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Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 15:14
Hi everyone,

Last week I asked for advice about our itinerary for a December 2018 holiday. Based on your feedback (thank you so much!), I've come up with the following itinerary.

I'm planning on using a 2-week JR pass (no self-drive), and we are spending some time in Tokyo before and Osaka after this period. I have 4 days spare for the JR pass, which I can't decide what to do with. Could you provide some suggestions? They could be inserted anywhere along this itinerary, not necessarily where I've indicated the spares.

This is our 3rd trip to Japan, and we've been to Hiroshima/Miyajima, Kyoto, Uji, Nara, Nagoya, Takayama and Kiso Valley. In terms of interests - we like a bit of everything, including the outdoors and gardens. Maybe a bit less interested in galleries, museums and onsen :)

It would seem to make sense to spend some time in Fukuoka, but I'm wondering whether it's worth all of those 4 days. Some of the other things I was considering were: extend some of the existing stays (which one?); a stopover in Hakone (never been); or a stopover in Nagoya (to see sights we didn't see the first time). I've thought of Beppu, but that's a fair distance away for a day trip from Fukuoka - also we've been to Rotorua, New Zealand, so I thought we might not be too impressed with the hells (?).

My provisional itinerary:

Day 1 - Tokyo to Okayama
Day 2-5 - Okayama. Use as base for day trips to Onomichi and Ikuchijima Island; Takamatsu (Ritsurin, Shikoku Mura); Naoshima or Teshima; Kotohira. If extra time, we will go to Bitchu-Takahashi or Bizen
Day 6-7 - Kagoshima. Senganen garden and Sakurajima
Day 8-9 - Nagasaki
Day 10-13 ?
Day 14 - Transfer to Osaka

I'd appreciate any and all suggestions.

Cheers and happy new year!
by Ben (guest)  

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 16:59
I would add a day to your Okayama section. It looks very rushed.

And yes Fukuoka makes sense for the other unused days since your are also doing Nagasaki and Kagoshima.
by hakata14 rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 17:21
Fukuoka makes sense. However if you want to see something much less seen of Japan you could use the spare days to travel back to Osaka on the Japan Sea side, visiting Hagi, Izumo, amateur, Tottori... before arriving to Osaka. Train connections there are much slower.

Alternatively you could add a few more xtra days on Shikoku, either after Okayama or on your way back. I believe there are even ferries from Kyushu to Matsuyama. You could visit Matsuyama , Takamatsu and some of the 88 temples. However the higher parts of Shikoku will have likely snow in December.

But just staying in Fukuoka is fine. If you do so, I immensely enjoyed Dazaifu (1 entire day needed), and for a rainy day the Fukuoka city museum isnft bad either. With good English explanations and audio guide.

Enjoy your trip to Japan!
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 17:31
Thanks for these ideas. I've been wanting to visit Hagi for ever so long. I could maybe go for 2 days in the way back to Osaka while allocating an extra day at Okayama.
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 21:04
you can stay in Kurashiki instead of Okayama - it is a very charming city, and good place for 4-5 daytrips, including Shikoku.
by girlwithpearl (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 22:16
As a person who has travelled to most of your destinations, here is a basic plan which may work for you. Feel free to use this, modify it or ignore some or all of it.

Day 1: Early Shinkansen to Okayama. Visit Korakuen & Okayama Castle

https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1407
https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2516

Interesting Okayama Day Trips

Bitchu Takahashi: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1413

Kibi Plain Bike Ride: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1411

Inujima Island (Art Island): https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1410 (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!)

Kurashiki: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1414

Shoshazan Engyogi Temple Walk - Himeji: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1403

Himeji Castle & Garden: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1406

SHIKOKU Trips

Takamatsu: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2484

Teshima: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2479

Naoshima: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2487

Kotohira/Marugame: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2514

NAGASAKI: I think Nagasaki is worth 2 full days. One day could be Gunkanjima & Dejima, the other day the rest of the city....

Hashima/Gunkajima: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2704

Southern Attractions: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2705

Northern Attractions: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2707

An interesting night away from Nagasaki is Hirado: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2699 & https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2700

For Kagoshima - a possible night trip could be Takachiho: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-2894

I've got more suggestions, but don't know where to finish. Fukuoka has plenty near it. Also Saga Prefecture has plenty of great onsen towns....

Reply and I can tailor more suggestions if interested.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/3 22:19
Hagi is also one of my favourite places in Japan - but boy does it take ages of time to get there.....

https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1422
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/4 04:20
Thanks so much for your suggestions! So helpful (as are your trip report posts, which I've read end to end).

In reply, we've been to Okayama before and have seen the castle, garden and Kurashiki, so can skip those. Everything else seems very interesting. We are keen bike riders, so interested in the Kibi Plain, but I wonder whether it will be too cold in December? I suppose we could just play it by ear and go if the weather is nice.

With regards to Hagi, I've read that there is a bus (1 hour) from Yamaguchi. Do you think it's reasonable to go this way, with an overnight in Hagi? From Yamaguchi, there's also a possible day trip to an interesting cave I think?

Thanks again!

Cheers!
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/4 05:05
I've done Kibi many years ago. It was pleasant and not terribly strenuous. It didn't take us all that long including stopping to eat and getting a bit lost, but we did it in May.

We're looking into visiting Akiyoshidai during our trip. I believe there are buses from it to Hagi as well as to Yamaguchi, but I'm unsure if the buses to Hagi are covered by your JR rail pass. I think at one point Botsu or possibly Yamaguchi was having some sort of bus special offer to try to get more tourists out to the Sea of Japan side of Japan. I know the bus from Yamaguchi is covered but not from Shin-Yamaguchi. It looks amazing.

We're thinking of trying to go to the fan museum in Marugame on Shikoku so we can make our own fan.

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/4 13:12
You are right - the buses to Akiyoshido from Hagi aren't covered by the JR pass, both those from Yamaguchi are. The Bocho Bus to Hagi is also pretty infrequent, so we would probably go as a day trip from a base in Yamaguchi.

Thanks for the information about the fan museum.
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/4 18:56
Note that the buses from Yamaguchi only run every couple of hours. The Tourist Information Centre has the bus times in English from Shin-Yamaguchi Station. The bus takes longer than 70 minutes - I think it was 90 minutes when I caught it. It's a fair distance.

The cave you mentioned is reasonably nice - it depends what you like to do: https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1420

The Kibi Plain bike ride was fine, just don't do it on a really cold day or when it's raining. There are plenty of other options in the area if it's bad weather. Just note that the hike up to the castle on Bitchu Takahashi Castle is a bit of a slog if your a bit older or not that fit, plus it's a fair distance from the town itself.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/4 20:58
Thanks very much for all the great tips and links. I really appreciate it!
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/5 08:30
After carefully considering all your suggestions, as well as travel times, I've decided to add a day to Okayama to accommodate extra day trips there.

I've abandoned the idea of going to Hagi ): - It's probably just too far to go in the time available. So we will spend the extra 2-3 days in Fukuoka instead.

Would you be able to provide some suggestions in addition to Dazaifu/Yanagawa? Would you recommend Yoshinogari Historical Park (too cold in December ?) or Arita?

Your advice is much appreciated!
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/5 16:52
Regarding Fukuoka:
1 day for Dazaifu, including the National museum and a great zen garden just outside the famous shrine. Plus walk through the rest of attractions. (I personally would need two days for it, but I am slow paced)
http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.nl/2017/11/day-54-saga-to-dazaifu.h...
http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.nl/2017/11/day-55-dazaifu-to-fukuok...

I enjoyed Yoshinogari Park. It reminded me strongly of Asterix village if you know what I am talking about. It might be cold, but that depends on the day you choose.
http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.nl/2017/11/day-53-yanagawa-to-saga....

I passed through yanagawa, but unless you take the boat ride, the town is not very attractive.
I liked the city museum of Fukuoka, good English explanations and audio guide.
I did not make it to the Toilet museum in Northern Kyushu But was very intrigued by it.

Did you consider some onsen stay in Kyushu? Like Kurokawa? It would need probably 2 days, but is great!!! I think there is a direct bus from Hakata.

Do you know Kumamoto? The castle has been damaged by the earthquake, but you can still see it from outside so it is still interesting, plus there is a famous landscape garden that already reopened.

Enjoy your trip!
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/5 17:36
Thanks so much LikeBike! The Toto museum has just been put on to the must do list :) And Kumamoto as well.

Thanks for the link to your blog - looking forward to some very interesting reading this evening!

All the best!
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/5 18:06
If you are going to be in Takamatsu you could also visit Kurashiki and spend a day or two in Naoshima Island. You should check out Naoshima Island! It has become really popular in the last couple of years!
by Guest (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/5 19:26
Toto Museum is awesome!
Kokura itself is quite quaint, and if it's blossom season the walk from Kokura castle to the Toto Museum is lined with cherry trees.
There's quite a good Kita Kyushu tourist website which might give some other ideas for the area http://www.gururich-kitaq.com/en/special/shunkan/
Another unusual thing is the "catch your own fish" restaurant in Fukuoka - Zauo (see some discussion here: https://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+148503 )
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/5 19:42
Thanks Guest and WinterVisitor!
by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/6 01:56
If you're already in Kyushu, why not also add Miyazaki to your list?
2-3 days are more than enough! :)
http://zoomingjapan.com/tag/miyazaki/

Oita is also a good idea.

I did Nagasaki, Yakushima (Kagoshima) and a few other things during a Kyushu winter vacation, so maybe you can find some inspiration:
http://zoomingjapan.com/travel/kyushu-winter-vacation-preview/


Let me know if you have any questions. :)
by zoomingjapan rate this post as useful

Re: Suggestions please - spare days in itinerary 2018/1/6 09:16
Thanks for those ideas Zoomingjapan! Your blog is great.

I notice you went to Takachiho. That's one place that I was really interested in seeing, but I was put off by transportation, as we are not wanting to rent a car. It looks like you might have gone by public transport?

Could you tell me how that went. Is a day trip feasible, or do you need to overnight there?

Cheers!

by Ben (guest) rate this post as useful

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