Off the beaten Path - Japan

Old May 6th, 2019, 12:33 AM
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Off the beaten Path - Japan

Hi All,

I visited Japan in November 2017. My itinerary included Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Miyajima over a span of ~15 days. Although it was a lot of places over a very short span of time, nevertheless I fell in love with Japan and the people. So here I am with an open calendar for approx 15 days in the month of August. This time I want to see the Japan that is not touristy. I would like to explore underrated villages, cities , mountains and islands. So if you have any suggestions, please help me with my plan. Oh! did I mention that Im travelling solo

Last edited by Bubblez29; May 6th, 2019 at 12:35 AM. Reason: Spellchecks
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Old May 6th, 2019, 02:32 AM
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Takayama wasn’t on your original list, and it was one of my favorite stops.

Koyasan was interesting, too, but the mosquitos are vile in August.

also, that’s during Obon, probably, so look into festival dates—those are a blast—and consider closures. Things do tend to shut down in the more out of way places.

Keep in in mind it’s hot and humid, so probably plan a slower pace.

Prioritize location of lodging and A/C.

consider an onsen town—I think I could do a whole trip based just on that!
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Old May 6th, 2019, 10:35 AM
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I assume you mean off the beaten foreign tourist path.

You need to learn about Obon and how it might affect your August trip.

Also, you need to know about the weather conditions in the region(s) you are considering to visit.

Hagi is the first place that comes to mind and Matsue which is in the same area but more touristed.
Southern Kyushu, in general.
Noboribetsu Onsen on Hokkaido or Hokkaido in general, except that there could be a lot of Japanese tourists going there in the heat of the summer.
Tohoku, i.e. Honshu north of Tokyo, esp. the west coast. I enjoyed visiting Kakunodate and Nyuto Onsen in northern Tohoku and that whole region is interesting.

Hida Fukuyama instead of Takayama. Gokayama instead of Shirakawa-go. Takayama and S-go are popular for good reasons, tho. Of the four places I just mentioned I have only been to Takayama and S-go,.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 02:44 AM
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We loved, loved Hokkaido. While there are some cities that are interesting, this northermost island is the least developed and gives you the opportunity to see unspoiled nature. Hawaiian Airlines flies direct to Chitose in Sapporo, but if Hawaiian isn't convenient for you, other airlines will have you into Tokyo. Then you can fly, or take the Shinkansen to Hakodate on the southernmost part of Hokkaido and proceed from there. If you are a foodie, the seafood is wonderful as are the agricultural and milk products.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 04:18 AM
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Thank you marvelousmouse, mrwunrfl and burta - These are wonderful suggestions. However, I am inclined towards Hokkaido. Although I am aware that it might be a touristy summer destination, I would like to avoid any chance of being stuck indoors in Kyushu or Honshu during the typhoon season.
mrwunrfl : I did read about Obon. I also read about Fireworks and Festivals during the Summer season. I think it would be a great opportunity to explore these events with the locals who live there.
I dont drive, so my plan would include a lot of moving around in Buses, Trams and Trains. I would love to hear any suggestions on a 15 day itinerary to Hokkaido.
I will most likely arrive at Narita and will have to take a train to Hakodate. Perhaps, I can stop by some towns on my way for a night or two before arriving at Hakodate? Or is better to fly to Sapporo?
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Old May 7th, 2019, 11:03 AM
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If you are really going in August, then the high mountains like the Japan Alps, plus way up north like the Tohoku Region and Hokkaido are the ideal places to go. Typhoons could come, but mostly come in late summer like September. If you just want to get up to Hokkaido from Tokyo, then flying is by far the most efficient and cheap. There are many low cost carriers you can use like Jet Star and Peach. If you want to tour your way up there, that is also a great idea, and there are some excellent flex rail passes you can use with a 14-day validity. By the way, August is typically sunflower season, and there are some stunning places to see them.


Hokuryu Sunflower Farm - Over 1.5 million flowers!

And if you are in Hokkaido in early August, there is a chance you could catch the lavender there.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 12:18 PM
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Domestic airfares are reasonable so one option would be flying into or out of Sapporo and taking the Shinkansen on the other leg.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 04:14 PM
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You can fly from Tokyo to Sapporo for about $103 on ANA and probably on JAL. They are going to have good connections from Narita to Sapporo for their inbound international flights and, likely, for their partners' international flights.

There are other carriers on the route, but I would stick with ANA or JAL - especially at that price.

What airline are you using to get to Japan and what is your arrival time?

I had a ticket from JFK to NRT and a second ticket for NRT to Sapporo, both on JAL. When I checked in at JFK, JAL checked me through to Sapporo. The first flight was delayed and I missed the connection. JAL gave me vouchers for food, transport, and a night at a Shinagawa hotel, and booked me a flight out of Haneda the next morning. I was flying on two tix but they treated it as one.

Or, you could spend a night in Shinagawa and then fly to several Hokkaido airports from Haneda Airport the next day.

A stop on the way by rail to Hokkaido could be Kakunodate, which I mentioned before with Nyuto Onsen. Also, you could look into visiting Towado-ko.

If you like sushi then you would like Otaru. If you are interested in visiting an actual onsen town then go to Noboribetsu Onsen.

Near Date there is a scenic caldera and also a budding volcano that are quite interesting to see.
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Old May 8th, 2019, 11:10 AM
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A spot I adore is TaYa Cave in Yokohama. It is by a temple where some monks carved out the cave (over a long period of time). You are completely off the tourist map. You can get there from the nearest train station and then take a bus. But it was not easy for us to find the right bus, so we took a taxi. The taxi driver had trouble putting it into his GPS, despite the fact that I had numerous printout maps in Japanese of the location. It took a while for the taxi driver to find it, and only because I was able to point it out from photos I had of entrance from the road. It was close to the train station, but still it took some time to find it. We were the only ones there. You can then take a bus to get back to the train station, but we walked back and it took 30 minutes. It was a great experience. I bought along a small flashlight which made for better picture taking, though it's not absolutely necessary since there are candles at the entrance. There is a small fee to be paid at the temple. A memorable experience.

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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 02:09 AM
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Hi All !
I just returned from my 2 week travel to Japan. The following was my itinerary :
Sapporo -> Otaru-> Furano/Biei/Asahikawa -> Noboribetsu Onsen ----- Flight to Kanazawa
Kanazawa -> Shirakawa -Go -> Takayama -> Toyama -> Japanese Alpine Route -> Nagano -> Tokyo -> Back home to Singapore

I must say that Japan never stops to please me.Despite being my 2nd time to travel to Japan, I felt like I discovered new places.
Thank you for all the suggestions ! They were very helpful.

Happy Travvel !
Cheers!
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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 06:49 AM
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May I ask how you purchased your tickets for the Japanese Alpine Route?
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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 06:57 AM
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Hi yestravel,

I purchased it at Kanazawa Station JR Ticket Counter.
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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Bubblez29 View Post
Hi yestravel,

I purchased it at Kanazawa Station JR Ticket Counter.
Thanks! How far in advance? The ticket(s) cover the entire route? You don't buy anything at each stop?
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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by yestravel View Post
Thanks! How far in advance? The ticket(s) cover the entire route? You don't buy anything at each stop?
I bought it 4 days in advance.
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Old Aug 20th, 2019, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Bubblez29 View Post
I bought it 4 days in advance.
thank you-appreciate the info.
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