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My first adventure in Japan for 16 days around the country; please help me with my itinerary and planning

almost 5 years ago
4 responses

My first adventure in Japan for 16 days around the country; please help me with my itinerary and planning

In less than 2 months I will be flying to Japan for the first time. I never had been to this country before. I plan to stay there for 16 days. I’m avid amateur photographer and I like to travel the country as much as possible. Doing day trip If possible to minimise and avoid checking in at many different hotels/hostel. I will be travel late march till early April for the cherry blossom. I would like to maximise the time I have in Japan to see as much scenery, temples, Onsen (I would like to try this), try some ryoken, gardens, Mt Fuji, etc.
Hiking, diving is not in my do to list though.
I will be Arriving in Narita Airport at March 27th 2013 @ 1:25pm and depart April 11th 2013 @ 7:20pm back to Singapore.
I read, from Narita Airport, I can take some train to get to Tokyo @ Ueno Stration. Is this correct? I plan to get the Suica & NEX package. Is this helpful for me? As I plan to stay in Tokyo for few days to explore Tokyo and its surrounding area before heading out to the rest of the country.
My friend told me to buy the JR pass, Is it worth it for me to buy the 7 or 14 days pass? Does the rail pass cover my intended areas to visit? If not, what type of rail fare will I need?
I will be starting my adventure in Tokyo then explore the surrounding areas.
I have not decided yet on how many days I would spend on each areas or town/ cities. Can you offer some advice to enlighten me?
Also do you know how long it will take the journey from one city to another? Like Tokyo to Kyoto or Osaka etc. Thanks
And where would you suggest good place to stay in Tokyo, for easy access for the JR train for my day side trip?
I plan to visit
• Tokyo – with side trip (surrounding area) • ?Nikko • Kyoto & Kansai • ?takayama • ?Nara • Osaka • Central Honshu • Western Honshu (?Matsuyama, Shikoku?) • Hiroshima + Miyajima • ?Kyushu (enough time) • ?Mt. Koya (spend the night) if time permit (also if I plan to spend the night at this place, are there lots of accommodation I can just go there and find a place to spend the night at? • Mt Fuji, for taking picture best spot? I don’t intend to hike as I don’t think I have the time to do so. Maybe another time, but can you suggest some best spot in the country to take nice pictures of Mt. Fuji?

I hope someone can give me some advice, sorry if my post is so long. Thanks.

4 posts
almost 5 years ago

also i would like to watch a sumo match aswell, if anyone can give me some information where I can watch and get ticket?
Is there lot a hop on hop off bus in tokyo? like in other cities?

1951 posts
almost 5 years ago
Expert button 2

Hi Andy,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Here are some thoughts on your trip:

  1. If you are going to Ueno from Narita Airport, I recommend using the Keisei Skyliner, which goes directly to Ueno. There's also a discount ticket you can use that includes 1 or 2 days of free metro travel.
  2. The JR Pass will cover all of your locations except the final leg upto Mt Koya from Osaka, but it will get you most of the way there. I'll include your cost calculation below with distances and times.
  3. For gardens you should be sure to check out Kanazawa Kenrokuen, and I really recommend you check out Kinosaki Onsen for Onsen and try to stay the night on Miyajima rather than in Hiroshima - you'll get some great shots. For Koyasan you should book in avance here.
  4. For Mt Fuji, you have either Hakone or Kawaguchiko. In both cases the JR Pass will get you most of the way (Odawara for Hakone, and Otsuki for Kawaguchiko), but you'll have to use non-JR Lines for the final stretch upto these locations.
  5. For transport in Tokyo I recommend you use the Metro rather than bus as it is by far the most easy to understand.
  6. Accommodation is always hard to recommend, but the area near Shinagawa and Ueno station will be cheaper than areas near Tokyo station and also offer good rail connectivity.

Assuming you will stay in Tokyo for 2 days and then use the JR Pass for the remaining 14, I think an itinerary like this will be good and give you lots of opportunities to expand your travel if you want (eg, Kinosaki onsen, Kyushu or Shikoku as you mention):

  1. Tokyo > Nikko: ¥5,230 (121mins, 150km)
  2. Nikko > Tokyo: ¥5,230 (121mins, 150km)
  3. Tokyo > Odawara: ¥3,440 (35mins, 83km)
  4. Odawara > Takayama: ¥12,110 (240mins, 448km)
  5. Takayama > Kanazawa: ¥4,180 (161mins, 148km)
  6. Kanazawa > Kyoto: ¥6,510 (126mins, 224km)
  7. Kyoto > Nara: ¥690 (45mins, 41km)
  8. Nara > Kyoto: ¥690 (45mins, 41km)
  9. Kyoto > Osaka: ¥540 (28mins, 42km) (Visit Koya-san/Mt Koya here)
  10. Osaka > Kyoto: ¥540 (28mins, 42km)
  11. Kyoto > Himeji: ¥4,930 (68mins, 130km)
  12. Himeji > Kyoto: ¥4,930 (68mins, 130km)
  13. Kyoto > Kurashiki: ¥7,970 (100mins, 235km)
  14. Kurashiki > Hiroshima: ¥5,980 (67mins, 177km)
  15. Hiroshima > Miyajimaguchi: ¥400 (26mins, 21km)
  16. Miyajimaguchi > Tokyo: ¥18,050 (331mins, 916km) (Maybe visit Kyushu or Shikoku here if you have time)
  17. Tokyo > Narita airport terminal 1: ¥3,140 (58mins, 79km)

JR ticket cost: ¥84,560 for 17 legs

I hope this helps get you started!

4 posts
almost 5 years ago


Definitely help, thank you

4 posts
almost 5 years ago

Thanks for your advice and suggestion for my previous post for my 16 days trip to Japan. After reading your comments I decided to follow some of your suggestion.
My new question is after realising that the cherry blossom start south west to north,
Should I start my adventure at the southern point in Japan where I aim to go to and head my way back north to Tokyo or start in Tokyo and go south?
My main aim for this adventure is to see as much as cherry blossom events/parks, natural scenery, castle, tourist land mark as much as possible without compromising my adventure by not enjoying and seeing the places. Spend 1 or 2 night at a ryokan and some onsen (during my adventure) to experience some Japanese culture… and most importantly to take some amazing pictures Japan has to offer….
Also I want to watch a live sumo match, if possible, which city should I go too to be able to watch a traditional sumo match? ]
This is my somewhat new Itinerary with the help of people suggestions… can anyone give me some further advices whether I should spend more or less time in each places I plan to go too? Also I would appreciate if anyone can comment how I should tackle my journey, in the sense that, should I start in Tokyo and head my way south or start south and head my way north back to Tokyo?
Arriva (Narita Airport) @March 27th
Tokyo – Side trips (Surrounding Area) 6 Days
Nikko – Day trip from Tokyo: 1 Day
Hiroshima + Miyajima – 1 or 2 Days
Kyoto – 2 Days
Nara -1 Day
Osaka – 2 Days
Takayama – 1 Day
Mt. Koya - 1 Day
Mt Fuji - Pictures
Depart April 11th 2013 @ 7:20pm back to Singapore.

If I start in Tokyo should I activate my JR pass the day I arrive in Japan or just use the Suica & NEX package to get to Tokyo from airport and use Suica while at Tokyo? Is the wifi hotspot package worth it? I read they offer this per day or weeks in Japan? and buying prepaid sim card is not really an option in japan? Is it true? I just wanna connect my iphone so I can check my location in the map or find hotels if I get lost… are there no free public hotspot in Japan? Anyone got experience?

All comments and suggestion are welcomed

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