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Advice for 26 day trip to Japan 2018/3/2 06:22
Hi there,

I have booked a 26 day solo trip in June (25 full days if you don'y include the days I'm flying), flying in and out of Tokyo. I booked flights with the intention of buying a 21 day JR pass and spending the other few days just in Tokyo as I'll use the subway and walk a lot where I can. I want to go to Hokkaido for Sapporo, Noboribetsu, Lake Toya and Shiretoko if I have time! However I am starting to have doubts about visiting Hokkaido without a car, but worried that if I don't go the 21 JR pass will not be worth it as it is expensive, and concerned about my probably silly decision to book for an extra 5 days! And having too much time if I don't go to Hokkaido. Too late to change now :P

A very rough itinerary is Tokyo (5d + 1d Nikko) - Hokkaido (8d) - Kyoto (5d) - Nara (1d) - Koyasan (2d 1n) - Kyoto (1n?) - Hiroshima & Miyajima (1 or 2d) - Tokyo - Home

My main questions are:
Would you recommend Hokkaido (mainly South) without a car and just the JR pass?
Or would you recommend skipping it, spending more time in the other destinations in Honshu (are there places I should also see you would say) and buying tickets individually?

I've become a bit overwhelmed trying to plan it smartly and I think I'm failing! Any advice is very much appreciated and I apologise for my naivety. TIA!
by Ellie (guest)  

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/2 12:07
If you do visit Hokkaido, I'd recommend flying rather than taking the train. It's too long a trip without stopping off in Northern Honshu on the way.

If you skip Hokkaido, split your time in Tokyo in half (half at the start, half at the end), and a 14-day JR Pass will probably cover the middle when you are actually travelling long distances.

I'd definitely have two days for Hiroshima and Miyajima - having both on one day means rushing both.
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/2 12:13
What is you reason for wanting to visit Hokkaido, and specifically Shiretoko?

Hokkaido is a big place, and without Shinkansen running within, it can take long time to travel. If you don't have a strong reason to visit Shiretoko, I suggest to skip it. Other places you mentioned within Hokkaido are relatively clustered together, and are easy to travel by train.

And I strongly disagree with your statement "having too much time if I don't go to Hokkaido". There are lots to see and do in Japan. I spent 8 weeks in Japan during 2016, 6 weeksin 2017, and going back for 3 more weeks in 2018.

Open the destination guide section of this site and start reading. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623a.html

by Mia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/2 12:19
I would concur with the above - if you just want to get to Hokkaido from Tokyo, then flying makes a lot more sense for your sanity.
You could use ANA's Experience Japan Fare to fly in and out of different cities as well.
http://ana.ms/20Xtf8t

However, if you are willing to pull a few days off of here and there and tour your way up there, then it can be extremely worthwhile and you can see a lot of Japan that most tourist hordes just ignore.
https://www.japan-guide.com/list/e1102.html

At the end of your trip, after Koyasan, instead of another day in Kyoto, you might consider visiting Himeji and/or Kobe.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/2 15:34
We are talking June, so I would definitely recommend Hokkaido. And I would fly there. Eg fly to Memanbetsu for Shiretoko, rent a car and then make your way through Northeast, the Furano and so on. Starting from Asahikawa you could also consider switching back to train, but I personally think that car is a good option for Hokkaido.

You are not forced to buy a 21 day jr pass. You could buy 14 days or 2 for 7 days. Consider that in the days you spend in Kyoto the pass will be quite useless. So you could try to have two blocks of 7 days with a lot of traveling, 5 days in Kyoto w/o a pass and a week in Hokkaido with a car.

Eg you could do
Day 1-5 Tokyo (no pass)
Day 5-11 traveling around to all destinations you want. But not Kyoto (7 day pass). End in Kyoto
Day 12-16 Kyoto (some city bus pass)
Day 17-20 Koyasan, Nara, Osaka (there are some regional passes that may work out but jr pass would be too expensive)
Day 21 fly from Osaka to Memanbetsu (or other destination in Hokkaido)
Rent car, spend until day 25 in Hokkaido and fly to Narita

This way only a 7 day pass is needed and I think you still see all the places you have.

Consider that June is getting hot and humid. This I would end it with Hokkaido and start it on Honshu.

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

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/2 17:34
Honshu(main land)'s June will be "Tsuyu(Rainy season)".
http://studyhacker.net/english-phrase/20176_4
However, it is not clear from when it starts.
So watch weather forecast for a week, and should escape to Hokkaido before reached.
"Rainy front" coming up fr South and West to East and North.
https://www.komazawa-u.ac.jp/~fumio/k2016/h-tsuyu/asia-uki.PNG

Hokkaido is also open to hitchhiking,
but if you come from a country where IDP can be used,
it would be more comfortable if you acquired a driver's license and car rent.
If you want to save accommodation expenses,
if you have some cheap camping equipment(no need tent and sleeping bag) you can sleep in the car.
Now young Japanese and J-anime fans are interesting in this title being broadcast.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laid-Back_Camp
http://yurucamp.jp/
by Vinori (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/2 20:22
When will you travel?

Have you checked Hyperdia?

Tokyo to Shiretoko-Shari (nearest train station to Shiretoko)

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=TOKYO&arv_node=...

Honestly even if you take train, you might better stop at Kushiro and go to Shiretoko-Shari next day (Kushiro to Shiretoko-Shari is one of the best train line in Japan so that you might better not go in the night).

Sapporo to Kyoto

http://www.hyperdia.com/en/cgi/en/search.html?dep_node=SAPPORO(JR)&arv...

Note that you can't use Nozomi if you use the Japan Rail Pass.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan please! 2018/3/3 08:35
I will be visiting Hokkaido again in June just using trains, but not heading much further than Sapporo (day trip Otaru), but that is just part of a longer 35 day tour across the end of May and into June. Certainly the trip covers a lot of interesting ground in between Tokyo and Sapporo that my guests would not want to miss by flying.
And, even if you did not visit Hokkaido, there is still far too much to do in Japan. Almost all of the itineraries I work on it is a case of having to miss things out rather than scratching around for things to put in.
However, I will say that the eight hours Tokyo-Sapporo journey is not that terrible, but the LCC options for flights can be hard to beat.

A comment on rainy season - it is not the whole country all at once. My June schedule is designed to cross the rain-band that forms across the country (you can research the weather system easily enough) so I'll probably get a few days of rain, not five weeks worth.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan 2018/3/3 12:06
Sorry I missed this. I have booked a 26 day solo trip in June. June is good season for Hokkaido so if you find something interesting in Hokkaido, it will be a good idea. The train seat is much better than the aircraft seat and you can see the scenery along the way. Of course it will take much longer time and as JapanCustomTour wrote there are much to see and do in other parts of Japan.

If you do Hokkaido, I would suggest to move it to the end of your trip. In June it will get hotter as days go by, so you might better do the hotter part first: Go to Hiroshima, then Kyoto and if you are interested, you can detour to Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route. After that you will be in Nagano where you can start your trip to north. I would skip Noboribetsu and Toyako since they are not so Hokkaido-ish for me. Instead, Mt. Daisetsu and Shakotan peninsula are nice places to visit. I don't say it's convenient to travel with public transport, but I guess you can manage it. There are buses, from Shiretoko-shari to Utaro, Asahikawa to Asahidake onsen (base of Mt. Daisetsu where you can take ropeway), and from Sapporo or Otaru to Shakotan peninsula.

I am a Japanese and a train fan, so I always envy foreigners can use Japan Rail Pass. Many Rail fans in Japan will do the extreme train rides if we can use the pass :).
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan 2018/3/3 21:17
Thank you guys for your advice! As lovely as it would be to visit hokkaido I'm going to skip it as the best places I think require a car if I want to avoid a lot of hassle.

I'm trying to work out an itinerary that gives me the ability to buy a 7 day JR pass, starting in Tokyo and ending in Kyoto as the pass I believe isn't that much use here and I wan't to take my time in Kyoto, Nara and Koyasan as they appeal to me a lot!

Thoughts on this?

1st-6th June Tokyo
6th June start JR pass, travel to Nikko
6th-7th stay overnight in Nikko
7th train back to Tokyo
7th shinkansen to Kanazawa
7th-9th stay in Kanazawa
9th Shinkansen to Hiroshima (too much of an awkward journey or ok?)
9th day in Hiroshima
10th day in Miyajima
11th day trip to Okushima (rabbit island)
11th Hiroshima to Kyoto

Is this too rushed/too much travel in your opinion, is it worth taking my time more and getting a 2 week pass?

After I then I want to spend 5 days in Kyoto including a day trip to Nara and 2 days 1 night in Koyasan before travelling back to Tokyo to spend a few days there and do some day trips.

Thanks!
by Ellie (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan 2018/3/3 21:20
I mean alternatively also:

1st-6th June Tokyo
6th June start JR pass, travel to Nikko
6th-7th stay overnight in Nikko
7th train back to Tokyo (night stay in Tokyo?)
8th shinkansen to Kanazawa
8th-10th stay in Kanazawa
10th Shinkansen to Hiroshima (too much of an awkward journey or ok?)
10th day in Hiroshima
11th day in Miyajima
12th day trip to Okushima (rabbit island)
12th Hiroshima to Kyoto
by Ellie Baldwin (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan 2018/3/3 22:03
Have you thought about visiting Tohoku instead of Hokkaido???

Hokkaido is fantastic in summer, but it is a big island and does not have the best transport links due to it's huge size and sparse population. If you do visit Hokkaido, visiting Rishiri and Rebun islands late in the month was one of my highlights. No cars are needed but it is remote and a bit expensive to get too....

Tohoku has the advantage of suffering less from the heat and specifically a weak/non-existent designated wet season. However, without knowing your interests I could not make suggestions for Tohoku as there is a lot to do here.

On traveling to Hiroshima/Miyajima, this is theoretically possible in one day but is not advisable. I did not like Hiroshima that much but the garden and atomic bomb museum are worth half a day at least....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Advice for 26 day trip to Japan 2018/3/4 08:12
Kanazawa-Hiroshima, 4 1/2 hours and one transfer (40 minutes to have or buy lunch) - very easy. I'll be doing that on 23rd March.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

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