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30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 17:53
Hi,

I'm heading to Japan for the first time between mid December and mid January this year, and have a few gaps in the itinerary. Does the following make sense?

14 - Land in Tokyo AM
15-17 - Tokyo
18 - Evening Flight to Sapporo
19-20 Sapporo
21-23 - Activate JR Pass - Travel around Hokkaido
24 - Train to Sendai ?
25 - Sendai ?
26-27 Niigata / Fukushima / Nikko ?
28-29 Kyoto
30-2 Osaka
3 - Kobe
5-7 Shikoku Island
8-10 Hiroshima
11 - Back towards Tokyo
12 - Flight home

Can't figure out if it would be better to skip the Sendai section and just go to Nagano for a bit of relaxing in hot springs?

Thanks in advance!
by Henry H (guest)  

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 19:09
Why not fly straight to Hokkaido on day 1?
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 19:23
From Tokyo you might better fly to Kushiro instead of Sapporo. If you do not do winter sports (ski etc.), eastern Hokkaido should be better place since the weather tend to be fine. Use your 21 day JR pass from 22nd so you can use it for Hiroshima to Tokyo leg on 11th Jan.
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 19:26
We picked up the flights on a promo, and the only option was flying in and out of Tokyo. We could fly on the first day we land, but if there are any flight delays connecting could get complicated, or we'd end up waiting in an airport for the entire day. Does not sound appealing after a 13 hour flight!

by Henry H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 19:30
Thanks frog1954. That sounds like a good idea. I suppose we could then go west on Hokkaido and take the train south from Sapporo?
by Henry H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 21:21
Flights to e.g. Chitose, go roughly every hour. You could easily allow for a delay and for clearing customs and immigration. Flights to somewhere like Hakodate go roughly every two hours...

I'm only suggesting flying straight on because then you don't have the extra time and expense of getting from your Tokyo airport into Tokyo itself, and then packing up and doing the same thing in reverse a day or two later.

I tend to find that the incremental hassle/tiredness etc of an internal flight after a long international flight is quite low. Plus you have the benefit of getting to where you want to be on your first day. You've done all your "painful" travelling in one hit...and then you can concentrate on being on holiday. For some people, Tokyo isn't an ideal place to get over jet lag - for others it's just fine.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 21:22
I suppose we could then go west on Hokkaido and take the train south from Sapporo?

Yes. If you are used to drive in the snow, you might better rent a car in eastern Hokkaido where public transportation in Dec is in convenient. There still are some buses/trains though. You will have plenty of time to plan your trip so do research to decide where to go (in Hokkaido and other places in Japan). Enjoy!
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 22:00
You should be aware that a lot of shops and restaurants will be closed January 1-3. So, if you're only going to spend one day in Kobe, you might want to do it before Osaka rather than on January 3.

Kyoto/Kobe/Osaka are all very close together, so it wouldn't make too much difference in overall travel time if you were to reverse the order of Kobe and Osaka.
by Umami Dearest rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 22:55
Thanks for the help everybody! Good point about Kobe, I'll move that around.

I'm still a bit lost on ideas after the 24th, between Hokkaido and Kyoto. Is Sendai worth visiting for a couple of days, or are there any other areas between the two cities that would warrant a trip?

I know we have loads of time to plan, but it's nice to get some early advice so we don't completely go down the wrong track.
by Henry H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 30 day December 2019 itinerary 2019/1/27 23:37
Honestly, it sort of depends on you and your interests? I've been to the Sendai area on 3 different trips, but only overnighted once in the city. There are still many areas I've missed. Places i've enjoyed close to Sendai include: Hiraizumi, Matsushima, and Sendai itself. My 8 year old (then 7) really enjoyed Matsushima. We've not been in the Winter though, so you would need to check hours of operation at any of the sights that appealed to you. I enjoyed visiting Aoba Castle and Zuihoden, but at the time I was visiting various sights connected to the Warring States period.

However for full disclosure, I also really like Nagano. lol I think I am in the minority on this forum since I enjoy the actual city. I think Zenkoji is fabulous. I've also been to Ueda and a bunch of smaller sights not listed on this forum connected to the Warring States period. I was there for koyo, it might not be as attractive in December. I also loved Matsumoto.

Even if you start at Hakodate on a trip straight to Nagano you're looking at close to 5.5 hours on the train. It's a shorter trip than it use to be, but it's still rather long at one go. Sendai/Nikko will make your trip to Kansai a bit easier as from Nagano you either need to: take a Limited Express to Nagoya and then catch the shinkansen, back track to Tokyo and take a shinkansen, or do a long route from Nagano up to Kanazawa down to Kyoto. Personally, Kanazawa is another city I really liked, but it really depends on how much time you want to spend on trains.

Most of the best onsen are going to be a car trip or bus ride away from major stations. So while say Nagano Prefecture has some great onsen, most of those onsen are going to be a 30+ minute trip from a shinkansen station.

For example, since it might be considered ski season in November, there might be direct buses from Sendai Station to Zao onsen in Yamagata. You could then onsen in yamagata and then take the bus to Yamagata or Kaminoyama onsen and then take the shinkansen back to Tokyo Station.

There are onsen on your way south from Hakodate. Again it's really about figuring out what you want to do.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

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