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patriciatbrogan May 18th, 2017 10:34 AM

Where to from Tokyo?!
Hello again,
I just want to get started on booking at least my hotels so, after leaving Tokyo would a good start be to go to the Kiso Valley and then on to maybe Matsumoto, and then Takeyama and Kanazawa (maybe more) - we would then want to spend about 4 nights in Kyoto and after that - am still thinking - but do fancy the idea of the inland sea; all this will be plumped out (we have 21 nights in Japan, our first 4 nights being in Tokyo (we fly out of Tokyo)) - we fancy gorgeous scenery, a sense of history, good food, not too many futons (!!)?
Thanks in advance for all help.

Kavey May 19th, 2017 05:00 AM

Hi Patricia
Sounds wonderful.
I'm not sure what question you're asking?

thursdaysd May 19th, 2017 05:08 AM

Japan is full of good food, location irrelevant. If you stay in hotels you are unlikely to encounter futons unless you specifically book a Japanese room. I spent five weeks there last year and never saw a futon. Saw a few my previous trip, but I knew ahead of time.

jdc26 May 19th, 2017 05:28 AM

I'm currently in Japan where I spent 3 nights in Tokyo, 1 night on the Izu Peninsula where we went to Mt. Omuro and took the rope way to the top and what an amazing view of the surrounding areas from high up. I then took the train to Kanazawa which I absolutely love and now I'm in Matsumoto where I spent today visiting Kamikochi and didn't want to leave. The scenery, the serenity and peacefulness of the area cannot be beat. So if you're looking for scenery nothing I've seen so far has top this picturesque landscape. Just breathtaking. In fact, I loved it so much I'm going back again and maybe

Good luck

patriciatbrogan May 19th, 2017 08:36 AM

Sounds lovely jdc26 - are you the one who's writing a blog? I've been reading it, in between panicking about getting going and finding reasonably priced hotels.

patriciatbrogan May 19th, 2017 08:37 AM

Thanks kavey, what I want is suggestions of good places to travel?

Kavey May 20th, 2017 12:08 AM

Hi Patricia
That's a very very open question! Especially without some input to narrow down on such as your interests, travel style and so on. Do you like slow travel with several nights in a place and pottering about the sites slowly with lots of stops to people watch, or are you very active and travel at a fast pace, packing lots into each day? Do you like art, temples, shopping, fashion, food, theatre and local performance arts, markets, what kind of activities? Do you intend to use the train or rent a car? Are you on a tight budget or have more leeway? Do you have flights booked already which may influence the best itinerary or not yet?
I would recommend as a starting point that you immerse yourself in which has a lot of great information including an itinerary generator (which I wouldn't actually use but is good to get some starting point ideas).

jdc26 May 20th, 2017 12:21 AM

Patricia, yes I am. On this trip I opt to use AirBnB for all my accommodations with the exception of here in Matsumoto where I'm staying at a very lovely boutique hotel, Hotel Mor-schein which is excellently located across the street from Matsumoto Station in a side street. The staff here are wonderful even with limited English. In Kyoto, I'm staying at a guesthouse which was highly recommended by a poster here on Fodors.

patriciatbrogan May 20th, 2017 08:24 AM

Hi Kavey,
Thanks for getting back to me- I'm more the fast type of traveller, but do like to stop in a place with lovely nature/views (or good food) - so, I s'pose a bit of both. Mainly we are just curious travellers, in Europe I do like to take in art, did a bit when in Mexico on my travels annually there for the last 3 years (sort of combined with archaeology, historic sites, I s'pose am mainly interested in the culture - but with a light touch) - definitely love taking in good food, be it cheap or expensive (although don't know whether I'll afford expensive in Japan); will be mainly travelling by train or bus, would prefer to spend less rather than more money but can occasionally splurge! Will have a look at but would love any suggestions here.
I mean, we have 3 full weeks flying into and out of Tokyo, will probably want to stick to Central Honshu, Kyoto, west of Kyoto (around Hiroshima I s'pose!) maybe as it seems the Japan Sea is lovely and then also it seems to be culturally interesting around there, would appreciate any tips, have no internal flights booked so far, and may not necessarily take the JR special.

patriciatbrogan May 20th, 2017 08:27 AM

Hello again jdc26, hmmm, need to have a look at air b'n b - where do I find that? Also will google your hotel in Matsumoto. Any suggestions for Kyoto would be appreciated - enjoy!

internetwiz May 20th, 2017 12:33 PM

patriciatbrogan, if you're looking to save money in Matsumoto, you can also look at the Dormy Inn, which is about two or three blocks from the JR station. The bonus of staying there is that there's free laundry, including detergent (the dryer is extra, but inexpensive). Don't miss seeing the castle, both illuminated at night and in the daylight. It is quite beautiful.

If you're going to Hiroshima, stop at Himeji Castle. It recently underwent a restoration and is also quite nice.

You might also like to visit Miyajima, either as a day trip from Hiroshima or overnight. Most people love it there; I wasn't crazy about it but it could have been because we were there on a weekend and it was mobbed.

For both of these castles, we had Goodwill Guides whom gave us the history and shared some of the "secrets" of each place.

Kavey May 20th, 2017 11:30 PM

I struggled with AirBnB properties in Japan when I was looking for our 4 week trip last year - for the price, most of the properties that I found were simply not good value against hotels and apartment / machiya rentals, plus the owners pretty much all picked the most restrictive of the cancellation terms available on AirBnB which meant once booked, non-refundable.

I did book one place through the site, which was not available any other way:

I tend to use / for most of my hotel bookings in Japan, with the exception of a few that I booked direct. There are plenty of places that can be booked and confirmed but cancelled without any penalty up to 3 days beforehand. That allows me to hold one or two places whilst I do more research and then release what I don't want long before travel.

If I were creating an itinerary for friends of mine travelling to Japan for the first time, who wanted to see some of the key first-visit highlights and had 21 days I'd probably do:

Arrive Tokyo - 4 nights
Takayama - 2 nights
Kanazawa - 3 nights
Nara - 1 night
Kyoto - 5 nights
Mount Koya - 1 night
Osaka - 1 night
Hiroshima/ Miyajima - 2 nights
Tokyo - 2 nights

(This is based on a standard return into and out of Tokyo. If you book an open-jaw you could fly into Tokyo and out of Kansai or Osaka international airports and swap the itinerary around somewhat).

But this is based mostly on my own first itinerary (of 17 nights) plus some extras from my subsequent visits. You need to work out what appeals to you and plan accordingly.

Incidentally, I hate heat and humidity so have always avoided summer in Japan. Our first trip was Sept/Oct, the second one Oct/Nov and the last one late March/ April.

thursdaysd May 21st, 2017 04:19 AM

Good itinerary Kavey. I might modify it to drop Osaka and substitute a last night in Narita for the last two in Tokyo. That would allow more time in Kanazawa and Nara, or the addition of Matsumoto or Shirakawa-go.

Agree about avoiding summer. I got some overly hot and humid days in central Honshu in early October last year.

Kavey May 21st, 2017 08:54 AM

Yep, I have included Osaka here only because of ease of transport between Koya san and Hiroshima, and because most first time travellers do want to see it. I've only given it the single night because I just don't love Osaka!

We stayed our last night at Narita before coming home on the most recent trip and I'm glad we did, but found it just as easy to travel from central Tokyo to the airport on previous trips, a little slower of course!

I'm not good with heat or humidity so it's a definite deciding factor for me!

thursdaysd May 21st, 2017 09:03 AM

I enjoyed Narita more than I expected, but the fall color in Naritasan Park was gorgeous. It was just one stop on the Keisei line.

I hate heat and humidity and get more than enough of it at home!

patriciatbrogan May 25th, 2017 08:22 AM

Thanks all, Kavey particularly I'm sorry I didn't thank you sooner - that looks like a great itinerary: just one question, could I fit Masumoto in to my day's travel on the way to my 2 dats in Takayama?
Thanks again!

mrwunrfl May 25th, 2017 08:58 AM

Tokyo to Takayama is about 4.5 hours. Stopping in Matsumoto would add about 2.5 to 3.5 hours to that, maybe more.

Instead of flying home from Tokyo or Osaka you could just fly from Hiroshima (HIJ). Or fly from Fukuoka (FUK). Connect at Narita or Seoul. Possibly from Okayama (O<J) connecting to an international flight from Tokyo Haneda.

internetwiz May 25th, 2017 12:16 PM

You could go to Matsumoto first, after Tokyo, then go to Takayama from there. I haven't been to Mount Koya, so I don't know the logistics involved, but I would probably skip Osaka, unless you have an afternoon flight from KIX. If that's the case, you could stay there overnight then go to the airport in the morning.

Kavey May 30th, 2017 06:35 AM

Hi Patricia,
No worries at all.
I've never been to Masumoto so I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the logistics of the route and whether or not it would work but a good delve into should be able to help you decide.

Adastra2200 May 30th, 2017 08:39 PM

There is no shortage of good places to see. If you are arriving and leaving out of Tokyo, then to save some money I recommend you use a JR Pass. The next question would be if you want a 14 or 21 day pass. If you go as far south as Hiroshima and Miyajima, then you would make a 14 day pass pay off. The next question is if you will travel enough to make a 21 day pass pay off. You could do it by going further south, or by some day trips from Tokyo - and there is also a huge choice.

Also you might want to take a bus from Matsumoto to Takayama to save time. By train, it would take you an extra 4 hours 20 minutes. If you pay for the 2½ bus ride it would cost an extra 3190 yen but as you can see, save you some good time.
With as much time as you're spending, I highly recommend seeing Hiroshima and especially Miyajima, which are truly marvelous.
You can also see Iwakuni which is just a stone's throw past it.

Plus it would be really great to go at least one hot spring while you're in the country - there are resorts like in Kinosaki, or just just finding a place like Arima in Kobe. An overnight at Koyasan is also a great idea.

If you want to see natural beauty, you should consider Karuizawa, Kamikochi, the Hitachi Seaside Park, Takao, and Hakone or the Fuji 5 Lakes. From Kyoto there is Kibune and Kurama, and in Okayama there's the Korakuen and Handayama Gardens.
For something unique and unforgettable, try the Akiyoshido Limestone Cave.
Plus the karst plateau above has some excellent easy hiking.

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