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Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 07:09
Hi.
Here's my itinerary for four days in the Japanese Alps.
I'd love to hear suggestions and improvement ideas and know if this itinerary is doable, or if there's anything I should change.
Note that this itinerary is for April, so Kamikochi and the Alpine Route will be closed during this time.

The itinerary starts in Nagoya, after a day in Miyajima. We'll arrive at Nagoya in the evening, sleep there and start the route on the next day.
Day 1 - Kiso Valley Hike: Nagoya to Magome, hike to Tsumago, Nagiso to Nagoya.
Day 2 - Nagoya to Takayama, Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, sleep at Okuhida.
Day 3 - Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa (Sleep in Kanazawa)
Day 4 - Nagano (Jigokudani Monkey Park)

On the next day, we'll continue to Hakone.

I'd love to get some feedback on this route.
Thanks in advance!
by ofekinger  

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 09:00
Looks very rushed with some quite long travel times, especially day two and three. Also looks like you are really not spending any time in Takayama or Kanazawa for sightseeing there. That's just an opinion, you might have planned it deliberately that way.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 09:47
Yup 3 to 5 hours of travel per day. Plus attempting to see 2 locations a day that most would allocate a day to.

You probably need to cut the itinerary in half.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 10:27
Hi. I'd give up on Tsumago/Magome. They are pretty but the hike isnt that spectacular, save it for your next trip.

I'd go to Takayama. Hike up to the top of the Park where the castle foundations are if you like, also you can walk at the hill at Shirakawago if you need exercise. Then after Kanazawa and Nagano, think of stopping at Karuizawa (which is a shinkansen stop on the way back to Tokyo) that has a nice hike from the top of the shopping street to a lookout and temple, that used to be part of the Nakasendo Way as well.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 14:43
Thanks for the quick replies!

We're going to start the itinerary after a day in Miyajima, so taking trains directly to Takayama will take about 6 hours... Is there a better place to start?

Also, is Oku-Hida worth it? We'll be at Takayama just a few days before the festival so the town itself will probably be very crowded, plus we don't have any nature in the trip (Both Alpine Route and Kamikochi will open a short while after we'll head off to Tokyo) so I thought that Oku-Hida might be a nice fit. It sure does take a long time to travel from Takayama, so I'm wondering if we should add it or stay in Takayama itself.

Which parts of the itinerary do you think we should cut?
by ofekinger rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 19:45
why go to Nagano in day 1? More logical would be:
Day 1 - Kiso Valley Hike: Nagoya to Magome, hike to Tsumago, Nagiso to MATSUMOTO
Day 2 - MATSUMOTO to Shin-Hotaka Ropeway, sleep at Okuhida.
Day 3 - Okuhida to Takayama
Day 4 - Takayama to Shirakawa-Go- Kanazawa
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 22:00
I think wefll miss out if we donft visit the snow monkeys.

What do you think of this itinerary?
Wefll travel from Miyajima to Takayama
Day 1 - Takayama
Day 2 - Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa
Day 3 - Kanazawa and Jigokudani Monkey Park
Day 4 - Nagano to Hakone
by ofekinger rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 22:03
Sorry. I meant to say that the fourth day will be in either Nagano (Togakushi Temples) or in Matsumoto.
On the fifth day wefll move to Hakone.

How does that sound?
by ofekinger rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 22:24
Personally, I would skip Hakone and add more time to the Alps. I like Hakone when the hydrangea are in bloom, but other than that it's just not all that great unless you love taking lots of different types of transport for entertainment.

I have a friend who went to see the snow monkeys in early March 2018 and while she really is glad she went, she said there was no snow at that time. It's not as natural but if you are really just wanting to see monkeys you can do that in Kyoto.

I personally felt Shirakawa Go was super touristy. I know I am in the minority on this. I've only been once, February 2010, but it felt like everything was just a shop or a restaurant. I went to Hida no Sato village in Takayama in 2017 and thought it was much more interesting.

Kanazawa is wonderful. I tried really hard to fit it into my next trip but I just don't have time. It really deserves a day.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/18 23:05
rkold - What do you think is the best itinerary?
Spend more time in Takayama and Kanazawa?

Wefll be there in early April so Kamikochi and the Alpine Route wonft be open. I donft really know how to divide the time in the Alps.

For instance, people say to dedicate a couple of days for Takayama, but I searched and it seems like therefs not much to do there...

Thanks in advance!
by ofekinger rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/19 01:55
Hi!

I think... it would be helpful to get a better sense of what you specifically want to do. Are you interested in seeing snow? Are you interested in wildlife? Do you like gardens? Do you want to hike? It can be really hard to tell people what to do because we all have different interests.

The first time I went to Takayama, I day tripped to Hirayu onsen 1 day and I went to Shirakawa Go and Gokayama on another. I also walked around the town and did the morning market. My second trip I just visited the town area and Hida no Sato. I also stayed only 1 night that time. I know @Lazy Pious loves the squirrels in the park in Takayama. I personally do not want to be touched by squirrels, but I live somewhere where squirrels are plentiful and something of a nuisance. If you're there for the festival I know that is quite popular. Presumably since it is about the time of the festival, the sakura will be in season, which can be really lovely. You might also be able to his sakura in Matsumoto and Nagano.

Again, I love Kanazawa. I love gardens, and I only made it to one of the two I wanted to visit last trip. I love Nagano. I think it is underrated. Matsumoto is adorable. Whenever I've looked at Karuizawa it always seems awful expensive to stay there for the night and I am never sure it is worth it.

It might not be covered by an air pass, but one idea is you can take the train from Hiroshima to Hakata and then fly from Fukuoka Airport (REALLY close to Hakata station) to Matsumoto Airport. (It should take 1 hour by train if you're not using a Nozomi or Mizuho, just be careful as there are time periods when there are no trains for JR Countrywide Passholders.) It should save you quite a bit of time. (The airport is ~5 minutes by subway from Hakata Station.) You could start in Matsumoto, then take the bus to Takayama and stop off at Hirayu or possibly visit Okuhida and Shin-Hokata Ropeway if you think you would prefer that. Then go from Takayama to Kanazawa, then from Kanazawa to Nagano. I personally thought the road between Matsumoto and Takayama was quite scenic. You wouldn't get to go into Kamikochi but you would get awful close, as you would be able to see the turn off and tunnel headed there. I'm sure in April the whole area would have lots of snow. Though I guess you could also look into whether any of the snowshoe tours of Kamikochi are still operating that late into the season.

You could also look into flying from Fukuoka to Komatsu the airport near Kanazawa and start your sightseeing there. It has flights on ANA which should be good for an airpass. In that case I might then do: Kanazawa then do a Shirakawa Go stopover on the way to Takayama, Takayama and maybe a visit to Hirayu before Matsumoto and then onto Nagano.

I would personally cut Hakone. If you're going there because you want to use onsen, you can find lots of onsen elsewhere on your itinerary. (If you do see the monkeys there are onsen there, as well as just outside Matsumoto, Hirayu, and Okuhida.) If you're going in hopes of seeing Mt. Fuji, this is purely anecdotal, but I've yet to see Mt. Fuji from Hakone and I've been 4x.

It's always good to remember that sometimes the best way to get around Japan is flying or a bus and not just the trains.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/19 07:11
I too am not a massive Hakone fan though funnily enough I am looking to stay there on the last couple of nights of our trip next May (after Shuzenji), mainly because I find it depressing finishing a holiday in the cities and Hakone is a pretty easy run to Narita for the flight out.

Just with Takayama and the park, I actually really like Takayama. We have been there for maybe 10 days all up, we find it pretty relaxing. I have never made it to the Hida Village (oops). Now there is a difference between Takayama Park (which has the old castle foundations and some pretty energetic hiking/walking paths) which is in town and has some temples about it, and the Squirrel (Risu) Forest which is a bit out of town past the Hotel Associa. While I would happily die smothered by squirrels, unfortunately the forest walk that used to be available there and was quite interesting is now roped off. Even for the squirrel obsessed, maybe a half an hour or so with the squirrels is plenty.

Also if you are staying at Takayama, think of Hotel Associa which has amazing onsen facilities, though it is 5 minute of so by shuttle out of town.

Our last trip was pretty ideal for us - Lake Kawaguchiko - Matsumoto - Kamokochi - Takayama - Hikone - Nara. The bus runs through the mountains at that time of year (late October) were spectacular with autumn foliage.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary - Is it too crammed? 2018/12/19 09:09
Day 1 - Takayama
Day 2 - Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa
Day 3 - Kanazawa and Jigokudani Monkey Park
Day 4 - Nagano to Hakone


Pretty conventional, less rushed, but still quite busy. And there is actually quite a lot in Takayama - I usually spend two nights for my tours and end up dropping things.
As for Jigokudani - snow or not, I visit year round (many many times), and I actually prefer it without snow by a small margin. But then, I'm not a big fan of snow.
Hakone - over-rated crowded tourist trap - I avoid it when I can because guest feedback is pretty consistent - they wish they had done something else. If people think Shirakawa-go is bad, they should re-assess "Fuji". Plus, it's a pain getting there as both Hakone and Kawaguchi-ko are off the main rail network so take a lot of extra time in what is a compact schedule.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

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