questions & answers: itinerary check

1 spare day - to do or not to do that is the question

1 spare day - to do or not to do that is the question

Hi there,

I've worked out my itinerary for 16 days and am happy with it, (Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Kanzawa, Takayama, Tokyo), however I have one last choice to make. I'm not sure what to do and any advice would be much appreciated. I'll be in Japan 7-24 March btw. I have one more day to allocate to my trip and trying to work out where best to use it:

either:

  1. day trip to Hiroshima (from Osaka) which would mean 3 full days in Tokyo and side trips to both Nikko and Hakone

or

  1. overnight in Hiroshima, which would mean 3 full days in Tokyo and a side trip to Nikko which means I would not go to Hakone

or if I should do overnight in Hiroshima AND the day trip to Hakone, then

  1. Reduce Kanazawa/Takayama to 1 night in both places rather than 2 nights in Kanzawa and 1 night in Takayama

I really like history and culture of a country - especially the old days which is why I am thinking more time in Kanzawa/Takayama as there looks like lots to do in both places, (happy to be corrected here). In Hiroshima I am keen to see the Peace Museum, Peace Park, where the A bomb hit, and Miyajima. Is there anything else I am missing or you would look to add? Could I do all that in a day - a long day, (assuming I leave very early from Osaka say 6.30am and leave late to get back to Osaka)?

Now what about Hakone? Apart from the view of Mt Fuji and the lake as well as the railway trip and maybe a trip in an onsen? Am I missing anything else to do there for the day? I can stay at or go to an onsen somewhere else can't I?

I don't mean to dismiss any of Japan's sights - if I had more time I would like 2 nights in Hiroshima and stay overnight in Hakone but the reality is I have only 16 days and there is far too much to see in that time :O) Something has to give.

So day trip to Hakone & day trip to Hiroshima, OR, no Hakone and Hiroshima for 1 night/2 days before going back to Osaka?

Please help!!

Cheers, Mike

Mike24
Mike24

Hi Mike,

It's good to see that you are planning ahead and considering possible options. Every place you wish to see is great, there really are no bad options. Taking that into mind let's have a look at each option.

1.) Day trip Hirshima, this would certainly be possible. Travel time from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima is about 1.5H giving you most of the day there if you leave early. The downside is it may all feel hasty has you have to catch the train at the end of the day, then again, most tourist attractions close around 6 p.m.

2.) Staying the night in Hiroshima may also be a good option, this way you can explore downtown Hiroshima during the evening, the admostphere is very nice and you can grab a bowl of the famous Hiroshima Ramen. The advantage of this option is that you have a little more time for the city itself but the downside is that you will have more travel time the next day. If you do have some time, consider a visit from Hiroshima to Onomichi.

3.) Lastly, skipping Hakone. This option is hard to consider, the area is mainly known for it's Fuji viewing and there are lot's of small tourists attractions that together make for a very interesting visit. What you could do is make a stop over just for a couple of hours on the day that you travel to Tokyo, the Shinkansen station for Hakone named Odawara is right on the route to Tokyo so you would not even have to add extra travel time.

Something you could also consider is just decide as you travel, Japan is a wonderful country and there are always hotels or other accommodations available around every station. In addition almost every bigger station in Japan has a tourist information which can be a great help finding a place to stay. Just tell them that you just arrived and are looking for a hotel room - they will then call hotels in town for you and find you a place to stay, it's all very neat.
This way you can decide on the fly - you can either stay a little longer in Kanazawa, or if travel on if you feel that you've seen all you came for. Either way is possible with the JR Pass!

I hope this helps with your decision,
Daniel

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

HI Daniel,

Thanks for your reply - very useful as always! My first 4 nights are sorted and my last 6 nights are sorted. It is the order of the 5 nights in between. I certainly take your point with regards to Hakone, (it was on my original list of places to see), and by being able to go there on the way to Tokyo, well, that does change things. It helps me a lot. It will save valuable time! :O)

So potentially the middle portion of my trip, the days between Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo looks something like this:

Option 1
Day 5 Hiroshima day trip (back to Osaka at night)
Day 6 Osaka to Kanazawa (leave early)
Day 7 Kanazawa
Day 8 Kanazawa to Takayama (timing depends on how much I like Kanazawa but would think very early)
Day 9 Takayama to Hakone (timing depends on how much I like Takayama)
Day 10 Hakone to Tokyo (later to avoid the evening train commute)

Day 10 I have to be in Tokyo last thing for something early on day 11

OR

Option 2
Day 5 Osaka to Hiroshima (early)
Day 6 Hiroshima to Osaka (late)
Day 7 Osaka to Kanazawa (leave really early)
Day 8 Kanazawa
Day 9 Kanazawa to Takayama
Day 10 Takayama to Hakone and then onto Tokyo later at night

I'm leaning towards Option 1 as it gives me more flexibility re time to move through the cities. If I like the place I get full value at that place or if I am not a fan I can move early the next morning to the next place. I am sure that I am going to love one of Kanazawa, Takayama, or Hakone. Option 1 allows me to spend up to nearly 2 days in whichever place I like the best.

Option 2 feels a little rushed - especially making sure I get enough time in Takayama on day 9 and then on day 10 enough time to get from Takayama to Hakone, see Hakone, and then get to Tokyo.

I'm thinking I probably would get more out of my time at Hakone rather than overnight in Hiroshima but it's tricky!!

I take your point re travelling on the fly, (which I have done many times before), and ideally yes that would be the best way but this time I can't.

Thanks again for your advice.

Now to learn how to book my train trips on Hyperdia!! (So I might be back with more questions about that) LOL

Cheers,
Mike

Mike24
Mike24

Plus with Option 1, I would have more time in Hakone so I could: (1) stay in a ryokan, and (2) check out an Onsen which sounds like one of the better places to do both of those things :O)

Mike24
Mike24

Hi Mike,

I would probably go for option 1 myself as well. You get to see the main points of Hiroshima and have a good of flexibility later on.

Travel time from Takayama - Odawara (Hakone) takes about 240 minutes but it would be the major part of your travel that day as Tokyo is only an other 30 minutes away.

Let me know If I can help out with anything else!
Daniel

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

Hi Daniel,

Thanks. I've decided to go with Option 1, again thanks to your wonderful advice!

Wow 4 hours b/n Takayama and Odawara, ok cool no probs. That will actually help when making decisions about when to leave to move on to the next town on days 7-10.

Yes actually - where would you recommend to stay in Hakone? I'm not talking about a specific hotel/ryokan, rather the area in Hakone? I've read people say Gora is fantastic - any other places?

Cheers,
Mike

Mike24
Mike24

Hi Mike,

Four hours does sound like a lot - however the train ride between Takayama - Nagoya is especially worth making. The ride is very scenic because the train follows a river from the mountains to the sea. From Nagoya - Odawara is a ride on the Shinkansen and you get a nice view of Fuji on a clear day (ask for a seat with C or D, as these are on the Fuji side).

As for an area to stay in Hakone, consider staying near Lake Ashinoko. The view of Fuji on a clear day is just stunning. The surrounding area is also very beautiful.

Cheers 'n Beers!
Daniel

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

Hey Daniel,

Cool, sounds like a great train ride and thanks for the tip re which seats to reserve.

Thanks for the tip re Hakone. I actually managed to grab a room at a hotel right by Sounzan station at the beginning of the Hakone ropeway. So happy about that as I think I grabbed the last room for that night!!

Kanpai!

Mike

Mike24
Mike24

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