LikeBike, I think I have reached a compromise around the itinerary between yours and mine. Firstly, I have dropped both Hagi and Kagoshima. The latter one is particularly a great bummer, but it is indeed too far away to crunch between those already rushed days. Some days and directions will be a bit different than yours, but that is to accommodate Koyou (even though it is from 2018, I use the calendar from http://www.nihon-kankou.or.jp/kouyou/
), bus availability and some of the reservations which have already been made (though I am not locked to them since I can cancel anytime, there is the risk of not getting the place on another date).
Here's how it turned out:Oct 14-15:
Takayama and Shirakawa-Go [one night in Takayama]Oct 16-17:
Norikura and Kamikochi [stationed at Shin-Hirayu]
This is very similar to my original, but I start from Takayama at the get-go to give time for the city and
Shirakawa-Go. In the Norikura region, one day would be for Norikuradake/Norikura Kogen and the other for Kamikochi, going back to Tokyo by evening.Oct 18-19: Tokyo & QuarterfinalsOct 20-23: Aizu-Wakamatsu/Urabandai/Yamadera/ShimokitaOct 24-25: Sapporo and WakkanaiOct 26-27: Tokyo & Semifinals
I think it is very difficult to change this week specifically due to the distance traveled. It is somewhat effective since it begins in Tokyo and leads all the way up to Hokkaido (allowing for a Tohoku-Hokkaido pass). I really
wanted to go to Nyuto Onsen/Akita-Komagatake and that was the place in lieu of Aizu-Wakamatsu originally, but Nyuto Onsen won't allow single travelers and buses to Akita-Komagatake only run on weekends, so... =(Oct 28-29:
Takamatsu/KotohiraOct 29-Oct 31: Iya ValleyNov 1-3:
Tokyo & Final
Your idea to group all of Western Japan in one go after
the final is very pleasant and I would definitely follow it if not for other restrictions, namely that there will be no more buses to Mt. Tsurugi (https://www.miyoshi.i-tokushima.jp/fs/1/5/5/5/4/1/_/__31_4____________...
) during the week starting from November. Therefore, it is mandatory that I get to Iya Valley before the final.Nov 4: Kurobe Gorge [arrive on the 3rd by night to catch the earliest train]Nov 5-6:
Hakone [travel to Kawaguchiko on the 6th in the evening]Nov 7:
Kawaguchiko [back to Tokyo by the end of the day]Nov 8:
I stretched a bit this one, it will give plenty of time to explore Hakone and at least get a good day in Kawaguchiko. Kurobe Gorge, however, will be out of place since I would prefer to do it around this time (and I could swap the 18th in Tokyo for it, but since Takayama-Unazukionsen, Matsumoto-Unazukionsen and Tokyo-Unazukionsen all
take around three hours, travel-wise it won't matter on which day I make it).Nov 9-10:
Himeji [sleepover on the 10th so Takeda Castle becomes possible again after I originally cut it out]Nov 12-15: Kyoto/Nara
Tokyo-Hiroshima will take the longest time, but then all connections between one another are much easier to do, allowing for more time in each city.
Overall, the Alps, Takamatsu, Hakone and Kawaguchiko all get more time than in the previous itineraries, at the cost of Hagi and Kagoshima. Also note that Tokyo is now listed as having eight days compared to the previous five, but that's because Yokohama and Kamakura are now grouped into the Tokyo area, and I get an additional day to do perhaps Saitama which I had cut out.
Also, the way it is now arranged, I sleep in the same town I spend the day visiting in 20 of the 34 days (compared to 17 in the previous itinerary), so more cities where I will be able to enjoy during nighttime and not feel rushed by covering distances between places.
Particularly, I could do things a bit more rushed, but I understand the point you were trying to get across. What broke the entire itinerary requiring things to be rushed was the Hagi-Kagoshima leg. But as much as I get upset from having to cut even more than I already have, I am satisfied with this last one.
Thanks for the advice, guys, hopefully with this I will be able to enjoy Japan better than by following the rushed itinerary I had come up with before.