questions & answers: itinerary check

itinerary check - 1st japan trip.

Itinerary check - 1st Japan Trip.


We have decided to travel to Japan this Summer and we like to put good use on the JR rail pass. Thinking about getting the 14 days pass rather than the 21 days and would like to know when is the best time to activate and use the pass, since we'll be there for about 20-21 days. Would like to do a quick check and get some advice.

Here is the itinerary I have in mind. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Still need to figure out the train ride/schedule/plan.

6/22 - Arrive in Nagoya. Take the train to Nagoya Station (Hotel is nearby) Plan to stay 4 days there. Should we activate the pass then or wait till later, since we like to save $$ and get the 14 days pass.

6/26 - Travel to Kyoto to Nagoya. Plan to stay 6 days. Travel to Hiroshima, Osaka, visit nearby Kyoto area.

7/3 - Travel from Kyoto or Osaka to Sapporo. Plan to stay 3 days there. This is the piece that needs help. Not sure what is the best option to go

to Sapporo. Checked the Hyperpedia site, I am a little confuse on the night train to Sapporo, how do I go about making the reservation if I have

the JR Pass? Heard that its a long trip to travel by train, like to know where would be some good places to stopover for some sightseeing on the

way, any recommendation?

7/7 - Travel from Sapporo to Tokyo. Same question as travel to Sapporo, still need to figure out how to go from there back to Tokyo. Best


Last part of the trip is stay in Tokyo area for the remaining trip, travel to Mt. Fuji and other nearby area. Heard about Nikko.

Thank you.


I also have the question on whether I should get the 14 or 21 day JR Pass?

Here is a more solid itinerary.

Day 1 : Arrive in Nagoya Int. Airport, travel to Hotel

Day 2 - 4 : Sightseeing in Nagoya

Day 5 – 7 : Travel to Kyoto. Explore city/Sightseeing

Day 8 : 1 Day Trip to Hiroshima from Kyoto

Day 9 : 1 Day Trip to Kinosaki-Onsen OR Miyajima from Kyoto

Which is a better place to visit?

Day 10 : 1 Day Trip to Osaka from Kyoto

Day 11 : 1 Day Trip to Kobe/Nara from Kyoto via Osaka

Day 12 : Travel from Kyoto to Hakodate (~9-10 hours ride)
It is a long Train ride, arrive at Hakodate in the evening.

Day 13 - 14 : Explore Hakodate during the day (½ day)
Travel from Hakodate (leave around 2-3pm, ~3.5 hours ride) to Sapporo in the evening,

Day 15 : 1 Day Trip to Furano from Sapporo (leave in AM, ~2.5 hours ride)

Day 16 : Travel from Sapporo to Tokyo (leave at 7AM, ~ 9 hours ride, arrive in Tokyo around 4-5pm)

Day 17 : Explore Tokyo area/food

Day 18 : 1 Day Trip to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo (subject to change, based on the weather condition).

Question: Is Hakone a good place to visit Mt. Fuji area?

Day 19 - 21 : OPEN – Any suggestions? Probably sightseeing in Tokyo area before heading home from Narita Airport


Hi Jon,

Here are some thoughts on your trip:

  1. Unless you have a solid idea of what you'd like to see in Nagoya before you arrive, I recommend you take a look at this post about day trips from Nagoya.

  2. Unless you can fit in Miyajima on the same day as your Hiroshima trip (totally possible, or an overnight stay in Hiroshima/Miyajima), it's not really worth duplicating the journey to Hiroshima from Kyoto on 2 days - I would recommend Kinosaki Onsen in this case.

  3. Hakone is a great spot to visit the Mt Fuji area. If you're interested in the mountain itself rather than the lake system around it's base, you should also take a look at Kawaguchi-ko (Otsuki with the JR Pass and then non-JR to Kawaguchi-ko). Kawaguchi-ko is also where many of the hikes to the summit depart from if you are feeling energetic. Here's a post with more information about the two choices of Hakone or Kawaguchi-ko.

  4. For Hokkaido, I recommend looking in to staying around the Furano area. It's beautiful in July, and is well equipped for non-Japanese speakers.

  5. I recommend Aomori/Lake Towada as a great stopover point on the way up to Hokkaido in this post.

  6. Here is a post with more information about the options for using Sleepers or Bullets to get to Hokkaido from Tokyo.

  7. Assuming Nagoya and Tokyo sightseeing will not include much travel, I think a 14 day rail pass would be the best choice for you.

  8. 4-5 days is a good length to explore Tokyo itself. I recommend buying a guidebook as the city is always changing! That said, don't miss a visit to the Tsukiji fish market - one of the last (and soon to be replaced) visions of an older, more chaotic, Tokyo.

  9. We have a great post on day trips from Tokyo here that you may find useful if you do decide to go for a 21 day pass.

Hope this helps!


Thank you for your response, Mari.



Regarding #6 on the sleepers train, can the reservation for the train make online or do we have to arrive in Japan before we can make any train reservation?

Same with the other JR rail/Train, for reserved seats, are the JR pass included all the reserved seat fee? Do we make the reservation for any of the train in Japan or can we make the reservation online? Since we'll be doing a lot of traveling, how much in advance should we make the train reservation/seat reservation?



Hi Jon - sorry for the late reply, this one slipped past me!

Yes, the Japan Rail Pass covers all reserved seat fees. You can book some JR East trains on their reservation website, however please be careful with their terms and conditions as they are quite strict!

For other reservations in english (incl. the sleeper) you will have to arrive in Japan before you make a train reservation. I realise this is quite worrying if you have a long trip, but in general you should be fine to reserve on arrival or just before travel. Most trains and bullet trains have non-reserved as well as reserved seating, so even if you don't have a reservation normally you can simply "jump on". There are some trains with reserved seating only, such as the Hayabusa Tohoku shinkansen and the Narita Express, so you should make sure you reserve these train seats before boarding. With a sleeper train your best bet is to book as soon as you arrive in Japan, and also have a contingency plan just in case you are unable to find a place.

Hope this helps!


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