questions & answers: general japan travel

getting started and general outline

Getting started and general outline

Hello everyone,

My family and I are just starting to plan our trip to Japan. We had a general outline of going to three regions: Hokkaido, (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara) region, and finally Tokyo. Given how spread out these locations are, we are pretty set on getting the Rail Pass for our transportation needs.
For now, all we know is that we are landing in Tokyo in the evening and are deciding on whether to stay the night and take the train to Hokkaido (more specifically Sapporo). After our stay in that region, we want to go all the way down to Himeji and then slowly work our way up to Tokyo.
Our hotel plans are that for the 4-5 days in Hokkaido, we plan to book a hotel in Sapporo and it will act as a "home base" where we can just use our rail pass/public transportation to go to the areas around Hokkaido during the day and return to Sapporo at night. After Hokkaido, we plan on booking a hotel near Kyoto or Osaka or Nara (pick one) and have it act as another "home base" as we visit cities around it. And finally we will simply stay in Tokyo for the remainder of the trip.

Can anyone shed any light on our plan and see if it is a reasonable plan? We have never taken a trip to Japan so I am not sure if this plan is feasible.

Thank you for your comments/suggestions!


You don't give a lot of info, such as how many days total your planned trip will be, but your first part of your trip would be hard on you if not completely excruciating. To go from Tokyo to Sapporo takes over 9 hours and will completely kill a whole day for you. So, you have a few choices:
1) Stop somewhere along the way. Even if you don't want to see anything in Honshu north of Tokyo, you could get to Hakodate in about 5½ hours and still see something. Then the next day proceed to Sapporo and use it as a home base.

2) Fly to Sapporo and back. You can get a cheap ticket from a low cost carrier like Jet Star for as low as ¥4190 yen per person and get there in about 2 hours. You could then still have the day to go sightseeing, and on the way back, fly down to Kansai (Kyoto, Osaka, Nara) for nearly the same fare. Another cheap fare is ANA's Experience Japan Fare. You could then use a JR Pass to expand your trip a bit, like go see Hiroshima or Takayama, and still make it worth the cost of the pass as you travel north to Tokyo.
Since you are already seeing Tokyo, you can largely skip Osaka during the daytime. But at night the city comes alive and has some great places to see, such as Dotonbori, plus the night views from the Umeda Sky Bldg, and Abeno Harukas Bldg are terrific. You can see Osaka after you see the temples and shrines in Kyoto, which close around 5 PM.

There are many nearby sights for you to enjoy, including Himeji, Koyasan, Hikone, and Kobe.


Thank you so much for the reply!
Here are some more info on the trip:
We are staying for 14 days and landing at 10 pm in Tokyo on our first night. So one of our options is to stay overnight, wake up early the following day to see the fish market, then depart for Sapporo. We are now searching for a flight from Tokyo to Sapporo as that seems like the most reasonable plan (time > a few dollars in this situation). From there, the trip gets much simpler as we will be visiting the more popular areas such as Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara.
Again, thank you for the showing us different options!


Wow...well you don't say where you are flying into Japan from, but it'll take you 45-60 minutes upon landing to get your bags and go through Immigration/Customs, plus an hour to get into Tokyo. To see the Tsukiji Fish Market - you can see it here these days, they only take 2 groups of 60 people and people rush to get in line for the tours from 4:30 AM - by 5 AM you may be too late. At that hour you'd also probably have to take a taxi. So after flying across the world and getting a couple of hours of sleep, to rush over to Tsukiji is either quite enthusiastic...or you're a glutton for suffering. But you won't see any place like Tsukiji in the whole world.

For Hokkaido, check this info on what to see and do:

Enjoy your trip!


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