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Need your thoughts on my 12 days Japan itinerary!

Need your thoughts on my 12 days Japan itinerary!

Old Jul 11th, 2016, 05:22 AM
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Need your thoughts on my 12 days Japan itinerary!

Hi All,

I am planning a trip to Japan and Thailand in mid November. I'll start in Japan for 12 days then head to Thailand for 12 days.

I will arrive in Japan by november 17th, is this the best time to observe the autumn colors for the Tokyo and the Kyoto areas or do I need to push it a week earlier or later?

Here is my initial plan, please check it out and let me know what do you think, if any of the destinations can be skipped, replaced or need more time.

There are couple of places that I was thinking to include but not sure if they are worth it to replace any of the destination below, Miyajima, hakone, Matsumoto and Kamikochi

Day 1: Arrive at Tokyo,

Day 2: Tokyo

Day 3: Tokyo

Day 4: Nikko Day trip

Day 5: Leave Tokyo to Shirakawa-go, spend day and leave to Takayama to spend the night

Day 6: Takayama

Day 7: Takayama

Day 8:leave to Kanazwa spend the night

Day 9: Leave to Kyoto

Day 10: Kyoto

Day 11: Nara

Day 12: Kyoto

Thanks a lot for your input
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Old Jul 11th, 2016, 06:07 AM
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I think one night in Kanazawa is not wortwhile, you need minimum of two just for one full day there, preferably 3 nights is better. You could reduce Takayama to 2 nights, but check your transport times as to whether you can still do Shirakawa-go on the way.

The biggest issue for me with this itinerary is how little time there is for Kyoto. Unless you've been to Kyoto before, 3 nights seems very little to me, even with the additional night for Nara. (Incidentally, one our first Japan trip, we travelled directly from Takayama to Nara where we spent one night before then transferring to Kyoto, that may work for you transport-wise - use Hyperdia.com to check best routings).
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Old Jul 11th, 2016, 11:36 AM
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You would be better off moving Shirakawago after Takayama. You can take buses from Takayama to Shirakawago to Kanazawa.

I suggest dropping Kanazawa because you don't have enough time. You could visit Shirakawago as a day trip from Takayama.
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Old Jul 11th, 2016, 01:28 PM
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Given that you are only planning on spending the night in Kanazawa, I'd cut it. You won't have time to see/do anything with just one night. Personally, I'd add that night to Kyoto. You should be there at the height of the koyo.

You don't have enough time to add additional destinations.
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Old Jul 11th, 2016, 09:53 PM
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A few things to consider:

While it is possible to visit Nikko as a day trip from Tokyo, I was glad to spend a night there – it gave me time to see Kegon-no-Taki and a bit of Lake Chuzenji, in addition to the highlights of Nikko itself.

If you go to both Takayama and Kanazawa, visit Shirakawa-go en route from Takayama to Kanazawa.

I thought Kanazawa deserved at least 3 full days. Are you sure you will have time for what you want to see / experience there? But maybe you aren’t planning to visit it, and are just spending a night there to facilitate your transit onwards to Kyoto?

I wanted 6 full days for Kyoto and Nara. That said, we all travel for different reasons, with different interests, and at different paces.

Hope that helps! Japan is a wonderful destination – enjoy!
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 12:25 AM
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Thanks everyone for the reply, so this is my first trip to Japan and I am splitting my vacation between Thailand and Japan, so it will be hard to exceed the 12 days for Japan, I am trying to see as much as possible but in the same time I don't like cramped vacations and putting too little time to locations that need more.

So between takayama and Kanazawa which deserves the 2 days? Apparently Kanazawa needs at least 2 days, so is 1 full day for takayam enough?
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 12:33 AM
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I don't think you can do Takayama with less than 2 overnights or Kanazawa with less than 3 nights.

You don't have to see everything on the first trip.

On our first trip in 2012, we did 2 nights in Takayama and skipped Kanazawa, leaving it for another trip.

We just went back in April 2016 for trip 3 and finally visited Kanazawa, we gave it 4 nights though 3 would have been enough, we found plenty to do for 4.
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 12:45 AM
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It is so hard to pare a trip to one's available time, isn't it!?!

You might find it helpful to consider several possible scenarios:

(1) Assume that you will not return to Japan, in which case you might consider skipping both Takayama AND Kanazawa on this trip and adding those nights to Kyoto / Nara and/or Nikko or Kamakura or another day trip from Tokyo or Kyoto. OR

(2) Assume that you WILL return, in which case you might take time from either Tokyo OR Kyoto OR both and add that time to make a 5-day route through Takayama and Kanazawa. The logic here is that it is easier to reach Tokyo and Kyoto than other locations in Japan, so you would be more likely to have an opportunity to include one or both of those cities in a future trip. OR

(3) If you really want to include EITHER Takayama OR Kanazawa on THIS trip, and don't want to sacrifice any of your limited time in Tokyo or Kyoto, then I don't think any of us can answer for you -- these two cities are sufficiently different that ONLY you can decide what you would most like to see. If you haven't already done so, spend time with japan-guide.com to learn more so you can make a choice that works for you.

IMO, no wrong choices -- just difficult ones!
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 12:55 AM
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Hey, Kavey which one you liked more? between Kanazawa and Takayama?
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 03:08 AM
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Hey Kja,

Thanks a lot for the detailed reply.

I have couple of questions

1) Aside from Tokyo, do the other areas have a night life, areas like Kyoto, Takayama and Kanazawa, I am asking because I wanted to know is it better to use the night to move from one area to the other, like taking a the last train instead of wasting time in the morning to travel.

2) Between Tokyo, Kyoto, Takayama and Kanazawa which area needs more time than the other?

3) Based on my rough itinerary above, do you think the JR pass is a good choice, also if I bought it from the airport will I have to activate from the first day to get to Tokyo from the airport or there are other ways as I am trying to get only the 7 days pass not the 14

Sorry for the rain of questions.
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 04:09 AM
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Giicko
Two very different experiences.

For me, probably Takayama as I really adored both the traditional merchant districts and the morning market. It's also worth noting that our visit coincided (deliberately) with the autumn festival and seeing the portable shrines being wheeled around by costumed men, lots of lanterns lit and even some with children sitting up in the higher levels of the shrines. That said, even without the festival I really liked Takayama.

On the other hand, Kanazawa has potentially got more to see for those who like lots of sights available. The garden was a huge highlight for me as was the food market, one of the better ones we've visited, and we've visited many now. I didn't find the old tea districts here half as extensive or appealing as those of Takayama, so for me, they weren't a huge thumbs up.

I would say you could do one or the other BUT also give strong consideration to Kja's suggestion to skip both on this trip in order to redress the lack of time you've allocated to Kyoto and Nara. Kyoto easily merits 5 nights, perhaps more if you include visits to Nara, Osaka and Uji nearby.

One suggestion is to go ahead and drop Takayama and Kanazawa, but add in a visit to Hiroshima with single overnight on Miyajima. This is easy to do from Kyoto, you can break the Kyoto nights and perhaps stay in two different locations in Kyoto, one western hotel and one traditional ryokan experience. And a single night is very doable. Early train from Kyoto, morning / lunch in Hiroshima, mid-afternoon transfer to Miyajima, afternoon, evening and morning on the island, late morning journey back to Kyoto to arrive back there mid-afternoon.

A thought to ponder.
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 06:57 PM
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>>3) Based on my rough itinerary above, do you think the JR pass is a good choice, also if I bought it from the airport will I have to activate from the first day to get to Tokyo from the airport or there are other ways as I am trying to get only the 7 days pass not the 14

You definitely don't need a 14-day pass and you might not need a 7-day pass.

What happens on Day 13?

You don't have to get a JR Pass pass at the airport. But if you do, then you don't have to activate it for travel that day. You can pay to get to Tokyo by rail or bus on arrival day - there is a variety of options including non-JR trains. It depends on where you will stay in Tokyo.
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 09:30 PM
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I'm sorry, but I can't answer your questions, as (1) I didn’t look for nightlife while in Japan (I would say, though, that thinking about when to travel seems, to me, a good question), and (1-3) it all depends on your priorities!

BTW, you will generally get more answers if you (a) thank people by name, but (b) don't ask questions of particular individuals -- unless you truly only want an answer from that one person. JME!
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 10:34 PM
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Kja, I hope I didn't offend you, I usually read the responses and when I have a question regarding a certain post, I usually direct it to the original commenter.

Kavey, mrwunrfl, Kja & Kathie thanks a lot for the input I really appreciate it
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 10:36 PM
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The best timing for the autumn colors does vary year by year, but here is a reference. Tokyo, Kyoto, Kanazawa and Hakone would be good in late November.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014_when.html

Nikko should need two days if you want to go into Oku-Nikko, the heart of the autumn colors there. But the best would be in October. You could consider to drop it in this trip.

Your selection of Tokyo, Takayama, and Kyoto looks nice to me; as a representative of new, old, and country sides. Kanazawa is usually called Syo-Kyoto, Little Kyoto. So who loves Kyoto should love Kanazawa as well. If you want to see the variety in Japan, I would suggest to drop Kanazawa, if time matters.

It is a personal policy, however, there is no waste in transportation. There are no no-lands in Japan. I always enjoy landscapes on the way.

There are a dozen of rail passes. Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Kanazawa, NRT and KIX could be covered by only one pass; Hokuriku Arch Pass. For Nikko, a non-JR company, Tobu, offers good deals. If you select Tokyo, Takayama, and Kyoto, you could finish them with only Nohi buses.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2357.html
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2361_arch.html
http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/pass/
https://www.nouhibus.co.jp/english/highwaybus/
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 10:45 PM
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Day 13 I leave for Thailand.
So for the JR pass I guess after i finalize my itinerary, I will see if I can get by without the pass, for me it's kinda expensive but I guess it also depends on the number of destinations so it will be worth the price.

I had a random question, I was just checking the weather in Japan during November and it seems that it's more on the cold side, does the weather gets gloomy during November since it's almost winter? Did anyone experience Japan both in Autumn and spring? is it better to do Japan during spring time may be April?

Thanks
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Old Jul 12th, 2016, 10:51 PM
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No offense whatsoever! I just didn't want you to miss out on potentially valuable input.
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Old Jul 13th, 2016, 12:26 AM
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Our first trip was 2.5 weeks crossing end September into beginning October. Gorgeous weather.

Our second trip was 3 and a bit weeks crossing end of October into November, however the last half of that was down in Kyushu. That said the weather was still decent (by my mileage) for the last 3 nights back up in Tokyo.

Our recent 4 week trip was end of March through to end of April. The weather was nice, but not markedly nicer than the autumn visits.

The reason to go in spring is to see some of the cherry blossom season, whereas in autumn you may time for koyo (autumn leaf colour) if you like.

Our two autumn trips were not timed for koyo though we saw little patches.

We found spring vastly more crowded BUT we also know that visitor numbers to Japan have risen steeply and trip 1 was in in 2012, trip 2 in 2013 and this last one here in 2016.
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Old Jul 13th, 2016, 10:13 AM
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You could take the Nohi bus from Shinjuku to Takayama to save money. Travel time is 1 hour longer than by train. You could stop for a soak at Hirayu Onsen. Another way by bus could take you to Matsumoto and/or Kamikochi.

Then buses for Takayama- Ogimachi,Shirakawago - Kanazawa Then JR 6990 to Kyoto (maybe a bus for less).

There is this economical Tobu option for Nikko: http://www.tobu.co.jp/foreign/en/pass/twoday.html
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Old Jul 14th, 2016, 02:08 AM
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I believe the best is May, the second is October. For those from colder areas, April and November. From hotter countries, June and September. Spring months have longer daylights.

The situation should vary place to place, but the sightseeing season starts from cherry blossoms, Sakura, and ends with the autumn colors, Koyo. This is universal all over Japan.

Here are 30 year statistics for some of your interested places.

Nikko
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/09_2_01.html

Tokyo
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/13_01.html

Matsumoto
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/20_2_01.html

Takayama
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/21_2_01.html

Kanazawa
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/17_01.html

Kyoto
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/26_01.html

Nara
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/29_01.html

Hiroshima
http://www.benricho.org/weather_ratio/34_01.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopi....html#71445286

Click one to select the month from Jan to Dec:
1月 2月 3月 4月 5月 6月 7月 8月 9月 10月 11月 12月.
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