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Help with three week December itinerary

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Help with three week December itinerary

I would love some help with our three weeks as in our party of 3, 2 have never been to Japan before and my visit was 25 years ago!! We fly from Sydney to Osaka through Narita and although we get in late we are heading straight by limo bus to Kyoto for 6 nights in a holiday rental. We thought this would be a gentle introduction and could do a few day trip outside. Any suggestions?

Hopefully then on to Takayama for 3 nights. Will have to work out trains from Kyoto or would a bus allow us to see more? I am not sure how long it would take.

We then have 4 nights, about 3 full days. My son would like to see the Akita prefecture as some spots featured in a Korean drama series. Any suggestions here?

Next down to Nosawa onsen for a ryokan experience for Xmas and to ski. That is 3 nights.

We finish with a week in an apartment in Tokyo - New Year, hope there is fireworks and then home to Sydney.

I would like to get a 7 day rail pass but where to activate it. Is it 7 continuous days? Any ideas for the Akita sector?

This is what it looks like -

Arr Osaka 11th go to Kyoto 6 days

17th Dec leave for Takayama

20th Dec leave for Akita????




24th arr Nowza Onsen

27th arr Tokyo for a week.

Would love any advice/suggestions. Thank you in anticipation!

Tokyo, Japan
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1. Re: Help with three week December itinerary

A nice day trip destination from Kyoto would be a) Nara City b) Osaka Namba c) Arima Onsen and Kobe d) Hikone Castle and Lake Biwa d) Koga Ninja Village and Shigaraki Pottery town (perhaps also Miho Museum). Suburban Kyoto has good places to visit: a) Ohara Sanzen-in, b) Kurama-dera, c) Takao, d) Uji.

3 days in Takayama might seem long, I don't know...

Akita is quite far away. Even by Shinkansen Komachi from Tokyo, Akita is usually over 4 hours.

Although I haven't seen the drama Iris, your son might be interested in this:



Sakata is an old town in Yamagata Prefecture that's quite nice to visit.


Tohoku has some nice tourist attractions such as Yamadera, Hiraizumi, and Matsushima. Nothing really wowingly spectacular, but nice and great if you combine with testing of local sake and food plus onsens here are there.

Edited: 12:17 pm, August 08, 2012
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2. Re: Help with three week December itinerary

We did Hiroshima/Miyajima as a day-trip from Kyoto. You'll just have to start early in the day.

IMHO, if one can only visit one attraction in Japan, it would be the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima. No other shrine, temple, museum that we've visited affected me more than the Peace Memorial Museum. YMMV of course.

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3. Re: Help with three week December itinerary

Can you clarify:

< We fly from Sydney to Osaka through Narita and although we get in late we are heading straight by limo bus to Kyoto >

It's a bit confusing. Are you flying into Narita then getting a connecting flight to Osaka? As otherwise it's long way from Narita to Kyoto by bus.

Christmas is pretty much a non-event in Japan.

New Year in Japan is very different from Australia & elsewhere, you don't go there for fireworks. It's a solemn occasion. People either stay home with their families or go to a temple before midnight & the bell will toll slowly & solemnly 108 times (reminding them of the 108 earthly desires humans must free themselves of on the path to obtaining enlightenment.) Heavy stuff. We've talked about it before on the forum. You may want to join the throng and head to a shrine on New Years Day.

Lots of places close down at New Year, you better read up about it, start here http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2276.html

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4. Re: Help with three week December itinerary

Thank you Elly for all your posts.

We fly Sydney -Osaka, going through Tokyo but it suits us to spend time there at the end. We fly out from Tokyo.

The New Year page was great - we will jopin everyone hoping for a glimpse of the emperor!

I just have to master hyperdia and the possibilities of a JR Rail pass , 7 or 14 days, and hopefully book some sectors.

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5. Re: Help with three week December itinerary

I spent three nights in Takayama and found that to be about right for me (then again, I tend to cram in my sightseeing!). There is really a lot to see and do around Takayama, including Shirakawago (which takes the better part of a day), that makes a multi-day stay worth it. Plus my hotel (Takayama Ouan, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g298113-d1435828-Reviews-Takayama_Ouan-Takayama_Gifu_Prefecture_Chubu.html) had a fantastic rooftop onsen overlooking the mountains and a great breakfast spread with local specialities like hoba miso.

For Takayama, I would suggest:

Hida Takayama Museum of Art

Showa Kan (it's like a fun, quirky time capsule; I just added a listing to TripAdvisor)

Sanmachi Suji and morning markets

Takayama Jinya

Takayama Festival Floats Exhibition Hall (be sure to visit the scale models of Nikko Shrine next door; it's included in your admission!!)

Hida Folk Village

and Shirakawago/Ogimachi if you can spare the time; it has the largest collection of surviving gassho-zukuri farmhouses in a beautiful setting.

For more info, feel free to check out my journal entries on Takayama at http://komaki.shutterfly.com/95




Feel free to message me if you'd like additional suggestions / info.

Have a great trip!

Edited: 5:18 pm, August 19, 2012
6. Re: Help with three week December itinerary

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