Hi! My husband and I are traveling to Japan for the first time in April. We have come up with a tentative itinerary (twelve full days). I wanted to share it with you to see if any of you experts notice any obvious flaws or have any advice to give. In the past I have found this to be very helpful when planning a trip.
Thank you in advance for your advice.
Arrive at Narita Airport at 2 PM, take NEX to Tokyo, take bullet train to Kyoto, check into hotel (estimate by 8 PM)
Fushimi Inari Shrine at 7 AM (or as early as possible), Nishiki Market at noon, Kyo Odori at 2:30 PM (reaching out to my local JTB office for tickets), Kiyomizu-dera & Higashima District, Gion/Pontocho @ night
Bullet train @ 8 AM to Hiroshima, take local train & ferry to Miyajima, hope to arrive at Itsukushima Shrine around 11 AM for high tide, Mt. Misen Ropeway, ferry & local train back to Hiroshima to enter Peace Memorial Museum (closes at 6 PM), visit Peace Memorial Park, see Atomic Bomb Dome and Hypocenter, return to Kyoto via bullet train
Arashiyama @ 8 AM for the usual Togetsu Bridge, Tenryuji Temple & Monkey Park, hope to pass by Adashino & Otagi Nenbutsuji Temples as well. Around noon to 1 PM, take bus to Ohara. We have a reservation at Yumoto Onsen Oharasansou, we're double booking for the night. Explore Ohara if we have time to spare before 3 PM check in. Relax in ryokan, dinner at 5 PM, baths, etc. I get the impression to get the true ryokan experience you can't really leave the ryokan? so we will do Ohara sightseeing the next day.
Breakfast, baths and check out of ryokan before 11 AM, explore Ohara until 1 to 2 PM. Travel to Kyoto and take bullet train to Himeji (castle closes at 5 PM). Bullet train to Kobe for dinner, return to Kyoto. Many people online have been insisting we shouldn't go to Kobe. It's kind of confusing because I don't really understand why. If I am convinced not to go to Kobe, I heard it's possible to squeeze in Himeji Castle on the Hiroshima day which would free up the rest of my Thursday after leaving Ohara. I would then probably fit in the Silver Pavilion & Philosopher's Path here.
Head out @ 7 AM to Kurama and Kifune. Hike between Kifune and Kurama, starting with Kifune, visiting the water goddess shrine, ending in Kurama, possibly trying the hot spring. Get back to Kyoto and the International Manga museum at 11 AM for a portrait. Visit the Golden Pavilion. Visit the Silver Pavilion if time permits. However, have an appointment at 4 PM for a geisha dress-up photo-shoot. Visit the night time illuminations at either Kiyomizu-dera, Shore-in Temple, Nijo Castle or Kodai-ji Temple (any favorites?). Visit Gion/Pontocho @ night once more.
Check out of hotel, take bullet train to Tokyo, check into hotel in Tokyo. Should be settled into room at 4 PM. Don't have solid plans for today except going somewhere we can get an observation deck view of the city at night such as SkyTree (see Sumida Park if in the area)
Meiji Shrine visit, Shibuya, Harajuko & Yoyogi Park, Shinjuku Gyoen Garden (closes at 4 PM), Kubukicho & Golden Gai at night
Sensoji, Ueno Park and stroll through Yanaka neighborhood, visit Akibahara, then Odaiba in the evening. Considering spending the night at a capsule hotel for the experience this night by double booking.
Would like to go to Studio Ghibli Museum before noon on this day but still have not gotten tickets, plan to attempt purchasing them when they go on sale on March 9 at 8 PM EST, pass by Tsukiji Fish Market just to eat at places that are open in the afternoon, pass by Pokemon Center, go to Imperial Palace and Chidorigafuchi for boat ride (boathouse closes at 5:30 PM), visit Tokyo Tower or see Tokyo Tower at night for Roppongi Hills observation deck
Day trip to Fuji Five Lakes via train, visit Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine & Arakurayama Sengen Park. Still thinking about visiting Fuji-Q Highland Park. Alternatives are going to Fuji Yurari Hot Spring if it is not too difficult to travel to and if we would still like to visit another onsen. Kawaguchiko Music Forest could also be a possibility. Return to Tokyo via train. Free evening, possibly visit Meguro river cherry blossom trees.
THURSDAY & FRIDAY
I don't have these two days planned out to a T. We may go visit places missed Sun-Tues, focus on shopping or go to misc places like Edo-Tokyo Museum, Robot Restaurant and themed cafes, or appreciate the cherry blossoms some more. Have also inquired about the practice sumo match in Soka City on Thursday but not sure if I want to use a half-day on sumo. Also considered another day trip but more time just having fun in Tokyo sounds more appealing to us.
Check out of hotel, take the NEX to Narita airport, flight leaves at 11 AM
We have our hotels and flights booked, as well as a few reservations. I now plan to start looking into getting our bullet train passes and learning more about transportation (such as making seat reservations).
Thank you for taking the time to read this.