questions & answers: itinerary check




My friend and I will be in Japan for about 14 days in early October, and have roughly worked out an itinerary as follows:

6 Oct: Tokyo
7 Oct: Tokyo to Hakone - staying overnight at Hakone
8 Oct: Hakone to Kanazawa - Staying overnight at Kanazawa
9 Oct: Kanazawa to Yamanouchi (?) - This is tentative - our purpose was to see the Snow Monkeys in the park, but we're not sure if there will even be snow monkeys in Oct as it might not be cold enough (?)! Do let us know what you think...
10 Oct: Yamanouchi to Shirakawa-go - Staying overnight at Shirakawa-go
11 Oct: Shirakawa-go to Takayama - Staying 2 nights at Takayama
13 Oct: Takayama to Matsumoto - Staying overnight at Matsumoto
14 Oct: Matsumoto to Tokyo - Staying in Tokyo for 4 nights

Could you let us know if this itinerary is too ambitious and/or tiring (as I foresee quite a bit of travelling)? Is this the best route or can it be reworked? Are there any passes that would cover this route, or will we have to rent cars to drive at some point?

If you have any other comments on the places that we are going to (aka things to see/do), we would also greatly appreciate it - other than Tokyo, which we've been to before, everywhere is new to us!


Hi there!

Sorry for the late response, I needed some extra time to research this one.

What took most time to find out was information regarding Yamanouchi. You can meet the monkeys all year round but they usually only enter the pools when there is snow. In October there's only a small change of snow so you may not see a lot of monkeys in the pools but you can certainly see and meet them in the park.

What could be hard is access to Yamanouchi. The best way to travel there is via Nagano but going there by train from Kanazawa makes at least for a 4 hour trip and than local travel to Yamanouchi. I think it would really help out if you have a car here.

The same also applies if you go from Yamanouchi to Shirakawa-go. There are no direct busses, so it would involve taking the train to either Takayama/Kanazawa and a bus from there. Again a car would be great here.

All this means that a lot of effort is needed to see Yamanouchi and you should ask yourself if you find it worth it (I do think that it would be easier with a car). Personally I would enjoy the day in Kanazawa and taking a late bus to Shirakawa-go the next day.

For the rest, I really like your itinarary both Takayama and Kanazawa are some of my favorite places in Japan and you simply can't go wrong there. If you have free time in Matsumoto consider visiting the Kiso Valley which is very beautiful.

I hope this helps!


Thanks so much Daniel! Very useful indeed. Instead of Yamanouchi, another alternative I was considering would be Kamikochi (which I gather is on the route to Matsumoto and so can be done if I skip over Yamanouchi and free a day to go to Kamikochi after Takayama...I assume). Would you recommend that?

Will also definitely check out the Kiso Valley in Matsumoto based on your recommendation above!

Based on my itinerary above, should I get a JR pass, and if so, which/what kinds would be best? I'm trying to figure out if a combination of passes would work and/or if I should get an all-encompassing 14 day pass (and whether there would be any cost savings for those).

Thanks again so much for the great research and advice.


Hi Again!

Kamikochi is very beautiful, Kami means god in Japanese and the area really is godly, especially if the weather is nice. So certainly worth a visit if you would love to see some of the Japanese Nature. You can also take a bus from Takayama to Kamikochi, which works out great.

As for the JR Pass, I made a list to with routes that are covered to see if a JR Pass would be a good idea.

Tokyo - Odawara (Shinkansen station for Hakone) ¥ 3,840
--Start using JR Pass -- Odawara - Kanazawa ¥ 14,280
Takayama - Matsumoto ¥ 10,240
Matsumoto - Tokyo ¥ 10,150

This adds up to ¥ 34,670, the 7 day JR Pass is ¥ 28,300, so you would be able to save around ¥ 6,370. So I would certainly recommend getting one.

Have a great time in Japan!


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