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Please help with my itinerary for Japan, Part Two (more difficult)

Please help with my itinerary for Japan, Part Two (more difficult)

Old Jun 17th, 2016, 03:04 PM
  #1  
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Please help with my itinerary for Japan, Part Two (more difficult)

This is the follow-on to Part One, which covered southern/western Honshu. My initial plan was to visit western Shikoku (having visited Takamatsu and Tokushima last time), and then travel south through Kyushu to Okinawa. I have concluded that I don't have time for Okinawa, and since Kumamoto is still recovering from the earthquake, I should probably skip southern Kyushu this time.

I will be starting this leg from Yamaguchi, which puts me closer to Kyushu, but I need to finish by getting to Narita for my flight home, and if I want to fly Peach, I need to leave from Fukuoka (the main line airlines are very expensive). I thought about taking a night train, but they are practically extinct in Japan. There is only one left, from Takamatsu or Matsue via Okinawa to "Tokyo", and it is also expensive. If something goes wrong with the flight plan, day train travel to Narita would be easier/faster from Fukuoka than Matsuyama.

I think Shikoku is fairly straightforward.

Kochi - 4 nights, train from Yamaguchi via Okinawa. Day trips to Iya valley and along the coast. Input on where along the coast?

Matsuyama - 4 nights. Dogo Onsen. Textile Museum, Glass Museum. Day trips to Uchiko-Ozu-Uwa and Imabari-Architecture Museum. Maybe I need five nights?

Kyushu is where I'm having trouble. From Shikoku I'm thinking of taking the ferry from Yawatahama to Beppu. Beppu sounds very touristy, so an immediate transfer to Yufuin.

Yufuin - 2 nights. One too many? Should I skip Yufuin and take the ferry from Matsuyama to Kitakyushu instead?

Nagasaki - 3 nights. Is this too long? Could I cut this to two nights and fit in a night at Takachiho by public transport?

Karatsu - 1 night. Base for Imari and Arita. Needs two nights?

Fukuoka - 2 nights. Base for Dazaifu

That gets me to Nov. 15th. I leave from Narita at 11:00 am on Nov 17th. I want to allow enough time for a Plan B if something goes wrong with the flight, although a full day in Narita seems like overkill. Anywhere else in the vicinity worth seeing? I was wondering about Kamakura, but it's a couple of hours each way by train.

Thanks!
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 07:15 PM
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Your schedule looks fine to me - I haven't been to Karatsu but have been to the other places you listed.

When I went to Kyushu it was the main focus of that particular Japan trip. I flew into Oita from HND, went immediately to Beppu just for the sand bath at Takegawara and then trained to Usuki for one night - it's a little town with some interesting sights the best of which are the stone Buddhas. I continued on to Yufuin for two nights - it is very touristy and if you need to cut a night I would cut there....

I really liked Nagasaki for all its history - if you have a chance you might read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and then visit the Dejima reconstruction.

I also visited Kumamoto and Asosan but since the recent earthquake I guess not this trip....

As far as your trip back to NRT, I usually end my Japan trips in Tokyo - I have never traveled there on the last day of a trip....you might send your luggage via takuhaibin earlier so you can travel light the last day and maybe even go to Tokyo for a bit....
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Old Jun 17th, 2016, 07:57 PM
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Thanks Mara. Tokyo was my least favorite place in Japan last time, so I was going to skip it this time, and the flight from Fukuoka is into Narita, so I don't really want to go into Tokyo and back out again for just one or two nights.

I'm thinking I might just concentrate on northwest Kyushu this time. I think I could certainly add a night to Matsuyama, and maybe Karatsu. Have no interest in sand baths,... hammams and onsens, yes, sand, no.
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Old Jun 18th, 2016, 01:10 AM
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I agree that Beppu is touristy, a lot of is also quite ugly. Well worth visiting the Hells, even though they're touristy too, loved seeing them. But I am glad we didn't overnight there.

Yufuin, this is tricky. In all the photos I saw before we went, it looked like a charming little town with a beautiful old town feel. But actually that street in all the photos is the only street of traditional wooden buildings, is tiny, and during our non-koyo autumn 2013 visit, was utterly rammed with tourists disgorged from a huge number of coaches and day visitors. And it's mostly shops selling tourist tat.

The rest of Yufuin was a small ordinary village, pleasant enough, some nice coffee shops etc. A good liquor store. A cake shop. Some restaurants.

We liked its location because we were driving and the entire area was a dream to drive through, just so beautiful. And Yufuin was as good a base as any from which to enjoy that rural and mountainous region.

But just want to warn that it was not as pretty of itself as expected.
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Old Jun 18th, 2016, 06:14 AM
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Thanks Kavey, that's very helpful. I won't be driving, and I will have just visited Dogo Onsen, so I think I will simplify things and only visit the northwest of Shikoku this time. Leaves plenty for another visit.

That gives me two days to use elsewhere. One for Matsuyama or Karatsu, and one that I think I will use to allow for two nights in Kamakura after I go north for the flight home. I was just talking to someone who spoke very highly of Kamakura.
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Old Jun 18th, 2016, 12:19 PM
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Of course someone else may tell you Yufuin was a highlight for them! But you can't do all of it so hope my thoughts can help.
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 01:41 AM
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We visited Kamakura for the first time on this trip, we only had a few hours so we focused on visiting the Amida Buddha and a second nearby temple, both of which we really enjoyed. I know there is more to see in Kamakura so I'm sure you'll enjoy. If you do find you have a half day spare you could always hop up to Yokohama and do a little sightseeing there. There's not huge amounts to see and do but the China Town temples are interesting.
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 06:13 AM
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For what’s it’s worth, there are many places close to Narita Airport that can be interesting. I would combine Narita town (if you’re there, don’t miss out on Narita Temple!) and Sawara town nearby into one day. There’s also an open-air museum close to Narita (https://www.chiba-muse.or.jp/MURA/) and, although Sakura town doesn’t offer much, if you’re trying to fill in hours there’s a nice little ‘National Museum of Japanese History’ and also an old samurai house with a small bamboo path.
But then Kamakura is really beautiful. I spent a day and a half there (it was supposed to be two full days, but I got sick and went back to Tokyo to rest), there’s so much to do and I definitely recommend it if you don’t mind the travel distance.
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 07:32 AM
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Definitely seems that Kamakura rates a full day, and maybe two. Would make a nice bookend with Nara from the the beginning of the trip. Would also relieve my concerns about finishing so far from my fly-home-from airport. So will replace Yufuin with Kamakura.

I love open air museums! Thanks. Will move to Narita the day before my flight and spend the afternoon there.
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 11:50 AM
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 12:03 PM
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So, I looked Kamakura up in the latest Fodors guidebook. In the Getting Oriented piece on side-trips from Tokyo, it says "Kamakura and Yokohama are close enough to Tokyo to provide ideal day trips, and as it's unlikely that you'll stay overnight ... no accommodations are listed".

But then, when you read the piece on Kamakura, it says: "There's a lot to see in Kamakura, and even to hit the highlights takes you most of a busy day."

Fortunately, it's not the only guidebook I'm using...
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 12:22 PM
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Forgot to ask. Any recommendations for airport hotels in Narita? Anyone stayed at the Ninehours capsule hotel? With an 11:00 am departure, I figure I need to be at the airport at 8:00 or 8:30, right?

Also, American Airlines has decided to cancel "breakfast" on this flight, even in first class. I could use suggestions for high protein food I can buy in Japan and take aboard, as I can't last from "dinner" through the rest of the flight and immigration and customs in Dallas without food.
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 03:27 PM
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I spent a VERY long day in Kamakura many years ago and absolutely loved my time there! I visited as a day trip because, at the time, I was unable to find lodging there that I felt I could afford. Also, I didn't look for dinner until after sunset, which was on the late side, and found that the only place that was still seating anyone was a deli serving only Western food. But things could easily have changed....
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Old Jun 19th, 2016, 04:27 PM
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Thanks for the warning. I had a look, and doesn't look like things have changed much... However, I could sleep in Ofuna, where the N'EX terminates. or possibly in Yokohama, which Fodors also likes and where I could maybe eat Chinese.
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Old Jun 20th, 2016, 01:08 AM
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I just published my snapshot of our visit to the Buddha if you are interested, mostly photos: http://www.kaveyeats.com/2016/06/vis...ura-japan.html
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Old Jun 20th, 2016, 04:56 PM
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Looks like a good plan to me too. We also loved Nagasaki. The Dormy Inn there is nice and right next to the oldest Chinatown in Japan and the infamous "Champon" noodle dishes (fantastic). Dejima, The Peace Park, Mount Inasa at sunset(one of the three best views in Japan), the Dutch Slope and of course Glover Gardens are the venues that stands out in my mind on our Nagasaki visit. Get a seat on the left side of the train going into and right side going out of Nagasaki to get the ocean views.

You may have already seen this but there is a lot to do in one day in Narita.

http://www.mgnewman.com/Naritax/index.php

Chinese food in the second oldest Chinatown in Japan, Yokohama, is actually very different from Nagasaki but just as good imho. XLB's here are to die for....yummmmm!

Lastly of course the train station you leave from would be the best place to get your protein for the airline trip home. The bigger the station the more of a selection. Japanese rail stations are usually the best places for a quick bite to eat in a small town lol.

Aloha!
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Old Jun 20th, 2016, 06:48 PM
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Thanks for the link, kavey. Nice web site, great pix. I think I will save the 20 yen, discovered I was claustrophobic by carelessly opening my eyes during an MRI...

Thanks ht! I hadn't seen that web site, looks to be lots of info. Had to look up XLB - I'm limiting carbs, so am avoiding dumplings and noodles and rice. Likely not so easy in Asia! Whatever I pick up to eat on the plane needs to be something that won't go bad.

Am definitely replacing Yufuin with Kamakura. But it turns out that the ferry from Matsuyama to Kitakyushu is a night boat getting at 5:00, so will take the ferry to Kure and the train to Fukuoka.

Now have (all hotels can be canceled):

Kochi - 4 nights, Comfort Hotel, train from Yamaguchi via Okayama

Matsuyama - 5 nights. Hotel Check In. Would like to replace the first night with a ryokan near Dogo Onsen.

Fukuoka - 1 night. JR Kyushu Blossom Hakata Central. Break the trip to Nagasaki, and spend most of the next day in Dazaifu.

Nagasaki - 3 nights. Dormy Inn. (Single room, am informed by the hotel that if I want a room above the fourth floor I need a double.) Was thinking of taking the bus, seems to be half the price of the train.

Fukuoka - 2 nights. Dormy Inn Premium Hakata Canal City. Planning a day trip to the pottery towns. Not much availability on booking.com for my dates, which are Sat and Sun.

Kamakura - 2 nights. Working on the hotel. Hopefully by plane. May wind up in Ofuna, can't get very excited about Yokohama, and looks like I may need more than a day for Kamakura.

Narita - 1 night. Seems options are either a hotel right by the airport, or by a station one stop away. Think the train might be more reliable than airport shuttles. Or there is the 9h Nine Hours capsule hotel in Terminal 2.
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 02:06 AM
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You're welcome. Yes my husband and our Tokyo friend went inside, I said for Pete to scope it out as I feared it would be both claustrophobia-inducing and also rickety or narrow stairs, which he confirmed when he came out, so I declined to go inside!
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 05:14 AM
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Oh, duh, only half responded! SENILE!

We stayed first 2 nights of our recent trip in Yokohama, really just to see/ stay somewhere different. I don't think I'd stay / visit again and there's really not that much to do, but given flight times and onward travel we really only had a day to kill. Chinatown was interesting but extremely touristy, a few streetfood snacks were much enjoyed but we didn't bother eating a meal there.

We're not into shopping, so shopping mall near our hotel wasn't of much interest. We could have gone to Kirin's beer village but we've been to similar previously. Likewise, the pot noodle museum would have appealed if we'd not already been to the one in Osaka. So there's enough stuff for a half day short visit if you fancy it but nothing to feel bad about missing if you don't!
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Old Jun 21st, 2016, 05:36 AM
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Thanks Kavey. I really don't understand why Fodors puts Yokohama in the same sentence as Kamakura as an "ideal day trip". It seems to be mostly about Chinatown, but it's hardly unique.
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