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Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
2 posts
5 reviews


I'm about to head to Japan (very soon!), and have some remaining questions. Thought i'd ask the experts out there that know Japan better than me. I'm travelling with my 9 year old son, so need to balance his inevitable exhaustion with too much travel, with wanting to see as much as we can. I feel like my itinerary is a lot of following a tourist trail, and a fair bit of cities, which may not be my real preference, but anyway...

We'll stay for four days in total around Kyoto, fly to Sapporo and Hokkaido over five days, and Tokyo for four days (13 days total).. I only have a 7 day JR pass, so wanted to wait a couple of days after my arrival to activate it to use to travel to Hiroshima and use it up by the time I get to Tokyo (day 8/9)..

1. Would you recommend an overnight in Hiroshima, Miyajima OR I had an idea of going to Shodo Shima on my way to or from Hiroshima, as I wanted to take my son on a boat, experience something more coastal - maybe a fishing village (but not always tourist places, like Miyajima imay be). Any ideas? Anyone been to Shodo Shima? Really thought that the soy sauce factory there would be best, plus the chance to do the boat trip (maybe not an overnight?), otherwise not sure. I did think of Matsuyama but I don't want to pay extra to cross the water (JR Pass doesn't cover it).

2. In Hokkaido, I thought a couple of nights and a day in Sapporo, then out to central Hokkaido (Sounkyo, Asahidake Onsen). Is it worth also travelling all the way over to Abashiri from Asahikawa, or would Kushiro be best? Bear in mind I have a 9 year old in tow, but want to make the most of my JR pass, as well as see some nature in Hokkaido.

3. In Tokyo, I wanted to stay in Ryogoku, but it doesn't look like there are many hotels in that area (that I can find or afford). I wanted a place that is not too central, but not too hard to get to places from, not just a commercial or shopping district. Any other ideas for accommodation places (prefer hostels or anything other than soul-less hotels) maybe near Ryogoku? Not got much idea! Asakusa maybe?

Thanks so much!


Tokyo, Japan
Level Contributor
21,873 posts
120 reviews
1. Re: Kyoto/Hiroshima/Hokkaido/Tokyo

1. Miyajima is "touristy" in a rather nice way, and quiet in the evening. I haven't tried but I suppose there should be boat tours going around the Island as well (it's after all a holy sanctuary apart from the touristy area). Going to Shodoshima instead is not a bad idea either, if you are interested in seeing how soy sauce is made. However, understanding everything in Japanese could be a task.


Naoshima is also a popular island in Seto Inland Sea with modern art museums.


However, your main obstacle could be time constraint. Kyoto alone require at least 2-3 days whereas its neighbor Nara has two of the most renowned temples in Japan, Todaiji (the largest wooden structure) and Horyuji (large monastery with the oldest wooden structure). Kyoto/Nara is the most interesting and popular places for tourists; it's like Rome there is a long list of UNESCO WH related sites. If you can consider prolonging Kyoto/Nara extra 1-3 days, I recommend doing so.

2.Sappopo and Hokkaido for over five days might be a bit disproportional compared to the short stay in Kyoto/Nara but visiting Sapporo, Otaru, Lake Toya area, and indeed Asahidake/Sounkyo should easily fill up your itinerary. Abashiri is okay (but cold) and Kushiro is good only if you are going to the wilder parts out of town (which can be difficult in severe winter conditions). I actually recommend visiting Onuma/Konuma Lakes and Hakodate over Abashiri, but that is only my preference (I lived in Sapporo for several years). It depends also on when you are going to Hokkaido.

You might fly to Sapporo Chitose but come down south by using JR Pass via Hakodate by JR Hokuto/Hakucho Ltd Exp and Tohoku Shinkansen from Shin-Aomori (about 3 hours 15 min to Tokyo by Shinkansen "Hayabusa" and 3 hours 30 minutes by "Hayate" from Shin-Aomori).

3.Ryogoku doesn't have many hotels, indeed. Actually, Ryogoku isn't so interesting as an area, although there are Sumo sheds and Edo-Tokyo Museum. I live near Asakusa (just opposite side of the river from Ryogoku). If you want to be near to something more culturally interesting, I strongly recommend Asakusa. Hotel Ritchmond or Hotel Keihan can be recommended.

Hope this helps.

Edited: 5:29 pm, January 13, 2013
Cairns, Australia
Level Contributor
2 posts
5 reviews
2. Re: Kyoto/Hiroshima/Hokkaido/Tokyo

Hello there, I am so sorry I didn't reply to say thanks for this. We have now been and gone and absolutely loved Japan! Very cool place to travel in. I would probably next time cut short Tokyo for Hokkaido, which was the best part of the trip, but I know this stuff is so personal.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
61 posts
74 reviews
3. Re: Kyoto/Hiroshima/Hokkaido/Tokyo


Could you share your final itinerary. I'm planning a trip for this summer and I want to go to the same places that you did (Tokyo, Kyoto and Hokkaido), but I'm struggling with putting it all together to get justice to each place.

I know it depends a lot on preference, but I would love to hear your viewpoint on what you'd focus on. (I know less time in Tokyo, but anything else)?

Also, did you find the JR Pass to be a good investment?

Thanks so much!

4. Re: Kyoto/Hiroshima/Hokkaido/Tokyo

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