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Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/10 08:51
Hi there -we are putting the final touches on our plan for Japan. Our fear is that we are trying to do too much! We are planning on the Japan Alps Oct 7th -Oct 11th . The Kiso Valley looks so nice and we want that village feeling. But I have heard some say that it's not worth it. We don't want to spend all of the time on buses and trains. We are from western Canada and so I wonder if Kamicoche is too much like Jasper/Banff where we go quite a lot! Thinking we need to pick and choose. I know that overnight at an onsen (we like the Okuhida Region) and Takayama for the fall festival (Oct 9th and 10th) are must dos for me. Then we have choices. We are not driving so reliant on buses. Options below -love any advice -
Oct 7th –Tokyo –Magome –hike and overnight in Kiso Valley
Oct 8th –Kiso Valley to Okuhida (long trip but doable) overnight in Okuhida
Oct 9th –Okuhida -Takayama –all day festival (overnight in Takayama)
Oct 10th –Takayama and bus trip to Shirakawa-go or more Takayama if we feel like it (overnight in Takayama)
Oct 11th –to Kyoto
Cons with this plan -we miss Matsumoto and Kamicoche
Oct 7th –Tokyo –Matsumoto - Okuhida
Oct 8th –Okuhida --Kamicoche -Takayama
Oct 9th –Takayama –all day festival
Oct 10th –Takayama –Magome-hike overnight kiso valley
Oct 11th –Kiso Valley to Kyoto
Cons -we miss Shirakawa go
Oct 7th –Tokyo –Matsumoto - Okuhida
Oct 8th –Okuhida --Kamicoche -Takayama
Oct 9th –Takayama –all day festival
Oct 10th –Takayama –Shirakawa-overnight or back to Takayama
Oct 11th –to kyoto
Cons -we miss Kiso Valley

tough to find that right balance between seeing a lot and just running from place to place!
Thanks for your help
by Jac44  

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/10 10:13
I havent been to Okuhida but I have been to Kamikochi a few times, Shirakawa once, and Takayama lots.

I'd take your first plan because I think it gives a more varied outcome and flows a bit better transport wise.

Okuhida looks a lot like Kamikochi and I wouldnt go to Kamikochi unless you are staying overnight as during the day it is noisy and full of bus daytrippers which kind of ruins it. Overnight it is awesome, especially at the Onsen Hotel which has a great rotenburo.

Also there isnt really anything all that historical at Kamikochi whereas there is at Magome in particular. I wasnt that impressed with the Tsumago/Magome walk but I had high expectations and I think with low expectations it would be a lot more fun.

Dont expect too much from Shirakawago either. It is very pretty but not an amazing experience. Now that I have lowered your expectations you should have more fun. I dont just piddle on things for the fun of it. I would just do Shirakawa-go on the trip between Takayama and Kanazawa, it really only needs 2 - 3 hours unless you are staying overnight.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/10 11:24

I've not been to Banff or Jasper, but I have traveled through out Colorado. I think... from that perspective even an overnight in Kamikochi might be disappointing for you outside of the onsen.

Personally, if it were me I would include Matumoto and cut Shirakawa Go. I am very opinionated, so fair warning, but I felt like Shirakawa Go was a tourist trap back in early 2010 when the region wasn't getting bus loads of foreign tourists. I think if you want to see gassho zukuri just go to the Hida no Sato Folk Village. It's more of an actual museum vs. lots of shops and restaurants in traditional buildings. It's well done and easier to get to, or you can travel from Takayama to Kanazawa and over night there and then take the train down to Kyoto from Kanazawa. I don't know how many gardens you're going to but Kenrokuen is considered one of the better ones.

A lot of the mountainous scenery people talk about is not going to seem impressive if you are used to the Rockies. It's not that it isn't nice, it's just less impressive in comparison.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/10 16:49
I think onsen is really something unique you canft have in Canada. So I would spend 1-2 nights inOku Hida region. You could dedicate a full day (or more) just to onsening. Total bliss.

I havenft been to Shirakawa but I was in Gokayama and Ainokura. Gokayama was ok, Ainokura very nice. I also was in the Hida folk village. If the choice is folk village or Shirakawa i would go to the folk village although it is not a real village but you just need to invest less time and there are less tourists (I went on a very rainy day and had it nearly to myself: http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2017/10/day-29-from-toyama-to-t...)

I went to Tsumago and Magome about 10-15 yrs ago and did like it then. But I canft speak to how it has evolved. It seems to be on the must-see list of a bit too many tourists.

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

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/11 00:08

I like onsen, but I don't know if I would still want to spend 2 days in the Okuhida region. There are onsen hotels in Takayama proper. @Lazy Pious often recommends and I enjoyed as well the Associa in Takayama. It has two floors of onsen with great mountain views. It's a ways out of town and though it has a free shuttle I hate being dependent on it. But if something like that won't bother you, it is there. The onsen are spectacular.

I tend to be a fast to moderate tourer, so that also comes into play.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/11 05:43
All Ifd say is that a lovely countryside ryokan with onsen in somewhere like OkuHida is nothing like a modern-style hotel with hot spring baths.
Theyfre both good for what they do - but they do quite different things.
by Winter Visitor rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/11 07:50
That is very true. We tend to stay at ryokans for 2 nights, then onsen hotels for 2 nights and so on. Staying at ryokans is awesome but quite regimented with food times, beds being put away etc, also we struggle with kaiseke more than 2 days in a row due to the quantity of food. Hotel Associa is one of the places that we stay to essentially have a break in the ryokan routine.

by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japan Alps, deciding between plans 2019/6/11 09:09
Thank you everyone.

Yes we would like the rural , rustic onsen experience and booked Yarikamen on Okuhida for 1 night (Oct 7th). I think we will play the next day on our way to Takayama by ear and weather and either head straight to Takayama or if we feel like more mountain scenery the ropeway or hiking. we are staying at Auberge Hidanomori in Takayama, It is western with a traditional bent and a little out of town but the owners seem lovely and shuttle. Great reviews.
I think after spending Oct 9th in Takayama for the festival, we will head either stay in Takayama the next day if we feel there is more to see or go to S Go and around.
As we are from a place with beautiful mountain scenery, we are more interested in traditional towns, food, festivals, onsen rural hospitality and lifestyle and architecture-things we can't get in Canada.
I think Kiso Valley will be redundant to Takayama and too much running around-there decision made. Thanks for your help.
by Jac44 rate this post as useful

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