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Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 02:21
Hi,

I am going to visit Japan for the first time now in the beginning of November (18 days) and I would like some advice regarding my travel plan and available train times/locations. I am solo traveler and I will buy the 14 days JR Pass, but I just want to active it from day 5 to day 18 (14 days).

I donLt want to stress by jumping every day from city to city as I prefer to take a bit more time in each city with the exception of those that are smaller or can be seen in half a day. Also I did not look into the trains/bus schedules between the different cities so if you see anything that can be improved let me know.

Day 1 (Tue): Arriving in the morning at Narita. Staying in Tokyo.
Day 2 (Wed): Tokyo
Day 3 (Thu): Tokyo
Day 4 (Fri): Tokyo
Day 5 (Sat): Tokyo --> Visit to Nikko or Kamakura? --> back to Tokyo
Day 6 (Sun): Tokyo
Day 7 (Mon): Going from Tokyo to Hakone in the morning and in the evening to Nagoya or possibly Kanazawa?
Day 8 (Tue): From Nagoya or Kanazawa --> visit Takayama and Shirakawago in the same day and in the evening back to Kanazawa
Day 9 (Wed): Kanazawa
Day 10 (Thu): Going from Kanazawa to Kyoto in the morning
Day 11 (Fri): Kyoto
Day 12 (Sat): Kyoto --> Visit to Nara in the morning --> back to Kyoto in the evening
Day 13 (Sun): Going from Kyoto to Osaka in the morning --> sleep in Osaka
Day 14 (Mon): Going from Osaka to Hiroshima
Day 15 (Tue): Hiroshima --> Miyajami --> Hiroshima
Day 16 (Wed): Hiroshima --> Himeji castle? ---> Tokyo
Day 17 (Thu): Tokyo
Day 18 (Fri): Return flight.

by Francisco (guest)  

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 10:21
Hello, we were in Japan from 22.09. till 06.10. and we did following:
2 nights Tokio
2 nights Hakone
2 nights Takayama (half day trip to Shirakawa go)
1 night Mt. Norikura
2 nights Kjoto
1 night Mount Koya
1 night Osaka
2 nights Hiroshima (half day trip to Myajima)
1 night Tokio

during the way we stopped in Himeji and at Suntory whisky company...

If you need any information, just let me know :)
by Anna (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 13:22
You will fly into Narita on 6th Nov and out Narita on 23th right?

Below is my personal opinion.

You will visit 12 destinations which in my opinion is too much. I would skip Hakone, Kamakura (similar to Kyoto and Nara, but honestly Kyoto and Nara are better) and Nikko (maybe autumn leaves are over). You will need 14 day Japan Rail pass and start using it on Day 5. In so doing you can use it for the NEX train on day 18.

Day 5 to 7 Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa area. Maybe stay first night at Takayama and the following 2 nights at Kanazawa. If the weather permits, you can try the Alpine route and see the snowy mountain of Tateyama. Round trip from Kanazawa via Toyama to Murodo would be enough.

Day 8 to 11 Kyoto. Kyoto has lots to see. If you can't get affordable accommodation, Nagoya can be one candidate which is much cheaper and you can do Shinkansen commute (35 min Hikari ride one way).
Day12 to 13 Nara. Perhaps Kyoto is very expensive on Saturday. You might better move to Nara to stay there. Nara has also lots to see, including side trip to Houryuji and Asuka.
Day14 to 15 Hiroshima and Miyajima.
Day16 Himeji and then to Tokyo. Or you may want to try autumn leaves in Kyoto since Days 8 to 11 might be too early.
Day17 Tokyo.

You will do many train travel and Shinkansen is not for big luggage. So make your luggage "check-in size". Japan is a first world country so that you can buy everything in Japan and "tourist class" hotels have in house coin operated laundry.


by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 16:31
Hi,

Thanks for your replies Anna and frog1954.

@Anna: I think this is a good plan but I would prefer to avoid 1 nigh stays since I have time. Also I would prefer to stay in big cities for the night.

@frog1954: I will be visiting from 30 Oct to 16 Nov.

- I guess Hakone might be interesting and has the views to Mount Fuji.
- Sleeping one night in Takayama might be a good option however should I sleep the night before in Nagoya (if I visit Hakone) since going from Tokyo to Takayama takes around 6-7h by train (Tokyo - Nagoya (2h40), Nagoya - Takayama 3h).
- I guess 1 day in Nara and going back to Kyoto is enough?
- Osaka is not interesting to visit?

Also another question regarding the accommodation in Tokyo for what I read the main areas for tourists is Shinjuku and Shibuya. If I want to go out for a drink I guess these are the best options but if I stay outside these areas will it take much time by metro, since when I check in google maps from other areas can take 40-50 min by metro.

I did not book any hotel yet but a hostel is not an option that I would consider and capsule hotels (more privacy) I believe they will be small since I am 196 cm (6L5"). So for a hotel room or airbnb I need to go a bit outside these areas for a more decent price.


by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 18:45
- I guess Hakone might be interesting and has the views to Mount Fuji.

If Mt Fuji is the main concern, you should know it can be seen rather rarely from Hakone. In early November the top of Fuji is covered with new snow, which is nice, but at the same time clouds will likely to hide the mountain. So if you want to see it, be aware of the weather forecast. If it rains, you will have nearly no chance to see Mt Fuji. You will have several days in Tokyo, so watch weather forecast and the live cameras to decide when to visit. Maybe Kawaguchiko is better to see the mountain, but you can do Hakone as a day trip.

- Sleeping one night in Takayama might be a good option however should I sleep the night before in Nagoya (if I visit Hakone) since going from Tokyo to Takayama takes around 6-7h by train (Tokyo - Nagoya (2h40), Nagoya - Takayama 3h).

Kanazawa is nearer than Takayama from Tokyo as for the time, but many people prefer taking train from Nagoya to Tokyo because of the scenery. One good thing is if it is fine weather you can see Mt Fuji from Tokaido Shinkansen. Actually the Shinkansen line is about the same distance from Mt. Fuji as Hakone.

- I guess 1 day in Nara and going back to Kyoto is enough?
- Osaka is not interesting to visit?


Yes, Nara 1 night is enough. But 2 nights stay is usually better than 1 night stay since you will have more flexibility. If you stay 4 nights in Kyoto, 2 nights in Nara and then 2 nights in Hiroshima, you can choose you actual traveling time: You can go early in the morning, middle of the day or late at night. If you see Nara interesting, then you can move to Hiroshima at night. If Nara is not your taste, you can start early, go to Osaka and enjoy something in Osaka. I am a former Osakan so I think it interesting, but many people say it's a small version of Tokyo. If you have the JR pass and start from Nara you will arrive Tennoji, Osaka where the tallest building in Japan is. From Tennoji you can take limited express train to Shin-Osaka and catch Sakura (or Hikari) shinkansen to Hiroshima.

Also another question regarding the accommodation in Tokyo for what I read the main areas for tourists is Shinjuku and Shibuya. If I want to go out for a drink I guess these are the best options but if I stay outside these areas will it take much time by metro, since when I check in google maps from other areas can take 40-50 min by metro.

Basically every districts have eating/drinking places. Of course these districts are not as big as Shinjuku or Shibuya, but you will find enough places. The staff of your hotel will happily recommend his/her favorite places around.

I did not book any hotel yet but a hostel is not an option that I would consider and capsule hotels (more privacy) I believe they will be small since I am 196 cm (6L5"). So for a hotel room or airbnb I need to go a bit outside these areas for a more decent price.

As compared to other big cities of the first world, Tokyo is very cheap, or at least has very cheap options. I am afraid the bed length should be 200 cm or less, but you will find 120-140 cm width bed easily so you can sleep diagonally :).
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 21:03
Hi frog1954,

Thank you again for your fast reply! :)

You are right regarding Kanazawa since it will be faster to go directly from Tokyo. Via Tokyo-Nagoya-Takayama I will loose around 6h.

So basically I changed it a bit the travel plan so I can have the best in terms of travel time and also in a way that allows me to relax during my stay and not to rush, with the exception of a one night stay in Takayama. Nara I believe 1 day will be enough and in the evening going back to Kyoto. Nikko I will skip.

During my stay in Kanazawa is it worthy to visit Shirakawa-go?

Day 1 (Tue): Arriving in the morning at Narita. Staying in Tokyo.
Day 2 (Wed): Tokyo
Day 3 (Thu): Tokyo
Day 4 (Fri): Tokyo
Day 5 (Sat): Tokyo
Day 6 (Sun): Tokyo --> Hakone --> Tokyo (~35 min train one way)
Day 7 (Mon): Morning Tokyo --> Kanazawa (~3h train)
Day 8 (Tue): Kanazawa --> Visit to Shirakawago? (~1h15 min bus one way) --> back to Kanazawa
Day 9 (Wed): Morning Kanazawa --> Takayama (~2h train)
Day 10 (Thu): Morning Takayama --> Kyoto (~3h train)
Day 11 (Fri): Kyoto
Day 12 (Sat): Kyoto --> Visit to Nara in the morning --> back to Kyoto in the evening (~45 min train one way)
Day 13 (Sun): Kyoto
Day 14 (Mon): Kyoto --> Hiroshima (~1h40 train)
Day 15 (Tue): Hiroshima --> Miyajami --> Hiroshima
Day 16 (Wed): Hiroshima --> Himeji castle ---> Tokyo (~4h train)
Day 17 (Thu): Tokyo
Day 18 (Fri): Return flight.

by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/15 23:08
Hi!

I'm just going to second what @Frog said about seeing Mt. Fuji from Hakone. I've been to Hakone 3 or 4 times and never seen Mt. Fuji from Hakone. And I am sure everyone is getting sick of me saying this, but I regularly see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo. I saw Mt. Fuji from the Disney Monorail on June 30, despite it being rare to see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo in the Summer. In November, seeing Mt. Fuji from Tokyo itself should be much more likely and is really quite spectacular.

It's important to note as well that it's ~35 minutes by shinkansen to Odawara. You then need to actually get to Hakone proper, and will depend on what you want to do there. It's all private lines and buses though, so if you're on a budget, think about whether you want to spend 2-3000 yen just on the chance you might see Mt. Fuji.

Be careful with the train to from Kanazawa to Takayama. It's about 2 hours but only if all your connections line up well. Also please note this page: https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5908.html where it states the Hidas from Toyama to Takayama will not be fully running until late November. It's possible they could finish track work earlier, but I wouldn't count on it. I don't remember where the bus schedule for the transfer is now, but if you take a local part way and then transfer to bus I know from the Takayama direction there was a 20+ minute layover. I believe there are direct buses from Toyama to Takayama that are covered by the JR Pass during this hiatus, but I don't know the times. But I would spend some time researching this, because in general, trains from Toyama to Takayama are not as frequent as from Nagoya to Takayama. if you are visiting Shirakawa Go, you might want to just continue on by bus to Takayama.

So if it were me, I would do:
Day 1 (Tue): Arriving in the morning at Narita. Staying in Tokyo. (night Tokyo)
Day 2 (Wed): Tokyo (night Tokyo)
Day 3 (Thu): Tokyo (night Tokyo)
Day 4 (Fri): Tokyo (night Tokyo)
Day 5 (Sat): Tokyo (night Tokyo)
Day 6 (Sun): Morning Tokyo --> Kanazawa (~3h train) (night Kanazawa)
Day 7 (Mon): Kanazawa (night Kanazawa)
Day 8 (Tue): Kanazawa --> Visit to Shirakawago continue to Takayama (night Takayama)
Day 9 (Wed): Takayama (night Takayama)
Day 10 (Thu): Morning Takayama --> Kyoto (night Kyoto)
Day 11 (Fri): Kyoto (night Kyoto)
Day 12 (Sat): Kyoto --> Visit to Nara (night Kyoto)
Day 13 (Sun): Kyoto (night Kyoto)
Day 14 (Mon): Kyoto --> Hiroshima (night Hiroshima)
Day 15 (Tue): Hiroshima --> Miyajami --> (night Hiroshima)
Day 16 (Wed): Hiroshima --> Himeji castle ---> (night Tokyo)
Day 17 (Thu): Tokyo (night Tokyo)
Day 18 (Fri): Return flight.

This would give you 5 nights in Tokyo, 2 nights in Kanazawa, 2 nights in Takayama, 4 nights in Kyoto, 2 nights in Hiroshima and 2 nights in Tokyo at the end. If you wanted you could maybe take 1 night from Tokyo at the beginning and give it to Kanazawa or try 4 Tokyo, 2 Kanazawa, 2 Takayama, 4 Kyoto, 2 Hiroshima, and 3 in Tokyo. If you really have your heart set on Hakone if you're not planning to stay in a ryokan you could even go there on you way from Himeji to Tokyo on day 16. There are direct trains to Narita from Ofuna which is really not that far from Hakone. Or do the 4 (Tokyo) 2 (Kanazawa) 2 (Takayama) 4 (Kyoto) 2 (Hiroshima) 1 (Hakone) 2 (Tokyo) Otherwise you are arriving in Kanazawa on a Monday and some of the museums will be closed. We did Kanazawa on a Monday, but I also knew my daughter didn't necessarily want to go to the art museum. If you change to the 4-2-2-4-2-1-2 itinerary or 4-2-2-4-2-3 you would have a Monday in Shirakawa Go which is unaffected and on the next Monday you would be in Miyajima and only the History Museum would be closed.

AirBnB since this Summer has had a lot of problems in Japan and I've heard people are making up fake certifications. In June they were compensating people who had their stays canceled on short notice, but I do not know if they are still doing so. If Kyoto is too expensive, I would probably stay in Osaka or Kobe, since you're going to want to head that direction to Hiroshima vs. Nagoya which is closer to Tokyo. Though it feels like there are constantly new hotels opening up in Kyoto. I've gone there 3 years in a row, and each time I've booked there have been new hotels. I don't know your budget for hotels so can't give any advice.

I hope this helps!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 00:37
Hi rkold,

Thank you for your inputs and information about the train between Toyama and Takayama. I was not aware of this.

I will do as you suggest by by removing one day from Tokyo in the beginning and staying two nights in Kanazawa and 2 nights in Takayama. There I think I will see if I go from Kanazawa-Shirakawa-go-Takayama or Kanazawa-Toyama-Takayama instead.

I will also skip Hakone for the beginning of the trip and if I am still in the mood to see it I will stop on the return trip to Tokyo as you mentioned.

So basically it will be:

Tokyo (5 nights)
Kanazawa (2 nights)
Takayama (2 nights)
Kyoto (4 nights)
Hiroshima (2 nights)
Tokyo (2 nights)





by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 01:48
Hi. So for this you mentioned:

"There I think I will see if I go from Kanazawa-Shirakawa-go-Takayama or Kanazawa-Toyama-Takayama instead."

My advice will be. Since you're coming in November, it would be better to do Kanazawa-Shirakawa-go-Takayama route, because Toyama (on my opinion) is better in mid-April to May because of Tateyama Apline route and the famous Snow Corridor.

Your itinerary looks great! I will be in Japan myself from November 7th until 16th, and I'll be doing some of the cities you'll do, such as Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima. Very exciting isn't it? Can't wait to go.
by catiasmteixeira rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 03:28
Hi catiamteixeira,

My first option will be the Kanazawa - Shirakawa-go - Takayama :)

Yes I also look forward to the trip!

by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 05:14
I bet you will enjoy your trip a lot!!! If you have time you could do Gokayama as well, people say Shirakawago is more touristy, while Gokayama has the preserved traditional feel to it (Ainokura in Gokayama is more peaceful but also harder to reach). But Shirakawago is nice as well, but more crowded.

I think your days in Kyoto will be some of my days in Kyoto as well. I hope for a good weather! I'm dressing a Kimono too (but in Kurashiki, not Kyoto, because I want to visit as much as I could, and Kurashiki is more peaceful for walking in Kimono). I am so so so excited!!! I wish you a very good trip and flight!
by catiasmteixeira rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 17:01
Hi catiasmteixeira,

I will keep my plan as it is now. No more changes :)

Hope you enjoy Kurashiki and maybe we meet in Kyoto who knows :)

Have a nice trip and flight too!

by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 18:38
I will keep my plan as it is now. No more changes :)


Since you will stay multiple days in each places, and perhaps you will have the Japan Rail pass which will save some money, you can do your trip rather flexibly. For example, if you leave Tokyo early you will have almost full day in your first Kanazawa day. Then you may go to the Alpine route on your 2nd Kanazawa day. In your Tokyo days weather might be quite nice, say, on third day. Then you can do your Hakone trip even you can't use the Japan Rail Pass. In any case you must pay additional fee in Hakone, so it will be little difference if you buy Hakone Free Pass from Shinjuku.

https://www.odakyu.jp/english/passes/hakone/

Honestly weather in Japan is not stable: you might encounter bad weather in your Japan trip. So be flexible, take care of weather forecast and have some backup plans. Oh, in my first post, I said you can buy everything. But it might be wrong. You may have difficulty in finding shoes which can cover your foot, considering your height. Some Japanese people might stare at you but you don't need to care about it. Enjoy your trip in Japan!
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 19:24
"Then you may go to the Alpine route on your 2nd Kanazawa day. "

I don't know if it's a good idea to visit the Alpine route in mid-November. The fall colors are already at past peak and they usually close the route around that time (usually bad weather conditions/winter). On my opinion, Kanazawa has a lot to see, it's a relaxing town with lots of "treasures", 2/3 days is good for sightseeing. While Takayama, I would do only a half day trip.
by catiasmteixeira rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 20:06
The fall colors are already at past peak and they usually close the route around that time

Yes you are right. I don't know where Francisco is from, but if he likes to see snowy landscape, Murodo is a nice place. If he is from Canada, Switzerland or even Iceland, Kanazawa is much better :).
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/16 23:04
@frog1954: Thanks again for your advices. I do not intend to buy clothes/shoes in Japan I assume they will be small :) Also not a big fan of snow :)
by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/18 04:52
hi! my BF + I will be there around the same time also - we are thinking about doing-
F 11/2 LAX>Tokyo
S 11/3 Tokyo 5:20a
S 11/4 Tokyo
M 11/5 Tokyo
T 11/6 Tokyo
W 11/7 TOK>Hakone
T 11/8 Hakone>Oaska
F 11/9 Osaka
S 11/10 Osaka
S 11/11 Osaka>Kyoto
M 11/12 Kyoto
T 11/13 Kyoto
W 11/14 Kyoto
T 11/15 ??
F 11/16 ??
S 11/17 >>LAX 10:55pm

we decided to get the 14 pass also just to save us rushing time + more flexibility. if you can - i wouls recommend it.

Saturday, November 3rd we get into the airport- do you know where we activate the JR PASS?

by PatriciaMUSA rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/18 05:42
"Saturday, November 3rd we get into the airport- do you know where we activate the JR PASS?"
You can activate it at the airport. When you do, you can choose the date you would like to start using.

About your itinerary Patricia, it looks good, but why too many days in Osaka? Since you're staying long in Tokyo, you could cut some of the days in Osaka and go to day trips to Nara or sleep in Mt. Koya (in a temple which is a very interesting cultural experience). On the last few days of your itinerary where you have "?", seems you haven't decided, I could recomend going to Kanazawa after Kyoto, then Shirakawago and Takayama the next day, and finally head back to Tokyo for your flight. We'll be in Japan around the same time, my days in Japan are from November 7th until November 16th.
by catiasmteixeira rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/18 08:21
Hi Patricia,

Please don't take this the wrong way, but if you want input or advice on your itinerary it might be best to create your own thread.

I like Osaka, but unless you want to go shopping or see very specific sights or couldn't get a reservation in Kyoto, I can't imagine spending so many nights there.

Since you have a 14 day pass, I might skip Takayama. I would go to Hiroshima or maybe Kanazawa and then Matsumoto or.. well, there are lots of options, since unless you specifically want to go to Takayama or Shirakawa Go, why go off your pass and play out of pocket. If you're from the USA, I personally find the time change between the US and Japan challenging.

@Francisco, I would strongly recommend against considering the Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine route even if you liked snow. Starting in November, it is recommended you start in Ogizawa if you want to do the route, as it is more likely to be closed between Bijodaira and Murodo (which is the approach from Toyama.)

https://www.alpen-route.com/en/about/seasonal.html

I'm personally not a fan of snow. There are many places that see a lot of snow in the Winter and where I live is one of them.

Good luck!

by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan first time 18 days - Travel Plan 2018/10/18 17:18
Hi rkold,

I was not considering doing the alpine route. I will keep my plan as I said. I believe there are many beautiful places that a person can visit in Japan, but if I try to see everything I will ended up just being tired and not enjoying fully my time in Japan.

Matsumoto looks nice by the way but I will visit it another time.

by Francisco (guest) rate this post as useful

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