Month-long Japan Itinerary

Old Mar 7th, 2008, 07:03 PM
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Month-long Japan Itinerary

First of all, thanks to everyone who has answered my posts over the past few months and helped me put together this trip to Japan in May. I sincerely appreciate everyone's input. These forums are invaluable.

Here is my current proposed itinerary. Still a work in progress. I plan on using a 21 day JR Pass May 8-May 28 and a 3 flexiday Kansai thru pass May 31-Jun 3.

I'm posting it because I thought it may be of some interest to others planning travel and to seek feedback about how it might be improved.

May 3: Arrive Tokyo (5 nights Shibuya Granbell Hotel-hotel has confirmed that room is at front of hotel away from construction)
May 4- May 7: 4 full days Tokyo
May 8: Train to Takayama via Matsumoto (2 nights Sumiyoshi Ryokan Takayama)
May 9: In Takayama
May 10: bus to Ogi-machi (1 night Koemon Gassho-Zukuri)
May 11: morning bus to and afternoon visit Kanazawa (1 night Ryokan Sumiyoshiya)
May 12: Kanazawa with 3:00pm departure for Hiroshima
May 12-14: 3 nights World Friendship Centre (WFC) Hiroshima
May 13: WFC organized Hibakusha story and Peace Park tour plus other sites on own
May 14: Miyajima full day
May 15: Morning train and visit Kagoshima (3 nights Nakazono Ryokan)
May 16: Sakurajima day trip
May 17: Daytrip Chiran and Ibusuki
May 18: full day Aso (overnight Higoji Minshuku Kumamoto)
May 19: Kumamoto and late afternoon train to Nagasaki (4 nights Fujiwara Ryokan Nagasaki)
May 20-21: 2 full days Nagasaki
May 22: daytrip open (considering Unzen Onsen)
May 23: morning train and visit Kurashiki (2 nights Kurashiki Kokusai Hotel)
May 24: morning visit Okayama Korakuen followed by Kibi Plain Bicycle Route
May 25: day in Himeji and evening train to Kyoto (6 nights Palace Side Hotel Kyoto)
May 26-30: 4 full days Kyoto and 1 full day trip to Osaka on May 28)
May 31: early train to Nara (1 night Ryokan Matsumae Nara)
Jun 1: Nara afternoon train to Koya-san (2 nights Ekoin Koya-san)
Jun 2: Koya-san
Jun 3: depart Koya-san 11:00am for Kansai Airport

So there you have it. This itinerary was developed based on current train schedules but I understand that I may have to do some jigging once I find out the new schedules after March 15th. And by the way, the JR portion of this itinerary would cost approx 95,000 yen includng reservation fees so buying the 21 day JR Pass at 57,700 is a real money saver
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Old Mar 7th, 2008, 09:31 PM
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Looks great to me. You must have something special planned for 3 nights in Hiroshima.

You know the travel time and methods in getting from Koyasan to KIX (bus, tram, train, train and or bus) will be more involved than I would want on my last day in Japan but all the rest looks ok to me. I would love to go on this trip. Have a good time!

Aloha!
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Old Mar 7th, 2008, 10:44 PM
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maybe put Koyasan before Kyoto, then leave to KIX after your 6 nights in Kyoto
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Old Mar 7th, 2008, 11:31 PM
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Thanks hawaiiantraveler.

Regarding the 3 nights in Hiroshima, I will arrive the first night around 8:00pm, have the second night after a full day in Hiroshima and the third after the day trip to Miyajima.

It took me a while to sort out the Koyasan bit, but I can have a liesurely, serene I'm thinking, last morning in Koyasan, catch the cable car at 12:48 pm and arrive at Kansai with only 1 train change at 3:08pm for 1720yen total. From the top of the cablecar to the airport in 2 hours and 20 minutes. So not too bad I think. My flight to Vancouver departs at 5:20pm.
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Old Mar 8th, 2008, 12:49 AM
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hawaiiantraveler, i meant to add that i'll take a relook at the koyasan-kyoto bit based on your comments. appreciate your input . thanks!
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Old Mar 23rd, 2008, 11:01 PM
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Thanks to everyone who has answered this and other recent posts. I sincerely appreciate everyone's input and I've taken your suggestions to heart.

Here is my revised itinerary. I'll be using a 14 day JR Pass for travel May 12-May 24.

I'm posting this update because I thought it may be of some interest to others planning travel and to those who provided me feedback.

May 3: Arrive Tokyo (9 nights Hotel Lornstar Shinjuku)
May 4- May 11: 6 full days Tokyo and a 2 day sidetrip destination(s) still undecided.
May 12: Train to Hiroshima with a 4 hour stop in Himeji.
May 12-14: 3 nights World Friendship Centre (WFC) Hiroshima
May 13: WFC organized Hibakusha story and Peace Park tour plus other sites on own
May 14: Miyajima full day
May 15: morning train and visit Kurashiki (1 nights Toyoko Inn Kurashiki)
May 16: morning visit Okayama Korakuen followed by Kibi Plain Bicycle Route, afternoon train to Kanazawa
May 16-18: 3 nights Kanazawa (Yamamura Ryokan)
May 19: bus to Shirigawa-go, Ogi-machi (1 night Koemon Gassho-Zukuri)
May 20-21:Takayama (2 nights Sumiyoshi Ryokan)
May 22-23: long train ride to Koyasan (2 nights Ekoin Koya-san)
May 24: train to Kyoto (7 nights Palace Side Hotel Kyoto)
May 25-30: 6 full days Kyoto
May 31: early train to Nara (1 night Ryokan Matsumae Nara)
Jun 1: Nara; late afternoon train to Osaka (2 nights Business Hotel Nissei, Namba)
Jun 2: Osaka
Jun 3: depart Osaka 2:00pm for Kansai Airport

So there it is. Much less travelling and more relaxed than the original itinerary first posted.

Buying single tickets, the JR portion of this itinerary would cost approx 53,500 yen includng reservation fees, so buying the 14 day JR Pass at 45,100 is still a moneysaver. And a huge convenience.

Hope someone finds this post useful.
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Old Mar 24th, 2008, 04:42 AM
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Thanks for your itinerary. It looks like you will have a great trip.

I am going to Japan for first time in Sep/Oct for 3 weeks. I hadn't even heard of Kurashiki so looked it up and it sounds intereting. Something for me to consider.

I would also be interested to know what you are intending to do in the Kanazawa area. I had only been contemplating one night there.
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Old Mar 24th, 2008, 09:37 AM
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Hi Shandy

Re Kanazawa, I won't arrive until 8:00pm the first night so I will really only have 2 full days there. Of course there is the famous Kenroku Garden, and the lesser known Gyokusen Garden. There are also a number of museums of interest to me, the Gold Leaf museum and the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art (of particular architectural interest). Also Myoryu-ji (Ninja) temple, Nagamachi (Samurai district), Higashi-no-Kuruwa (Eastern Pleasure district or Geisha quarter).

When you are planning your itinerary it is important to factor in travel time. Sometimes moving on is a short journey, i.e. Hiroshima to Kirashiki is only 1 hour and Kyoto to Nara is only 35 minutes. But Kurashiki to Kanazawa is 4.5 hours.

So to visit for 1 day you really need to spend 2 nights or for 2 days you need to spend 3 nights because of travel times.

My first itinerary had too many stops and too many long train journeys.

By the way I have used several guidebooks in planning this trip: Lonely Planet, Frommers, Japan Rail Guide and Fodors. I must say that for a good description of sites and well laid out itineraries and maps for individual cities, Fodor's is the best. I'm a middle of the road/budget traveler so Fodor's food and accommodation recs are generally too highend for me. Lonely Planet and Frommers (website is good for hotels) were more in my league. And Tripadvisor is hard to beat for hotel recs.

Fodor's Japan will be the book I take along tho'.

Also highly recommend the Japan National Tourist Organization website for walking tours (look for PDF file) and suggested itinerararies for almost every destination:

http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/d...ons/index.html
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Old Mar 24th, 2008, 09:44 AM
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Hi, smacdvanbc -

I think your revised itinerary looks great! Enjoy!

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Old Mar 24th, 2008, 11:04 AM
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smacdvanbc,

I think the revised plan looks great! I would love to do this itinerary. Looks like lots of fun and into some great rural areas. Hope the weather holds up for you.

We will be leaving Tokyo after a month in Japan on May 4th so we will cross paths as you begin and we leave.

Aloha!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 12:00 AM
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I just found this thread, was looking for ht's itinerary. ht, are you planning on going for a soak at Daiichi Takimotokan in Noboribetsu Onsen?

smacdvanbc, the new itinerary is much better. I very much enjoyed staying at Koemon in January 2005 as their only guest. Walk down the path and across the footbridge to the outdoor museum. There is a shuttle from there to the hill that overlooks the town from the south. The shuttle would be a good way to get up to that classic viewpoint.

I stayed at Sumiyoshi also. The dinner was good. I didn't like the shared bath so much, but the price was right.

Will you go to the sumo tournament when you are in Tokyo?
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 09:52 AM
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mrwunrfl,

yes I took your advice and booked Takimoto Inn for 2 nights. It is the one owned by Daiichi and right across the street so use of the Daiichi baths are included at $60 US p/p.

includes breakfast and dinner

Aloha!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 10:18 AM
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A couple of tips on Kanazawa. You need to make a reservation to visit Ninja Temple. I enjoyed strolling around one of geisha district (can't remember the name, the one across the river from Korinbo) early evening--the lighting of the street and lack of tourists made the area quite serene and poetic. I also liked a museum next to Kenrokuen. Don't miss the old Nomura residence--small but beautiful garden. We also had a feast at a kaiten sushi place on the mezzanine floor of a building next to the western side of JR station.
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 09:22 PM
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Thnx W9London do you know where I can make the reservation for the Ninja Temple?

Also I have made a choice re the 2 day break during my Tokyo stay. I've booked in at Shima Onsen. I nixed Hakone...it sounded too busy and commercial for my liking. and I thought I'd save Nikko for a future trip because of all the time I'll be spending in Kyoto on this one. From what I can gather Shima is a good, but relatively off the track onsen town and I was able to get an affordable daily rate at a ryokan onsen: Kashiwaya Ryokan. anyone know it?
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 09:44 PM
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You can make reservations for Myouryuji (Ninja Temple) up to 3 months in advance. 076-241-0888 Japanese only. They have a website, Japanese only http://www.myouryuji.or.jp/
Alternatively, you could request that the Tourist info office in Kanazawa station call for you. The tourist office number is 076-232-5555 and occasionally has an English speaking volunteer there.

The tour is only in Japanese, but they give you a paper guide to follow along and stress that it is not yours to keep. Once I interpreted for a friend there and was told it was not allowed, so don't bother trying to get an interpreter. Interesting in spite of the language difficulty. 3 minutes walk from my house.


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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 12:17 AM
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Thanks KimJapan. I've written to my ryokan Yamamura and asked them to make a reservation on my behalf. They have been corresponding with me in English.

Also wanted to tell you that your advice was instrumental in my changing my original itinerary. I am happy now to be spending 3 nights in Kanazawa and a day and night in Shiragawa-go. Thank you.

Perhaps we will unknowingly pass by each other on saturday morning in Omicho Market!
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 12:58 AM
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Yamamura ryokan is one I don't know. Do they have a website and/or do you know the address?
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Old Mar 27th, 2008, 10:50 AM
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Hi KimJapan. Yes they are a new mwmber of the Japanese Inn group.

Here's the link:http://www.gem.hi-ho.ne.jp/yamamuro/english/index.html

It is a very moderately priced ryokan...so rather modest I would think.

I have been impressed with the service I have received through email correspondence.

And I did hear back this morning and they made the Ninja Temple reservation for me.
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