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Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 10:25
Hi all,
We are leaving for Japan in October for a 3 week trip. The intention is to use a 14 day JR pass and for our last 6 days to walk part of Kumano Kodo (Kii-Tanabe to Nachi Taisha).

We don't mind temples/castles/museums/gardens, etc but would rather pick a few of each and be happy with that (rather then get temple/castle, etc overload if you know what I mean). These days we prefer sitting/walking somewhere and watch the locals at work/play, see nature, interesting architecture, eat/drink interesting things, etc.

With that in mind is this itinerary too much and are we going about it the right way? Would you give certain places a miss and stay a day or more somewhere else? What about the direction of travel - good, bad or can be improved upon? The only dates set in stone are for the Kumano Kodo Walk as accommodation is booked & paid for - everything else is flexible. So, here it is!

Arrive 09:05 in Osaka and travel to Kyoto
Kyoto (daytrip to Nara?)
Kyoto¨Himeiji¨Hiroshima (visit memorial in arvo) - activate 14 day JR pass
Full day at Miyajima & evening in Hiroshima (or stay in Miyajima?)
Tokyo¨ (daytrip to Hakone?)
Matsumoto¨Japanese Alps (Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route)¨Kanazawa
Kanazawa¨day trip to Shikawago & evening in Takayama
Walk Kumano Kodo for 5 days
Kii-Katsuura¨Kansai (Osaka) Airport (via Hineno)

Places we would have like to have seen (but feel we can't as it might be too much) are: Nikko, Koya-san, Naoshima, Magome to Tsugome walk.

Anyway, many thanks in advance for any feedback that you might be able to give!

by Dutchie64  

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 11:33
Hi Rob,

I tend to be ambitious with my plans as well, but I think a few of your days the travel times are going to be really long, It's OK if you're all right with that, but it's something to be aware of.

The two main offenders are:
Takayama to Kii-Tanabe which is going to run you more than 5 1/2 hours.

Kii-Katsuura to KIX which is going to run you 4 hours and there are limited Kuroshios that run from Kii-Katsuura all the way to Wakayama/Osaka. Actually, it's not that it's 4 hours, it's that it'4 hours by train which can be risky when you need to make a flight. I've been on Kuroshio that have gotten delayed several times. I'd recommend the night before you at least getting to Shirahama or Kii-Tanabe as there are more trains, though Wakayama would be even better since it has lots of different connections to KIX including limo bus. I would really only risk it if my flight was 16:00 or later.

Hiroshima to Tokyo will also run you around 4-4.5 hours as well, though at least there tends to be 2 shinkansen rail pass users can use an hour while there is generally only 1 Hida and 1 Kuroshio an hour under the best circumstances. You're also not hoping to make a flight.

Good luck and enjoy! I love the Tenjinzaki rock formations near Tanabe. I think they're quite attractive.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 12:11

Many thanks for the reply & feedback.

Yes, I know there are a few days with long travel in there and we would like to minimize that to a certain extend (although we do like train travel!) but I can't see any other way around if we want to do the Matsumoto/Alpine Route/Kanazawa/Takayama/Kii-Tanabe route. What would you do differently?

I have already looked into Kii-Katsuura to Kansai (5 trains a week I believe) but our flight is not until 23:30 that night so we should be OK (I hope!).

by Dutchie64 rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 13:00
Hi Rob,

It's a bit late for me, but I've been trying to think about if I can come up with a better route.

I do like taking trains as well, I just don't always like spending all day on a train if that makes sense? It oddly makes me sleepy and not in Japan, but here in the US I once fell asleep on a train and missed my stop.

If your flight isn't until after 23:00 you should be fine just give yourself extra time because I've had a few Kuroshios be delayed about 1 hour between Kainan and Kii-Tanabe. I've never gone as far as Kii-Katsuura, but I use to do Shin-Osaka to Kii-Tanabe quite often as I had two JET friends living in Kainan and Tanabe and my friends use to put me up. (They've both since moved back to the US, but I believe a former Tanabe JET has helped put together English information on Tanabe and the Kumano Kodo.) I caught a lot of early Kuroshios to day trip to Kyoto and Osaka.

I admit, I am not a huge Takayama fan but I know I am in the minority on that.

In terms of Miyajima vs. Hiroshima as a place to stay, I think it depends on how much you want to spend and how you like to spend your evenings? Miyajima will be a lot quieter but will also cost more (there are more budget friendly options there, but they are fewer than in Hiroshima.) Hiroshima is a bustling friendly city with much later hours and a greater mix of accommodations. Staying in Miyajima will also add on a good 50+ minutes to your trip to Tokyo the next day. Both have pluses and minuses, it's important to know what makes sense for you. :)

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 13:10
Time spent at each location is probably more important.which you have ample at each location without rushing.

Sure 2 of the train journies are long. But the provides some rest time. I dont see a problem with the train trips.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 14:35
Hi rkold,

Again, thanks for the replies.

Yes, falling asleep on a train is a worry. Never happened to me, thank God!

The Tanabe tourist office is amazing!!! If your friends have helped with setting that up (the Kumono Kodo part) they deserve high praise indeed. Very much looking forward to the 5 day walk!

Thanks for the Hiroshima/Miyajima conundrum. Might just stay in Hiroshima this instance.

by Dutchie64 rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 20:11

Too ambitious?
No sweat mate, piece of cake! In fact you could easily include the Nikko visit maximizing the JR pass.
If you have not yet reserved accommodation in the Kii-Katsuura, I highly recommend the Urashima hotel:

by . (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/8 21:04
Hiya mate,

Not a bad idea about Nikko!

We won't be staying at Kii Katsuura as our walk finishes in Nachi - we overnight there and then travel to Kii-Katsuura to get the train to Kansai airport.

Thanks for the hotel tip anyway, much appreciated.

by Dutchie64 rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/9 03:21
Hi Rob,

My friend didn't make the site, but another former JET who she is friends with I believe made the website. A lot of former JETs still feel very attached to the program and the communities they lived in, even after many years. They really wanted to encourage more people to visit Tanabe and walk some of the Kumano Kodo and realized having more English available makes it more accessible. I'd like to do Kumano Kodo someday, but I want my daughter to be a little older first.

The one time I missed my stop it ended up working out. It was a local train and I woke just as the train pulled out of my station so I just had to find a pay phone to tell my parents to meet me at the next station. (This was a long time ago.) In Japan, I've mostly fallen asleep on trains where my station is the last stop, so I don't worry too much because the cleaning people will make sure I get up. lol It might just be me, but I find traveling along on a train in the dark just makes me sleepy.

I would also make sure to pick up some food in Nagoya or Shin-Osaka/Kyoto (depending on whether you are catching your Kuroshio in Shin-Osaka or Kyoto) because the last time I took a Hida no food was served, and I thought the selection of snacks to purchase in the Takayama Station was lacking and I think the combini store across the street wasn't due to be built until next Summer. Nagoya/Kyoto/Shin-Osaka will have much greater variety.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/9 04:58
Re. food: if you like eel, Nagoya train station is famous for eel ekiben and you can grab one on the platform. I love eel, and I must say Ifve had better than the ekiben one, but itfs was quite fun (as ekibens are).
In Takayama there is at least one (I think, at least 2) combini within sight of the train station entrance- so that means within 5 mins walk, once youfve crossed the road.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/9 06:27
@Winter Visitor, the station seemed to be under a lot of construction in June 2017 and the combini directly across the street from the station was closed. There might be some that are open further down, but they're not obvious and it just seemed like a lot of places were unexpectedly closed.

It was quite hot and we were trying to find some ice cream.

I think they are doing a lot of work on the station in Takayama, the walkway to the bus terminal was under construction and the tourist office looked somewhat temporary.

I don't eat eel, but I definitely though Nagoya had a better selection than Takayama, though I had bought snacks in Kyoto Porta before my trip.
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Too ambitious? 2018/2/13 13:49

Sorry mate, I've been away for work for a few days. Thanks so much for the detailed response (again!). Well, the Tanabe Tourist Office has even surpassed with what I thought was outstanding service. First of all, they picked up I had mistakenly ordered 2x guide book for Kumano walk and was I really sure I needed 2? Once that was sorted, I booked everything and paid. Within 4 days the guide book, maps, other info arrived and it is incredibly detailed! Talk about service!!!

I can imagine you're waiting for your daughter to get a bit older as the walk is not for the faint hearted, especially day 2 & 3. We are really looking forward to it.

Thanks also for the food tip. Much appreciated.

@ Winter Visitor

Love eel ekiben myself, my wife however........

Thanks for the tip.

by Dutchie64 rate this post as useful

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