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feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/6 09:56
Hi everyone!

I plan to have a solo trip to Japan in autumn this year (probably around mid-Oct) with the following itinerary draft; any feedback/suggestions will be much appreciated.

DAY-01: Nagoya - Osaka
- overnight flight to Nagoya (NGO); ~09:00AM arrival
- visit Nagoya castle
- Hikari shinkansen to Osaka
- stay in Osaka

DAY-02: Kinosaki Onsen
- morning: Osaka castle
- Kounotori-9 train 12:05pm (Shin-Osaka) - 2:45pm (Kinosaki onsen)
- stay in Kinosaki: ryokan + kaiseki meal included

DAY-03: Kyoto
- Kinosaki-12 train 10:39am (Kinosaki onsen) - 1:07pm (Kyoto)
- afternoon: Kiyomizudera & Fushimi Inari (Q: is it possible for a foreigner to get the goshuin here?)

DAY-04: Kyoto, Morioka, Tokyo
- the main plan is just to try the Wanko Soba challenge in Morioka
- long shinkansen trip, but it's fine (Q: is it possible to see autumn leaves/momijigari around the route?)
- probably will stay in Tokyo

DAY-05: Tokyo
- Sensoji and Tokyo Tower on my list
- flight will be in the late night of day-5.


Note:
- I plan to purchase the 7-days JR pass.
- I can't speak Japanese.
- other than specified above, my style of trip is just impromptu, i.e., wandering around the city, not so much into tourism spots (expect someone really really recommends it or three-dots sign in this website), and local food sampling.
- would the Sports day (10 Oct) affect the usual business hours (restaurant/market/train schedule)?
- The option to arrive in NGO and leave from NRT is the best so far, in terms of schedule and price. However, this may change in the next few months, so any suggestions are certainly welcome.


Fingers-crossed that the borders will be opened soon.
Thanks!
by Chris (guest)  

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/6 11:37
It's all very rushed. You'll only have rime for a few photos at best. Most of the trip is train travel and walking.

One example... You have allotted only 4 hours for Fushimi Inari and Kiyomizudera. And those two sights are 30-45 mins travel apart.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/6 11:54
Hi!

I've gotten goshuin at both Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari. Sometimes they just give out pre-made sheets, but that is more based on how busy they are vs. being a foreigner or not.

I'm pretty sure you won't really be seeing momiji on the route. I am sure there are some trees that might have turned, but I just found my pictures from when I did Oirase Stream in 2009. I was there ~October 25 and there were definitely leaves that had changed, but it wasn't peak.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/6 12:26
gooday, Kinosaki-onsen is quite pretty but the hotels only have tap water, I think, so if you want "real" onsen water you have to go to the public baths in town. That's fine for some people, but others might find it a bit intimidating. And really the bathing is the drawcard for the town, so what I am getting to is that if you arent likely to go into the public baths, I dont know whether I would make that trip as it is quite a long trip, and not a massively interesting one, then you do it again on the way back.

If I was doing your trip I'd try an onsen town closer to your other destinations, or actually what I would do is spend a night in Nara, which is my favorite town in Japan. Some of the hotels there have onsens, but it isnt an onsen town where you walk around in yukata like they do in kinosaki onsen or kusatsu onsen

by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/6 12:42
As a person who considers themselves a fast traveler - I must say that you will be moving around so much that it will affect your ability to actually see stuff.

If seems as though you have 3 things you want to do

(1) Visit an onsen town
(2) Visit castles + temples
(3) Do wanko soba

Before I make any comments - I just want to say that I don't know you or your travel style so I might be wrong.

If I was to plan a 5 day trip to Japan - I'd try and keep it simple and stay in one area. The Osaka / Kyoto area honestly has over a month's worth of stuff to do so I'd stay in one city and do day trips to see what you want to - with one potential night in an onsen town.

Osaka and Nagoya castles are nice and all - but they are recreations and there are better options available in the general area.

Himeji, Hikone and Nagahama (this town the castle is not as impressive - but there is plenty to do) are good short trips from Osaka/Kyoto

https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1406
https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-1074
https://www.japan-guide.com/community/mfedley/report-3378

Kinosaki Onsen is nice and all - but I honestly don't think much of the water there. Apart from Arima Onsen near Kobe - I'm sure that others could suggest a nice onsen town in the Kansai area.

Kyoto is really huge and I find it's best to visit one particular section of the city at a time. For example - Nara and Fushimi Inari often make a good day together. Never underestimate the time it takes to travel to different parts of Kyoto - specifically if your using a bus.

On the Wanko Soba challenge. I know it's really big on youtube - but it's like 3 hours Shinkansen for a meal by yourself. I honestly think you'll regret visiting with such a short amount of time in Japan. Tohoku is great - but Morioka has very little to do there and my specialty is finding things to do everywhere in Japan.

If you really want to do a food challenge - there might be one in Kyoto or Osaka. One that I'd love to try in Osaka is an Okonomiyaki Challenge!
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/8 03:27
i second the concept of staying in one place and doing day trips. As an example, what happens if it rains one of your days and you have scheduled something outside for that day. If you are staying in one place and get the weather forecast, you can adjust to make your trip more enjoyable. same thing regarding food. you really like a restaurant, go back to it. always better not to be rushed and you are in control, not the schedule leaves me no choice
by sapporostan rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/8 07:45
Another point not mentioned so far is that for Nagoya Castle, the main keep is closed and will be torn down next year. You may not get the satisfying experience you are hoping for. You could however, go see Inuyama Castle (much smaller, but a surviving original - not reconstructed fake) or Hikone (same). I'd skip Osaka Castle entirely - it is not a castle at all - just a concrete museum with a castle facade and guards barking at everyone to not take any photos inside. Himeji Castle however is magnificent.

As for going up to Morioka, as others have mentioned, it would be a very long and tiring train trip just for some soba. With a rail pass the best time to get up there is 5 hours. There is another option however. You could fly from Itami in Osaka to Hanamaki in less than 90 minutes, and JAL has it's Explorer fare where one way is just 5500 yen. From there it's just a 10 minute ride by shinkansen to Morioka, or if not using a rail pass anymore and you want to economize, it's about 35-40 minutes and 510 yen by regular train.
Returning back to Tokyo just takes 2 hrs 10 min with the best time by shinkansen. You might want to run the whole way by bullet train, but remember that especially with such short Japan trips like you want, time is all the more important. If you fly and skip the pass, it comes out cheaper. Up to you. BTW I've been to Morioka, and didn't find the city very interesting. Near Ichinoseki was wonderful though, especially Hiraizumi and Geibikei.
https://youtu.be/NNsGoa4wWOo
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/9 10:35
Dear H, rkold, Lazy Pious, mfedley, sapporostan, and Ken,

Thank you so much for your comments. All the information is certainly helpful and will refine my trip plan.

As for the castle, I will follow the suggestion to drop both Osaka and Nagoya castle and go for Himeji instead. I also noticed the Limited Express Hamakaze that gives a direct train from Himeji to Kinosaki-onsen. Any comments? Compared to the Kounotori train, how about the view on the route?
by Chris (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/9 14:05
Hamakaze is 45 mins slower.

Don't do himeji Jo. You are already very time poor. That will add even more travel time.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/10 06:11
hi Chris. On a short trip I dont know if I would go to Himeji. The lineup is usually very long though I'm not sure what it is like at the moment.

Someone else mentioned the castle at Hikone. Actually Hikone is a lovely little town not far from Kyoto (get off shinkansen at Maibara, it is about 5 minutes away), and I reckon the castle is epic, with nice grounds (known more for cherry blossom but very pretty in autumn) and great views over lake Biwa. That would be my pick, though Himeji is certainly fantastic.

by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/10 07:21
So if you agree with the PPs about removing Nagoya and Osaka castle and can reconsider about binge eating noodles youfd be left with a much more reasonable itinerary:


DAY-01: Nagoya - Hikone- Kyoto
- overnight flight to Nagoya (NGO); ~09:00AM arrival (if you can fly into Itami or KIX) visiting Himeiji might also be a good alternative.
- train to Hikone
- visit HIKONE castle
- train to Kyoto
- stay in Kyoto

DAY-02: Kyoto
- all day: Anything you like in Kyoto, eg Kiyomizudera

DAY-03: Kyoto — Kinosaki onsen
- morning: more Kyoto sightseeing. Or departing earlier for the onsen town and having more time there.
- train to Osaka / Kinosaki onsen
- Kounotori-9 train 12:05pm (Shin-Osaka) - 2:45pm (Kinosaki onsen)
- stay in Kinosaki: ryokan + kaiseki meal included

DAY-04: Kinosaki onsen - Tokyo

Kinosaki-12 train 10:39am (Kinosaki onsen) - 1:07pm (Kyoto) And further on to Tokyo
—> long day in the train but if you are set on Kinosaki onsen, thatfs what it is.
If you just want to experience onsen. You could scrap Kinosaki completely and either replace it with Hakone or a bit nicer Shuzenji in Izu peninsula. Both on the way between Kyoto and Tokyo.
—> essentially the entire day is lost to transport

DAY-05: Tokyo
- Sensoji and Tokyo Tower on my list
- flight will be in the late night of day-5.


So actually my proposal would be
DAY 1 : Nagoya airport - Hikone - afternoon & night in Kyoto (assuming you donft fly to Itami / KIX)

Day 2: Kyoto

Day 3 : Kyoto. Maybe daytrip to Nara

DAY 4: morning leave for Shuzenji or Hakone
Onsen afternoon & evening and ryokan experience

Day 5
Leave from Hakone / Shuzenji for Tokyo, some sightseeing in Tokyo and night flight back home

- Only 1 castle but a real one
- Only 2 hotels
- A bit less time in Tokyo but more time in Kyoto
- Much less time on trains and more time in actual location.
by LikeBike rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/10 08:06
I like that plan. Actually a few years back before the world fell apart we stayed our last night (before a departure from Narita the next day) at Fukuzumiro ryokan at Hakone, a short walk from Hakone Yumoto station. The place is like a museum, just absolutely fantastic and nestled next to the river, it is like you stepped back in time. Only one room has toilets inside the room but given the history of the place it is a small price to pay. I'd really recommend that one.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/10 08:12
I've gotta agree with the above. You are trying to put 10 days worth of stuff into 4 days of travel.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: feedback on 5-days solo trip in autumn 2022/2/14 08:52
Dear H, Lazy Pious, LikeBike, and mfedley,

Fantastic! once again, thank you for your valuable suggestions.. my bad, I didn't consider Hikone castle previously
by Chris (guest) rate this post as useful

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