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21 day itinerary - Need help finalising

almost 4 years ago
6 responses


We are looking forward to a 3 week Japan visit this October. Based on material available on the internet and the rich content in this forum (thanks, in particular, to Daniel-san), we have come up with the following itinerary. Would be great if we could get some suggestions and advice on this and some answers to the questions that follow. Apologies for the long-ish mail but we really want to get this trip as right as possible :-) And, if it can also help someone else plan their trip better, would be happy for them, as well.

We reach Tokyo early morning of 11th October...so pretty much have the whole day at our disposal The rest of the itinerary looks like this:

October Starting from Day plan, in brief Night at
11th Landing at 0730 hrs Day 1 - First day in Tokyo, feeling the place Tokyo
12th Tokyo Day 2 - Local sightseeing in Tokyo Tokyo
13th Tokyo Day 3 - Local sightseeing in Tokyo Tokyo
14th Tokyo Day 4 - Local sightseeing in Tokyo Tokyo
15th Tokyo Day 5 - Local sightseeing in Tokyo Tokyo
16th Tokyo Day 6 - Day trip to Kamakura Tokyo
17th Tokyo Day 7 - Day trip to Hakone Tokyo
18th Tokyo Day 8 - Day trip to Nikko Tokyo
19th Tokyo Day 9 - To Nagasaki, spend the day there Nagasaki
20th Nagasaki Day 10 - Day trip to Fukuoka & Dazaifu Nagasaki
21st Nagasaki Day 11 - To Hiroshima, spend the day there Hiroshima
22nd Hiroshima Day 12 - Day trip to Matsue & Izumo shrine Hiroshima
23rd Hiroshima Day 13 - Stop over at Himeji en route to... Osaka
24th Osaka Day 14 - To Koyasan Koyasan
25th Koyasan Day 15 - To Kyoto, spend the day there Kyoto
26th Kyoto Day 16 - Local sightseeing in Kyoto Kyoto
27th Kyoto Day 17 - Local sightseeing in Kyoto Kyoto
28th Kyoto Day 18 - Local sightseeing in Kyoto Kyoto
29th Kyoto Day 19 - Local sightseeing in Kyoto Kyoto
30th Kyoto Day 20 - Day trip to Nara Kyoto
31st Kyoto Day 21 - Back to Tokyo Tokyo
1st Nov Tokyo Day 22 - Catch a late evening (2120 hrs) flight back to India

The questions we have are:
1. While it is a three week trip, we are only going in for a 14 day JR pass. Which means that, to use it as optimally as possible, we could do either of 2 things. One, activate our pass on Day 8 when we leave Tokyo for Nagasaki. Till then, we would be in Tokyo and doing day trips to Kamakura, Hakone and Nikko. So, I guess, the real long distance starts to kick in once we leave Tokyo.

My questions here are:
a) Should we activate it a day before to Nikko and back and forego usage of the pass on our trip back to Narita airport? Which ride would be costlier - To and fro trip to Nikko or the airport ride?
b) As we are in Japan for 3 weeks, would the cost of the 2 week pass + the cost of transportation in the first week (within Tokyo + the 3 day trips) work out to be costlier than the 3 week pass?

  1. Are there any sections where the JR Pass would not work? If so, it would be either within a city or between cities. Any tips on that? What are the best passes we could use within Tokyo and Kyoto (where we would be spending maximum time) and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well? Similarly, for sections where JR Pass might not work, what are the options?

  2. Would also welcome comments on our itinerary. We didn't want to go all over the place, hence skipped the North and Okinawa. We wanted to do justice to Tokyo and, particularly, to Kyoto. Hence, more days there. We have tried not to miss the regular spots like Kamakura, Hakone and Nikko (from Tokyo) and Nara (from Kyoto). We are not sure if any of these day trips needs to be coverted into a night stay. Any thoughts there?

  3. We so want to pay our tributes at Hiroshima and Nagasaki - so have included them in the plan and staying overnight there. Of course, we are trying to do a day trip in each of these places on the second day there. Koyasan is also a must-visit...not sure if we can reach there directly from Himeji where we do not want to spend the night at. Hence, the visit to Osaka - we might catch up on the aquarium there which we heard is quite good. Does this section look okay?

  4. We wanted to see Kyoto well and kept it for the last...hoping the later we reach there, the better the chances for the autumn colour to set in. Given that we have close (outside of day trips) to 5 days in Kyoto and, in all, over 6 days in Tokyo, we could take 2 days from Tokyo and 1 day from Kyoto to make a 3 day trip of it to Matsumoto, Takayama and Kanazawa. We liked what we read up of that region and, if possible, add that part also in. Possible?

Sorry again for the length of the question! Thanks, in advance!


13640 posts
almost 4 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi there!

That's certainly a long mail :) I had problems getting it on my screen entirely. It looks like a great itinerary though and the JR Pass will offers you great value. I would start using the JR Pass when you travel to Nikko, travelling there without a JR Pass can cost up to 11,000yen. Travelling back to Narita is 3000yen on the Narita Express or around 1,200yen on local trains.

As for your question to the 2 or 3 week JR Pass. The difference is not much, the difference in price is about 13,000yen. If you use it to travel to and from Narita Airport on the Narita Express, then you would already save 6,000yen, leaving just 7000. That's about 1,000yen of travel a day and so it would be easy to cover this amount. Then again, local travel within Tokyo is not very expensive so the difference will be small in any event.

1.) The lion's share of your travel is covered. There are however a couple of small portions where you will have to get an additional ticket. This is mainly between Osaka - Koya and from Hakata - Dazaifu. For the rest, all travel between the above places is covered.

2.) All these places for fine as day trips, however it is certainly nice to spend the night in Hakone if you can - same goes for Nikko. There are good onsen in both places as well.

3.) I don't see a problem here. Visiting Osaka can be very nice. If you have the evening/night free. Head over the Shinsai bashi and get a taste of the evening atmosphere. There are many small shops and it's a must see on my list. The Aquarium is nice too, romantic is a better word I guess.

4.) That would certainly be possible but I think it would mean going for the 21 day JR Pass for sure. Especially Kanazawa is a city I love. The castle, Kenryoku garden and Geisha Quarters are all lovely.

Hope this helps!

6 posts
almost 4 years ago

As you would say in Japan...Arigatou! A big thanks,Daniel-san, for so painstakingly and fully answering all the points I raised in my lengthy mail. I will go through your recommendations and use them for finalising our tour plan.

Just one more query. I know it's difficult to predict the seasons these days but I was wondering if you could give some pointers with regard to the advent of the autumn season there in Japan. We were hoping if we could catch Kyoto in its beautiful autumn colours. Would end of October be too early for that?

Thanks again!

13640 posts
almost 4 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi Rajesh,

Douitashimashite :)

It's indeed hard to say, you know I could make a fortune if I could predict weather well! Even so, October is a good period for the autumn viewing. Especially if you stay between Tokyo - Kyoto. More south may be better visited in November.

I'd also recommend reading this guide.

6 posts
almost 4 years ago

Thanks again, Daniel-san! Greatly appreciate and marvel at your in-depth understanding of your country, your timely support and, of course, your sense of humour :-)

And the guide is very helpful too. Really look forward to our visit to the wonderful country Japan is!


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