Japan Itinerary Questions

Jun 25th, 2005, 12:59 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2005
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Japan Itinerary Questions


First time posting but has learned quite a bit from previous messages.

This will be my 2nd trip to Japan but 1st for my wife. Any comment/feedback is appreciated. Don't speak much Japanese but I do watch quit a bit anime

9/30 - Arrive Tokyo
10/1 - Tokyo
10/2 - Tokyo
10/3 - Toyko
10/4 - leave for Gero (love onsen-been to one in Hakone last time)
10/5 - leave for Takayama
10/6 - stay in Takayama or move on to Shirakawago by bus
10/7 - leave for Kanazawa by bus
10/8 - Kanazawa
10/9 - leave for Kyoto
10/10- Kyoto
10/11- Kyoto
10/12- Kyoto (daytrip to Nara)
10/13- leave for Hiroshima and overnight in Miyajima (try to squeeze in Himeji in the morning and Peace Park in early afternoon-too much?)
10/14- leave for Matsuyama (any ferry/hydrofoil direct from Miyajima or have to go back to Hiroshima?)
10/15- Matsuyama/Dogo Onsen
10/16- leave for Okayama/Kurashiki
10/17- leave for Shin-Osaka to catch LEX Haruka and fly out of KIX

I plan to get a 14 days rail pass and activate on 10/4. I would like to visit Kiso Valley to hike from Tsumago to Magome but can't work it into my schedule plus lack of luggage delivery on weekdays. I plan to stay in Kurashiki since it is 1/2 way to KIX but should I go to Takamatsu instead?

Any way I can cut down the travel time between Tokyo and Gero. It will take about 4-5 hours on my calculation (via Nagoya with approx 1 hr wait between train transfer from Shinakansen Hikari and LEX WV Hida; will be one hour faster if Nozomi but no-go since on a railpass)

What do you think?
anthko is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 03:18 PM
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Leave your bags at Nakatsugawa (or just send them from Tokyo to Gero). Go to Nagiso, walk the Nakasendo, bus to Nakatsugawa. Get bags if they are there and then train to Gero. I think there is a bus from Nakatsugawa, maybe even from Tsumago, to Gero also. If you go to Kiso you can skip Takayama.
10/13 that can be done

10/14 - you have to go to Hiroshima. There is a boat from Miyajima to Hiroshima port that would be convenient. Otherwise it would be the ferry to Miyajimaguchi, a train or streetcar to Hiroshima, then transfer to a screetcar to the port.

There is no way to cut down the Tokyo- Gero trip unless you find a shorter connection time in Nagoya.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 04:34 PM
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Thanks, mrwunrfl,

How long is the bus ride from either Magome or Nakatsugawa to Gero? The quickest train route (via Tajimi/Minoota with total 3 changes) to Gero is a bit over 2 1/2 hrs and cost Y3980. Ideally I will stay in Tsumago on 10/4 and hike the Nakasendo on 10/5 morning to Magome/hang around for a few hours and take off for Gero (and hopefully get there by 5pm).

What should I do after Gero? Assuming I will leave Gero on 10/6, I would still like to see Shirakawago/Kanazawa. From one of your earlier post, it seems like there is a bus leaving Gero at 9:45 AM for Takayama and then for Shirakawago at 11:05 AM. Is these a later bus leaving Gero? If not I guess I can just pass through Takayama and stay at Shirakawago on 10/6 and continue as planned the rest of the way.

This might actually work out better since now I would not need to do the 5 hours trek from Tokyo to Gero, and I might enjoy Gero more after the hike.
anthko is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 05:38 PM
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There was no later bus from Gero on the schedule that I had. Since you have a JR Pass, you could forget about taking the bus from Gero to Shirakawago. In fact, I think it would be better to take the train. Check the schedule, but I think the train would be faster and definitely more comfy than the bus and you'll save a few JPY. The bus terminal is next door to JR Takayama station. It's only 40 min on the LEX from Gero to Tak. (or 70 min on a local).

The first LEX arrives Takayama arround 11AM (there are earlier locals). You could spend a few hours in Takayama and go on to Shirakawago in the afternoon.

If you haven't already, you should go here:
and in the Chubu section click on the links for Kiso Valley and for Takayama to download the pdfs for those areas. On the Kiso Valley document, take a look at the "Traffic Network" map.

You can see on the pdf what I was referring to: looks like there is a bus line from Magome to Gero. Might save some time over the train route. The train trip would be free with your JR Pass but you would pay (my guess would be 2000 yen) for the bus trip (I would be very surprised if it was a JR bus). I don't know the bus travel time or schedule.

On the Traffic Network map, I would like to point out a couple of other places (as alternate ideas, if you haven't considered them yet). There is hiking in/near Kamikochi (I saw some people with serious backpacks there). Elainee described Hirayu Onsen and it sounds like a nice stop. With an interest in onsen, I might actually consider visiting Hirayu Onsen instead of Takayama. If the bus from Tak. to Hirayu was a 30 min. trip then I think I might take it, spend 2 hours or so at Hirayu, and then back to Tak. and on to Shirakawago. If the schedules were convenient I might consider it.

I was actually suggesting leaving Tokyo in the morning, walking the Nakasendo, and spending the night in Gero.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 05:41 PM
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It was clear to me when writing it, but not now when reading it, so I'll write it another way: I think it would be better to take the train from Gero to Takayama and the bus from Takayama to Shirakawago than to take the bus from Gero to Shirakawago.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 05:44 PM
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Be aware that the Nakasendo is a fairly stiff hike: as measured by my GPS, Tsumago is at 1,425 ft, the Magome pass is at 2,620 ft, and the Magome bus stop is at 1,970 ft. The usual recommendation is to do it in the Magome to Tsumago direction because the total height gain is less; however, the Magome side of the pass is much steeper than the Tsumago side. If I were to do it again, I'd skip the Magome side (its a hard slog, mostly on roads, and not that interesting), and take a taxi to the pass and walk to Tsumago from there.
someotherguy is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 06:13 PM
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I returned from a trip to Japan about a month ago. Tokyo is ok, albeit dirty, but for a first time trip(your wife) it is a decent place to start. Kyoto is the best on the list, and to be quite frank worth a trip in of itself. Id skip Hiroshima, when I went there was an awful lot of anti-American sentiment (some name calling, posters etc). I found this shocking considering the fact that they never apologized for Pearl Harbor or the American lives they took on Iwo Jima, Okinawa, the Philippines and so on.
BKreugUSA1 is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 06:14 PM
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That's a great tip, thanks someotherguy.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jun 25th, 2005, 06:27 PM
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Good idea re: train from Gero to Takayama. I should know that, duh.

I will look into Hirayu Onsen some more. If possible I will try to work it into my trip.

My wife and I are in okay shape-should be fine with the 2-3 hours hike. BTW, The Rough Guide also mentions the "traditional" walk is from Magome to Tsumago. It doesn't matter too much to me except in which town to spend the night prior to the hike. Is one or the other "better"?

Finally I did a quick check on hyperdia.com: the quickest way from Tokyo to Nakatsugawa is close to 4 hours (via Nagoya)-not counting dropping off bags at train station and then going onto Nagiso. It might not save me times afterall even if I ship my bags to Gero directly.

I am now thinking about leaving early for Matsumoto (about 3 hrs by train from Tokyo), visit the castle and then going onto Nagiso (limited express 1 hr).
anthko is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 08:55 AM
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A related question: how does the lugguage delivery service work? Do they only deliver to major airports or hotels? How about ryokans (I am thinking about sending our lugguages-21" roller carry-on each- from Kyoto ahead to either Miyajima or Matsuyama)? It will save me a lots of headache on 10/13 to 14.
anthko is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 12:03 PM
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> how does the lugguage delivery service work?

Type "takkyubin" into the search box and you'll get some useful threads.

Here's a web link that explains it, too

Most hotels can send your bags on for you via a takkyubin service, and they can be sent pretty much anywhere (you need the address of the destination in Japanese). It costs less than $20 for a typical rollaboard.
someotherguy is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 01:57 PM
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As someotherguy said, this delivery system works for alomst anywhere with an address so it has been a serious competitor for the govermental post system since a few ten years. Usually hotel (incl.ryokans) and chain convenience stores (7/11, Lawason, etc) have contract with one of these delivery service companies. So the locals (who are not staying at hotels) bring the things they want to send usually to a nearby convenience store.

Just FYI, "takkyu-bin" is the trademark for Black Cat Yamato company who originally started this private delivery service but soon there have been followers such as Pelican takuhai-bin. "Takuhai" seems to be the common word to call this service there, literally meaning Home-Delivery. Any one of those companies are reliable.
kappa is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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Thanks again. Another silly question: I assume address should be in Katakana/Kanji and not Romanji.
anthko is offline  
Jun 26th, 2005, 04:14 PM
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Romaji/alphabet addresses are fine. Be sure they are correct and complete. Typically, delivery service is overnight, so don't send anything you'll need that same night. The post office also sends baggage, next day service. Last time I used the post office was about a month ago to send a medium sized suitcase home from Nagoya (to Kanazawa) when there were no lockers or baggage storage available. Cost was 1200 yen, sent at lunchtime Sunday, received Monday morning.
KimJapan is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 06:08 PM
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Appreciate comments on my new itineray plus have a few more questions:

10/4 Tokyo to Matsumoto then Tsumago or Magome
10/5 Hike Nakasendo to Magome or Tsumago then train to Gero
10/6 Gero to Kyoto
10/7-11 Kyoto
10/12 Kyoto to Himeji then Hiroshima
10/13 Hiroshima to Miyajima
10/14 to 17 unchanged

1) Is 3-hours enough time to check out Matsumoto-jo including to/from Train station?

2) In which town would you prefer to overnight (or spend more time), Magome or Tsumago? I figure that we will arrive in Kiso Valley around five in the afternoon and leave early next AM for the hike/spend a few hours then bus to the nearest train station.

3) I decided that moving around so much might be too much (besides, we can alway go back-I hope). Is 5 full days in Kyoto too much-opinions seem to differ from person to person.
anthko is offline  
Jul 4th, 2005, 07:47 PM
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Yes on the Matsumoto-jo question, I think. The bus (number 1, I think) is just to the right from the station entrance. Maybe best take a taxi back to the station.

You would be only 40-some minutes from Takayama. You could spend a few hours there, and a couple hours visiting the Hida no Sato to get a sampling of Hida village structures including gassho zukuri farmhouses without going all the way to Shirakawago. But, that would not be on the route of your new plan. Opinions certainly do differ.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 10:51 AM
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SandyO is offline  
Nov 1st, 2005, 06:25 PM
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Am not sure why you topped this SandyO, but I see something wrong in my last reply to this thread. I want to clarify that I was replying to two different topics.

One topic was that since OP was going to be in Gero, then it would be easy to visit Takayama from there beccause it is only 40 minutes by JR train from Gero to Takayama.

The other topic was about visiting Matsumotojo. Can be done in 3 hours but that is pushing it. Easy to find the bus getting there. Easy to taxi or walk back (I didn't take the bus)

I definitely was not saying that the travel from Matsumoto to Takayama was 40 minutes. It is more like 4 hours and 40 minutes by JR or several hours by bus over the mountains via Kamikochi (nice trip).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 9th, 2005, 07:03 PM
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I don't know if you have time to get to Hakone again on this trip, but I stayed at a nice onsen there. The food was amazing and the place was really relaxing.

There was also a review of them on japan-zone.com. Here is the link:
http://www.japan-zone.com/omnibus/onsen.shtml The description was right on and I would recommend it to anyone.

Hope that helps.

dgtrader is offline  
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