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Any advice on 40 days itinerary (14 days JR pass-Golden Week)

over 2 years ago
2 responses


I would really appreciate someone commenting on my itinerary. We (2 adults and a 4 year old) have plans traveling Japan from mid-April to end-May.

April 13-23 : Tokyo (including day trips Nikko and Disney)
April 24-25 : Lake Kawaguchiko (by bus)
April 26-28 : travel to Matsumoto (start JR 14 days railpass)
April 27-28 : Magome-Tsumago
April 29 : travel Tsumago to Hiroshima (start Golden Week)
Apr 30-May 1: Hiroshima (including day trip Miyajima)
May 2 : travel Hiroshima to Nagasaki
May 3-5 : Nagasaki
May 6 : travel Nagasaki to Osaka
May 7-8 : Osaka (day trip Koyasan?) (end Golden Week)
May 9 : travel Osaka to Takayama (end JR 14 railpass)
May 10-11 : Takayama (including Shirakawago)
May 12 : Shinhotaka (onsen and ropeway)
May 13 : travel to Kamikochi
May 14-16 : Kamikochi
May 17 : travel Kamakochi to Kyoto
May 18-24 : Kyoto (including day trip Nara)

Any comments on the itinerary are welcome! We would like a trip through Japan with enough time to see all the sights and to have lazy afternoons at a playground with our boy. Also we would like a good balance between busy cities and quiet country/mountainous/rural places.

Specific questions:
1. Do you think this itinerary will fit our wishes? Is it not too busy? Is there enough nature included?
2. I figured that a 14 days JR pass would be more economical than a 21 days pass, because of all the bus travel that's needed (and quicker) in the Japan Alps. Do you agree?
3. Would traveling on April 29 from Nagiso to Hiroshima be a problem considering the start of Golden Week? And does one of the other traveldays in that week be a problem?
4. Would you advice a day trip to Koyasan from Osaka with our 4 year old? He might more enjoy Hirakata amusement park, but we should maybe not miss out on Koyasan? We could also consider a overnight stay, is that advisable with a kid?
5. We would like to have a real onsen experience somewhere. I've included Shinhotaka onsen because it's on our way between Takayama and Kamikochi, but maybe there's another, better, less expensive option to find. I've read about Kinosaki for example. What about the combination of onsen and our 4 year old? Suitable? Advisable?
6. Totally different question: is there a nice beach setting somewhere along the way? Or will the sea be too cold in April/May for swimming?

Thank you very much!!!

12268 posts
over 2 years ago
Expert button 2

Hello there,

Sorry for the late replay, some itineraries need a bit extra time to review and yours certainly is one of them. So without further waiting, let's dig right in.

1.) I must say that there's quite some travel in your itinerary, especially going to Hiroshima - Nagasaki - Osaka will add a good amount of time. Still they are some of the best places to visit in Japan and I don't see any way around the travel time if you want to include them. Just bring something good to keep your mind occupied during traveling. A good book goes a long way. Personally I love listening to Audiobooks and just watch the countryside pass by.

2.) There is so much travel in your itinerary that you will get a good deal with both the 14 and 21 day JR Pass. The question from there if it is worth the money to upgrade to a 21 day JR Pass. The cost of this is just 12,960yen. I do think that you will cover this amount with travel to Matsumoto and Kyoto. Additionally you'll get 1 more week of unlimited travel, given you a ton of flexibility.

3.) I don't consider this route a problem, except for the long travel time. Just be sure to reserve your seats a couple of days in advance. This way you are secure of seating together.

4.) You can certainly include Koya-san and I think you will enjoy it. While all the temples my be boring for children at first glance, do a bit of research on what you'll be visiting and tell them a cool story. This will keep expectations up and make sure you'll have a good time.

5.) Onsen with children my be hard unless you rent a private bath. This because there is quite an etiquette and you are expected to know this before hand.Kinosaki may be too far from your route to include easily but you could easily include a visit to Gero Onsen, it is only 20min away from Takayama and directly on the route. Also think it does not cast that much.

6.) Try somewhere near Nagasaki, it is spring but this is the most southern part and it will be warmest here.

Hope this helps,

2 posts
over 2 years ago

Hi Daniel,

Thank you for your response! I really appreciate you taking the time to look at my itinerary.
Good to hear that you think our route is do-able, besides some long travel days.
We will consider chosing the 21 days pass, like you said it will give us more flexibility for the same price as separate train/bus tickets will cost us.

I posted another question about train travel with our 4 year old. Do you have answers on that too?
We would like to know if it's possible to reserve seats for him as well, without the JR pass. And if not, what is the etiquette for traveling with a child without JR pass? I don't think we would like him to sit for 5 hours on our lap...and he also would not appreciate that I guess. Is it possible to have a seat for him without the pass or ticket?

Thank you!

12268 posts
over 2 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi again!

It is not possible to reserve a place for your child without a ticket. If you want to be sure of a seat for him, buy a child pass or ask the JR staff if the train will be busy and buy a child ticket for the route if it is busy.

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