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Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/17 00:38
Hi, for my next visit to Japan I'm planning to go to the Alpine area (this will be my fourth trip to Japan) in February. Sadly, since I'm planning to visit snowy Shirakawago it looks like I won't be able to visit the Alpine Route as it is closed during winter time. To be honest, it's very difficult to only pick one of them but since I've never experienced Japan winter, I'm leaning towards snowy Shirakawago this time.

After doing quite a bit of research, I'm planning to follow this route here:
https://www.japan-guide.com/g9/7552_02_1503.gif

But one change I would like to make is from Matsumoto, instead of going to Shinano Omachi, I'm planning to visit Nagano then Kurobe Onsen and Toyama (since I won't be visiting the Alpine Route). Also, from Kanazawa I'm planning to go through Shirakawago and Takayama before returning back to Nagoya.

Do you think it will be a good route? Do you have any recommendation on other places that are also worth visiting around the area? And, how long should I spend in each place? I reckon 1 day each should be enough?

Thanks!
by Calvinize  

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/17 16:54
I would delete Toyama (itfs not very interesting) and replace it with Kanazawa. Not sure if in February the garden is going to be spectacular but you will have the castle, samurai houses and a number of nice temples to visit.

Regarding Kurobe, from Toyama direction you can only arrive until Unazuki onsen, but the Kurobe gorge railway is also closed in winter. I have not stayed in unazuki onsen, but when I passed through it i thought it was a rather uninspiring town of big hotels only.

I would replace it by Shibu Onsen, a small ones village in Nagano Prefecture from where you can visit the snow monkeys in Jigokudani.

We donft know how many days you plan for this trip. I would roughly advise for about a week. You also donft have any ski destination on your list. This obviously depends on you and if you want to go skiing but you do come through some of the best areas on Honshu for it.

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

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/18 01:09
Thank you for your response!

Toyama is a bit special because there's this anime studio there that bases a lot of their anime's settings to Toyama (specifically Nanto) area, so to me it kinds of an anime pilgrimage thing. I won't be spending a lot of time there though, probably one day max.

Kanazawa is actually on my list too! From reading the Japan Guide page for Kanazawa it sure looks like an interesting place.

Oh no I didn't know that Kurobe gorge railway is closed. That's too bad. Planning for a winter trip is much tougher huh. I might cross it out from my itinerary then. To be honest I've never heard of Kurobe prior to this anyway.

As for Shibu Onsen, it's also already on my list for Nagano! I'm hoping to spend a night there (or maybe a day trip, let's see).

I apologize for not mentioning the length of my trip. Silly me. I'm going for 2 weeks. If I have some spare time after the Tateyama route I'm planning to go to other areas too (haven't decided what yet, I'm still researching).

I'm also not planning to do any ski this trip because I'll be bringing my parents along, who are already quite elderly so they don't quite enjoy skiing (they specifically requested to not do any ski).
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/18 04:40
For February my suggestion is to stay as much as possible on the Tokyo / Osaka / Kyoto side of Japan, as weather there is normally very nice. Cold, but sunny and dry.

On the Japan sea side things get cold and snowy. I can see a nice trip through the snow, but maybe for the rest of the days you spend in Japan, try to Pacific coast for it's better weather.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/19 12:50
I come from a tropical country so I'm actually looking forward to all the snow!

After a bit of research, I think I have my itinerary half-filled. Here's what I have so far:
Day 1: Nagoya -> Matsumoto (city tour)
Day 2: Matsumoto -> Nagano (brief city tour) -> Shibu Onsen (drop off luggage) -> Jigokudani Monkey Park -> Shibu Onsen
Day 3: Shibu Onsen -> Nagano -> Toyama (drop off luggage) -> Anime Tour -> Toyama
Day 4: Toyama -> Kanazawa (city tour)
Day 5: Kanazawa -> Shirakawago -> Kanazawa (day trip)
Day 6: Kanazawa -> Takayama (city tour)
Day 7: Takayama -> Nagoya (brief city tour)
Day 8: Nagoya -> Magome -> Tsumago -> Nagoya (day trip)

As you can see, I still have a lot of days left and I'm not sure what more to squeeze in. I might stretch out my days in Nagano a bit but to be honest I don't think there's a lot of activity I can do in the city. I have crossed out Kurobe because you mentioned that it will not be accessible in winter anyway.

I'm also seeing Shiga Kogen (ski resort), Iiyama (snow festival), Karuizawa (small city), Kusatsu (onsen) mentioned several times during my research but I'm not sure if they're really must-visits (feel free to correct me). If there's really nothing else to do in Nagano-Toyama-Gifu area I might consider visiting other regions that I haven't explored, but let's see.
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/19 16:00
For me (slow traveler) this itinerary is way too fast.

Day 1: Nagoya -> Matsumoto (city tour)
Day 2: Matsumoto -> Nagano (brief city tour) -> Shibu Onsen (drop off luggage) -> Jigokudani Monkey Park -> Shibu Onsen
I would stay that day in Nagano and I would stay 2 nights in Shibu Onsen. Ie leave on day 3 for Shibu Onsen. On the way to Shibu Onsen you could also visit Obuse.
The problem of your current plan is that you donft have enough time in the afternoon. In Japan in general but obviously in winter even more it gets dark really early and things close. So I think it is better to spend the night before visiting the monkeys already in Shibu Onsen (or closeby ) so you can go there directly. Depending on the mode of transport you choose iltgere is also a small hike you need to do. Once you have seen the monkeys itfs time for you to experience the onsen. But you can do that only if you stay in Shibu Onsen (theyfll give you the keys). Shibu Onsen is also a nice quaint village which you can visit a bit.
Day 3: Shibu Onsen -> Nagano -> Toyama (drop off luggage) -> Anime Tour -> Toyama
Day 4: Toyama -> Kanazawa (city tour)
in order to avoid too many hotel changes I would stay after the anime tour in Kanazawa instead of Toyama. Itfs not about 20 min by Shinkansen from Toyama to Kanazawa and the last train is very late . you could drop your bags during the day in a locker at Toyama station. I personally would also add a day more to Kanazawa. If you are looking for more things to do, Noto peninsula is really nice and has some great onsen. But that part is best visited with a car.
Day 5: Kanazawa -> Shirakawago -> Kanazawa (day trip)
if you have a car and road conditions are okay (are you okay to drive on snow????) i would go to Ainokura instead of Shirakawa
Day 6: Kanazawa -> Takayama (city tour)
if you are looking for more you could spend a day or more in Hirayu onsen and hop from one rotenburo to the next. Bathing at its peak.
Day 7: Takayama -> Nagoya (brief city tour)
Day 8: Nagoya -> Magome -> Tsumago -> Nagoya (day trip)


With those additions you nearly have your 2 weeks full and could spend a few more days at the end /beginning eg in Nara or go to Hikone or maybe Ise. Assuming that you donft want to go to Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto.

Ps: regarding looking forward to the snow: that is all fine, but sightseeing 2 weeks under the snow might get a bit heavy. In Tokyo or general on the pacific side from Tokyo towards the south, weather will be cold (generally above 0 though) but generally sunny. So actually very good for sightseeing. And depending on when in February you can get the first ume (plum) flowers.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/19 16:41
Hmm. I think I can be considered as a fast traveller. I typically don't spend a lot of time in a single attraction and I'm constantly moving between spots. I personally like that way of travelling though since it means that I can visit a lot of different places.

I would stay that day in Nagano and I would stay 2 nights in Shibu Onsen. Ie leave on day 3 for Shibu Onsen. On the way to Shibu Onsen you could also visit Obuse.
The problem of your current plan is that you donft have enough time in the afternoon. In Japan in general but obviously in winter even more it gets dark really early and things close. So I think it is better to spend the night before visiting the monkeys already in Shibu Onsen (or closeby ) so you can go there directly. Depending on the mode of transport you choose iltgere is also a small hike you need to do. Once you have seen the monkeys itfs time for you to experience the onsen. But you can do that only if you stay in Shibu Onsen (theyfll give you the keys). Shibu Onsen is also a nice quaint village which you can visit a bit.


That actually is a very valid point! I haven't considered the time taken to see the monkeys and then get back to onsen for a bath. I won't do too much onsen hopping though. Probably will be taking a bath in the ryokan I'm staying while waiting for dinner to be served.

As for Obuse, I might be wrong but from looking at the Japan Guide page there doesn't to be anything there that interests me. It seems that it is famous for it's museum and old town (which houses various museums). Hard to admit but I'm not that fond of museums.

in order to avoid too many hotel changes I would stay after the anime tour in Kanazawa instead of Toyama. Itfs not about 20 min by Shinkansen from Toyama to Kanazawa and the last train is very late . you could drop your bags during the day in a locker at Toyama station. I personally would also add a day more to Kanazawa. If you are looking for more things to do, Noto peninsula is really nice and has some great onsen. But that part is best visited with a car.

So you propose I just leave my luggage in a locker in Toyama, go for the anime tour, return back to Toyama to grab my luggage and then go to Kanazawa by Shinkansen to check in at a hotel? Am I understanding it correctly?

Yeah I reckon that 1 day in Kanazawa is a bit too short considering that there are a lot of attractions there. Though some of them seem pretty similar (Higashi Chaya vs Nishi Chaya) and others are more like museums (Ninjadera), so I'm actually fine with not visiting each and every one of them. The only must-gos in my book so far for Kanazawa are Kenrokuen, Kanazawa Castle, Omicho Market, and Higashi Chaya. All of them are pretty close to each other so I believe I can cover them in a day. I'll have to spend an extra day if I want to visit the other attractions though.

Noto Peninsula looks amazing! I assume it will take a whole day right? Since it takes 60 mins to go there by JR Limited Express. Unfortunately I'm not getting a car in Japan so so you still recommend going there with public transport?

if you have a car and road conditions are okay (are you okay to drive on snow????) i would go to Ainokura instead of Shirakawa

No car :( planning to go to Shirakawago by bus. Hence the day trip.

Any particular reason of preferring Ainokura instead of Shirakawa? Just want to know since Shirakawa seems to be a more popular place for tourists.

if you are looking for more you could spend a day or more in Hirayu onsen and hop from one rotenburo to the next. Bathing at its peak.

Is Hirayu the one in Okuhida? Is the onsen spectacular? I'm afraid that if I spent too many days bathing in onsen I might get tired of them (and it gets expensive really quick especially if you have to stay in the ryokan). I'm aiming at around 2-3 onsen activities this trip so I want to make sure I'm picking the best possible spots.

With those additions you nearly have your 2 weeks full and could spend a few more days at the end /beginning eg in Nara or go to Hikone or maybe Ise. Assuming that you donft want to go to Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto.

Oh yeah maybe I should consider going to Hikone since I haven't visited the area yet. Never been near Lake Biwa before.

As for Nara, I've already visited it before and I'm not planning to visit it again this time (as much as I love the city). Should've mentioned the list of places that I have already visited before: Tokyo, Kamakura, Enoshima, Hakone, Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, Kurokawa, Beppu, Nikko.

Looking forward to visiting new places I haven't before (hence the focus on Nagano-Toyama-Gifu area).

Ps: regarding looking forward to the snow: that is all fine, but sightseeing 2 weeks under the snow might get a bit heavy. In Tokyo or general on the pacific side from Tokyo towards the south, weather will be cold (generally above 0 though) but generally sunny. So actually very good for sightseeing. And depending on when in February you can get the first ume (plum) flowers.

If I have extra time in Tokyo (since I have to go to Tokyo for my flight back anyway), I'm considering going to Nikko. I visited there once before but I wasn't able to complete everything in a day since I spent too much time walking between attractions there. Haha.

And, where do you suggest I can see first ume flowers?

Anyway, I really appreciate your replies. Thanks a lot for the input :)
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/19 17:51
Sure everyone has different travel styles and interests. So no problem if you want to get it done more quickly and no offense taken if you arenft into the museum in Obuse and elsewhere.

Let me try some answers:
1) Toyama /Kanazawa accommodation : yes you understood well my suggestion. Just so you can avoid a hotel change .
2) Ainokura is much less touristy than Shirakawa but it is also more difficult to access. Which is obviously the reason for being less touristy. Without a car it might be challenging to get there though.
3) Noto peninsula: I have only been by car and sorry cannot comment on accessibility by public transport.
4) Hirayu onsen, yes this is in Okuhida and if in your entire trip you only go to one onsen, it should be one if these here. I stayed in Hirayu no mori and absolutely loved it.http://hirayunomori.co.jp/ With dinner and breakfast I wouldnft say that it was specially pricy.
I am a big fan of onsen and specially of rotenburo. Here my personal list of onsen preference across Japan: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/search/label/Onsen+Practicaliti...
5) in Shibu Onsen Ifd do at least one of the public onsen just for the sightseeing effect of it. They are scattered through the village small buildings. A few quite traditional. If you are there for a night anyway it wonft be a lot of time. You could also not reserve dinner in your hotel and have dinner in a restaurant in Shibu Onsen. I remember a Karaage place along the Main Street which was excellent (and youfd be able to spend a bit less money than in Ryokan dinner )
6) for new places you could add Ise to your list from Nagoya and /or Chichibu from Tokyo.
7) regarding ume there is a list of places on Japan guide webpage. However it depends when in February you are here. In Tokyo a famous spot is Koishikawa korakuen , but I was there on the first day of February this year and it was too early. An other spot is Keio Mogusaen close to Takahatafudo (which is nice too) http://www.keio-mogusaen.jp/feature.html this probably best end of February??? Plus there are several more inside Tokyo.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/19 20:31
2) Ainokura is much less touristy than Shirakawa but it is also more difficult to access. Which is obviously the reason for being less touristy. Without a car it might be challenging to get there though.

I looked a bit into it. It seems that Ainokura is only 45 mins bus ride away from Shirakawa. Should be quite accessible but I'll have to look into it further.

3) Noto peninsula: I have only been by car and sorry cannot comment on accessibility by public transport.

The Japan Guide page mentions that public transport is infrequent and inconvenient and rental car is recommended. Perhaps another time :/

4) Hirayu onsen, yes this is in Okuhida and if in your entire trip you only go to one onsen, it should be one if these here. I stayed in Hirayu no mori and absolutely loved it.http://hirayunomori.co.jp/ With dinner and breakfast I wouldnft say that it was specially pricy.
I am a big fan of onsen and specially of rotenburo. Here my personal list of onsen preference across Japan: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/search/label/Onsen+Practicaliti...


Woah that's your blog? Awesome you've even got a list of onsen and their ratings. Yeah I love rotenburo too. Last time I was in Kurokawa I skimped on ryokan and the rotenburo in my ryokan wasn't too impressive. I won't make the same mistake this time XD added to my list!

5) in Shibu Onsen Ifd do at least one of the public onsen just for the sightseeing effect of it. They are scattered through the village small buildings. A few quite traditional. If you are there for a night anyway it wonft be a lot of time. You could also not reserve dinner in your hotel and have dinner in a restaurant in Shibu Onsen. I remember a Karaage place along the Main Street which was excellent (and youfd be able to spend a bit less money than in Ryokan dinner )

Yeah since the Yamanouchi area is well-known for its onsen, I don't think it will sit well with me not trying bathing there at least once. I'll make arrangement on the ryokan thing after I have researched fully on Hirayu. Also, noted on the karaage place.

6) for new places you could add Ise to your list from Nagoya and /or Chichibu from Tokyo.

Ise looks great! It will be perfect as a day getaway from Nagoya. Added to my list.

As for Chichibu, it looks interesting but it seems that the main highlight there is fireworks festival in December or pink miss festival in spring, so I guess I'm out of season. It's quite close to Tokyo though so maybe next time!

7) regarding ume there is a list of places on Japan guide webpage. However it depends when in February you are here. In Tokyo a famous spot is Koishikawa korakuen , but I was there on the first day of February this year and it was too early. An other spot is Keio Mogusaen close to Takahatafudo (which is nice too) http://www.keio-mogusaen.jp/feature.html this probably best end of February??? Plus there are several more inside Tokyo.

Thanks for the list! It seems that by the time I'm in Tokyo it will be perfect for ume viewing. As it will be around mid February, so hopefully I might be able to catch it.

Found this as a general reference https://tokyocheapo.com/lifestyle/outdoors/plum-blossoms-in-tokyo/ but I'll look into it further!
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/20 10:03
2) Ainokura is much less touristy than Shirakawa but it is also more difficult to access. Which is obviously the reason for being less touristy. Without a car it might be challenging to get there though.

I looked a bit into it. It seems that Ainokura is only 45 mins bus ride away from Shirakawa. Should be quite accessible but I'll have to look into it further.

3) Noto peninsula: I have only been by car and sorry cannot comment on accessibility by public transport.

The Japan Guide page mentions that public transport is infrequent and inconvenient and rental car is recommended. Perhaps another time :/

4) Hirayu onsen, yes this is in Okuhida and if in your entire trip you only go to one onsen, it should be one if these here. I stayed in Hirayu no mori and absolutely loved it.http://hirayunomori.co.jp/ With dinner and breakfast I wouldnft say that it was specially pricy.
I am a big fan of onsen and specially of rotenburo. Here my personal list of onsen preference across Japan: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/search/label/Onsen+Practicaliti...


Woah that's your blog? Awesome you've even got a list of onsen and their ratings. Yeah I love rotenburo too. Last time I was in Kurokawa I skimped on ryokan and the rotenburo in my ryokan wasn't too impressive. I won't make the same mistake this time XD added to my list!

5) in Shibu Onsen Ifd do at least one of the public onsen just for the sightseeing effect of it. They are scattered through the village small buildings. A few quite traditional. If you are there for a night anyway it wonft be a lot of time. You could also not reserve dinner in your hotel and have dinner in a restaurant in Shibu Onsen. I remember a Karaage place along the Main Street which was excellent (and youfd be able to spend a bit less money than in Ryokan dinner )

Yeah since the Yamanouchi area is well-known for its onsen, I don't think it will sit well with me not trying bathing there at least once. I'll make arrangement on the ryokan thing after I have researched fully on Hirayu. Also, noted on the karaage place.

6) for new places you could add Ise to your list from Nagoya and /or Chichibu from Tokyo.

Ise looks great! It will be perfect as a day getaway from Nagoya. Added to my list.

As for Chichibu, it looks interesting but it seems that the main highlight there is fireworks festival in December or pink miss festival in spring, so I guess I'm out of season. It's quite close to Tokyo though so maybe next time!

7) regarding ume there is a list of places on Japan guide webpage. However it depends when in February you are here. In Tokyo a famous spot is Koishikawa korakuen , but I was there on the first day of February this year and it was too early. An other spot is Keio Mogusaen close to Takahatafudo (which is nice too) http://www.keio-mogusaen.jp/feature.html this probably best end of February??? Plus there are several more inside Tokyo.

Thanks for the list! It seems that by the time I'm in Tokyo it will be perfect for ume viewing. As it will be around mid February, so hopefully I might be able to catch it.

Found this as a general reference https://tokyocheapo.com/lifestyle/outdoors/plum-blossoms-in-tokyo/ but I'll look into it further!
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/20 10:07
Japan Guide forum is a bit weird huh, I submitted my reply yesterday but I had to resubmit again today for it to be posted. Luckily I was able to use the back button to resubmit it so I didn't have to type my response again from memory. Haha.
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/20 15:13
Even mid February might be a bit too early for ume. I just checked, I did a ume ride on 16/Feb this year and at the two places, both recommended ume spots in Tokyo , flowers were relatively few: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2019/02/hunting-for-plums.html?...

But eg if you go to Koishikawa Korakuen, it is anyway a nice, traditional Japanese garden and if you are lucky you get the shrieks of people rushing down the roller coaster next door :-)
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Tateyama Kurobe Trip from Nagoya 2019/3/20 17:56
Even mid February might be a bit too early for ume. I just checked, I did a ume ride on 16/Feb this year and at the two places, both recommended ume spots in Tokyo , flowers were relatively few: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2019/02/hunting-for-plums.html?...

I guess I can only keep my fingers crossed then.

But eg if you go to Koishikawa Korakuen, it is anyway a nice, traditional Japanese garden and if you are lucky you get the shrieks of people rushing down the roller coaster next door :-)

Hahaha that will be really funny XD I imagine calmly viewing the ume blossoms while hearing shrieks of excited people.

Anyway there's no harm in trying to visit Koishikawa Korakuen since it's pretty close to the city center anyway (at least there's a direct line from Akiba).

That's all the questions I have for now I guess. I might have to research more and discuss with my parents on places that they would really like to visit. Once again, thanks a lot for your replies. I really appreciate it.
by Calvinize rate this post as useful

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