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Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/24 04:00
Hi,

We (couple in our late 20s) are planning to visit the Japanese Alps area on our way back to Tokyo, from Hiroshima, in mid-to-late October.

We're looking for itinerary advice based on decent travel times (between cities) and visiting areas with our interests - relaxing environments with open air museums, light hikes, fall foliage, and historic sites/castles/gardens. We tried mapping this out, but geographical proximity doesn't correlate to travel times due to the different transportation modes. So, we come to the experts :-)

Beyond our interests above, I'm interested in Kanazawa (mainly garden, districts, & DT Suzuki museum), while the girlfriend is interested in the Jigokudani Monkey Park. We were also interested in Shirakawago & Takayama, but they seemed to be out of the way when plotting Kanazawa to Yamanouchi to Tokyo.

Altogether, we have ~5-6 days to spend between Hiroshima & Tokyo. Some questions:
- What locations would you recommend we visit that fit our interests?
- Is the Monkey Park in Yamanouchi worth it in late October (mating season) if we'll be visiting the monkey park in Kyoto earlier in our travels?

Thanks!
by Matt (guest)  

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/24 15:45
My suggestion would be:
2 nights in Kanazawa, city, culture, garden, museums
1 night in Takayama visiting Hida folk village instead of Shirakawago , old city
2 nights either in Kamikochi or in Hirayu onsen, light hiking, hopefully koyo and onsen
1 night in Matsumoto , castle

I canft speak to the monkeys as I have only seen the one in Yamanouchi but in February when they were really cute. The webpage of the monkey park does have a glifeh web cam, so you can check how many monkeys are there in the days before you plan to visit.

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

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/27 11:54
Hi LikeBike,

Thanks for the response. 2 Follow-up Qs:
- If we had to squeeze in a visit to the monkey park, what would you recommend we remove/reduce/change?
- I tried mapping out your suggested itinerary and I'm unable to find a transport mode between Takayama to Kamikochi & Kamikochi to Matsumoto; I used hyperdia and Google Maps. How should we get around in that area?

Thanks,
Matt
by Matt (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/27 12:55
I'll jump in as well, I like LikeBike's suggestion. You can bus from Takayama to Kamikochi and then bus or bus/train Kamikochi to Matsumoto. It is very cheap and a nice trip.

You should see monkeys at Kamikochi especially if you stay overnight, they are actually losing their fear of humans so if you are out and about early in the morning they are quite active. We stay at the Onsen Hotel there, the monkeys will come right out the front first thing in the morning before they move back into the forest. The Onsen Hotel also has a great rotenburo, and I am especially fond of their kaiseke which has an emphasis on natural food.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/27 14:41
If the Yamanouchi monkeys is what youfd like to see, Ifd propose a drastically different itinerary:

2-3 nights in Kanazawa, city, culture, garden, museums
1 Night in Unazuki onsen, or even better in Kuronagi onsen (I saw a lot of monkeys there while soaking myself), excursion into Kurobe gorge and light hiking, onsen
http://bicycletraveljapan.blogspot.com/2017/10/day-27-kurobe-gorge.htm...

1 night in Shibu Onsen visiting the Yamanouchi monkeys (as said I canft vouch for them in October), light hiking, onsen
Then either direct to Tokyo or one last night in either Nagano or Karuizawa. (My preference would be Karuizawa)

This itinerary would all be by train. However not all of them covered by JR pass. Trains in Kurobe gorge are quite expensive (for the short distance they are).

Enjoy your trip!


by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/29 09:05
Hi Lazy Pious & LikeBike,

Thanks a ton for the recommendations. If we can see monkeys in Kamikochi, we've decided that the ones in Yamanouchi aren't as critical (especially since it's mating season and it's not guaranteed that we'll catch them).

Our itinerary now looks exactly as LikeBike's initial one:
2 nights in Kanazawa, city, culture, garden, museums
1 night in Takayama visiting Hida folk village instead of Shirakawago , old city
2 nights either in Kamikochi or in Hirayu onsen, light hiking, hopefully koyo and onsen
1 night in Matsumoto , castle

I do have 2 questions on transportation & timing:
- I see a couple of Nohi Bus Passes (Takayama & Shin-Hotaka Two-Day Open Ticket
& Mitsuboshi Kaidou Three-Star Route Option Ticket), but I wasn't sure whether those would save any money.
- For instance, the Three-Star Route Option Ticket looks almost perfect, but there doesn't seem to be a stop in Kamikochi / Hirayu Onsen Area.

- We will be in Kamikochi/Hirayu Onsen area on a weekend (getting there Friday, leaving Sunday).
- I read that it gets quite packed on autumn weekends. Would you still recommend & does it matter whether we stay in Kamikochi or Hirayu Onsen?

Thanks!
by Matt (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/29 09:38
Hi, I can only really talk about Kamikochi as I havent been to the other. We were there at the end of October last year, by then the leaves have gone pretty brown as it is very cold, in fact there will be snow at the peaks most likely. It gets busy-ish during the day but not really at night. Busy-ish really means a bunch of people off tour buses all going through the tracks at once, rather than swarms of people everywhere.

Not sure about passes, we came through the other way - Matsumoto - Shinshimashima by a nice little train, then bus shinshimashima to Kamikochi main terminal, then a few days later bus from there to Takayama. Options are on the Kamikochi page of this site.

That rotenburo at Onsen Hotel is awesome that time of year, just perfect. Sometimes the monkeys are in the trees nearby but I've only seen that once.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/8/29 11:40
In my experience Kanazawa is one of the most rewarding city destinations in Japan. Beautiful garden, nice parks and great museums, some tips from my earlier stay there (https://bizarrejourneys.com/kanazawa) I was there last year at the end of the November and the fall colors were still hanging there. What a show. I hope that you will at least experience the beginning of color transformation in late October. D.T Suzuki Museum is also amazing, I ended up going there twice while in there. Make sure to also check out the back garden.

Shirakawa is a little bit too packed and too nice for my taste. The winter illumination is sure something to experience but I am not sure if I would include it in my itinerary for October. It feels more like a Disneyland rather than an actual town. Takayama is nice and I do like the variety of dining options there.
by Bizarre Journeys rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/9/1 04:46
Thanks for the tips on Kanazawa and the rotenburo at the Onsen Hotel!

For the rotenburo at the Onsen Hotel, do you know how late it is open on a Saturday?

We weren't able to find a site for it besides Expedia, tripadvisor, and other travel sites. We are trying to squeeze in both the rotenburo and the hirayunomori onsen (which closes at 9PM).

Thanks.
by Matt (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese Alps 5/6-Day Itinerary 2019/9/1 06:24
Hi, if you are staying there the onsen is open pretty much 24 hours but the public can use it for an admission fee between certain times in the day, like 10AM to 3PM but I cant remember for sure.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

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