16 Nights From Tokyo to Hiroshima and Back
My travel buddy and I are trying to determine the best route to take through/around Japan to minimize time spent traveling between hotels/regions, as well as space out longer trips so we aren't going from a 6 hour train ride to 10 hour flight, back to back (for example). We've determined that it isn't worth spending just one night in any city (because of travel time, hotel check ins, etc.), so we are aiming to spend at least 2 nights in each area, guaranteeing us at least one full day of adventure before having to pack up and go to the next spot.
I think we've mapped out a basic plan, but we aren't sure about the timing between destinations or the very best way to get there along the JR route. Nothing is set in stone yet, so we'd appreciate some feedback :)
Day 1: Arrive at Haneda Airport - Train to Tokyo - Stay in Tokyo
Day 2 & 3: Tokyo - Stay in Tokyo
Day 4: Train to Hakone (Stay in Hakone)
Day 5: Hakone - Stay in Hakone
Day 6: Train to Kanazawa - Stay in Kanazawa (Best route from Hakone to Kanazawa??)
Day 7: Kanazawa - Stay in Kanazawa
Day 8: Train to Hiroshima - Stay in Hiroshima
Day 9: Hiroshima - Stay in Hiroshima
Day 10: Miyajima - Stay in Hiroshima
Day 11: Train to Kyoto - Stay in Kyoto
Day 12 - 14: Kyoto, Nara and Osaka - Stay in Kyoto
Day 15: Train to Tokyo - Stay in Tokyo
Day 16: Tokyo - Depart from Haneda
We'd like to work in some time for Takayama and/or Yudanaka when we are nearby, but aren't sure how to fit those in. Also, we'd like to take in a baseball game, Sumo tournament and Bunraku, if you have any suggestions. We will be arriving very early May 11th and departing very late on May 26 of this year.
Any information on how how best to expedite the in-country travel would be really helpful. We want to see as much as we can of this beautiful country while we are there!
What a great itinerary and approach! I love that you're deciding to stay at least 2 nights in each city. It'll be a special trip!
Hiroshima is a great city, but perhaps suitable for 1-2 nights rather than 3. I'd rather consider more time in one of your other cities - more time in Kyoto perhaps (possibly staying in the Arashiyama area for 1 night), or Tokyo at the end of your trip, or maybe you could spend one night at a Japanese Onsen hot spring town like Kinosaki Onsen which is on the Japan Sea coast, but very reachable from Hiroshima on the way to Kyoto. Alternatively you could use the time in Takayama en route from Hakone to Kanazawa.
From Hakone to Kanazawa, hyperdia suggests it's fastest to head to Maibara on the Hikari bullet, and then transfer to LTD. EXP SHIRASAGI 53 for the hop up to Kanazawa (route 3). However, if you are thinking of fitting Takayama into your plans (and perhaps breaking your rule of 2 nights per place), then I recommend travelling to Kanazawa via Takayama. The itinerary takes you from Hakone to Nagoya on the Hikari bullet, and then on to Takayama on the fantastic Wide-View train. From Takayama, you can take the same wide-view train on to Kanazawa the following day. Yudanaka is quite tucked away and so is a little tricky to fit into your plans, but Takayama is a great town!
As for your Baseball, Sumo and Bunraku, Tokyo is the place. You can book baseball games at many Lawson convenience stores if you are feeling adventurous, or visit the ticket office for your chosen team and book there. For Sumo, I recommend you check the events listed here (http://www.sumo.or.jp/eng/index.html) and aim to arrive a little early to buy tickets on the door. There are a lot of Bunraku events at the National Bunraku Theatre in Tokyo. Here are the Bunraku events for May. You can book tickets for all National Theatre events online here.
I hope all this helps!