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Nagano, Nakasendo, Shirakawago, Takayama? 2019/5/10 06:15
I will be traveling to Japan for 11 days with my college-age daughter in late May and would like some opinion about our travels through the Japanese Alps portion of our trip - whether it would be too busy or taxing with lodging changes every night for 5-6 days straight. We plan to travel light (carry-on luggage only), use the JR Pass and Nohi Bus. Light hiking, onsen (Shibu, Okuhida), nature (Jigokudani Monkey Park, light hike around Okuhida) and traversing to see traditional Japan (Nakasendo, Shirakawago) is the goal for this trip. I do speak Japanese, however, it is only my daughters' 3rd time visiting Japan.

Originally we were planning to stay 2 nights in Takayama just to avoid too many more moves and just do a day trip to Shirakawago, but an opportunity to stay in a gassho-house minshuku with nice reviews came up (something I was originally interested in), and so, now we are debating to split up our Takayama area stay with an overnight in Shirakawago.

Day 1: Arrive HND 2pm. To Yokohama for 2 nights.
Day 2: Day in Yokohama or day/evening trip to Shibuya/Harajuku
Day 3: To JR Fujisawa hotel for 2 nights - Day in Enoshima
Day 4: Day in Kamakura

Day 5: To Shibu Onsen via JR Nagano. Jigokudani Monkey Park. Overnight in Shibu Onsen.

Day 6: To JR Nakatsugawa (Magome). Nakasendo walk for the afternoon. Overnight in Tsumago (we will send our luggage from Magome-Tsumago)

Day 7: Tsumago (JR Nagiso) to Okuhida Onsen via JR Matsumoto/Nohi Bus, with quick tour of Matsumoto Castle en route. (luggage in Matsumoto station locker). Overnight in Okuhida Onsen.

Day 8: Bus from Okuhida Onsen to Shirakawago. Overnight in Shirakawago.

Day 9: Bus back to Takayama. Overnight in Takayama (close to station).

Day 10: JR Takayama to JR Ueno/Asakusa. Overnight in Ueno/Asakusa (close to station)
Day 11: AM in Ueno/Asakusa. Depart for NRT PM for early evening flight

As you can see, from Day 5 to Day 9 we are "moving" every morning to a new location with our small luggages. The JR trains and Nohi buses seem to be reliable and relaxing modes of transportation, but I didn't know if the constant moves would get taxing really fast.

Also, in another post, I read that Jigokudani Monkey Park in the summer may not be worth the visit, but would that be the case in late May as well?

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks.
by akfinsmf (guest)  

Re: Nagano, Nakasendo, Shirakawago, Takayama? 2019/5/10 08:07
With Takayama to Ueno a long trip, why not organise Takayama-Matsumoto-Nagano-Ueno into the plan? It does look like a lot of stops/changes and travelling. Personally I think an over-night in Shirakawa wouldn't be worth the hassle when a few hours in the small village is more than enough.

Just on the Jigokudani - the monkeys are worth visiting throughout the year, and summer is one of the nice times with the walk through the forest.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Nagano, Nakasendo, Shirakawago, Takayama? 2019/5/10 08:46
Two questions:
1) why do you change hotel between Yokohama and Fujisawa? They are reasonably close and Fujisawa isnft a specially pretty place. (If you want pretty it would be Enoshima or Kamakura)
2) have you made your maths that a JRP is going to pay off? I am not a great expert on it, but you have a lot of bus and also the train from Nagano to the monkeys where you canft use the pass. And you donft have any very far distance trip. It just sounds that it might not pay off.

For the Gassho village I think I am with you and would like to try a stay in one of the farmhouses. It also gives you gaccessh to Shirakawa before/after the tourists.

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

Re: Nagano, Nakasendo, Shirakawago, Takayama? 2019/5/10 09:27
Thank you for your thoughts.
1) For expedience, I decided not to explore too much of Nagano or Matsumoto cities (castle was the only main interest), so that we can spend more time in Nakasendo, Takayama, Shirakawago and the Onsen areas (Shibu, Hirayu/Okudate) hiking and relaxing.
2) Thank you about the Monkey Park!
3) Yokohama to Fujisawa: yes, I debated the move too, (and thank you about Fujisawa, I didn't know) but I didn't mention - we are meeting up with a friend and exploring Enoshima/Kamakura together. She will be staying in Ofuna for two days. So I just chose the most cost-effective hotel close to JR, Monorail and Enoden so that we can also get an early start toward Nagano. Accommodations in Kamakura or beach were either sold out, too pricey or lot of dormitories. But to your point, we may still reconsider.
4) JR Pass - yes, I did calculate and because we plan to go to JR Nagano, JR Takayama, and Kiso Valley (Nakasendo), it's already over 31,000 yen before adding the NRT Express or any Tokyo JR trains we may ride within Tokyo the last day.

Additional comments welcome!
by akfinsmf (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nagano, Nakasendo, Shirakawago, Takayama? 2019/5/10 17:31
dont have to add very much, but to say i am envious on your trip :-)

just wanted to tell about monkey park: i saw it in autumn and also in summer and actually there was not much difference from monkey appearance. even in summer they were soaking. but probably a matter of luck. the benefit was, it were less tourists in summer.

in any case this area (jigokudani valley) is nice to have a walk - so even in the case the monkeys are not in that amount as they are there in winter, it is a nice stroll through the valley. in the worst case, you simply make it an onsen hopping tour and enjoy the many onsens of shibu on the way...

by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: Nagano, Nakasendo, Shirakawago, Takayama? 2019/5/10 20:12
Hi. I don't see any problem with daily changes in those towns though I like takayama for a longer stay. Most check ins are 3pm or so, so you can leave the travel until late and do your stuff in the morning.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

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