Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

31 days in japan 2018/2/4 18:24

My husband and I are going to Japan for a month in November. We are both interested in the outdoors, food and culture. We are however, wary of seeing too many temples or similar scenery etc and so would like to do a varied journey. We also do like a slower pace of travel and want to stay somewhere for min 2 nights and use that as a base for day trips if possible.

We are planning on buying a Japan rail pass and wonder when it is best to use it and for how many days. Wefre quite organised and so donft mind buying tickets ahead of time if that works out cheaper.

Wefd also like any recommendations for our itinerary and whether the order can be improved to limit travel. Wefd also like to hear about any local food recommendations for us!

So thoughts please!

1. fly into Narita. Travel to Kanazawa 4 hrs
2. Kanazawa
3. Kanazawa
4. Travel to Takayama via Shirakawa (put baggage in tourist info spot)go by bus (1hr 25 then 1hr)
5. Takayama
6. Takayama side trip to kamikochi (riverside walk) 1hr bus then .5hr bus
7. Takayama to Nagoya 2.5hr explore city in eve
8. Nagoya
9. Nagoya to Kyoto 1.5hr on train
10. Kyoto
11. Kyoto
12. Kyoto to Mount Koya / stay at Mount Koya Buddhist temple. Maybe leave big bags in train station at Osaka
13. Mount Koya to Osaka
14. Osaka to naoshima via himeji (1.25hr and then (3hr)
15. Naoshima art galleries
16. Naoshima
17. Naoshima to onomochi (3 hours)
18. Bike ride
19. Onomochi to Hiroshima (1hr) a bomb site?
20. Side trip to Miyajima
21. Hiroshima to Fukuoka (1.5hr)
22. Fukuoka Sumo
23. Fukuoka to Hakone
24. Hakone
25. Hakone to Tokyo
26. Tokyo
27. Tokyo:Kamakura
28. Tokyo
29. Tokyo: theme park?
30. Tokyo
31. Fly home

Thank you!!

by Lynch-Ellis (guest)  

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/5 01:31
Hi Lynch-Ellis,

Just be aware the trip from Takayama to Kamikochi tends to take longer than 1.5 hours. I was looking into it for this past Summer, and the transfer at Hirayu onsen is never timed perfectly, so you have to wait an additional 20-30 minutes in Hirayu. I can't remember the timing for the return trip since I was looking to continue onto Matsumoto. I guess I would also look into the chances that there could be snow in early November. This could be a positive or a negative for you.

What train are you using that it is taking 1.5 hours from Nagoya to Kyoto. o_O; It takes 48 minutes via Kodama shinkansen and 36 by Hikari. If you're paying completely out of pocket, then just take the Nozomi! If you're trying to just take local trains, the trip is more like 2 hours. And unless you were stopping at Hikone on the way, I don't know why you would do this. The locals will still cost you ~2500 yen vs ~5000 yen on a Nozomi. I don't know about you, but yes, 1.5 hours of my time is worth more than 2500 yen.

I admit, for someone who likes to take things slow you're really not spending a lot of time in Kyoto. I get that you don't want to do too many temples and shrines, but you only have 2 full days in Kyoto. BTW have you thought about some of the craft experiences in Kyoto? I've been researching those thanks to someone on the forum and there are some great options if you need a break. I honestly might cut out Koya-san and give that time back to Kyoto.

If your bags are really big, I would look into leaving then at Shin-Osaka Station since they have a Baggage Storage facility, otherwise finding large lockers can sometimes be an issue. Or you can just forward your bags on to Naoshima.

Again, I'm not sure where in Osaka you are coming from, but even taking Special Rapids I am only seeing it taking 68 minutes. Since Special Rapids are relatively frequent, timing for connections is less important. I really like the garden attached to Himeji, Koko-en. It's surprisingly nice and I would highly recommend it. If you're taking shinkansen it will take you anywhere from 99 minutes on a Nozomi, 109 on a Hikari or 150 minutes via local train to reach Uno where you then need to time for your ferry connection to Naoshima. Just make sure your planned days for your Naoshima visit don't land on a Monday.

I'm not sure how you plan to travel, but Fukuoka to Hakone is awful far by train, we're talking more than 5 hours using a Nozomi for some of the trip and it will cost you over 20,000 yen, with a rail pass the total travel time is over 6 hours, but would be covered util Odawara. Are you planning to fly from Fukuoka to Haneda? I believe that is the cheapest way and quite possibly the fastest as well. It drops the trip to a little over 4 hours and the price to more like 12,000 yen.

Personally, I would fold in the trip to Kamakura post Hakone and overnight there. It's quite easy to get to Ofuna from Odawara and Ofuna is about 5-10 minutes from Kamakura.

Whether a rail pass makes sense I need to think on. I would start by adding up your trips. Would it be possible to fly into an airport that is not Tokyo like KIX or Chubu and start from there, since the first thing you are doing is taking the shinkansen to Kanazawa? Open jaw ticket might cost a little bit more on outlay, but might save you a lot of money and time with travel, I would think flying into KIX and out of Tokyo would be ideal. Are there any places you need to be on specific dates?

Good luck!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/5 06:37
My suggestion:

After Takayama and Kamikochi, go to Matsumoto. It's very easy to get there. See Matsumoto Castle, for sure. It's a National Treasure and it's awesome. Go to the Ukiyoe Museum if you like traditional Japanese art. Visit the Matsumoto City Art Museum if you like Yayoi Kusama. Walk around Nakamachi and Nawate Street. Those traditional areas are beautiful. And spend the night in Matsumoto. For instance, Hotel Kagetsu is in a good location and they have a nice blend of Japanese & Western accommodations. Have dinner at Shizuka, which is just a few blocks away, and ask to be seated in the back room overlooking the Japanese garden.

The next day take the train to the Kiso Valley and see an old post town on the Nakasendo. Narai (also called Narai Juku) is my personal favorite, and the train goes directly there. But there are also two other well-known ones, Magome and Tsumago. They're just a bit harder to reach. Stay somewhere in that area that night, not in Nagoya.

Keep Nagoya to a bare minimum. The city has very little to offer. Even the castle is made of concrete.
by After Kamikochi (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/5 07:35
First let me tell you that you couldn't have chosen a better time to spend 1 month in Japan, the autumn colors are nothing short of spectacular, you will love it.

For a trip that long, you want to delivery your luggage instead of dragging it every time you change cities. Most hotels will offer delivery luggage services and will accept your delivered luggage, and you can specify the day of the delivery, so you can send you big suitcase from Kanazawa to Kyoto, for example, and travel those days with a smaller suitcase or backpack.

I've been in some places in your itinerary myself, so I will give my 2 cents about them:
- Kanazawa: do not miss ninja-dera and Kenrokuen. If you like crafts, here you can try your hand at some. We had the most amazing sushi at Otomezushi there.
- Takayama: people go to this place only for the hida beef and takayama ramen, I strongly recommend you to try both.
- Nagoya: very famous for its food and rightly so. Contrary to the dominant opinion, I think it's worthy to visit Nagoya for a couple of days, if only for the food. Some local specialties are hitsumabushi (grilled eel, delicious), hacho miso (that basically makes everything awesome, and you can try it in several ways, I recommend miso oden) and chicken wings. Also, the night illumination and begonia garden at Nabana no Sato are amazing.
- Kyoto: when planning your time at Kyoto, keep in mind that some popular places during the autumn colors will be crowed, so it will take more time just to move around. Some temples are famous for the autumn colors and some temples will have night openings with night illuminations. I love sabasushi, a must try in Kyoto.
- Fukuoka: more ramen here.
- Tokyo: If you are in Tokyo at the beginning of December, you may want use 1 day to go to Chichibu for the festival. Last time I was in Tokyo, I went to Jiromaru, in Shinjoku, a tiny yakiniku place where you can order the meat one piece at a time, great to try expensive cuts without having to ask for a loan to pay the bill.
by Okazaky rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/5 07:59
It is a good schedule.
You might do Koya to Naoshima in one day rather than stopping in Osaka (I find Osaka has less to offer than Nagoya, and Nagoya castle and palace is quite good - depends on what you know and are looking for).
I also expect that you will add many small extras along the way to flesh out some of the stops. Certainly there is a chance of snow in some of the places you are visiting.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/5 08:23
generally looks like a nice schedule, not too hasty and very changing sights. good work

my 2cp: i would remove one day from Nagoya and also suggest to put in Matsumoto instead, the town is small but great! Nagoya is just a big busy metropole (i like it though, but it is not really "special")
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/11 19:08
Thanks for the tips: youfre suggestions haven been really useful.

I think we may make Nagoya a en route stop over on the way to Kyoto. My husband is quite keen to see the rail museum. Is it worth the trip? Also Ifve heard about the eels and being a Londoner I am quite keen to try them!

For bags, wefre planning on taking a rucksack for day to day items and a cabin sized suitcase. Ifve read in a couple of places that most stations have small lockers in which our cabin bags fit. What are peoplefs experiences with using this?

When do people recommend booking accommodation? Wefve managed to book our flights and so know our dates.

Thanks again for all the help!
by Lynch-Ellis (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/12 03:51
Interesting plan with an excellent timing!

The sooner the better to book the accommodations, try to book before July, and try using one of those comparing sites.

I would advice you to subscribe in two YouTube channels:
1) Japan Guide
2) Only in Japan

After watching those channels double check your plan.

Good luck.
by aio1400 rate this post as useful

Re: 31 days in japan 2018/2/12 06:33
(1) Yes, book as early as possible (if cancellation is free). I like booking through
(2) Kyoto has a rail museum also, you can visit them all.
(3) Pretty much every train station has coin-operated lockers in various sizes - I use them all the time. Most allow up to 3 days of storage, and some are operable with IC cards (prepaid cash cards).
(4) Eels can be eaten in any city, but if you want a eel from specific lake you should get closer to the source. Most eels now days are from fish farms (and many are imported), if you want a wild eel that will usually cost more.

by RWM (guest) rate this post as useful

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