questions & answers: itinerary check

how to start and end travelling between 25th dec 2015 to 4th jan 2016 (10~11 days)

How to start and end travelling between 25th Dec 2015 to 4th Jan 2016 (10~11 Days)


This would be my 3rd trip to Japan in 2 years, I really love visiting this country but this round I am quite worry as the duration is fall within Christmas & New Year.

During my 2nd trip I had a memorable train experience of standing from Kanazawa to Shin Osaka after failing to secure reserved seat due to Labor Thanksgiving Day. The crowds was crazy even it was the 2nd train in the morning.

Therefore, I would like to have some guidelines from you prior to respective arrangement .

Followings are some of my thoughts :

Flights : I can arrange multi-city flights, Tokyo, Kansai or Nagoya

Nagano - Jigokudani monkey park, snow walk & Onsen. Where best to settledown?
Okuhida or Gero - Onsen and views? (any nice scenery during that period?)
Kansai - Himeji (to re-visit the Castle), Uji, Nara, Miyama or any interesting rural town
Osaka or Tokyo - no specific to-date, just follow the flow then.

I have done Takayama, Shirakawago, Kanazawa, Toyama in Mid November last year, is there much difference in late Dec? I wonder if I should re-visit them.

My objective is to plan the itinerary to avoid hiccup in transportation to/fro the airports and also between prefectures hence I am flexible to give up some of above POI if it is challenging at such dates.

Thank you.




Hi there,

In Nagano, I would either stay in Nagano city or the closeby Yudanaka. Nagano city is nice because there's a decent amount of stuff to do and there are plenty of restaurants. While Yudanaka is nice to stay at for the local Onsen. From there you could travel on to Takayama and visit both Gero and Okuhida (or just one of them). If you don't want to visit Takayama again, then I'd go to Gero Onsen.

Shirakawago is a nice visit but I don't think it would be worth it to visit it for a secend time, unless it is a completely different season.

From Takayama/the Japanese alps, I would travel down to Kyoto (or somewhere in Kansai). It is easy to make your base there and visit places such as Uji and Nara. Also very nice to visit is the close by Hikone, the town alone is very nice to stroll around in and the castle makes for a wonderful visit as well.

I don't see any problems with the route you want to visit, everything can be done by rail as well.

Hope this helps,

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Hi Daniel

Your response is very fast and I am so glad that the route is feasible during New Year period.

Below are some further doubts to clarify. I read from Japan-guide : "In 2014/2015, the travel peak is expected to take place between December 27 and 31 with people leaving the big cities, and between January 2 and 4 (especially January 3-4) in the opposite direction." This year christmas is fall on Friday, thus will the Local people start leaving Tokyo for hometown on 25th? Can I reserve online all the JR train rides in months ahead?

How is the following timetable?

Day 1 (25 Dec) - A.M. arrival at Narita Intnl Airport / Collect JR pass/ Accomodation around Ueno
Day 2 (26 Dec) - A.M. Nagano Shinkansen (Activate JR Pass) >> Nagano day 1
Day 3 (27 Dec) - Nagano day 2
Day 4 (28 Dec) - Nagano day 3 ( is 3 full day in Nagano too much?)
Day 5 (29 Dec) - A.M. Train to either Okuhida or Gero (JR pass)
Day 6 (30 Dec) - Okunhia or Gero >> afternoon or evening train Kansai (JR pass)
Day 7 (31 Dec) - Day Trip to Uji & Nara (JR pass)
Day 8 (1 Jan) - Himeji / Kobe (Qn: Although is free entry on New Year Day, should I avoid Hemeji castle on this day?) (JR pass)
Day 9 (2 Jan) - Kyoto (cash )
Day 10 (3 Jan) - Hikone / Osaka (cash)
Day 11 (4 Jan) - Osaka / Evening Kansai Intnl Airport (cash) [must get advance ticket on Day 6 arriving at Kansai?]

Appreciate your helps.



Hello Janet,

Train reservations can basically only be made in Japan. To do so, go to a station, show the JR Pass can reserve your tickets. Although busy, you'll certainly be able to reservice your tickets if you do so on the 25th, day of arrival.

The time table for December is not yet know, it is announced about 3 months in advance. You can check current departure times via

Going into your itinerary, 3 days Nagano city feels a bit much. You can see the city in less than a day, the closeby Jigokudani Snow money park makes for a nice day trip too. So I would recommend making a plan in advance for day 3 or travel on.

Himeji will certainly be busy but seeing how New Years day is celebrated in Japan is part of the charm. Though you may want to visit somewhere else if you are unable to stand busy crowds.

Hope this helps,

PS: Sorry I did not get your last question about Kansai Airport?

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