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Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/10 22:00
Hello,

I am planning a trip to Japan for October together with my teenage kids (18, 15) - hoping that the borders will be open by then. We will be there for 15 days; itfs our first time in Japan. Ifd like to do a sanity check of the route I am planning to do:
- Day 1: Arrival in Tokyo in the morning
- Day 2-4: Tokyo
- Day 5: Tokyo toTakayama; overnight at a Ryokan
- Day 6: Takayama to Kyoto
- Day 7-9: Kyoto incl. a day trip to Nara
- Day 10 : Kyoto to Koyasan ; night at a temple
- Day 11 : Koyasan to Osaka
- Day 12 : Universal Studios Osaka
- Day 13 : Osaka to Miyajima with a stop in Hiroshima on the way
- Day 14: Miyajima to Tokyo with a stop in Himeji on the way
- Day 15: Tokyo and flight back home at night

I am not sure yet about this route :
- We will spend much time travelling and in trains. I am thinking about leaving Takayama out, as it is a long detour (and we know rural places and nice landscapes coming from Switzerland). Your view ?
- We already know Universal Studios in California, but I thought that after all the temples we will be in need of a change. Is it worth a day?
- We love the seaside, but the beach season seems to be over in October and I have not found nice seaside locations in the part of Japan we will be covering

I would appreciate your view on this itinerary and any recommendations.

Thanks, Alex
by Alex4ever  

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 11:17
- Day 5: Tokyo toTakayama; overnight at a Ryokan
The route to Takayama via Matsumoto is pretty, but does take time (and the route via Nagoya involves backtracking and not really much faster). Personally I like Takayama, but given other parts of your trip and coming from Switzerland you could skip it. Did you consider Kanazawa? Travel to/from is easier, and it is also a nice spot.
- Day 10 : Kyoto to Koyasan ; night at a temple
Given your comment about Takayama, Koyasan also suffers from some longer travel times for a single night.
As a suggestion, you might want to swap Hiroshima and Osaka (if you keep Osaka in the trip). You could easily substitute USJ with something else like Toei Studio Movie Park. While Hiroshima to Tokyo is not a particularly long trip, departing Osaka to Tokyo would give you a bit more time in the capital before departure.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 14:12
I think you are doing too much. Lots of travel days to too many locations. You have 6 sleeping locations over 15 days. You probably need to drop one, if not two.
by H (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 14:33
If it's your first trip - limiting your major travel and focusing on 2 main locations I think is a great idea.

Have you thought about 5 nights in Tokyo and the rest in either Osaka OR Kyoto. Not moving your luggage all of the time will make life so much easier - specifically if there are a couple of people.

Something that I think is great for a first timer is using major towns as potential locations for day trips. It's possible to visit even visit Miyajima as a long day trip from Kyoto if you've got something like a JR pass.

Takayama is nice and all - but it really depends what you are wanting to do. There are some amazing much less touristy but interesting towns close to Kyoto around Lake Biwa.

The great thing about having two main locations that you base yourself from is you can choose what to do when you feel like it.

Getting sick of temples - go to USO. There is also lots I can recommend but you have not mentioned what stuff you AND your family like to do.
by mfedley rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 14:57
I'm a huge fan of Takayama and if you gear up your itinerary for it to be on your way back (late October) you are likely to strike autumn foliage that you wont get in your other locations.

That said, you are going to other pretty places, so there is always next time.

I would try to work in Kamakura and Enoshima, especially since you want seaside locations. Enoshima is a lovely little island near Tokyo, worth an overnight stay (we usually stay at Iwamotoro Honkan)
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 15:05
Just to echo all that @mfedley said. Stick to two cities with day trips. It will make things much more pleasant. If you stay in Osaka/Kyoto there are no shortage of places to go if you have a Jr Pass. What I normally suggest to people is to make a list of places & decide the night before what to do depending on the mood & weather forecast. I you did want to go to Hiroshima then, for instance Itsukushima/Miyajima is only two hours from Shin-Osaka station and there are loads of really nice places much nearer than that.

I would suggest something like:
Day 1-4 Tokyo (Sensoji, Edo Tokyo Museum, Meiji Shrine, Sky Tree)
Day 5-11 Osaka/Kyoto (Dotonbori, Osaka Aquarium, Nara, Koyasan, (Himeiji, Okayama/Kurashiki, Hikone, Hiroshima?))
Day 12-15 Tokyo (Shopping, Nakano broadway, Sword museum, Odaiba, (Kamakura or Nikko))
by Stan Norrell rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 17:12
Thanks a lot, that is very helpful. I will skio Takayama and think about having either Osaka or Kyoto as second base. Koyasan will probably remain on the route
by Alex4ever rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 17:14
Thanks a lot, that is very helpful. I will skio Takayama and think about having either Osaka or Kyoto as second base. Koyasan will probably remain on the route
by Alex4ever rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/11 18:42
Six locations over a two week trip is not too many IMO - I don't do many one-night stays, and Tokyo+Kyoto are places worthy of extra time. (This site has a two week recommended plan with a lot more stops than six!) The issue is in planning/sequencing. When I plan out my trips, travel time is a consideration, as well as the journey - and October is just the leading edge of koyo for some spots at higher altitudes, so is a factor, but not one I would personally focus on.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/12 02:06
While I have visited Miyajima while spending a few nights in Hiroshima, I regularly do it as a day trip from Kyoto. Fitting in both Hiroshima and Miyajima from Kyoto really depends on what you plan to do in both. The last time I went to Miyajima, my daughter was only 5 or 6, so we mostly spent time on Miyajima. We were there during relatively low tide and my daughter loved walking out to the torii gate and on the beaches. High tide might be more classic, but depending on your interests you might enjoy low tide more.

I've been to Kyoto Toei Eigamura (many years ago), USJ (2018) and the Osaka Aquarium (2016 I thnk?) Which one works best for your family sort of depends on your family and their interests. Toei Egiamura was mostly shows when I visited. USJ has shows but has lots of rides. I went to Universal Orlando in the 1990s, but have not been to either US park since and I am American living in the US. USJ has cheaper ticket prices than either US park, but if you buy a lot of express passes it will add up. I've been to the aquarium 2x. It's OK I much prefer the Maui Ocean Center and the Long Beach Aquarium.

Do you mean seaside as in staying near the ocean or going into the ocean? If you mean going in the actual ocean, I think outside of Okinawa it's going to be too cold. For ocean views you could day trip down to Shirahama in Wakayama or even Tanabe (you can get to either from Osaka/Kyoto.) I did a delightful little walk about 3 km from the station. Tanabe has a nice sandy beach, but the water will be too cold and possibly have jellyfish that time of year. I waded at the beach in Tanabe in September and the water was quite warm, but I did need to worry about jellyfish and there were no lifeguards.

Unless you like smaller hotel rooms in boring neighborhoods don't stay near Shin-Osaka. The only selling points is its convenience to other places. You will always need to travel to do anything outside visit a combini store. But I would pay attention to location if you are planning lots of day trips, you don't want to pick a place only accessible by bus.

I think you could do a few nights one location and then a single night and then a few nights somewhere else. If you pack more (like me) just use takkyubin the suitcase delivery service. It's incredibly efficient.

I have mixed feelings about Takayama, but I also think as someone from Switzerland, it might not be as interesting as other places you can visit. For example, when I lived in New England, sakura was not terribly impressive, but I had amazing leaf viewing just running errands. I now live in the PNW, where there are more limited Fall colors, but I've had some amazing sakura. I also regularly see snow capped mountains while running errands. Japan is a good mix of different environs, but what is going to excite you the most I would think varies by what is familiar for you.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/12 03:14
I think that leaving Koyasan in the plan is good. I have done it as a day trip from Kyoto myself, although I didnft try to fit too much in, just a lengthy visit to Okunoin, a great lunch at a vegetarian restaurant, and one other temple. (Whatever you do, if you go to Koyasan donft miss Okunoin.) For me it was an excellent day, but most people feel like they want to visit more sites in a day. Or do some hiking. At any rate, if you want to experience an overnight stay in a temple, then a day trip wonft do. And it could potentially be one of the most memorable things you do.

If you donft want to get overloaded on temples, then just donft go to too many. Seriously, more is not better. The same with shrines. You will experience some temples on Koyasan and presumably at least one shrine (on Miyajima), so I would suggest trying NOT to go to too many in Kyoto and Nara. Choose carefully, allow time to enjoy the special qualities of the ones you do go to, and skip the rest.

If you donft stay in a ryokan in Takayama, then do try to stay in one somewhere else. (Probably you already have this in mind for Miyajima?) Be sure to get there in time to bathe, relax, and prepare for a nice dinner, and donft even think about skipping breakfast. (At some ryokans, it is a buffet spread and not anything particularly special, but if you stay somewhere that has a traditional Japanese breakfast, it can be quite fancy, or at least quite interesting.)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/12 05:06
I think it's doable including Takayama. One thing Takayama has that Kanazawa does not is Hida-no-sato https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5901.html . It's almost like getting a bonus trip to Shirakawa-go, without actually going. I recommend it. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5950.html

But you should be prepared to skip Miyajima if the floating Torii Gate is still under refurbishment, because that is the main attraction and the soul of Miyajima. https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3401.html

My own rule, if traveling by trains, is to stay in a place at least two nights. Because one night stay is just too hectic - you check-in in the afternoon and check out the next morning, you spend most of your time unpacking and re-packing. You can stay in Kyoto and do day trips to Osaka and even to Himeji Castle.
by ITO (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/12 16:33
Thanks for pointing out that the Itsukushima Shrine in Miyajima is getting renovated. Well, I guess that will have an impact on my route. I assume a trip to Miyajima no longer makes sense then. Should I even still go to Hiroshima (maybe then really just as a day trip from Osaka / Kyoto)? And with Miyajima off my list, a trip to Takayama or Kanazawa could be an option again
by Alex4ever rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/12 20:36
There is a lot more to Miyajima than the iconic torii, and it is kind of a pity to skip both Miyajima and Hiroshima because of the renovations there, but the scaffolding and bridge to the torii definitely change the mood and the photo opportunities. Hiroshima is easily doable as a day trip from Osaka or Kyoto. If your main purpose for visiting is to go to the peace park and museum, I think it is actually kind of good to have some quiet time for contemplation afterwards, and the train ride back can help to provide this. Just remember that the memorial park is not just another tourist attraction, to be crammed into a busy day. It might be the most significant thing you do with your kids on the trip, but it will definitely give you some things to think about.

The shrinefs construction page is at the following link, but everything is in Japanese. You can try using an online translator with it. (The details of the renovation, with pictures, are kind of interesting.) As far as I understand their latest announcement, they arenft even sure they will have the scaffolding removed by New Yearfs as planned. I guess you probably have no chance of seeing the torii in October.
http://www.itsukushimajinja.jp/construction.html

As for Takayama, I have always found the transit there to be a hindrance to fitting it into my itineraries. It is just not easy to get there from Tokyo, even if you leave quite early in the day. So I think your original plan of getting there from Tokyo, spending one night in a ryokan there, and then leaving for Kyoto the next day is impractical, if you want to see much of Takayama. (Remember that a ryokan is not a place you want to rock into barely before dinner time, frazzled and exhausted from a long day of transit and sightseeing.) I suppose you could make it work if you spent the bulk of the next day there, and left for Kyoto quite late. Spending two nights in a ryokan might be more than you want (I personally like to do it myself, but it is pricey and the food can be too much of a good thing). But changing lodging is a bit of a nuisance (I actually did that once in Takayama and it was okay, butc). However, if youfre deleting your Miyajima night you can add that time to your itinerary elsewhere.

Nagano or Matsumoto, or Kanazawa, would be logical stopping places if you want to visit Takayama for one night. And even then it takes a while to get there. There are a few excellent things to do in each place, but they all take time, so you will want to choose carefully. Based on your original itinerary I would say that you are the type who is willing to spend time doing your research, though. That is a good thing. (Every time I go to Japan, I change my itinerary countless times before I finalize it, and even then I sometimes make changes on the fly when I get over there.)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/12 20:51
As an alternate suggestion, because I tend to travel to parts of Japan that take time to get to, I often have one or two gthrow-awayh nights in my itinerary. These are nights where I spend the better part of a day in a city where I have things to do, then hop on a train and get to a place fairly late and just sleep there (usually in an inexpensive business hotel near the train station), and then leave in the morning and get to my next location fairly early to spend the bulk of the day there.

In your case, Nagoya might possibly be one such city. (There are actually things to do there, but to be honest it isnft a city I would recommend to first-time travelers.) You could spend the bulk of the day in Tokyo (or maybe sightseeing between Tokyo and Nagoya), then spend the night in Nagoya, take the first limited express to Takayama, and then have quite a bit of time before checking into a ryokan, and also the next day (there are morning markets) before proceeding to Kanazawa. This is actually what I might do myself, and unless you opt to take a bus to Kanazawa via Shirakawago, you can do it all with your JR pass. (I think the scenery between Takayama and Kanazawa via Toyama is particularly good.)
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/15 00:20
one night in Takayama feels like a long journey just to stop over, you would be better to at least have one day there, we have been a couple of times and have had stayed 3 nights, that way we get to see a bit while we are there along with the slow but pleasant train journey

For Hiroshima, Miyajima, that can be done as a day trip from Osaka, we have also done that a couple of times, saves checking out off hotels to much, a couple of hours train journey might be preferable to checking out from one hotel and waiting to check in at the next.

When we travel we only tend to have one extra stop in our usual Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka stops as getting round some of the stations with lots of luggage is not pleasant.
by Osakajin (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/15 03:33
Regarding the overall itinerary it may be fine for you if you are quite eclectic, have a generally fast travel pace and really don't see yourself going to Japan ever again, or at least in the near future. In principle I agree that running around too much is too hectic for a lot of people.
Takayama is worth a visit, but unless you are making a whole side trip and including other places like Shirakawago and Kanazawa, you could drop it. Instead, you can still stay in Tokyo, and add a trip to Nikko. Or, add more time for Hiroshima.
For Hiroshima I just hope you give the city its due and not just see the Peace Park and leave the city, as so many stampeding from the station do. There is much more than that, so try to add in something more, like the Shukkeien Garden, Mitakidera Temple, or eat some okonomiyaki at Okonomi-Mura. After the Peace Park you'll likely need to decompress some anyway. There is more than enough for 2 days to see both Hiroshima City and Miyajima, but you can do both in a day with an early morning start. The main sights at Miyajima are the Itskushima Shrine, Daishoin Temple, and Mt Misen. If the weather is bad, then you can skip Misen, though October is one of the best months for good weather.
https://goo.gl/fAz4ax

I highly recommend seeing Koyasan, and especially Okunoin. There is simply no other place in Japan like it, and it is a truly surreal place. But if you want to see it at night as well (a very different experience), I implore you to choose a temple that has no evening curfew. You can cover all the main sights there if you are there for 24 hours.
https://youtu.be/uquvCbWANBo

For Kyoto, obviously the temples and shrines are the main draw. If you detest them, you have probably picked the wrong city. While you can get "templed out" just going from one to the next, the key is to add enough variety so everything in your head is not just a blur by the end of the day. There are enough places you can include to do this quite easily, and they are not at all dull or below average places. A few are Katsura Imperial Villa, the Toei Eigamura, Heian Shrine Garden, Murin-an, Sagano railway + Hozugawa river cruise, the railway museum, NIjo Castle, Nishiki Market, Iwatayama Monkey Park, Shoseien Garden, and many others. I'm not saying to add all these to your plans, but you can have a variety of places, even in Kyoto.
https://goo.gl/knQtMg

One more option you have to give yourself more breathing space is to skip the train all the way back from Hiroshima to Tokyo, and fly. You can get a dirt cheap airfare for example on ANA's Experience Japan Fare (11,000 yen per person), and fly back from Hiroshima to Tokyo on your last day. It can save several hours and may work better for you, unless you have big shopping plans before you leave the country. I would keep Himeji though and see it on your way down from Osaka. Your initial 3½ days in Tokyo is a pretty decent amount of time to get your toe in the water.

One thing you never mentioned is visiting a hot spring somewhere. I highly recommend you visit at least one during your visit. They are all over the country, so you should be able to fit one in, and it is a real Japanese experience.
by Ken (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/15 16:27
Hello, have you tried looking for flights landing in Osaka instead of Tokyo (and keep your return flight from Tokyo)? They might be more expensive, but if the difference is only $150 or less, it would be worth the extra money.
by ML (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/15 16:49
Hi, yes - I also checked flights for Osaka, but the connections were more complicated and lengthy than the ones for Tokyo.
by Alex4ever rate this post as useful

Re: Itinerary 15 days / Takayama worth a detour? 2022/6/15 17:33
Hi Alex.....
As you can see, there is no shortage of tours in Japan.
I went three times and the last time I went with my two teenagers, you can be sure, it will be an unforgettable experience to go with teenagers....
Kyoto was my love at first sight, since then I've always stayed in Kyoto and with the kids we had four more days in Tokyo.
Ken gave a lot of interesting ideas, one day in Nikko the kids loved it for example, while in Kyoto the youngest visited only three and the rest of the days (we stayed 8) he did what he wanted (Ken gave nice tips about) (but he loved Kinkakuji, Kiyomizudera and Inari Shrine, your kids will love it too)
Going to Koyasan was almost a must for me, I visited on the first two trips you really need to arrive early (although leaving Kyoto after breakfast (8 am) you will arrive there at 12 noon, visit, sleep and the next day come back, as Ken said, visiting Okunoin at night was a beautiful experience, your kids will enjoy it...
With Kyoto as your base, you can visit Osaka and come back, visit Himeji (mandatory for teenagers) visit Nara (they will love the deer) come back and as Ken said spend the last night in Hiroshima if you arrive in the morning to visit and not next day a few more things and go back to Tokyo.
I don't know where you could fit in, but a very nice experience for the kids was to stay one night in Odawara, we left Tokyo for Kyoto, left our bags first thing in the morning at Riokan Hinode (32€ a night) and bought the pass which gives the right to go to the lake, you will pass through Owakudami https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5203.html it is an active volcanic zone, where sulfurous smokes, hot springs and hot rivers... attraction are the boiled eggs with black shells that are sold there, they are boiled in sulfur....you can take the cable car and if the weather is clear you will see Mount Fuji and go down the mountain to the lake where two ships await you. pirate!!! and cross the lake, and back... all this will last about 5 hours, then you can visit a beautiful little castle in Odawara, the night is lit up and very beautiful, the food and sweets of Odawara were unforgettable.... for the teenagers a full plate the tour....
Sorry for the newspaper and thanks for reading.
Roberto
by pirataurbano rate this post as useful

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