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Nikko and Tohoku this fall

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Mar 19th, 2014, 10:18 PM
  #1
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Nikko and Tohoku this fall

Hi all

My husband and I would like to see Nikko and the Tohoku region this October-November.

We are in the early stage of planning therefore we are flexible about when and where .

We'd love to see the cultural sites of Nikko and gardens and nature , perhaps spend one extra day in Uko-Nikko to hike.

In Tohoku we'd hoped to perhaps stay at the Nyuto onsens and explore the mountainside of the region, as well as spend some time in Morioka and Kakunodate because we have read there are interesting remnants of the feudal times.

Are there any other areas that would be good to include ?

Flying into Aomori and out NRT , making our way down seemed like a good idea but it will be more expensive ?

We will use public transportation. Hopefully getting as noted will not be difficult.

Thanks for your input.
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Mar 19th, 2014, 10:54 PM
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kja
 
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"We'd love to see the cultural sites of Nikko and gardens and nature , perhaps spend one extra day in Uko-Nikko to hike."

Given these interests, do consider making time for Kegon-no-taki! You can take a bus from Nikko, stop en route for a stunning view from the Akechidaira Observatory (reached by a cable car from Akechidaira -- the bus does stop there), then on by bus to Lake Chuzenji, where you can take an elevator to the base of the falls and a close up view of the unusual fractured basalt surrounding it. And then spend as much / little time as you like around Lake Chuzenji.
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3812.html

While in Nikko, consider stopping at the Art Museum of Nikko Toshogu Shrine for its wonderful collection of screens.
http://www.nikko-jp.org/english/toshogu/bijutsukan.html

I haven't been to Tohoku yet, so I'm no help with that. It looks to me like traveling north to south would give you the best chance for koyo, but I'm no expert on that! Just envious....
http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014_when.html

Enjoy!
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Mar 20th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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kja thanks for your thoughts. It appears there is plenty to do in Nikko.

I know Nikko is often done as a day trip or one overnight.

I really enjoy a leisurely pace. I am wondering whether doing Nikko and Tohoku is biting off too much. I am willing to spend several days in the Nikko area.

If were we to concentrate on Nikko and one other area, would going to Kanazawa instead of Tohoku be logistically easier ?

Another question I have: is it probable we can see autumn leaves in Nikko and the chrysanthemums at their peak as well in this intinerary ? Are there gardens that are especially recommended for mums ?
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Mar 20th, 2014, 05:32 PM
  #4
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I spent just one night in Nikko. I got there in time for dinner, got up very early the next morning, and left mid-evening. I had a VERY full and busy day, and even managed to walk a mile or so of the surprisingly gently Kanmangafuchi -- BUT I only spent 15 minutes or so by Lake Chuzenji and would not call this day "relaxing." Wonderful and rewarding, yes; relaxing, no! So if you want to do some hiking in the area, or enjoy the hot springs, or visit these places at a leisurely place, plan on 2 or more nights. (Or plan on seeing less!)

I thoroughly enjoyed Kanazawa, but can't say whether it would be logistically easier as I haven't been to Tohoku. FWIW, I gave Kanazawa only 1.5 days and truly regret that I didn't give it more. And if you are going to Kanazawa, I think it makes sense to consider stopping in Takayama (1.5 to 2 days) with a stop in Shirakawago in between those two. Just an option!

Maybe someone else can answer your questions about chrysanthemums. Have you searched the japan-guide web-site?
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Mar 21st, 2014, 01:13 AM
  #5
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Thanks kja. I will definitely give Nikko and Kanazawa each at least 2 days or more. I have not researched Takayama or Shirakawa.

There are just too may wonderful options and not enough time !

Where did you stay in Nikko and Kanazawa ?
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Mar 21st, 2014, 01:59 AM
  #6
kja
 
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"Where did you stay in Nikko and Kanazawa ?" -- please note that I visited these places in 2006 -- many things could have -- and probably have -- changed since then! But a quick glance at TripAdvisor suggests that both of the places in which I stayed still get at least decent reviews, so I'll let you be the judge. DO look at the more recent reviews!

In Nikko, I stayed at the Annex Turtle Hotori An, which currently seems to get mixed, if generally favorable, reviews. My experience is decidedly out of date, but FWIW, here's my 2006 TA review:
“Great little place - especially the bath
The Turtle Inn Annex (also known as the Annex Turtle Hotori-an) is a great little inn beside a rushing, gurgling river. My single Japanese-style room faced the river, and I loved listening to its sound as I fell asleep. One of the inn's best features is its river-facing hot-spring bath with corner windows (which can be opened). Guests can lock the door of the bath for privacy - very nice! The woman at the desk spoke English well and was very helpful. The breakfast was good, too. The surrounding area, which includes a residential district and a lovely walk beside the river, was pleasant, and the inn was easy to reach, just a short walk from a bus stop. I definitely recommend it!

The place I stayed in Kanazawa also gets somewhat mixed reviews these days: I stayed at the APA Hotel Kanazawa Chuo; here's my very outdated TA review:
“Good location and nice spa
The APA Hotel Kanazawa Chuo (one of several APA hotels that are near each other in Kanazawa) has a nice spa that includes a hot-spring-fed outdoor bath on its roof (actually, two - one for men and one for women), as well as indoor baths and saunas. Very nice! The hotel is conveniently located for exploring Kanazawa, within easy walking distance of the Nagamachi samurai district and Nishi Chaya district. I enjoyed the walk from the hotel to Kenrokuen, Seisonkaku, and other attractions in that area, although some people might prefer to use public transportation to reach those locations. My room was small, but very comfortable, and English-speaking staff at the desk were helpful.

Hope that helps!
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Mar 21st, 2014, 09:43 AM
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lol, kja, I stayed in the Turtle Inn Annex as well in November 2011 - I thought it was fine and very convenient. I stayed two nights in Nikko as I had a long trip there from Kyoto. I took an hour-long cruise on the Lake but didn't get past that area - not enough time...

In Kanazawa, that was in the spring of 2010, I stayed at the Toyoko Inn Kenrokuen Korinbo. I travel solo so the small room size is not a problem for me...not sure about the size of twin rooms.....

Enjoy!
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Mar 25th, 2014, 09:29 AM
  #8
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Thanks kja and Mara.

Time is a limiting factor for us. If we have 10 days or so would we be able to see Nikko and Kanzawa adequately or should we focus on one region ? If so which would be the best airport to fly into from overseas to visit Kanazawa ? It sounds like a train from Tokyo would take about 4 hours and a little less from Osaka .
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Mar 28th, 2014, 08:51 AM
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Is Nagoya the best airport to fly into to access Kanazawa ?
Would flying into Nagoya to see Kanazawa and nearby region, then flying out of NRT after seeing Nikko be a good idea in terms of saving travel time on trains ?
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Mar 28th, 2014, 11:23 AM
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Okoshi long time.....

If you are going into Tohoku stay up there this fall and visit the Towadako area. Probably the best we have seen for koyo in Japan. Lake Towada(Towadako)and surrounding environs are magic at that time of year. Tazawako and the Nyuto Onsen area is also fabulous but more pine trees there so colors are less abundant. I did a trip report on the area a few years back if your interested.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...japan-2009.cfm

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3776.html

When leaving Nikko try traveling down the Romantic Road a bit for fall colors and more onsen

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7450.html

Haven't been to Kanazawa in the fall but may be nice....

Aloha!
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Mar 28th, 2014, 07:26 PM
  #11
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HT good to hear from you. Thanks for that link to your trip in 2009. I remember reading it back then. Your spent close to a month working your way down from Hokkaido. I wish we had that much time.Maybe Tohoku has to wait.

Is Nagoya a good airport to fly into to access Kanazawa ?
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Mar 29th, 2014, 09:37 AM
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Yes, Nagoya (NGO) is a convenient airport for Kanazawa. You just take the Maitetsu train from the airport to Nagoya, then transfer to JR for the (scenic) trip to Kanazawa. It takes about 3 or 4 hours total.

The Maitetsu and JR stations in Nagoya are adjacent, but you need to pay close attention to the signs to get between them.

You can search fares and connections on hyperdia.com. Enter (the first few letters of) "Central Japan International Airport" for the origin (it's known as "Centrair").

Komatsu (KMQ) is the local airport for Kanazawa.
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Mar 29th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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Sorry, I had some typos in that last message: it's Meitetsu, and Hyperdia needs the www on the front www.hyperdia.com
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Mar 29th, 2014, 07:22 PM
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Thank you for these great links someotherguy. Will explore them and options for Kanazawa.
Really torn between Nikko , Kanazawa, Tohoku... would love to do them all. Given 10 days and desire to keep things simple will need to decide on which area to focus on and where to fly in. It seems like a lot of time to spend in Tokyo and Nikko alone however if exploring Oku-Nikko as well might be the right amount of time. Will Oct 9-20 be a good time to see foliage change in Nikko and see mum shows in the city gardens ?
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Mar 30th, 2014, 10:17 AM
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Your dates are on the early side for full koyo unless you go north or to high elevations. Check out the map here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014_when.html and the suggested locations here: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014_where.html

Tohoko would be a natural choice, and there's a lot to see up there (I mentioned some in your other thread).

If you prefer to stay in Chubu, then Nikko and beyond should be OK (I was there at the end of October last year and the koyo was in full force). Another place to consider is Kamikochi http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6040.html especially if you are also interested in going to Takayama--it's a bus ride from there. The sun sets at 5:15pm that time of year, so you need to time it carefully and study the bus schedules if you are just doing a day trip.
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Mar 30th, 2014, 10:26 AM
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BTW trips to consider near Kanazawa are are the Alpine Route http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7550.html and Kurobe Gorge http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e7575.html
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Mar 30th, 2014, 11:18 AM
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Komatsu (KMQ) is the airport for Kanazawa. There is an airport bus. Toyama (TOY) is also convenient for Kanazawa - quicker and cheaper than Nagoya. Osaka would also be an option.

Toyama has international flights. I've used Asiana Airlines between Seoul and Toyama to get to Kanazawa. Korean Air and maybe others probably fly to Toyama. The Asiana flights are not daily.

ANA does have a nonstop from Tokyo Narita (NRT) to Komatsu, so you could connect there. Other airlines might fly that route or to Toyama from NRT. You could fly into Tokyo Haneda and connect there - fewer international fights there but more flights to Komatsu or Toyama than NRT.

I would look for flights to Komatsu, Toyama, Nagoya, or Osaka, in that order.
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Mar 30th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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Thanks again for all the useful suggestions.

Is 3 days in Nikko and 2 more in Oku-Nikko too much time in that area ? We would be using public transportation to get around and hope to hike in Oku-Nikko. Is it better to spend a day at Lake Chuzenji enroute to Oku-Nikko ? I am trying to understand the logistics of travel and access to hiking trails and sites if using public transportation.
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Mar 30th, 2014, 02:41 PM
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I found one day enough for Nikko itself and then rented a car to explore around Lake Chuzenji and part of the Romantic Road. I wasn't hiking. For information on exploring Oku Nikko by bus and staying in the vicinity I'd look at the forums on Trip Advisor and Japan Guide, like this one: http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/que...y.html?0+86565

I assume you've seen the hiking map on the Nikko web site: http://www.nikko-jp.org/pamphlets/pdf/hiking_us.pdf

BTW, the best way to get to Nikko from NRT is by bus. For some reason it's called the "Marronnier" (French for Horse Chestnut) and goes directly to Utsonomiya from where you catch the JR local train to Nikko. http://www.chibakotsu.co.jp/kousoku/marronnier.htm I've taken it in the other direction and it is rather slow (its route goes around 3 sides of a square), but it's very straightforward. The hotel right opposite the JR Nikko Station is OK; it's called the Nikko Station Hotel Classic.
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Mar 30th, 2014, 05:40 PM
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Hi someotherguy. Is it pretty easy to just walk in and pick up a rental car on any given day in Nikko ?

We were going to spend a few days in Tokyo both before after Nikko but your suggestion to take a bus directly from NRT sounds interesting.

I need to study a bus and train schedule to see if we can leave Oku-Nikko in the morning and make a connection for a train in Nikko back to Tokyo in the same day.
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