questions & answers: general japan travel

15d, 15n japan trip? planning to visit nagoya, tokyo, sapporo, kyoto and osaka.

15D, 15N Japan Trip? Planning to visit Nagoya, Tokyo, Sapporo, Kyoto and Osaka.

Hi! :)

Firstly, I'm not really sure which category this should belong to so I decided to put it in the General category. If this is wrong, sorry! ._.;;;;;

We're going to Japan on a 15D, 15N trip on at the end of January to early February 2015. Our flight arrives in Nagoya in the late afteroon then leaves Osaka at the end of the trip.

We're still planning on the itinerary, but we're sure that we want to visit Nagoya, Tokyo, Sapporo (maybe a quick stop on the way in Niigata for a social visit to a friend? If it's not practical though, we can skip this), Kyoto and Osaka.

We're thinking: 2 days in Nagoya, 5 days in Tokyo, 3 days Sapporo, 2 days in Kyoto, and 3 days Osaka (or maybe 2 days Osaka then 1 day Nara-Kobe?)? (Is this a good time period to explore?)

I've been reading up online, but Japanese trains are a bit confusing since there's a lot of options. @_@ But so far, I've checked that travelling between Nagoya, Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are very convenient. It's only Sapporo that's a little lengthy and confusing since there's sleeper trains vs overnight buses vs... a lot of other options.

So I have the following questions:

  1. So will the JR Pass be a good choice? Should we get the 14-day JR pass or will buying the 7-day JR Pass and then just paying as we go on other days be cheaper? (We're students so we have a budget and want to keep costs to a minimum as much as possible. TT)

  2. We were thinking of going around Nagoya first and then Tokyo after then Sapporo, but I was wondering if it's more practical to use up all 5 days in Tokyo first before going to Sapporo or we split them up or if we do Sapporo first?

    2.a. If we do Sapporo first, I was thinking:

       2.a.i. maybe we leave Nagoya on the 2nd day at around 9PM,
       2.a.ii. stop-over at Tokyo from 11PM to 6AM somewhere (maybe we can find a 24-hour cafe or something), and
       2.a.iii. then get the first train to Niigata. Get lunch there,
       2.a.iv. then proceed to Aomori,
       2.a.v. and then Sapporo?
    2.b. If we do Tokyo first, I was thinking:
       2.b.i. we leave Nagoya on the 2nd day at around 9PM
       2.b.ii. Spend the after midnight hours in a 24-hour cafe then early check-in
       2.b.iii. Do day 3 to Day 6 in Tokyo, then at Day 7, we leave Tokyo in the afternoon/early evening, spend the night at my friend's place in Niigata, then proceed to Aomori then Sapporo. (In this case, we can spend some hours in Aomori as well.)
  3. Is it better to stay the night in Aomori then take the first train to Sapporo or is it better to proceed directly to Sapporo? I was thinking that maybe we can go directly to Sapporo then just stop over Aomori on the way back? Or maybe Hakodate? I was thinking it would be a waste if we spend the whole day just hopping in and out of trains.

  4. I have no idea how we will be doing the return trip since there's no night train from Sapporo to Tokyo that's part of the JR Pass. Or maybe we can go with: (if the result is cheaper)

    4.a. paying our own way in the beginning

       4.a.i. Centrair airport to Nagoya station, then
       4.a.ii. maybe take the Meguru bus pass for Day 2 then
       4.a.iii. pay the train fare from Nagoya to Tokyo and then
       4.a.iv. pay for Hokutosei from Tokyo to Sapporo) and then
    4.b. activate the 7-Day JR Pass during the return trip to Tokyo on Day 5
       4.b.i. doing the reverse of the original plan, aka Aomori then Niigata then Tokyo

    4.c. Do Day 6 to Day 10 in Tokyo, and then 4.d. use the 7-Day JR Pass (by this time, we have 2 days left on the 7-Day JR Pass) to go to Kyoto 4.e. pay our own way again within the Kansai area

  5. Is it worth all this trouble to go visit Sapporo for only 2 days? Or should we just give up on Sapporo for now and just concentrate on Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya? The thing is, if we don't go now, I don't know if we'll be able to get another chance to go to Japan. On the other hand, however, we don't want to do it if it means that we won't be able to enjoy the trip 'cause we're rushing (and since it's only for 2 days--half of one of which will be spent on the return trip).

Sorry for the overwhelming amount of questions. @_@ Thanks in advance for the help!


Hi there,

That's indeed a long post, let's dig in right away!

1.) Going for the 14 day JR Pass is would I would recommend for this itinerary. There is so much travel in terms of distance and price, that a 14 day JR Pass is a-no-brainer at all. I understand that it may be a lot of money up front but it will give you so much extra flexibility. Additionally the price difference would be really small if you'd have to pay for tickets Nagoya - Tokyo yourself.

2.) Traveling to Sapporo takes a good amount of time, so it may be good to split up your time in Tokyo before and after Sapporo. This way travel time is better spread around. With 24H cafe, do you mean a manga or internetcafe? Those are a great experience to stay in.

3.) There's not much to be found in Aomori and I think it would be better to travel on directly to Sapporo or stay the night in an other place. Hachinohe or Hakodate make for a more interesting stay.

4.) For the return, I'd recommend designating one day as travel day and just get the trip Sapporo - Aomori out of the way. Or you could do Sapporo - Aomori by night train.The Hamanasu train is completely covered, this way you could save some money on accommodations as well.

5.) This is perhaps the most important but also the hardest question to answer. It really depends on how badly you would like to visit Sapporo. Of course you could take it a little easier if you have the 14 day JR Pass and spend a day or two more in Sapporo before returning.

Hope this helps!


Hi Daniel-san! :)

Thanks a lot for the reply. Reading your recomendations, we've decided the following:

  • We'll take the 14-Day JR Pass.

  • And do the following itinerary:

    Day 1-2: Nagoya Day 3-4: Tokyo Day 5: Travel to Sapporo (with Niigata day-trip then take Hamanasu night train in Aomori to Sapporo) Day 6: Sapporo Day 7: Travel back to Tokyo (with Hakodate day trip) Day 8-10: Tokyo Day 11-12: Kyoto Day 13-15: Osaka (maybe do a Kobe/Nara day trip as well, if time permits)

For Days 6 & 7, would it be worth more if we do Sapporo for 1 and a half day instead of doing 1 day Sapporo and half day Hakodate?

Thanks again for the help!


Oh! And yes, we're thinking of a Manga cafe? Or maybe rent a Karaoke room (even if we don't know how we'll read the lyrics on screen). Which would be better, you think? HAHA...

Also, this is kind of out-of-topic, but I also want to get internet for my mobile. Aside from being connected 24/7, it would probably also help for translation apps and map apps so that we won't get lost while touring. However, I'm not sure if the signal would be OK when travelling? I mean, it would probably give me excellent service while in major cities like Tokyo, but in between, would it still work well?

Thanks again!


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