Best Use of JR Pass
I am in Japan for the first time this May with my husband and 10 year old son for my brother's wedding to his Japanese fiancee. The itinerary is
18th May Tokyo 1 night
19th May Train to Osaka for 3 nights (wedding here!)
22nd May Train to Kyoto for 2 nights
24th May Train to Hiroshima/Miyajima Island for 2 nights
After this we are a bit confused about the best way to spend the rest of our time with regards which route to take so that we get to see as much of the country by train as we can but also have a bit of a rest whilst keeping our son entertained.
We fly back to UK on 2nd June and would like to have 2 (or possibly 3) nights in Tokyo before we fly out of Narita Airport.
Between leaving Hiroshima 26th May, and arriving back in Tokyo 30th or 31st May, we were looking at the possibilities of Kanazawa, Yamanouchi (or elsewhere in alps, so maybe Tsumago or Matsumoto) and Hakone national park. As we love travelling by train and would like to see as much of the country as possible we would want to avoid doubling back on ourselves as much as possible (although I guess this is unavoidable for the journeys between Hiroshima and Osaka). Is there a good circular route we could follow that would achieve all of our desires? We are willing to drop Kanazawa as an overnight stop if necessary, but would it still be worth taking the route from Hiroshima to the alps via Kanazawa and perhaps just spending a few hours there in your opinion? The Japan Rail Pass Map I downloaded seems a little out of date I think?
Really hope you can help. I'm starting to panic now as accommodation seems to be getting booked up and prices rising.
You are correct about the map, we have an update planned for it but right now it is mainly missing the Hokuriku Shinkansen between Kanazawa and Tokyo. Coming from Hiroshima, it would be easy to plan in a return to Tokyo via the top part of Honshu, visiting places like Kanazawa, Nagano and Yamanouchi.
More specifically, what you could do after Hiroshima is travel to Kanazawa. At Kanazawa you could also make a day trip to Shirakawa-go. From Kanazawa you can take the Shinkansen directly to Nagano or make a visit at Takayama before traveling on. Nagano city makes for a good base to visit Yamanouchi (Jigokudani) from and you can also add a visit to Matsumoto if interested. I recommend going back to Tokyo via Matsumoto if you love train travel and mountain scenery. The trip curves around Fuji and you can have a great view of Fuji from the train, when the train approaches Kofu (permitting that the weather is good).
As for accommodations, also have a look at websites that provide hotels only in Japan. These generally have a bigger selection and slightly lower rates. Think of Rakuten Travel and Japinican.
Hope this helps,
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