questions & answers: itinerary check

7 day vs 14 day pass

7 Day vs 14 day pass

Hi,
Me and my partner in crime will be arriving at Haneda Airport on the 23rd of August in the afternoon.
Our return flight is from the same airport on the 11th of September. A total of 19 full days and leaving on the 20th.

I would like some input on the itinerary we have planned so far and what we could visit in these regions.

I enjoy (leisure) walks/hikes in the nature, exploring caves, yet at the same time getting lost in huge cities. I'm a big fan of all types of music, from indie rock to techno. My girlfriend enjoys culture and art a lot and would like to explore traditional Japan. Also seeing a couple of pretty beaches would be super nice. So far this would we have in mind:

Day 1 - 3 TOKYO

    Explore Tokyo and take an overnight bus to Kyoto. Urban lifestyle explorations.

Day 4 - 8 KYOTO

    Spend time in Kyoto and the surrounding regions. Traditional Japan. 

Day 9 HIROSHIMA

    Activate JR-pass (7 days). Travel from Kyoto in the morning to Hiroshima and explore. History. 

Day 10 MIYAJIMA

    Leave Hiroshima in the afternoon for Miyajima. Walk around the island and stay overnight. JR-Pass day 2.

Day 11 YAMAGUCHI

    Depart from Miyajima and head to Yamaguchi in the morning. Akiyoshidai Plateau and Akiyoshido Cave look       intriguing. JR-Pass day 3. Nature/Hiking.

Day 12 YAMAGUCHI

    Explore Yamaguchi/Akiyoshidai some more during the day and leave for Himeji at night. JR-Pass day 4.

Day 13 HIMEJI

    Spend a full day in Himeji. JR-Pass day 5. History. 

Day 14 NIKKO

    Leave for Nikko early in the morning. Explore the city and surroundings upon arrival.  JR-Pass day 6.

Day 15 NIKKO

    Spend some more time in Nikko and leave for Kamakura in the evening. JR-Pass day 7.

Day 16 - 17 KAMAKURA

     One full day and perhaps extra in Kamakura, maybe visit the Enoshima beaches. Leave for Tokyo in the morning or afternoon. Also take a look at the caves.  

Day 18- 19 TOKYO

    Two full days of Tokyo fun.

Day 20 DEPARTURE

    Head back home. 

As you can see we have planned this trip with a 7 day JR-pass in mind. I was wondering if a 14-day pass might be more in the efficient in the end? i.e Places that are more suitable for a JR-pass than those mentioned in my list, yet offering similar attractions.. Thanks a lot for the feedback!

Keane
Keane

Hi there,

Looks like a very nice trip to me, you have included many of the best spots in Japan.

When it comes to the JR Pass, I think a 14 day JR Pass is easily the best option. The cost of an upgrade from a 7 day to a 14 day JR Pass is 17,290 yen. While a one way Tokyo - Kyoto alone is 13,400yen. This way you would not have to use a night bus and you will feel much better while in Kyoto. Add in travel to Nikko, Kamakura and some local travel here and there and you'll make good savings too.

Kamakura has some close by and very beautiful beaches. Would be an easy win to include it there. Izu is also very nice but would be harder to plan in.

Hope this helps,
Daniel

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Daniel-san
Expert button 2

Hi,
Yes, a 14 day pass would pay off well, so why would you then take an overnight bus??
You could use the pass for Days 4-17 and it would cover all your long distance travels.
The only issue I see is that it will take you over 6 hours to get from Himeji to Nikko, leaving you with very little time to see the place that day. You clearly see that traveling at night makes more sense, as you plan it elsewhere. I suggest you return to Tokyo on Day 13.
If you like natural scenery, then there are some good places nearby - Okayama is not far and it is famous for its castle, plus Korakuen Garden, one of Japan's Top 3, and also the Handayama Garden. You can get a rental bicycle and see the Kibi Plain over an afternoon.If you'd like to get off the beaten trail for a while, the half day hike up to Konpirasan in Kotohira is stunning. Going to Takamatsu is also nice - it has one of Japan's finest gardens also, called Ritsurin.

And you like caves? You picked the right country! There are over 50 in Japan, but the Akiyoshido Cave is by far the greatest. And you can use the JR Pass for the bus that takes you there from Yamaguchi Stn. If you still wanted to see more, another of the Top 3 caves in Japan is also within reach - the Ryugado Cave in Kochi. Nearby is Tsuwano with the Taikodani Inari Shrine which is a lot like the bigger Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto but with none of the crowds, as well as the Maria Seido Chapel.
If you need time, you could pull a day off of Kamakura, and a day off of Tokyo. While in Kyoto, you should also definitely make at least half a day open for Nara, and after sightseeing in Kyoto for the day you could go and spend an evening in Osaka and another evening in Kobe.

If you're with your girlfriend, try looking at staying at some love hotels - they're across the country, inexpensive, and each one is memorable.

Good luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

Hi Daniel and Toraneko,

Thanks for the input, I especially love the youtube videos Toraneko!

We are considering the overnight bus to Kyoto because that would save some cash on accommodation, while not needing to purchase a 14 day pass. I heard in Tokyo you need a SUICA (?), and for Kyoto just maybe rent bikes to explore the area. Also the trip to Nara should be quite cheap since it's close by right? But maybe a 14-day pass is cheaper if you add all the costs together, I'm not sure.

How is renting a bike in Japan, is it recommended actually? We will be there in the summer so it can get quite hot I imagine.

Thanks again for your help!!

Keane
Keane

Hi,
Well, if you prefer the overnight bus and 7 day pass, that's fine.
You don't need a Suica card - there's no real savings in it - it's just more convenient.
Nara is about 45 minutes from Kyoto by JR, and costs 710 yen.
Renting bikes is one way to get around, but yes, you will be sweating like a pig and major streets are
very crowded with cars, with the sidewalks loaded with tourists. Using side streets can avoid a lot of
the hassle. Unless it's raining.

Best of luck.

Toraneko
Toraneko

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