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2nd time to Japan 2020/5/31 19:26
I have visited Honshu , Cherry blossom season. I would now like to return to see more of the North of Tokyo. I would like to either start and finish in Tokyo or Kyoto. Ifm wondering if it is doeable by oneself or i would be better off on a Guided tour for areas North of Tokyo including Hokkaido.
by Gaby (guest)  

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/1 06:55
You can definitely travel alone through Japan, but it takes some preparation. So I guess it depends on your travel style. If you prefer an organized tour there must be some companies that offer personally planned vacations.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/1 08:05

I agree with @LikeBike. It really depends on what you want to do and where you want to go and how comfortable you feel doing things on your own. There are some places in Tohoku readily accessible by public transit with frequent and good connections, like Matsushima. Outside doing on the boat tours because it's pretty much the only way to get out on the water, going there on your own from Tokyo is easy and straightforward. Hiraizumi is another location I found it very easy to get to my own via public transit same with Onuma Park on Hokkaido and Kakunodate.

I went on my own, but I wish I either rented a car or done a tour out of Aomori to Osorezan because the public transit links to reach it (when I went in 2009) were poor. I came this close to begging one of the people from Misawa air force base to please take me to the nearest train station after I hadn't paid close enough attention to the bus schedule and had a 2+ hour wait for the next bus.

I mostly travel on my own (or now with my child.) I have done the boats out of Matsushima and in 2010 I did a 1/2 day tour out of Takayama to Shirakawa Go and one of the other villages because I didn't want to deal with sorting out the bus schedule which was not as easy to follow in 2010 as English was not as ubiquitous. The tour worked well for me, because I didn't feel like I needed more time in Shirakawa Go. It was super touristy.

Good luck planning your trip!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/1 08:27
Do-able by yourself, but you need to put in the work. To avoid wasting all your time getting lost, it does take many hours of reading, planning and research, and even then it probably still will not all go according to plan (but that's part of travel).
I know from my own experiences going to new places that it is easy to waste time until you figure things out and repeating locations does make life a lot easier. An example from @rkold is Osorezan where the train/bus links are not the greatest and missing the limited services means either not quite enough time, or way too long. (I still think it's an interesting place to get to, but can take a long time.
My other comment, not just for northern Honshu, but some other locations, is that there are real hidden gems out there that are not in the guidebooks, or on the internet, some of which I've found by having time to do some exploring. Matsushima Bay is one of those - for example there are the now blocked off cinerarium caves, but others that are freely accessible - but you need to know where to look, and then understand what you're looking at and why.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/1 10:23
No need for a guided tour at all. But depending where you are going, renting a car can make a lot of sense in some instances.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/1 10:44
It depends on what you want to do and how much time (& money) you have. I have enjoyed solo trips to Japan 3 times, 4th one got postponed due to the pandemic and hopefully it can resume this autumn. The first time was very much a learning experience, and had lots of fun learning, too. I wasted some time getting lost, but that is the learning process, and subsequent trips went smoother. You can plan down to every minute of a day, but things usually donft go exactly as you plan, so be flexible. Have the internet access all the time (rent a pocket WiFi or SIM card compatible with your device) and learn how to go from A to B anywhere in Japan - those 2 things will make your trip smoother.
by O92 (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/1 11:52
It really depends on the type of traveller you are?

If you are reasonably independent and like to plan - then Japan is a fantastic place to visit. Do note that Tohoku and Hokkaido is quite large and takes time to travel, along with having less connections due to less people being here. English is also less spoken due to it being less frequented by foreign tourists.

There are plenty of places to visit and it's true that a car is quite helpful in lower Hokkaido and Tohoku. I often buy a rail pass (area specific) and hire a car for a few days in certain locations. But then again - I have visited Japan many times and find it easy.

If meeting new people is something that is important to you - then a guided group tour is helpful. I personally hate group tours due to the inflexibility of being in a large group along with almost each tour I've been on having one really annoying person. But it really depends on who you are and what you like.

Just note that I WOULD NOT HIRE A CAR around Tokyo or Osaka.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: 2nd time to Japan 2020/6/3 02:17
You can definitely do it by yourself. I took a guided tour only to see Lavander Fields in Hokkaido. But everything else it's much better to do it in your own time. Write me if you wish to discuss this further :)
by Hana22 rate this post as useful

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