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Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 04:25
So, my wife and I were suppose to head to Japan from May 22nd - June 10th this year, but of course things didn't quite happen as planned. Luckily, we were able to get our tickets refunded and plan on visiting next year around the same time for a little bit longer than we were planning for this year. We both plan on getting the 21 day JR pass too. I'm wondering if this schedule is viable or if I'm pushing things a little bit too much? Also, I've got some other questions regarding the trip that I will include at the end of this post, if you can help shed light on any of those, that'd be great!

Trip schedule:
May 23-26th: Tokyo (3 nights 4 days)
May 26th-28th: Nikko (2 nights 3 days)
May 28th-30th: Takayama (2 nights 3 days)
May 30th-June 2nd: Kyoto (3 nights 4 days)
June 2nd-4th: Osaka (2 nights 3 days)
June 4th-6th: Matsuyama (2 nights 3 days)
June 6th-8th: Takamatsu (2 nights 3 days)
June 8th-11th: Beppu (3 nights 4 days)
June 11th-13th: Hiroshima (2 nights 3 days)
June 13th-16th: Tokyo (3 nights 4 days)
Leave from Narita on the 16th

Questions:
- I've done some research, and I think this is the best order to approach this trip, but if anyone can confirm or deny that, it would be great.
- I noticed that a lot of the places that look great to stay at (we were planning a mix between ryokans and business hotels) are not yet allowing people to book rooms for the time that we are planning on leaving for the trip. How long should I wait before I start looking at accommodations in each city? I've heard that ryokans in particular don't really open up their bookings that far out.
- I tried to make each route manageable with the JR pass. I think the longest route is 6-7 hours, which is from Takamatsu to Beppu. How are peoples experience with taking trains for this long in Japan?
- I want to pack pretty light for the trip, a bag and a backpack but my wife wants to pack more. What's the best way to approach packing for this trip? Originally I wanted to include Hokaido in our itinerary but having to lug around all that change of clothes had me thinking I should put it off for a separate trip some day later down the road.
- I've heard I can purchase a wifi-hotspot from Narita airport. Does anyone know if I would be able to purchase one there and return it there when I leave on the 16th? And around what time do services like these stop at Narita airport? We might be arriving on a late plan the first night, that's mainly why I'm asking.
- Lastly, can someone give me an idea by how off I might be on the trips budget? We already have our passports and plane tickets paid for so this is what I was thinking:
2x 21 Day JR Pass - $1,200
24 nights of accommodation (average $200 a night?) - $4800
26 days worth of spending money, food, other travel expenses ($200 per person per day?) - $10,400
Total: $16,400


Thanks all! Any help or comments would be great.
by cosXsinX  

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 10:47
Takayama is a way out from your other destinations. I personally thought Takayam was overrated - the old streets were mostly souvenir businesses, and there were just too many tourists around to enjoy the atmosphere. Similarly, Beppu is bit further away; I haven't been myself so can't comment on it specifically.

Most accommodations open their bookings 3-6 months ahead, so you're definitely too early! If there is a particularly special accommodation, e.g. a small ryokan, you could try e-mailing them ahead of time to see if they'll take an early booking (I've has success with this in the past).

Beppu being that far to travel is why I would seriously consider either dropping it from the trip, or seeing other things close by. That's a whole day spent just in transport! You could spend the time given to Beppu in other places - e.g. Kanazawa (between Takayama and Kyoto) or Miyajima (always worth a day trip from Hiroshima).

I would highly recommend using the luggage forwarding service. I bring both a large and small suitcase, and when I have a few days between larger cities (e.g. your time in Takayama), I forward my large suitcase to meet me a few days later, and take a small bag with me on the few days. Much more convenient for travel, especially with the new rules around taking large baggage o the shinkansen. Your hotels can assist with the forms and payment for luggage forwarding; I've always found it very easy. It's also quite reasonably priced - usually about 2000 yen for me to send a big suitcase from Tokyo to Kyoto. It also means you have a spare bag to pack all the souvenirs in at the end of your trip!

I would recommend reserving a pocket wifi before you leave, to ensure you will definitely get one (i.e. they don't sell out!). I usually go through the following website: https://www.gmobile.biz/sbinbound/ You can organise to pick it up from the airport post office; if you arrive after the post office is closed, it can be sent directly to your hotel.

Note that some accommodations may be outside your current budget - ryokan can easily go over $100 per person, as can decent accommodation in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. Perhaps be a bit more flexible in that part of your budget. Also make sure you have run the calculations to make sure a 21-day nationwide JR Pass pays off - sometimes it's cheaper to not cover your whole trip with one pass, and buy separate tickets, or use a combination of smaller regional passes. This takes time to work out, but you have plenty of time!
by / (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 11:17
Congratulations on your marriage!

I wouldn't bother moving from Kyoto to Osaka, they are very close together. Osaka tends to be cheaper to stay in, so if you have a rail pass running backwards and forwards is free and very easy.

I've not been to Takayama-I keep reading it's not that great, when you finally get there-and it's time consuming to get to.

I very much like Kanazawa, which is an easy trip from either Tokyo or Osaka. You could even to it on your trip north, after Hiroshima, and travel via Kyoto to Kanazawa, then Kanazawa to Tokyo on the Shinkansen. If you want some hot spring activity, the Noto Peninsula just outside Kanazawa is famous for it.

Kyushu is beautiful, but Beppu is kind of small and out of the way, and you miss good things on the way.

We were going to Matsuyama this year, and planned to take the hydrofoil from there to Hiroshima. Osaka to Takamatsu is an easy trip, and then down to Matsuyama is a more logical order I think.

If I was organising your trip, I'd be inclined to go Tokyo->Nikko->Osaka ->Takamatsu->Matsuyama->Hiroshima (via Kyoto)->Kanazawa->Tokyo.

It's definitely worth doing some homework on various passes, and using them strategically rather than just automatically buying the longer one. We had quite a long trip planned for this year, and ultimately found the 21 day pass would have been worth it, but it was a close-ish run thing.

Whatever you choose, have a wonderful time in Japan!
by Who? (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 14:13
I'm a Japanese traveler who also travels around the world, and I have 3 things to add.

1. I've never got to see Takayama, but have passed the station on the Hokuriku-honsen Line (not the Shinkansen), and the view along the railway route was fascinating and unique. If you're a train-view lover (which not everyone necessarily is, but I am), you might enjoy the trip.

2. Your itinerary through June 4-13 puts you right into the beginning of the rainy season. For a better chance of avoiding it, you may want to consider doing your trip upside-down by flying into KIX (Osaka) to do Hiroshima, Beppu and Shikoku first, and then riding the train northbound to fly out of NRT.

3. Hokkaido never suffers the rainy season (not that it doesn't rain, but it's more tour-able). You may want to do the Hokkaido-based tour for May/June instead. That said, Japanese scenery in rain is beautiful, too, and the flowers in Honshu are magnificent during the season.

I also agree with the other poster that you can do day-trips to a lot of the places in your itinerary, unless you love the hotel-hopping. Lastly, I fully understand that even though it's too early to book, you're planning it anyway. This is a great time to plan a trip that may not actually happen but will pretty much happen within the next two or three years.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 15:23
Nikko to Takayama is a mess for transport options. Nothing remotely direct and you circle around a lot.

I'd move it to later in the trip.
by Ryan Tracey (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 17:32
Hi. You are getting there when it is likely to be getting hot (say 30ish celsius) and then it will get very much hotter during your trip, absent rain.

Are you OK with the heat? If not I would be looking at places that are cooler - north of Tokyo, also Nikko, Karuizawa, Kamikochi, Bessho Onsen etc.

Japan heat can be pretty oppressive.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 19:11


You can easily visit all the places as planned.
However, my suggestion would be:
June 4th-6th:   Takamatsu (2 nights 3 days)
June 6th-8th:    Matsuyama (2 nights 3 days)
June 8th-11th:  Train to Yawatahama and ferry* to Beppu (3 nights 4 days) 
The ferry is very comfortable, there are rooms to lie-down and free Wifi on board. 
*https://www.rome2rio.com/map/Matsuyama/Beppu#r/Train-ferry  ;
by shinji (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/30 22:58
Have a discussion with your wife about why she wants to bring more luggage. My recommendation is to always travel light. I've been to a good number of different countries, and Japan is by far the worst for struggling with large suitcases. These days I travel with a cabin-friendly suitcase and a handbag. Washing machines and dryers are everywhere, so I really don't need anything else. If you were just travelling to one or two cities I would almost be tempted to tell you to just let your wife have it her way, but with how frequently you are going to be messing around with trains, checking in and out of hotels, etc. I think anything other than minimal luggage sounds absolutely miserable.
by LIZ (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/31 00:28
I am not sure you need the 21 day JR Pass.

Use one of the versions of the Toby Nikko passes for Nikko. Some include tickets to attractions. Check out the Japan Guide Transportation page on rail passes.

Take the Nohi highway bus from Tokyo to Takayama, and again to Kyoto. The bus is slightly slower, about an hour, than going by train, and does not involve changing trains. Check the Nohi website for ideas for excursions while in Takayama.

Touring Kyoto is best done by bus passes, and Osaka is very close to Kyoto, so it might not be cost effective to use a JR pass until after Osaka. This cuts you down to a 14 day pass for the rest of your trip.

If you wanted to cut down to a 7 day pass, you could. There is only one JR train bridge in and out of Shikoku Island, which is why you put Matsuyama before Takamatsu. There is a ferry from Wakayama to Shikoku Island, and a bus route near Kobe. I also like the idea of using the ferry to get to Beppu, but I am not sure this is more cost effective.

In general, when I activate a JR pass, I tend to go to my furthest point away, which would be Beppu, and work my way back. I might consider Beppu, Hiroshima, a ferry to Mastuyama, Takamatsu, Osaka, and then Tokyo. This means I would activate a 14 day pass after Kyoto. This makes for smaller hops as you travel back to Tokyo.

If you like to cycle, I would go from Hiroshima to Mastuyama via the Shimanami Kaido. This is a gthe journey is the rewardh idea that might interest you.

I also like the train ride across the bridge across the Seto Inland Sea to Shikoku Island, so I might go the same route as you planned, because it goes across the bridge twice.

Just some ideas to consider.

Good luck, in planning your trip.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/31 02:13
First, Congratulations on your marriage. I wish you a life time of happiness.
Well, I think you studied your itenirary well and did a good job at it. I would just like to add a few things if you don't mind. I've only been to Japan once, with my wife, and we spent almost 14 days and visited numerous places and this had it's Cons. So, in my humble opinion, your itenirary might be a bit of a rush and it might leave you exhausted and/or regretful because you missed out a lot of things that you should have done in almost every place you visited. Two or three nights in each destination isn't gonna be near enough to explore the small neighborhood around your hotel. Also, I think you wanna get the 21 days JR pass because you don't wanna over complicate things and have less in your mind to worry about, and I'm with you on this. However, you might be able to easily make it a 14 days pass only if you stayed in Tokyo for the first week entirely instead of dividing it and you could get a metro pass for 72 hours and then repurchase it, it would be much cheaper and you won't really need the JR pass in Tokyo. One last thing, I went to Takayama and unfortunately I would have to disagree with some of the opinions and tell you that it's totally worth it. But not because of the city itself, though a beautiful place, it's mainly because of the side trips surrounding the city. Kamikochi and Shirakawa-go are S level destinations that you absolutely should consider. I visited Kamikochi, and it's heaven on earth, and trust you will take some lifetime portrait there. So, I suggest you stay for three nights in Takayama as your main station and go for day trips to both destinations.
Anyway, sorry for making it long and have an amazing honeymoon.
by B Eldeen rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/31 07:48
Hi!

I didn't like Shirakawa Go. It was boring and super touristy when I went in 2010. I can't imagine it has gotten better. I much more enjoyed Hida no Sato village which is much easier to reach. Kamikochi is miserable during rainy season if it rains. I was there when it poured almost non-stop for two days in June. I will say the temperatures were much lower after the heat of Kanazawa and Kansai, but I'm not sure cold and wet is that great either. The Azusa river turned brown and started jumping its banks. I was seriously concerned it was going to flood where we were staying and we would need a rescue.

Outside of Kamikochi I like touring in rainy season, but I also like iris and hydrangea and love flower pictures. My child loved Ritsuin in Takamatsu. That might have been her favorite garden, though I think she enjoyed Kairakuen a lot because we went during the ume festival.

I would not stay in Osaka unless you are trying to go to USJ. I think for what I consider mid-range $80-$170 USD, Kyoto has a better selection and nicer accommodations than Osaka (unless of course all the hotels crash and burn as economic fall out from Covid.) Osaka is better for true budget accommodations and I think has better prices for luxury hotels. I feel like Kyoto does better with the $100 for 2 hotels. I've been going to Japan every June from 2016-2019 (if there was no Covid-19 we would be going in 2 weeks again) and we usually stay in Kyoto. My kid counts as an adult for occupancy for many hotels and I usually find a place in Kyoto for $100 easily. The last 4 trips we've stayed at the Royal Park Sanjo, Dormy Premium near Kyoto Station, The Intergate, the Visicho, and the Hana Turo Gion. The latter has the most restrictions in terms of check in and night time entry. I paid about $100 a night for each, though the prices do vary some, but you can also wait cause the prices are generally best for all these places 3-5 months out. I know someone who loved Anteroom and I've looked at 22 Pieces and the Gentle Fox.

I would not do Nikko to Takayama. I personally don't like overnight buses. I can't sleep on them and neither can my kid. Trying to make sure my kid gets enough sleep is a high priority for me. If you sleep well on transport, I am sure overnight buses are fine, but be realistic. I have used highway buses during the day and they are much nicer than anything in the USA, though I agree with Uco, that one of the nicest parts of going to Takayama is the train trip there. I've done the whole route (but not ever in one trip) Nagoya to Toyama. The Takayama to Toyama line is a lot less busy and make sure you are well aware of train times since they are not as frequent, should you go that way.

I'm a huge fan of takkyubin or however you want to transliterate it. I don't want to be stuck always doing laundry on vacation and I like to buy a lot of souvenirs. I also travel with just a kid, and her bag tends to be full of things like stuffed animals and some toys and books, (I prefer e-books, but my kid prefers physical)
so I am the only one dealing with our clothes and toiletries. I tend to take a 19 inch wheelie for trains and send my larger 30 inch or so onwards. I tend to plan it out so for shorter ryokan stays I don't have the big suitcase.

I don't know your US provider, but I would find out how much roaming costs in Japan and whether your phone will work. I have a Pixel and I'm on Google Fi. I pay less in roaming charges (and I make International phone calls home to my husband and use Google Maps) than I would pay to rent pocket WiFi or a rental SIM Card. On the negative side, I have had text messages to friends in Japan just dropped. But not phone calls and not texts to people back in the US. Line also gives me fewer issues with friends in Japan. I pay on average about $30 more per month when in Japan, which over a 2 week period is ~$2 a day. I've not yet seen pocket WiFi that cheap.

I might try to re work your itinerary. I know most US flights to KIX are gone and the ones I was seeing with a transfer got into super late. I am unsure if those directs will come back so I get starting and ending in Tokyo. But you might find flying could still be helpful. If you're going to Beppu for onsen and ryokan, it's not really as rural or traditional as some other places are. If you're not a picky eater you might do better spending a little more time in the Takayama region and staying in a ryokan in Okuhida. Beppu might be really hot and humid, even in late May.

I hope this helps!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/31 11:28
Hi rkold!
Well, I went to Japan in September, so when I visited Kamikochi, it was absolutely stunning. But I agree it wouldn't be much fun in rainy days. Also, I agree the train trip from Nagoya to Takayama is really nice with fascinating scenery. You visit Japan every year, so you obviously know a lot more than me. I really hope that I will be able to visit regularly, so, any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.
by B Eldeen rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/31 11:57
Hi!

I hope you are able to go to Japan many more times. :)

I use to go to Japan a lot (pre-child) but mostly to visit friends, so I didn't do quite as much travel. Now, I've been going to Japan once a year but with a child so my trips vary based on what I think my child can handle. I don't believe is just dragging my kid around, but I also just don't want to do child centered things, I try to compromise so we both have an awesome trip and a special memory to share.

I personally love reading @Mfedley's accounts. He goes to such interesting places, many are just not that well known. I also really respect the opinions of many regular posters here, even if I do not always agree with them. I like that people have opinions.

I'm sure Kamikochi is amazing in beautiful weather, but since OP is specifically looking in late May and early to mid-June which can be part of rainy season, I think OP should be flexible on visiting it. If I could go back in time, I would have canceled my overnight in Kamikochi and just gone back to Matsumoto for the evening. Even if I had to eat the accommodation cost for Kamikochi and then pay for a new place, I think it would have been better. But hindsight is 20/20 and if I had known we were not going to Japan this Summer and school would be canceled I would have just let my kid miss 2 more days and have extended out our February trip. *shrugs* Such is life.

I hope we are all going to Japan in 2021!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/5/31 12:31
To Uco:

JR Takayama Station is located along Takayama-honsen Line, not Hokuriku-honsen Line.

1. I've never got to see Takayama, but have passed the station on the" Hokuriku-honsen Line" (not the Shinkansen),
by Hirohiroboy rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/6/1 00:11
Well, good to know that you could manage your travel with a child, because I was afraid my wife and I won't be able to do it in Japan now that we have our daughter. Let's hope this crisis end soon and everyone could visit Japan next year. Stay safe.
by B Eldeen rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/6/1 12:44
JR Takayama Station is located along Takayama-honsen Line, not Hokuriku-honsen Line.

You're right, Hirohiroboy. Thank you for pointing that out. I apologize for the confusion. To be precise, it was a Wide View Hida express train, and I was forced to choose it since the Hokuriku-Shinkansen operations were canceled due to storm damage (which led me to think that Hida was on the Hokuriku Line). It turned out to be a lucky choice.

To the OP:
It may even be better to choose low-key destinations like Takayama if you're traveling with a small child. When my child was still little, we used to travel only to low-key places to avoid the crowd. We would even visit local parks where we got to communicate with more residents as opposed to tourists. It was satisfying enough to be able to travel while accompanying a toddler, so any low-key location was fun.

Let's hope for the best.
by Uco rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/6/3 16:31
Uwah. Thanks for all this info. Will take notes for my next visit as well!
by MarLion rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/6/4 09:13
Congrats on your marriage!

I may be a little contrarian on this thread as we absolutely loved Takayama when we visited a couple of years ago, we went for the Takayama Spring Matsuri in April and it was wonderful. The only reason we have not been back is that it is difficult to get quality reasonably priced accommodations within walking distance of everything, at festival time.

In Takayama, you can see the morning markets (we had our name in Kanji painted by an artist on a wood block, it turned out gorgeous for Y2500), walk thru the centuries old neighborhoods, the castle next to the gorgeous park, and of course the food, gyuniku sushi (wagyu beef sushi), grill your own wagyu, fresh fish and more.

You won't be there for the festivals but nevertheless it is gorgeous and worth a day or two visit, and as others have said the Hida Takayama train ride is wonderful thru the countryside, you will even pass farms where you can see farmers massaging and feeding their few cattle they are raising for market.

Just my two cents.

Stan

p.s. I use en.wifi-rental-store.jp for rental of a mi-fi device, have done so about a dozen times, they will deliver to the airport (to a JAL 7/24 hour delivery counter) and you just drop into the mail on your last day in country anywhere in Japan, prices are extremely reasonable and they are very reliable

p.p.s. don't forget to download Google Translate, Hyperdia (for train schedules) and LINE (make cheap calls anywhere overseas via wi-fi and app) prior to arriving in country
by USC4Ever rate this post as useful

Re: Re planning our honeymoon for 25 days 2020/6/6 13:03
I really hope the situation about Covid19 is settled.

For your itinerary, I would like to comment for two points.

First, all your destinations seems to be cities/towns. Are you not interested in the nature in Japan? If you are, you might better consider more nature-oriented places. As already suggested, Kamikochi is an obvious candidate. Another place I can think of is Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route.

Second, the hotel rate in Kyoto has been generally going down for these years. This is due to a "hotel rush" to catch foreign travelers. Before Covid19, the room rate was much lower. I traveled Kyoto in September last year and took a taxi. The driver woman said that there are so many new hotels/inns in Kyoto that she can't locate them so "Googlemap" is her friend. Another good news for travelers is that the new hotels/inns tend to have more spacious rooms at affordable rates, and in many cases foreigner-friendly. The staff are multi-lingual and come from abroad.

Congratulations on your marriage and hope you will enjoy honeymoon in Japan!
by frog1954 rate this post as useful

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