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Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

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Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

I am planning a trip with my family ( adults) starting 1 April to Nara 3 days ( 1 day trip to Osaka), 3 days in Kyoto, then 2 options:

A) From Kyoto via Nagoya( train transfer) to Nagiso or Magome for a hike along the old Nakasendo Highway, go to Matsumoto for 1 night. Then to Takayama for 1 night. Then to Ogimachi, overnight. Then Kanazawa, stay 1 night , then go up the Noto Hanto peninsula north of Kanazawa for the day, return to Kanazawa for the night. Next day go to Kyoto, which is understand is a 2 1/4 hr train ride.

Overnight Kyoto , then to Mount Koya next day, stay overnight in monastery, then to Kansai Airport for departure.

Does the plan make sense. How do I get from Matsumoto to Takayama? Is the trip trying to do too much? Will we be cold most days? Will we see much cherry blossoms, because if we are early in Kyoto, then we would be early in Takayama as well, no?

B)From Kyoto, take express train to Hiroshima, spend the night. Next day, visit Miyajima, then go on a boat cruise of the inland sea. Spend the night in Hiroshima, then to Kurashiki, spend 1 night. Then to Okayama, spend the night. Then to Nao-shima, spend the night. Then to Hemeji, same day to Kobe, spend the night.

Then to Kyoto for the night, then to Mount Koya, spend 1 night, then to Kansai Airport to leave.

Again, does trip make sense? Too rushed? Is boat ride fro Hiroshima a good idea? Where do I find info on that? There are apparently international villas in Okayama Prefecture, what are they?There are Pao tents for overnight stays in Nao-shima, what are they?

Should we get a train pass?

Thank you for your help in advance.

Note to: Mr/Ms Shot, comments most welcome!

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1. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Sounds like a lot of schlepping around. If you have bags, this will be a BIG hassle. Why not stay in Okayama or Kurashiki and do day trips to Himeji and Naoshima? From Kurashiki (where I live) it is only 30 minutes by Shinkansen to Himeji. It is 15 minutes by local train form Kurashiki to Okayama. Nobody I know EVER stays in Naoshima. Go see the museum, rent a bike and hang out, and come back to Okayama or Kurashiki.

Spending more time in Kyoto & just making Nara a day trip makes more sense to me. What is the total duration of your trip (sorry, I'm too tired to calculate at the moment)?

Also, do bear in mind that this will be cherry blossom viewing season in Japan and EVERY place will be mobbed with Japanese tourists. I do hope you have your accommodation already, or you will be finding it close to impossible to reserve a place at this point in time. (I made my reservations for Kyoto in October and still couldn't get a double!)

The homepage for the Benesse Art Site Naoshima is

http://www.naoshima-is.co.jp

(you could get info on the Pao here)

and for the Chichu-kai Museum

www.chichu.jp

For the Villas, check here

http://www.harenet.ne.jp/villa/

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2. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Thank you very much Mr/Ms Maneki-neko, for you input.

I know I was all over the place with short stays but when I read the Frommers guide, that's the pace.

We will be coming for 2 weeks approx. Have to stay in Nara for a couple of days because we are visiting someone ( who is new to Japan, just moved there a few weeks ago, so can't help us much with the tripp plans in detail).

Maybe we should do Nara ( booked rooms already for 3 nights),

Kyoto ( booked rooms already for 4 nights) , then 2 options:

Option A ----Go West

2 night stay in Hiroshima f to see Hiroshima,Miyajima, maybe a boat ride to see inland sea

Then 4 nights in Kurashiki for visiting Kurashiki, Naoshima, Hemeji, Kobe ( how long is train ride from Kurashiki ?)

To Nara to pick up something, then same day to hotel near Kansai airport for 1 night and leave next day

OptionB-----Go East

3 nights in Takayama to go hiking near Matsumoto, see Takayama, cable car ride and hot spring ( not sure how the transportation would work time wise)

2 nights Kanazawa

Back to Nara to pick up things, then same day to hotel near Kansai airport for the night, then leave the next day.

----------------------------------------

Is the scope above still too large?

Any comments on Takayama and routing is appreciated.

Thank you again.

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3. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Like I said before, what you’re going to make is a big journey. Hopefully, your stay and sakura-viewing will come together. The date of the full blossom slightly differs in southern part of Honshu. When Hiroshima / Okayama turns to gorgeous pink, maybe sakura in Kyoto / Osaka / Nara is still half bloom. And Takayama’s is still budding, for that matter... You can’t predict the exact timing. This year, autumn colors in Nara / Kyoto came about one week late than we thought. That doesn’t mean sakura will be late coming next spring, though. Anyway, here’s some thoughts I have about your plans.

First, for you to make comparison between the cost to 14day JR Rail Pass (Y45100, ordinary-type) and fares summed up for separate JR train tickets, I’m going to write down your itinerary and the expense on the JR train pertaining to it.

3days in Nara with a side-trip to Osaka: Y780x2

3days in Kyoto: Y690, from Nara to Kyoto

The above are followed by:

Plan A)

1)Kyoto-Nagiso for Nakasendo Walk: Y7960, from Kyoto to Nagiso.

2)Nagiso to Matsumoto, 1nigtht in Matsumoto: Y3110, from Nagiso to Matsumoto.

3)Matsumoto to Takayama, 1night in Takayama: Y3100 on Noubi Bus, from Matsumoto to Takayama.

Note: the above 2hrs-20min-bus leg is not covered by JR Pass.

4)Takayama-Ogimachi(?), 1night in Ogimachi(?): Ogimachi?? There’s a city called “Omachi” fairly north of Matsumoto. Isn’t that what you mean by Ogimachi? If that’s the case, you’ll have to make a great detour going to Kanazawa... Yes, you’d have to ride a bus back to Matsumoto and from here transfer to a train. Maybe you’d be better off visiting Shirakawago or Shin-Hotaka as a day-trip from Takayama, instead of going to and back from Omachi. If that’s ok, you’ll stay in Takayama for 2days.

5)Kanazawa, 2nights: Y3300 on Noubi Bus, from Takayama to Kanazawa.

Note: the above 3hrs-bus ride is also not covered by JR Pass.

6)Kanazawa to Wajima in Noto Peninsula as a side-trip: Y2200x2 on Hokuriku Testudo Bus, departing from JR Kanazawa for Wajima.

Note: again, the above 2hr-8min-bus leg is not covered by JR Pass.

7)Kanazawa to Kyoto, 1night in Kyoto: Y6510, from Kanazawa to Kyoto (2hrs and 8 to 12min)

8)Kyoto to Mt Koya: 1night in Mt KoyaY890 on JR plus Y1730 on Nankai Railways(uncovered by pass)

9)Mt Koya to KIX: Y810 (on Nankai Railways) plus Y1680 (on JR), for Koya-Hashimoto-Wakayama-KIX

Your itinerary is doable per se, but it seems that you’ll be faced with a cumbersome problem incurred from staying too many different places in so short a time. Yes, one often finds it hard to deal with one’s luggage while traveling in this country. If you’re thinking of luggage forwarding system, you should have at least a 2-day time span between each venue so the luggage trafficking company can make it “in time.” The solution to that problem is, you either lessen the number of your destinations from your itinerary and stay a couple of days longer at each, or bring a carry-on to travel light for the overnight stay while entrusting your suitcase to that company so they will carry it in advance to your nearest venue but one. Maybe most of the tourists usually think both, I guess.

The individual tickets add up to Y20150 only. Here, in Plan A), you obviously like to buy individual tickets, do you?

<Kyoto-Nagiso: 7960>

<Nagiso-Matsumoto: 3110>

<Kanazawa-Kyoto: 6510>

<Kyoto-Mt Koya: 890>

<Mt Koya-KIX: 1680>

Plan B)

1) Kyoto-Hiroshima(2nights, Y10890 on JR)

Day1: Hiroshima-Miyajima(ferry boat?), Day2: Hiroshima(boat cruise from Hiroshima)

2)Hiroshima-Kurashiki(1night, Y6700 ditto)

3)Kurashiki-Okayama(1night, Y320))

4)Okayama-Naoshima(1night)

5)Naoshima-Okayama-Himeji-Kobe(1night in Kobe, Okayama-Himeji: Y3640, Himeji-Kobe: Y950)

6)Shin Kobe-Kyoto(1night, Y3340)

7)Kyoto-Mt Koya(1night, Y2620)

8)Mt Koya—KIX(Y2490)

See, here again separate tickets(Y33200) wins against 14day pass(Y45100)?.

<Again, does trip make sense? Too rushed?>

Not too rushed, but in a way you’ll be traveling like locals, it seems

<Is boat ride fro Hiroshima a good idea? Where do I find info on that?>

Yes, you can’t skip it. The pictures in the below links should possibly belie the beauty inherent of the Seto Inland Sea, I’m afraid.

1)Setonaikai Osampo Cruise:

setonaikaikisen.co.jp/oshirase/hiro_osanpo.h…

(1hr-cruise, Y500. Departs from Port of Hiroshima, no port calls)

Setonaikai Kisen Co. Ltd.: info@setonaikaikisen.co.jp

You should catch a cab from your hotel in Hiroshima or ask your hotel concierge to ask the best possible transportation. The distance between JR Hiroshima and the port is about 5.5 to 6km. I’m not sure about this, but if you cab it, maybe the fare will be 2 thou plus some hundred yens.

2)Kazenooto Cruise:

http://www.kazenooto.jp/english/c_m2.html

(small, but gorgeous, cruiser. Y18900 for lunch cruise per person, depending on the number of passengers, though)

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

<There are apparently international villas in Okayama Prefecture, what are they?>

I was going to say, "Umm, beats me... Maybe you should make a new post titled like 'Want Your Help, Maneki-neko!!' She’s a Kurashikian and knows a lot better about Okayama than me."

Thanks for the link, Maneki-neko.

<There are Pao tents for overnight stays in Nao-shima, what are they?>

According to some Japanese websites, the tents, whose design was borrowed from the Mongolian nomad’s, were so made that people could enjoy an outdoor-experience. The accommodation holds up to 4people with no bathroom inside, showers being “coin-operated.”

<Should we get a train pass?>

No, I don’t think you should.

Your itinerary is not quite fixed, I think; however, there doesn't seem to be many places left to visit in either plan. Opinion may differ, but personally I favor slightly Plan A over Plan B. If I were you, I'd put one day for the Inland Sea boat ride in your Plan A itinerary. It'd be pretty hard to skip even one place in Plan B, though. Maybe, Wajima...? Sorry, umm, J'ai mal a tete.

Enjoy your trip.

Nara, Japan
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4. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Correction in the last paragraph:

<It'd be pretty hard to skip even one place in Plan B, though. Maybe, Wajima...?>

Let me replace "Plan B" with Plan A. Sorry for that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

As for the info regarding Takayama, visit: http://www.gotakayama.com/index.html

For luggage forwarding system, go to:

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2274.html

(click on “door-to door delivery services”)

As I remember, there’s someone in Japan Forum posting a good link on Noubi Bus, the network of which covers from Takayama to surrounding cities / places of scenic interest. I may be wrong, but wasn’t that dytokyo or woman-in-tokyo pasting that link in his / her thread?

Anyway, Shirahone Hot Spa, Hotaka Ropeway (and its hot spa also), Furukawago and Shirakawago are all covered by Noubi Bus. Kamikochi is a must-go place, but it won’t be open until April the 23rd, I think. That said, there’s another option here. Yes, rental car companies operate around JR Takayama. English road signs are not that many on the road, but the route to take is simple. If you think you can manage with a right-hand-side wheel, driving on the left, you’ll find fun going to neighboring places.

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5. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Thank you so very much Mr/Ms Shot. And all that trouble re the cost of train tickets.

I am going to digest the info. a bit and do more homework, then if you two experst don't mind, maybe I'll ask more dumb questions.

In my original question posted 10:37pm yesterday, I have:

Option A as trip to Takayama direction

Option B as trip to Hiroshima direction.

Then in my nest post at 12:38 pm today , I reversed the order , I am very sorry about the confusion.

Ogimachi is Shirakawago according to Frommers' web site.

Thank you again.

Nara, Japan
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6. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Thank you for letting me know about Ogimachi, NW.

A couple of excuses:

This is quite embarrassing, but the Japanese letter for Ogimachi (in Shirakawago) can sometimes be read like "Hagimachi" by illiterates...

There's a well-known park in Osaka called Ogimachi also...

Anyway, you've saved me a future embarrassment. Questions are welcome as always. Yes, I can learn a lot.

Enjoy your trip.

p.s.

I am Mr Shot, but please don't mister me. Call me shot, if you like.

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7. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

I am thinking of reducing the bouncing around in hotels with the following plan:

Day 1 - Arrive Kansai Airport, go directly to Kurashiki

Day 1-4 - Stay in Kurashiki for 4 nights - see Kurashiki,

Okayama, Naoshima, maybe boat cruise

Day 5- See Himeji and then Kobe , stay in Kobe for for 1 night

(Or should I see Himeji from Kurashiki above and forget

Kobe? Then all the following dates are shifted forward by

1 day by skipping 1 night in Kobe)

Day 6-7 Nara 2 nights to visit someone,drop off excess luggage

at her place for pickup later

Day 8-10 Kyoto for 3 nights to see shrines etc.

Day 11-13 Takayama for 3 nights to see city ,museums,and hike in

Teramachi& Shiroyama-Koen. Maybe rent a car to see

more.

Day 14-15 Kanazawa for 2 nights

Day 16 Kanazawa to Nara, stay 1 night in Nara and pick up luggage

Day 17- Bus from Nara to airport

Is this plan more workable?

If I arrive at Kansai airport at 3pm, what is the best way to get to Kurashiki?

Thanks.

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8. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Looks great to me! For Day5, I’d suggest staying in Kobe. That’d provide you with a smack of different flavor into your itinerary. Like Yokohama, Kobe has been a great international harbor city ever since Japan opened its doors to the outside world about 140years ago. One thing to note is, unlike Yokohama, Kobe offers the area for both the mountain and the sea to its visitors.

There’s Motomachi Street for chic cafes and boutiques, Tor-Road with eclectic, Kobe-style, shopping and dining establishments, Sannomiya Center Shopping Arcade known as a hot bustling spot for people of all ages, foreign settlement houses in Kitano Ward to take a walk around, Harborland attracting a lot of visitors all through the year, and the Rokko Mountains for tourists and local picnickers.

Most of the city area was once demolished by a terrible quake back in 1995, because of which people in Kobe went through a greatest ordeal and had to make tremendous effort to get everything back on track. Day in and day out, it is said, they worked hard under a slogan, “Hang on, Kobe!”

As I remember, nothing illustrated it more clearly than this: when Kobe Bluewaves, a local professional baseball team won the tenant of Japan Series in 1996, Ichiro and all the other teammates were seen on TV to wear the uniform with a small ribbon pinned down to it. Yes, the phrase written on it goes “Hang on, Kobe!” When the last batter of Tokyo Giants hit an easy pop fly into the glove of an outfielder, a lot of people in Kobe, I assume, were identifying with the players and shedding tears of joy with them. Yes, the victory gave a big impact on them.

For accommodation, visit:

http://www.newotani.co.jp/en/kobe/index.html

(the New Otani Kobe Harborland)

If you’re interested in Kobe Beef, visit:

1)Kobe Renga-tei on Tor-Road

http://www.kobe-rengatei.co.jp/en/en.html

2)Steakhouse Kawamura in Sannomiya

http://bifteck.co.jp/kobebeef_bu.html (Japanese language)

New Otani also has a good beefsteak restaurant called Rokko on the 17th floor, it seems.

As for your question, <If I arrive at Kansai airport at 3pm, what is the best way to get to Kurashiki?>, let me give you a tip in here. You can easily cover the leg from KIX to Shin-Osaka to Okayama to Kurashiki on JR trains.

1)KIX to Shin-Osaka: limited express Haruka(55min)

2)Shin-Osaka to Okayama: nozomi bullet train(45min)

3)Okayama to kurashiki: local train(16min)

It’s about a 2.5hr journey(including transfer) and the total fare is Y8170.

Enjoy your trip.

p.s.

If you have a question about, say, your first rendezvous in Nara, I can be of some help, I think.

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9. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Thanks Shot. You're a champ.

Will ask if I have any questions re Nara. None so far.

Thanks for offer.

If we hit the cherry blossom season dead on, hope we don't get run over by the hoards , here , there, and everywhere!

Cheers!

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10. Re: Trip advise for visit to Honshu in Early April

Oh, more questions:

1) When we travel from Kurashiki to Kobe to see the city, can we leave luggage ( 2 suitcases) at the train station to be picked up in the late afternoon so we can take the train to Nara same day . This saves staying in Kobe just one night since we will be staying in Nara the next few days.

2) If we are staying in Takayama and want to hike the Kiso Valley, instead of taking complicated train/bus combo and waiting for them, should we rent a car in Takayama and drive to Tsumago, walk to Magome ( hike 3 hours?) , take the bus back to Tsumago to pick up car? How long is the drive from Takayama to Tsumago? Does the bus run frequently enough?

3) If we drive to Matsumoto, how long does it take?

Thanks.