really want to do, then I would suggest you pick a place that really appeals to you in terms of looks and meals. They don't come at bargain rates. If it's cheap, it just plain won't be near to the kind of experience you'll find in a nice place.
KimJapan is offline  
May 16th, 2005, 10:08 AM
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For the kind attention of KimJapan:

I was very interested in your post concerning bus schedules between Kanazawa, Takayama and Matsumoto. I was indeed looking for that info ! I still have a further question. What is the name of the bus company? Do they have a site un English? How can I book in advance.
Your answer will help me a lot.

Cordially,
Durrus
durrus is offline  
May 16th, 2005, 01:55 PM
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I use doconavi.com to check bus schedules. They do not have anything in English. The tourist info office is the best source of English for this...they can write the schedule on paper for you.

You should book buses ahead as they do sometimes sell out. You can do it by telephone or online in Japanese. You can also do it at the station/bus terminal.

Buses depart Kanazawa at 8:40 and 2:40 for Shirakawa-go and Takayama. Takes just over 3 hours to get to Takayama. Takayama to Matsumoto departs Toyama at 7:50, 10:50, 2:10, and 4:50.

The name of the bus company? The Kanazawa based routes are Hokutetsu...but to Matsumoto I'm not sure.

KimJapan is offline  
May 16th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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Takayama to Matsumoto buses are run by Alpico. Here's the link to their English timetables.

http://www.alpico.co.jp/access/route_k/index_e.html

Also note the buttons for fares and other information (which includes bus station locations) at the bottom of that page.
someotherguy is offline  
May 16th, 2005, 06:38 PM
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Great info someotherguy! Nice to have info in English!
KimJapan is offline  
May 17th, 2005, 02:39 AM
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Thanks to both KimJapan & Someotherguy !

If I may, I'd wish to ask another question, namely : How do I go from Takayama to Shinhotaka Onsen Okuhidaonsengo ?
Cordially,
durrus is offline  
May 17th, 2005, 07:24 PM
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> Shinhotaka Onsen Okuhidaonsengo

I've no personal experience, but there are instructions in English on their website, and a map, too.

http://www.h4.dion.ne.jp/~rapport/eng/trans.htm
someotherguy is offline  
Jul 9th, 2005, 04:07 PM
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What are the best months to go? I have an open schedule and can go anytime. We would like to miss lots of tourists, but also have decent weather.
Thanks for any input.
Phil
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