Planning Japan Trip #2

Jan 13th, 2015, 02:58 PM
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Planning Japan Trip #2

Many thanks on the previous thread that's gotten me at least this far.

And special shout-outs to kimjapan, lcuy, craig and mrwunrfl for their help so far.

To recap: planning 10 days in Japan in December (before heading to Thailand for about 5 days)

The following places have made it to our short list ... and I'm presenting them in a lame attempt of potential order of visit:

Fly into Tokyo (1-2 nights; assuming we fly in and out of here)
Shibu Onsen (1 night; to visit snow monkeys at Jigokudani; looking at Kanaguwa for lodging)
Kanazawa (3 nights, with 1 of those potentially at Beniya Mukayu)
Takayama (1 night; day trip to Shirakawa-go)
Kyoto or Osaka (1 night; while in transit to...)
Naoshima (2 nights); Fly out of Takamatsu/NRT)

The issue I keep coming into is that it feels with this itinerary we might get stuck in ryokan almost a little too much. It's not the accomodations that are a problem, but the overwhelming meals can be exactly that...overwhelming and I'm not sure we'd want that all that often (but would want it in the 'right' places). I'm sure we'll be in hotels in Tokyo or Kyoto/Osaka, and maybe in Kanazawa we can avoid by staying in a machiya.

The other issue is that perhaps we're biting off too much in 10 days. Don't want to be running around at an unreasonable pace.

So, need some additional critique here from the experts. Would you recommend re-ordering the cities? Or cut something out? I know that getting to the snow monkeys can be a pain (which is why we'd stay overnight nearby) -- and that it might be a bit touristy -- but we really do have our hearts set on the experience.

No real rush except I need to buy my award tickets soon so the only really important part it to try and nail down our entry and exit points in Japan.
filmwill is online now  
Jan 13th, 2015, 03:08 PM
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Nothing useful to add only a big sigh that we are not coming along
Smeagol is offline  
Jan 13th, 2015, 03:35 PM
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It's not too late, smeagol. Just imagine some fantastic nuit millinaires (a hot toddy, or its Japanese equivalent) all whilst presiding over a winter wonderland. And...SNOW MONKEYS!
filmwill is online now  
Jan 13th, 2015, 03:37 PM
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Following the thread...we hope to return to Japan as well...but REALLY hoping to see your India comments soon
FromDC is offline  
Jan 13th, 2015, 04:45 PM
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If I was doing this, I think I'd enjoy the art in Naoshima more in the beginning, and enjoy Shibu Onsen as a way to leave Japan on a very traditional high note, and snow might be more likely the later you go.

I might also think about doing Takayama/Shirakawa-go OR Kanazawa, to allow a little extra breathing space. You know you WILL go back to Japan again, right? ;-)

Regardless of the direction, your destinations seem to be in a good order to alternate tourist/business hotels in between ryokan destinations, so you won't feel obligated to eat ten million calories every night.
lcuy is offline  
Jan 13th, 2015, 07:06 PM
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Hmm...didn't think of it that way, Lucy. I was sort of hoping to exit Japan on the warmer side (not the colder!)

If I did consider swapping the order, would you fly into Osaka and stay in Kyoto first?

One thing I took into consideration is Kim's advice that getting to Shibu Onsen (and the monkey park) is arduous. She had mentioned, I believe, that going via Tokyo was the most efficient (and presumably fastest) way. That was sort of the driver for starting in Tokyo.

But if others have thoughts, please do let me know.

Thanks so far!!
filmwill is online now  
Jan 13th, 2015, 08:41 PM
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Hi Filmwill,

Note that the new shinkansen will be running between Kanazawa and Nagano starting in March, but the times don't show up on Hyperdia yet. If you do decide to reverse the order, it will cut about an hour off the trip from Kanazawa to Yudanaka (for Shibu Onsen). Of course, if you keep the current order, you will still benefit, but in the opposite direction.

FYI, we are going for our second trip this April, and the last 5 days will be Kanazawa to Shibu Onsen (staying at Kanaguya) to Matsumoto to Narita. I should have a trip report posted by late April, if you are interested. We did Takayama last time and loved it. It really warrants a full day (we stayed two nights) if you have the time. Have fun!
russ_in_LA is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 08:02 AM
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Billy, while Beniya Mukayu is only 25 minutes from Kanazawa, you'll want to maximize your time there, which would take away from your Kanazawa sightseeing. I think you do need a couple of days to fully enjoy the city. I don't know if the other ryokans in your itinerary are as upscale but if they are, I would consider giving Beniya Mukayu a pass. You would miss a fabulous breakfast and dinner though and the in-room bath is a treat...

We found the machiya "Kikunoya" convenient for Kanazawa sightseeing, but keep in mind that it is on the other side of town from the train station. It might be helpful for you to read my trip report, if you haven't already:
Craig is offline  
Jan 14th, 2015, 01:18 PM
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Billy, send me your dates............
Smeagol is offline  
Jan 16th, 2015, 12:41 AM
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>>Takayama (1 night; day trip to Shirakawa-go)

That's not right. Not between Kanazawa and Kyoto. I think you can skip Takayama, tho that's not an easy thing to say. Then you go S-go back to Kanazawa. From there it is 4 hours to Okayama, so you could skip the overnight in Kyoto/Osaka. Or Kobe or Okayama would be good for an overnight enroute.

What airline would you use for Takamatsu-NRT?

I mentioned getting a one-way domestic Japan flight award. The cost is now 10,000 miles (not 6,000 like I mentioned on your other thread).
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 16th, 2015, 01:04 AM
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If we skip something it might be S-Go. Reading the reviews of the accommodations it's not the shared bathrooms that have me turned off so
much as the paper thin walls and noise. Seemed like Takayama was close enough to S-Go (Kim had mentioned, I believe, it was day-trippable.). What is it that's not right? Just trying to understand more.

As for Kyoto or Osaka, I'm open to other stopovers.

And as for flying out of Takamatsu, it seems Jetstar has a nonstop flight in the afternoon. I know there are a lot
more flights to Haneda from there but I'd really like to fly in and out of NRT as the options on airlines (and their respective offerings) from LAX to there and from there to BKK are so much better.
filmwill is online now  
Jan 16th, 2015, 02:38 PM
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Warm greetings again filmwill (Billy!) from end-of-work week in San Francisco Bay Area. Just catching up with Fodor's; delighted you are returning to one of my favourite countries for work and holiday, Japan.

[And rumour has it, you flew "our" Singapore Airlines in exceptionally good style from LAX to our fine home of Singapore - and beyond to India (and back). I do salute you, sir, for your rather fine Art of Travel; well done.]

Now, regarding Japan, you have already received good suggestions. Concerning potential lodgings, will suggest two properties that have recently and easily exceeded my modest Tokyo business travel expectations, the Mandarin Oriental and the Shangri-La (assuming you have already savoured time at the Park Hyatt, another hotel I have enjoyed for work). I mention the MO, as you indicated you would be staying at the MO Singapore during your recent holiday. If so, I am confident you would appreciate her Tokyo sister. I also mention the Tokyo Shangri-La, as I finally had the privilege of staying with her last month for meetings, as noted on my profile page. Class operations, all.

Concerning a potential Takayama stay for you, will give a heartfelt (and shameless) promotion to spending time at the Hida Takayama Museum of Art and taking in some creations from a cherished ancestor, Mr. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It's been a few years since my last Hida Museum visit; special place.

Potential Kyoto lodgings, have always stayed with long-time family friends. Time permitting, will suggest a visit to Kita Antiques (another shameless promotion, involving a long-running family friendship).

All for now; will have more Japan thoughts later, particularly after my next scheduled Tokyo business trip in late April / early May. Savour your planning, Billy; very happy for you. Flying back to Seoul this weekend for more meetings via that fine SQ15 to Incheon. Warm weekend wishes to you and all from SF Bay Area,

macintosh (robert)

... Singapore Girl, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
AskOksena is offline  
Jan 16th, 2015, 03:29 PM
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Hmmmmm to me this looks like a busy schedule....very busy with lots of train time. I would either cut Naoshima or the monkey park (yikes). That way you can fly in and out of Osaka(not Tokyo)and travel at a more leisurely pace enjoying more along the way. Is Tokyo the only option from LAX??

Why am I thinking the spring or fall would be a better time to visit Naoshima? The beaches and island atmosphere there might not be conducive to winter weather imho but Ive only been there in the spring and fall so....

Stay the two or three nights in the geisha house in Kanazawa that Kim can get for you.

We will be back at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo in Dec. Maybe we'll see you guys around lol

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 16th, 2015, 05:11 PM
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HT! Was waiting for you to chime in!

There is no longer a LAX-KIX flight. It's out of SFO now. That is an option, but it's on United and UA is notoriously stingy with award flights over holidays on their own metal, so I'm not banking on that being an option. With NRT, we have a pick of ANA (preferred) direct or Asiana (via Seoul).

As for cutting those two places, as luck would have it, those are the two places that we were most excited to visit, so will probably have to go back to the drawing board on this plan and figure out another way. Just curious if your yikes was meant in a 'yikes, avoid the monkey park' way.

As for Naoshima in the winter, we're really going there for the art and the experience of staying essentially in a museum, more than anything (friends we know who went -- who know us well -- said we would love it there). The beaches I could honestly care less about. Given that it's a bit further south, I would assume it won't be AS cold (but still chilly).

Have you and Linda settled on dates (if you're as crazy as me, planning this early)? Would be fantastic to meet up!
filmwill is online now  
Jan 16th, 2015, 10:02 PM
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I was just going to mention that lodging in Shirakawago that I had was just a room with a futon and heater. Might have been a table, closet, maybe not. I had no issues with other guests - I was the only guest. It was early January and mid-week. Not a great sleep and the bus from/to Takaoka was not fun, but it was worth it for me.

S-go (or Gokayama) is a day trip from Kanazawa. Looks like Takayama would be a day trip: 54 miles, 56 minutes by car (according to Yahoo). YMMV, in winter, in mountains. By bus it would be a bit more difficult.

>>What is it that's not right?
I was assuming bus from Kanazawa to Takayama, an overnight there, and then JR from Takayama to Kyoto/Osaka. If you were overnighting in Takayama then that would be better before Kanazawa - Nagano to Takayama (by JR) to Kanazawa (by bus).

Jetstar! good, I would not want to fly to Haneda either. Did you check Okayama (OKJ) to NRT?
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 17th, 2015, 10:15 AM
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I said "yikes" to monkey park because I knew you guys wanted to go there lol. And I only recommend cutting one or the other not both lol. Save one for your return visit prob Naoshima that way you can explore environs south (or West as the Japanese would say) of Kyoto too

We plan to be at the PH Tokyo 12/9-12/12

hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Jan 18th, 2015, 09:12 AM
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I have been looking forward to reading the details of your India trip before finalizing my itinerary.

When do you plan to post a trip report?
tennismaine is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 05:08 PM
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Working on it, tennismaine. May even have something tonight ready to post.

In the meantime, a follow-up on this. Been working with our good friend KimJapan to help rewire/reroute the trip a bit.

The biggest development is that I think we've accepted dropping S-Go (at least for now, as it seemingly does not fit into our overall plan.) There's still the option to do a day trip from Takayama (where will be staying two nights.)

The latest version of this ever-changing itinerary looks something like this:

*Fly into Narita (overnight in Tokyo)
*Train to Niki Club (in Nasu; about 1 hour northwest, I believe, of Tokyo) - 2 nights there
*Train to Kanazawa (hoping to use the new Shinkansen which should make the trip about 4 hours, I believe) - 3 nights Kanazawa
*Takayama - 2 nights
*Osaka - 1 night on the way to...
*Naoshima - 2 nights
*Fly to BKK via Takamatsu/NRT

So, HT and mrwunrfl...and anyone else who can chime in...thoughts?

I did toy with the idea of going straight through from Takayama to Naoshima (it's 5 hours, but that's really not that bad to us and we'd get there by 1:30 PM on the same day) and then have Osaka on the way back, flying out of KIX to BKK. But can't decide if that's just too much work or not.

Anyway, excited to get more feedback!
filmwill is online now  
Jan 19th, 2015, 09:55 PM
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Adding a 2nd night to Takayama is a good idea. The JR route there would be via Toyama. That would be only 35 minutes of backtracking, Kanazawa to Toyama, on the limited express, so a bit less on the shinkansen when it starts. I would definitely want that trip to be all-daylight hours (for scenery). With only two night in Takayama you can skip S-go and just visit the Hida-no Sato.

How did you get 5 hours as travel time between Takayama and Naoshima? I don't understand how that can be done in less than 6 hours. Please provide the specifics of how you are going to get there by 1:30PM.

>>Did you check Okayama (OKJ) to NRT?
That question remains, and now I am wondering about your logistics from Naoshima-Takamatsu-NRT.

Why is Takayama on your itinerary? There are other "cool places" that KimJ mentioned that you would be giving up by going there which also complicates your travel to Naoshima.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Jan 19th, 2015, 10:19 PM
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I don't have the specific Hyperdia routing in front of me. You may be right that it's 6 hours, not 5. But I recall it leaves at 8 AM and went through Nagoya and Okayama and arrived maybe at 2 PM to Uno. Sorry. I didn't mean to mislead. 5 or 6 hours, doesn't really make a big difference either way, does it? Arriving at 1 PM or 2 PM also doesn't make a difference as far as getting time at a hotel that day.


As mentioned earlier, there's a Jetstar flight from Takamatsu to NRT that arrives with plenty of time to catch 2 different flights to BKK.
It seems to me that Takamatsu is much closer to Naoshima than Okayama. There's a ferry from Naoshima directly to Takamatsu port and it seems a 25 min cab ride to the airport from there. Am I missing something?


What other "cool" places has she recommended to me? Have you guys been talking? I don't recall other options that seemed more interesting on our travel path and, to me, Takayama seems like a really beautifully preserved "old town" that offers really unique scenery different from anywhere else on our trip. Is there something you don't like about Takayama?
If there are other "cool" places you feel I'm missing out on, then, by all means, PLEASE tell me what they are and why you think they're better options.

filmwill is online now  

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