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3 month trip - route idea

unrealcassi

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Hi to all!

My name is Bea and i m from Germany. I m planning a nearly 3 month Japan trip. Start is 21.03.2016 from Munich to Osaka. I will stay 11 days in Kyoto, because my mother is there doing a ikebana course and i want to share some time together. After that Kyoto stay, i have to plan the rest of my trip. i m interested in nature, hiking, snorkeling, beaches, mountains, some culture ofcourse too - but mainly old historical things. nothing modern like art museum ;-) because i love snorkeling i want to stay long at okinawa and the surrounding islands.

Could you please tell me, if i forgot something very interresting and if its a realistic plan? i want to use the Buspass (Willer Express) and 3 ANA Visit Japan Coupons for the domestic longrange flights.

Heres my idea for the trip:

21.03.-02.04. Kyoto and daytrips round Kyoto
02.04. Kyoto - Hiroshima with Buspass
03.04. Hiroshima
04.04. Hiroshima - Osaka - Nagoya with Buspass
05.04. Nagoya
06.04. Nagoya
07.04. Nagoya - Osaka - Tokyo with Buspass
08.04. Tokyo - Hakone with regular train
09.04. Hakone
10.04. Hakone - Tokyo with regular train
11-16.04. Tokyo
17.04. Tokyo - Ishigaki with ANA Coupon
18.-30.04. Ishigaki
01.05.-15.05. Miyako
16.05.-26.05. Okinawa (between Ishigaki, Miyako, Okinawa regular flight)
26.05. Okinawa - Sapporo with ANA Coupon
27.05.-02.06. Sapporo and daytrips
02.06. Sapporo - Osaka with ANA Coupon
04.06. Osaka - Munich

I m not sure, if i will spend to much time in the south and i will be missing something important because of that? will i get bored? i saw so much beautiful pictures of the islands, that its hard to image for me to spend less time there ;-)

opinions, tips, ideas welcome :) thank you!

best regards Bea
 

mdchachi

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Make sure you go to Itsukushima while you're in Hiroshima. And Nara while you're in Kyoto area. Himeji is worthwhile.

Unless you have friends or something there, I wouldn't even stop in Nagoya except perhaps to rent a car and drive to Shirakawa and Takayama. Beautiful scenery & mountains out there. Far better than Hakone.

Consider Beppu. But probably too much out of the way.

Consider Sado Island & Tottori Sand Dunes as other possibilities of cool places to go. Tottori is out of the way but Sado is not too bad via shinkansen from Tokyo & ferry.

If you didn't have the airplane coupons I'd probably recommend not bothering with Sapporo but since you have them you may as well go. Eat as much ikura-don & kani as you can. Followed up by silky, milky ice cream. :)
 

unrealcassi

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Thank your for your feedback!

Nara is nearly on top of my Kyoto daytrip list :) Do you think a day trip is enough for Itsukushima or should I stay a full day better?

Is it difficult to rent a car? I got my international drivers licence yesterday - Shirakawa looks really beautiful! Maybe I will cancel Nagoya and travel instead over Shirakawa to Tokyo.

Eating all food which got recommended to me by the people will get hard - but I will do my best ;-) So much good food!
 

thomas

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I was wondering why you were planning on spending more time in Nagoya than in Tokyo. ;)

If you like old things, what about visiting Himeji Castle and perhaps combine it with a trip to Kobe? And definitely Nikko if you have some time while in the Kanto area.

Edit: sorry, mdchachi beat me on Himeji.
 

unrealcassi

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Thank you thomas! Himeji and Kobe are on my list now :) I think i will visit them as a daytrip from Kyoto while my mother is doing her course. i think the transportation time is ok, what do you say?

Nagoya is canceled :-D You both sound like it s not really worth the time and money ;-) Instead i think i will travel from Osaka to Kanazawa by train and visit the mountain villages there. After Kanazawa by highway bus (Buspass) to Tokyo. I think that sounds more like nature and mountains than Nagoya :)

Have you two ever been to Okinawa? Do you think two weeks at Ishigaki and at Miyako is too long?
 
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mdchachi

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Nara is nearly on top of my Kyoto daytrip list :) Do you think a day trip is enough for Itsukushima or should I stay a full day better?

Is it difficult to rent a car? I got my international drivers licence yesterday - Shirakawa looks really beautiful! Maybe I will cancel Nagoya and travel instead over Shirakawa to Tokyo.

A day in Itsukushima should be plenty. Maybe try to catch the afternoon to night period see it in the both day/night.
Shouldn't be an issue with renting a car as long as all your papers are in order.

Have you two ever been to Okinawa? Do you think two weeks at Ishigaki and at Miyako is too long?

I have but not those places; it really depends on you. If you're a get up and go person it might be too long. But if you want to relax, snorkel, read a couple books, etc. it might be just right. Maybe you could become a certified scuba diver while you're at it.
 

TSV

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Depends what you want to do in Itsukushima, I found that one day was not enough to see everything. Also at night the Torii is really nice so I would advise you to stay the night there!
 

johnnyG

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I'd agree with the above comments on spending much less or very little time in Nagoya...

Second, I've been to Ishigaki. There's really not much there--mostly it's a jumping off place for Iriomote (maybe worth a night or two) or Taketomi (often done as a day trip). Tho you may want to go on to Yonaguni for diving. I haven't been to Miyako, but keep in mind it's small--I think you could see it all in two full days.

From Okinawa (Hon-tou) there are some smaller/closer islands just west of Naha, just a couple hours (less on a fast boat) that would be better use of time and money than Ishigaki/Miyako. (Aka, Zamami, Tokashiki)

Finally, look into Kanazawa--far better use of your time and money than Nagoya.
 

unrealcassi

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Thank you all very much for your feedback! You are very helpful for me!

Nagoya has been totally replaced trough Kanazawa in my route. I think it s more to see on the route over Kanazawa and the place seems to offer more places to see and go :)

I am looking if i could change the time on the small islands south so that i will be spending less time there and more time on Okinawa Hon-tou.

Sorry, but i have one more question :) Do you think that Hokkaido is worth the visit for a week, or should i cancel Hokkaido and spend the time at Kyushu? I think Kyushu offers more "typical" japan then Hokkaido? Or is the landscape at Hokkaido very special and a "you must have seen it!"?
 

unrealcassi

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ps. should i do a round trip on kyushu or do you think the north of the island is enough to do in a week?
 

mdchachi

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Sorry, but i have one more question :) Do you think that Hokkaido is worth the visit for a week, or should i cancel Hokkaido and spend the time at Kyushu? I think Kyushu offers more "typical" japan then Hokkaido? Or is the landscape at Hokkaido very special and a "you must have seen it!"?
It really depends on what you want to do/see. From a pure landscape/scenery perspective Hokkaido is somewhat unique in that it has wide open spaces, fields etc that you don't see in other parts of Japan. If the timing is right you can see very photogenic vistas full of sunflower or lavender fields. A lot of Japanese, bikers especially, enjoy going there on road trips -- to drive in a unique environment. And also because many of the sites are spread across the island -- the foggy Lake Mashu with marimo balls, Mt Io (w/ steaming sulphur), Hell Valley (Jigokudani), etc. -- and are hard to see via day trips from Sapporo.
 

johnnyG

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You might consider the cherry blossoms. In Kanazawa, they're a bit later than some other places, like Hiroshima, Osaka/Kyoto, and so on.

In my opinion, you really should catch this somewhere, two places if you can time it right.

April 7-10 (12?) might be about right in Kanazawa, a bit earlier elsewhere.
 

unrealcassi

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Thank you both!
I will catch cerry blossoms in Hiroshima/Himeji/Osaka/Kyoto and Tokyo I hope.

But now I have another problem:
At the ANA homepage I m only able to book domestic flights 45 days in advance. But I need the domestic flights between Ishigaki - Miyako - Okinawa. These flights are during Golden Week. The travel agency here told me, that they could book the flights for me, but only with ANA Visit Japan fare - and only if its availably at these dates. But the fare is 13,000 / flight. I think the flights are much cheaper if I buy them with Tokuwari45 on my own. I found flights for 6,000 at beginning of march - later is not shown on the homepage. Do you think I should buy the flights with Visit Japan fare - to be safe that I get the flights because of Golden Week - or should I wait till the booking frame at the ANA homepage is opened and book them - hopefully chepeaer - by myself? Agency told me, that because of Golden Week, the seats are sold out very fast.
 

unrealcassi

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ps. time in Kanazawa, Tokyo, Hakone is not fixed. Maybe if I see that cherry blossoms in Kanazawa are about to come in a few days, I will go to Tokyo a bit later than originally planned :)
 

Glenski

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Be very careful about reservations for accommodation and travel during Golden Week (look up the exact dates in the first week of May). Things may already be booked.

I live in Hokkaido, so here's my advice about your proposed May 27-June 2 plan.
You stated "day trips" from Sapporo. Where exactly?
Hokkaido surprises people with its size; it's not that easy to get around because it takes quite a while. Public transportation is good, but you have to keep in mind the time factor. Also, that time of year is when cherry blossoms have just finished their peak and are probably waning or gone, and there may be very little green on trees, especially at the higher elevations. So, depending on where you want to go, there may not be very good scenery. Hokkaido is mostly mountains and farmland anyway. If you wanted some hiking instead, that would be more than a day trip from Sapporo. So, what did you want to see and do up here at that time of year?
 

unrealcassi

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thank you Glenski!
I think I will take the seats the travel agency offered to me, before they are gone to. Its better to pay 100 Euro more for the 2 short flights than cancelling my hostels because I didn t get a flight. I booked the Hostels during Golden Week already.

I read that there is a JR Railpass for only-Hokkaido also. I m thinking about doing a round trip with the Railpass instead of staying at Sapporo all the time. I think that will offer more options to me. My expactation for the Hokkaido trip are: enjoying wide open scenery, lakes and mountains, go hiking, see a national park and at least one vulcano. Also seeing another type of cities than on the main islands. After the time at the beach in the south (Okinawa and nearby islands), I want to see nature - but not necessary green. I also enjoy pretty mountain views, rocks and stones. If I m honest, I didn t wrote down till now, which places espacially I want to see.
If you have ideas for me, which spots are good for going hiking or which places are must-have-seen-it at this time of the year, I m happy if you share it. I don t know if a second japan trip is affordably to me in the next years, so I wanted to see Hokkaido also, despite I only will get a idea of what Hokkaido offers.
 

mdchachi

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If you have ideas for me, which spots are good for going hiking or which places are must-have-seen-it at this time of the year, I m happy if you share it.
You didn't mention skiing. Do you ski? If so, this is a good reason to visit Hokkaido. Ski season of Furano, for example, goes into May. Furano is about 2 hours by express train from Sapporo. There are smaller/closer places to Sapporo. Although the Hokkaido portion is at the end of your itinerary so maybe that wouldn't work out. They may be closed by then.
Your proposed Hokkaido days are right at the transition from winter to summer which makes it difficult. Summer sights may not yet be open or scenic. Sapporo itself of course will be well into spring by then.
 

unrealcassi

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Thank you mdchachi for your answer!
I live in bavaria, the next skiing site is 30 minutes away. I m not a very enthusiastic skier, so that wasn t in my focus at Hokkaido. But maybe its an option, if I m really out of ideas for other sites :)
Do you think its possible to visit for example Daisetsuzan national park at this time, or is it wasted time?
 

mdchachi

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Thank you mdchachi for your answer!
I live in bavaria, the next skiing site is 30 minutes away. I m not a very enthusiastic skier, so that wasn t in my focus at Hokkaido. But maybe its an option, if I m really out of ideas for other sites :)
Do you think its possible to visit for example Daisetsuzan national park at this time, or is it wasted time?
It depends on your interests and focus; personally I wouldn't make a special trip to go there for hiking that time of year but if you love hiking then maybe it's worth it. I would be interested to go the onsens, especially if there are natural ones outside. But there are onsens all over the country so no need to go there specifically.
Does anything here appeal to you especially?
 

cocoichi

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Thank your for your feedback!

Is it difficult to rent a car?

No it isn't. I have done in with a couple of friends in 2010 in Okinawa. Just an international driver license if I remember. Anyway, here you can read what will be asked from you: From making your reservation to renting vehicles
I recommend renting a car in Okinawa to visit the more remote sights. The island has pretty crappy public transport, esp compared to the rest of Japan.

I have only been to Sapporo, but a colleague of mine went on honeymoon to Hokkaido for two weeks, and rented a car there as well. I heard good stories about Rebun and Rishiri island as well.
 

cocoichi

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If you want to see a volcano right now, go to Kagoshima and look across the way.

Also, I forget when you'll be in Naha, but this is a very good hostel, just off the monorail:
OKINAWA GUESTHOUSE "SORAHOUSE"HOSTEL BACKPACKER

YES! I've stayed there for a whole month, and this was by far the best hostel I ever had in Okinawa. It's fresh, there is a good common space, close to the monorail, kokusai dori is a short walk, and the staff is very nice. Good times :)
 

Davey

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Hope you will keep us up to date about your trip!

Are you going to make a blog or something regarding your adventures in Japan?
 
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