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Packed 17-day Japan mad trip with JR pass?

Packed 17-day Japan mad trip with JR pass?

Oct 8th, 2009, 11:47 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 181
Packed 17-day Japan mad trip with JR pass?

Hi there!
I'm working on a 16-nights/17d itinerary to Honsu-Kyushu after 2 weeks. As you'll see, I'm intending to run all over the place! I like everything and I cannot choose! but feel absolutely free to tell me if it is an impossible plan. I don't mind to get tired but I wouldn't like to miss important things in some places in order to leave that city to go to the next and so on.

A rough idea for the moment is:
-Tokyo 6 days (day trips to Kamakura, Nikko, Kawagoe)
-Takayama-Kanazawa 2 days
- Hiroshima 2 days
-Kyushu 3 days (Nagashaki, Beppu and Kirishima volcano walk)
-Kyoto 4 days (day trips to Himeji, Nara, Ise)

All the travel would be conducted with a JR rail pass, I hope, for the 2 weeks of it.
I'm an absolutely dedicated fan of photography, colours, images, people ...

If you can, just point me to the right direction regarding the feasibility of such an itinerary.
I wish a great time!
nikosk is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 12:27 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 20,785
Hi, Nikos -

Depending on what you hope to see and experience, you might consider adding a day to Takayama and Kanazawa because of the time it takes to get from one to the other. You also might consider spending only 1 day in Hiroshima. For Kyoto, 4 days is not a lot, particularly with your planned day trips. You might consider dropping Ise from your plans.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 25
Hi Nikos,

When you are in in Tokyo, don't miss the Tsukiji Market - we have posted a map that has directions to its famous tuna auction here: http://bit.ly/84Voj
approachguides is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 02:22 PM
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Posts: 9
It would help to know a little more about what you'd kinds of things you'd like to see/do while you are there. For example, if you are an anime fan, I would highly recommend a trip to the Toei Animation Studio while you are in Tokyo.

I would cut out a day from Hiroshima. The museum and the surrounding area is something you could easily do in an afternoon, and this takes into account that you'll probably be stopped by groups of school children who will want to ask you some questions in English for their project. If you really want to take advantage of the fall colors, then spend more time in Takayama or consider adding Koya-san to your trip. If you do the shrine hike at Hida(Takayama), consider putting aside a day for it. It's well worth it, but like everything in Japan, a 3 hour hike is really a 6 hour hike. My experience with Japan is that, unless its the train system, they greatly underestimate the time it takes to go anywhere. So, double the recommended time they tell you and you'll be fine.
cutiebunny is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 02:45 PM
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"My experience with Japan is that, unless its the train system, they greatly underestimate the time it takes to go anywhere." In contrast, I found the time estimates that I read to be remarkably accurate!
kja is offline  
Oct 8th, 2009, 11:04 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,333
Hi nicosk - we spent a similar amount of time in Japan in April 08 and used the JR pass to get around. Our itinerary was similar except tha we included Koyasan and missed out Kyushu and Hiroshima. Tour itinerary is definitely feasible.
Like you I am a keen photographer (take MUCH more memory/film than you thing you will need!).

Personally I would add a day to Kyoto as there is so much to see there (approx 17 UNESCO world heritage sites). I also loved our 2 days in the monasterys up in Koyasan. That said, you could spend a year in the country and still want to go back to see more.

Here is a link to our blog with photos and commentary on the transport and accomodation (Entries 27-33 cover Japan)

crellston is offline  
Oct 9th, 2009, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 392
We did Honshu and Kyushu in 17 days in April 2008. We had a fantastic time and really soaked up a lot of Japanese culture. Luckily, we were able to take advantage of a night train from Tokyo to Kumamoto that no longer exists.

I think Kyushu for only three days is not feasible - besides, it looks like you are attempting to hit three places that are not at all near each other. If you want to do Kyushu, I'd dedicate at least five days or save it for your next trip.

If you do decide to try Kyushu, I suggest Kagoshima (of James Bond fame) and Sakurajima Island (for relaxation in an onsen Furusato Kanko overlooks the east China Sea), the castle at Kumamoto, Kurokawa onsen (Sanga Ryokan was magical), (and perhaps check out the Aso volcano), Fukuoka (for food!).

Miyajima is beautiful, albeit touristy. I would try to explore Himeji castle (and the noodle shop on the way to the castle).

If you decide to skip Kyushu this time, you might want to base your self in Tokyo for a few days, then maybe take the Akita shinkansen to Lake Tawaze-ko and perhaps spend a night or two in the sublime Tsurunu-yo onsen up there; poke around Akita-ken for a bit and then head down towards Takayama etc, then base yourself in Kyoto for a few days - from Kyoto, you can do day trips with your JR passs to Himeji, etc.

What time of year are you going?
puttakka is offline  
Oct 9th, 2009, 12:34 PM
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guys you are more than great!
your insight opinions help me a lot.
I fly after 2 weeks, so time is running out...
Hiroshima could be 'done' faster, then.
Kanazawa is out of the way, and Kushu even more, but I can't choose! I'll read more and I'll keep checking this thread for a couple of weeks -until I fly- so, anybody with suggestions is absolutely wellcome to contribute here!
have a great time
nikosk is offline  
Oct 9th, 2009, 11:15 PM
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I agree with some of the above and would take one day from Tokyo and add it to Kyoto.

I would also take out Takayama and do the two days in Kanazawa but that's just me. You would be cheating yourself by spending only one day in Kanazawa and one in Takayama imho.

I would also cut Hiroshima to one night and spend the other night on Miyajima Island. To be that close to Miyajima and not go there especially if you are into photography would be a sin in my book.


I know you want to utilize the JR pass to the ultimate but if you want to do Nagasaki and Beppu your time would be better utilized by spending a little more and flying from Haneda(Tokyo) to Nagasaki and start your train rides from there and work your way up back to Tokyo or Kyoto or wherever you fly out from. You can pick up cheap domestic airfare for as little as 10000 yen per flight depending on which airlines you use to fly into Japan. See here for info on cheap domestic flights.


And finally see here for some guide on when and where the fall colors will be active when you will be there if I read correctly that you will leave in two weeks. Have fun!

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 01:41 AM
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Posts: 15,252
- Tokyo 6 days
You could cut a day (or two, including a day trip).

- Takayama-Kanazawa 2 days
This is not at all sufficient. You could add a day, but better would be to subtract a destination. Best would be add a day and subtract a destination. Your third day would really be a travel to Hiroshima day. That is, your 3-days would be 1-travel to Takayama, day 2 in Takayama, day 3 travel from Takayama. I recommend dropping Kanazawa and going to Takayama (def visit the Hida no Sato).

Nagasaki is a great place to visit. ht's suggestion of flying there is an excellent one (it is what I in fact did). The LEX Kamome from there to Hakata is nice.

Fall colors won't be in Kirishima until late November. Most of the trees are evergreen, anyway. Kirishima is further than you need to go.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 01:51 AM
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Definitely drop Ise (I liked visiting there but it doesn't fit with the rest of your trip and may be better to take non-JR to get there).

Also, instead of Himeji as day-trip from Kyoto you could stop there enroute to Hiroshima.

As soon as I posted above I had second thoughts about whether I understood your itin:

"A rough idea for the moment is:
-Tokyo 6 days (day trips to Kamakura, Nikko, Kawagoe)
-Takayama-Kanazawa 2 days
- Hiroshima 2 days
-Kyushu 3 days (Nagashaki, Beppu and Kirishima volcano walk)
-Kyoto 4 days (day trips to Himeji, Nara, Ise)

I am going to translate it:
Day 1 - arrive Tokyo, night in Tokyo
Day 2 - Tokyo
Day 3 - Tokyo, Nikko day trip
Day 4 - Tokyo, Kamakura day trip
Day 5 - Tokyo
Day 6 - Tokyo, Kawagoe? day trip
Day 7 - travel to and spend night in Takayama
Day 8 - travel to and spend night in Kanazawa
Day 9 - travel to and spend night in Hiroshima
Day 10 - Hiroshima
Day 11 - travel to Nagasaki, night in Nagasaki
Day 12 - travel to Beppu, night in Beppu
Day 13 - travel to Kirishima, night in Kirishima
Day 14 - travel to Kyoto
Day 15 - Kyoto, day trip to Himeji
Day 16 - Kyoto, day trip to Nara
Day 17 - Kyoto, day trip to Ise

This doesn't work.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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Posts: 181
thanks for the so insight recomendations.
The idea for flight to Ngasaki looks good, I'll check prices which could be the only disadvantage.
mrwunrfl, yes, the more I think about the time issues, the more difficult the itinerary seems, at least in terms of having time to enjoy each place.
after all these, Kanazawa seems a bit difficult to stay for a fair time, Hiroshima will be 1 night only, Ise may be left out, Himeji seen en route, so this could get somewhere.
perhaps a couple of night trains could help somewhere to earn some time?
nikosk is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 09:54 AM
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Posts: 392
You can check the night train schedules here:

Unfortunately the Tokyo-Kyushu night train is no more, Further, if you want rest, you'll have to pay a berth supplement which is pretty steep ($100 US or so).

There seems to be a night train from Ueno (Tokyo) to Kanazawa.

Himeji can totally be seen en route between Kyoto and Hiroshima. Give yourself 5 hours
puttakka is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,252
Yes, this could get somewhere.

The night trains are too slow, in my opinion.

But you can maximize time by traveling in the evening, though, in addition to the morning.

If you leave Tokyo early then I think you can get to Takayama by noon. The next day you could leave Takayama in the late afternoon or early evening. That gives you about a full day in Takayama but spending only one night. It certainly is a rush, but not unreasonable.

But following that with Kanazawa means getting there at night and leaving the next evening. It is not exactly a full day in Kanazawa. That eventually leads to a night arrival in Hiroshima.

The result is that instead of "2 days" of Hiroshima, per your plan, you end up with one - and you miss Himeji enroute.

Check train travel times at hyperdia.com
mrwunrfl is offline  
Oct 10th, 2009, 10:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 2
I lived for 6 years in Japan can totally agree with all the above advise.

Use night trains on JR rail very good way to save on hotels.

Kawagoe is very long way out from Tokyo almost 1 to 1 hour 30 minutes its out by a military base. There is not a whole lot there. Yes small temples etc...but nothing like what you will see in Kyoto. The candy street etc is like 100 metre long CUT IT from your itinerary don't waste ya time.

Nikko and Kamakura yes def must see.

Your day to Nikko will be long you could think about spending the night there at a cheap local ryokan (guest house) if you love photography thats the place to go especially with it being fall season.

I actually just returned from Japan a year ago so ive still got lots of information you can check out some ideas here:




I generally used these websites to get around Japan and found them to be great.

Remember that being a tourist sometimes you want to see look smell everything so allow your self time to experience it all and dont try to pack in too many things into such a short time.

I love Japan its such a great place ...it really was my second home.
AussielivedinJapan is offline  
Nov 10th, 2009, 12:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 7
yes, a second home.. ehhtoko yade...
passionSpirit is offline  

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