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First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/25 04:02
Hey everyone,

My boyfriend and I are finally visiting Japan this year for 23 days. Since we booked the flight we're basically trying to get a good itinerary because we want to book our hotels as soon as possible. So we have a base itinerary now but we're doubting about a few things and I hope you guys can help us decide!

We will fly to and from Osaka. When we arrive in Osaka on day 1 (at around 08:30 am) we want to immediately take the Shinkansen to Tokyo. We specifically want our trip to start there because of the Sumo event in September. Our itinerary is as follows:

Osaka -> Tokyo
4 full days in Tokyo
Tokyo -> Kanazawa
1 full day in Kanazawa
Kanazawa -> Kyoto
3 full days in Kyoto
Kyoto -> Hiroshima
2 full days in Hiroshima
Hiroshima -> Fukuoka
2 full days in Fukuoka
Fukuoka -> Osaka
4 full days in Osaka
Osaka -> Home

So about things we want to do, we got a lot of plans and (I guess) not a lot of time.
- We need time in Tokyo for a Sumo match, DisneySea and a daytrip to Nikko.
- We got not plans for Kanazawa YET but I'm prepared to drop this city if it allows us to visit Fuji Q themepark (which is high on our wishlist).
- We need time in Kyoto to see the city and maybe do a daytrip.
- Then, we need time in Hiroshima because we also want to visit the Rabbit Island.
- IF Fukuoka is worth visiting, we would need some time because we want to visit the Aso Vulcano
- We need time in Osaka for Universal, and Himeji

As you can read above I'm prepared to do some concessions if it comes to Fukuoka and Kanazawa. I'm not sure if these places are worth visiting, if I should stay longer or shorter at any other city or if I should change my itinerary all over.

Please not we will get a 21-day JR Rail Pass, but since we're using it on day 1 that means I'd like to be back in Osaka 2 days before our flight home.

Help us decide please!!
by EtienneH  

Re: First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/25 12:56

I personally love Kanazawa and I enjoyed Fukuoka. Whether you need to visit them really depends on your interests and your boyfriend's interests.

Personally, I don't think Osaka needs 4 nights. I can see needing a night before USJ and a night before you fly home, but otherwise I would just stay more nights in Kyoto. I enjoyed USJ as well as Himeji, but I find Osaka itself sort of boring outside of shopping and visiting my friend and I can do both those things and stay in Kyoto. But again, it really depends on you and your interest.

I confess, I am a bit confused by your choice of wording. I'm assuming since you said your total was 23 days and you only listed 16 nights at various locations that you're not counting travel days in your total for various nights at various locations.

For USJ, Tokyo Disney and Fuji Q Highland (especially the former 2) make sure to check the crowd calendars and try to pick week days that are not holidays. I think Fuji Q is not as crowded as USJ or TDR, so just avoid week ends? I've only been to USJ and TDR, I'm waiting until my child makes more heightlines to visit Fuji Q and Nagashima Spa Land.

Aso is not all that close to Fukuoka. It's also a location that is best accessed via rental car. Aso Station is about 2 hours via bus from Kumamoto and then another 30-40 minutes trip from Aso Station on a bus that runs every 1-2 hours. Outside of the train to Kumamoto from Fukuoka, none of the trip to Aso is covered by a JR pass. The JR line between Kumamoto and Aso Station was heavily damaged in the 2016 quake (See here: With a rental car Aso is about 2 hours and 21 minutes from Fukuoka proper according to Google Maps or 1 hour and 30 minutes from Kumamoto, starting from Kumamoto Airport drops it down to 1 hour. (Though I hear Google Maps driving estimates are off.)

If there is no specific order you need to do things post your Tokyo nights, have you thought about flying from Tokyo to Kumamoto and then working your way back to Osaka/Kyoto? If you don't rent a car Kumamoto airport is a stop along the bus route to Aso.

If you fly, I would probably not pay for a full JR Pass for 21 days and would see if paying out of pocket for some tickets and getting a regional pass or passes might make more sense.

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

Re: First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/25 14:48
You never need a 21-day JR Pass for your trip. Even if you include Kanazawa and Fukuoka in your itinerary, you can make do with a 14-day JR Pass. Head straight to Hiroshima from either Tokyo or Kanazawa, and leave the remaining 8-9 days for Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, Himeji, etc).
by JPN48 rate this post as useful

Re: First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/25 17:48
A 14 day pass would work. Do all your Kyoto/Osaka at the start or the end of the itinerary. Or do the Osaka days, start pass, then finish in Kyoto.

Fukuoka has enough of entertain someone for 2 full days. And it is the gateway to many north Kyushu locations. Aso though is not one of them. Central Kyushu is not accessed well by public transport. You really need a car. And if you hire a car, you then really need to stay longer to get both your monies worth and your efforts worth from the process.

4 days for Osaka is too much, transfer a day to Kyoto.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/25 23:25
Personally i feel 4 days in Osaka is way too many days. Unless you like to shop and look for street foods and visit USJ, 2 days will be more than enough. If its just a simple exploration, 1 day will be enough in Osaka.

As for Fukuoka, am assuming you are referring to the city only. If just the city, 2 days will be more than enough. Honestly, I have not been to Kyushu prefecture myself, but from experience, there are not much differences between each prefectures.
by kaikaii88 rate this post as useful

Re: First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/26 07:26
Kyushu is an island. Not a prefecture.

Not sure about the comment about the prefectures being much different. I dont know if that state is for Japan or just Kyushu. But Kyushu is probably the most diverse region in Japan, as is has a sub-tropical element to the south.
by hakata14 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: First time to Japan itinerary 2019/1/26 15:21
I agree with all the comments that 4 days in Osaka is too much. Except for the Osaka food you find a lot of things the same but better in Tokyo (shopping, bars, clubs, arcades, high rise viewing decks)

I would transfer all the days plannen in Osaka to Kyoto as that city alone is worth 5-7 days visiting. You can plan day trips to Himeji, Nara and Osaka from there. E.g visit universal during the day and Dotonbori the evening.

Don't get me wrong, I like Osaka and stayed there for 4 days myself during a trip, but the final 2 days therea t daytime there were a bit meh.
by WJ (guest) rate this post as useful

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