I guess it depends on your travel personality and how much time you are prepared to invest in planning BEFORE as opposed to DURING the trip. And the degree of flexibility you want to achieve.
I personally travelled 1,5 yrs ago for 2 months alone through Japan by bicycle. That needs more preparation as I also needed to understand how road conditions etc were which isnft important for you.
My advice for you:
- make a list of places you want to go. \> I found JG webpage very helpful for that. But you need to drill down a lot. Youfll probably need to invest a full weekend at least to get that done. I would also use some other resources such as a traditional guide book (I like rough guides) and other webpage like JNTO (https://www.japan.travel/en/
- class them into your PERSONAL must-gos and nice-to-have
- I would NOT spend that much time with YouTube or pages with peoples opinions (TripAdvisor) or blogs (I am saying that although I have my own blog :-) http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/
) Reason: I have lived in Japan for about 3 years and frankly a lot of the advice on the personal pages come from people who have been in Japan only on vacation and have not really an understanding of Japan. Plus somehow a lot of people admire kind of anything in Japan and find anything mind blowing. Including totally mundane things. While the problem with trip advisor is that it hypes those places where a lot of other foreign tourists go. Rather than giving off the beaten track advise.
- overall I would start in Hokkaido simply because of weather. Actually if you can move those first days from Tokyo to Hokkaido (ie start in Hokkaido) I think that would be better as it will still be soooo hot in Tokyo
- generally I would then work downwards from Hokkaido through Tohoku (an area often overlooked).
- one important decision for you to take upfront which will be a bit hard is if and if yes WHICH rail pass you want to buy. You can actually buy all of them in Japan. A few are however a bit more expensive than buying before. But for 5 weeks you can maybe work with regional passes. There is a lot of information on the many different passes on JG
- look at the weather forecast a few days out and reroute accordingly
- be prepared to drop some locations. Eg if weather isnft cooperating or if you just liked some other place more and spent more time there.
- reserve the accommodation for the next day latest the evening before (just my personal advice) I liked to know that I had a roof for tonight AND tomorrow before going to sleep. (I used Jalan webpage for my reservation: https://www.jalan.net/
) but I am not sure if the English version has all the accommodation. You could try the Japanese version though, however there tends to be a lot of fine print (eg some capsule hotels are male only)
- consider if youfd ever be tempted to hire a car. If yes, prepare BEFORE coming to Japan what youfd need in regards to driving license (depends on your countryfs license) (However generally in Japan you should relay on trains. But in remote areas eg Shimokita peninsula- the location of Osorezan in the north of Aomori Prefecture) a car is of benefit)
- if during your planning stage you see that there is a festival somewhere that you absolutely want to attend or something else like that, get your accommodation there ASAP.
- but otherwise overall I would keep a certain flexibility as you are traveling alone but I wouldnft go totally on an adventure trip. But thatfs obviously my travel style and personality.
Enjoy planning your trip to Japan!