questions & answers: using the japan rail pass

finalising itinerary before booking accommodation questions!

Finalising Itinerary before booking accommodation questions!

Hi there again! Am about to see our travel agent to secure accommodation. I have also been talking to other people on the Japan Rail Pass website, who all had varying opinions!! I am also loving the Hyperdia Rail timetable search, and am finding it easy to work out how to get from place to place right down to the very second, which is awesome! A suggestion made by someone was to visit Nikko from Tokyo. We were going to "stop in there" on the way up to Sendai. This broke our journey but I can see that perhaps not the best way to use the rail pass? So I have two questions about Nikko, is it better with the train travel to go up from Tokyo and back down again, and is it advisable to spend one night there? Thank you, for your opinion on that! Someone else also said to head straight to the end of our northern journey first, which is Tazawako. This would mean we would leave Nagano and go straight there, I can see how this would also mean a smooth train journey without much changing. We would then spend a night in there, and then come back out and down to Sendai, stay there, and then our next stop would be Tokyo. So just a question regarding Tazawako, is this the pick of that area to stay in? What would you recommend as a northern stop in May in that region? My other question that no-one answered on the other site was regarding the train travel from Takayama up to Toyama and across and down to Nagano. Is this a scenic trip, or is it mostly in tunnels due to the mountains? Thank you. Apart from this, our trip really consists of sticking to the major bullet train routes to the main centres and is very simple. Would you agree that the following order of travel uses the train system more efficiently? Kyoto-Takayama-Nagano-Tazawako-Sendai-Tokyo-Nikko-Tokyo-Hiroshima-Osaka. We have decided to catch the train straight from Kensai Airport to Kyoto on arrival and spend our first 3 days in that area (settling into your beautiful country), instead of starting off our journey travelling further to Takayama and doing a couple of one nighters. It also works out that we can start our rail pass a bit further into our holiday leaving some of it for our time in Osaka at the end. I so appreciate your help and am ready to book our accommodation, but before that I must have this itinerary nailed!!


Hi there and welcome back to the forums!

For Nikko:
It is indeed a very nice place to visit, you can both visit it as a day trip from Tokyo or stay there for a night. I think you can also plan it in on your way down from Sendai to Tokyo. This because the train passes Utsunomiya anyway which is the station you transfer at when you take the train Tokyo to Nikko. The journey would look like this.

About Tazawako.
It is a very beautiful area to stay in and I am sure you are planning on visiting the lake! If you really want to go all the way up north Aomori offers some beautiful scenes as well and can be a great base to make day trips to various great sights
like the Hakkoda mountain and lake Towada. If you plan to spend just a night there I think Tazawako is the best option!

The travel from Takayama and Nagano,
This journey can take quite a bit of time but in many events the train track curves around the mountain instead of going trough it, this results in some very beautiful sights. I would prefer this journey over the Shinkansen at any time, just because it feels more relaxed and the views are much better!

The Order of travel.
I think journey it planned very forward and is optimal for the places you plan to visit. The journey between Tokyo and Hiroshima can be a little long so if you have the luxury of time I would plan a stop in between (perhaps Kobe?) but it is certainly possible to do in a day. I also really like the idea the take it easy in Kyoto the first couple of days, this is great to recover from the let lag and just enjoy the country!

Hope this helps,


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