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Revised and improved First Trip to Japan itinerary - do you agree?

Revised and improved First Trip to Japan itinerary - do you agree?

Dec 16th, 2015, 01:16 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 321
Revised and improved First Trip to Japan itinerary - do you agree?

So, here is my new itinerary:
Day 1, Sat 29 Oct - leave Manchester via Turkish Airlines
Day 2, Sun 30 - arrive Tokyo. Overnight in Tokyo
Day 3, Mon 31 - Overnight in Tokyo
Day 4, Tue 1 - Overnight in Tokyo
Day 5, Wed 2 - Overnight in Tokyo
Day 6, Thu 3 - Overnight in Tokyo.
Day 7, Fri 4 - Early train to Nakatsugawa. Bus to Magome and hike to Tsumago. Travel on to Matsumoto. Overnight in Matsumoto.
Day 8, Sat 5 - Leave after exploring the castle and travel to Takayama on bus via a stop in Kamikochi. Overnight in Takayama
Day 9, Sun 6 - Overnight in Takayama.
Day 10, Mon 7 - Travel to Kanazawa by bus via a stop in Shirakowago. Overnight in Kanazawa
Day 11, Tue 8 - Overnight in Kanazawa
Day 12, Wed 9 - Overnight in Kanazawa
Day 13, Thu 10 - Travel to Miyajima. Overnight on Miyajima
Day 14, Fri 11 - Visit Hiroshima in morning and Himeji castle in afternoon. Travel on to Kobe. Overnight in Kobe
Day 15, Sat 12 - Overnight in Kobe
Day 16, Sun 13 - Travel to Mount Koya. Overnight on Mount Koya
Day 17, Mon 14 - Travel to Kyoto. Overnight in Kyoto
Day 18, Tue 15 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 19, Wed 16 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 20, Thu 17 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 21, Fri 18 - Overnight in Kyoto
Day 22, Sat 19 - Day in Kyoto arriving at airport early evening for late night flight home
Day 23, Sun 20 - arrive home 11am and recover. Back to work Monday.

So the first main change is dropping Yakushima - it looks wonderful but even I recognise that this trip is better without it - it's only going to get even older when I do visit, trouble is so am I. The other main change is having as few one night stops as possible. The advice seems to be that one night on Mount Koya, on Miyajima and in Matsumoto are fine. I've kept Tokyo first - I think I prefer the shock of the new to being able to acclimatise. Day trips to Nara, Kamakura, Nikko and Hakone are all possible but we will decide at the time whether or not to do them depending on how much we are enjoying Kyoto and Tokyo. We have more time in Kyoto than Tokyo, but only just.

Kobe has been added as it interests me - much of it was destroyed after the earthquake in 1995. A significant part of Manchester city centre was destroyed by a bomb in 1996. As a planner I've seen how Manchester has been regenerated following the bomb - I think Kobe will be a fascinating contrast. I want a great steak too.

I still have a couple of tough days of trying to fit too much in but I hope this is balanced by minimising the one night stops and keeping them non-consecutive.

I'd love your opinions on how it looks and on how you might improve on it and thank you all for your wonderful help so far - I love this forum.

Cheers, Tim
tjhome1 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 01:39 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,988
I do think this is an improved itinerary. Yes, there are some parts that are very busy, but you can decide once you get there how many day trips to take.

Our Japan trip was in November and the koyo was incredible. I hope you are as lucky.

Kathie is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 07:54 PM
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 272
Just noticed this thread.
Good looking itinerary and I like the addition of Kobe.
For a fun preview of the town check out this NHK production of Journey's in Japan, "Jazzy Kobe"
kalihiwai2 is offline  
Dec 16th, 2015, 08:55 PM
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Now this is very odd -- I posted earlier to say that I thought it was much improved and to note that I would still add time to Kyoto / Nara, taking it from Tokyo -- based on MY interests, which might differ from the OP's.

I also linked this thread to the OP's other two threads.

My post seemed to "take" - but now it's gone!
kja is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 09:17 AM
Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 809
I think your general travel flow looks pretty logical. A couple of questions:

1. Unless you are planning to use one of your Tokyo days to day trip to Kamakura or Nikko, I think 3 full days in Tokyo is plenty. You might be able to pull a day here and add it somewhere else.

2. Days 7 and especially 14 feel like VERY long days to me, with anticipation that you'll be arriving at your lodging very late both evenings. Don't forget to include travel time to get from the train station to the hotel, check in, unwind, etc. Also travel time to catch the ferry in Miyajima, then about 20 minutes to dock at Hiroshima and from there, another 30 minutes or so to catch a streetcar to the Peace Park. I believe I spent nearly 3 hours just at the Peace Museum (which I thought incredibly well done) and you then have the Peace Park and the A-Bomb Dome (right across the river) to visit. For me, Hiroshima was closer to a 3/4 day visit than the 1/2 day visit commonly spoken about on this forum.

3. I LOVED the Matsumoto Castle, so don't cut it under any circumstance. I also enjoyed roaming the town in the afternoon but if you can only find time for one site, the castle is it.

Overall, I think you have a pretty good itinerary. Mostly-think about whether you really want 4 full days for Tokyo itself.
MinnBeef is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 10:33 AM
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Posts: 321
Thanks everyone

Lovely video on Jazz in Kobe - fab voiceover!

Kja - do please let me have your thoughts - you are one of the several people whose wise words I consider most carefully

MinnBeef - I think it very likely that we would do at least one of the three day trips that I've mentioned while we are in Tokyo. Yes, they are long days and thank you for the excellent advice about remembering to factor all those other things that take time but that seldom get taken into account. As we are getting trains though I think it will be easier to have a tight schedule for those two days and cut our time at Himeji accordingly - putting two nights in Kobe was specifically done as we would be getting in fairly late on day 14. Am glad you also recommend Matsumoto Castle. If it was you were would add that extra day though from Tokyo?
tjhome1 is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 04:33 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,561
Thank you for your kind words, Tim, though I'm not sure my comments deserve particular attention -- you're getting some great advice from many, and I'm certainly not the expert that some other Fodorites are!

As I recall, I had just one or two main comments: As already noted, I would take at least one day from Tokyo and add it to Kyoto and Nara; YMMV.

To add to the exchange you've now had with MinnBeef, I must admit that with the variety of places you are visiting, I think you might consider skipping Nikko on this trip -- I loved it, but then I spent a night there and so had time for more than one can possibly crunch into a day trip, and I personally would rather have an extra day in Kyoto / Nara than a day trip to Nikko that would not allow you to include Kegon-no-Taki or Lake Chuzenji. JMO, though, and I readily admit that Nikko has buildings in a style you won't see in most other places.

As for Kamakura, I fit a full day there into my 3.5 day visit to Tokyo, and again, would either cut my time there or in Tokyo to be able to spend more time in Kyoto and Nara, and again, that's a reflection of my preferences. FWIW, I think you will see things that are very similar to what you would see in Kamakura elsewhere during your trip, and much as I loved seeing the Daibutsu in his outdoor setting, I'm not sure it fits well with the rest of your plan. If it is a priority, consider trying to see it in a half-day.

I also agree with MinnBeef about the amount of travel some of your days will entail. I don't mind an occasional long day of travel if it enables me to see or do things that are high priorities for me and if I know to prepare for them in advance -- actually, they can IMO provide a bit of a respite from busy days. BUT I haven't worked out the timing, and trust that you will do so, mindful of all the extra time-consuming bits at either end.

The only other think I remember doing is providing links to your other threads, because I think it is really helpful to people to know how your plan has evolved and in light of what guidance. I think it's possible that those links are what caused the posting problem I encountered, so I'll try to do that in my next post.
kja is offline  
Dec 17th, 2015, 04:34 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,561
Here are links to the OP's earlier planning threads:
kja is offline  
Dec 18th, 2015, 06:14 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Just an observation:

You have changed some of your goals as well as the timing (and to a slight extent the order) of your goals. This is all part of the process, but it does make it a bit harder to compare this itinerary to previous ones.

First, I see you dropped the idea of a stopover in between the UK and Japan. This is not necessarily an improvement or a liability in and of itself, although I think the idea to spend more time at the arrival gateway (Tokyo) is wise, as it gives you time to recover from the long flight before moving on.

Next, I can understand the logistical reasons for dropping Yakushima, since I have experience with logistics even though I've never had the happy fortune of visiting that island (or indeed many, many places in Japan. I mention that, to pacify those who hold that one cannot pass an opinion on an itinerary, without having intimate acquaintance with various other aspects of the points being connected.)

However I now have a question: does this mean you are de-emphasizing hiking as a goal? Because a first reading suggests your new itinerary has not replaced what you intended to do in Yakushima (hike) with hiking somewhere else. Nothing wrong with that, I 'm just trying to get a sense of what Tim believes makes a trip successful for Tim. Because You, and nobody else, is the expert on you!

On a logistical note:
Hyperdia.com is your friend as is japan-guide.com and google maps (directions.) Using these resources, it appears it will take you 3.5 hours or so to get to Nakatsugawa station (fast train to Nagoya, switch to local line to Nakatsugawa.) There you have to pick up the local bus to Magome. If you leave at 6:30 or so, you might make the


10:15 bus to Magome, arriving 10:40. Add half hour for Magome, 3 hours for a leisurely hike including a picnic, puts you into Tsumago at around 14:00. An hour to take in Tsumago, then you can get the 15:26 bus back to Nagiso station. It's not a long bus ride, you would make the 'Shinano' train leaving for Matsumoto station around 16:00 and arriving around 17:00, plus commute to your hotel.

So it's doable but this sounds like a good day to send your luggage ahead to Matsumoto ahead of time. And it will be a long one as others have pointed out.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Dec 19th, 2015, 12:32 PM
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Posts: 321
Thanks kja and Sue. Am taking on more advice and taking a day off Tokyo and adding to Kyoto/Nara and probably not do any day trip from Tokyo.

Hiking was not a major goal but we do love walking when we are on holiday and I liked the thought of Yakushima as it would have been so different to Tokyo. I guess what makes a trip successful is having as wide a range of great experiences as possible so long as it is compatible with it all being enjoyable and unstressful and as hiking is as active as we get a good trip will usually involve some hiking.

Yes, I'm loving hyperdia and japan-guide. If we get a Nozomi we can make it to Nakatsugawa even quicker - hyperdia suggests 2 hours 40 minutes and I thought we could get a taxi as well even though hey do seems expensive. And yes definitely a day for the wonderful luggage service.
tjhome1 is offline  
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