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Rethinking our Itinerary 2018/2/1 02:07
Hi All,

I asked before about Kyushu/Chugoku, but now that I've talked some things out with my daughter and really thought about our plans vs possible weather conditions and I am rethinking things and would love some thoughts. I am traveling just me (adult female) with my daughter (she will be 7) We love gardens, easy hikes (it doesn't have to be flat, but nothing with steep drop-offs/needing to climb ladders/aka something like the Daikiretto/Angel's Landing in Zion National Park.) shopping, and I like onsen. We do have dietary restrictions. I've been a lot of places and I am happy to go back to them, but I always want to do something new for me. I consider us medium paced tourers. We're not spend all day at 2 temples, but not 30-45 minutes and the place is checked off and we're done, unless it's someplace really small.

So since this is late June we're talking about, do you think we should stick with Kyushu/Chugoku or:

Sunday June 24 travel from Kyoto to Kanazawa (see the garden, I've done it before, my daughter has not overnight Kanazawa)
Monday June 25 spend the morning in Kanazawa and take a train around lunch time to Nagano (see Zenkoji, night Nagano)
Tues June 26 visit Togakushi (new for me and maybe the ninja village for her? night Nagano)
Wed June 27 visit Kamikochi or Hakuba or?? (night Nagano)
Thurs June 28 transfer to Sendai and visit Matsushima (night Sendai)
Fri June 29 Hiraizumi or Yamadera (I've done Hiraizumi and loved it, not been to Yamadera, night Sendai)
Sat June 30 visit Licca-chan Castle (this is the thing my daughter most wants, she picked this over TDR, night Tokyo)

We'd then have a few days in Tokyo and would see the Ghibli Museum. I know I need to book ahead of time. :) I've gone once before. We could possibly day trip to Kamakura (DD had horrible jetlag last time and doesn't remember it) or visit Hakone or Nikko as a day trip. She's been to Hakone, but I love the hydrangea and she's not been to Nikko or possibly Fuji Five Lakes since I hear they have a hydrangea path (we'd take the bus.)

What do you all think? If I can I would love to fit in a stop to use the baths during the day in Bessho. I've been to Ueda already. I've also been to Zuihoden, Aoba Castle and I think one of the other temples, and they're fun but I don't feel the urge to go back. Should I swap in Jigokudani and the monkeys or will there be nothing to see in June.

I'm trying to keep things a little flexible because I know my daughter is not going to be feeling hiking 3-4 hours if it is pouring rain, but we generally prefer outdoor activities. I don't mind temperatures of 29-30 C.

I've also thought about just flying from KIX on Sunday up to Aomori and working our way South to Tokyo, but I'm sort of just floundering trying to figure out what I would want to do as an itinerary then and I know my DD wants to go back to Nagano because we got in too late to see Zenkoji last time.

Thanks in advance.

by rkold  

Re: Rethinking our Itinerary 2018/2/1 16:50
My two cents... Kamikochi is nice and beautiful. A good choice.

Nagano Prefecture yes, but definitely don't stay in Nagano City. It's not a great place. There's Zenkoji Temple to see, and that's about it. Three hours in the city tops. If you want to stay in that general area, I'd suggest staying in Tokura Kamiyamada Onsen (a part of Chikuma City) -- get off the train at Obasute Station -- and stay a night at Kamesei Ryokan. It's run by a great guy named Tyler Lynch and his Japanese wife, and Tyler has lots of good information about onsen, interesting places to see, ninja stuff that's much more intersting than the Ninja Mura for kids, snow monkeys, and lots more. You can cycle around town, too, and use their bikes. Or walk, of course.

Or perhaps better yet, stay in Matsumoto for one night (or two). There is great nature walking within the city, such as from Joyama Park along the ridge up to Alps Park, with an awesome view of the Japan Alps, as well as the walking courses within the old parts of the city. You can see the castle (a national treasure) and lots of other great stuff. And if you like onsen, go to Biwa-no-yu in Asama Onsen (northeast part of Matsumoto City on the Asama bus line).

Hakuba.... In the winter it's great for skiing, snowboarding, etc,

by Shinano no Kuni (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Rethinking our Itinerary 2018/2/1 17:41
i agree with Shinano no Kuni : replace Nagano by Matsumoto, more fun places to visit from there, much more cozy and nice city.
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Rethinking our Itinerary 2018/2/1 19:07
hmmmm, I wouldnt like to disagree save to say that Matsumoto gets very hot in June, it would be fine if you come from Singapore but maybe a bit much otherwise.

if I was over in late June I'd be focusing on places that are cooler. Kamikouchi is a great choice - we stayed at Onsen Hotel there which is awesome even for 3 nights, and the food is really good and the staff lovely. Bessho is also a good choice and would be likely to be cool, and I'd throw in Karuizawa which is good for a lazy 2 days and has a nice hike to the loookout - I'd really recommend Tsuruya ryokan there which caters really well to foreigners.

and I have to mention Enoshima. Probably up in our top 5 favorite places, really fun. Iwamotoro Honkan is a nice place to stay.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Rethinking our Itinerary 2018/2/1 22:52
If you're thinking of Kanazawa, I'd maybe think about spending two nights there. There's really a lot to do, and (depending on your daughter's interests) quite a lot that I think might be interesting for children.

There's loads of local crafts there, and some opportunities to get hands-on ( will give you a flavour). Making time for a stop by the gold leaf shop with the gold wall (this blog shows it, together with other stuff in the area - from a visitor with young children ).

There's great, good value, seafood on offer at Omicho Market, and the C21st Contemporary Art Museum is a great trip and is right next to the garden. It's worth stopping by there even if you only check out the free works on offer in the garden around the museum. For children, there are some quite fun silver trumpet-y things sprouting out of the ground in the gardens (see for photo). They are in pairs, and if you shout into one of them, your voice can be heard at it's twin which will be somewhere else in the garden (so you have fun trying to find out which one pairs with which other one).

There's also a fun installation that's a swimming pool but with people walking around in it ( ). From the garden you can see the people who are below in the museum.

There's also a James Turrell skyspace installation.

In terms of tourist info, Kanazawa is excellent. There's a great info booth near to the main exit of the JR station, and they produce lots of English info about all sorts of things.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Rethinking our Itinerary 2018/2/2 00:10
Last year we did: Tokyo, Kyoto, Uji, Nara, Miyajima, Takayama and Tokyo in late June/early July. We were mostly OK with the heat, the US can get hotter than people think in the Summer and Japan has ice cream. What I don't want is constant rain. I know it's rainy season, but so far we have been lucky and over 2 weeks last year only had 2.5 days of rain. The rain was great for TDR, but definitely impacted sightseeing in Nara. Kyushu gets even more rain and we like outdoor activities. :( Originally, we were going to end in Tokyo/TDR so we didn't need a 2 week pass, but then DD picked Licca Castle over TDR.

I actually like Nagano City. It's very friendly. I admit I also like how convenient it is for connections. I did think about Matsumoto as well. I want to try to keep us from having 1 night at 3 different places because DD is not into that. I like the fact that if we're forecast to get rain from Nagano I can try getting somewhere else.

I thought about Bessho and Tokura Kamiyamada, but with dietary restrictions it makes me nervous I will be paying for food no one is going to be able to eat. I also get nervous about biking around since not all places have children's bike rental and my daughter is petite. She's ~119/120 cms. I am hoping she makes it to 122 before USJ.

I've also thought about dropping Sendai and adding another day in Kanazawa. I've been before and liked it a lot. We don't eat seafood, but Kanazawa is large enough that we should be able to find something. Kanazawa, Takamatsu and Hiraizumi are my top 3 destinations I want to go back to. Friday night I want to be closer to Koriyama (Sendai is 45 minutes away.) vs. Nagano itself, though I am open to just staying in Koriyama.

Is it better to try to see the monkeys near Jigokudani or to try to do day hikes in Kamikochi? I would probably stay at the Gosenjaku Hotel in Kamikochi since they say they will work with dietary restrictions and I found a ryokan in Shibu onsen that will as well.

DD nixed Kamakura/Enoshima. She wants to go back to Hakone and stay at the Fujiya. She loved the garden there. I'd rather try somewhere else because the baths are disappointing, but it's a compromise I am willing to make. Our new itinerary would mean I just need a 1 week JR Pass.
by rkold rate this post as useful

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