questions & answers: itinerary check

jr pass in itinerary

jr pass in itinerary


My husband and I are planning a trip to Japan for the first time in September (next weeK!)

I have an itinerary but wondering what your thoughts are. Is it not too ambitious? We both are in our early 30s and usually do quite a lot of travelling when on holiday. Are we missing some crucial places? Or would you skip some places on our itinerary altogether?

Is it worth doing another day trip from Tokyo and stay in Tokyo another night, which would mean that our stay in Kyoto would be one day shorter? Which trip (or 2 trips) from Tokyo would you recommend?

I'm pretty sure that we will buy a 2 week jr pass but just want to double check if it is definitely justifiable in our case. I am worried about my journey from Naoshima to Kiso Valley. How long could it take?

Also, is it better to walk from Magome to Tsumago or the other way round? We're planning to stay in either of the towns overnight. Which one would you recommend?

Has anyone been to the fire festival in Matsumoto? It looks awesome!
I would welcome any comments or advice you may have:))

20th Sept arrive in Tokyo in the early afternoon (1pm)
21st and 22nd Sept (2 days sightseeing in Tokyo)
23rdSept Nikko or Hakone (a day trip) Kamakura?
24th Sept Travel to Kyoto
25th and 26th Sept (2 days sightseeing in Kyoto)
27thSept a day trip to Nara
28th Sept early morning travel from Kyoto to Koyasan, stay overnight
29thSept travel to Naoshima (stay overnight in Naoshima)
30th Sept travel to Kiso Valley (do the walk between Magome and Tsumago) stay overnight in the area
1st Oct travel to Takayama (stay overnight in Takayama)
2nd Oct Spend the day in Takayama, travel in the evening to Matsumoto (stay overnight in Matsumoto)
3rd Oct Matsumoto- Asama Onsen \taimatsu Matsuri-fire festival (stay overnight)
4th Oct Travel to Tokyo from Matsumoto in the afternoon. Flight from Narita Airport (9pm)


Hi there!

I do think that a 14 day JR Pass would be a great option here, simply because you don't have to worry about booking train tickets during your stay in Japan in addition to just boarding the train as you wish. This last is especially nice since you will do a good amount of travel.
The itinerary also looks very good to me, there's always a good addition but I think this is a great plan for your first visit to Japan, I think the inclusion of the Magome-Tsumago Trail is especially nice!

The rail travel time from Naoshima - Kiso valley is about 210-240 Minutes. The is excluding ferry and about 30 of bus travel from Natsugawa station to Magome. So all it all it will take about 6hours of travel be it very scenic (more details about this below).

Tsumago is by far the better place to stay the night, so I would recommend hiking the trail from Magome to Tsumago. To get from Naoshima to Magome take the ferry to the harmor village of Uno from here take the train route to Nakatsugawa and from Nakatsugawa the bus to Magome.

The fire festival in Matsumoto does indeed look awesome! I have not been there myself but from I read that it is certainly worth a visit from other travelers.

Lastly, my personal recommendation for a day trip for Tokyo is by far Nikko, you will already see Nara, which in essence is much like Kamakura and Hakone is very beautiful too but a day trip is a little short and there's always extra costs involved. Nikko is very beautiful as it has both Nature and impressive temple structures. (I think that Nikko as single day trip from Tokyo is perfect).

I hope this helps!

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Dear Daniel,
Thank you so much for your response! The information you've posted is really useful, thank you! I took your advice and booked a JR pass. It should arrive in post later on today:)
I somehow did not realise that Naoshima is so much out of the way and takes so long to get to and from. Now I think that visiting this island might not justify long hours spent on the train. Now I'm considering an alternative that would make more sense geographically..

So, now I am thinking of a new itinerary with a bit of a change in the second leg of our journey:

28th Sept early morning travel from Kyoto to Koyasan, stay overnight

29th Sept (about 11/ 12 pm) travel to Kyoto (spend 1 extra night in Kyoto)

30th Sept (early in the morning) travel to Kiso Valley (do the walk between Magome and Tsumago) stay overnight in Tsumago (hope I will find a room as it is not so easy as I thought)

1st Oct (in the morning) travel to Takayama (stay overnight in Takayama)

2nd October travel to Shirakawago (as a half day trip and back to Takayama for the night OR stay overnight in Shirakawago- preferably the second option)

3rd Oct early morning travel to Matsumoto- Asama Onsen Taimatsu Matsuri-fire festival (stay overnight)

4th Oct Travel to Tokyo from Matsumoto in the afternoon. Flight from Narita Airport (9 pm)

I am wondering if the is now more doable or should I skip Takayama and Shirakawago altogether and spend more time in Matsumoto?

As it comes to Nikko, I will definitely try to visit it. I did some research and it does look impressive! Thank you so much for your great advice:)))

One thing that worries me is what to do with the luggage on a Tsumago/Magome trail.. I have found some info about a transfer of bags on Lonely Planet, but from what I can see, it will not be available when we come. Any idea how to go about it? Are there any other options?

''If you’re hiking between Magome and Tsu­mago, the towns offer a handy baggage-forwarding service (per bag ¥500; Mon-Sun late Jul-Aug, Sat, Sun & holidays late Mar-late Nov) from either tourist office to the other. Deposit your bags between 8.30am and 11.30am for delivery by 1pm.''

Also, I hope I will find some accommodation in Tsumago as I haven't had much luck so far:/

Thank you sooooo much for your help:)))
Really appreciate it!!!!


Hi again!

This does look much more relaxed without visiting Naoshima, I would not drop your visit to Takayama/Shirakawa-go however. This because both are really beautiful and worth a visit, Shirakawago however is a small village and you can see most of it in 3-4 hours, so I would recommend taking a bus in the middle of the after noon if you plan to stay the night there (the light up is very beautiful).

As for an accommodation in Tsumago, I looked around a little but it is indeed hard to find anything in the area. I would recommend trying a Google search for ''Tsumago Ryokan'' which gives some promising results such as this one.
Luggage may be a bit of a problem though, you could forward your luggage from your last accommodation via the Takyubin Service from Yamamote transport which is a great way to move your suitcases around if you are unable to take them with you. You can recognize this service from the black cat logo that you will see almost everywhere in Japan, many hotels also offer this service for you.

I hope this helps too!

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