questions & answers: general japan travel

help on travel plans

help on travel plans

Hi i have decided on a trip to japan last minute as i just had 2 months become free for me with work so i plan to book a flight for this week, however the more and more research i do the more i simply have no idea where to start, i am interested in seeing the whole country with a mix of old and new japan, id love to have an experience of the mountains and a couple of days trekking maybe, city sightseeing temples, natural springs and gardens basically anything worth seeing I'm happy to do and work out which rail pass will best benefit that. Money isn't my main concern although i am not looking to spend my entire life savings :-) and i can book my flight back at any point I'm thinking 5 weeks in japan at present but open to change.

any advice on a good itinerary would really be helpful as i am complete novice and would just like a good overall experience of cites, nature, culture etc

thank you in advance even the slightest help is appreciated

sam

sam44
sam44

Hi Sam!

If you ask me, Japan is absolutely the best choice to visit, last-minute or not. Will this be your first visit to Japan? If so I would suggest starting in Tokyo. Here you can get a feel for the modern Japan, enjoy top Japanese cuisine and city life. Since you have 5 weeks I would suggest around 5 days in at the beginning in Tokyo and maybe 2-3 at the end. From there Japan is open to you, with the super fast Shinkansen you can reach any part of Japan within a days travel. Making a complete week itinerary is pretty hard without knowing more about your interests but my general recommendation would be to travel down south from Tokyo, visit Kyoto and Nara to experience more traditional culture of Japan. Then from Kyoto visit Kinosaki Onsen, which is a beautiful Onsen town where you can enjoy natural springs and experience stay at a traditional Japanese Ryokan. From there there's still way too much to list but here are some other recommendations.

Hiroshima and Miyajima. Hiroshima for its historical importance and Miyajima as it is one of the most iconic sights in Japan.

Naoshima famous for it's art but great to visit to be just blown away by the sea wind and island life.

Takayama and surrounding area. Takayama is a beautiful mountain village with a lot of culture behind it.

I can give your some more specific tips and places to visit if you tell me a little more of what you would like to do.
Daniel

72a8815842aa5db137c135807bd6bb11?s=50&d=mm
Daniel-san
Expert_button_2

thank you Daniel, i have been researching and researching and everyones itineraries are different and it was starting to make me confused as where best to as i know so little about Japan this being my first time, i will fly to japan and spend one week in tokyo i have a hotel booked and from here my plans end, i will want to stay in hostels or relatively cheap hotels i am not to fussy but what i really want is freedom, i want a lose itinerary that i can stick to but if i fall in love with an area i don't want to be rushing to leave as i have things booked etc, i understand this is tough and most people seem to be planned down to the finest detail i however really don't like to work like this as i have the luxury of time on my hands.

I would like to see some of the highlights of japan some great temples and to stay overnight in a couple, i want to climb fuji or mount koto or any others that are recommended - i will want to shop but this i will leave to tokyo for my last few days before home - to be honest i can not tell you what i want to see as i don't know what there is i am simply looking for an eye opening / learning about japan and its history / culture, city and country side journey that isn't mapped out but has some structure to it covering all the things i must see.

That may seem confusing i know i am walking into a trip with no idea but this isn't a worry so long as i don't leave saying ' i didn't know about that / i should have gone here'

with you knowledge am i completely stupid to not pre book things like hostel / hotels or certain trips etc as staying in the best place isn't a worry as long as its safe and reasonably priced - I'm imaging there will always be a room somewhere for a girl on her own right????

with this being said i will need to work out the best rail pass for me - i am not adverse to an itinerary so its ok i will make a plan i just don't want it to be so structured i have no breathing space

sorry if I'm blabbing on
thanks again
sam

sam44
sam44

hi so i made a very very rough little itinerary that could be a complete mistake as i have no idea really just from looking at other peoples i thought maybe i could give you this and you could give me your advice on what you would change / do more / less off etc

16th tokyo
17th tokyo
18th tokyo
19 tokyo
20 tokyo
21 tokyo
22 takayama
23 kyoto
24 kyoto
25 kyoto
26 kyoto
27 nara
28 nara
29 osaka
30 osaka
1 osaka
2 kobe
3 hiroshima
4 hiroshima
5 fukuoka
6 nagesaki
7 nagesaki
8 kagoshima
9 kagoshima
10 naha
11 naha
12 kerama islands
13 kerama islands
14 okinowa / naha
15 either another island or fly to tokyo or somewhere nearby
16 - 20th where i will probably finish my trip is free as i know some of the above is wrong in terms of timings etc - i have no idea if this is any good or if i miss any great spots out you recommend - this is a stab in the dark at some kind of itinerary so please feel free to scrap it and start again if its awful

i also plan many day trips whilst in the areas - so some places may need longer / shorter i know this I'm just trying to make a start on rough ideas

thanks
Sam

sam44
sam44

Hi Sam,
It's actually very useful that you write a good amount of what you would like, don't want and don't know about. It also gives me a bit of an idea of what kind of a person you may be. Japan is perfect for just traveling on the go without a completely planned itinerary. It's actually something I love to do, just get on the train and sort things once you arrive somewhere. Japan is absolutely perfect when it comes to this, every station has a tourist information and you can ask them for help with accommodations. Just say your budget and they will call all the hotels/hostels/etc in the area until they find a place for you. This is also one of the most amazing things of the JR Pass, you can just can get on the train whenever you feel like it.

Okay, now that I have a little more information let's try to fill in your itinerary a little more.
After Tokyo, why not visit Fuji? Fuji is best reached from Tokyo anyway and some fresh mountain air will be good after a week of city life. From there you could head to Hakone, this is a very beautiful area, with onsen, traditional inns and many interesting spots. Although early in your trip a good tip for shopping in the area are the Gotemba Premium Outlets. The view of Fuji is also amazing in Hakone.

After Hakone I would suggest going down to Kansai / Takayama, this is the area where Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Kobe are located. Kansai offers enough to keep you busy for days. In Kyoto I would advise a visit to Kyomizudera temple, I've always found this as one of the most impressive sights in Kyoto. You can also view the entire city from there.
As for the JR Pass, I would suggest a 21 day JR Pass to use when you start travel to Kansai, from there you should be able to use it to cover all your train travel. Once it expires head to Okinawa and fly back to Tokyo. This would work out very well in terms of routing.

Note that I had written most of above already before I got your 3rd post but I still think it all applies. Now for some feedback on your itinerary. Going to Okinawa is great! I would recommend taking the ferry from Kagoshima to Okinawa, it is possible to make a stop on the islands in between and making the ferry trip is an amazing experience. Then from Okinawa, just fly back to Tokyo.
Also love the visit to Takayama but I would recommend staying maybe a night longer and make a visit to Shirakawago. Before travelling to Kyoto why not make a stop at Kanazawa. Kanazawa has beautiful castle, one of the most beautiful gardens in Japan (called Kenryoku-en) and the local geisha quarter is as authentic as it gets (it's better than Kyoto's).
Lastly Nara is a great visit as well but you will be able to see it within a day so one day is enough. It is also within 1h travel from Kyoto or Osaka and is best visited as a day trip.

I guess that covers most of what I had to say for now :) Let me know if I can help with anything!
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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