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My itinerary 2018/9/27 20:15
Hey everyone !

I am starting to plan my third trip to Japan, from the 21st May to the 6th of June. I'd love everyone input on it.

21st - 23 : Tokyo (Coming from Europe, I definitely need a few days to get used to the time zone
23 - 26 : Sapporo
26-27 : Morioka
27-29 : Sendai
29-30 : Ginzen
30-31 : Takayama
31-1 : Kanazawa
1-2 : Iga Ueno
2-3 : Hakone
3-4 : Yokohama
4-6 : Tokyo

I'm planning on using solely public transport with a JR Pass. Does this seem doable ?

Many thanks
by PowerPonney  

Re: Help with my itinerary 2018/9/28 15:13
In the second part of your itinerary you are moving around a lot. More or less a new city every day. That sounds too stressful and too much time on transport. I would suggest you plan out the trip with a bit more detail showing when you will leave each place and arrive at the following. I think that you will then realize that your second half is too packed.

And one question about the first half: what are you going to do in Morioka? I have been there last year (traveling through only) and did not have the impression that there is anything interesting. I would consider replacing it with any of these destinations (not all, ONE):
- Nyuto onsen
- Tono valley
- Hiraizumi

If you do Nyuto onsen (or even Hachimantai) you could invert your itinerary a bit and go then to Ginzan (right, thatfs where you want to go???) and then Sendai.

Finally one point you might want to consider is to do the trip the other way round. Eg Start in the South and finish in Sapporo. In some years rainy season around nd Tokyo starts very early in June so you might get unlucky. I think normally you should be fine. End May is a great time. But if there is no specific need to do the trip starting from the north Ifd invert it. Nothing to loose.

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

Re: Help with my itinerary 2018/9/28 15:27
As LikeBike wrote your second half seems to be too rushed. I just searched on the google map for the time required.

23 from Tokyo to Sapporo 8 h 21 min
30 Ginzan to Takayama 7h 8 min + 40 min
1 Kanazawa to Iga Ueno 4 h 2 min
2 Iga Ueno to Hakone Yumoto 4 h 37 min

I think ending up in Sapporo (or even other cities in Hokkaido) is good idea. Flight to Haneda is around 10000 yen.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Help with my itinerary 2018/9/28 16:38
Is there a reason you are visiting Iga Ueno?? The reason I ask is I was planning on visiting but ended up cancelling due to the trickiness of getting there - and that's from Osaka!

If you have a specific thing your interesting in viewing - you can mention it here and I might be able to suggest an alternative.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Help with my itinerary 2018/9/28 16:57
29-30 : Ginzen
Do you mean Ginzan Onsen in Yamagata Prefecture?
Ginzan Onsen is a very compact spa town.
By the end of May you can pick cherries in nearby cities.

30-31 : Takayama
Other people say, but my recommendation is to go south from Sapporo or to go north from Osaka.
by LinaLisa (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Help with my itinerary 2018/9/28 19:07
First of all thank to everyone for their reply, I'll try to answer some question.

LikeBike : I can't recall exactly why I added Morioka, I assume I could ditch it. I could maybe replace it with Hiraizumi as I am planning on going to Ginzan Onsen*. I could invert my trip, I have no obligation in any city.

mfedley : I was planning on getting to Iga Ueno for the Ninja sights, mainly the museum

LinaLisa : I am landing and taking off from Narita (tickets already booked). But I could invert my trip and finishing in Sapporo without a problem.

Is there an overnight train from Tokyo to Sapporo, if yes, is it covered by the JR Pass ?
by PowerPonney rate this post as useful

Re: Help with my itinerary 2018/9/29 00:33

There are currently only 2 overnight trains in Japan, the Sunrise Seto and the Sunrise Izumo. Neither travels to Hokkaido. The Sunrise Seto is Tokyo to Takamatsu and the Sunrise Izumo is Tokyo to Izumoshi.

I've been to Morioka, and used it for day tripping to other locations. But all the times I've stayed in Morioka the shinkansen either ended there or it ended in Hachinohoe, so it was quite some time ago.

I've not been to either, but since you're already in Kanazawa, have you thought about seeing the ninja sights in Togakushi near Nagano? It's counter-intuitive, but from Kanazawa it would actually be faster to reach Nagano (about 68-83 minutes) vs. Kyoto/Osaka. It's then ~1 hour by bus from Nagano to Togakushi vs. 90 minutes to 2 hours from Kyoto/Osaka to Iga Ueno.) From Nagano it's only about 1.5 hours or less back to Tokyo where you can then get a train to Hakone a heck of a lot easier than the route from Iga Ueno.

If it's possible, I might see if you can possibly fly within Japan and fit more of your travel in a 7 day pass period. It's close to 500 minutes from Tokyo to Sapporo by train. Getting to Hakone-Yumoto Station from Odawara as well as most of Hakone is not covered by the JR Pass. And you don't really need a pass to get from Hakone to Yokohama or Yokohama to Tokyo.

If you just want another onsen experience, there are plenty of other areas you could make work.

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/9/29 22:31
rkold :

Many thanks for your answers ! I acknowledge I might have gotten a bit ahead with my itinerary and I didn't check how to reach certain cities. I will definitely skip Morioka, Takayama, Iga Ueno and Ginzan Onsen and replace them with some alternatives. I am considering Hamamatsu, Niigata and looking for an alternative to Ginzan Onsen.

If you have any other suggestion, they are very welcome.
by PowerPonney rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/9/30 00:02
Hi PowerPonney,

Before I get started, please remember to take my comments as a grain of salt and just take what you find useful or interesting.

Do you mind if I ask what specific things are you most interested in seeing? The reason I ask this as I've travelled Japan more than most so can make some suggestions which would be tailored to your interests. I've also found this forum to be a wealth of knowledge - specifically for obscure locations.

Do you mind if I ask why you have chosen to visit Sapporo? It's a nice city and all - but it's a long way to travel just to visit this city. Another option which I think might have more bang for your buck is to travel to Northern Hokkaido and visit the following two locations:

Osorenzan on the Shimotika Peninsula:

Yamadera is reasonably close to Sendai and it has a nice mountain temple along with some onsens at the base (I think). Matsushima is also reasonably nice for a half day trip from Sendai. Kakunodate is also a great option to see good quality Samurai residences

Also note that Kanazawa, Takayama, Shirakawago could make a nice 4 night trip as well.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/9/30 01:46

I agree with @mfedley, what are your particular goals and interests? You have some locations I positively adore on your potential itinerary (Kanazawa) and some I have not been to, and some I have been to but weren't for me. But I know what my tastes are and what my interests are do not necessarily correspond to yours or other posters.

I also agree with why are you going to Sapporo? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with going to Sapporo, but it is awful far from Tokyo so it's good to have some idea why specifically there.

I've been to Osorezan. I really enjoyed it, but I honestly wouldn't go back unless I had a rental car or was doing a day tour out of somewhere like Aomori. It's a fascinating place to go but public transit on the Shimokita Peninsula is lacking. Yes, there are buses but they don't run very frequently. I mistimed buses at Osorezan and had to wait 2 or 3 hours for the next bus. I came really close to just begging some US military families to just take me to a JR train station. There are definitely people who have traveled more extensively in Japan than I have, but there are also places I've been once and would never go back to without a rental car.

Hirosaki and Hiraizumi are both places I want to go back to and enjoyed very much. Both are much more accessible with public transit. I went to Hiraizumi before overnighting in Morioka before renting a car there and while I drove to Hirosaki (a few days later on that same trip) it has trains at least 1 hour (sometimes more often) to Shin-Aomori, which just gives you a lot of options for decently fast transit to many locations.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/1 01:24
Thanks for your answers. I'll adapt my itinerary soon and will post it again here. The reason I am going to Sapporo is mainly because I have already explored the main attractions between Tokyo and Hiroshima, as well as spending a few days in Okinawa (which I really enjoyed). Going to Sapporo would allow to see to less visited cities such as Sapporo and Sendai. In Sapporo I'll be particularly interested in visiting the Beer Museum and distillery (if there is any). I also very much enjoy tasting the local culinary specialities in addition of temples, shrines and local museums.
by PowerPonney rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/1 01:37
Regarding Sapporo. The visit to the beer brewery takes maybe half a day, if you take it slow.
As Sapporo is a fairly new city, I don't think there are any terribly interesting temples and shrines, but there is a nice open air museum a little bit outside of the city where you can "experience" old Hokkaido.

I am personally not a fan of Sapporo but also only have been there an accumulated 2 or 3 days.

For me Hokkaido is more about the landscape (if you like Central European landscape and would like to find it in Japan), the hiking (well, I don't hike, but there are definitely great hiking spots) and the onsen.

Overall I think you need to limit yourself to 1 max 2 regions. For the time of the year you are going, the weather in central Japan is still not too hot, so it is actually a perfect time to go to Kanazawa, Takayama, Nagano etc. It is also perfectly fine for Sendai and Tohoku. Maybe you should skip Hokkaido this time and visit again, in July / August (in an other year) when the when the weather practically everywhere else in Japan is just too hot to be pleasant for tourism. Then Hokkaido has the perfect weather. This time you did choose the time period in which weather in general in and around Tokyo is perfect (I can't speak of Osaka and South as I don't have the direct experience), but I think probably all Honshu is very nice in late May. Versus early June raining season starts from the South, so you better finish off versus the North.

Just my two cents.

Enjoy planning!
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/1 10:29
Following on from @frog1954, if you still want to go to Sapporo, have a look at this link re flights.

I donft recommend the long train ride Tokyo-Sapporo.
Therefs such a lot to see & do in Tohoku that you can accomplish within your holiday period. Hokkaido is worth visiting but you need more time to explore as public transportation is very limited.

by grobea rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/1 21:45
It is true that I might not be able to enjoy Sapporo to its fullest since I will only rely on public transports, and will therefore probably miss most of the natural landscape there is to see. If I was to stick to the region in between Nagoya to Sendai, what other city beside the ones I have already mentioned ?

Many thanks, you are all truly incredible !
by PowerPonney rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/2 00:43
Another option could be the following. As mentioned above, consider what is interesting to you....

(1) Kakunodate
(2) Tono
(3) Hiraizumi
(4) Sendai / Matsushima / Yamadera
(5) I quite like Aizu Wakamatsu....
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/2 08:07
Are you after cities or are you after natural landscapes?

I agree with the comments about Sapporo. The city itself isn't interesting and isn't indicative of what the rest of Hokkaido is like. Save it for when you can explore thoroughly.

I still think you could explore Tohoku. Morioka isn't very interesting in itself but serves as an excellent base for Kakunodate and has a nice local beer pub too. As mentioned already, Yamadera is stunning. Aizu-Wakamatsu is full of fascinating history, including a castle and several sake breweries. And yes, Nyuto Onsen is brilliant. There's a scenic railway between Kakunodate and Takanosu. You could still visit Ginzan Onsen too. Anyway, just food for thought. Tohoku has a lot of offer.
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/2 08:08
*on offer
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/3 19:44
I'm actually after both, I love the energy and dynamism of big cities such as Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto but I also love natural landscape and more traditional places, as long as they are reachable by public transports
by PowerPonney rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/4 02:01
Hi everyone,
I've come up with a new itinerary.

21-23 : Arrival in Tokyo
23-25 Yokohama
25-26 Hakone
26-27 Kanazawa
27-28 Takayama
28-29 Nagano
29-21 Niigata
31-3 Sendai - I plan to spend a whole day going to the Fox Village near Shiroishi.
3-4 Fukushima
4-6 Tokyo
by PowerPonney rate this post as useful

Re: My itinerary 2018/10/15 20:07
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by SamSharma rate this post as useful

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