Dear visitor, if you know the answer to this question, please post it. Thank you!

May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/10 15:40
We are a couple going on a 2 week trip to Japan. I have some idea of what I'd like to do but we do have some holes in the plan. I plan to go in mid May (10 - 24 May). We like food and nature. We like walking around but I'm not really fit. We can do maybe 2-4 hour hikes max.

For the first week, we will be using the Japan Wide Rail Pass. The towns which I want to hit are Kanazawa and Takayama (want to see the trees there). I have gone to both these places before but my partner hasn't - I will be interested if there is anything nearby that could be new for me too. We will spend the first night at Kyoto but we don't need to stay there long as we have already had two trips there.

In Takayama, I previously went to the hida folk village and Takayama old town, as well as the nearby town of Furukawa. In Kanazawa, I previously went to Kenrokuen, Kanazawa Castle and the 21st Century Museum. Will the Kenrokuen be alive in May? Is there anything else you guys recommend? How is the cycling trail in Furukawa in May? Is it easy to access? We can drive if needed. If there are scenic trains we are up for that too.

In short, for week 1:

KIX - Kyoto
Kyoto - Kanazawa
Kanazawa - Takayama/ Furukawa
Takayama - [yet to plan]
[yet to plan] - Onuma Park - Sapporo

For Kansai, we have gone to Osaka, Kyoto, Kinosaki, Uji, Nara and Kobe before. I'm wondering if its worth to see the festival in Kyoto - we don't really like crowds and it looks like its going to be a huge huge crowd there.

If you would like to suggest anything in Tohoku, we previously did a trip through Tohoku from Hokkaido to Tokyo and visited Hakodate, Aomori, Hirosaki, Nyuto Onsen and Yamagata/ Yamadera. We would be interested in anywhere else though!

For the second week, we will be going around Hokkaido. I am thinking of basing ourselves in Sapporo (to catch a bit of a rest!) and walking round the the Lilac festival. Is a day trip to Biei/Furano possible? Will cycling be nice during that time of the year? I'm thinking of cycling in that area for that day. Then we will have a one or two day trip out to Shiretoko (will stay for a night or two? and rent a car at Abarashiri(?). Not sure if this is all feasible.
by kroshaven  

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/10 23:45
Sorry, your post is a bit confuse (or maybe I am confused by it), so I am not really sure what specifically you are asking.

Regarding interesting places close to Takayama, Ainokura and / or Gokayama would come to mind, as well as Kamikochi or Hirayu onsen, if you like onsen experience.

In Hokkaido, have again a look at a map to understand distances. Shiretoko is not going to be a day trip (unless you fly). It's really far and there are no Shinkansen beyond Hakodate Hokuto in Hokkaido.

Regarding cycling, there is a really nice cycling road from Sapporo to Kita Hiroshima.

as I had troubles finding a map online, I took pictures of the maps along the route:

This guy here also has a lot about cycling in Hokkaido, including a map (I think he didn't have it when I first searched information about it):

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

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/11 01:28

Where are you flying from to get to Hakodate to visit Onuma? I flew from Nagoya to Hakodate in '09, I thought the views from the flight were quite attractive, particularly when going over Towadako. If you are planning to take the train from Takayama to Hakodate to Onuma, you're looking at a full day plus of travel. It's 4.5 hours+ from Takayama to Tokyo. You're then looking at another 5+ hours to Onuma.

If you're going: Kyoto to Kanazawa to Takayama to Nagoya and then flying to Hakodate and taking the train to Sapporo, I am unsure a 1 week JR Pass pass pays off assuming that is what you meant by Wide Pass since the only specifically wide passes are the Kansai Wide (which doesn't help your current itinerary at all) and the Tokyo Wide.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/11 03:07
Hi Lakebike,

Thank you for the link! The second one seems really useful but I think they are much better cyclists than me - do you think its possible to have a train/ bicycle combination on the Furano route? The Asahikawa Route looks interesting as well!
by kroshaven rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/11 03:14
Hi rkold,

I was thinking of taking the train to Onuma on the way from Hakodate to Sapporo.

And no, I meant the whole of japan rail pass. Indeed, the train is going to be insane. Tentatively as follows:

[1] KIX/Osaka - Kanazawa (230min)
[2] Kanazawa - Shirakawago (bus)
[3] Shirawakago - Takayama (bus)
[4] Takayama - Matsumoto (300min) - leave at 6am. Arrive at Matsumoto at 11am. Go around town.
[5] Matsumoto - Tokyo (200min) - Matsumoto in the day (till 4pm) and Tokyo in the evening (arrive at 6.30pm).
[6] Tokyo - Shin-hakodate (Hakodate) (200min)
[7] Shin-Hakodate - Onumakoen - Sapporo (200min)
[8] Sapporo (Lilac festival) (rest time!)
[9],[10] Cycling from Sapporo to Asahikawa!

I know that I am wasting a couple of days on the Shirakawago - Takayama leg but there aren't any trains so I don't really have a choice. I could change locations - say:

Kanazawa - Nagano (Koto Peninsula)
Nagano - Takayama

instead but Shirakawago seems like the place to go.
by kroshaven rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/11 03:15
Hi rkold,

Sorry, to add on, the pass will be activated from [1] to [7].
by kroshaven rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/11 16:45

Ok, but that is a different itinerary than the one you first posted. Your first post had you staying in Kyoto and didn't mention Matsumoto at all. I'm still not sure I would get a 1 week pass since the best way to get from Takayama to Matsumoto is bus. (and it's quite scenic too.) It still might make more sense to go from Matsumoto to Nagoya and fly from Nagoya to Hakodate. The trip from Matsumoto to Nagoya is 132 minutes vs. more like 180 minutes to Tokyo. I'm getting ~10,000 yen from KIX to Kanazawa, you can use the 5500 yen bus pass to get from Kanazawa to Takayama to Matsumoto, ~6000 yen from Matsumoto to Nagoya and ~10,000 yen or less to fly from NGO to Hakodate. The price might be close to a wash but you will be saving yourself an awful lot of time.

To me, it feels like a lot of travel each day, but I also now travel with a kid so I try to be very cognizant of travel times. I personally don't enjoy several days in a row of 3-4 hour travel every single day, but some people are really into transport and like that sort of thing.

I personally found Hakodate boring, I was also there when the ropeway was closed for maintenance. I loved Onuma though.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/11 23:31
Hi rkold,

Yes... I ended up changing parts here and there to make the pass more worth it.

"you can use the 5500 yen bus pass to get from Kanazawa to Takayama to Matsumoto"

What bus pass is this?

And yes, I was considering flying from Matsumoto to Sapporo actually. The earlier period could then stretch out a little more since I would no longer be confined by a 7 day pass, but my partner does not want to take a plane and since the costs between both methods are pretty similar I'm not sure if theres a lot of benefit to plane for me. I was thinking I could arrange to meet up my friends in Tokyo to make the train more worth it lol but yes I do agree its a whole lot longer.

I agree with the massive travelling too but I guess perhaps I should do it while I can... >.<

Spending more time at onuma sounds good though! I went there once but it was in a middle of a snowstorm and all i could see was white. :(
by kroshaven rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/12 00:31
Hi rkold,

I thought about what you said and talked to my partner. I have changed it as follows (no more JR Pass):

[9/5 (sat)] Arrive in Tokyo (meet friends for lunch and dinner)
[10/5 (sun)] Tokyo - Kanazawa (140min) [\ 14,180 (reserved seat shinkansen), \7,480 (non-reserved)]
[11/5 (mon)] Kanazawa (Noto Peninsula) [\ 2,600 x 2 (round trip + car rental)] - maybe just spend the day in Kanazawa?
[12/5 (tues)] Kanazawa - Shirakawago (bus) [\2000]
[13/4 (wed)] Shirawakago - Takayama (bus) [\2,600]
[14/5 (thurs)] Takayama (furukawa?) (kamikochi?)
[15/5 (fri)]Takayama - Matsumoto (bus) [\3,250]
[16/5 (sat)]Matsumoto
(17/5 (sun) Matsumoto - Sapporo (plane) [\ 5,000 + \ 10,000~]
[18/5 (mon)] Sapporo (rest, lilac festival)
[19/5 (tues)] Sapporo (Cycling route)
[20/5 (wed)] Sapporo - Asahikawa (Furano/ Biei)
[21/5 (thurs)] Asahikawa - Sapporo
[22/5] Sapporo

I've not taken the Shinkansen without a rail pass before. Is it basically the same procedure but I have to pay money instead of showing the pass?

How long should I stay in shirakawago? Are there things to do besides the farmstay?

For the Kanazawa - Shirakawago - Takayama - Matsumoto section, is there bus pass that you recommend? I found this but nothing really seems to hit it all at once?
by kroshaven rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/12 00:41
do you think its possible to have a train/ bicycle combination on the Furano route?

Yes, BUT: in Japan in order to bring a bicycle on a train it must be in a bag. No exceptions.(technically speaking there are a few train lines , eg one in Matsue that allow gnakedh bikes, but it doesnft apply to your situation). So if you bring your own bicycle bring also a cycle bag. If you rent a racing bicycle ask that it comes with a bag. But if you rent a more normal bicycle it wonft be with a bag and it wonft be possible to disassemble it. So you canft put it in a bag, which means you canft put it on a train. And donft gamble the ggaijinh card. Pretending not to know the rules and not to understand Japanese risks - among other things- leaving you stranded with your bike somewhere at a train station far away from your destination.
by LikeBike (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/12 00:46
Hi LikeBike,

I think with your latest comment taken into consideration, I'll stick to the Sapporo countryside route. Perhaps rent a bike at Furano separately as well.

Thank you for your help! :)
by kroshaven rate this post as useful

Re: May 2020 - Kansai - Chubu -? - Hokkaido 2019/11/12 03:45

First, sorry if I keep pushing flying, it's not just because it saves time. I admit, the two times I have flown within Japan the flights have been absolutely gorgeous in terms of scenery. I just really enjoyed flying over Towadako and the Shimokita Peninsula a lot. Last trip I flew from Narita to Itami to get to Kyoto. I did actually save money and time doing it and the view of Fuji-san was the best we got that trip. I also just have enjoyed my flights on JAL and ANA within Japan. I have not yet tried any of the low cost carriers though. And I get seeing friends, I usually have to plan my week ends to be in Tokyo or Osaka because that is where my friends are.

So now onto the itinerary!

Outside of Onuma and Hakodate I've not spent time on Hokkaido and so will leave that to other posters.

1) I can't remember what the Japanese phrase that is being shortened and my Japanese sucks but Hyperdia's "Seat Fee" is not the fee to reserve a seat. The cost of a shinkansen to from Tokyo to Kanazawa is 14180 with a seat and 13850 yen without a reserved seat during low season which I believe May post GW is. The Kagayaki shinkansen are all reserve seat and you will need a standing ticket if you don't pay to reserve a seat.

2) Once you're paying for a car rental I would just rent it from Kanazawa. I am unsure of what the expressway charges are for your trip but I know there is a CEP Pass: you could see if it saves you money. I have only driven in Tohoku. I just paid out of pocket for the expressway one day (~2000 yen total) and got a TEP Pass for the consecutive days of travel.

3) This is the bus ticket you want:

While it says it is only valid until March 2020, a variation of this ticket has been around for quite some time. It use to be offered in Japanese only and had slightly fewer stop options and a shorter time frame, but all the places you want are in both passes and I think even the shorter time frame won't affect you. The one available to Japanese residents is 6000 yen.

You take the bus: Kanazawa to Shirakawa Go (day 1 of Pass)
Shirakawa Go to Takayama (day 2)
Takayama to Hirayu (transfer there to Kamikochi and pay out of pocket for a round trip night in Kamikochi or Hirayu) Day 3
Hirayu to Matsumoto (day 4)

This keeps most of your travel days relatively short. Kamikochi is lovely but expensive (cheaper options include a cabin but finding dinner and breakfast can be problematic.) I've only day tripped to Hirayu but the onsen were great and I know @LikeBike enjoyed staying there.

I'm not a fan of Shirakawa Go. I thought Hida no Sato in Takayama was more interesting. But it's on your way to Takayama so it makes sense to go there.

I took the shinkansen from Nagoya to Tokyo and then transferred to Maihama last trip. I just waited in line at the ticket window because I planned to charge my tickets. It was pretty easy.

Flying within Japan is pretty easy.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

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