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Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/22 07:59
I don't think it is jumping around too much - I had a request to organise something that went from Tokyo to Shikoku, down to Kagoshima AND Hokkaido. Definitely flying to Hokkaido will save a lot of time if going to Shirekoto (but travel across Hokkaido is slow), but consider doing that on arrival as part of your international airfare rather than stopping in Tokyo as you have that later. There are also some great spots in the Tohoku region as you work you way south.
by JapanCustomTours rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/22 15:15

I don't think it's jumping around too much but wanted to mention getting to the Dewa Sanzan takes a lot longer than you would think and leaving the Dewa Sanzan for Fuji Five Lakes is going to take longer than you think. There are a limited number of trains that run from Niigata to Tsuruoka/Sakata I believe there are domestic flights from Sapporo to Niigata and that is definitely the fastest way to go vs. trains and buses from Hokkaido unless you are planning to stop and see a lot throughout Tohoku, which can also be awesome, I love Tohoku. I've taken the train down from Akita to Sakata. I found it very scenic, but there are very few trains (local or limited express) on that line so it just takes a long time. It's also going to take you like 4.5 hours to get to Tokyo and then another 2 hour+ to get to Mt Fuji. It's all doable, just be aware of transit times and don't plan too much on travel days.

I'd also warn that without a rental car you can not reach Yudono-san on week days. The bus only runs on weekends. I've only been to Haguro-san (Yudono-san and Gas-san were closed when I was there) but Haguro-san is a beautiful climb up a lot of steps. (I took the bus down because I had to make a connection in Tsuruoka for a highway bus to Yamagata.)

There is a Mitsuboshi-Kaidou Pass (assuming it is still offered post Covid) https://www.mitsuboshi-kaidou.com/access that lets you take the bus one way from Matsumoto to Takayama to Shirakawa Go and onwards to Kanazawa. It's 5500 yen. You could also stop in Hirayu Onsen (and do an additional trip to Kamikochi for an additional fee or do an additional trip to the Okuhida region for an additional fee) depending on what your interests are.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/25 06:48
This is my tentative itinerary. This is, of course, nothing conclusive, but I would really like to enjoy Japan from north to south. It is important to emphasize that I intend to visit Japan in 2022. This year is practically lost for any a bit more serious travel with the exception of some nearby countries next to my country (Slovenia).

I just wanted to explain that seven days, starting from Shari town (on day 8) until Tsuruoka (day 14) will be covered by 7-day JR pass. I have looked at Hyperdia and it is clear that the 7-day pass would be a great value for this portion. You will also realize that the travel from Sapporo to Tsuruoka will be a long one and some of other travels too, but never mind because I'm a real rail fan. Anyway, I have looked at the options of transfer from Tsuruoka to Fuji Five Lakes and the plane is definitely a cheaper option. So, this portion could be covered by a combination of plane (to Haneda) + trains to Kawaguchiko.

I'm also aware that this itinerary is not ideal, but so far it appears to be the best one between so many that I have created until this day :)

Day 1 - Arrival in Tokyo.
Day 2 - Tokyo.
Day 3 - Tokyo.
Day 4 - Day trip to Nikko.
Day 5 - Departure by plane to Memanbetsu airport, close to Abashiri town, and upon arrival by Shiretoko Airport Liner (bus) to Utoro.
Day 6 - Shiretoko National Park.
Day 7 - Shiretoko National Park.
Day 8 - Departure from Utoro by bus to Shari town and departure by train from Shiretoko-Shari station toward Furano via Abashiri and Asahikawa. Arrival in Furano.
Day 9 - Furano.
Day 10 - Half day trip by train to Biei and the rest in Furano.
Day 11 - Departure from Furano by train toward Sapporo via Shintoku to enjoy Sekisho line scenery. Arrival in Sapporo.
Day 12 - Sapporo.
Day 13 - Day trip by train to Otaru and the rest in Sapporo.
Day 14 - Departure from Sapporo by train toward Tsuruoka via Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, Morioka and Akita. Arrival in Tsuruoka.
Day 15 - Dewa Sanzan area
Day 16 - Dewa Sanzan area
Day 17 - Several additional locations around Tsuruoka.
Day 18 - Departure from Tsuruoka by air from Shonai airport to Haneda airport. Upon arrival by train to Kawaguchiko station via several stations. Fuji Five Lakes area arrival.
Day 19 - Fuji Five Lakes area.
Day 20 - Fuji Five Lakes area.
Day 21 - Departure from Kawaguchiko station toward Matsumoto via Otsuki and Kofu. Arrival in Matsumoto.
Day 22 - Matsumoto with a half day trip to Hotaka.
Day 23 - Departure from Matsumoto by bus toward Takayama. Arrival in Takayama.
Day 24 - Takayama.
Day 25 - Departure from Takayama by bus toward Kanazawa, but with long stay in Shirakawa-go area. Arrival in Kanazawa.
Day 26 - Kanazawa.
Day 27 - Departure from Kanazawa by train toward Kyoto via several stations. Arrival in Kyoto.
Day 28 - Kyoto.
Day 29 - Day trip by train to Nara.
Day 30 - Kyoto.
Day 31 - Departure from Kyoto by train toward Hiroshima with longer stay in Himeji. Arrival in Hiroshima.
Day 32 - Hiroshima.
Day 33 - Hiroshima with a day trip to Miyajima.
Day 34 - Departure from Hiroshima by train toward Fukuoka, Hakata station. Arrival in Fukuoka.
Day 35 - Fukuoka.
Day 36 - Departure from Fukuoka and Japan toward Busan, South Korea by Beetle.
by Janez (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/25 07:41
Awesome and crazy itinerary!!! Wish I could see that much of Japan in one go ;)

"Day 33 - Hiroshima with a day trip to Miyajima."

This. I've been to Miyajima as a day trip from Hiroshima, but it is bad to combine Hiroshima and Miyajima together. I see that you have just Hiroshima the previous day (for me just one day was enough for Hiroshima, there's not that much to see, you have the castle, museums, memorials and A-dome).

So I advice you to do just Miyajima on day 33 (Miyajima is beautiful, deers everywhere, a stunning summit which you can hike up there or take the cable car, besides if you stay longer during the day you might see both tides as I did). And enjoy the food and sweets (I ate lotsss of momiji manju, my favorites were the chocolate ones/also enjoyed eating melon pan with icecream but beware the deers because they will try to steal a slice ahah). Also, Miyajima is the perfect place to eat Anagomeshi, which I recommend!!! There are restaurants close to the departure ferry port (you will have to go through this street to catch the ferry to Miyajima). There is a very famous restaurant which was full, but I ate at the restaurant right next to that one and enjoyed a delicious Anagomeshi ;)
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/25 07:49
Also, I may add something to your Hokkaido part of the trip. If you are going in August, then that's the perfect time to visit Hokuryu Sunflower Village (as you said, you are more into nature). Why not skip Otaru and visit the beautiful sunflower fields? Just a suggestion of course ;)
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/26 05:08

Before I had a kid, I didn't mind taking long train trips either, just be aware that Sapporo to Tsuruoka is a more than 10 hour train trip with layovers but no stopovers. There is a layover of ~40 minutes in Shin-Hakodate, 1 hour in Morioka and a ~55 minute layover in Akita. The last train out of Akita for Tsuruoka is currently at 20:48 if you want to increase your travel times with stopovers, but you must make that train or you are spending the night in Akita. The last train from Sakata to Tsuruoka is at 22:39 arriving at 23:13. (The local trains from Akita to Sakata tend to have an 8 minute connection time to then catch the local to Tsuruoka) If you are not staying near the station you might have an expensive taxi ride on your hands.

When I went to Haguro-san, I stayed in Sakata the night before and took a morning limited express train to Tsuruoka. It might have been the 7 am express and then I caught the 7:52 bus to Haguro-san. I think I took the 13:00 bus back to the S-Mall since I caught an express bus there for Yamagata.

I'm not saying you can't do this, just be aware this is a long long train travel day and the layovers tend to be just long enough to be annoying but not long enough you can actually do anything without risking missing your connection and if you miss one connection, be aware of when the next ones are.

Also generally it is cheaper and I believe just as fast to take the bus from Tokyo to Fuji Five Lakes as taking the train.

Good luck!
by rkold rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/26 23:56
Janez, your research and planning skills are so impressive...

I donft know if I have ever seen a first-time Japan traveler come up with an itinerary that covers so much territory but is actually feasible and obviously takes the transportation options and logistics into account in considerable detail. I really like that fact that even though you have some days with a lot of time spent on transit, you mix that up with multiple days at a destination so you can enjoy it, and you arenft changing hotels almost every night. Given how much time you still have before you can go, Ifm sure you will make even more refinements and improvements to suit your own personal tastes and needs. Your itinerary is already quite intriguing, and Ifd like to see what you come up with by the time you are actually able to go on this trip!

I tend to roll my eyes whenever experienced Japan travelers tell newcomers that Japan travel is geasyh and they shouldnft gwaste moneyh paying for tours or trip planning services. My own trips always take a huge amount of planning over many months, and that is with years of experience under my belt already. In a million years I would never say it is geasy.h

Maybe Ifll hire you to plan my next trip! I donft know if you ever got exactly the answer you were looking for on your initial question, but your persistence tells me that you donft expect a trip to Japan to be geasyh and are willing to put in the effort needed to make it a smashing success. Best of luck to you!
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Nikko Pass and train change en route 2021/2/27 01:03
@Kim I totally agree with you! It is never "easy", actually, I planned my previous trip to Japan for 8 months or so, and I changed so many thing over the course of those months. Even when we arrive in Japan, we learn that we could have "done" that or this. Planning a trip to Japan is not easy for me at all, there's so much to see and do, but my budget is often limited too (can't stay a month traveling like the OP here).

To be honest, hyperdia was probably the website that I visited the most, even while I was in Japan two years prior. But buying a JR pass (I bought the JR Sanyo Sanin pass) made things easier for me. Just had to arrive at the station and just show the pass, no problems at all (if I were to buy tickets for the amount of traveling that I did, I would have lost plenty of time).

Other things that take me a lot of time to search are restaurants/cafes, because I like to enjoy Japanese food. I had never a problem with hotels, since I prefer the Mitsui Garden Hotels when traveling through Japan (but I did have to search for a ryokan or temple stay just to have the experience).

The OP itinerary sure looks awesome for a first timer. I surely had lots of difficulties doing my first itinerary. I wish the OP the best during his trip, and hope that the OP will share the experience with us!
by Sophia (guest) rate this post as useful

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