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Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/28 19:44
Hello everyone,

I'm putting together a trip in May next year together with my wife. We would arrive in Tokyo on Sunday May 10th (the last day of Gold Week) and fly home from Osaka on Saturday May 30th.

Currently my itinerary looks as following (very basic):
6 days in the Tokyo area (this includes arriving day)
4 days in the Japanese Alps
6 days in the Kyoto/Osaka Area
4 days in the Hiroshima Area (we plan to cycle the Shimanami Kaido; this explains the relatively long period here)

In the Japanese Alps my itinerary is the following:
Saturday May 16th:
Travel from Tokyo to Kanazawa. Spend time in Kanazawa (overnight in Kanazawa).

Sunday May 17th:
Spend potentially the morning in Kanazawa. Travel to Takayama. Spend time in Takayama (overnight in Takayama).

Monday May 18th:
Spend time in Takayama (overnight in Takayama (?))

Tuesday May 19th:

From what I've read is that what I already planned out should be perfectly doable (although maybe a little but rushed, but for us it's fine), so I'm wondering what I can realistically add before travelling to Kyoto.

1. I think the Kiso valley with the Magome/Tsumago walk would be lovely, but I think it's just to much of a hassle to get there (+ we would be carrying around our lugage).

2. Same for the Alpine route that would just take us to far out of our next destination (also applicable to the Kurobe Gorge I think)

3. Okuhida would perhaps be a good idea (we would like to enjoy a nice onsen experience during our trip, but I worry it will be a REALLY slow day if we go there).

4. A day trip to Shirakawago where we spend a third night in Takayama (I read A LOT of good things about Shirakawago, but it doesn't really get me excited, should I reevaluate my position on this?)

5. A day trip to Kamikochi (and thus spending a third night in Takayama). As we do love to do walking/hiking I've also put this on the list to checkout.

Besides adding an additional day somewhere else, what seem to be the best/most logical solutions to spend an additional day?

Thanks a lot for any input!!
by Martin (guest)  

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/29 11:15
If the Kiso Valley sounds like something you'd like, don't be put off by luggage issues. Just take a backpack for overnight stays and forward the rest of your luggage. http://www.global-yamato.com/en/hands-free-travel/
I loved Tsumago and Magome, and Shirakawago is the worst kept secret so not as special as it could be.
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/29 14:52
Frankly I think the decision is yours based on how interested you are in those spots on your list vs your willingness to travel to them.

I personally would agree that Magome/Tsumago is just a bit too much out of the way.
Shirakawago seems to be flooded by tourist. My personal choice would be without doubt Okuhida and a relaxing day soaking in an onsen. But then I donft like hiking.

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

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/29 17:55
That sounds a plan (not been to Okuhida but sounds good). I wouldnt go to Kamikochi as a day trip as it is overrun by busloads of noisy tourists and you are getting all of the crap with none of the best bits. But if you stay overnight and get out first thing in the morning when the monkeys might be about, it is quite peaceful and beautiful.

We have stayed a few times at the Kamikochi Onsen Hotel which has a great rotenburo and serves a really good kaiseki with an emphasis on natural food, I couldnt say enough good things about it. And the staff speak good english as they tend to work at the Hakuba in the ski season. Just make sure you book a river view room, the ones on the other side look very small.

So I'd look to get to Kamikochi mid afternoon and enjoy the more peaceful times.

Takayama is one of our favorite places, by the way. Onsens, beef, pudding, and squirrels - who could want more than that?
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/29 23:07
Honestly, it depends on the weather how busy Kamikochi is, but if you enjoy hiking, I would recommend it. Since you like biking there is also the Gattan Go Canyon course a ways from Takayama. I have not done it because my child is too short, but it looks fun.

Good luck
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/30 07:00
Hello everyone, OP here!

I think I'm almost there in terms of scheduling, although I guess it's a tad rushed, but I feel it's a good compromise.

Travelling from Tokyo to Kanazawa and spend the day there (overnighting in Kanazawa).

If we still want to do something in Kanazawa, we check it in the morning, afterwards we take the train to Takayama and spend the remainder of the day there (we overnight in Takayama).

We spend the morning in Takayama, take the bus to Okuhida and enjoy the afternoon/evening soaking in the onsens (ideal moment to relax, it would be the half way point in our trip). (we overnight in Okuhida)

We do a day trip to Kamikochi (overnighting a second night in Okuhida).

We travel onto our next destination.

We actually still want to go to the Kiso Valley, but the only options would be:
- Travel from Okuhida to the Kiso Valley in 1 go on the twentieth. I don't think this is feasible if you want to be able to really enjoy the walk between Tsumago and Magome. (even if we overnight there).

- Travel from Okuhida to Matsumoto, spend the afternoon and take the train to the Kiso valley, spend the night there and do Magome/Tsumago the next day (so 21/05). While that does seem realistic I don't think it's worth all the trouble (we didn't plan to go to Matsumoto as it would be primarily the castle, and we'll be visiting Himeji at the end of the trip).

So I could technically make room for it in the itinerary, it seems best to just set the Kiso valley aside and have an excuse to come back to Japan :)

Thoughts? While I am aware that we could most likely get more out of Kanazawa & Takayama, but I feel it should be enough, I don't really intend to make room for an additional day in the Alps.
by OP (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/30 15:23
Regarding Kiso Valley , will you be going to Kyoto /Osaka area in your trip? If you have a day there maybe you could do the Yamanobe michi trail.


I went to Magome/Tsumago about 15 years ago and did like the two villages and the walk between them. But hearing how many people have this trail now on their to- do list makes me wonder if those two places arenft completely overrun by tourists... (I canft be sure, other people here on the forum have visited more recently). However due to it being a bit farther away in order to go there you essentially need to spend a night there.

While Yamanobe no michi you can do as a daytrip from Kansai.

I cycled in parallel to it this year in GW and thought that the landscape was really nice and there are some nice totally untouristic villages along the route.

You can the still come back in the future to do Magome-Tsumago.

Enjoy your trip to Japan!

PS: happy to hear you decided for Okuhida. It was definitely one of my best onsen experiences when riding around Japan:


by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/30 20:47
@ LikeBike - we were in the Kiso Valley last December and at that stage it wasn't overrun. It was a lovely area. It would have more tourists than when you went there, but it wasn't a tourist trap like Shirakawago, Kanazawa (especially Higashi chaya) or Otaru. It's like how Kyoto 9 years ago was less busy than Kyoto now. On our most recent trip, Ainokura, Gujo Hachiman and the Kiso Valley were the favourites.
by Sal1980 rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps itinerary questions 2019/7/30 23:13
I went to Kanazawa in June 2018,but didn't go to Higashi Chaya, and didn't find it crazy with tourists vs. Kyoto and Osaka. I found Shirakawa Go a tourist trap in 2010 even not overrun with tourists.

However I would second yamanobe no michi or pretty much any tourist area near Asuka, Sakurai, and any temple going towards Nabari on the Kintetsu line.

It's so surpringly close to Osaka but feels so different. Some places in Kyoto are fine but some are mob scenes. Fushimi Inari compares closet to Tokyo Disney, and we were there on a hot humid day in June. We got there about 8 and despite some pictures we were never alone and we did the upper loop.

Honestly, if you really want to do Kiso I would see if you can take a day elsewhere. Also make sure to check train times from Toyama to Takayama. There are only 4 direct Hidas a day and the 4 locals a day stop before Takayama and you have a layover. The route is a lot less frequent than Nagoya to Takayama.

Good luck
by rkold rate this post as useful

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