questions & answers: itinerary check

first time trip to japan

First Time Trip to Japan


Just joined this forum and hoping to get some useful advice on our planned trip to Japan in October this year.

We will be arriving into Tokyo late and flying out late, here's our tentative program, any feedback would be appreciated and if you can suggest other great places to visit that would be great, we may be travelling in the wrong direction - what do you think???? If there is a better routing, please let us know.

We are wanting to buy a JR pass and are unsure whether we will need the 21 day pass or can get away using a 14 day JR pass.

OCT 11: Arrive in Tokyo
OCT 12: Tokyo
OCT 13: Tokyo
OCT 14: Tokyo
OCT 15: Tokyo
OCT 16: Tokyo – Nikko - Kyoto
OCT 17: Tokyo – Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park
OCT 18: Jigokudani - Tokyo - Hakone
OCT 19: Hakone – Mt Fuji - Hakone
OCT 20: Hakone
OCT 21: Kanazawa
OCT 22: Kanazawa - Takayama - Kanazawa
OCT 23: Kanazawa
OCT 24: Kanazawa - Kyoto
OCT 25: Kyoto
OCT 26: Kyoto
OCT 27: Kyoto – Nara - Kyoto
OCT 28: Kyoto
OCT 29: Kyoto – Himeji - Kyoto
OCT 30: Kyoto
OCT 31: Kyoto – Osaka - Kyoto
NOV 01: Kyoto
NOV 02: Hiroshima
NOV 03: Hiroshima – Miyajima - Hiroshima
NOV 04: Hiroshima – Tokyo, then Fly home to Australia – is this possible??

I look forward to your feedback, many thanks.
Carole :)


Hi Carole,

Welcome to the forums!

In general, I think that it looks like a very good itinerary and would not mind traveling it myself. There are some things I would recommend some reflection on. Just to be sure, I assume that you mean Tokyo after Nikko on Oct 16th?

From there visiting Jigokudani is great, however it is quite a trip from Tokyo. It may be nice to stay a night in Nagano city or Yudanaka, this way you can see the area and you don't have to travel so much in a single day.

Then, near the end, I would spend I day more in Tokyo. This way you have time for some last minute shopping. This is also nice because the trip Hiroshima - Tokyo is pretty long. Staying in Tokyo will give you a bit of time to relax before flying home.

The route itself looks good, there's no unnecessary travel.

Hope you find this useful!

Expert button 2

Just a few other suggestions on your plans, you're putting a lot of time into Tokyo, which has no shortage of places to see. But you might throw in another day trip, and that would further enhance the value of your JR Passes. Some ideas are the Fuji 5 Lakes area, Karuizawa, or Kamakura/Enoshima. For the first place the JR pass won't help within the areas, but there are Odakyu regional passes you can also buy. You could spend a lot of time in Tokyo and still not see everything.
In Tokyo a few of the best places to see are the Tsukiji Fish Market, plus the site that every last tourist goes to see, the Sensoji Temple. If you are in Tokyo on a Sunday afternoon, be sure to go visit Harajuku to see the youth with their wild fashions. Meiji Shrine and Yoyogi Park are next to it and well worth seeing also. And be sure not to miss the Shibuya Hachiko intersection especially on a weekend when it looks like half the city is crossing the street all together.
For Takayama, don't miss Shirakawago and Gokayama - they are the highlights of the area. For Kanazawa, don't miss Kenrokuen, which is widely regarded as Japan's most beautiful traditional garden. For Kyoto, you have a good amount of time planned, and while you could spend a few weeks there are not see all that there is, you might take half a day and go see Kobe also - it has a number of good places. For Nara, don't miss the Todaiji Great Buddha and feeding the deer there. Kofukuji Temple and Kasuga Shrine there are also worth seeing, as well as the Isuien and Yoshikien Gardens.
For Hiroshima, a full day for the city and another for Miyajima is enough. For the city, the most popular places are the Peace Park/Museum, castle, Shukkeien Garden, and downtown shopping arcade+Okonomiyaki Village. One nearly unknown jewel though is the 3 waterfall Mitakidera Temple on the city's west side. Just beyond Miyajima a bit is Iwakuni with its historic bridge and mountaintop castle. And if you would really like an adventure, further down in Yamaguchi is the Akiyoshido Limestone Cave which is a 1km, 300 million year old marvel with giant caverns and underground river flowing through.

Enjoy your trip.


Thanks Daniel-san
Apologies on the OCT 16 line - this is not Kyoto.... oops should've read Tokyo....

OCT 16: Tokyo – Nikko - Tokyo
OCT 17: Tokyo – Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park - overnight in Jigokudani
OCT 18: Jigokudani - Tokyo - Hakone

We'd hoped to avoid coming back to do Tokyo but we may need to anyway - to collect our luggage???
Unless we onsend our baggage to our next destination which I hear can be done in Japan.

These facilities are not optional in Australia.

Could we do Jigokudani to Tokyo to Hakone in one day or is this not possible??
Would we be better going from Jigokudani to Nagano onto Kanawaza??

Is there a good link to a printable map with the rail lines covered by JR??
This would make arranging this so much easier.
I tried using the timetable website (unsure of its name now sorry) but unsure which are the relevant lines covered by the JR pass.

Many thanks for the input above, greatly appreciated.



Thank you so much Toraneko, it's taken me a while to sort through all this useful information that you've given me.

The Fuji 5 Lakes - is this different to Hakone area??
I agree Tokyo would take years to explore - we may take the advice above and spend a few days on arrival and a few days on departure as we should be a tad more confident with the metro system by then.

We will certainly want to explore your suggestions in Tokyo - thank you.

For Takayama, don't miss Shirakawago and Gokayama - they are the highlights of the area. Can we do these trips easily with the train system and by ourselves or do we need to do day tours? Where is the best place to base ourselves?

For Kanazawa, don't miss Kenrokuen, which is widely regarded as Japan's most beautiful traditional garden. This looks great too - we were planning on doing day trips from either Takayama or Kanazawa - again which is the best place to base ourselves for these outings?? And assuming the JR pass will be useful in these areas?

For Kyoto - will note all your suggestions - thanks.

For Hiroshima, a full day for the city and another for Miyajima is enough - is the full day to Miyajima enough and return to Hiroshima ??

And if you would really like an adventure, further down in Yamaguchi is the Akiyoshido Limestone Cave which is a 1km, 300 million year old marvel with giant caverns and underground river flowing through. - You really got my interest for the caves this looks out of this world - can we do this with the JR pass and would we need to base ourselves in Yamaguchi?? I see there is an area called Hagi nearby which also looks fantastic.

Many thanks and I hope you can take the time to reply.

Carole :)


Hello Carole,

For travel to Hakone, yes you'd have to come via Tokyo in order to use the Shinkansen. it is quite a trip but I think you'll be fine if you stay in Jigokudani or at the extreme make a day trip there from Tokyo. It is technically possible to do so but it will mean traveling most of the day. You can also forward your luggage, this works very well in Japan using services like TQ-Bin from Yamamote transport an other transport company.

We also have a rather useful interactive map with all lines covered in Japan: it's interactive and would be too big to print but you can get a good idea of all lines covered.

An other useful map is this Shinkansen or bullet train map. These are the high speed routes in Japan and all are covered by the JR Pass (some train services as Nozomi are not but there are always other trains you can ride).

Hakone and the Fuji Five lakes are indeed two different area's Hakone is more south while the five lakes are east of Fuji. It takes a couple of hours to travel from one area to the other using public transport.

Also, Miyajima makes for an easy day or half day trip from Hiroshima. It is very close and both the train and ferry to the Island are covered by the JR Pass. Also nice to know is that the Hiroshima sightseeing bus is covered by the JR Pass.

Hope this helps,

Expert button 2

Hi Carole,
In answer to your question, both have very nice views of Mt. Fuji when the weather cooperates, but the two different places have different variaties of places to see. Hakone has its ropeway and volcanically active Owakudani, but in fact due to some eruption concerns the area is closed. That might bring you to choosing the Fuji 5 Lakes area. Hakone also has a number of western art museums, Gotemba shopping area, and gardens. The Fuji 5 Lakes area has more scenery of lakes, needless to say, but also an amusement park, volcanic caves to walk through, and a couple of open air museums. Needless to say they don't come close to what is in Takayama/Shirakawago.
And speaking of which, Shirakawago is about a 50 minute bus ride from Takayama, but is the real jewel of the area. You can see it all in just a few hours though. The bus not covered by the JR Pass. You could make it a day trip there from Takayama, or, since it is about half way between Kanazawa and Takayama, you can possibly take the bus into Kanazawa from Takayama. It means less savings though out of your pass. Of course, you could do it as a day trip from Kanazawa as well.
For Hiroshima, it is easy to visit Miyajima for a day and stay overnight in Hiroshima City. Some do stay on the island though. It is more expensive, but there is also a quiet and tranqil atmosphere once the tourists almost all go home by dusk.
For Akiyoshido, it is possible as a day trip, although more time consuming to get to. You'd need to take a bus from Yamaguchi Stn., and this time the bus is covered by the pass. I found Hagi to be quite delightful - it's definitely off the beaten trail, with a wonderful castle and old samurai quarter. It is time consuming to get to and out of though.

Enjoy youir trip.


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