questions & answers: itinerary check

tentative itinerary - 3 weeks(+) - first time visitors

Tentative itinerary - 3 weeks(+) - first time visitors

Hi, I am hoping Daniel-san can help me further to a previous thread that I joined in on.

Here is my tentative itinerary :

6 Oct - Arrive Tokyo (4.00pm)
Stay 4 or 5 nights and do day trips to Nikko and Fuji/Hakone

If we stay 5 nights & do the 2 day trips, is 2 days in Tokyo adequate for seeing the main sights? If I drop a day trip, should I drop Nikko?

11 Oct - Depart Tokyo for Matsumoto

Here I am suffering from some Japan Alps 'fuzziness' like @nbremer! I have read that Matsumoto is a good jumping-off point for a number of nearby sights that I am interested in visiting, such as Daio wasabi farm, the Kiso Valley & Nakasendo towns of Magome & Tsumago, Kamikochi, and the Alpen route.

If we don't base ourselves in Matsumoto for a few days to take in these sights, I am struggling to work out a route down from Toyama or Kanazawa after taking the Alpen route.

If we stay in Matsumoto two nights and just cover Kamikochi, my itinerary would then continue ....

13 Oct - Depart Matsumoto for the Alpen route and overnight in Toyama or Kanazawa, spend the next day in Kanazawa?

15 Oct - Depart Kanazawa for Takayama

Will it be easier to do the Kiso Valley out of Takayama? Would also like to get to Shirakawa-go.

Two nights in Takayama then?

17 Oct - Zoom down to Hiroshima

Two nights in Hiroshima

19 Oct - Travel to Miyajima and overnight there

20 Oct - Depart Miyajima for Kyoto

I would like to visit Universal in Osaka - is Osaka manageable as a day trip from Kyoto? Do I need to see anything else there?

Stay 5 nights in Kyoto with a day trip as above if manageable, plus a day trip to Nara. Spend 22 Oct in Kyoto for the festivals (Kyoto & Kurama). Would this give me enough time for Kyoto sights including Arashiyama?

Should I squeeze Koya-san onto the end of my trip? We are flying home out of Kansai airport.

I also had ambitions to reach the Shingu area but I can't fit it all in!!

Sorry to ask so many questions! Hope you can help me. :-)

Oh, one more question! Back in the Alps - where is the snow monkey park, closer to Nagano? Do the monkeys bathe in the onsen even when it is not snowing? We will probably go to the monkey park near Arashiyama, so should I worry about the snow monkeys?

Even though there are areas where we will have to travel on private lines, we will probably just go with a full 21 day JR Pass each, just to save us the worry of coordinating things on a shorter validity pass. Do you think we would get our money's worth from the Pass?

Thanks very much. Looking forward to hearing from you.


My apologies for this post becoming so LLLOOOOOONNNGGGG!


Hi Justine,

I am always happy to help with these kinds of things! As you know, it does take a little to to work out a good replay!

I've already started but it will take some extra time :)

Don't worry though, I should have more for you later today.

Expert button 2

Thanks very much Daniel, your assistance is much appreciated.




Hi Justine,

Hope you did not have to wait too long :) Are you ready?

Let's start in Tokyo, two days in Tokyo is rather short for a first time visit. You could chain up all places you wish to see and make a 2 day tour, this way you certainly could see a lot but at the same time you may not feel the real atmosphere of Tokyo. However missing Nikko is also something that kinda hurts. If it was up to me, I'd visit Nikko, it's too nice to pass up.

I like visiting Matsumoto myself, there's a special limited express train from JR Shinjuku that travels directly to Matsumoto. It's a great ride and well worth making. It is indeed possible, to make several day trips from Matsumoto as well. The most famous is of course Kamikochi. It is also possible to visit the snow monkey park for here, although it takes about 3 hours of travel time (one way). The monkeys may still go in the onsen, however they primarily do so during the winter.
I think at this point I would recommend making a final selection of places you want to visit, I feel that there may be too much places for now, given the time allowance and travel time involved.

Given that you have 5 days to explore the area (13-17th). Consider the following route. Matsumoto - Takayama (1d), full day to see Takayama (1d) next day travel to Shirakawago - spend the day in Shirakawago and travel in the evening to Kanazawa (1d). Full day to explore Kanazawa (1d). Do the Alpine route, start very early and either stay the night at the end and travel to Hiroshima the following morning. It is not possible to do the Alpine route and travel to Hiroshima on the same day.

As for Koya, you could fit it in but your time would be spend as good in Kyoto or Osaka.

Hope this makes for a good start! Let me know what you think!

Expert button 2

Excellent, thanks Daniel! I was very excited to see your response had arrived. :-)

I am about to book my flights and think I will stretch the time we are in Japan out a little to 3 and a half weeks or more.

That will allow extra day/s in Tokyo and time to go to Nikko. I definitely don't want to miss Fuji at this stage of the trip either, as we won't be back in Tokyo at the end.

Snow monkeys are off the list! Will spend a few nights in Matsumoto to do Kamikochi and perhaps still squeeze in the Nakasendo.

I had initially planned the Alpen Route from Shinano-omachi but can adopt your suggestions as above. I assume this means starting from the Kanazawa/Toyama end, then staying somewhere at the eastern terminus (Matsumoto again?) and heading to Hiroshima via Nagoya the next day?

I think we will now be able to make a stop in Osaka - want to check out Dotonbori and eat okonomiyaki!!

Will be sure to dedicate enough time to Kyoto as well. It looks beautiful!

When flying home out of Kansai, which city is the best place to travel to the airport from? Our departure time is looking like it will be late at night. Osaka or Kyoto?

And a reason for my overload of possible destinations, apart from the fact that Japan just has too many wonderful things to see ..... I blame Pinterest!! I've come to the realisation though, just can't do it all can we?!?

Thanks again Daniel, your input has been invaluable. :-)



Hi Justine,

It's great that you have to flexibility to change your flight ticket. This makes planning much easier.

There are several hotels near Shinano-Omachi station. However you could also head to Matsumoto or Nagoya and stay there. Both are possible. However you can take all day for the alpine route if you stay near Shinano-Omachi.

Both Osaka and Kyoto have direct train connections to Kansai Airport and work well. Kobe has a high speed ferry, which is also a cool way to travel to the airport.

Japan indeed has a lot to offer and you'd need more than one trip to see it all. However this certainly makes for a great start!

Also be sure to try a Japanese Onsen! It's one of the best aspects of Japanese culture!


Expert button 2

Thank you Daniel!

It's sorted! We arrive on the 6th and depart on the 30th which will give us plenty of time to explore. :-)

I think we will look to stay in Shinano-Omachi as I know I have seen some information about a baggage forwarding service to there. Certainly don't want to carry my bag over the Alpen Route!

We will definitely try an onsen too. There sure are plenty to choose from!

I really appreciate your assistance.



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