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Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/5 12:03
I have been planning to take an October/November vacation in Japan next year. I originally was going to take a cruise to Japan to start the vacation, but I couldnft squeeze everything in. Here goes:

Oct 15: Arrive at NTR. Using a Suica IC card, take Skyliner to Ueno. If possible, attend gTaste of Tokyoh in Hibiya. Stay four nights in Ueno.

Oct 16: Day trip to Kawagoe to attend the festival.

Oct 17-19: Activate JR Tokyo Wide Area 3 day pass. I plan to do a full day trip to the Fuji Five Lakes, half day trips to Hitachi Seaside Park and Karuizawa, and an evening trip to Ashikaga Flower Park for Ashigaga Flower Fantasy illumination. The best Kochia ebright redf date will decide the order. The final use of the pass will be to get to Kinogawa Onsen, for a second four night stay.

Oct 20-22: Activate a four day Toby Nikko All Area Pass. The pass gives train access to Nikko, as well as the bus service to attractions. Nikko should be in full fall colors.

Oct 23: Return to Ueno using the final day of the Nikko Pass. Attend Ueno Tenjin Masturi. Overnight in Ueno.

Oct 24-25: Activate 14 day JR Pass, head to Tomiya and do the Kurube Gorge scenic railway and the Alpine Route day trips. Two nights in Toyama

Oct 26-27: Day trip to Takayama, followed by a move to Kanazawa. Two nights in Kanazawa.

Oct 28: This is either another day in Kanazawa with an evening train to Hiroshima, or, a morning train to Hiroshima and a day at Miyajima Island. Night in Hiroshima.

Oct 29-30: Early morning train to Takachiho. Two nights in Takachiho, so that I have two chances to see the dawn cloud inversion gSea of Cloudsh at Kunimigaoka.

Oct 31: Travel to Miyazaki. Overnight in Miyazaki. I will try to see the full size copies of the Easter Island Moai.

Nov 1-2: Another day in Miyazaki, followed by traveling to Kagoshima in the evening. Ohara Festival in Kagoshima. Two nights.

Nov 3-4: Possibly, more Ohara festival in the morning, followed by travel to Bitchu Takahashi for two nights. Once again, Ifm trying to see the morning cloud inversion, gCastle in the Cloudsh.

Nov 5: Travel to Nagoya for an overnight. Go to gNabana No Satoh illuminations in the evening.

Nov 6-7: (6: final day of JR Pass) I havenft decided which day trip to take. Itfs either back to Kyoto to watch Geisha Dances for Gion Oderi, or, to Inuyama to see Meiji Mira. The day ends with going to Odawara, getting a three day Hakone Pass, and staying two night in Hakone. Doing the Round Course on the 7th.

Nov 8-9: Return to Ueno in Tokyo, overnight in Ueno. Fly home on the 9th.

I know it has a lot of travel, but I knew that I wanted to go all the way to Kagoshima and back. I know that sunset in October and November will be between 4 and 5 PM, so I am trying to limit travel to early mornings, and late afternoon/evenings.

Thank You, in advance, for any comments or suggestions that you can give me.
by ebaychucky311  

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/5 18:46
Uff, i am stressed by only reading all the places you want to pass by. Are you sure this speed is enjoyable for you/your partner?
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/5 20:09
This is a solo trip. This will be my fifth trip to Japan, and I have been to Tokyo, Hiroshima, Hakata, Beppu, Kyoto, and Osaka extensively. I am cherry picking a bit, to catch things Ifve never done.

This trip is about Fall Foliage at the places that turn early. I am going, knowing full well that Kyoto and Tokyo are at their best in late November/early December. I will probably plan a three week trip in 2023 to cover this time, as well as the winter Festival in Chichibu.

For early fall foliage, I will need to go to higher elevations. Nikko, Mount Fuji, Karuizawa, and the Northern Alps will be in full color. The areas of cloud inversions are at higher elevations.

I also like festivals, and I have fit a few with parades in them to watch. I also threw in two Illuminations.

There is a lot of time on a train, and I plan to get a green JR pass. Part of going to Takayama from Toyama will be sitting in the front of a Wide View Limited Express Train. I also remember going down the eastern coast of Kyushu as being very enjoyable. I am well aware of the amount of time I will be spending on a train.

@Likebike: If there are places that I have flagrantly missed that you want to mention, please do so. I may end up extending this a week. Originally, this was a 16 day cruise and 16 days in Japan. The trip has been shortened to 26 days in Japan.

by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/5 20:34
@LikeBike: The part of the trip that I didnft like was the 10 hours of train and bus travel from Kanazawa to Takachiho. I tried to break that up into two five hour chunks, with a stay in Hiroshima.

There is also the train leaving Kagoshima, which now ends up being the longest leg.

If I added an extra week, I would go to Kagoshima first, and then travel up the east coast of Kyushu. This gives me four days to compete the nine hours of train rides to Kagoshima from Kanazawa. I would probably add an extra day in Miyazaki, and a day in Beppu to the travel up Kyushu. I would also add a day or two between Beppu and Hakone.

Like I said, please make some suggestions.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/6 03:20
If day tripping by train from Toyama to Takayama just be very aware of the times of the Hidas ahead of time. They're very very limited and I got burned when I thought there was a train up to Toyama and there was not. The Toyama to Takayama part of the line is not like the Nagoya to Takayama part because it's a lot less frequent. And yes, this includes locals because a lot of locals don't go the full route and give you a nice long layover where they end (I want to say Inotani, but I can't remember the stop because the nice people at JR explained I could either have a long layover in Takayama or at this station) so you only arrive 10 minutes before one of the few Hidas. I will say that the views are really lovely on the Hida.

And for Takachiho, it's another place where you just need to be careful about arrival time since there are only 2 buses a day from Kumamoto to Takachiho. If you can't get one of the buses from Kumamoto to work, it might make sense to just to go to Miyazaki to start from because there are hourly buses from Nobeoka to Takachiho vs. Kumamoto. Have you considered seeing if there are flights from Osaka to Miyazaki? I know you have a pass, but if you're not wedded to Hiroshima you could just do Kanazawa to Osaka to a flight to Miyazaki. (since I imagine there aren't flights from Kanazawa to Miyazaki without a stopover.) Heck, you might even be better off going back to Tokyo from Kanazawa and catching a flight to Miyazaki or Kumamoto Airport from there. While Kumamoto Airport has the same 2 buses per day to Takachiho as Kumamoto Station, since you are dropping Hiroshima you could overnight in Kumamoto and then won't have to worry about buses the next day at all. I've only done a few flights within Japan, but all of them have given me some outstanding views.

Enjoy your trip!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/6 04:43
@rkold:

There are only two morning Hidas to Takayama, and I was planning to be one the 7:58 AM one. There are only two afternoon Hidas going back, and my plan was to catch the earlier 3:12 PM one. I figure the view is part of the fall foliage part of the trip, so I want to make the return during daylight hours. I am planning to visit the Hida Village, and the wader around Old Town.

The plan was always to travel down the east coast of Kyushu. I was going to take a Shinkansen from Hiroshima to Kokura, and then a Limited Express to Nobeoka. There are two Limited Express trains in the morning that go all the way to Miyazaki, so no switching trains at Oita. I went to Takayama on one of my earlier trips, and stayed at the Ryokan by the cave. I plan to stay in town this time, and may not even go up to the cave shrine.

Background for others:

I have four trips to Japan, with a total of around 100+ days of vacation, so 26 days is about my average. I live near Dallas, Texas, and I am used to an hour commute to and from work, which might explain my lack of concern about the amount of time on a train. My first trip was late September/early October, and I was expecting fall colors based on fall in New England (Wrong!). I had an early spring trip, and a late spring trip that included Golden Week, and also a summer festival trip.

In my travels around Japan, I end up finding things that I missed, and put them on a bucket list. I want to see the lavender fields, and the Belly Button Festival in Hokkaido, for instance, which means another summer trip. There is also a snow festival or two (the one near Nikko looks interesting), so a winter trip will also probably be made, and I already mentioned a late fall trip in an earlier post.

Riding a night train is also on that bucket list. I even thought about putting a day trip to Izumo Grand Shrine from Bitchu Takahashi, so that I could get a Nobi Nobi seat back on the Sunrise Izumo that evening on this trip. It would not be an full overnight, but I would then have a good idea of whether or not I would enjoy a full night on a sleeper train.

Another thing on that bucket list is an overnight ferry. I thought about adding either the Osaka-Beppu, or the Kobe-Oita ferry to the Kanazawa to Takachiho leg of this trip. That would eliminate the overnight in Hiroshima, and give me an extra day in Miyazaki.

With a late fall and a winter trip planned after this one, the illuminations could be dropped, and something else put in its place. I still remember getting roasted chestnuts in Hiroshima, and roasted sweet potatoes in Nara, from street vendors on my fall trip. I may add an extra day on at the beginning of the trip, to make sure I can go to eTaste of Tokyof. So any suggestions, food wise, that are of a fall nature, would be appreciated.

Once again, suggestions are welcomed.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/6 13:53
It looks to be a very punishing trip, particularly trying to go such long distances in one fell swoop at some points. Let's get back to that later.
First, I have to question if getting a Tobu Nikko All Area Pass and not use it for the round trip between Tokyo & Nikko (just around Nikko and one way back) would pay off.
The next thing is 2 days to see the Hitachi Seaside Park, Karuizawa, and Ashikaga. You didn't define which place on which day clearly, but getting from Tokyo to the Seaside Park will take over 90 minutes, and if going from there straight to Karuizawa, that is another 3-3½ hours - with earlier sunsets, you will not have much time for Karuizawa sights at all - and unless you are renting a car from there to get around, the buses are not as frequent or as fast as you'd like. I'm not sure where you are going in Karuizawa, but when I went there it was very inconvenient to get around - I only went to 2 places I really wanted, and just ran out of time to see anything else - and that was with a full day. If I had to do it again, I'd have rented a car.

If you go from Kanazawa to Hiroshima in one shot, it will take you close to 4½ hours - rather long and tiring but doable. That said, if you left around 5:30 PM you'd be arriving late into Hiroshima close to 10 PM with a good connection. Still, I'd pick that over going in the morning and all the way to Miyajima, taking 5-5½ hours and then try to do an afternoon of touring. Have you thought of maybe taking a day off of Toyama and seeing somewhere in between Miyajima and Hiroshima, like Okayama, Himeji, Takamatsu, or Kurashiki?
As mentioned, it would take over 4 hours to get from Hiroshima to Takachiho, but that assumes the bus schedule works out for you - there are only a couple of buses a day, and I am concerned that by the time you get there, you will be tired out and not have much time to do all you want. With 2 nights to try and see the Kunimigaoka Unkai, your chances are better, but of course, no guarantees.

For Miyazaki, I don't think you've fleshed it out enough - you just list the statues, which don't take that long to see. There are other nice sights though, like Udo Shrine, the Obi castle & samurai area, or Cape Toi.
Regarding Kyoto or Inuyama, you are considering apples and oranges - both are good, but the dance is not that long. Kyoto has a thousand other places you could add. Meiji Mura is absolutely worth it though as well, and it is big - you could spend half a day to a full day there. Inuyama Castle is also there, small and quaint, but one of the 12 surviving originals.
I'd never plan things the way you are suggesting, unless you are going to call it quits afterwards. But if your heart is really set on it, I wish you the best of luck.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/6 17:16
@Ken

On the three day Wide Area pass: Itfs three days, the 17th, 18th, and 19th. Just like people cannot give an exact date when the cherry blossoms will be at their peak, I will not know when the Kochia will be at their peak at Hitachi Seaside Park. I have given myself a three day window. Here are two options:
Oct 17: Fuji Five Lakes
Oct 18: Karuizawa & Ashikaga
Oct 19: Hitachi & train to Nikko
—-or—-
Oct 17: Hitachi & Ashikaga
Oct 18: Fuji Five Lakes
Oct 19: Karuizawa & train to Nikko
It gives me the option to move things around. Thank you for suggestion about renting a car in Karuizawa. I am probably going to rent a car to see the cloud inversions, too.

On Nikko: I assumed the train to and from Nikko had to be used during the four days that the pass was active. I will get to Nikko on the JR pass. I then spend three full days in Nikko, and will need an active pass to get back to Tokyo on the final day. Besides the train, the pass is good on the busses, the ropeway, and the sightseeing boats, which can add up. Since Ifm going for fall colors, I expect to go to Lake Chuzenji twice, and the one way bus fare from Nikko is 1150 Yen, so I think the pass will pay off.

On Kanazawa to Takachiho: I am now thinking of a half day in Kanazawa, and leaving at 1-2 PM for Kobe. I will the board a Sunflower Overnight Ferry for Oita (7:00 PM Departure). Ifll then travel by train from Oita to Nobeoka, and catch a bus to Takachiho.

On Miyazaki: I think I will arrive in Miyazaki around 11 AM on Oct 31st, and I plan to relocate to Kagoshima on the evening of Nov 1st. That gives a day and a half in Miyazaki. Yes, I will probably go to Obi Castle, Udo Shrine, and Aoshima Island, as well as the place with the Moai Statues.

On the final day of the pass: I was leaning towards Meiji Myra, because I think it would have a better chance of fall colors on Nov 6th. All of the Kyoto reports seem to be at least a week later.

Thank you, for your suggestions.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/7 08:00
I want to thank everyone for their comments and suggestions. I have made some changes.

I am adding three days to the trip, all in Tokyo. I will now arrive one day earlier, on Oct 14th, and plan to attend Taste of Tokyo on the 15th.

I will stay an extra day at Ueno on the 24th. I will activate the pass on the 25th and head to Kanazawa for three nights, instead of two nights in Toyama, and two nights in Kanazawa. I plan to drop the Alpine Route. I now believe the Alpine Route is a two day experience, and I do not want to cram it into one day.

I am going to include an overnight ferry from Kobe to Oita, to break up the Kanazawa to Takachiho leg of the trip.

I am going to add another day in Miyazaki, because I figured out that the kickoff event of the Ohara festival in Kagoshima is a night parade on Nov 2nd. I will also attend the day parade on the 3rd, and the head to Hakata for an overnight, to relax the return back to Tokyo.

The rest of the JR pass dates will slide a day back. I am going to add an extra night in Tokyo, before heading home.

To some adding three extra days, and cutting the Alpine Route, will still make the a very hectic trip. It feels better to me.

Once again, additional comments and suggestions are welcome.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/14 07:27
Im going with my wife and two kids in kind of same days as you are, and i was not aware of the two iluminations that you included, so thanks for the tips of your itinerary travel!
by Karnalgas (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/14 13:50
@Karnalgas

My plan has changed a bit. I just wanted to inform you of that. I also made a very big mistake about one of the festivals, the Ueno Tenjin Festival is not near Ueno Station in Tokyo, Itfs actually near Iga Ueno, which is a samurai town in the mountains on the Mei Peninsula, between Nagoya and Osaka.

I still plan to spend the entire day at Kawagoe on Oct 15th, because the evening will have a light up of the portable shrines. Make sure you hit eCandy Alleyf when you go to Kawagoe. Ifm sure the kids will enjoy that.

I have now moved Nikko in front of the use of the three day pass. I will use the Nikko pass to get to and from Nikko. That means I will only spend three nights near Nikko. On Oct 16th & 17th, there is a fall festival in Nikko which includes a re-enactment of a 1000 Samurai funeral procession of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

I havenft decided if I am going to get a three day Tokyo Wide Area pass now. I might toss it, in favor of getting an additional week added to
my regular JR pass. I can then slow down the return from Kagoshima back to Tokyo.

I now want to spend an entire day near Mito, which is the large city near Hitachi Seaside Park. In addition to the seaside park, there is the Kairakuen Gardens, which is considered one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan. I plan to go to all three landscape gardens.

I had already planned to go to the one in Kanazawa. The third one is in Okayama, which is very close to Bitchu Takahashi. I figured that I would visit the castle on the first day of getting to Bitchu Takahashi. I will get getting up early to see the cloud inversion on the following day, and then take the 35 minute train ride to Okayama to go to the gardens. If I have time, I may stop in Kurashiki, which between Okayama and Bitchu Takahashi. Kurashiki is a storehouse town with canals. Some of the canals are still preserved.

If you have never been to Japan, I want to mention that I completely skip most of Tokyo and Kyoto, and you might want to do that. The fall colors will hit those two cities at the end of November, and so I am intentionally going other places. I also visited Tokyo and Kyoto on my other four trips to Japan.

I hope this help in planning your trip. Just to make sure you know, plan to book your hotels at places with a festival six months in advance of your trip. They will book up the quickly.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/14 14:15
@Karnalgas

My plan has changed a bit. I just wanted to inform you of that. I also made a very big mistake about one of the festivals, the Ueno Tenjin Festival is not near Ueno Station in Tokyo, Itfs actually near Iga Ueno, which is a samurai town in the mountains on the Mei Peninsula, between Nagoya and Osaka.

I still plan to spend the entire day at Kawagoe on Oct 15th, because the evening will have a light up of the portable shrines. Make sure you hit eCandy Alleyf when you go to Kawagoe. Ifm sure the kids will enjoy that.

I have now moved Nikko in front of the use of the three day pass. I will use the Nikko pass to get to and from Nikko. That means I will only spend three nights near Nikko. On Oct 16th & 17th, there is a fall festival in Nikko which includes a re-enactment of a 1000 Samurai funeral procession of the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.

I havenft decided if I am going to get a three day Tokyo Wide Area pass now. I might toss it, in favor of getting an additional week added to
my regular JR pass. I can then slow down the return from Kagoshima back to Tokyo.

I now want to spend an entire day near Mito, which is the large city near Hitachi Seaside Park. In addition to the seaside park, there is the Kairakuen Gardens, which is considered one of the top three landscape gardens in Japan. I plan to go to all three landscape gardens.

I had already planned to go to the one in Kanazawa. The third one is in Okayama, which is very close to Bitchu Takahashi. I figured that I would visit the castle on the first day of getting to Bitchu Takahashi. I will get getting up early to see the cloud inversion on the following day, and then take the 35 minute train ride to Okayama to go to the gardens. If I have time, I may stop in Kurashiki, which between Okayama and Bitchu Takahashi. Kurashiki is a storehouse town with canals. Some of the canals are still preserved.

If you have never been to Japan, I want to mention that I completely skip most of Tokyo and Kyoto, and you might want to do that. The fall colors will hit those two cities at the end of November, and so I am intentionally going other places. I also visited Tokyo and Kyoto on my other four trips to Japan.

I hope this help in planning your trip. Just to make sure you know, plan to book your hotels at places with a festival six months in advance of your trip. They will book up the quickly.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/15 01:21
@ebaychucky311, you've not been to Kairakuen yet, right?

I really like Kairakuen. It's pretty in Fall, but it's honestly best in mid to late February and March when the ume is in bloom. The vast majority of trees in the park are ume and they're just so amazing in bloom. I like the scent of ume a lot as well as the color variation. We went in February 2020, but I've been multiple times before that.

I don't know if this is only during ume season, but we bought umeshu in the gift shop that was made with ume grown in the garden. They were allowing samples at the time, but this was February 2020. Kairakuen tends to get a bad rap compared to Korakuen and Kenrokuen, but I think it's a different sort of garden.

In the past I have mostly walked from Mito Station, but in February 2020, I just got off the train at the Kairakuen stop.

I've been to all 3 gardens. They each have their pluses and minuses. My daughter has been to 2. I think she preferred Kairakuen to Kenrokuen, but we visited the former during ume season and the latter during Summer and there was nothing in bloom. Her favorite was Ritsurin near Takamatsu (visited in the Summer.)

I really like the ferry idea vs. all those trains. It seems a lot less risky for a missed connection.

Enjoy!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/15 02:21
@Rkold

I like the scent of plums flowering in the Winter, too.

We live on 6+ acres in North Texas, and probably have 200-300 Mexican Plum trees growing on on our property, and thatfs after I hacked down about 70% of the ones growing on the property when I purchased it. The Mexican Plum grows to a maximum of 2 meters tall, and they look like bushes. They form a thicket, and are considered weeds around here. They still make the air smell wonderful when they bloom.

Actually, I have not been to any of the big three landscape gardens, but I had planned to visit the one in Okayama a few years back. It was raining that day, and I was already soaked from my morning visit to Shikoku Island. I ended up staying in that afternoon, and doing laundry.

I am now looking forward to seeing all three.

The ferry ride from Kobe to Oita does seem like a good choice to reduce fatigue. The cruise I took on my last trip went between Chugoku and Kyushu and went through the Seto Inland Sea to get to Kochi, for the August Yosakoi Dance Festival. I enjoyed that passage, so I think I will enjoy the ferry.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/20 05:41
This information is really useful.
by Amanda11 rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/20 07:33
For your visit to Miyajima, would recommend you spend a night on the island. It doesn't have to be ryokan, this guesthouse that we stayed in was awesome! Not too expensive and almost as comfortable as a ryokan :)
https://visitjapan-vegetarian.com/mikuniya-spend-a-night-at-miyajimas-...
by Lilz (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Fall Vacation in 2022 review 2021/12/20 11:32
@Amanda11

Ifm glad that you found this itinerary useful. Just remember, several veteran posters like Likebike and Rkold found it to be too much time spent doing train travel, and I tapered it back a bit. I have also dropped some things to make it less stressful.

@Lilz

At this time, the time around Hiroshima or Miyajima has been dropped, for extra time in Kanazawa, and an overnight ferry from Kobe to Oita. This also gets rid of time spend traveling by train. I checked the lunar calendar(near a new moon), which means the tides would have been ideal for a visit to Miyajima Island.

If I was going to add Miyajima back in, it would only be a day trip, and not an overnight on the island. The goal on the following day is to get to Takachiho, so I would most likely return to Hiroshima Station at sunset (around 4:30 PM), collect my luggage, and take a Shinkansen south to Kokura, and overnight there. There is a Limited Express train that goes from Kokura to Nobeoka, where I take a bus to Takachiho.

To both of you, Thank You, for your feedback.
by ebaychucky311 rate this post as useful

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