questions & answers: itinerary check

20 day itinerary & jr pass

20 day itinerary & JR Pass

Hi my parents and I are travelling late November/early December for 20 days and 19 nights. I've come up with a basic itinerary i thought would be good. Could anyone comment on if it is too packed/rushed and too much travelling, and also on if there are any additional train passes would be good. Any other improvements would also be appreciated!

I've actually changed the itinerary once so we'd stay two nights at lake kawaguchi since we only really have a half day there (if we stayed a night) after travelling for so long. I do want to see matsumoto castle and a temple in nagano and it seems like it can be quickly done, so i rearranged it as follows:

22/11/2014 Arrive 0720 Narita Airport - Lake Kawaguchi reach around 1300
23/11/2014 Lake Kawaguchi Five Lakes
24/11/2014 Kawaguchiko - Matsumoto Castle - Snow Monkeys Shibu Onsen
25/11/2014 Shibu Onsen - Nagano - Matsumoto to Takayama (bus)Stop by Hirasu Onsen
26/11/2014 Takayama
27/11/2014 Takayama - Kanazawa Early Morning
28/11/2014 Kanazawa - Osaka afternoon
29/11/2014 Osaka - Mt Koya
30/11/2014 Mt Koya - Miyajima On the way Stop by himeji castle
1/12/2014 Hiroshima - Kyoto
2/12/2014 Kyoto
3/12/2014 Kyoto
4/12/2014 Day trip to Nara
5/12/2014 Kyoto - Kinosaki Onsen 14 day mark
6/12/2014 Kinosaki Onsen - Tokyo
7/12/2014 Tokyo
8/12/2014 Day trips
9/12/2014
10/12/2014
11/12/2014 Depart Narita Airport 1215

With this itinerary is it best to get either:

1) A 14 day JR pass, activate it on 24/11/14 so that it covers my Kinosaki onsen - tokyo trip and ends on the 7/12/14? For the beginning I would get a suica n'ex deal and then from shinjuku station buy a ticket to kawaguchiko station and get a two day pass for the buses (or is there a deal I can get with both). and then after the pass expires use suica around tokyo, plus possible day trip to Nikko or Kamakura and buy a one way n'ex or find another way to get to narita airport.

2) just get a 21 day pass?

Also this planning may be all for nothing... is it too early to book accomodation? I'm not sure if there's some holiday or you need to book ryokan and other accom months in advance but almost everything is booked out at Lake Kawaguchi on those dates. Also with shibu onsen and even kinosaki onsen. I went to the website of one of the ryokan and I could see I was able to reserve a room almost anyday 2 weeks in advance but it stopped at August. Is that the reason the search websites say everything is booked out?

Thanks for your help

jlimster
jlimster

Hi there!

Reading your plans as they are now, I'd recommend going for the 14 day JR Pass. You could indeed use it from the 14th - 7th and even use it for a day trip to Nikko on the 7th if you want to get the most out of your pass. Don't worry about accommodations not being available yet, most hotels and ryokans only make there availability known 3 months in advance. If you do find some place that you really like, it is best to contact the accommodations directly by email.

For the rest I think it looks like a great itinerary, only day that looks very busy to me is 25/11 when you visit Shibu Onsen - Nagano - Matsumoto to Takayama (bus)Stop by Hirasu Onsen, is this travel only or do you want to explore Nagano too? If so I'd recommend making a timetable before hand, the same is kinda true for visiting the Snow Money park. Actually getting there takes up a surprising amount of time, so be sure to calculate this in.

Hope this helps and let me know if I can help with anything!
Daniel

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

Thanks for the reply and it is likely that I will get a 14 day JR pass and I'm glad to know accommodation is still able to be booked. I'm happy with my itinerary but could you please tell me though is it the most efficient way (least travel time). My main concern is going from Kawaguchiko station to Matsumoto seems like its not very efficient. Would there be less travel time overall if I made the first destination of my itinerary Matsumoto continue my intinerary as normal and then when back in the Tokyo portion of my trip, from Tokyo do the first part of my itinerary as intended? Love to here what is best.

For the 25/11/2014 Shibu Onsen - Nagano - Matsumoto to Takayama (bus)Stop by Hirasu Onsen. Initially I was staying a night at Nagano after going to Matsumoto castle but I realised I had time to get to Yudanaka and see the snow monkeys so I skipped Nagano. Coming back on the 25/11 I thought maybe I would have time to just drop by and see Nagano city (like a temple) on my way to the Matsumoto-Takayama bus. Would that be possible to do in a day?

jlimster
jlimster

Hi again!

Travel for Kawaguchiko - Matsumoto is not too hard and only includes 1 transfer, the trip however does take about 3H. Here is the route in Hyperdia. You could return to Tokyo the evening before and travel to Matsumoto the following morning, this way you could spread your travel time a little. Either way you put it, traveling to Kawaguchiko will include a return from Tokyo or at least Otsuki station so it would not really matter when you place it.

Nagano is quite a nice city and good for a day of sightseeing, especially the temple at the head of the city is worth visiting. Adding a visit to Yudanaka and the snow money park is where I am a bit worried. You could easily spend 6H traveling from Nagano to the snow money park and back. This would leave little time for sightseeing specially if you would have an other 3H of travel coming from Kawaguchiko. Ideally it would be best to reserve a full day for visiting the monkey park.

Hope this helps with planning!
Daniel

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

Order your Japan Rail Pass Online

Starting from $252.00 for 7 days of unlimited Japan Rail travel

Please note: we are only able to handle order related enquiries via our online direct support. Commercial advertising is prohibited as per our website terms.