questions & answers: itinerary check

21 days, 20 nights itinerary check + suggestions, 14 days or 21 days pass?

21 days, 20 nights itinerary check + suggestions, 14 days or 21 days pass?

Hi,

I am going to Japan for 3 weeks in August.
I made a rough draft of my itinerary and will appreciate any suggestions.

day 1 - full day in Tokyo, sleep in Tokyo
day 2 - Tokyo, day trip to Nikko, sleep in Tokyo
day 3 - Tokyo, day trip to Kamakura, sleep in Tokyo
day 4 - full day in Tokyo, sleep in Tokyo
day 5 - leaving for Mt Fuji in the morning, climbing Mt Fuji - cabin or overnight climb
day 6 - finishing the climb, leaving for Takayama in the afternoon, night in Takayama
day 7 - full day in Takayama, night in Takayama
day 8 - in the morning -> Kanazawa, day in Kanazawa, night in Kanazawa
day 9 - in the morning/at noon leaving to Kyoto, night in Kyoto
day 10 - full day in Kyoto, night in Kyoto
day 11 - day trip to Nara, night in Kyoto
day 12 - full day in Kyoto, night in Kyoto
day 13 - full day in Kyoto, night in Kyoto
day 14 - in the morning -> Mt Koya, night in the temple
day 15 - in the late morning leaving to Osaka, afternoon/evening in Osaka, night in Osaka
day 16 - in the morning –> Hiroshima, afternoon + evening + night in Hiroshima
day 17 - trip to Miyajima, in the evening back to Hiroshima

Then I still have 4 full days (I am leaving the 4th day at midnight)
I wanted to visit Ise Shrines, but are they worth a visit - I have read that they are under reconstruction at the moment...
and it's the same with Himeji...

Would do you think about my time allocation? Should I add up a day in some of the places?
Or on the contrary, would 2 days instead of 3 be enough for Kyoto?

It would be great if you could suggest any possibilities for those 4 days that I have left... I was thinking, maybe Nagano or Nagoya, Fukuoka or Nagasaki, have read somewhere about Naoshima, Arashiyama...

First thing - I want to spend enough time in each location, would never go anywhere if I didn't have enough time to enjoy the place... but on the other hand, don't want to waste time either :) and see as much as I am able to in the 3 weeks time.

Second thing - firstly I wanted to purchase just the 14 day pass, but now I think that maybe the 21 day would pay off, would do you think? The only places with extra charge are Mt Fuji and Mt Koya, right?

Also I would love to spend some time with local people, preferably even sleep in someone's home, is there anything else besides couchsurfing where I could find people willing to meet up with me?

Thanks a lot in advance,
Bara

Bara
Bara

Would probably prefer to fill these 4 days with non-touristy smaller spots, maybe exploring the area around Kyoto/Hiroshima or Tokyo more... Any suggestions? Is it worth it?

Bara
Bara

Hi Bara,

I see that you your plan has changed a lot since your last post. I checked your every part of your planned route and it all looks good! Something I think would be nice is to add a little more time to your visit to Kanazawa, the city has lots to offers and it can be pleasant to have some extra time to explore it all.

First let me answer your questions about the Grand Shrine in Izumo, Izumo Taisha was indeed under construction, however this was concluded in May 2013 and the Shrine is restored to its former glory. So be sure to visit if you have time!

As for Himeji, the renovation will take place until spring 2014, however much of the castle has been restored and I think it is still worth a visit. You can easily reach the city from Kyoto/Osaka and makes for a good day trip if you have time to spare. You can find more information about the renovation here.

So what to do with your 4 days remaining? You write that you wish to visit some of the less touristy areas, in that case: Go to Shikoku this is by far the least traveled part of Japan and offers many beautiful places that offer solitude and beautiful nature scenes. Why not make a visit to Takamatsu this is a great city not visited by many foreign tourists. You can take a ferry from here to one of the many small islands around Shikoku. You could also do part of the 88 Sacred Sites of Kūkai. Shikoku is not too far from Kansai and would not require a lot of time to travel to, of course its covered by the JR Pass :)

Alternatively I would visit Nagasaki with a stop @ Fukuoka.

Now the big question 14 or 21 days. I think a 21 day JR Pass could be worth it for you, this because you are planning a lot of travel and the extra time/flexibility could be very nice. The upgrade cost from the 14 day pass to the 21 day JR Pass is just 12,600Yen which can easily be traveled. You are correct about the extra charges to Fuji and Koya, these however are rather minor 1,100Yen and about 700Yen respectively.

Couch Serving is indeed a great way to get to know other people in Japan, you could also look into a house stay but I don't have any experience with that myself. An other great way is to make (penpal) friends from Japan on the internet. I have done so myself via sites as the Japan-Guide Classifieds and been invited to stay with people multiple times. It's also a great way to make friends for the long term.

Have a great time in Japan!
-Daniel

PS: Sorry for the late replay, your questions needed some extra research time.

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Daniel-san
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Thanks a lot for your reply :). I still have nearly a month till my departure, so your reply wasn't late at all...
There is one more question that I would like to ask you - is it a good idea to travel to Japan and having booked accommodation just for about 4 days and book other later on? I would like to have more freedom in deciding if I want to stay at the place longer or not, so this would be good for me...

From what I have read, not booking a place in JR trains in advance is ok, right?

Bara
Bara

Japan is a wonderful country for just traveling somewhere and booking a hotel when you arrive. Every bigger station has a tourist information, where you can go to and ask for a hotel. The tourist information will than ring all local hotels for you and make a reservation for you. I have done this many times myself and never had any trouble finding a reasanable accommodation.

Do note that this may sometimes not be possible if there's a big festival for instance and all rooms are booked in advance. However this should be no problem at all during normal days/weekends.

The same applies to trains, it is almost always possible to make reservations up to 5 minutes before departure.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
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