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21 Days in Japan + Golden Week ¬_¬

about 5 years ago
7 responses


My wife and i will be visiting Japan for the first time on April-May 2013 and have been using this website to gather some ideas. So first of all thanks to all of you that make this possible.

We hope you can help us check our itinerary and give some ideas as you know much more than us.

Right now our itinerary is as follows:

  • Sunday 14 April 2013: Arrive to Narita, train to Nagoya. We understand this will take around 2-3 hours in total so we can get to the town check in at the hotel and relax from the long trip!

  • Monday 15, Tuesday 16: 2 days in Nagoya to use as base to visit Ise and Kiso Valley. Then train to Takayama on the evening.

  • Wednesday 17: Day at Takayama, then train to Kanzawa on the evening.

  • Thursday 18: Day at Kanzawa then train to Kyoto on the evening.

  • Friday 19, Saturday 20, Sunday 21, Monday 22, Tuesday 23: Visit Kyoto with one day trip to Nara.

... by know, most people will realise we are doing something very similar to this: ... The guide now recommends we go south to mount Koya for a few days, here is where we are a little confused as we want to visit this area but don't really know which spots to do a few nights in.

  • Wednesday 24, Thursday 25: Somewhere in the Mnt Koya area, then Osaka in the evening

  • Friday 26, Saturday 27: One full day in Osaka then leave to Hiroshima on Saturday morning

  • Sunday 28: visit Miyajima during the day, then back to Hiroshima

  • Monday 29, Tuesday 30 --> We need ideas here to slowly go back to Tokyo. This is also during the Golden Week! So another idea is to simply travel on Monday and add one more day to Tokyo so we can do a daily trip to Niko (currently not on the plan). Any recommendations?

  • Wednesday 1 May, Thursday 2, Friday 3, Saturday 4: Tokyo

  • Sunday 5: Return home!

Hope you can help us add/remove any things from the trip. As you can see we have plenty of days. But we also want to get to know some of the places, hence staying 4 days in Tokyo and 5 in Kyoto (with the possibility to make Tokyo 5 too!). We are also focusing on one area of Japan and not going north, but we don't want to spend all our trip traveling on the train. We also wished we could add some more nature (hence the Mnt. Koya stop) it is always easier when traveling by train to go from city to city but we are sure there are plenty of green places to see that are not on all guides.

Well, thanks for reading this far and for all your help so far!


12232 posts
about 5 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi Yona,

Welcome to the forum! I must say that I am already very impressed with your itinerary and plans.
Everything looks well planned and I am sure you will have a great time!

Once you reach Mount Koya you can could go on a hiking trip to the top and stay there at a monastery or temple for the night. The weather in April is most likely very well suited for this. Taken from ''The trail is about 22km long, ascends about 700 meters (most of this in the first and last quarters) and can be walked in about 7 hours plus resting time, offering a very rewarding hiking experience.'' If you are looking for a more relaxed approach you could go to the top first and then explore around there.
I think the Wiki Travel page gives a very nice overview of what you could do there. A visit to Oku-no-In also sounds very worthwhile to me.

I like it that you stay your last days in Tokyo, this way you can calm down from all the travelling and perhaps do some shopping.
When you head back to Tokyo consider staying at the Izu penisula to relax before you head into the busy metropolis of Tokyo, here you can enjoy many Onsen and there are some very beautiful coastlines. If you are interested I recommend reading this post Alternatively you could stay a day in Yokohama, walk the busy streets of it's China Town (largest in Asia) and visit the harbour after for a beautiful night scene.

Here are some more small/general tips for your travels:

Since you arrive on the 14th of April in Nagoya, depending on the weather there is a good change that you might just be have missed the Cherry blossoms (or Sakura Season as it is called in Japan). Still there might be a chance, if so I would recommend a visit to Yamazakigawa River and Nagoya Castle for some beautiful scenery.

When you are in Kanazawa, visit the castle and geisha district, both are very beautiful and certainly worth your time.

When you are in Tokyo and still want to travel more, consider a day trip to Kamakura to visit the Daibutsu (litteraly Big Buddha)

You probably already know this but since you will be travelling during golden-week make sure to reserve your tickets on time, I would recommend at-least 2 days ahead.

Hope this helps you on your way. If you would like more information on a specific subject let me know!

7 posts
about 5 years ago

Thanks for the info Dan,

We took your recommendations into account and changed the itinerary a little bit to travel less during Golden Week (we will basically stay 3 days in Osaka and 5 in Tokyo during that period and avoid moving too much around!).

The plan now is:

  • Sunday 14 - Wednesday 17: Arrive to Narita, train to Hakone where we spend 3 days

  • Wed 17 - Frid 19: Leave Hakone to Nagoya, spend 2 days there so we can visit Ise and the Postal Towns

  • Frid 19 - Sat 20: Nagoya to Takayama

  • Sat 20 - Sund 21: Takayamato Kanazawa

  • Sund 21 - Thur 25: Kanazawa to Kyoto, 5 days there with day visit to Nara

  • Thur 25 - Sat 27: Kyoto to Hiroshima, two days there to visit Miyajima BEFORE the Golden week starts!

  • Sat 27 - Tue 30: Hiroshima to Osaka, hopefully golden week won't be too bad there and we will be able to start getting used to Japan big cities! if possible we will try to do a day trip from there.

  • Tue 30 - Sund 5: Osaka to Tokyo. We will spend 5 days there so one can be used for Nikko (during the working days of the golden week, hopefully there will be people but not too much people doing the same.

As you see we removed Koyasan but added Hakkone. Koyasan looks amazing but it is quite expensive and it would have pushed the Hiroshima visit during the first golden week weekend. We are always moving towards big cities on those dates (Hiroshima to Osaka and Osaka to Tokyo) so hopefully we will be doing the opposite trip most Japanese are!

Any comments are welcome, now we have to wait a few weeks before being able to buy our JR Pass!

Thanks for all your help,


12232 posts
about 5 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi Yona,

I think you made the right decision by going to Hakone. It is a very lovely area and there is so much you can do!
When you go to Hakone, your JR-Pass will cover you as far as Odawara. From here I would recommend a 3-day Hakone Free Pass that costs 4.400 Yen and will cover most public transport in the area, plus it gives you discounts to many attractions.

Golden Week is a good time to be in Tokyo, many of the people that live there travel to the countryside to visit family and Tokyo will generally be a little more relaxed during this period. I think you will love your Day trip to Nikko as well!

Just something that might be nice from a day trip when you are in Kyoto is the Shoryo-e Ceremony in Osaka.
Where old court music and dance is displayed and the best thing is that it is free.

Best Wishes!

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